Thursday, November 29, 2018

Make One, Two, Three, Many Guatemalas*

Sorry, but I can't rest on this subject. Even the Lowy Institute is giving the embassy shuffle the thumbs-down:

"Moving the Australian embassy when no other first world country is would dilute the unity of Western effort further and reward Israel without getting anything in return. No wonder Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was effusive in his praise of the proposal - he probably never thought he would get two Guatemalas in his time in office." (Jerusalem embassy move is down and out on three counts, Rodger Shanahan, The Australian, 22/11/18)

Two Guatemalas? And Australia is the second! Ay caramba! So let's check out the first:

"'We have had an excellent relationship with the people of Israel since the foundation of the State of Israel,' President Jimmy Morales told CBN on Wednesday. His Central American country, now the most heavily evangelical nation in Latin America, was an early supporter of Israel's independence in 1948 and the first to establish an embassy in Jerusalem in the late 1950s. (It was later one of 13 nations that withdrew their embassies from the disputed city due to a 1980 United Nations resolution.)... Citing prayer and prophesy as their motivation, Morales and Vice President Jafeth Cabrera officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital last year and pledged to return Guatemala's embassy there. 'People in Guatemala pray for the peace in this region, pray for Jerusalem, and they are excited,' said Sarah Angelina Solis, Guatemala's ambassador to Israel, in an interview with CBN. 'I feel this is a gift from God. I know that a lot of blessings will come after this decision. This is a promise in the Bible, in Genesis...'" (Blessed through Israel: how Guatemala's evangelicals inspired its embassy move, Kate Shellnutt,, 17/5/18)

This millenarian madness, of course, is continent-wide, but the rot appears deepest in Central America, particularly in Guatemala:

"As once Catholic-dominated nations in Central and South America see the rise of evangelicos, particularly from Pentecostal and charismatic traditions, they've also grown more supportive of Israel as a political state and a holy land, keen to the Lord's words to Abraham: 'I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.' (Gen. 12:3 NIV). Guatemala and Honduras - which have undergone the most dramatic declines in Catholic identity (down nearly 50% in 45 years, according to the Pew Research Center) - were among just a handful of countries to side with the US when the UN voted to condemn its decision to recognize Jerusalem again... Guatemala's third evangelical president, Morales has prioritized Israel since his election in 2015, making the country his first official visit outside of the Americas." (ibid)

But the Lord's 'blessings' now being showered on Jimmy Morales' Guatemala actually go back to the 70s and 80s:

"Even in the midst of the endless misery and cruelty of Central America, Guatemala stands out as a country where those in power have been fighting the powerless with an unusual degree of ruthlessness and bloodiness. Over the years, reports of the horrible realities of Guatemala have been numerous and the judgments harsh. What is unique is the extent to which those who carried out the deliberate policies of endless killings have proclaimed their indebtedness to Israel, as the source not only of their hardware, but of their inspiration. Israel became the main support of the Guatemalan military regimes, as attested to by both General Romeo Lucas Garcia and General Efrain Rios Montt in no uncertain terms. It was Rios Montt, born-again Christian and dictator of Guatemala in 1982-1983, who explained the ease with which he took over in March 1982 simply: 'Many of our soldiers were trained by Israelis' (Greve, 1984) [...] In Guatemala, Israeli advisers are not just instructors: 'Israeli advisers - some official, others private - helped Guatemalan internal security agents hunt underground rebel groups' (Cody, 1983, p 7). They have been directly engaged in counterinsurgency campaigns against the Indian communities." (Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why, 1988, pp 79-81)

The genocidal Indian-fighter Rios Montt, it seems, is something of a role model for Morales:

"Rios Montt died in Guatemala City on April, 2018, of a heart attack at the age of 91. The government of Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales lamented his passing." (Efrain Rios Monttt - Wikipedia)

In fact, Guatemala's love affair with Israel goes back even further, as a young British officer, stationed in Mandate Palestine at the time the Irgun and Stern gangs were strutting their stuff, noted acidly in his memoir:

"This was the day, 16 June [1947], which heralded the arrival of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. This travelling circus, under its self-appointed ringmaster, Jorge Garcia-Granados, a Guatemalan whose country had little to learn about oppressing indigenous peoples, passed five weeks in the Holy Land, adding not a jot to its preconceived ideas. His personal conclusion was that Palestine was a police state, because, thanks to terrorism, it had been forced to spend $2,000,000 a month on security, or P7,010,000 per year. Necessity, the need to support a subjective viewpoint, in this case became the mother of invention." (Philip Brutton, A Captain's Mandate: Palestine 1946-1948, 1996, pp 99-100)

Garcia-Granados went on to pen his own memoir, which concludes thus:

"Yes, it was true, the birth of Israel had taken place in the agony of war. I was convinced that this war need not have been... Nonetheless, bloodshed had come, and we recognized the realities of the situation. Despite this unnecessary tragedy, we, who had considered  the needs and problems of Palestine and its peoples, knew that Israel would live. It must live! Its existence was the first step toward the achievement of security and peace and a new awakening in the lands of the Middle East. How far from Guatemala to Israel - and yet, how near! In a world of many peoples, the struggle was one." (Jorge Garcia-Granados, The Birth of Israel: The Drama as I Saw It, 1948,  pp 290-91)

Just how well that worked out we can see today in the smoking ruin that passes for the Middle East, and just how near Guatemala is to Israel today can hardly have been imagined by the deluded author of these words.

[*With apologies to Che. I have, of course, borrowed his memorable injunction, 'Make one, two, three, many Vietnams', to describe Netanyahu's attempt to circumvent apartheid Israel's pariah status.]

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Morrison: Just a Happy Clapper?

If Jennifer Wilson's report, Why is Scott Morrison protecting Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston? at (21/11/18) is correct, it would now appear that Australia has its first Christian Zionist prime minister. How so? Wilson reveals that both Hillsong and Morrison's own church are "affiliated with Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the [US] Assemblies of God."

If we examine the Assemblies of God (USA) Official Web Site/ Assemblies of God 16 Fundamental Truths, we find that 'truths' 14, 15 and 16 read as follows:

14 The Millennial Reign of Christ: The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on earth for one thousand years. This millennial reign will bring the salvation of national Israel, and the establishment of universal peace.

15 The Final Judgment: There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

16 The New Heavens and the New Earth: 'We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.'

These 'truths' are each accompanied Biblical references, from both the old and new testaments. You will, of course, note the highlighted sentence in 'truth' 14, regarding "the salvation of national Israel." This a reference to a cardinal dogma of Christian Zionism based on Ezekiel 37:21: "And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them into their own land." (King James version)

If you turn to the ACC website and scan the section labelled The Doctrinal Basis of the Australian Christian Churches (Assemblies of God in Australia) - you'll find much the same theological claptrap, with one key omission - the reference to "the salvation of national Israel." The intriguing question arises: is this particular Christian Zionist dogma being kept under wraps here in Australia? Or has the ACC broken with its parent body? (The latter seems most unlikely given that they still refer to themselves as "Assemblies of God in Australia.")

Even more intriguing: is the dogma embraced by Prime Minister Morrison, and was it a factor in his including Netanyahu in his "circle of trust" - see my 18/11/18 post Morrison's 'Circle of Trust' - prior to introducing his lead-balloon proposal to move Australia's embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem into the recent Wentworth by-election?

And another thing, this time more general: how does it feel, my fellow Australians, to know that your current prime minister has a dinky-di(e?) belief in the end of the world, if not an interest in doing his bit to bring it on?

A 'clarification' from the Assemblies of God (USA) Official Web Site/ Israel - the Church's Response, poses the question What does the Bible teach regarding Israel and the end-times? As Christians, what response should we have to the Israelis and the Palestinians?, unconvincingly leaving some wriggle-room on 'truth' 14. Claiming that "God's timetable moves at a different pace than some would like," it says that "the Assemblies of God as a Fellowship has been diligent to take an apolitical stance in matters of government and nations." The document then goes on to say, "We must never forget our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters who suffer great terrors and hurts. But neither should we forget the Jewish Christians and others who are caught in this conflict."

Clearly, Palestinian Muslims, who make up the majority of Palestinians, are excluded from the Assemblies' tender concern. That's some 'diligence'!

Finally, an indication of just how wobbly the adherents of the Assemblies of God can be is well summed up in the chapter Traveling with Brad, in Grace Halsell's excellent study of Christian Zionism, Prophecy & Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War (1986). Brad, an Assemblies of God man on a tour of Israel, tells Halsell that he wishes he'd been born a Jew; that Jews are God's Chosen People; that he wanted the Jews to take possession of the Holy Land; that the ancient Hebrews and today's Israelis are one and the same people; that non-Jews are pagans; and that he didn't want to be a pagan.

Will the real Scott Morrison tell us where he stands in this morass?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Lest You Forget...

As Fairfax Media is on the cusp of being swallowed up by Nine Entertainment Co.* and so turning into a shadow of its former self, we should not forget that its former self was hardly a paragon of fearless journalism on the subject of Palestine/Israel.

One of its myriad ways of misrepresenting the issue and misleading readers was by resorting to that form of self-censorship known as the doctrine of 'balance' - that is, falsely representing the struggle between colonised Palestinian Arabs and their settler-colonial Israeli Jewish masters as one between equals. Here, for example, in the dying days of the Fairfax press as we know it, is one of the most egregious examples I've ever come across of the application of this pernicious practice:

"The declarations [on the Register of Members' Interests by Australian politicians] also show Israeli and Palestinian groups regularly pay for politicians to visit but not all MPs declared this hospitality.

"In April 2017 Greens senator Janet Rice was hosted by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network [APAN] but this was not noted on her register. The senator said she paid all expenses associated with the trip personally and had donated to APAN in the past, which is noted on the register.

"The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council sponsored Labor MPs with $10,000 each in 2017 for study tours and many Liberal MPs have also taken up offers to tour Israel." (190 bottles of wine, 21 cases of beer & a pineapple: gifts for MPs interests, Nigel Gladstone, Sydney Morning Herald, 21/11/18)

Seriously, where's the equivalence here between APAN and AIJAC? There is none! (See my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too on the subject of Zionist propaganda tours over the decades.)

(Needless to say, not one of the 87 'readers' who commented on the thread following Gladstone's article referred to the above section of his report, yet another another example of 'readers' frittering away their time venting their cynicism and airing their cliches while overlooking entirely the vast difference between bottles of wine and $10,000 propaganda tours which distort our foreign policy so grievously.)

[*See my 10/7/18 post Meet the Chairman of Nine Entertainment Co.]

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A LibLab Witch Hunt

A South Australian public school teacher, Regina Wilson, is currently being crucified by the Murdoch press for introducing "partisan politics" - the words are those of the Liberal South Australian treasurer, Rob Lucas - for posting the following on the Australian Education Union's FB page:

"I am going to try to ensure that the next generation of voters in my classroom don't vote Liberal, without being political of course, as I won't tell my students what to think, but I teach them how to be critical thinkers who question those in power and especially those who seek to keep the status quo for the rich, upper classes and refuse to acknowledge the rest of us." (Teacher's vow to turn kids off Libs, Michael Owen, The Australian, 21/11/18)

Far from being hounded by the Murdoch press, Ms Wilson deserves a medal for her devotion to the welfare of her students. After all, she's doing her bit to ensure that the racist, sexist, born-to-rule rabble, quoted below, get nowhere near the reins of power:

"... CBD has stumbled upon a rich resource that should allow future anthropologists to answer the question: how do party staffers and their friends see themselves? The answer is in a private Facebook page populated by Liberal staffers for dozens of (NSW) MPs from Premier Gladys Berejiklian to Finance Minister Victor Dominello, Sports Minister Stuart Ayres and Better Regulations Minister Matt Kean. Its name? 'Not so Subtle Young Lib Traits'.

'Having the ethnic pushed to the front of every group photo,' one Lib suggests.

'And the females!' another quips.

'Thinking that you're a humanitarian because coal exports lift billions out of poverty' is another well-liked post.

'The ratio of gay to straight men almost making up for the lack of women,' gets 60 likes.

'Working for a politician and realising that you're working in this public sector and that makes you nothing more than a filthy commie', comes with the crying face emoji.

One of our favourites: 'Trying to hide your metro aussie accent when talking to Young Nats, Aboriginals or anybody over the age of 50 by faking a strong rural accent like a top country gent' (only 18 likes).

Less creative: 'Being white.' " (The Young Liberal Manual, Kylar Loussikian, CBD, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/10/18)

Now read on as South Australian and federal Labor unite with the Liberals against this admirable woman:

"State Labor's education spokeswoman, Susan Close, said yesterday: 'Party politics should be kept out of the classroom.' This came a day after federal Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek joined federal Education Minister Dan Tehan in calling on schools to ensure children were not being indoctrinated with the political ideologies of teachers." (Teacher claims harassment by 'sexist minister', Michael Owen, The Australian, 24/11/18)

Truly vile.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Poor Bastards

The brain-busting psychiatric disorder, hereinafter known as Shifting Embassy Syndrome (SES), which currently afflicts so many in the federal Liberal Party and the ruling LNP coalition government, has now, tragically, spread to the Liberal opposition in the state of Victoria, with its leader Matthew Bloke Guy flagging "a Jerusalem trade office as one of his top priorities.... Mr Bloke Guy said he was not interested in the political implications of the decision, and he had been driven to make the move by a trip to Israel last year during which he saw the opportunities in Jerusalem." (State Libs' Israel call 'risks backlash', Samantha Hutchinson, The Australian, 22/11/18)

So debilitating is SES that, even though "Start Up Nation Finder 2017 listed almost 2000 active innovation start-ups based in Tel Aviv," and only "390 in Jerusalem," (ibid) sufferers such as Mr Guy are invariably rendered blind to all such mundane considerations.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

About Those Bloody Comment Threads...

A most interesting corporate media phenomenon is the alacrity with which those 'readers' who, like moths to a flame, respond whenever Guardian Australia deigns to allow them the opportunity to do so. I say 'deigns' because these opportunities are quite rare.

In addition to Katharine Murphy's report of November 17, with its categorical assertion that Israeli PM Netanyahu was part of Australian PM Morrison's "circle of trust" in the lead-up to the latter's announcement, during the Wentworth by-election, that he would be moving Australia's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - a truly stunning revelation which all of our corporate media outlets have, inexplicably, thus far ignored - Guardian Australia also posted an eminently sensible opinion piece by former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr, giving the idea of the embassy move the thumbs-down. (See my 18/11/18 post Morrison's 'Circle of Trust'.)

Guardian Australia allowed comments on Carr's piece, but, interestingly, not on Murphy's, which brings us back to my first paragraph. Carr's piece attracted almost 170 comments, just about every one of which hammered Morrison and his embassy proposal in no uncertain terms. Morrison was slammed variously as stupid, a moron, an idiot, an imbecile, a clown, a buffoon, a blunderer and, even, 'deranged', and his proposal as a brain-fart or a thought-bubble. He was fingered as a plaything of Trump or the US State Department and Defence/ intelligence community and a lickspittle. Many commenters cited his evangelical faith as the reason for his announcement. They spoke of 'fundamentalist Christian apocalypticism', 'prayerful clappers', 'playing the religion card', 'enmeshed in religious extremism', and 'the fanatical US religious right'. His senior ministers were referred to as a rabble and Frydenberg in particular was singled out as 'incredibly immature' and wanting to 'raise awareness of his heritage'. Not one revealed any knowledge of the hold exercised by the Israel lobby over the two major parties. The word 'Zionist' was conspicuous by its absence.

Only one, it seems, had taken the trouble to read Katharine Murphy's article, yet even his/her comment was problematic. I quote it here in full so you'll see exactly what I mean:

"What KM's related reporting suggests is that while the timing might have been all about  Morrison's desperation as he saw Wentworth slipping away from the Liberals, this particular idea was hardly unspoken within the Liberal Party right wing faction that has secured power..."

You'll notice at this point that the commenter has failed to register the fact that Murphy includes Netanyahu in Morrison's 'circle of trust'. This is quite an oversight to say the least. He/she goes on to provide a link to Murphy's article and then wanders off course with this comment: "It's worrying how much more of this fundamentalist Christian apocalyptisism is going to inform Liberal Party policy... "

Frankly, one wonders whether even if Guardian Australia had allowed its 'readers' to comment on Murphy's report, just how many would have overlooked her revelation about Netanyahu's involvement in the decision to shift the Australian embassy to Jerusalem.

Let me hazard a generalisation as to why this may be the case here: those who flock to comment on Guardian Australia's (and other such websites) are more interested in hearing the sound of their own voices than in informing themselves through a little wide reading on the subject at hand. Typical of this phenomenon is the following comment from the same thread:

"The whole issue of Israel and Palestine has been going on with various intensity since the day I was born. It has been in the background of all of our lives... for most of our lives. There never seems to be any end to this conflict, the never ending war..."

Makes me want to scream: well, pick up a few reputable books on the subject and find out WHY the issue has been on the boil for as long as you can remember!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Not Laughing, Groaning

Normally, if a newspaper intends to cover a crucial by-election in some depth, it'd send an experienced investigative reporter who has his/her head around the issues that matter in the seat concerned, right?

Since normal doesn't do these days, Fairfax's GoodWeekend chose "staff writer," Tim Elliott, who "has never been a political reporter," to do the job - possibly as the result of a conversation that went something like this:

 'Hey, guys, I've got a great idea! Let's send Tim out on the campaign trail to cover the Wentworth by-election.

'OK, but Tim knows nothing about politics...

'Precisely! And if he did, what he wrote'd be dead boring. Gotta keep our readers entertained.

'Yeah, you've got a point. I can see it now: bumbling political novice covers the nation's most important by-election. Should be a real hoot!

And so we have Tim's Show Time in the GoodWeekend of November 17, 2018. Any sentient being who actually took the trouble to read it would've groaned audibly at this precise point:

"It's after lunch. I'm hungry. I drive to the Bronte SLSC to see [Liberal candidate Dave] Sharma. When I get there, I find a crowd of heavily inebriated surfers in the courtyard... Guys are throwing beer over one another and simulating a variety of lewd acts. Sharma is upstairs, in the clubhouse, filming a clip for his campaign Facebook page. The barbecue is over, and he's looking a little wan, but up for a chat. We take a seat [but] I've expended so much mental energy trying to find Sharma that I now find myself unable to think of any particularly probing questions."

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Morrison's 'Circle of Trust'

Paul Kelly, the Australian's editor-at-large, gives the thumbs down to Morrison's Israel embassy fizzer. Although he gets many things right, it seems that he's wrong when he claims that "nobody" had "sought or requested - neither the US nor Israel" shifting our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem:

"The first truth is Australia didn't need Indonesia to tell it this is an unwise decision - the originating problem is not Indonesia's reaction but Australia's bad judgment. The second truth is that it is folly for Australia to embark on a Middle East policy change that nobody has sought or requested - neither the US nor Israel - that was taken without any proper assessment, that was recommended by no government agency and that will damage our critical relations close to home." (There is no upside in Jerusalem shift, 17/11/18)

In a truly stunning revelation Guardian Australia's Katharine Murphy contradicts Kelly in no uncertain terms:

"Roll forward now to mid-October, the week before the Wentworth byelection, and a growing sense of alarm that the government would not hold Turnbull's vacated seat... Morrison consulted his leadership group (but few others, as it turned out, although one of the people in the circle of trust was the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu) and then flagged the embassy shift publicly." (Morrison's Israel embassy policy cannot be fathomed - and risks his political survival, 17/11/18)

If the Israeli PM was behind the decision to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, why isn't this news all over the msm?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right

PM Scott Morrison's Wentworth by-election fizzer continues to fizz away:

"The Herald has been told that an Australian minister advised [Indonesian Trade Minister] Mr [Enggartiasto] Lukita there was only a small chance of the embassy move going ahead, raising expectations in Jakarta that Mr Morrison will reconsider his stance. Defence Industry Minister Steve Ciobo... met Mr Lukita recently at a defence event in Indonesia. The Herald was told Mr Lukita said to Mr Ciobo: 'Don't ask when [the $16.5 billion trade agreement] will be signed.' Mr Ciobo replied: 'Enggar, I know.' In one account of this conversation, Mr Ciobo is said to have told [Lukita]: 'About the possibility, I cannot say 100% we will move, but I guess the possibility is less than 5%'." (PM clears way for embassy retreat, David Crowe, Sydney Morning Herald, 15/11/18)

Wow! 5% - just like Morrison's chance of being re-elected.

Meanwhile, back in the surreal world of Australia's federal parliament, our Liberal Likudniks rush to defend Morrison's fizzer from our... Labor Likudniks.

 Here, for example, is deputy PM, Josh Frydenberg:

"There is a fundamental point here, that the government is not backing off: Australia determines its own foreign policy decisions around the locations of its embassies." (Frydenberg pushes for Israel embassy move, Primrose Riordan, The Australian, 16/11/18)

Just around the locations of its embassies, Josh? Nothing to do with how we vote on Palestine/Israel in the UNGA?

And here's defence minister Christopher Pyne:

"Christopher Pyne, a strong supporter of Israel, also backed Mr Morrison and accused Labor of wanting to 'subcontract' foreign policy to foreign governments." (ibid)

Subcontract? Now where have I heard that word before in this context? Bob Carr, of course: "We are not running an Australian foreign policy... Subcontracting our foreign policy to party donors is what this involves." (Diary of a Foreign Minister, p 214)

So what we've got here is the Liberals, who have subcontracted our foreign policy on Palestine to Israel, accusing Labor, who have also subcontracted our foreign policy on Palestine to Israel, of subcontracting our foreign policy to... Indonesia. And so, because both parties have been throwing Palestine and the Palestinians under the Israeli bus for as long as I can remember, Labor has no credible response to Pyne's accusation. Both are equally guilty in this respect.

And, for what it's worth - not much - here's Morrison, the man who lit the fizzer because he thought there'd be some votes in it in a by-election, up on his hind legs, lamely taking up Frydenberg and Pyne's hypocritical refrain:

"The Prime Minister hit back at the Opposition Leader, saying foreign governments should not have veto over Australian policies, and accusing him of being 'quick to take cues on Australia's foreign policy from those outside Australia'."

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right, as the old song has it, neatly sums up Australian policy on Palestine/Israel in Circus Australia.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Breaking News...

Can you believe it? The Guardian has, for the first time in recent memory, admitted that the Israelis struck first:

"Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups have accepted an Egyptian-mediated agreement to halt two days of intense fighting with Israel sparked by a botched Israeli special forces raid miles inside Gaza." (Israel & Hamas agree to Gaza ceasefire after intense violence, Oliver Holmes, 14/11/18)


Mind you that descriptor "special forces" (a euphemism for death squad) is still vintage Guardian.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What Ethnic Cleansing? 2

So what happened to Safad? Here's the account in Nafez Nazzal's study, The Palestinian Exodus from Galilee 1948 (1978):

"Although 200 to 250 men of Safad were armed with various kinds of rifles and 35 to 50 rounds of ammunition each, very few had any systematic military training; they depended greatly on the Arab forces positioned in the city. Nevertheless when the Zionists attacked 'Ein ez Zeitun, the Arab [volunteer] forces refused to join in the fighting and would not permit the militia to join the villagers in defending themselves, assuring everyone that Shishakli and his men would repulse an attack on the city, and that the task of the Arab forces in Safad and the militia was to defend the city. The people of Safad became discouraged and lost confidence in their forces. 'Issa 'Abid al-Khadrah, a merchant and a member of the Safad militia, recounted:

'We could not defend the city, nor did we count on the Arab forces to protect it. Rumours spread that the Jews had been given 'Ein ez Zeitun... The fall of this village left the city besieged from the south, east and north. We felt that the Arab forces did not try to prevent this situation... If Sari Fnaish and his men did not protect 'Ein ez Zeitun, what would make you think he would protect Safad... what interest would they have in defending Safad but not 'Ein ez Zeitun?'

"The decisive battle for Safad began on the night of May 9-10. The Palmach opened heavy artillery fire on all positions occupied by by Arab forces in the city. Their use of the homemade mortar, the Davidka, which produced a great deal of noise, left the people of Safad in a state of shock. Usamah al-Naqib, a member of the militia reported:

'On the night of the attack, the responsible Arab commanders: Shishakli, Sari Fnaish, Ihsan Kamlamaz (trainer of the local militia); were out of the city. We did not have a unified command. Everyone fought on his own... We were unaware of what was happening in the other quarters of the city. Rumours spread that the ALA [Arab Liberation Army] had begun to withdraw... The people of Safad began to flee in panic. We could not find out what was happening... It was raining hard. We knew we could not sustain the defence of our city alone and so by midnight decided to retreat. We heard that the city fell to the Jews by the morning.'

"The fall of Safad on May 10, 1948 was a great shock to the Palestinians in Galilee. The villagers of the Hula Valley were disheartened and terrified; a great number of the villagers in Eastern Galilee began to flee. Almost all of the villages surrounding the city of Safad were now evacuated."

In Michael Palumbo's The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland (1987), you can read about the sickening murder of a group of Arab POWs by a hoe-wielding  Israeli intelligence officer (pp 114-15). On page 115, you'll also find the admission of Yigal Allon, Commander in Chief of the Palmach, that his aim with regard to Safad and its surrounding villages was "to cleanse the Upper Galilee and create a continuous strip of Israeli territory in the region," and that he wanted to do this before May 15.

In Ilan Pappe's more recent book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), we learn that while the Palmach had 1,000 well-trained troops, the Arab volunteer force was only 400 strong, only half of whom were armed with rifles (p 97). Then there's this revelation on p 98: "The Palmach troops drove most of the people out, only allowing 100 old people to stay on, though not for long. On 5 June, Ben-Gurion noted dryly in his diary: 'Abraham Hanuki, from [Kibbutz] Ayelet Hashahar, told me that since there were only 100 old people left in Safad they were expelled to Lebanon."

The likes of journalists such as Michael Bachelard need to ponder and understand this simple fact:

"In virtually every war of modern and ancient times civilians have been forced to flee to escape the fighting, taking refuge elsewhere until, with the cessation of hostilities, they could return to their homes. [But] what occurred in Palestine during the war of 1947-49 was an exodus of a fundamentally different character. It involved the systematic expulsion of most of the Arab population from its homes, and its exile from Palestine, as part of a premeditated scheme to transform radically the demography of the country in fulfilment of the colonial ideal of Zionism - making Palestine 'as Jewish as England is English.' This colonial settler nature of Zionism - the substitution of one people for another by force of arms - and the tragic situation it has created in Palestine over the past half century, is at the heart of the current conflict in the Middle East, although this essential fact has unfortunately been obscured by Israeli and much Western scholarship on the Palestine question." (From Rashid Khalidi's  foreword to Nazzal's book cited above, p IX)

But Bachelard not only clouds the reality of the Palestinian Nakba of 1948, he goes on in his pathetic piece on Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp to broadcast the following Israeli propaganda trope: "We are in a concrete room inside a concrete jungle, behind concrete walls administered by an unyielding Lebanese state that believes these people to be a demographic problem, and so is adamant that these men, and their families, will never become citizens."

What an exercise in reality inversion is that!

No mention whatever that Israel, not Lebanon's concerns with disrupting its confessional balance, is the root cause of the Palestinian refugee problem as exemplified in Ain al-Hilweh and other Palestinian refugee camps throughout the Middle East.

A mere tweak of Bachelard's text suffices to illustrate the extent of his cover-up of this elementary fact: '... an unyielding Jewish state that believes these people to be a demographic problem, and so is adamant that these men, and their families, will never be allowed to return to their Palestinian homeland and become equal citizens with Israeli Jews.'

Better by far that Bachelard had never set foot in Lebanon than do propaganda service for apartheid Israel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What Ethnic Cleansing? 1

Please tell me what is the point of 'journalism' such as this if not to keep readers in the dark and shield the apartheid state from the pariah status it so richly deserves:

"When the state of Israel was being formed in 1948, and a war with the Arab world raged, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes into neighbouring Lebanon and set up temporary camp." (The day I drank (bad) coffee with heavily armed militants, Michael Bachelard, The Sun-Herald, 11/11/18)

Nothing like the old passive voice to avoid the fact that Israel was created in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. And nothing like a hyped "war with the Arab world," to divert attention from the fact that that the campaign of ethnic cleansing began long before Arab League troops moved to put a stop to it.

Bachelard is either involved in self-censorship here, or is one of those who can see ethnic cleansing everywhere but Palestine.

The "heavily armed militants" with whom this late-sipper shared "(bad) coffee," were residents of Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in south Lebanon, more than 95% of whose inhabitants originally came from the kaza of Safad and the surrounding area, in northern Palestine, according to French Middle East scholar Bernard Rougier's study of the camp, Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam among Palestinians in Lebanon (2004 French/ 2007 English translation).

The Palestinian city of Safad, now Israeli, and its surrounding villages, now in ruins, are situated in the eastern Galilee, so let's examine, shall we, what exactly went on there before any Arab armies arrived on the scene on May 15 when the British Mandate over Palestine officially ended.

Take, for example, the village of Ayn az-Zaytun, some 1.5 kilometres north of Safad, whose inhabitants cultivated olives, grain and fruit.

It was first attacked by Zionist forces as early as January 1948. Later, it was occupied by Palmach forces on May 1, 1948, as a prelude to the occupation of Safad.  These Zionist shock troops first unleashed a mortar barrage at 3 am, followed by a ground assault. After taking the village, they rounded up its inhabitants.

As Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi recounts in his exhaustive study All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied & Depopulated by Israel in 1948 (1992):

"The men... were taken away and the rest were humiliated and expelled while shots were fired over their heads, according to the villagers' testimony and Israeli sources. As for the men, some were later expelled and enabled to join their families, but 37 of them, selected at random, were taken captive. According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, they were probably among a group of 70 people later massacred in a gully between  'Ayn al-Zaytun and Safad under orders from Moshe Kelman, the commander of the Palmach's Third Battalion. Morris reports that... after the prisoners were killed, and in anticipation of a Red Cross visit to the area, he ordered their hands to be untied, to conceal the fact that the killing had been done in cold blood.

"Several villagers attempted to return to their homes over the next couple of days but were fired upon by the Palmach; one of them was killed, according to Morris. As for the village houses, they were burned or blown up by Palmach sappers on 2 and 3 May. The destruction was carried out partly in order to terrify the inhabitants of Safad, who could watch the spectacle from nearby hills. The sight of the village being leveled had a demoralizing effect in the city, as well as in the surrounding villages of eastern Galilee." (p 437)

Continued in my next post...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

What My Mind Turns to on Armistice Day

In his peerless work on the perfidious Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the appalling consequences for Palestine and its people that flowed (and continue to flow) therefrom, Palestine: The Reality (1939), British historian J.M.N. Jeffries wrote these justifiably angry words:

"The underlying assumption of [a certain line of 'thought' peddled by the Anglo-Zionist establishment of 1920-23] is that the soldiers who fell in Palestine fell fighting to provide there that form of government which [wartime prime minister] Lloyd George installed. The 5th Norfolks, the 8th Hampshires bled so that the Sevres Treaty might not die: the men of the 53rd Division left six hundred casualties on the Samson Ridge so that the nine subterfuges of the Balfour Declaration might pass unchallenged: the Australian Light Horse charged crying, Advance the National Home! Was anything further from the truth? We know why our soldiers died - in loyalty to their country." (p 402)

My first inkling that this old Zionist myth, stripped of course of its British references, was being recycled here in Australia came when I read the following in 2008:

"The ties that bind Jerusalem and Canberra were further cemented with the commemoration last November of the 90th anniversary of the Charge of the Australian Light Horse brigade [31/10/07], when brave Aussie Diggers trounced the Turks at Be'er Sheva, paving the way for the capture of Jerusalem... And it is in Be'er Sheva that Richard Pratt is ploughing funds to build the Park of the Australian Soldier - a permanent memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state." (Editorial by Dan Goldberg, Rhapsody: Linking Culture between Israel & Australia, Jan-Mar 2008)

I had stumbled upon what might be termed a 'zombie myth' - long buried, effectively forgotten (but for Jeffries' mention), dug up decades later, dusted off, and re-purposed for another use, but retaining still the core propaganda trope of the original. After all these years, whether with or without external involvement, Pratt Foundation CEO Sam Lipski and his cardboard king (Visy Industries) boss and prominent Zionist donor to the Labor and Liberal parties, the late Dick Pratt, had come up with a neat way of "cementing" - mark that word! - alleged "binding ties" between Israel and Australia when Pratt funded the construction of the Park of the Australian Soldier in Be'er Sheva*. This has now become the point of dissemination of the zombie myth to thousands of clueless Australians, especially politicians, who flock to Be'er Sheva annually.

Never have Zionist PR merchants managed anything quite like this in any country, except perhaps in fostering the myth of 'lost Jewish tribes' in many of our South Pacific neighbours.

 For my exploration of this phenomenon, just click on the AIF label below.

[*Of course 'Be'er Sheva' simply did not exist in 1917. Back then it was the Palestinian Arab town of Beersheba. Hopefully, one day, it will return to its old self.]

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Dave Sharma's Inspiration

For earlier generations of useful fools for Israel it was Leon Uris' propaganda novel Exodus that did the trick. For Dave Sharma, it was obviously Senor & Singer's 's Start-Up Nation.

Read on:

"The people of Wentworth's loss is the corporate world's gain. Aspiring Liberal politician Dave Sharma has just joined the advisory board of ParaZero, a drone safety business. While listed on the ASX, ParaZero is headquartered in Israel where Sharma was previously the Australian ambassador. The ongoing pipeline of tech businesses run out of Israel but listed Down Under look to keep Sharma busy until his political career gets going proper. Another similar firm Sharma chairs, Shekel Brainweigh - which makes weighing technology for grocery self-check-outs and is headquartered in a kibbutz in northern Israel - has just completed its $10m fundraising." (He's at it again, Margin Call, The Australian, 9/11/18)

Friday, November 9, 2018

US Imperialism: Red in Tooth & Claw...

... and, in the case of Iran, as elsewhere in today's Middle East, doing Israel's bidding:

"The Iranian regime has a choice: it can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlaw course of action and act like a normal country, or it can see its economy crumble, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said." (Iran on notice for 'outlaw policies', The Australian/ Reuters, 7/11/18)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What You Need to Know about West Jerusalem

"It is perfectly legitimate for Donald Trump to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Nobody doubts Israel has sovereignty over West Jerusalem." So wrote the Australian's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, on 15/5/18 (Moving American embassy to Jerusalem perfectly legitimate).

As always, Sheridan couldn't be more wrong - as American professor of international law, John Quigley, long ago pointed out:

"... no single territorial sector [between Israel and the Palestinians] is more contested than Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital. 'Jerusalem, complete and united' is 'the capital of Israel,' declares an Israeli statute. The phrase 'complete and united' means the western and eastern sectors, the eastern sector in the boundaries that Israel extended in 1967 farther into the West Bank. An Israeli court has read the statue as an assertion of sovereignty over both sectors.

"The Palestinian claim is asserted no less strongly. When the Palestine National Council issued its call for independence in 1988, it declared 'the establishment of the State of Palestine in the land of Palestine with its capital in Jerusalem.' The claim for sovereignty in Jerusalem is part of the more general Palestinian claim to territory in Palestine, based on centuries-long occupation.'

"The UN General Assembly's partition resolution of 1947 proposed that Jerusalem be placed under international administration. Israel's prime legal claim to territory in Palestine was the partition resolution, but since the resolution called for an internationalized Jerusalem, it provided Israel with no basis for sovereignty in West Jerusalem. West Jerusalem is almost entirely Jewish-populated, the absence of Arabs the result of their having been forced out in 1948.

"Israel occupied west Jerusalem in 1948 and declared it Israel's capital in 1950. Other states declined to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to west Jerusalem, however. They viewed sovereignty over Jerusalem as unresolved and feared that moving their embassies to west Jerusalem would bolster Israel's claim. Their refusal to move their embassies bespoke rejection of Israel's claim.

"In 1967 the United Nation Security Council in Resolution 242 asked Israel to withdraw from territory that it occupied in that year. This call was read by some as an implicit recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the territory it held before June 1967, which of course includes west Jerusalem. There is no indication, however, that the Security Council implicitly recognised Israeli rights over west Jerusalem. Resolution 242, only a few paragraphs in length, made no attempt to deal with the many outstanding political and territorial issues. After 1967 other states kept their embassies in Tel Aviv, a fact that suggests that they did not view Resolution 242 as changing the picture.

"While Israel has claimed all of Jerusalem as an Israeli city, the PLO, in the proposals it has made, has been more modest, even though it has the stronger legal claim to the city, in its entirety. It has proposed variously an east-west division of Jerusalem or shared sovereignty over the entire city. Moreover... it insists on repatriation of the Palestine Arabs displaced in 1948, which includes the thousands displaced from west Jerusalem." (The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective, John Quigley, 1990, pp 225-26)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Anatomy of an Affair

Once, Australian prime ministers were content to merely flirt with the Zionist entity, acting as one of its fig leaves in the UNGA. It was, of course, highly embarrassing to watch, and the eye-rolling that must have gone on among the other representatives of UN member states at the spectacle can only be imagined.

But then, under former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's relationship with the apartheid state began to move beyond mere flirtation when Turnbull issued an invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to 'Come up and see me sometime, big boy.' This was only last year.

Under Turnbull's successor, Scott Morrison, however, all caution was thrown to the winds when, in his haste to win over the Jewish community in the crucial Wentworth by-election, he fatally took a leaf out of Trump's book and spoke of moving Australia's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. By doing so this clueless evangelical goof didn't so much climb as leap into bed with Netanyahu. Not, repeat not, a pretty picture.

There are signs, however, that in the cold glare of the unforgiving morning light, our happy clapper PM began to experience an 'Oh no, what have I done?' moment. Hence his decision to "review" his embassy-to-Jerusalem brainsnap.

What, however, this klutz seems not to have thought about is that Netanyahu is not the kind to take this lying down, and, sure enough, the inevitable Israeli bullying and threats were not long in coming:

"Israel has made it clear it expects the Australian government to follow through. Brigadier General (retired) Yosi Kuperwasser, a former head of the research division at Israel Defence Force Intelligence, said if Australia did not follow through, it could have serious consequences. "I think as an Israeli, it would be a very strange move if Australia ultimately decided not to move to Jerusalem. It could be very dangerous," he said." (Jakarta a "key factor in Israel" decision, Primrose Riordan, The Australian, 1/11/18)

Watch this space...

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Herald Plumbs New Depths in Editorial Vileness

One of the most despicable editorials ever to appear in the Sydney Morning Herald cropped up on Monday, October 29. It concerned the recent appalling anti-Semitic shooting rampage in a Pittsburgh synagogue which left 11 worshipers dead and 6 injured.

At first, it stuck to the facts, namely that the gunman, Robert Bowers, was a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite, nothing more, nothing less, connected to the American alt-right. Then it veered way off course with this vile conflation of the unconflatable:

"This is not to besmirch the mainstream right, which has often led the way in protecting minority groups, nor to play down anti-Semitism and political violence among African-American and left-wing anti-Zionist movements. A left-wing extremist shot a senior US Republican in 2017." (Alt-right terrorism now stalks the US)

Let me unpack its nastiness.

*"This is not to besmirch the mainstream right... " Just who exactly are "the mainstream right"? Trump's Republicans? What precisely does the editorialist mean by this term?

*"... nor to play down anti-Semitism and political violence among African American... movements... " Who exactly are these anti-Semitic and politically violent African American movements, and when, if ever, has a representative of one of them gone on a shooting rampage in a Jewish institution, spewing, like  Bowers, his hatred of Jews? I'd really like to know.

*"... and left-wing anti-Zionist movements." What "movements" are referred to here? Can we have a list of them? And when, if ever, has a representative of one of them gone on a shooting rampage in a Jewish institution, spewing, like Bowers, his hatred of Jews?

*"A left-wing extremist shot a senior US Republican in 2017."

The "left-wing extremist" obliquely referred to here is James Hodgkinson, who harboured a dislike for Trump and a partiality for Bernie Sanders. This, apparently, in the eyes of the editorialist, is all one needs to qualify for the label "left-wing extremist." And, since Sanders is a Jewish supporter of a Jewish state in Palestine, in other words a Zionist, quite how this qualifies Hodgkinson as a card-carrying anti-Zionist is beyond me.

What the editorialist is doing here, of course, is conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, a smear straight out of the Zionist playbook. To go on and explain the simple fact that when Zionism first emerged in the late 19th century, the vast majority of the world's Jews were anti-Zionists would be wasted on the Herald editorialist. To conflate the likes of Bowers and Hodgkinson with ant-Zionists, many of whom today are Jews, is about as low as it gets. In fact, it speaks volumes that not even the editorial in the Australian of the same day (Toxic ingredients in America) on the same subject went that far.

Enough said...