Friday, September 13, 2019

Dear readers...

I'm sorry to say that after more than 10 years of Middle East Reality Check this will be my last post. I encourage you all to continue to read, be critical and stand strong in the fight for justice for the Palestinian people.

In solidarity,

Monday, August 5, 2019

Friday, August 2, 2019

Born in Gaza

I recently watched - on Netflix btw! - an hour-long documentary film by Spanish documentary maker Hernan Zin, Born in Gaza (Nacido En Gaza).

This searing, unforgettable film focuses on the impact of Israel's 2014 serial massacres, aka Operation Protective Edge, on the child victims of the massacres.

(It could be considered as the filmic counterpart of Norman Finkelstein's magnum opus, Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom. Finkelstein's figure is 550 child deaths.)

Please watch and spread the word as widely as possible.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Just a Thought

Anyone notice how all the Australian bogan SUV crowd, who used to drive black vehicles, seem now to be driving white SUVs?

My theory: having recently voted for Morrison, they're now virtue-signalling, a term of abuse, as you know, that they reserved for the liberal/left. Of course, research into sales of white SUVs would probably be useful at this point.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Ongoing Nakba

An important message from Palestinian BDS National Committee, 26/7/19:

"Israel just committed its biggest crime of ethnic cleansing since 1967, [destroying] the homes of hundreds of Palestinian families in... Wadi Hummus in occupied East Jerusalem Another 116... homes are under imminent threat of demolition in Wadi Hummus. The magnitude of the crime is not only its sheer scale. Israel is only able to maintain this ongoing Nakba because governments, institutions and companies support its crimes. Volvo, Caterpillar and Hyundai Heavy Industries are involved... HP-branded corporations play key roles... Banks such as HSBC and financial institutions like AXA fund Israel's deadly military and security industry. It has been three years since the UN voted to establish a database of companies involved in Israel's illegal settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The database remains unpublished due to political pressure from the US, Israel and some European states. It is more needed than ever today as an effective tool for seeking justice and accountability. Thousands of homeless and displaced Palestinians are waiting for remedies... Justice delayed is justice denied." (Justice delayed is justice denied)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Hard Truth About Journalism Today...

... (and earlier) by US investigative journalist Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (2008):

"The problem is that we just don't have a press that really wants to challenge power on issues they consider 'personal.' Speaking at the 1985 Prayer Breakfast, Ronald Reagan said, 'I wish I could say more about it, but it's working precisely because it's private.' That should have been an invitation for investigative reporting. Instead the media, then and now, tends to acquiesce to elite secretiveness, not out of any conspiracy, but due to a culture of reverence for established power, liberal or conservative. Most journalists believe in meritocracy - not merely that it's a good idea, but that it actually exists. They know that some politicians game the system, but they're committed to the idea that the system basically works. And it does, but not in favor of democracy." (Following up on the 'Family': Six questions for Jeff Sharlet, Bill Wasik,

Need anything more be said about this subject, really? Except, of course, that Julian Assange towers over this knee-bending rabble like a colossus.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Redundancy of Dave Sharma

File under 'once a rooster, today, a feather duster':

"The place was the House of Representatives. The day: Thursday, July 25, 2019. The time, 3pm. This will go down in Australian political history as the Day that Dorothy Dixers, which are embarrassing at the best of times, finally committed political harakiri. Liberal backbencher Dave Sharma took to his feet to deliver the pre-approved question - the last question in what, remarkably, was only the fifth question time of the 46th parliament. 'My question is to the Prime Minister,' he read. 'Will the Prime Minister update the house on further action the government has taken this week to deliver on its priorities?" (The day the Dorothy Dixer died... surely, Alice Workman, The Australian, 26/7/19)

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 1:2) - Sharma's bizarre ambassadorship to Israel, the Wentworth by-election surprise - moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - his pro-Israel advocacy pieces for Murdoch's Australian. All in the past. Now this...

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Melbourne's Wahhabi Dupes

No doubt Trump's Saudi bestie, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (aka MBS), would be so proud of these two fanatics:

"Two Sunni Muslim men who fire bombed a Shia mosque in Melbourne... in a terrorist act have been jailed for 22 years... Ahmed Mohamed [and] Chaarani Abdullah burned down the... mosque in December 2016, following a failed attempt... the previous month. Yesterday, Supreme Court judge Andrew Tinney said the men were 'motivated by hatred, intolerance, malevolence and misguided piety. You crime is very difficult to understand and quite impossible to excuse,' he said. He said the men attacked a fundamental value in Australian society, 'namely religious freedom' in order the advance the ideology of Islamic State." ('Cowardly' mosque firebombers get 22 years,Tessa Akerman, The Australian, 25/7/19)

Judge Tinney also stated that "'[This] was more than an attack upon a mere building. It was an attack upon a branch of your faith'." (ibid)

How absolutely right he is, Wahabbist ideology notwithstanding.

Be Patient

Just a little while longer, I hope, and thanks for your kind words...


Friday, July 12, 2019

Away from Blog for a Week


Australia's Assault on History

The full story from The Sun-Herald (7/7/19) by Max Koslowski:

"At the beginning of 2012, Professor Anne Twomey asked to access historical records at the National Archives of Australia while researching her book on reserve powers.

"The Sydney University constitutional law expert emailed them in frustration when she had not received her documents by the end of the year. Told nothing could be done to speed up the process, she went on and wrote her book.

"Seven years later, well after the almost-1000-page tome was published, the national archives let her know the documents were now available.

""There was some really interesting stuff about Samoa in the documents that I would have used in my book had I been able to," Professor Twomey says.

""Once you've written a really big book on the reserve powers, that will be the work that everyone will use for the next 50 years."

"The legal expert is one of dozens of top academics and archivists who have complained of extraordinary delays and abandoned research projects ahead of an all-encompassing review into the national archives.

"The Tune Review, led by former Department of Finance secretary David Tune, has archives staff and users sounding the alarm over an institution they say has long been neglected by the federal government to the point where it is "starved of funds", haemorrhaging staff and at risk of losing undigitised records.

"In the years since Professor Twomey first requested those documents for her book, the national archive shed 74 jobs, had its budget increase at a rate below inflation, and saw its backlog of record applications blow out to almost 25,000.

""There are stories simply not being told because of these archives," Professor Frank Bongiorno, head of history at the Australian National University, says. 

""I would strongly argue that contemporary history and particularly archive-based contemporary history is weaker in Australia than any number of other comparable countries partly because of this very problem."

"Professor Bongiorno was himself a victim of the delays and had to publish his latest book, The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia, before important documents were made available four years after he had asked the archive for them.

"He says some colleagues have resorted to obtaining documents through Japan's national archives system because they feared seeking Australian copies would be fruitless.

"In one case, another colleague, former Deakin University history professor Klaus Neumann, waited 12 years before an archived document was released to him.

"Professor Neumann is waiting for 153 files to be released by the archives - 20 of which he applied for more than four years ago - and has been forced to extend a research project on Australia's contribution to immigration.

""Historians at Australian universities strongly discourage history honours, masters and PhD students from embarking on research projects that rely on the examination of archival files held by the National Archives," Professor Neumann writes in a submission to the Tune Review.

"Archives director-general David Fricker admits his organisation could do better for researchers, but stresses that in deciding whether to release historical documents, its value to academia is just one consideration: national security and individual privacy are also considered.

"He says 94 per cent of applications are released in full, and fewer than 1 per cent are returned fully redacted." (Books, PhDs held up by 'neglected' national archives, Max Koslowki, The Sun-Herald, 7/7/19)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

That Guy on the Bridge

Sydney is getting weirder by the day:

"A protester is facing jail time and a fine of more than $22,000 after allegedly climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge... The 33-year-old allegedly... hung the US, Iranian, Israeli and Australian flags off the bridge... It is understood the man is part of the Restart group fighting for regime change in Iran... Some 15 environmental activists were charged in May after the group protested on the harbour bridge to demand action on climate change." (Harbour protester faces jail, Emily Ritchie, The Australian, 8/7/19)

"A man who scaled the Sydney Harbour Bridge and unfurled a number of flags to protest against the 'oppressive Iranian regime' has avoided jail... The court heard that [Naghi] Pirzadeh, an Iranian national, was forced to flee his homeland after he stood up to the 'oppressive regime' and was beaten as a result.." (Iranian protester pleads guilty to Harbour bridge climb, avoids jail,, 8/7/19)

Interesting how this guy got off so lightly compared to those environmental activists cited in Richie's report. My initial thought was that this was a Mujahidin Khalq stunt connected to Reza Pahlavi, son of the deceased Shah of Iran (See my 28/3/18 post Bolton Out of the Blue), but, on closer examination of Restart, you'll find a Daily Beast Vendetta for ReStart tweet of 12/9/18 which reads as follows:

"Assuming the role of leader, Hosseini often issues instructions to his supporters via the Restart channel and announced that he wants to revive the empire of Cyrus the Great or create a Sufi empire." You'll see Hosseini in slick, over-the-top videos wearing a swanky bright blue jacket, accompanied by the image of a standing lion holding aloft a slightly curved sword with the the word restart written in Iranian script to its left, which leads me to suspect that what we have here is a member of monarchist group harking back to the dictatorial Shah of Iran.

Like I said, weirder by the day.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Why Younger Australian Voters Can't See the Point of Democracy

What follows is based on the 2/7/19 report by The Australian's Rachel Baxendale, ALP pick of Israel critic stirs backlash.

Think, if you will, of the content of Baxendale's report as a case history:

Victorian politician Enver Erdogan, reportedly of Turkish Kurdish origin, began his political career  as as member of Labor's Socialist Left on Melbourne's Moreland City Council at the time of Israel's Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) onslaught on the Gaza Strip. To his great credit, Erdogan reacted instinctively to the carnage in the Gaza Strip by successfully moving a motion on council condemning the 'Israeli massacre in Gaza.'

Around a year later (?), when asked (by whom is not disclosed, but one assumes the usual suspects, Erdogan is reported to have said: 'Of course I fully support Israel's right to exist as an independent state and I support a two-state solution'. Keep in mind that whatever conversation Erdogan had at the time, and with whom, this is an out-of-context quote.

However, we then find Erdogan switching from Labor's Socialist Left to the most right-wing faction of the Labor Party, the Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Association (headed by Joe de Bruyn and known colloquially as The Shoppies) as part of a current stepping-stone to parachute him into an upper house seat in the Victorian state parliament.

This follows a recommendation of the Victorian ALP's administrative committee. In making the recommendation, the administrative committee would be bypassing normal rules that would have given local members full voting rights. Erdogan has reportedly declared that if elected, he would move to the southern metropolitan bayside area 'promptly.'

Note that, but for the following data, which I quote in full from The Australian's 2/7/19 Baxendale report, such 'parachuting' would have excited little or no controversy in and of itself:

"'There is deep local disquiet over the parachuting in of Mr Erdogan, a controversial figure with no connection to the southern metropolitan region,' said one local member, citing Mr Erdogan's motion on Israel as being of particular concern. 'If Mr Erdogan spent valuable council time on a conflict unrelated to council matters, what might he get up to in the Victorian upper house?'

In the same report, Erdogan is described as now 'close to former member for Batman David Feeney.' Note that Baxendale's later 5/7/19 report, Council colleagues troubled by Labor's hopeful new MP, has little to add to her earlier report except to assert that 'factional allegiances mean it is highly unlikely anyone other than Mr Erdogan will succeed...'"

On Feeney, see my 18/5/16 post The Appalling David Feeney MP, where I record him as follows: "The Palestinians should abandon their campaign to destroy Israel [by] abandoning the so-called 'right of return' for the descendants of the 1948 refugees'."

My point in raising the issue of Enver Erdogan is not that he is unique in his political shape-shifting, but rather typical of a system in which toeing the party line requires that any principles a would-be politician may have had prior to embarking on a political career, are invariably cast aside in the interest of carving out a career in party politics. This leads to the hypothesis that it is precisely this kind of behaviour that has brought our political class, whether at local, state or federal level, whether Labor, Liberal, or any other political party, into disrepute with younger voters. As the 2018 Lowy Institute poll, for example, reveals:

"Only 47% of Australians aged 18-44 years of age say 'democracy is preferable to any other kind of government." Or, to put it the other way around, 53% of Australians aged 18-44 see no point in Australian democracy.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Phillip Adams' Filibustering

Phillip Adams' interviewed the visiting former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, broadcasting it on ABC Radio National program Late Night Live (LNL) on 3/7/19 under the heading of Richard Falk on Israel, Palestine, Iran and the USA. To begin with, here is my transcription. Note that I cannot beat the idea that Adams is filibustering, even unconsciously, and I will indicate where I think this to be the case in square brackets containing italics. See what you think:

PA: My next guest... is guaranteed to generate a huge amount of correspondence even before he opens his mouth. There have been calls for him to have his visa entry to Australia revoked, and his talk at the NSW Parliament and the University of Sydney to be cancelled. Given that he's here these calls have not been heeded and he has been let into the country, and here at LNL we'd like to hear a range of views. But there's no doubt that any story we do that mentions Israel or Palestine will generate complaints from all sides. [MERC: Note that on the LNL website there are so far 4 comments. Adams' prediction of complaints from all sides has proved erroneous, except for one Zionist who wrote as follows: "As a long time listener to the program, let me say that tax payers money should not be used to give Falk a platform, unless he is going to be properly cross-examined (as opposed to being encouraged) for his rabid irrational hatred of Israel. Not one of Phillip's finer moments."] My guest is Richard Falk, the Albert B. Milbank professor of international law, emeritus, from Princeton University. He was the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine from 2008-2014, and despite his retirement from that lofty position he's back in Australia talking about his hopes for peace between Israel and Palestine. Welcome back, Richard.
RF: Thank you so much.
PA: I should make the point that you're one of the very few guests I have that's older than I am.
RF: Well, I wish that was not my only qualification for being your guest but...
PA: OK, you've visited Australia regularly for some time but have you ever had a chillier reception?
RF: I suppose not. The last time I was here, I also spoke about several issues, but one of them was Israel/Palestine and I think there was some protest at the time also, but rather minimal and not carried on through the media as this was the result of an article in the Australian Jewish News (AJN).
PA: I want to raise that article with you in a minute, but let me ask you this. Have you had similar receptions in other parts of the world?
RF:  Except for Israel itself where I was detained whilst I was serving as the UN Rapporteur. There is a very pro-Zionist NGO called UN Watch that has tried to harass me in various ways over time, including trying to have me denied entry to the UK. So that's my only other experience.
PA: OK, I'm going to restate some of the issues raised by the AJN in their article The furore of Falk visit. First, they claim you support conspiracy theories about 9/11. [MERC: Does anyone really give a damn what the AJN said back when? Falk is here to talk about Palestinian rights in international law.]
RF: Yes, that's always sort of used as a way of showing my supposed extreme and reckless views. My actual position is that the official version of 9/11 has some unanswered questions that the American people, and indeed the world, deserve to know, and for whatever reason those questions that arouse scepticism have never been satisfactorily addressed...
PA: Are you suggesting it might be a false-flag operation? [MERC: And again.]
RF: Well, there are a lot of alternative versions of what actually happened, including that the idea the American establishment at the time knew something was going on and let it happen. What actually happened is something obscure so I don't subscribe to the accusation of any alternate conspiracy theory. All I do subscribe to is a scepticism about the official version, and I wrote the foreword to one of the early books that raised 17 questions about the official version, and it was written by a very distinguished philosopher of religion actually, who happened also to be a friend of mine and a very scrupulous scholar so his questions I think justify an attitude of suspicion, but they don't vindicate an alternative version of what actually happened.
PA: The furore on the Falk visit also said that you blamed the US and Israel for the Boston bombings. [MERC: And again.]
RF: Oh, that again. A lot of people are saying that, but they picked this out of context from my blog. What I actually said was that when you have a foreign policy in an area that is subject to so much turmoil and extremism as the Middle East is, and you intervene in that process, you're bound to have some reverberations from sociopathic individuals living abroad - and the policy toward Israel is very provocative among certain extremist groups - and therefore this kind of negative reverberation is something you have to expect to follow from such a foreign policy.
PA: Note, dear listeners, that we will put up a link to both the article by the Jewish News and Richard's rebuttal on the website. [MERC: And again.] So when we last spoke you were not permitted into Israel. Have you been back in the last 5 years? [MERC: And again. Adams is clearly not interested in what Falk has to say on Palestinian rights and international law.]
RF: I've been invited back several times, but partly for logistical reasons, and partly because I didn't want to repeat the experience of being put in what amounts to a prison by the Israelis, I decided not to go. I've given video clips of my presentations that were the reason I would have gone, but I haven't gone.
PA: OK, what do you make of Gerard [sic] Kushner's Prosperity for Peace Plan? [MERC: And again.]
RF: I don't feel it has much political traction. It's not looking towards an agreement. It's looking towards Palestinian surrender politically, followed by some kind of economic plan that will improve the daily lives of people in the region, or at least that is its promise. But the Palestinians have not struggled for their national rights for almost a century now to surrender for some kind of economic package.
PA: Even if Jared described it as some kind of opportunity of the century, it's interesting there were no Israelis or Palestinians at the launch in Bahrain, and of course, the Palestinians boycotted the event.
RF: Yes, I mean it has very little appeal to people who understand the history and the nature of the tensions and the conflict, and the whole Trump approach since he became president, first appointing three extremists as the representatives of his presidency in the region, not only to Israel, but Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman are all extremists within the Zionist camp itself.
PA: To which could now be added Bolton. [MERC: Adams diverts Falk again with Bolton who is focused solely on Iran.]
RF: Yes, what they did before this recent Bahrain meeting on the economic dimension of the Kushner Plan was a series of one-sided steps; the movement of the American embassy to Jerusalem in violation of an international UN consensus; the withdrawal of humanitarian assistance to UNRWA that was taking care of the refugees throughout the region; and the recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights. All of these steps moved away from what prior American presidents had done, which was to lean toward the Israeli side, to be partisan. But what Trump is trying to do is force this Palestinian political surrender, and so it's a shift from partisanship to belligerency as far as the Palestinians are concerned...
PA: You must be watching the tensions between the US and Iran with great concern, as do we all. How do you see this playing out? [MERC: More Adams' diverting onto Iran.]
RF: Well, I think everything in this Trump era is unpredictable and anyone who tries to be too dogmatic about what's going to happen shouldn't be trusted, shouldn't be relied upon. I think it's a very dangerous confrontational policy. I think that the bargain that underlies it is that the Gulf Arab states were so eager to confront Iran that they were willing to make peace with Israel and sacrifice the Palestinian struggle. So from the Palestinian point of view, this is a very adverse development because their support from Arab neighbors has considerably diminished and they're faced with an American administration that's pushing hard the Netanyahu line in Israel, plus a basically unsympathetic regional atmosphere with very few friends of the Palestinian people left in positions of authority.
PA: And of course Trump has this very strong connection to Saudi Arabia as part of his decision- making. [MERC: Now Adams has diverted Falk onto Saudi Arabia.]
RF: Yes, one of the things I think is very harmful to American foreign policy is these two special relationships, one with Israel, one with Saudi Arabia, and when they say special relationships, what they really mean is unconditional support, and so whatever Israel does, whatever Saudi Arabia does, is not seen as wrong, and violations of international law and human rights just fall below the radar. But if Egypt or Turkey did things that becomes a human rights outrage, particularly Turkey these days because it's seen as a kind of friend of the Islamic movement.
PA: My guest is Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law, emeritus from Princeton and former UN Special Rappoteur for Human Rights in Palestine from 2008-2014. Now, the USA is still seen as absolutely crucial in any peace deal to be brokered.
RF: Yes, my own view is that the intergovernmental framework is not capable of producing a sustainable peace. If you are really interested in peace between Palestinians and Israelis it has to be based on the spirit of equality, not on a structure of hierarchy, and all the efforts at producing a peace over the past couple of decades have been based on finding security for Israel but not treating Palestinian needs in any equivalent manner, and my view is that leads to a ceasefire, not a peace.
PA: To take us back to the USA and Iran, might the North Korea playbook apply here? [MERC: North Korea? Here Adams goes again. As issues Palestine and North Korea are chalk and cheese.]
RF: Well, as I say, anything in the Trump era is unpredictable, in terms of both what happens on the Korean peninsula but what broader effects that might have. It is true that if he has success in Korea, he might try the same thing with Iran, and that would make him a very strong presidential candidate in 2020. I don't think the American people, as confused and contradictory as they seem to be at the moment, want a real war with either North Korea or Iran. So from a pragmatic, political point of view, he's much better off being a peacekeeper or peacemaker than being a warmonger, but he has advisers like Bolton and Pompeo who are definitely inclined towards military confrontation.
PA: I think we all agree that giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize was a bit premature, but of course from time to time Trump tweets that he is a recipient. What are the main reasons behind the USA's obsession with Iran? Does it go back to the hostage crisis, way back to '79? [MERC: Back to Iran!]
RF: I think that's a very insightful way of putting the question. I do think the humiliation that the US suffered at the hostage crisis left an unhealed wound. And in part the successive hostility towards Iran, which poses no threat whatsoever to either the US or Israel for that matter, is a lingering sense of frustration that the American government was unable to release the hostages, except when Tehran decided it was time to let them go, which was after the Carter presidency, the first day of Ronald Reagan's inauguration, which made people suspicious that there must have been some kind of arrangement between the Reagan people and the Iranian government.*
PA: Since you left your UN post, what has the new rapporteur, Michael Link, been saying about human rights in Israel [sic]?
RF: More or less the same thing I was saying. It is hard to confront the reality of the occupation without coming to the same conclusions if you respect the evidence. I used to say, if you were only 10% objective, you would come to the same conclusions I did. You didn't have to be balanced because Israel itself admits to the expansion of the settlements which are unlawful, it admits to the annexation of parts of the Occupied Territories which contradicts the authority of the UN and international consensus. It has claimed permanent sovereignty over unified Jerusalem which again is contrary to the international consensus. So Israel's own policies, which were in some ways embedded in this basic law they adopted in 2018, which said only Jews have the right of self-determination within Israel, I mean, it more or less accepts the critique that Israel has become an apartheid state, which Israeli leaders themselves have said internally in Israel. They get very angry when it's said outside the confines of Israel.
PA: So do you believe, despite all the problems, all the difficulties, that the two-state solution is still the best option for peace? [MERC: Adams' final diversion - the trusty, long-outmoded two-state solution mantra which has tripped off the tongue of every hack politician and establishment pundit for decades.]
RF: Well, I think in these situations that people who are co-existing have to make the final judgment as to what is acceptable, how they can co-exist together in a sustainable way of mutual respect, and that spirit of equality is what's been missing in the whole diplomatic process because it has been geopolitically tilted towards Israel and that means you are trying to negotiate peace based on inequality and that won't work in my view. So, it requires a real readjustment in the whole Israel/US relationship and the sense of how you achieve peace in a situation of sustained conflict of this sort.

The take-away message here is that Adams is all over the shop with Falk, consistent with his 'don't mention Palestine' practice spanning decades. Could this be any more obvious?

[*Curious here that Falk thinks the 1979 Tehran hostage crisis is the big problem between the US and Iran. Seems like the 1953 CIA coup against the democratically-elected Mosaddegh government and the installation of the repressive pro-US and pro-Israel Shah of Iran are simply not on his radar.]

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Julian Assange Updates

1) This interview with George Galloway on Julian Assange is well worth a read. Here's a key extract:

"He is the most important publisher in the world today and over the last decade. Not a single story WikiLeaks has ever published has turned out to be wrong, and had to be retracted or significantly corrected. That is a record that neither the New York Times or any other mainstream publisher could ever dream of claiming. I think that the publishing activities of WikiLeaks have changed the world, certainly the world of journalism. Assange is not charged with hacking; he is not a hacker. He is a post box where whistleblowers can bring material which is then investigated so thoroughly that they have never got a story wrong. Then they publish it. Then the New York Times puts it on their front page and the Guardian puts it on theirs. Talk about hypocrisy! These people won prizes for running stories stories given to them by Julian Assange! And yet they have virtually danced on what they imagine to be his grave. That is what is difficult to take. WikiLeak's model of publishing was revolutionary and that is why they are in trouble." (Former British parliamentarian George Galloway speaks out on the violent criminalization of Julian Assange, Dennis J. Bernstein & Randy Credico,, 2/7/19)

2) Here's an interesting extract on Assange from the recent book by Vicky Ward, Kushner Inc. Greed. Power. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, 2019. (Note my square bracketed insertions.):

"In June, [Alexander] Nix [CEO of Cambridge Analytica} reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange because he had read that WikiLeaks planned to publish a trove of emails related to Hillary Clinton, the Democrats' presidential candidate. Those emails had been [allegedly] stolen - hacked - by Russian intelligence from the account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and from the Democratic National Committee. (In July 2016, the FBI started an investigation into the [alleged] thefts.) Nix, not one to be troubled by ethics, wanted to know if Assange would share the [allegedly] stolen material with him. More than a year later, The Wall Street Journal would report that Assange's answer was no." (p 82)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

When Richard Carleton Interviewed Ghassan Kanafani

Here is my transcription of the late Australian broadcast journalist Richard Carleton's 1970 interview with the Beirut-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) spokesman Ghassan Kanafani, as posted by the Lebanese-American academic Asad Abukhalil (otherwise known as The Angry Arab) on his Twitter feed on 25/6/19.

But first a word from Kanafani's Danish wife Anni to put you in the picture regarding what you are about to read:

"If none of the hundreds of foreign correspondents who filled the by then legendary office at Al-Hadaf [the PFLP's newspaper] were unable to put Ghassan down in a dialogue, it was because the answers he always gave were penetrating, sharp and accurate, the main reason being that the cause which he was defending - the Palestinian revolutionary struggle - is a just one." (Ghassan Kanafani, Palestine Research Center, 1973)

Note also that I have modified some of Kanafani's syntax for greater clarity of meaning:

Richard Carleton: Of the 11 Palestinian movements the most radical of all is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)... It was the Popular Front that hijacked and blew up 3 [sic] jet aircraft at Revolution Airport in the Jordanian desert... The Beirut leader of the Popular Front is Ghassan Kanafani. He was born in Palestine but fled in 1948, as he puts it from Zionist terror. Since then he's been plotting the destruction of both the Zionists and the reactionary Arabs.
Ghassan Kanafani: I know what I know really that the history of the world is always the history of weak people fighting strong people, of weak people, who have a correct case, fighting strong people, who use their strength to exploit the weak.
RC: Turn to the fighting that's been going on in Jordan in recent weeks.* It's your organisation that's been one side of the fight. What has it achieved?
GK:  One thing. That we had a case to fight for. That's a lot. This people, the Palestinian people, prefer to die standing than to lose its case. We proved that King [Hussein] is wrong. We proved that this Palestinian nation is going to continue fighting until victory. We proved that our people can never be defeated. We taught every single person in this world that we are a small, brave nation who are prepared to fight to the last drop of blood for justice for ourselves after the world failed to give it to us. This is what we achieved.
RC: It does seem that the war, the civil war, has been quite fruitless.
GK: It is not a civil war. It's a people defending themselves against a fascist government which you are defending simply because King Hussein has an Arafat problem. It's not a civil war.
RC: Well, the conflict...
GK:  It's not a conflict. It's a liberation movement fighting for justice.
RC: Well, whatever it might be best called...
GK:  Not whatever, because this is where the problem starts. Because this is what makes you ask all your questions. This is exactly where the problem starts. This is a people who are discriminated against fighting for their rights. This is the story. If you say it's a civil war, then your question will be justified. If you say it's a conflict, then, of course, it'll come as a surprise to know what's happening.
RC: Why won't your organisation engage in peace talks with the Israelis?
GK:  You don't mean peace talks exactly. You mean capitulation, surrender.
RC: Why not just talk?
GK: Talk to whom?
RC: Talk to the Israeli leaders.
GK: That kind of conversation is between the sword and the neck.
RC: Well, if there were no swords or guns in the room, you could still talk.
GK: No, I have never seen any talk between a colonialist case and a national liberation movement.
RC: But despite this, why not talk?
GK: Talk about what?
RC: Talk about the possibility of not fighting.
GK: Not fighting for what?
RC: Not fighting at all. No matter what for.
GK:  People usually fight for something, and they stop fighting for something. So tell me what is it we should speak about.
RC: Stop fighting...
GK: Or rather what is it we should stop fighting for to talk about?
RC: Talk to stop fighting, to stop the death, the misery, the destruction, the pain.
GK: Whose death, misery, destruction and pain?
RC: Of Palestinians, of Israelis, of Arabs.
GK:  Of the Palestinian people who are uprooted, forced into refugee camps, starved, murdered for 20 years, and forbidden even to call themselves Palestinians.
RC: Better that way than dead though.
GK: Maybe to you, but to us, no.To us, to liberate our country, to have dignity, to have respect, to have our basic human rights, is as essential as life itself.
RC: You call King Hussein a fascist. Who else among the Arab leaders are you totally opposed to?
GK: We consider the Arab governments to be of two kinds. Ones we call reactionaries who are tied to imperialism: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia. Then there are the other Arab governments, which we call the military placebos [?], such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and so on.
RC: Let me get back to the hijacking of the aircraft.** On reflection, do you think that was now a mistake?
GK: We didn't make a mistake in hijacking them. On the contrary, they were one of the most correct things we ever did.


Nothing so much as the manner of their lives and deaths, conferred only by an accident of birth, confirms the vast gulf separating the privileged, white colonial reporter from Australia, Richard Carleton (1943-2006), and the exiled Palestinian driven out of his ancestral homeland by Zionist terror gangs in 1948, Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972).

While Carleton returned to Australia to do the kind of work he enjoyed doing, eventually ending up working for Channel 9 television's 60 Minutes program, and dying of a heart attack while on the job at the age of 62,  Kanafani, aged just 36 at time of his death, was cruelly incinerated along with his 17-year-old niece, Lamees, on July 8 1972 after Israel's Mossad had planted explosives on his car.

You will be interested to know that Richard Carleton is the father of James Carleton who runs ABC Radio National's God Forbid program. To give you the measure of the son, see my 16/7/13 post Our ABC Owned for a transcription of his interview with George Galloway.

[* Carleton here is referring to the period of fighting in Jordan between the armed Palestinian resistance movement, led by Yasser Arafat's Fatah, and allied Palestinian groups such as the PFLP. The fighting ran from 6/9/70 - 17/7/71; **Briefly, Carleton here is referring to the PFLP's hijacking of 5 planes from 6/9/70 to 9/9/70 to Dawson's Field in Jordan. In August 1969, Leila Khaled was one of a PFLP commando unit which hijacked a TWA flight. She ordered the pilot to fly over her ancestral city, Haifa, and land in Syria where the plane was blown up after its passengers were evacuated. In September 1970, she and Patrick Arguello, a Nicaraguan-American, hijacked Israeli EL AL flight 219 from Amsterdam, forcing it to land at Dawson's Field. Patrick was martyred by an Israeli security guard. Leila was captured and flown to a police lockup in Britain. Note that all planes hijacked to Jordan were blown up by PFLP commandos after they had evacuated the passengers.]

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Trump's Man Smashes it in East Jerusalem

"For years, Palestinians in the crowded East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan have complained that the walls of their homes were settling and cracking, disturbed by an underground archaeological dig led by a right-wing Jewish settler group. When that dig was officially unveiled... with the ceremonial smashing of a brick wall, it was President Donald Trump's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who swung the first sledgehammer. The reverberations were literal and metaphorical. US ambassadors to Israel, to avoid being seen as taking Israel's side in the conflict with the Palestinians, have avoided public appearances in East Jerusalem. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and annexed it. Most of the world considers it illegally occupied, and the Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state.... But [Friedman's] starring role at the event run by the City of David Foundation yesterday was more provocative... Over the years, the group has moved hundreds of Jews into Silwan, a neighbourhood with with about 5000 Palestinians. At the same time, it has led a sprawling excavation of an area of Silwan called Wadi Hilweh, where archaeologists [names please] say they have unearthed the original boundaries of biblical Jerusalem. Yesterday's event represented the opening of what the group is calling the Pilgrimage Road, an underground passageway that leads from the Pool of Siloam, where the group says ancient Jewish pilgrims would cleanse themselves, to the point at which they would ascend the Temple Mount... 'Here we have this powerful, irrefutable, undeniable evidence,' Friedman told the guests, which included Israeli and US diplomats and lawmakers, the billionaire Republican donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, and Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Friedman added, 'Were there any doubt, and to me there never was, about the accuracy, the wisdom, the propriety of President Trump recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I certainly think this lays all doubts to rest'." (US smashes diplomatic barrier, David M. Halbfinger, The New York Times/Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/19)

Two other individuals, apart from the mob above, deserve dishonourable mentions in relation to their cavalier attitudes towards Israeli activities in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements:

The first is Geraldine Brooks, Australian-born novelist and Catholic convert to Judaism following her marriage to the late US writer Tony Horwitz. Brooks' best-seller, The Secret Chord (2015), has lent credence to the City of David Foundation's tunneling. See my two posts The Tunnel Vision of Geraldine Brooks for details.

The second is former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop, who is on record as saying, "I would like to see which international law has declared [Israeli settlements] illegal." (See Lawyers caution Bishop, John Lyons, The Australian, 27/1/14 in my 28/1/14 post Just How Bright is Julie Bishop?)

Monday, July 1, 2019

Scott Morrison Courts Trump at G20 Summit

Why not come and play golf here in Australia?

"Prime Minister Scott Morrison has invited US President Donald Trump to visit Melbourne in December... to attend the President's Cup golf tournament, seizing the opportunity to strengthen ties with the President during their working dinner at the G20 summit... While Mr Morrison extended his invitation during the private meeting, Mr Trump was asked during the opening remarks at the start of the meeting if he would attend the the golf tournament and replied: 'I'd like to. It might not be easy, but I'd like to." (PM invites President to visit in December for golf tournament, David Crowe, Sydney Morning Herald, 29-30/6/19)

Mind if we join you in a war against Iran?

"Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed Donald Trump in taking a harder line against Iran in an escalating dispute over its nuclear program after the US President came close to launching a retaliatory strike last week.* Mr Morrison said the federal government would throw its support behind Mr Trump's effort to force Iran to the negotiating table as experts predict it will breach its agreed cap on low-enriched uranium within days... Mr Morrison said Mr Trump made 'no requests' for Australian measures but he did not rule out military... assistance." (PM backs Trump on Iran, David Crowe/David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 29-30/6/19)

[*Clarification: Yes, I'm aware that Iran didn't attack any oil tankers, hence no "retaliatory strike."]

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Jared Kushner-Netanyahu Connection

Note that the following quotation encompasses Charlie Kushner, Jared's father, Jared and Netanyahu:

"A speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu... cost as much as one hundred thousand dollars, and Charlie paid him to speak in New Jersey four times [...] Charlie doggedly groomed his eldest son [Jared] for greatness... He brought Jared with him to meetings with politicians and hosted Netanyahu overnight at the family home, where Jared got to talk to him. (The Israeli politician stayed in Jared's bedroom, while Jared slept in the basement.)" (Kushner Inc. Greed. Ambition. Corruption: The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Vicky Ward (2019), pp 14/18)

Friday, June 28, 2019

Jared Kushner's Jobs & Growth Plan

On November 2, 1917, the British wartime cabinet issued the infamous Balfour Declaration. I quote it here in full:

"Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of his Majesty's Government the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, which has been submitted to and approved by the cabinet.

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

I should be grateful if you would bring this Declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation,

Yours sincerely, Arthur James Balfour."

J.M.N Jeffries analysis of this document in Chapter XI of his book Palestine: The Reality (1939) is, of course, the definitive account of the document's deceptions and can be accessed on this blog in its entirety under the label JMN Jeffries.

I note only here the following words of Jeffries with respect to the above clause:

"That their religious rights should not be prejudiced, indeed, was satisfactory, though there was not very much in that. Happily, it could be taken for granted. Wherever Britain rules religious rights are preserved.

"The crux arrives with 'civil rights.' What are 'civil rights'? all turns on this point. If civil rights remain undefined it is only a mockery to guarantee them. To guarantee anything, and at the same time not to let anyone know what it is, that is Alice in Wonderland legislation. 'I guarantee your civil rights,' said the White Queen to Alice in Palestine-land. 'Oh, thank you!' said Alice, 'what are they, please?' 'I'm sure I can't tell you, my dear,' said the White Queen, 'but I'll guarantee very hard.'

"If only the Declaration had been as innocent as the text of Alice in Wonderland. Its nonsense is deceptive nonsense, written with vicious intention. The Arabs were guaranteed civil rights, again because to the unalert ear it sounded as though they were being assured a man's normal rights, the freedom to choose the government of his country which every decent man should enjoy, the common political rights of a democratic regime.

"But in fact the Arabs were not assured these at all. The effect, and the aim, of the clause actually was to withdraw from the Arabs (fighting or suffering for us at the time under promise of independence) those very rights of independence for which they had contracted; to say nothing of their natural title to them. By sleight of tongue civil rights were substituted for political rights... As practice went, 'civil rights' was an expression which was left without any interpretation, and so had no existence as a surety or guarantee at all." (p 179)

Now if we turn to the Foreword of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner's slick Peace to Prosperity: The Economic Plan: A New Vision for the Palestinian People document, issued by the Trump White House, we see that the entire panoply of international law upon which the Palestinian case has hitherto rested since the Nakba of 1948 would be swept willy-nilly into the proverbial dustbin of history, and be replaced with the flakiest load of neoliberal economic jargon ever seen since the advent of that malign and soul-destroying ideology (the upper case bolds, btw, are Kushner's):

Kushner's Economic Plan touts three initiatives:

"The first... will UNLEASH THE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL of the Palestinians... The second... will EMPOWER THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE to realize their ambitions.... The third... will ENHANCE PALESTINIAN GOVERNANCE, improving the public sector's ability to serve its citizens and enable private-sector growth."

"These three initiatives," declares Kushner, "are more than just a vision of a promising future for the Palestinian people - they are also the foundation for an implementable plan. Capital raised through this international effort will be placed into a new fund administered by an established multilateral development bank. Accountability, transparency, anti-corruption, and conditionality safeguards will protect investments and ensure that capital is allocated efficiently and effectively. The fund's leadership will work with beneficiary countries to outline annual investment guidelines, development goals, and governance reforms that will support project implementation on the areas identified within Peace to Prosperity. Grants, occasional loans, and other support will be distributed to projects that meet the defined criteria through a streamlined process that will enable both flexibility and accountability."

Note that at no point in the above is Israel itself expected to foot the bill for its decades-long crimes against the Palestinian people. This 'thinking' is the equivalent of Israel wanting Iran crushed, and wanting the Americans to do it for them, mentioned in my previous post Morrison Itching to Attack Iran.

Now the following may seem like something of an historical detour - however, the long history of Palestine matters if we are to understand its present history.

One of the first British intellectuals to be persuaded to visit Palestine in 1919 by the Zionist movement was G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), the prominent writer, philosopher, novelist, essayist, and convert from High Church Anglicanism to Catholicism.

But, unlike so many who have been on propaganda tours to the Holy Land since they were first organised by Britain's political Zionists in 1918, Chesterton was a remarkably independent observer and one not at all afraid to voice his reservations about the contradictions he found between the goals of political Zionism, as represented in the person of Dr Chaim Weizmann (Balfour's interlocutor), and the legitimate fear of the Palestinian Arabs with respect to those goals. The following extract echoes both Chesterton's partiality towards political Zionism as well as his capacity to see things through Palestinian Arab eyes. It comes from his book The New Jerusalem (1920):

"If the Zionists wish to quiet the fears of the Arabs, surely the first thing to do is discover what the Arabs are afraid of. And very little investigation will reveal the simple truth that they are very much afraid of sharks; and that in their book of symbolic or heraldic zoology it is the Jew who is adorned with the dorsal fin and the crescent of cruel teeth... But the case is yet more curious than that. These simple tribes are afraid, not only of the dorsal fin and dental arrangements which Dr. Weizmann may say (with some justice) that he has not got; they are also afraid of the other things which he says he has got. They maybe in error, at the first superficial glance, in mistaking a respectable professor for a shark. But they can hardly be mistaken in attributing to the respectable professor what he himself considers as his claims to respect. And as the imagery about the shark may be too metaphorical... there is not the smallest difficulty in stating in plain words what the Arabs fear in the Jews. They fear, in exact terms, their knowledge and their experience and their money. The Arabs fear exactly the three things which he says they need. Only the Arabs would call it financial trickery and an experience of political intrigue, and the power given by hoards of money not only of their own but of other peoples. About Dr. Weizmann and the true Zionists this is self-evidently unjust; but about Jewish influence of the more visible and vulgar kind it has to be proved to be unjust." (pp 200-01)

IOW, there was never a point in the history of modern Palestine when Palestinians had nothing to fear from the Zionist settler-colonial entity planted in their midst first by the British, and, since the time of US president Truman, maintained, vastly expanded and made infinitely more violent towards the indigenous Palestinians by the United States.

So, in sum, what we have here with Kushner's Plan is a new Balfour Declaration, but one without even the spurious "civil and religious rights" exposed by Jeffries in Palestine: The Reality.

In fact, Kushner's Plan resembles nothing so much as a variation on the Australian Coalition government's oft-repeated mantra, 'jobs and growth'.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Morrison Itching to Attack Iran

Read and digest this opening paragraph from Peter Hartcher, international editor of the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Iran is far from Australia. Yet if it goes to war with America the consequences could be uncomfortably near." (Acute problem with US-Iran war, 25/6/19)

If IRAN goes to war with America?

Incredibly, what Hartcher is doing here is reversing over a century of US regime change dating back to the overthrow of the Queen of Hawaii in 1893 under US president Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893) (See Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, 2006, pp 11-30)

Typically, Hartcher's only concern is how this will affect Australia - and who does he cite on this matter? Who else but the former Liberal senator and Australian Army commander responsible for the siege of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, major-general Jim Molan:

"We are 90 per cent dependent on imported fuel... and we have only around 23 days' supply in Australia." (ibid)

Moving on, however, Hartcher cannot help but deal with the stark reality of the matter:

"The new US President pulled out of [Obama's] Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)]. He was persuaded by the urgings of US hardliners and by the governments of Iran's biggest foes - its neighbours Israel and Saudi Arabia. These countries want Iran crushed, and they want the Americans to do the crushing for them." (ibid)

Will wonders never cease? Hartcher's got Israel right for once!

Now the Sydney Morning Herald of the same day (25/6/19) carried the following report:

"US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is touring the Middle East and Asia looking to build a global coalition against Iran... not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe... " (Pompeo seeks anti-Iran coalition, Darlene Superville, AP)

Unsurprisingly, in yesterday's (26/6/19) Sydney Morning Herald, we read that:

"The Morrison government has left the door open to joining a co-ordinated international effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran, saying Australia is 'in consultation with our allies and partners' as tensions rise between Washington and Tehran." (Australia open to anti-Iran push, David Wroe)

Could it be any clearer than this? The United States is gunning for Iran, not, as Hartcher has it, the other way around. And Morrison wants in on the action, just like his Liberal Party predecessor John Howard did in 2003. Incredibly, we have learnt nothing as a nation since then.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Project Rozana

So much to record. So little time. Here's one I've so far had to put on hold. It concerns the woes of, in the words of the appended bio to the opinion piece I'm about to highlight, "Jamal Rifi AM is a Lebanese-born Australian citizen who runs a medical practice in Sydney. He is a prominent member of the Lebanese Muslim community and was awarded The Australian newspaper's Australian of the year in 2015."

Dr Rifi's woes are connected with his involvement in Project Rozana, but I'll leave it to him to relate them, as he has in a 31/5/19 opinion piece in The Australian, The children are all that count: Politics & Religion have no role on Project Rozana, where healthcare is paramount:

"During the past two weeks I have been subjected to an enormous amount of abuse from people whose agenda runs counter to mine Most of that abuse has appeared in Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, an influential Arabic language newspaper affiliated with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the country of my birth."

Now if I may interrupt here to clarify the status of Al-Akhbar. Asad Abukhalil, aka The Angry Arab, a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, has not only been a contributor to Al-Akhbar's pages but has had something of a love-hate relationship with the paper over the years, making him something of an objective source on the subject. Here, for example, are just two of his blog (The Angry Arab News Service) posts on Al-Akhbar:

"Ignorant Western correspondents who can't read Arabic refer to Lebanese daily, Al-Akhbar, as 'Hizbullah's paper'. Here is a supplement on Lenin published by the paper. You think Hizbullah likes Lenin?" (Al-Akhbar has a special supplement on Lenin: and you think that a Hizbullah paper would honour Lenin and Bolsheviks? November 13, 2017)

"Al-Akhbar's publisher, Ibrahim Al-Amin, published a scathing critique of Hizbullah and its corrupt role in Lebanese domestic politics. He takes on the party for its reluctance to engage in social justice struggle. But the party is not a progressive party so it is not surprising to me." (Criticisms of Hizbullah's political role in Al-Akhbar, September 15, 2017)

Having, I hope, clarified that Al-Akhbar is emphatically not "affiliated" with Hizbullah, let us return to the words of Dr Rifi:

"I have even been referred to the military court in Lebanon in a poorly disguised attempt to discredit me and silence my brother in Beirut, Major-General Achraf Rifi, a former director-general of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, former minister of justice and an outspoken critic of Hezbollah and its masters in Iran." (ibid)

(What Dr Rifi does not divulge here is that his brother has "close ties to Saudi Arabia." (See Wikipedia entry for Achraf/Ashraf Rifi.))

"The abuse is directed at my involvement with Project Rozana, a humanitarian organisation that started in Australia in 2013 and is active in the US, Canada, Israel and Palestinian territory. I joined as a director in 2017. Among my fellow directors are inspirational communal leaders of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths... Our single-minded desire is to build bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health... A cornerstone of Project Rozana is to provide lifesaving treatment for Palestinian children and to build the health capacity of Palestinian society... It's about the children... So why am I accused of promoting a policy of 'normalisation' between Palestinians and Israelis? Why have I become the punching bag of people in Australia and Lebanon who regard any affiliation with Jews, let alone professed Zionists, as being haram (forbidden according to Islamic law)? [...] During my 2017 visit [to Israel], I was privileged to meet Palestinian and Israeli volunteers who each day drive critically and chronically ill Palestinian children from their homes in the West Bank to the checkpoints and from these checkpoints to hospitals in Israel... This is a lifesaving service in the real sense of the word." (ibid)

You'll note here that there is no mention of taking critically ill children from Gaza to Israel for medical treatment. The case of Aisha a-Lulu, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14/6/19 under the title A little girl lost in Gaza politics (Isabel Debre & Fares Akram) is a case in point. Here are the relevant extracts from that piece:

"When Palestinian preschooler Aisha a-Lulu came out of brain surgery in a strange Jerusalem hospital room, she called out for her mother and father. She repeated the cry over and over, but her parents never came. Instead of a family member, Israeli authorities had approved a stranger to escort Aisha from the blockaded Gaza Strip to the east Jerusalem hospital. As her condition deteriorated, the child was returned to Gaza unconscious. One week later, she was dead... So far this year, about half of applications for patient companion permits were rejected or left unanswered by Israel, according to the World Health Organisation. That has forced more than 600 patients, including some dozen children, to leave the territory alone or without close family. [...] The Shin Bet [Israel's FBI] declined to comment on the case. But in a statement, it emphasised Israel's security concerns about Gaza patients and their companions. 'The terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip, headed by Hamas, are working tirelessly to cynically exploit the humanitarian and medical assistance provided by Israel,' it said. Efrat, of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, said he was confident that 'most of these rejections are arbitrary'."

Which begs the question: why isn't Dr Rifi's Project Rozana involved in cases like that of Aisha a-Lulu in Gaza? If Project Rozana has the ability to do what it does in the West Bank, with gravely ill Palestinian children such as Rozana, who have their parents by their side in hospital, then why doesn't the same pertain in Gaza? Has Dr Rifi ever raised the matter of gravely ill children from Gaza with Project Rozana? If so, what was their response? And if he hasn't raised the matter, why not?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Lesh Unleashed

Matthew Lesh strikes again! Recall that Lesh, now ensconced at John Roskam's neoliberal think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), during his university years was the political director of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS).

But first let one of The Australian's most rabid attack dogs, Chris Kenny, set the scene for you:

"[I]n a lengthy online report complementing her television and radio reporting for the ABC from Venezuela this month, Zoe Daniel failed to mention socialism... In fact, she referred to Chavez not as a socialist leader but as a 'charismatic, populist President'. Daniel's powerful piece, focusing mainly on the trauma and starvation faced by the populace was picked up by War News Updates, a news aggregator covering conflict zones. But it felt obliged to note the ABC's oversight.

"'WNU Editor: The authors of the above report do not mention the word 'socialism' in their report, nor how the policies of nationalisation and government confiscation completely destroyed what was once (one of) Latin America's top economies. Instead the focus on why people are starving in Venezuala is on sanctions, corruption, etc... in short, the usual excuses while ignoring the real reason why everything has collapsed'." (Socialists overlooked in ABC's Venezuela, 24/6/19)

Enter Lesh, in Kenny's words:

"Elsewhere, the Institute of Public Affairs' self-styled 'free market jihadi', Matthew Lesh, jumped on Twitter pointing out the missing factor and decrying the piece as 'disgraceful' and 'biased' misreporting. Daniel snapped back that she had referenced Chavez as socialist in other pieces filed that week and suggested Lesh was overcome by his own bias. Interestingly, the ABC seems to have reacted to the criticism. Among almost 2500 words, it altered one sentence with the addition of a solitary but important word. The original article posted on June 12 said: 'Charismatic, populist President Hugo Chavez was adored by the poor for his community support programs, free health care and education and generally subsidised living.' It was 'updated' early the next morning (the day after Lesh's tweet) to the following:

'Charismatic, populist President Hugo Chavez was adored by the poor for his socialist policies: community support programs, free health care and education and generally subsidised living'. This fiddle served more as an admission of error than a worthwhile correction of the analysis. It was just the inclusion of the trigger word, socialist, to square off against criticism and insulate from more." (ibid)

Two observations on Kenny's piece are in order here.

While Kenny invokes the Matthew Lesh of the Institute of Public Affairs, he studiously omits Lesh's AUJS/ Zionist background, surely a "fiddle" of equal proportions.

Second, sadly, how typical of the ABC to allow themselves to be spooked by the The Australian, as though its Zionist crusading really mattered.

Update 25/6/19: It should be pointed out that Kenny is indulging in a half-truth when he asserts that Hugo Chavez was a socialist. In fact, Chavez did not declare for socialism until 2006. IOW, from the April 2002 coup against him, which soon collapsed, and led to his speedy return to power in Venezuela, he could not be called a socialist. (See Comandante: The Life & Legacy of Hugo Chavez, Rory Carroll, 2013, p 143.  Carroll was the Guardian's chief correspondent in Latin America.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The French Report

We've been hearing oodles in Murdoch's Australian, about the Report of the Independent Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers, March 2019, drawn up by former Chief Justice of the High Court Robert French, all of it designed to detract from French's key finding here:

"Repeated incidents in Australia in recent times do not establish a systemic pattern of action by higher education providers or student representative bodies, adverse to freedom of speech or intellectual inquiry in the higher education sector."

Instead, The Australian has ignored this key finding and homed in exclusively on French's reference to the adoption of a voluntary free speech code.

According to Sydney University's student paper,

"Freedom of speech incidents at USyd represent the overwhelming majority of incidents amongst Australian universities if a 2018 audit by the conservative think tank Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), cited in the review, is to be believed."

(Note that the IPA audit was conducted by Matthew Lesh, formerly political affairs director of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS)).

And why has Sydney University, in particular, come under such scrutiny? Sydney University English department academic Nick Riemer here hits the nail squarely on the head with his quoted (in bold) comment in the following Sydney Morning Herald report:

"The John Howard-helmed Ramsey Centre's struggles to find a home for its degree in Western civilisation has prompted many to accuse the campuses of left-wing bias, but one of the most outspoken critics disagrees. Nick Riemer says universities are not full of lefties. 'The faculty that's in focus is the arts faculty,' he says. Claims it is dominated by cultural Marxists are 'nonsense. Most academics there are centrists'. In fact, he argues, his more left-wing colleagues are the ones under most pressure. 'The biggest irony about all of this is the freedom of speech code will I bet not be applied to the group that is most in need of it in my view, which is Palestine advocates,' he says." (Embracing comfortable ideas, Jordan Baker, 22/6/19)

So, absent Sydney University's arts faculty's courageously standing up for Palestinian rights, there would be no particular focus on Sydney University at all, no audit by the IPA's Matthew Lesh, and ultimately no French Report.

As Riemer points out, advocating for Palestine simply cannot be tolerated by the enemies of the Palestinians in this country. It is they, not the campus Zionists, who are in need of the protection of any campus free speech code which may be adopted.

(See, in particular, my 16/9/14 post Behind AUJS's Campus Offensive and remember that 2014 was the year of Israel's most brutal ever onslaught against the Gaza Strip, Operation Protective Edge, which necessitated an unprecedented PR blitz from Israel's propaganda outlets in the West, including Australia. Context is all.)

Meanwhile, back in the real world:

"At least 81 Palestinians were injured on Friday afternoon in clashes [sic] between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers in the eastern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, medics said. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, told reporters that 79 people as well as two paramedics had various injuries in clashes [sic] with the Israeli soldiers... " (81 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip,, 22/6/19)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Other Bob Hawke

The figure of the recently deceased (16/5/19) former Australian Labor Party PM Bob Hawke, has, of course, been weaponised by the new neoliberal Liberal Party government led by Evangelical/Christian Zionist PM Scott Morrison for use against the Labor Party opposition led by Anthony Albanese.

But the former PLO ambassador to Australia, Ali Kazak, portrays a very different former Labor PM.

Written for the Pearls & Irritations website (, Kazak introduces himself as "an expert on Australian-Arab relations and affairs, and author of Australia and the Arabs (in Arabic), and editor of the book Jerusalem Reader: From Occupation to City of Peace (2019) (in English).

Hawke's prime ministership lasted from 1983-1991, and Kazak describes a very different Bob Hawke to the one appropriated by the present government and its supporters, one who'd transcended his blind support for Israel while president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) from 1969-1980:

"Bob Hawke was long known as a great friend of Israel, but in his years after retiring from Parliament, I came to know him as a person increasingly concerned about Palestinian rights and getting a fair peace deal for Palestinians and Israelis. Then, as Palestinian ambassador and head of delegation, we developed over the last 25 years a decent friendship; we would share a cigar on the balcony of his Northbridge house overlooking the harbour, where most of our meetings took place, discussing and working on specific issues of concern. Bob used to express immense frustration and disappointment not only with the Israeli government's persistent human rights violations but of Palestinians but also with the United States' blind eye and lack of commitment to a just peace.

"Building on Gough Whitlam's implementation of an even-handed policy towards the Israeli-Arab conflict in 1972, Bob Hawke's government reviewed Australia's Middle East policy. The review announced by Foreign Minister Bill Hayden on 30 September 1983 recognised the central importance of the Palestinian issue for any settlement, a role for the Palestine Liberation Organisation in any peace process and acknowledged the the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. It also called on Israel to freeze its settlement program in the 1967-occupied territories, because the settlements are 'contrary to international law and a significant and a significant obstacle to peace efforts'. At the time this was a more advanced position than many European countries.

"Following the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) in 1987 and the PLO initiative in November 1988, Hawke's government recognised the PLO in March 1989.

"In a speech celebrating former Soviet refuseniks in Melbourne on 17 May 1988, Bob compared the struggle of the Palestinian people with the Jews in the Soviet Union and the blacks in South Africa, saying 'The Palestinian in the occupied territories, as the Jew in the Soviet Union and the black in South Africa has his aspirations to be fully free.' A point he stressed again, decades later, in an article he wrote for the Australian Financial Review, titled Time to recognise the state of Palestine, on 14 February 2017.

"From the early days of Benjamin Netanyahu's prime ministership of Israel, Bob realised that Netanyahu was not part of the solution, telling me in 1996 that 'This Netanyahu does not want peace'.

"The Guardian reported Hawke as saying, 'I think that President Obama has been inadequate in terms of using his influence and that of the United States in trying to bring together the Israelis and Palestinians'.

"When all Arab governments agreed to a peace initiative at the Beirut Summit of the Arab League in March 2002, Israel not only responded by refusing the Arab peace initiative, but its prime minister General Ariel Sharon's response to the Arabs' outstretched hand for peace was to order his army to reoccupy Palestinian cities and surround and bombard President Arafat's headquarters.

"Bob was furious; he expressed to me his wish to break the siege and go and meet with Arafat and asked me to arrange that; and despite the wrath and rejection of of the Israeli government he met with Arafat on 24 September 2003.

"From then onwards, Bob worked hard and travelled around the world to gain Australian, American, European and Asian support for an economic plan to help build the palestinian economy, similar to the Marshall Plan. He spoke with John Howard, Alexander Downer, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schrodor of Germany, and many others.

"He also tried to build a technical school in Gaza as a gift from the Australian people to the Palestinians to help them rebuild their economy, in which the ACTU would organise volunteer technicians and teachers. The project was supported by the Palestinian Authority which allocated land that was inspected by deputy prime minister Tim Fischer during a visit to Palestine in March 1997, but the Howard government would not provide the $5m needed for the school.

"Ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu's 2017 visit to Australia, Bob called on the Australian government to recognise the state of Palestine in an article published in the Australian Financial Review. He wrote: 'Australia was there at the very beginning. The least we can do now, in these most challenging of times, is to do what 137 other nations have already done - grant diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine'."

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange? 6

LH has finally tracked down a Late Night Live broadcast, not found in LNL's archives, which corroborates his contention that Phillip Adams "scooped up" Carr, Greer and the Brisbane Writers Festival audience, no less, on September 7, 2018, and took them all to a Brisbane venue known as The New Farm Cinemas to discuss Carr and Greer's books and broadcast it all on LNL. Called Greer and Carr - uncensored, the LNL broadcast is dated 11/9/18.

Phillip Adams began the session by declaring that:

"I can't begin to fathom why the Brisbane Writers Festival has ejected these two and so what we decided to do was have a salon de refuse and that's why we're here tonight."

Greer was first cab off the rank, discussing her book On Rape. Then Adams broached the subject of Julian Assange with her:

"I want to ask you a personal question. I was involved with WikiLeaks and Assange before both became famous brands, and after the trouble in Sweden I've tended to take the John Pilger/Geoffrey Robertson position because I fear for what will happen to Assange if he is sent to the US, but you in fact made me rethink my position. Your view on the Assange case?"

This 'rethinking' amazed me. Had Adams read Greer's book, or was he just reacting to what she had said on the night?

Without giving Greer's full response to Adams' question, I note her following points on Assange on the night:

"He had sex without consulting them"; "this is rape"; "he took a liberty with these women"; "he did [non-consensual sex] 3 times"; "he's still stuck in the embassy where they desperately want to get rid of him. They do say he has personal hygiene problems, which may be a lie"; "I don't like him or the way he's conducted himself, but he has been unfairly dealt with - but not necessarily by his enemies. He's suffered more at the hands of his friends [such as Robertson]." (Note no applause from audience.)

Adams then moved on to ask Carr:

"You describe yourself strongly in the Zionist camp, and as an unabashed supporter of the Jewish state. What changed your mind was pressure applied to you by the lobby when you presented a peace prize to Palestinian leader and frequent LNL guest Hanan Ashrawi. Talk to that."

Here's Carr's full response on the night:

"It was 2003. I was premier of NSW. A peace institute at Sydney University asked me if I'd present an award to Hanan Ashrawi, a brave Palestinian woman. My response was... to encourage a Palestinian woman like this would be good for Israel. In that spirit, and as a long-term president of Labor Friends of Israel, I accepted. There was a hurricane of activity from leaders of the Israel lobby condemning me for agreeing to present the award and I thought for me to accept the invitation and then pull out would be a message for every Australian of Arab background that they really don't count when the Israel lobby gets moving, and I wasn't bloody well going to do it. And with every day I make it clear that to pull out under this sort of pressure would be disgraceful. That taught me a lot about the bullying which is part of the approach of the Israel lobby in Australia, in the US, and elsewhere, and it's fundamentally wrong when they want to blind us to the fact that they're spreading settlements on the West Bank at a pace and a design that will stop a Palestinian state ever being created.. And if they can't see that's not in Israel's interests, then I can't help it, but I'm darn well going to present the case for an end to settlements, for a humane treatment of the occupied Palestinians, and for recognition of Palestine... And I'm proud of being able to shift the attitude of Labor conferences... and get other state Labor conferences to do the same, with a view to having the next national conference of the Labor Party, say in December, in view of all this... recognising Palestine." (Note loud applause from audience.)

So there you have it. But what I find most intriguing in all of this is that nowhere in the msm media did this quite extraordinary holding of a parallel event elicit a mention (at least as far as I am aware), not even from the participants themselves. And also why the broadcast didn't immediately find its way into the LNL archives. I must say too that for me Phillip Adams here remains just as problematic on the subject of Palestine/Israel as ever.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange? 5

On Thursday 20/6/19, Phillip Adams ran a program called The Assange indictment: will the US be able to extradite Julian Assange? It was an interview with international lawyer Geoffrey Robertson who represents Assange. It is of consuming interest to all concerned, as I am, with Assange's plight. Please read it from beginning to end:

Phillip Adams: I promised that Geoffrey Robertson would be on the program tonight to talk about the plight of my friend Julian Assange, and the response to that has been quite extraordinary. A vast bombardment of emails and social media. One of the emails came from an ex-foreign minister of Australia, Bob Carr, and I want to read you the part of it that's relevant. It's a very long email: 

'I look forward to hearing your interview with Geoffrey Robertson about Assange. Up to now I've been an Assange critic. The failure to do redactions, not facing up in Sweden. But the American indictment stops one not short of capital punishment, at 175 years, and it threatens media freedom in exposing abuses, and above all, for Australians, it serves up one of our citizens into the maw of the hideous American justice system. I am meeting with his Australian lawyers next week."

PA: Now before I actually talk to Geoffrey, I just want to remind you what an extraordinary fellow he is. [Note that I've omitted Adams' lengthy tribute to Robertson for reasons of space.]

GR: Very good to be talking to you once again, Phillip.

PA: Now let's do a hypothetical. If every thing goes wrong, what's the worst case scenario for your client?

GR: Oh, he dies in an American supermax. That is what is intended by the current regime. There is no doubt... this takes us back to 2010 when he produced the initial Iraqgate revelations showing the helicopter killing and the aerial manslaughter of a couple of Reuters journalists, some children, and revealed to the world the extraordinary detail of corruption throughout the Middle East, and the misbehaviour in some cases of American troops. Now at that time the Americans convened a Grand Jury in secrecy. Now I had a few high connections with the Obama administration, and I said to them do you really want him because there are dangerous precedents here for The New York Times and newspapers around the world, and they said, in a word, we don't want him but the Pentagon does, and the Pentagon may eventually get its way. And now it's got its way. Julian is in a terrible plight. He's not well, he's banged up in prison for the foreseeable future. The danger is that he will be extradited to America, embroiled in court proceedings. He's charged with conspiring with Chelsea Manning - she got 35 years before she was pardoned by Obama at the end of his run. I don't think that Julian will be pardoned by President Trump. It is US capital punishment in a roundabout way because unless the British courts spring him on one argument or another, the Trump administration is determined to argue that the First Amendment, which famously protects American newspapers and publishers, does not apply to Australians or to non-Americans, which puts American papers in difficulty because so many of their contributors and journalists are non-Americans. But in this particular case, a privilege which is given to all American papers in the public interest, free speech is going to be denied to Julian Assange because he's an Australian.

PA: You represented him previously in a case which he lost. Let's remember that.

GR: Yes, a case we would have won, and I stayed in it because we got the court to rule that he would be tried in secret in Sweden, and I couldn't imagine the Supreme Court of Britain would allow someone to be extradited to Sweden to be tried in secret. But in a foolish, in retrospect, attempt to cosy up to the Swedes and get some release from them, he dropped that point of law and so he lost. But he's been at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for 7 years. I saw him about a week before he was thrown out and he was worried then. He knew that Mike Pence had been in Ecuador, and a much needed loan had been extended to Ecuador, and he feared he would be the collateral. And of course a week or so later he was thrown out. The behaviour was disgraceful, I have to say. They kept his private notes, his legal notes, and showed them to the Americans and the CIA before they returned them, and on every score this isn't the way you treat people you've given asylum to for 7 years. But that's now a thing of the past, and I think next February the proceedings will commence once he's served his term for bail-breaking. He got 6 months for that and he'll have to stay in prison and no doubt will not get bail while he's fighting extradition.

PA: Geoffrey, there may be prosecutorial overreach here. There are 18 charges for heaven's sake. What are the most significant ones?

GR: Well, the most significant one in terms of years in prison are the charges in the Espionage Act, which is a 1921 American law that is basically for spying, and of course for disloyal Americans. But Julian is not an American citizen so it's an inappropriate act, an attempt at an exhorbitant jurisdiction because he didn't do any of the publishing while in America. He did it outside America. But the Americans do have this, and when I was an international appeal judge I used to be irritated by the American fixation on sentences that far exceed the amount of years that the defendant has to live. They sentence people to 100 years in prison. As you say, those charges add up to 175 years, and they're quite capable as they showed in Chelsea Manning's case of having a 50 or 60 year sentence. But in effect the result will be the complete silencing of someone who was a troublemaker as far as they were concerned. But they will effectively silence him for the rest of his life and he will die in an American supermax.

PA: Another part of the email from Bob Carr raises the issue of what a [British] Labour government would do with this - curtail the extradition, even send him back here. What do we do then? Is it true the incumbent government makes a difference in this case?

GR: Oh it does, a complete difference. Actually, to some extent it is a political rather than a legal decision, and this present government [in the form of] Sajid Javid, who's a rather nasty politician, unfortunately because he's the first Muslim politician that has risen to a secretary of state level. He's already shown his teeth by being prepared to have some ISIS Britons dealt with by the death penalty, which hitherto Britain had totally set its face against, and of course he refused to take back that woman whose baby died. So he couldn't wait once the Swedish courts had dropped the case, in effect, or the Swedish prosecutors had fumbled their extradition request. He didn't wait to grant America the extradition right over Julian Assange, and so now the court battle will begin next year. But I do think it's a serious problem for freedom of speech. It doesn't matter whether you love or like or dislike Julian Assange. [Note that I've omitted Robertson's account of former free speech battles for reasons of space.] The question is he is in the process of being crushed by the mighty state, the Goliath that he acted as a David with some slingshot to show what it was up to.

PA: Nonetheless the demonisation of him has not helped. Even in Australia there are people I would have thought would be manning the barricades. Peter Greste, for example, who as you know was in an Egyptian slammer. They were not that sympathetic. The Washington Post, for heaven's sake, has just published the most appallingly aggressive attack on Assange, insisting that he's got to face the music. This poisons the whole process.

GR: I have to say that wiser voices have been heard in America. Jim Goodale, who is the real hero of the Pentagon Papers case. He was the brilliant lawyer for The New York Times. He's come out of retirement saying this is the greatest battle for freedom of speech since the Pentagon Papers, and in some respects more important. The Columbia Journalism Review has come down emphatically on Assange's side. So I think there are wiser voices, but the demonisation has been extraordinary. These proceedings in Sweden, for example, are always called rape proceedings as though there was some violent force being alleged. There's not. It's a charge which the Swedes  call 'minor rape', which is a contradiction in terms as far as we're concerned. Basically it amounts to an allegation that he had consensual sex without wearing an agreed condom. Now that's a million miles removed from our concept of rape as an offence of force and violence, but it's used against him. And the Ecuadorian claim that came straight from a black propaganda that he would smear his room with excrement is ludicrous. He is a fastidious Australian who has always shown respect in my company to the Ecuadorians, and that was a pure lie which went around the world.

PA: I have visited him in the embassy and he was, as you say, fastidious. Had to be in a tiny, claustrophobic space. One of the problems in this country is that neither side of politics have shown the slightest interest or sympathy.

GR: I think he's won some award. If you look at him objectively, he's made a lot more information available. Hardly a week goes by when you don't see sourced some WikiLeaks revelation. We know a lot more, and not all of it of course is anti- the United States. One of the ironies I find in this case is that he released the cables which were not top secret. They were secret but not classified in a way that would mean that a source or human life was in danger if they were released. They were available to 3 million Americans and what they showed was that American foreign policy, at least the CIA-sourced view of the world, was pretty accurate in exposing, or at least being aware of, the level of corruption in many countries. So he has made a lot of information available, most of it of genuine public interest, and for that he's going to be, in effect, crushed to death if the Americans get their way. I hope that they won't. I mean he's got arguments that may prevail and I think although the British have not shown themselves very unbiased so far, he comes up before some tinpot magistrate who described him as a narcissist and a coward, which Julian Assange certainly isn't. And so you've got that prejudice here. I mean, even in the literary field he eats with his fingers said one book about him, completely unaware of the Australian tradition of BBQing. But this is something all Australians should be aware of, that he is being discriminated against both as a person and an Australian.

PA:  I wanted to make the point before we've got a PM and a FM and the Opposition, none of them are speaking out. Is there anything Australia can do?

GR: Well I did have a number of meetings with Julie Bishop who I think was as sympathetic as she could be and arranged for his Australian passport to be renewed. I think there must come a point at which - I mean the man is sick. I haven't been able to visit him yet in his prison but his solicitor has said in court he's been too ill to be produced, and of course, the UN delegate who did see him issued a very stark warning about his health. So I think that is the first thing that Australia must do. The evidence is clear that he's unwell and that he's not being treated properly in prison and that is something that really the Australian government should make a protest about and an inquiry."

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange? 4

The matter of Julian Assange and Australian msm journalism just got more and more interesting for me today when I stumbled across a petition update, headed 150,000 signatories then Twitter suspends our petitioner's account on Twitter.

The update, of 19/6/19, was written by... a Phillip Adams, Brisbane, Australia. Of course, the author of the update, is emphatically NOT the well-known Radio National broadcaster despite the identical spelling of their names.

The update set me wondering whether or not any of the 150,000 signatories to the original petition signed it thinking the Brisbane Adams was actually the ABC broadcaster. (You can access the former's update at where he gives his suspended twitter account as @PhillipAdams64.)

Now I may be wrong, but my hunch is that few of them referred to in the update even knew who the broadcaster was.

But then a friend dropped in, assuring me that he'd heard the ABC broadcaster discussing Julian Assange, he seemed to think, positively. This, I thought was most unlike our PEP (Progressive Except Palestine) broadcaster, but felt compelled to check it out anyway.

Adams the broadcaster, of course, runs ABC Radio National's Late Night Live (LNL) program, so I headed to the LNL archives, specifically to the entry labelled 'Journalism', and trawled back in time until I found the only discussion in all of the entries listed there on Julian Assange.

It was dated 2/3/11, and headed Robert Manne: The untold story of Julian Assange. (If Robert Manne is unknown to you, just click on the relevant MERC label below.) Note that Adams and Manne are discussing only that period, in the mid-1990s, well before WikiLeaks, when Assange and others like him were collectively known as cypherpunks.

To cut to the chase, here is Adams' guest, Robert Manne, responding to his request to say where Assange stood in relation to the other 1990s cypherpunks. Note that, while a grudging, highly qualified admiration for Assange is the most we get from Manne, we don't even get that from Phillip Adams. Here's Manne's assessment of Assange, the cypherpunk, vis-a-vis other cypherpunks of the time:

"[Assange] is a real extremist on the hardline, electronic libertarian [model/spectrum?] who just would not put up with any state interference to individual liberties. On the other hand, he was from the point of view of left/right economics, more a left-wing libertarian or a left-wing anarchist in that he just didn't believe in the neoliberal philosophy of dual market and capitalism. So he had quite a complicated position which comes from his postings - which are all available if anyone took the trouble to to read them. So he is very hardline on the question of the struggle against the state trying to suborn individuals who want to communicate privately on the one hand. On the other hand, he's not an Ayn Rand type, whereas a lot of [the cypherpunks] were."

Typically, Phillip Adams asked Manne if Assange was "simply anti-American." Manne disagreed, saying:

"He understands the evils of Communism. One of his great heroes is Alexander Solzhenitsyn... One of the ironies is that people like John Pilger are now his great supporters, but in fact - or Michael Moore, the film maker - Assange doesn't respect people like that in reality... He's not a journalist at all, but even if he was to some extent a journalist... He is a revolutionary, not a non-violent revolutionary... He is the first person who has gotten away with threatening the extremely powerful."

Note that line, "He's not a journalist, but even if he were..."! Not to mention Manne's flabbergasting characterisation of Assange as a "violent" revolutionary because he "got away with threatening the extremely powerful."

Finally, I repeat, this was the only LNL program which touched on the subject of Julian Assange in the LNL archive, and was emphatically NOT any kind of endorsement of him. Consider this for the record.