Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More Reel Bad Arabs

When was the last wild Western you saw at the movies? That's right, I can't remember either. But hey, Hollywood's still churning out wild Easterns.

The latest is called Beirut (directed by Brad Anderson), and Fairfax reviewer, Jake Wilson, weary of "youth-oriented blockbusters and Oscar-mongering prestige," has given this "human-scaled entertainment for adults" three-and-a-half stars.

First, the where and the when:

"Beirut... a period espionage thriller set against the background of Lebanon just before its 1982 war with Israel... " (Finally, a thriller for adults, The Sun-Herald, 29/7/18)

Hello? Lebanon's 1982 war with Israel?

Y'all remember that one, don't you? You know, when the Lebanese Army blitzkriegged its way to Tel Aviv, laid siege to the city, bombed and shelled it from land, sea and air for 3 long months, and then pulled back to northern Israel which it occupied until forced out by the heroic Israeli resistance in 2000?

Good one, Jake.

But no, seriously, Jake may not have his history the right way around, but he's still cool, OK, because he's (albeit dimly) aware that SOMETHING IS AMISS WITH THIS FILM:

"More shrewdly realistic than the average Hollywood political thriller, Beirut remains open to accusations of self-involvement, if not outright racism, in its privileging of an American of an American point of view. [Former American diplomat] Mason commands our sympathy throughout, while the 'foreign' characters are menacing or inscrutable. Ultimately, you might wonder if this is really a film about Middle Eastern politics at all, or if this is merely a pretext for exploring how one middle-aged white guy negotiates his midlife crisis."

But, hey, why let a little Arabophobia spoil your night out:

"Then again, is there any reason it can't be both?"

Monday, July 30, 2018

Meet the Chairman of Nine Entertainment Co.

So what are the implications for Palestine/Israel reportage of Channel 9's coming merger with Fairfax Media, given the latter's already grossly inadequate and problematic handling of the issue?

The architect of the 1980s cross-media ownership laws, former Labor PM Paul Keating, is of the view that Channel 9 "will run the editorial policy" of the Fairfax papers given that, "in terms of news management, Channel 9... has... the opportunism and ethics of an alley cat."

That could mean that the Fairfax papers will, if anything, become more ferociously pro-Israel in the manner of Murdoch's rags. Certainly, the fact that former Howard government treasurer Peter Costello is the chairman of Nine Entertainment Co. is cause for concern in this regard, as the following snippet from a 2001 biography of the man indicates:

"Support for the PLO was becoming an article of faith within the student left. Peter Costello, 17, never been kissed, a devout Baptist... was appalled... Costello recalled: 'Do I know better than all these people? Probably not. But what I do know is that my best friend is Jewish... and the student union is collecting money for the PLO'." (Peter Costello: The New Liberal, Shaun Carney, pp 45-6)

Of course the leaders of the Australian Union of Students leaders at the time (1975) knew infinitely more about the Palestine/Israel issue than this gormless innocent, having done their homework as he acknowledges, but, typical of the student conservatives of this time, the idea of actually learning from those who knew what they were talking about was anathema to him. Frankly, if your mind is closed at 17, what hope is there on this or any other matter?  Watch this space...

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Class of Their Own

"Israel is to build hundreds of new homes in a settlement in the occupied West Bank where a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis, one fatally, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday." (Israel to build 400 units to avenge knife attack, AFP/The Australian, 28/7/18)

So Israel wouldn't have expanded its settlement otherwise? Was there ever a more cruel and casuistical colonisation in the annals of settler-colonialism than the Israeli?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Taking Down of Jeremy Corbyn

"Jeremy Corbyn has this week been the victim of a crazed, unhinged assault by the agents of the powerful. A frenzied attack to destroy him for fear that he might win. The proximate method is the exploitation of deep-seated Jewish fear. Literally, summoning up the demons of Nazism against Britain's finest anti-fascist. It doesn't get much more serious than that for all concerned. And when I say the agents of the powerful I mean from left to right. From the liberal to the far-right. I mean from the Guardian and Channel 4 News right across the spectrum. All guns blazing, all trained on one man. A man without a scintilla of racist or anti-Semitic feeling in his body, in his psyche. A man whose parents stood at Cable St against fascism and anti-Semitism. He's been attacked by newspapers that were supporting the Nazis at the time. He's been attacked by newspapers that were funding the British Union of Fascists at the time." (George Galloway, The Mother of All Talkshows, 27/7/18)

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Far Too Charitable Assessment

"The Foreign Minister's July 2 decision on the [direct] aid sparked an angry response from Palestinian Authority senior adviser Nabil Shaath, who described Australia as 'worthy of being spat on' and 'servants of the US'." (Aid cut despite pledge on terror, Andrew Burrell, The Australian, 25/7/18)

Thursday, July 26, 2018


"My experience of extremists in Australia's Israel lobby summed up in two words: attempted bullying." - Bob Carr tweet, 21/7/18

"Former foreign minister turned political memoirist Gareth Evans has threatened to boycott the Brisbane Writers Festival after organisers decided to remove Bob Carr and Germaine Greer from the program. Mr Evans, who was due to speak about his new book, Incorrigible Optimist, at the festival... said he was 'gob-smacked' by the move. 'This a fundamental freedom-of-speech issue,' he told The Australian. 'I haven't decided yet whether to withdraw from the festival or to take part and tell them, on stage, in no uncertain terms, how stupid it is'." (Evans threatens writers festival boycott to back Carr, Greer, Stephen Romei, The Australian, 26/7/18)

Damn right!

"He said he would wait for a full response from BWF acting chief executive Ann McLean. In a detailed letter to her yesterday, he said the ban on Mr Carr and Dr Greer was 'utterly unworthy of any literary festival that wants to be taken seriously. What on earth can you guys be thinking? Have you even begun to think about the reputational damage this will do, here and internationally, to your festival and your capacity to attract participants in the future? Please think again'."

The answers to those questions is: OBVIOUSLY NOT.

"In response, Dr McLean said the festival decided in early June not to proceed with Mr Carr due to 'the need to provide engaging choices for our audience'."

What bullshit this is!

"Earlier, she told The Australian Mr Carr would 'just talk about his book' rather than the selected topic, 'What the World Needs Now'."

OFFS! You're kidding me!

"Dr McLean acknowledged there were concerns the media interest in Dr Greer and Mr Carr would 'overshadow' other writers at the festival."

By which she means, in fluent schmaltz: What the world needs now is love, sweet love... lalalalala...

"Their 'controversial' nature was also a concern."

At last we're getting to the NUB of the matter!

"Mr Carr's new book, the political memoir Run for Your Life, includes his thoughts on the US, China and the Israel lobby."


"In a letter to MUP (Melbourne University Publishing), Dr McLean noted BWF had to consider the 'brand alignment of several sponsors we are securing for the festival'. In response, Mr Evans outlined six questions he would like answered, including: 'Are you able to say which sponsors you had in mind, and precisely how you - or they - saw Carr as affecting their 'brand alignment'? Did it have anything to do with his well-known positions on Palestine-Israel and China?'"

You've nailed it, Gareth!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Fairfax's Puff Piece on Mark Regev

Fairfax hit a new low on the weekend with the publication of a full-page promo by Latika Bourke in The Sun-Herald (22/7/18) on Australia's second worst export after Rupert Murdoch, Mark Regev.

To say that not one hard question was asked and pursued is to misconstrue the nature of the piece.  The Aussie boy who's at home spruiking for Israel wanted only the words 'Advertisement Only'.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Spinning Israel's Jewish Nation-State Law

Editorial commentary in support of each and every Israeli turn of the screw is, to say the least, conspicuous by its presence in Murdoch's Australian, yet on the subject of the apartheid state's latest addition to its 50+ apartheid laws, the nation-state law, The Australian's editor has so far said zip.

Yesterday, however, The Australian published an opinion piece (Illiberalism lies with the critics of Jewish nation-state law, 23/7/18) in defence of the legislation by one, Eugene Kontorovich, described as "a scholar at the Jerusalem think tank Kohelet Policy Forum." (This outfit describes itself on its website as "striving to secure Israel's future as the nation-state of the Jewish people, strengthening representative democracy, and broadening individual liberty and free market principles in Israel.")

Kontorovich would have us believe that:

"... Israel's Basic Law would not be out of place among the liberal democratic constitutions of Europe - which include similar provisions that have not aroused controversy... Consider the Slovak constitution, which opens with the words, 'We the Slovak nation', and lays claim to 'the natural right of nations to self-determination'."

What he omits to mention, of course, is that, unlike Slovakia, there is nothing 'natural' about Israel or its political evolution. Slovakia's emergence as a nation was a natural progression following the breakup of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I and was based on the Wilsonian principle of national self-determination. The same natural process should have been applied to Palestine under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations: "Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice... by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory."

Instead, the Palestinians were deliberately denied their 'natural right to self-determination', first by the British on behalf of the Zionist settlers who were allowed to flood into Palestine from 1918 on, and then by the Zionist settler state of Israel following the military takeover and ethnic cleansing of most of Palestine by Zionist terror gangs in 1948. As Britain's foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour (of Balfour Declaration infamy) wrote in 1919: "The contradiction between the letters of the Covenant and the policies of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the 'independent nation' of Palestine... For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country..."

But there's more. Why are we all up-in-arms about Israeli settlements? After all, they had the blessing of the - wait for it! - League of Nations:

"Another controversial provision of the law declares 'the development of Jewish settlement' to be a national value that the government should promote. It is understood to refer to encouraging population dispersion into the periphery of the country. This essentially restates policy adopted by the international community in 1922 in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which sought to 'encourage... close settlement by Jews'."

More sins of omission:

1) The League of Nations, from its inception, was little more than a rubber stamp in the hands of the two post WWI imperial powers, Britain and France.

2) The Palestine Mandate was given to Britain... by Britain. As to its composition, the great J.M.N. Jeffries revealed: "The Mandate followed the precedent of the Balfour Declaration [which was incorporated into the text of the Mandate]. It was drafted in quiet between the [British] Government and the Zionists, mostly by the Zionists, and then it was issued under the cover of the League of Nations, as though it were the result of the collected debates of the world's lawgivers."  (Palestine: The Reality (1939), pp 522-23)

Note also the angry words of Britain's then foreign secretary Lord Curzon, who said of the draft Mandate: "Acting upon (? against) the noble principle of self-determination and ending with a splendid appeal to the League of Nations, we then proceed to draw up a document which reeks of Judaism in every paragraph and is an avowed constitution of a Jewish state - and the poor Arabs are only allowed to look through the keyhole as a non-Jewish community. It is quite clear that this mandate has been drawn up by someone reeling under the fumes of Zionism." (A.L.Tibawi, Anglo-Arab Relations & The Question of Palestine 1914-1921 (1977), pp 427-28)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Israel's Day of Reckoning

"The day will come when Israel's Holocaust credit line with the world will run out. The day will come when the leaders of Judeo-Israeli colonialism will be put on trial. The day will come when those who today show shrinking tolerance toward us because of Auschwitz on the one hand, our war and intelligence industry on the other, and because of our relative whiteness on another, will become fed up. [...] The format doesn't matter. In the Hague, in an international forum that will be set up just for us, or maybe even in our country. The day will come when not only Israeli officials and military officials will be put on trial, but also jurists, military and civilian judges, architects and planners, everyone who enabled and enables the fashioning of this land into a penthouse for Jews and a basement - divided into separate cells - for Palestinians. May these words advance that day, even if only by a minute." - Amira Hass, Israel's Holocaust credit line is running out, haaretz.com, 18/6/18)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Netanyahu Declaration

On the subject of Israel's latest APARTHEID legislation:

"'We have determined in law the founding principle of our existence,' [Netanyahu] said. 'Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and respects the rights of all of its citizens'." (More equal than others, David Halbfinger & Isabel Kershner, The New York Times/Sydney Morning Herald, 21/7/18)

Note the second half of Netanyahu's sentence: "and respects the rights of all of its citizens."

Remind you of anything?

That's right, the Balfour Declaration's utterly hollow, 'safeguard' clause:

"... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities... "

Moving along, here's a Palestinian Israeli perspective on the new bill, which fleshes out just what it means to live as a non-Jew in a Jewish state, from Yousef Jabareen, MK (Hadash), Israel just dropped the pretense of equality for Palestinian citizens (latimes.com, 20/7/18):

"The Israeli Knesset on Thursday passed into law a bill designed to make a permanent underclass of Palestinian citizens. It threatens to set the country on a course to a full-blown Jewish theocracy. The so-called 'Jewish nation-state' bill formalizes in Israeli law the superior rights and privileges that Jewish citizens of the state enjoy over its indigenous Palestinian minority, who comprise roughly 20% of the population. It demotes Arabic from one of two official languages to a mere 'special' status, deepens racial segregation by directing the government to 'encourage and promote' Jewish settlement, and declares that the right to self-determination in Israel is 'exclusive' to the Jewish people, denying the history and ancient Palestinian roots in this land. It also prioritizes the Jewishness of the state over its democratic character, omitting any reference to 'democracy' or 'equality'.

"The final reading of the nation-state bill took place just days after the Knesset rejected a bill that I, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and Knesset member, had introduced. My bill called for Israel to guarantee full equality for all of its citizens, regardless of religion or race. A similar bill introduced in June calling for Israel to be a country 'for all its citizens' was banned from even being discussed. The fate of these three bills confirms what Palestinians have always known: In Israel, only Jews enjoy the full rights and privileges of citizenship.

"The tension of being a Palestinian citizen of a country that defines itself as Jewish has shaped every aspect of my life, from early childhood to my career as a human rights activist and a member of Israel's parliament today.

"I was born in Umm al Fahem, which pre-dates the state of Israel and is one of the largest Palestinian towns in the country. Although it is bigger and older than the Jewish municipalities that surround it, the residents of Umm al Fahem are denied the same quality of public services that Jewish towns receive, including in healthcare and public transportation.

"I first began to understand the unequal nature of Israeli society when I was 12 years old and started going to school in nearby Nazareth. Because we didn't have a bus station, I had to hitch a ride to and from class every day and witness the stark contrast between the crumbling buildings, roads, and other underfunded public infrastructure in Umm al Fahem and those of the affluent Jewish towns I traveled through.

"Every day, I would also pass by the village where members of my mother's family lived before Israel's establishment, Al Lajjun. They were uprooted and told they could not return. Israel's destruction of Palestinian communities like my ancestral village continues today, in places like Umm al-Hiran, a town in southern Israel facing destruction so that it can be replaced with a city for Jews (to be called 'Hiran').

"The nation-state bill further marginalizes my community and entrenches Israel's regime of racial discrimination and deterioration into apartheid. It will lead to more racist, anti-democratic laws, adding to the more than 50 laws already on the books that disadvantage non-Jewish citizens.

"In contrast, the bill I introduced called for the country to become a democracy that guarantees complete civil and national equality to all who live within its borders. It would have ensured that Israeli law is based on universal values that recognize both Arab and Jewish ethnic groups. The state would have been required to invest the wealth of this land for the benefit of all its citizens, not just a privileged majority. There would be equal status for the Arabic language and culture, and inclusive national symbols, so Palestinian girls and boys would feel welcome in their own country, and no longer have to be represented by a country's flag containing religious symbols that are not their own.

"Like President Trump in the United States and right-wing demagogues elsewhere, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government wish to turn the clock back on humanity's march toward a freer, more just and egalitarian world. Imagine if Trump and the Republican Party passed a constitutional amendment declaring the U.S. to be officially a Christian state, formally subordinating the country's democracy to right-wing, fundamentalist Christian principles, and encouraging American cities and towns to exclude Jews, Muslims and indigenous Americans.

"That is the situation that Palestinians in Israel face today. As we continue our struggle for equal citizenship and the just rights of Palestinians everywhere, we call on our brothers and sisters of conscience in the U.S. and around the world to support our shared vision for enlightened democracy and the well-being of all people, regardless of race or religion."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Who is Mohammad?

Ever notice how corporate journalists sometimes feature in their reports the views of a member of the public who appears to be, at one and the same time, both a village idiot and an apologist for imperial military intervention?

Meet Guardian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan's 'Mohammed':

"A combination of factors ranging from economic grievances and a lack of social and political freedoms to international pressure and sanctions has put [Iran] under unprecedented pressure. Many Iranians would now agree with Mohammad [?] that the country faces a pivotal moment. 'People are desperate to find a way out,' he says. 'If it's war, so it be, but quick; if it's reaching an agreement, so it be, but quick; if it's regime change, so it be, but quick'." ('Desperate to find a way out': Iran edges towards precipice, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, theguardian.com, 20/7/18)

I mean, surely only a complete dill could possibly imagine war or regime change as "quick."

Then there's this bizarre assertion from 'Mohammad':

"All the 'down to America', 'down to Israel' chants put us in this agony."

I mean, hello? doesn't it occur to him that launching an economic war (aka sanctions) on Iran is just a tad over-the-top for protests against USraeli bullying in the region.

Who the fuck is 'Mohammad'? Sacha Baron Cohen?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Israel's Latest Apartheid Law

Still not convinced that Israel is an apartheid state?

No, I'm not talking about Israeli apartheid in the occupied West Bank, for details of which you can scan my 21/9/09 post Israeli Apartheid: The Jury's In. I'm talking about Israeli apartheid west of the Green Line, in Israel itself.

As the Israeli scholar and activist Uri Davis points out in his seminal/must-read book Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (2003) (claims to being 'the only democracy in the Middle East' notwithstanding), Israel is "probably the last remaining apartheid state member of the UN." This, he asserts, arises from "the regulation of racism in law through Acts of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset), resulting in 93% of all the territory of pre-1967 Israel being designated in law through Acts of the Knesset for cultivation, development and settlement by, of and for Jews only." Davis goes on to explain, in contrast to South African apartheid, that "the key legal distinction in Zionist apartheid legislation in Israel is between 'Jew' and 'non-Jew'." This distinction, "as institutionalized in the Constitutions and Articles of Association of all the bodies affiliated to the World Zionist Organization, is incorporated into the body of the laws of the State of Israel, notably the body of strategic legislation governing land tenure." (pp 39-42)

Davis lists this apartheid legislation as follows:

*1950: Absentees' Property Law; Law of Return; Development Authority Law;
*1952: World Zionist Organization - Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel (Status) Law;
*1953: Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (Jewish National Fund) Law; Land Acquisition (Validation of Acts and Compensation) Law;
*1954: Covenant between the Government of Israel and the Zionist Executive, also known as the Executive of the Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel;
*1958: Prescription Law;
*1960: Basic Law: Israel Lands; Israel Lands Law; Israel Lands Administration Law;
*1961: Covenant between the Government of Israel and the Jewish National Fund.

To this "mainstay of Israeli apartheid," as Davis calls it, can now be added Israel's newest apartheid law, The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, which "describes Israel as 'the national home of the Jewish people' and says the right to exercise national self-determination there is 'unique to the Jewish people'." (Jewish nation state: Israel approves controversial bill, bbc.co.uk, 20/7/18)

But don't expect Australia's corporate media to call a spade a spade and invoke the A word. There was nothing whatever on the matter in today's Sydney Morning Herald, and the Associated Press report in The Australian could do no better than cite critics to the effect that the new law was "racist" and would "marginalise the country's Arab minority." (Knesset votes for Jewish nation state)

He Did It My Way

"I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction." - Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to his Israeli settler mates in Hebrew in 2001


Now here's another surprise. Not:

"In a video clip aired Tuesday by Israeli television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel was responsible for US President Donald Trump's decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal. In the video, which the Kan public broadcaster said was filmed two weeks ago, Netanyahu can be seen speaking to activists and senior members from his Likud party. 'We convinced the US president [to exit the deal] and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement,' Netanyahu says in the video. 'And we didn't give up'." (In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal, Alexander Fulbright, timesofisrael.com, 17/7/18)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Israel First in Helsinki

"I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction." - Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to Israeli settlers in Hebrew in 2001


What a surprise! Not:

"Donald Trump went into his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland deeply concerned about national security. It wasn't the security of American citizens, however, but rather those of Israel that the US President appeared to have on his mind. This wasn't a surprise as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been urging Trump to discuss Israel's number one strategic concern with the Russian President: Iran's involvement in Syria." (Why Netanyahu liked what he saw from Trump on Helsinki, Ian Lee, edition.cnn.com, 17/7/18)

Going for the Soft Underbelly

Cor blimey, if this Mordechai Kedar chap isn't the love-child of Oded Yinon, then my name isn't Sir Mark Sykes:

"We may see reports of the frictions only occasionally, but Iran is always a nation on the verge of fragmenting - and right now things are particularly fragile. The social makeup of Iran's population is complex because there is no such thing as an Iranian people or Iranian nation. There are, instead, Iranian citizens divided into many ethnic groups [...] There is a deep hatred of the ayatollahs simmering inside large sectors of Iranian society, a hatred that burst into the streets in a series of large demonstrations last November... The cry 'death to the dictator' was shouted by many, including many women who stood on podiums in front of the public, removed their head coverings and hung them on sticks to show their mockery for the Islamic law they are forced to observe... This is the soft underbelly to which anyone concerned about Iran must pay heed. It is the target at which arrows must be aimed, straight at those ethnic groups fighting for independence and the restless youngsters fighting for liberty. The civilised world can and should find those anti-ayatollah forces, support them and empower them to bring Iran to the same end that met the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia by creating homogenous ethnic states on the ruins of the artificial state of Iran." (Iran is hardly a nation and will likely fall apart, Mordechai Kedar, The Australian, 17/7/18)

And note how Trump, in his own deranged way, seems to be reading from the same script:

"Later, Mr Trump said Russia's position on Iran was because of trading benefits between Moscow and Tehran. 'It is not good for us or for the world, but they have riots in all their cities,' Mr Trump told Fox News of Iran's situation. 'The inflation is rampant, going through the roof. And not that you want to hurt anybody, but that regime wouldn't let the people know that we are behind them 100 per cent'." (Backing for Bibi unlikely unifier, Jacquelin Magnay, The Australian, 18/7/18)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Perils & Pitfalls of Not Doing Your Homework

Following Israel's May 14, 60+ slaughter on the Gaza border, young US Democratic Party contender, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacted as any decent human being would, tweeting: "This is a massacre. I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such. No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can't be silent about this."

Following her upset win in the primaries, however, Ocasio-Cortez unfortunately lost the plot in an interview with conservative Firing Line host Margaret Hoover:

MH: You, in the campaign, made one tweet... that referred to a killing by Israeli soldiers of civilians in Gaza and called it a 'massacre', which became a little bit controversial. But I haven't seen anywhere - what is your position on Israel?

AOC: Well, I believe absolutely in Israel's right to exist. I am a proponent of a two-state solution. And for me, it's not - this is not a referendum, I think on the state of Israel. For me, the lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist... if 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx - unarmed - if 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico - I just looked at that incident more through... through just, as an incident, and to me, it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores. But I am -

MH: Of course, the dynamic there in terms of geopolitics -

AOC: Of course.

MH: And the war in the Middle East is very different than people expressing their First Amendment right to protest.

AOC: Well, yes. But I also think that what people are starting to see at least [that] the occupation of Palestine is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition[s], and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.

MH: You use the term 'the occupation of Palestine'? What did you mean by that?

AOC: Oh, um [pause] I think it, what I meant is the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.

MH: Do you think you can expand on that?

AOC: Yeah, I mean, I think I'd also just [waves hands and laughs] I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. You know, for me, I'm a firm believer in finding a two-state solution on this issue, and I'm happy to sit down with leaders on both of these. For me, I just look at things through a human rights lens, and I may not use the right words [laughs] I know this is a very intense issue.

MH: That's very honest, that's very honest. It's very honest, and when you, you know, get to Washington and you're an elected member of Congress you'll have the opportunity to talk to people on all sides and visit Israel and visit the West Bank and -

AOC: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that that's one of those things that's important too is that, you know, especially with the district that I represent - I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background, and Middle Eastern politics was not exactly at my kitchen table every night. But, I also recognize that this is an intensely important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country, and I think what's at least important to communicate is that I'm willing to listen and that I'm willing to learn and evolve on this issue like I think many Americans are.

It's clear from Ocasio-Cortez's knee-jerk invocation of Israel's so-called "right to exist" that she hasn't a clue when it comes to this Zionist mantra. For someone aiming to win a place in the Zionist-controlled US Knesset Congress that's pretty damning. She should have made it her business to learn that Israel is an apartheid state built on the dispossession (1948 & 1967) and enforced exile of Palestine's indigenous Arab population, and spoken to this instead of parroting this Zionist talking point. The information is out there, she needed only to do her homework. A perusal of Sharmine Narwani's eviscerating essay, Three Magic Words, would have done the trick nicely. (See my 25/5/12 post of the same name.)

As for the "two-state solution" mantra, the absorption of a few basic facts - the inherent injustice of a Palestinian state on a mere 22% of historic Palestine; Israel's entrenched position in over 60% of the West Bank; the Likud Charter's flat rejection of a Palestinian state "west of the Jordan River" - should long ago have alerted her to the irrelevance of this tired and tatty formula.

And Ocasio-Cortez's backing away from her use of the word 'occupation' was a particularly bad move. All she had to do was remind Hoover of UNSC resolution 242 (1967), which calls on Israel to withdraw from "territories occupied in the recent conflict," and remind her that that occupation has gone on now for over 50 years.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Meet Danby's Preferred Candidate

You're the federal Opposition's unofficial shadow minister for Israel and you've ruled the seat of Melbourne Ports with a rod of Zion for what seems like... maybe 2,000 years, right? But lately you've gone a bit feral, what with your taxpayer-funded ads for Israel in the Australian Jewish News and that last pilgrimage to Israel when you really should have been warming your place on the parliamentary benches in Canberra. And so, to cut a long story short, Shorten's given you your marching orders. Tough titties, I know.

But you're not going gently into that good night, are you? No way! After all, as Bob Carr has opined, you're more Ben Gurion than Ben Gurion himself. So it's time for you to anoint a successor, right? He'll be no Michael Danby, of course, but a true blue son of Zion nonetheless. Step forward, Nick Dyrenfurth, executive director of the John Curtin Research Centre. (See Labor MP Michael Danby's preselection meeting undemocratic, candidate says, Paul Karp, theguardian.com, 16/7/18)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Iran: The Reality

Iran has long been the subject of a demonisation campaign by USrael and its camp followers*, and as my previous post indicates, western public opinion is being softened up for a forced regime change in Tehran. In these uncertain times, therefore, it is important to understand just what is at stake here. The following, heartbreaking, story, from The Irish Times, shows, like no other, just how undeserved is the prevailing, assiduously cultivated and promoted, negative image of Iran in the West:

"Irish paediatric oncologist Dr Trish Scanlan was in unfamiliar surroundings when she broke down and cried some weeks ago. Sitting with the chief of paediatric oncology in the Mahak hospital in Tehran... she became overwhelmed when she found what she had spent more than a decade travelling the world in search of.

"Scanlan works with children suffering from cancer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In her 11 years there, she has failed to save a single child suffering from a particularly aggressive form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which affects the blood and bone marrow. Dozens of children are diagnosed with the condition each year, and the treatment is both toxic and expensive. The hospitals in Tanzania are simply not equipped for the job. 'We don't have enough blood products, platelets and other support care to get the children through the treatment because it's basically like hitting them over the head with a sledgehammer, and doing that at least four times,' Scanlan says. 'We get through one, two or even sometimes three of these courses, and they usually die of fever, sepsis or want of blood. We've never managed to cure a child. They all died, which is really sad because Crumlin [Ireland's largest paediatric hospital] for example would probably save about 60%. I've tried to get help. I've had help from all over the world for all the things I do, but to treat a child with AML costs $50,000. Loads of countries and hospitals help us but it was beyond their ability tp provide support for 30-40 children. It's a lot of cash. I had tried and tried and tried. I had been all over Europe, America, South Africa and India, but I had never been able to access a hospital that was willing and able to support these kids.'

"A few weeks ago, Scanlan flew to Tehran. As she landed, she was on edge. 'When you arrive in somewhere like Iran - the axis of evil - you wonder what people are going to be like,' she says. 'I thought I was going to a closed, suspicious sort of place.' But, as she made her way through the airport, queuing for visas and collecting baggage, she found 'entirely the opposite' was the case. 'People were offering me cakes and tea,' she says. 'I've never been to a place where the people were doing everything in their power to make each situation as pleasurable and friendly as possible.'

"During her stay, Scanlan visited Mahak hospital, an independent organisation supporting children with cancer, funded entirely through charitable donations. The idea was to go and see how they do things, and hopefully learn something to take back to Tanzania. 'Everywhere we went people knew about Mahak,' she says. 'It provides all the cancer services for Iran. They will pay for children's cancer care in any hospital in the country. You send them the bill and they pay it. If the children survive, they pay for all of their schooling up to and including university. I can't tell you how unbelievable they are.' Following her tour of the hospital and meetings with department heads, Scanlan asked whether she could give a presentation of her week in Tanzania. They agreed, and she told them all about the children suffering and dying from AML. 'When I'd finished, we all sat down and they asked what they could do to help,' she says. 'I asked was there any way they could take the AML kids, and they just said: 'Sure. No problem. No charge.' They asked could we afford to transport them and I said we'd find a way. If we could get the kids to the door of the hospital, they would take care of them after that. I started to cry. I've been looking for an answer to this for 10 years, so it was pretty insane.'

"The very next day though, everything changed. US president Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions on the Gulf state. 'The price of things  - simple commodities - went up overnight by as much as 50 per cent,' says Scanlan.'A run on the banks had closed foreign exchange. Naively I thought the sanctions wouldn't affect the hospital or the work of the charity where they don't apply, but they do apply to the money it uses to pay for everything. From one day to the next after that, people were glued to the television screen or radio. They were waiting for the next announcement. It wasn't a small deal what happened. They were holding their breath, waiting for how it was going to affect them.'

'The following night, Scanlan had dinner with the two women who set up Mahak. 'These were jolly, fun, really dynamic women,' she says. 'Both of them were like: 'We think war is coming.' These were not histrionic, dramatic women. Both of them had set this up 27 years ago in the middle of sanctions. These weren't women to flip. They said the offer was still there but that we needed to think very carefully about bringing children to a potential warzone."

'Despite the change in the landscape, Scanlan is determined to press on. 'We're going forward with the idea, but we're on tenterhooks because we certainly don't want a child to go and be at risk,' she says. 'It's mind-blowing what's happened. I don't know what the future holds. But I know that in recent weeks, a hospital in Tehran, funded by ordinary Iranians, offered to help children with cancer in Tanzania. In times full of threats, this was a promise of humanity'." (15/7/18)

Think about it: Iran is under attack, currently by sanctions, later by God-knows-what, from a country where paying for medical expenses can bankrupt you.

[*By way of a reminder, here's the latest dollop, in Sydney's Sunday Telegraph, from Piers Akerman: "Iran is offering hyper-malevolent support for terrorism in the Middle East and supporting all manner of criminal activity elsewhere." (15/7/18)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

What Modern War Propaganda Looks Like

War propaganda alert from Caitlin Johnstone: This is what modern war propaganda looks like (medium.com, 5/7/18)

"I've been noticing videos going viral the last few days, some with millions of views, about Muslim women bravely fighting to free themselves from oppression in the Middle East. The videos, curiously, are being shared enthusiastically by many Republicans and pro-Israel hawks, who aren't traditionally the sort of crowd you see rallying to support the civil rights of Muslims.

"Well, you may want to sit down for this shocker, but it turns out that they happen to be women from a nation that the US war machine is currently escalating operations against. They are Iranian.

"Whenever you see the sudden emergence of an attractive media campaign that is sympathetic to the plight of civilians in a resource-rich nation unaligned with the western empire, you are seeing propaganda. When that nation is surrounded by other nations with similar human rights transgressions and yet those transgressions are ignored by that same media campaign, you are most certainly seeing propaganda. When that nation just so happens to already be the target of starvation sanctions and escalated covert CIA ops, you can bet the farm that you are seeing propaganda.

"Back in December a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how then-Secretary of State, DC neophyte Rex Tillerson, was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports: The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 'Allies should be treated differently - and better - than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,' argued the memo, written by Tillerson's influential policy aide, Brian Hook.

"The propaganda machine doesn't operate any differently from the State Department, since they serve the same establishment. US ally Saudi Arabia is celebrated by the mass media for 'liberal reform' in allowing women to drive despite hard evidence that those 'reforms' are barely surface-level cosmetics to present a pretty face to the western world, but Iranian women, who have been able to drive for years, are painted as uniquely oppressed. Iran is condemned by establishment war whores for the flaws in its democratic process, while Saudi Arabia, an actual monarchy, goes completely unscrutinized. This is because the US-centralized power establishment, which has never at any point in its history cared about human rights, plans on effecting regime change in Iran by any means necessary. Should those means necessitate a potentially controversial degree of direct military engagement, the empire needs to make sure it retains control of the narrative.

"This is what war propaganda looks like in the era of social media. It will never look ugly. It will never directly show you its real intentions. If it did, it wouldn't work. It can't just come right out and say 'Hey we need to do horrible, evil things to the people in this country on the other side of the world in your name using your resources, please play along without making a fuss.' It will necessarily look fresh and fun and rebellious. It will look appealing. It will look sexy.

"And it's working. I am currently getting tagged in these videos multiple times a day by Trump supporters who are eager to show me proof that I'm on the wrong side of the Iran issue; the psyop is so well-lubricated with a combination of sleek presentation and confirmation bias that it slides right past their skepticism and becomes accepted as fact, even the one with the Now This pussyhat propaganda logo in the corner.

"Be less trusting of these monsters, please. The people of Afghanistan haven't benefited from the interminable military quagmire that has cost tens of thousands of their lives. The invaders of Iraq were never 'greeted as liberators' by an oppressed population. The humanitarian intervention in Libya left a humanitarian catastrophe in its wake far more horrific than anything it claimed to be trying to prevent. Saving the children of Syria with western interventionism has left half a million Syrians dead.

"If the Iranians do in fact wish to change their government, it should happen without crippling sanctions, collaboration with extremist terror cults, or the rapey tentacles of the CIA manipulating the situation. There has never been a US-led regime change in the Middle East that wasn't disastrous. People should be screaming at the US and its allies to cease these interventions, not applauding propaganda that is clearly being manufactured by that same empire."

Friday, July 13, 2018

The (Kosher) Axis Rides Again

This time with Israel's approval, of course:

"Support for Europe's right-wing populist parties, and their response to the challenges caused by the refugee/migrant wave, is rising... Last week, the German, Austrian and Italian ministers of the interior initiated an 'axis' of states aiming at stopping immigration to Europe, confirming their commitments to an already thriving reactionary nationalistic trend in both eastern as well as western Europe. Israel is in effect a silent partner to this 'axis': it is doing its utmost not only to prevent what its government terms 'infiltrators' from entering Israel, but also to get rid of those who were able to cross the Egyptian/Israeli border in the past.

"It was the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who after his short visit to Israel last week (re) coined the term 'Axis' for the Berlin-Vienna-Rome anti-immigrant alliance, a term which even people with relatively crude historical antennae will recognize for its historical resonances. That was straight after getting an enthusiastic 'kosher certification' from Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanks to Kurz's speech in Jerusalem, in which he admitted that Austrians were not only victims but also perpetrators during WWII...

"It would be no surprise if he interpreted his warm welcome in Israel as a laissez passer for his far right populist coalition partner, euphemistically called the 'Freedom Party,' whom Israel, until now, still officially boycotts on account of its neo-Nazi roots...

"The Austrian Freedom Party is attempting - like other European populist parties - to use Israel as a springboard for international legitimization. The first tactical step of such parties is to demonstrate support for Israel's nationalist government policy, in order to get that coveted so-called kosher certificate. Then, they move on to the second step: They proclaim their aversion to anti-Semitism, past and present... " (Israel: the one place Europe's anti-Semitic far right wins the Jewish vote, Shimon Stein, Haaretz, 20/6/18)

One wonders why all of this should come as a bit of a surprise to Stein, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany (2001-07). After all, didn't political Zionism's founding father, Theodor Herzl, predict that "The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies"? And isn't it typical of liberal Zionists like Stein to raise the issue of Israel's anti-African refugee policies, but remain silent when it comes to those other, Palestinian, refugees?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Letters? What Letters?

Netanyahu to a group of Israeli settlers in 2001: "I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction."


Yet another Israeli-monkey-on-America's-back story:

How four US presidents, including Obama and Trump, helped protect Israel's nuclear arsenal, Adam Entous, The New Yorker, 18/6/18)

"When a delegation of senior Israeli officials visited the Trump White House on February 13, 2017, they wanted to discuss several issues with their new American counterparts. Topping the list was a secret letter concerning a subject the Israelis had promised the Americans never to discuss publicly - Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal. In a recent piece for The New Yorker, I described a tense scene in the West Wing as the Israeli delegation - which included Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer - tried to get the letter signed by President Donald Trump. By all accounts, the American Administration was eager to please the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Trump had promised to lavish with unprecedented support. But, at that chaotic moment, Trump's aides felt blindsided by the Israeli request. They knew nothing about the existence of any letters and were confused by the sense of urgency coming from the Israelis. The Americans had other pressing concerns - later that day, Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, would hand in his resignation letter - and they didn't appreciate feeling as though the Israelis were telling them what to do. 'This is our fuckin' house,' one of the Americans snapped.

"The White House's reaction was understandable. There had been a similar moment of surprise eight years earlier, when Barack Obama became President and received a similar request. The very existence of the letters had been a closely held secret. Only a select group of senior American officials, in three previous Administrations, knew of the letters and how Israeli leaders interpreted them as effectively an American pledge not to press the Jewish state to give up its nuclear weapons so long as it continued to face existential threats in the region. (American officials say the letters weren't that explicit and fell short of constituting a binding commitment.) When Trump's aides moved into the White House, they didn't find any copies of the previous letters left behind by their predecessors. The documents had been sent to the archives. The Israelis, however, had copies.

"Israel crossed the nuclear threshold on the eve of the Six-Day War, in 1967. At that time, it had three nuclear devices, according to Avner Cohen, a nuclear historian... Israeli efforts to build a bomb at the nuclear complex in Dimona had been a source of tension with Washington for nearly a decade, But, by the fall of 1969, when Golda Meir, Israel's Prime Minister, met with Richard Nixon at the White House, Israel's possession of nuclear weapons was a fait accompli and the two sides reached an unwritten understanding: the Israelis would not declare, test, or threaten to use their nuclear weapons, and the Americans would not pressure the Israelis to sign a landmark international nuclear-nonproliferation treaty known as the NPT. (Israel never became a signatory, and US efforts to inspect Dimona stopped.)

"Successive Israeli governments abided by the arrangement... often referred to as Israel's 'policy of ambiguity.' A joint document describing the agreement was never prepared. Instead, each side relied on its own notes, a former official said. President Gerald Ford abided by Nixon's deal... The Israelis first started to feel as though the unwritten Meir-Nixon arrangement was no longer sufficient during the Presisidency of George H.W. Bush, when, after the first Gulf War, in 1991, world powers talked about the possibility of creating a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms.

"The first iteration of the secret letter was drafted during the Clinton Administration, as part of an agreement for Israel's participation in the 1998 Wye River negotiations with the Palestinians. In the letter, according to former officials, President Bill Clinton assured the Jewish state that no future American arms-control initiative would 'detract' from Israel's 'deterrent' capabilities, an oblique but clear reference to its nuclear arsenal. Later, Israeli officials inserted language to make clear to Washington that Israel would 'defend itself, by itself,' and that it would, therefore, not consider the American nuclear arsenal to be a substitute for Israeli nuclear arms. George W. Bush, when he became president, followed Clinton's lead, signing a similar letter, former officials told me.

"Then, in 2009, a new President, Barack Obama, took office. Almost from the start, Netanyahu was distrustful of Obama, and vice versa. 'With Obama, we were all crazy,' an Israeli official told me. That April, Obama delivered an aspirational speech in Prague, setting out 'America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.' Obama's advisers subsequently learned 'how paranoid Bibi was that Obama was going to try to take away Israel's nuclear weapons,' a former US official told me, adding, 'Of course, that was never our intent.' Obama signed an updated version of the letter in May, 2009.

"While Israeli officials interpreted the letters as an effective commitment by successive American Presidents not to pressure Israel regarding its nuclear arsenal, US officials told me that they viewed the letters as less categorical. 'It was not a blanket 'We'll never ask Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.' It was more 'We accepted the Israeli argument that they're not going to disarm under current conditions in the Middle East,' a former US official told me...

"Ahead of a nonproliferation conference in 2010, Netanyahu became concerned, once again, that Israel would come under international pressure to disarm. In response, Obama made a public statement that echoed the contents of the secret letters, without revealing their existence. 'We discussed issues that arose out of the nuclear nonproliferation conference,' Obama said, after meeting with Netanyahu on July 6, 2010. 'And I reiterated to the Prime Minister that there is no change in US policy when it comes to these issues. We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it's in, and the threats that are levelled against... it, that Israel has unique security requirements. It's got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region. And that's why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel's security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests'."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ziofascist Legislation Creep in the US

On 23/7/17, in my post First They Came for the Palestinians, I drew attention to Glenn Greenwald's ominous essay, US lawmakers seek to criminally outlaw support for boycott campaign against Israel, in which he warned that "the criminalization of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the West," and went on to analyse the circumstances around the introduction of a bipartisan, AIPAC-drafted, Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720) into the US Senate, noting in particular its foreshadowing of maximum criminal penalties of $1 million and 20 years in prison for Americans supporting the international boycott of Israel.

So where are we now with this piece of Ziofascist legislation creep, almost one year on? Here's an update from theintercept.com's Alex Emmons, New house bill would empower Donald Trump to punish US companies that boycott Israel (29/6/18):

"The House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously passed a measure on Thursday that would give the Trump administration power to decide how to punish US companies that engage in or promote boycotts of Israel - including through criminal penalties. The committee passed an amendment... from Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif, that largely replaced the text of... the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. When the original legislation was first introduced last year, it drew outrage from activists, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that by threatening to impose steep criminal penalties on boycott activists engaged with international bodies' boycotts, the bill was unconstitutional.

"After the uproar, the initial bill... lost momentum. But Royce's effort to move his version out of the Foreign Affairs Committee is part of a push to reinvigorate Capitol Hill's efforts to use statutory means to clamp down on the growing movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state for human rights violations against the Palestinians. Pro-Palestinian activists said Royce's amendment, despite being an attempt to work around civil liberties concerns, could be the most dangerous version of the bill yet, because it delegates the lawmaking power to the Trump administration...

"Royce's amendment rewrites the bill to direct the administration to issue regulations that prohibit US companies from involvement with the BDS movement... The bill covers those companies that attempt to 'comply with, further, or support' UN or EU calls for a boycott of Israel... [It] requires them to be 'consistent with the enforcement practices' of the 1979 Export Administration Act - which allows for a range of civil and criminal penalties stopping out at a maximum of $1 million fine and 20 years in prison...

"According o the ACLU, 24 states have passed laws aimed at punishing the boycott movement, and more than 100 bills have been considered by state and local legislatures across the country."

Land of the free? You're kidding me!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Must Watch: The Occupation of the American Mind

Sut Jhally's film, The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel's Public Relations War in the United States, is an absolute must watch. Jhally is professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the director of other films on msm manipulation of the American mind. I received notice of his latest film with the following note attached. Having just viewed it, I fully concur - watch and share widely:

"Despite receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from those who have actually seen it, The Occupation of the American Mind has been repeatedly attacked and misrepresented by right-wing pressure groups and outright ignored by virtually all mainstream media outlets and North American film festivals. To bypass this campaign of misrepresentation and suppression, we've decided to make the film available for FREE online so that people can make up their own minds about its analysis of US media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please watch and share widely!"


Sunday, July 8, 2018


In my 15/4/18 post Sydney Morning Herald Readers & Syria, I recorded the Herald readership's reaction to the question: Do you think Australia should join a joint response to the [April 7] Syrian chemical attack [in Douma]? 39% of readers answered 'yes'.

The following data, from the OPCW interim report (which no Australian corporate media outlet, including the Herald, to my knowledge, has shown any interest in), is dedicated to that 39%, who, no doubt misled by years of anti-Syrian government propaganda in the paper, thought we should shoot first and ask questions later:

"No traces of any nerve agents have been found at the site of a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, an interim report issued by the OPCW says, adding that several chlorine compounds were detected... The purported chemical incident in Douma allegedly took place on April 7. A week later, Washington and its allies launched a massive retaliatory missile strike against Syria, without waiting for the OPCW to start its investigation of the incident." (Nerve agents not found in samples from Syria's Douma - interim OPCW report, rt.com, 6/7/18)

PS 9/7: Sydney's Sun-Herald finally got around to mentioning the OPCW's report. It was buried inside another report - Rebels surrender south to Assad (Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters) - and mentioned only that "'various chlorinated chemical's" were found at the site... indicating chlorine may have been used as a weapon." IOW, there was no mention of nerve agents.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Shorten's Tribute to Michael Danby

"Shorten paid tribute to Danby, thanking him for his '20 years of service to the parliament' and 'lifetime of service to the labour movement'. Michael's colleagues and his constituents know him as a champion for the arts and a true friend of Israel,' the Labor leader said. 'Throughout his career Michael has always put fidelity to these principles ahead of any consideration of narrow political self-interest'." (Controversial Labor MP Michael Danby announces retirement, Paul Karp, theguardian.com, 5/7/18)

Let me unpack this:

"20 years of service to the parliament"?

Shorten means 20 years of "ensuring that the policies of the Labor party, in its internal considerations of the issues relating to the Middle East, are consistent with the aspirations of the local Jewish community," and "corralling his parliamentary colleagues and forcing them to think long, hard and seriously about matters that often conjure knee-jerk reactions," these occasioned by natural revulsion at Israel's 2008-09 butchery in Gaza.* (See my 1/3/09 post Nipping at their Heels.)

"Michael's colleagues... know him as a true friend of Israel."

Too understated. As Bob Carr once put it: "Michael Danby is a passionate supporter of Israel - Israel right or wrong. I describe Michael, who is a great friend of mine, as being a stronger Labor Zionist than Ben Gurion, the founder of the state of Israel." (See my 18/10/13 post The MP Who Dares Not Speak His Name.)

"Michael has always put fidelity to these principles ahead of any consideration of narrow self-interest."

My oath he has! Like traveling to Israel on sick leave when he should have been sitting in parliament, or placing taxpayer-funded ads in the Australian Jewish News attacking hardworking ABC journalists for alleged bias against Israel.

Predictably, Shorten doesn't really do justice to Danby's devotion to Zionism. The adjective 'slavish' comes to mind. For example:

"MK Danny Danon (Likud) asked Australian MP Michael Danby... to propose, in parliament in Canberra, sending African migrants from Israel to Australia. Danon and Danby discussed the issue during the Australian politician's visit to Israel for the World Jewish Congress's International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians. 'The arrival of thousands of [African] Muslim infiltrators to Israeli territory is a clear threat to [Israel's] Jewish identity', Danon told The Jerusalem Post. 'The refugees' place is not among us, and the initiative to transfer them to Australia is the right and just solution. On the one hand, it treats the refugees and migrants in a humane way. On the other hand, it does not threaten Israel's future and our goal to maintain a clear and solid Jewish majority', he explained. Danon said Danby enthusiastically agreed to present the idea to the Australian Parliament." (Danny Danon: Send African migrants to Australia, Lahav Harkov, 30/6/11)

Friday, July 6, 2018

We Shall Not See his Like Again... Hopefully

Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan sheds a tear in yesterday's Australian:

"A Labor lion has decided to roar no more, at least in parliament. Michael Danby, one of Bill Shorten's strongest supporters in the federal Labor caucus, has decided to retire from politics at the next election. Mr Danby, 63, has held the marginal seat of Melbourne Ports since 1998... " (Veteran Danby ready to call it a day, 5/7/18)

Danby's taxpayer-funded roar, however, had two essential characteristics. The first was that it was only ever heard when Israel came under scrutiny or criticism. The second was that the roar was always facilitated by that Murdoch megaphone, The Australian, without which none of us would even know who this Zionist fanatic was.

According to his good mate, Sheridan, Danby is ready to strut his stuff on the international stage:

"'This is the right time to transition to a new career in Australia or international affairs' [said Danby.]"

God help us. As if there weren't enough lunatics and fanatics striding the international stage these days. As the percipient Bob Carr put it recently: "If Michael Danby had his way we'd be running a cold War with China, the RAAF would be bombing Tehran and the Australian defence forces would be manning the Gaza fence." (See my 31/5/18 post 'If Michael Danby Had his Way...')

So heartbroken is Sheridan, in fact, that he has gone on to pen, in the same issue, a political obituary of sorts:

"I have known Danby for more than 40 years and have greatly enjoyed his humour and his connoisseur's delight in ideological eccentricities, the strange and florid plants to be observed if you journey far enough into the labyrinths of political obsession." (Danby passion will be missed by many)

Now if that ain't two, rusted-on Zionist fanatics, lamenting the glory days when the execrable Exodus narrative ruled supreme in the land down under, I don't know what is. And how's this for lipsticking the pig:

"Because he is so passionate in his commitments, he is sometimes impetuous and prone to overstatement, and I don't think he is one of nature's born administrators. But, by God, Australia would benefit if there were more like him in parliament. For Danby is utterly fearless, utterly committed to the causes he believes in, he sticks in good times and bad, and the causes he champions are good causes." (Danby passion will be missed by many)

Of course, distracting us with talk of Danby's occasional asides on Tibetans, Uighers, and Darfuris doesn't disguise what really keeps him awake at night.

Sheridan eventually gets around to the bleeding obvious, however, albeit in a textbook example of understatement: "Danby is a strong, though not uncritical, supporter of Israel." He then adds, "This, too, is a good cause."

Leaving aside the nonsense about Danby's alleged critical support of Israel - show me a Danby (or Sheridan) criticism of Israel and I'll show you a unicorn - here is what Danby's "good cause" means today:

"At least 134 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli gunfire as thousands of Palestinian women demonstrated along the heavily fortified fence with Israel in the besieged Gaza Strip." (Israeli forces wound scores of women in Gaza rally, aljazeera.com, 4/7/18)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Israel's Other Victims in Gaza

An extract from A suicide in Gaza by Sarah Helm (theguardian.com, 18/5/18):

"Often it has looked as if these protesters were literally throwing themselves in front of Israeli bullets. In the early days of the protests, I spoke to young people on the buffer zone who said they didn't care if they died. 'We are dying in Gaza anyway. We might as well die being shot,' said a teenager, standing at the border near the city of Khan Younis. He was with friends who felt the same, including one who had already been shot in the leg, and was in a wheelchair.

"If the world's cameras were to move a little deeper into Gaza, into the streets and behind the doors of people's homes, they would see the desperation in almost every home. After 10 years of siege, the 2 million people of Gaza, living packed on a tiny strip, find themselves without work, their economy killed off, without the bare essentials for decent life - electricity or running water - and without any hope of freedom, or any sign that their situation will change. The siege is fracturing minds, pushing the most vulnerable to suicide in numbers never seen before.

"Until recently, suicide has been rare here, partly due to Palestinian resilience, acquired over 70 years of conflict, and strong clan networks, but mostly because killing oneself is forbidden in traditional Muslim societies. Only when suicide is an act of jihad are the dead considered martyrs who go to heaven; others go to hell.

"In nearly three decades of reporting from Gaza, I almost never heard stories of suicide before 2016. At the start of that year, nine years into the full-blown siege, a British orthopaedic surgeon volunteering in Gaza's al-Shifa hospital told me that she and her colleagues were seeing a number of unexplained injuries - which they believed had been caused by falling, or jumping, from tall buildings.

"By the end of 2016, suicides were happening so often that the phenomenon had started to become public knowledge. Figures quoted by local journalists suggested the number of suicides in 2016 was at least three times the number in 2015. But according to Gaza's health professionals, while figures cited in the media do indicate a substantial rise, they vastly underestimate the true rate. Suicides are 'disguised' as falls or other accidents, and misreporting and censorship are common because of the stigma against suicide.

"However, since 2016, there have also been a spate of self-immolations across Gaza, in which men set themselves alight for all to see."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On Planet Trumble...

On Planet Trumble, where up is down and right is wrong, the more Palestinians Israel murders and maims, the more the Palestinians must be punished:

"Australia has ceased providing direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying the donations could increase the self-governing body's capacity to pay Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence. Ms Bishop said funding was cut to the World Bank's Multi-Donor Trust Fund for the Palestinian Recovery and Development Program after writing to the Palestinian Authority in late May seeking assurance that Australian funding was not going to Palestinian criminals. Australia sends about $10 million in aid to Palestine territories [?]. It will now direct its funds through the United Nations." (Australia ends direct aid to Palestinian Authority, abc.net.au/news, 3/7/18)

On Planet Trumble, Israel pulls its parliamentary strings:

"Concerns have been raised by some Coalition politicians, including backbencher Eric Abetz,* that the money sent through the World Bank had gone towards funding violence in the region."

 On Planet Trumble, foreign minister Bishop can see no valid reason for not funding the PA directly, but cuts it anyway:

"Ms Bishop said she was confident no Australian funds had been used inappropriately. 'I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended,' she said in a statement. 'However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA's operations, there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to [fund] activities that Australia would never support. Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organisation to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values and undermines the prospect of a meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians'."

On Planet Trumble, Australia takes its cues from the US, which takes its cues from Israel:

"In March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US Government for passing a law that suspended some financial aid to the Palestinians over the stipends paid to families of Palestinians killed or jailed in fighting with Israel. Mr Netanyahu said the Taylor Force Act, named after an American killed in Israel by a Palestinian in 2016, a 'powerful signal by the US that changes the rules' by cutting 'hundreds of millions of dollars for the Palestinian Authority that they invest in encouraging terrorism'."

On Planet Trumble, USraeli perpetrators are the victims and Palestinian victims are the perpetrators:

"The Palestinians say the families are victims of violence."

Strange place, Planet Trumble.

[*See my 2/6/18 post Australia's Senate Hard at Work.]

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

More Palestinian Martyrs

News of Israel's murderous assaults on Palestinian protesters in Gaza may have vanished from the msm, but they nevertheless continue. Thank God for websites such as Electronic Intifada:

"Israeli forces killed two Palestinians, including a child, in the occupied Gaza Strip on Friday... Yasir Amjad Musa Abu al-Naja - only 12, according to the rights group Al Mezan - and Muhammad Fawzi Muhammad al-Hamayda, 24, died after being shot in the head and stomach, respectively, in two separate incidents in southern Gaza. The pair were killed during the 14th consecutive week of the Great March of Return protests along Gaza's eastern perimeter. Abu al-Naja was the second Palestinian child slain by Israeli forces in Gaza this week. Abd al-Fatah Abu Azoum, 17, was slain after being targeted by tank fire early Thursday. Israel has killed around 150 Palestinians in Gaza so far this year, including more than 20 children... Two-thirds of Gaza's population of two million, who have lived under severe Israeli blockade for 11 years, are refugees from lands inside what is now called Israel." (Boy among two killed by Israeli fire in Gaza, Maureen Clare Murphy, electronicintifada.net, 29/6/18)

As George Galloway recently tweeted in relation to the death of Yasir Amjad Musa Abu al-Naja:

"Israel is now murdering children as if for sport. Blowing their heads off (I will spare you the picture of today's child although his parents didn't have that luxury). How can ANYBODY be a 'Friend' of this, let alone a #Labour MP?"

Ditto for Australia's parliamentary 'friends of Israel', whether federal or state, Liberal or Labor.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Bob Carr's 'Run for Your Life'

Former foreign minister Bob Carr's just released autobiography, Run for your Life, is very revealing of the Australian Labor Party's relationship with the Israel lobby. Here's a key extract from the chapter Me and 'the lobby':

"The hold of the Israel lobby over Australian politicians is based on two facts: first, donations to the political parties from the Jewish community leadership; second, paid trips to Israel extended to every member of parliament and journalists. From the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) over 700 trips alone. This political influence is particularly noticeable with the Victorian ALP Right and deserves some examination by journalistic sleuths, who seem reluctant to touch the subject. No other community, in my experience, treats politicians as their poodles; even when making a political case - not the Tamils or Singhalese, the Chinese, the Macedonians, the Cypriots, the Turks nor the Armenians." (p 180)

The problem here, of course, is that our politicians can only be treated as poodles by the Israel lobby if they are sufficiently stupid and ill-informed as to allow themselves to be. A huge part of the problem is that perennial bugbear, received wisdom. As Carr puts it succinctly, speaking of the ALP's infatuation with all things Israel in the 80s, "We just accepted the prevailing wisdom. [Palestine] had been 'a land without a people for a people without a land': this was the Exodus narrative." (p 175) Or as Bertrand Russell once put it even more succinctly, "Most people would rather die than think."

While Carr, to his credit, has come far on the matter of Palestine, when he writes about "the [Israeli] settlement movement capturing Zionism," and "Zionist zealots," it is clear that he still has further to go. Zionism was, is now, and always will be, a colonial-settler movement, one, moreover, which simply cannot abide, or come to terms with, the presence, in any way, shape, or form, of Palestine's indigenous Arab population. Likewise, talk of "Zionist zealots" overlooks the obvious fact that, whatever guise Zionism takes, it is inherently fanatical, and devoted to the same inhuman end: a greater Israel, free of its indigenous Palestinian Arab population.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Don't Give Me that 'Two States' Shit...

Extracts from an interview with Jamal Juma', coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, about the popular resistance in Gaza, the Trump administration's policy toward the question of Palestine, and Palestinian options to chart a new course ('A watershed moment in Palestinian history': interview with Jamal Juma', mondoweiss.net, 29/6/18):

"It is clear that the Wall was designed to isolate and lay siege to Palestinians... It closed off all the dynamic areas that Israel considered necessary to isolate various areas. 80% of the Wall is within the West Bank.

"The second part of the siege is reinforcement of the settlements. Each settlement has what Israel calls a buffer zone - a security apparatus consisting of barbed wire and roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use...Today, there are two road networks. One is for Israeli settlers, about 1,400 kms long, and its purpose is to connect all settlements to one another and to Israel in a kind of network... The other network, the alternative roads, is for Palestinians to use... The two road systems are separate. This is the basis of the racist, discriminatory system we talk about: isolating Palestinians and confining them in limited spaces, and controlling their resources through settlements, the road network, military installations, and the Wall, [all of] which takes up about 62% of the West Bank.

"With the extension of the settlements, we no longer talk about the Palestinians ghettoized in the north, south, and central region. There is more fragmentation of Palestinian residential areas. New settlement outposts are not being discussed in terms of whether they should be removed or not. They are being transformed into settlements. When you see 150 outposts, you are really talking about 150 new settlements. This project is intensifying, especially since Trump took office... This is a watershed moment in Palestinian history. Since Trump took office, US policy has fully adopted the Zionist project and embarked on a process of liquidating the Palestinian cause... It is a clear program. It began with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, the transfer of the embassy, and the targeting of the refugees by cutting aid to UNRWA... In addition, there is the use of Arab countries that are ready for normalization with Israel and eager to be aligned with the American project - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt [are] pressuring the Palestinians to accept the US liquidation project.

"This has complicated things and taken [the Palestine cause] out of the sphere of international law and the UN... the US has dealt a blow to international law...

"On the formal political level, the Palestinian Authority is in crisis. It had placed its faith in the US, but the US is now clearly determined to liquidate the Palestinian cause. The only real option remaining to the PA is to cast its lot with the Palestinian people and on free people around the world, international solidarity and movements that support us...

"On the popular level, we see serious activity in search of an alternative to the status quo, the largest and most important of which is taking place now in Gaza with the Great March of Return... This has changed stereotypes about Gaza as a launchpad for rockets, a place of terrorism, hijacked by Hamas... Just as the first intifada emerged from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, today we have the beginnings of a mass civil disobedience movement. Gaza has a population that is resisting, and Hamas does not control this resistance... The Great March has returned focus on the refugee issue... despite all efforts to ignore and erase it. More than 70% of Gazans are refugees, and they are demanding the right to return to their homes...