Thursday, January 31, 2019

Mike Carlton's 'On Air' 2

A tsunami of hatred, bigotry, racism, insult and abuse...

"I had expected a torrent of abusive emails. The Israel lobby in Australia is well organised, hyperactive and loudly vocal. It wields weight and power beyond its size. Anyone working in the media is aware that any criticism of Israel - the slightest hint of it - stirs much of the Jewish community to the wrath of God. But even prepared for that, I had no idea what was about to descend. For more than a week I was engulfed by a tsunami of hatred, bigotry, racism, insult and abuse beyond anything I have ever experienced.

"It began with emails... The trickle that began early that Saturday morning became a flood over the weekend and beyond. 'Heil Hitler, you ignorant, Jew-hating, anti-Semitic slime,' was one of the first. I was attacked as 'a Hitler lover', 'a Nazi', 'a Palestinian cocksucker', 'a Muslim lover', 'an anti-Semitic motherfucker', 'Palestinian scum' and 'Holocaust denier'. On it rolled, a stream of filth. I lost count of the times I was called a Nazi. 'People like you started World War II,' said one woman. 'You would have gassed my grandmother in Auschwitz,' said another. A nutter named Ziggy, apparently thinking I might be spawn of the SS or similar, helpfully wrote in German: 'Die Nazi-Obst fallt nicht weit vom Stemm.' The Nazi fruit does not fall far from the tree.

"Twitter chimed in. One Alex Ryvchin, the Public Affairs Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and a leading figure of the Israel lobby, berated me with a slew of ever more creative insults. A travel agent from Sydney's Rose Bay announced I was in cahoots with the corrupt New South Wales politician Eddie Obeid. 'Carlton's business is bankrolled by the Obeids,' she tweeted. Others displayed blatant racism. 'We are the Chosen People. Get over it,' was a jaw-dropper. One man wrote: 'Jews make things. Can't remember the last Palestinian invention.' A woman - apparently professional and well educated - thought my supposed religion might somehow be relevant. 'Catholic, much?' she snapped. I did not know whether to laugh or cry at that one.

"It became obvious that a lot of the attack was coordinated. Some lines were repeated over and over again. 'We gave them Gaza; they gave us rockets,' was a common one. 'Israel takes every care to avoid unnecessary casualties, but Hamas is using children and civilians as human shields,' was another. There were scores of these tweets and emails with identical wording." (pp 506-07)

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Mike Carlton's 'On Air' 1

In earlier posts on the subject of Australian political memoirs that tackle the bullying ways of the Israel lobby, I dealt with those of former foreign minister Bob Carr and former prime minister Kevin Rudd, as well as journalist John Lyons' contribution to the genre, if I may call it that. It is now time to focus on the last of the four, journalist Mike Carlton's On Air (2018).

Those of you with long memories will perhaps recall that Carlton first came under attack in 2010 following his criticisms of Israel's Mavi Marmara massacre, prompting him to describe the lobby, in his Sydney Morning Herald column, as "a ferocious beast." (See my 12/6/10 post A Ferocious Beast.)

Then, in 2014, in the hardest-hitting opinion piece in the Australian corporate media on Israel's murderous Operation Protective Edge*, in which he accused the apartheid state of waging "a war of terror on the entire Gaza population," Carlton again came under attack from the aforementioned ferocious beast. (See my 27/7/14 post Carlton & Le Lievre Get Gaza.)

It is this lobby-orchestrated backlash that he deals with in some detail in his memoir.

He begins with the circumstances which led up to Operation Protective Edge and an account of its brutal 50-day course, and describes precisely what it was that led him to write his offending column, Israel's rank and rotten fruit is being called fascism:

"The ABC's Matt Brown reported for 7.30 on the killing of the four boys on the beach, interviewing the bereaved father and an eleven-year-old boy who had been injured by shrapnel but escaped. I watched his 7.30 story shaken to the marrow, choking back tears, achingly conscious of our own little boy peacefully asleep in his bedroom." (pp 504-05)

"With the column," he adds, "was a cartoon by the artist Glen Le Lievre, depicting a Jewish man seated in an armchair marked with a Star of David and operating a TV-style remote control to blow up a Gazan township. It was a pungent spin-off from news photographs - seen worlwide - of Israeli families relaxing with drinks and snacks on a border hillside as they watched Gaza being bombed in the near distance below. The column, its headline and the cartoon touched off a firestorm." (pp 505-06)

[*Sadly, typically, I'm not aware of any other.]

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Just Speculating...

Just two foreign policy reasons for consigning the government of Scott Morrison to the dustbin of history come the May election:

Not only has it recognised West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, it has now climbed on the USraeli bandwagon and recognised Trump puppet Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela. (Guaido gets Canberra's backing in Venezuela, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/1/19)

Australia has already involved itself militarily in USraeli wars of regime change in Iraq and Syria. Could Venezuela be next?

After all, Morrison wouldn't be the first political leader in history to try to stave off political oblivion with an overseas military adventure, featuring, of course, 'our best and bravest'.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Simple Truth

In response to this tweet of Bernie Sanders@SenSanders...

The Maduro government has waged a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election many observers said was fraudulent. The economy is a disaster and millions are migrating. 1/3 (24/1/19)

Asad Abukhalil@asadabukhalil tweeted...

Those who disappoint you on Palestine will disappoint you on Venezuela, and vice versa.

How true.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Australia Day BBQ Stopper

"One afternoon in 1964 I was drinking coffee in the University of New England cafeteria with a bunch of young men from well-to-do grazing properties. They were rowdy and effortlessly good-natured. In those days Australia still rode on the sheep's back; they took for granted that they were the natural aristocrats of the campus and of the nation. We were laughing a lot that day. The conversation had turned to old family eccentrics; we'd been vying to cap each other's wacky stories.

"Then, a wealthy landowner's son took a turn. Sunday afternoons had been the fun time for his family, he announced. Presumably after church, and a good heavy Sunday dinner, his grandfather would go hunting on horseback with dogs and a posse of mates. Whooping. All armed with whips and guns. The quarry was Aborigines. They would be chased through the bush, cornered, then shot. Or driven over a mighty precipice to their death.

"Stunned silence fell around the table. The brutal declaration, so breezy and lighthearted, so shockingly new to my ears, threw us completely. I stared down into my coffee. Someone guffawed uneasily. I've often wondered why the young man blurted out those words. I remember he laughed as he spoke. Was it bravado to cover shame?

"The chilling thing was that, despite our shock, in the end the social niceties prevailed. We would ignore the faux pas. Besides, how many others among those young grandsons of squatters sitting around the table had similar secrets walled up behind their homestead facades?" (Who are we, really? Time to face the truth of the massacres of Aborigines, Frances Letters, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/7/17)


"Concerning Frances Letters' commentary, in the 1960s a family member born in the 1890s told me a similar story. I was about 14 at the time and I think the discussion touched on the Aboriginal referendum. He mentioned matter of factly that when he was a boy it was not uncommon for landowners to go on Aborigine shoots. I thought I had distorted my recollection, but after reading Frances's comments I now know it was true." (Letter to the SMH, 8/7/17)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Magic Happens, even in The New York Times

Pence backs anti-Maduro moves was the header for The New York Times report recycled in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald.

"US Vice-President Mike Pence," it began, "has declared the United States' 'unwavering support' for planned mass protests in Venezuela against president Nicolas Maduro, the most explicit backing yet by the Trump administration as opposition leaders try to unseat Maduro... 'We are with you,' Pence wrote on Twitter on Tuesday in both Spanish and English, adding, 'We stand with you, and we will stay with you until Democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad'."

The report went on to cover the ins and outs of the matter. These included the emergence of the president of Venezuela's National Assembly as a touted replacement for Maduro, and Trump's "all options are on the table" speech at the UN last September. All pretty standard fare for the average news junkie.

But then, magic, as the saying goes, happened, and lo and behold, came this truly prophetic, utterly subversive utterance, the third last paragraph:

"Many citizens of Latin America recall a long history of the US supporting coups in the region by right-wing military leaders who then quashed democratic processes and rule of law to maintain power for years and sometimes decades."

Was the nameless journalist - there was no byline - who secreted these timeless words of contextual wisdom in his report trying to tell us something? Something to do with the future of Venezuela if Pence and his cronies have their way?

Was he what!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I Read the Guardian Today, Oh Boy

The latest dollop of liberal Zionist claptrap in that media repository of liberal Zionist claptrap, the Guardian, is a little homily by a certain Simon Baron-Cohen, director of Cambridge University's Autism Research Centre, author of Zero Degrees of Empathy, and yes, brother of Sacha. It is based on the following premise:

"Empathy is all about imagining other minds, appreciating that different people have different perspectives, and responding to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotionAfter a career studying autism and the nature of empathy, I see empathy as one of our most valuable natural resources. It has particular promise as an approach to conflict resolution... We can see this if we look at the Israel-Palestine conflict, where both communities have different views of the same historic period, both claim the same piece of land and both have valid emotional reactions to the conflict that must be acknowledged." (22/1/19)

Now one might reasonably expect that anyone who is serious about the need to "imagine other minds" and "appreciate different perspectives" as a means to resolving conflict would draw on considered accounts of same by both parties. But this is not what Baron-Cohen does. He only cites Israeli views, specifically those of novelist Amoz Oz and journalist Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land: The Triumph & Tragedy of Israel.

No Palestinian voice gets a look in - unless one excepts what "one Palestinian friend said to me: 'It's hard to empathise with someone when you are looking up the barrel of their gun'." (Indeed!)

Baron-Cohen's way out of this dilemma - "Israelis should take the initiative, because they are the stronger party" - is pure ivory tower, and flies in the face of the logic of colonialism which rules out equality between coloniser and colonised. I've dealt with this issue before in my 16/11/19 post Dialogue of the Colonizer and the Colonized (just click on the colonialism label below) where I highlighted the words of a Palestinian prisoner, Ta'er Hamad, who had been approached by the mother of one of his Israeli victims: "I cannot hold a dialogue with someone who insists on equating the occupation with its victims."

The problem with reading this kind of liberal Zionist claptrap - and the Guardian is full of it - is that it wastes the reader's time, time better spent understanding, and calling out, the worse-than-apartheid reality of the colonial-settler Zionist project (projectile?) in Palestine.

To home in on just one of Baron-Cohen's fairy tales, aka the "Israeli perspective":

"If you ask Jewish Israelis why their families came to Palestine before 1948, they'll likely refer to two major waves of antisemitism. The first included the horrific pogroms of eastern Europe in the 1880s and 90s. In the second wave in the 1930s and 40s, two out of every three European Jews were killed by the Nazis... the Jews were drowning, looking for a piece of wood they could cling on to. Palestine, which for two millennia they had thought of as their ancient homeland, was that piece of wood."

The problem here is the colossal conceit that the Zionist movement was primarily a rescue mission. The reality, of course, is that it was a colonial settler movement from its inception. One only has to read the Basel Program, which emerged from the First Zionist Congress of 1897 to see this. As for the aforementioned Tsarist pogroms of the 1880s and 90s, only a minority of Russian Jews ever headed for Palestine, and most of them were not political Zionists. Many more emigrated to Western Europe, or the United States, while others joined Russian revolutionary currents.

As for "the second wave," Western Europe and the United States were again the preferred destination for European Jews impacted by the Nazi era.

Yosef Grodzinzky's 2004 book In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Struggle Between Jews & Zionists in the Aftermath of World War II is well worth a read on this matter:

"Post-Holocaust Displaced Persons, who lived in miserable conditions, became a human reserve of great migration potential, hence a prime target for the Zionists, who planned to transfer the entire DP population to Palestine. On the face of it, this task was easy: Mostly Holocaust survivors, the DPs were supposedly convinced by now that a Jewish state was the only viable solution. All it should have taken was thus immigration permits - as Palestine was still in British hands - and a sufficient number of boats that would ship the DPs to the safe haven. This, indeed, has been the official line. It has been said that with few exceptions, the shadow of the Holocaust made almost all the DPs want to go to Palestine; as immigration quotas were extremely limited while the British were in control, only few could enter; yet on May 15th 1948, the British left and with them went the quotas. An independent Jewish state was declared, and its doors were immediately opened; previously unable to immigrate to Palestine, the rest of the DPs now rushed to make 'aliyah (immigration) to Israel, and became proud citizens of the Jewish state. This is what I learned in school.

"Yet the documentary record I found in archives helped me discover two numerical discrepancies which call for an explanation. a. Polls taken in the camps at different times indicate that the vast majority of Jewish DPs (80-96.8 percent) stated their intention to immigrate to Palestine. If not to Palestine, they said, they would rather go back to the crematoria of the death camps. Yet, of the hundreds of thousands, only 40 percent (at most) actually went to Palestine/Israel, despite the fact that other migration routes were more difficult to follow at any point in time. b. A voluntary draft drive in the camps for the Israel Defense Force (IDF), then in formation, drew only 700 volunteers in the spring of 1948 (0.3 percent of the 250,000 Jewish camp dwellers then)... The failed attempt to mobilize volunteers led the Zionists to enact forced conscription of DPs in Germany and Austria to the IDF. Just months later, the headcount of camp draftees who fulfilled their 'national duty' went up eleven fold to 7,800...

"What happened? Why did so many say they wanted to go to Palestine, when only a minority actually did so? What justified forced conscription of survivors to fight for a cause they did not necessarily support, in a land they had never seen, and whose language they did not speak? How was a non-sovereign body able to force conscripts on German and Austrian soil to embark on boats that took them to the battlefield in Palestine?

"To forecast, the Zionists successfully took control of the Jewish DP camps early on, which later enabled them to enforce a draft... Zionist planners and organizers followed a clear line of reasoning: To them, a Jew not wanting to go to Palestine adversely affected the struggle for the establishment of an independent state in two ways. First,  it was a net loss to the effort to populate Palestine... Secondly, reluctance to make 'aliyah weakened the Zionist pressure to open the gates of Palestine for unlimited Jewish immigration. As the suffering of the DPs was used as a bargaining chip in the struggle against immigration quotas imposed by the British, who controlled Palestine until the state was established, a Jew immigrating to the West was one less suffering Jew knocking on Palestine's doors. The migration of Jews to places other than Palestine was thus discouraged, sometimes even blocked by force. Attempts to evacuate child survivors to England and France immediately after Liberation in 1945 were thus thwarted, on Ben-Gurion's explicit instructions." (pp 9-12)

So much for Baron-Cohen's "drowning" Jews, just itching to reach Palestine after "two millennia" of longing. Boilerplate Zionist dogma, of course. But, where the issue of Palestine/Israel is concerned, Zionist dogma, framing, bias, and embroidery, in one form or another, is invariably what you get at the Guardian.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

I Read the Herald Today, Oh Boy

I see that Nine Entertainment Co. rag The Sydney Morning Herald is crowing about polling that shows that its "readership has surged ahead of its News Corp rivals after the way digital and newspaper audiences are measured was changed to better take into account growing consumption on mobile devices." (Herald moves further ahead in readership, 21/1/19)

But what exactly are readers 'consuming'?

Among other things, chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Vic Alhadeff''s account of his recent junket in Germany as a "guest of the German Foreign Ministry" (Confronting Germany's new generation of neo-Nazis, 19/1/19).

Parenthetically, just why the German government would be squandering its taxpayers' money on a Zionist shill from down under is anyone's guess.

After informing us that "German Jews - who include an estimated 30,000 Israelis - are overwhelmingly positive, while profoundly concerned at the emergence of the AfD [Alternative for Deutschland]" party, which includes "neo-Nazi elements," he proceeds to tell us that "3600 British Jews have applied for German citizenship in the event Jeremy Corbyn becomes that country's prime minister."

Now before you exclaim, 'the mind boggles', remember that what you're dealing with here is a typical propaganda trick: cherry-picked facts taken out of context.

Here's The Times report on the subject:

"Thousands of British Jews have applied for foreign passports since 2016, driven mainly by a desire to retain EU citizenship after Brexit but also by fears over rising antisemitism and the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn coming to power. New figures obtained by The Times show that more than 3,600 Britons have applied for German nationality under a 2015 scheme inviting the descendants of those driven out on religious, racial or political grounds by the Nazis to reclaim citizenship, with most applications from Jewish people." (British Jews apply for foreign passports as 'insurance policy', Kaya Burgess, 17/11/18)

"... driven mainly by a desire to retain EU citizenship after Brexit... " says it all.

Sunday, January 20, 2019


In reporting the brutal murder in Melbourne of  Palestinian Israeli exchange student Aya Maasarwe, the Australian corporate media have referred to her either as an 'Israeli' or an 'Arab Israeli', the latter being the preferred Zionist term for the Palestinian minority who managed to avoid being driven into stateless exile in 1948, were kept under military lock and key until 1966, and who only thereafter received Israeli - second class - citizenship.

I can't recall seeing Aya anywhere in the media described as what she was, a 'Palestinian Israeli'. Here is yet another example of how a hopelessly biased, Zionised media misrepresents, marginalises, and erases Palestinian reality.

Another Palestinian Israeli, the poet Mahmoud Darwish, wrote the following lines, taken from his 1966 poem, A Lover from Palestine. He was, of course, referring to his stolen homeland. My thoughts are of Aya Maasarwe as I type Darwish's words here:

Palestinian, her eyes and her tattoo
Palestinian, her name
Palestinian, her dreams and her sorrow
Palestinian, her scarf, her feet, and her body
Palestinian, her words and her silence
Palestinian, her voice
Palestinian, her birth and her death

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bob Carr's 'Run for Your Life' 3

Carr's learning curve on Palestine/Israel continued while he served as foreign minister in the Gillard government. You can read all about it in my posts on his 2014 Diary of a Foreign Minister.

For now, here's Carr's distillation of what he's learnt so far about the issue, in Run for Your Life (2018). The words which follow - from an insider not afraid to speak out - should be uppermost in the minds of all Australians concerned with how we go about shaping our foreign policy, particularly with regard to the Middle East:

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

And here is Carr on that Zionist weapon of last resort, the false accusation of anti-Semitism:

"If it's anti-Semitic to believe that:
*the occupation needs to end;
*the Israelis are conning us by spreading settlements;
*all of them are illegal under international law;
*Israel is not a special state but a normal state which can be criticised;

then there will be no cringing, no apologetics, no backtracking from me... Criticism of an Israeli occupation, the settlements and the chauvinism of its politicians is not anti-Semitic. Only Zionist zealots wish it so." (p 181)

The chapter goes on to describe Carr's work inside the NSW ALP in support of the recognition of a Palestinian state, which culminated in a resolution to that effect at the 2017 ALP State Conference:

"I had carefully built support in the Labor Party for this next step - simple, straightforward, recognition for Palestine - and due to the quiet resolve of the young NSW party secretary, Kaila Murnain, was confident of it being carried at the conference. The small Israel faction within Labor was sour. One of their number put to me that, when it came time for me to move the motion, I should do so without giving a speech. And, he said, their side would do the same. This was a proposition as extraordinary as it was ratty: on a matter that had produced twenty-five motions from ALP branches, the conference should agree to progress the eventual resolution but with a solemn vow no one would speak to it. In other words, no hint of criticism of Israel might be allowed to be heard under the mock-Renaissance ceiling in the wood-panelled auditorium of Sydney Town Hall, lest it horrify the 800 delegates and the party members in the galleries. Here was the old refrain: how dare you - in this case how dare you contemplate voicing a criticism of a nation at once so precious and yet so fragile. How dare you

"Nothing doing, to that outrageous proposition. I was proud as a rank-and-file member of the party... to stand on the floor of the Town Hall and say: 'Delegates, as the oldest and biggest state branch, we can't be left stranded on the wrong side of history. It was once time for Whitlam's opening to China. It was once time for an independent East Timor. Time now for another historic shift in Labor Party foreign policy. If the late, great Gough Whitlam were here he would intone into this microphone, 'Men and women of Australia, It's Time... to recognise Palestine.' It was carried unanimously... " (pp 183-4)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Bob Carr's 'Run for Your Life' 2

Apart from the issue of Israeli settlements, which "slowly wormed its way into my consciousness, but not enough to undermine my instinctual support for the Jewish state," it was "the storm of criticism" unleashed by the Israel lobby, following his presentation, as premier of NSW, of the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize to the Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi which gave Bob Carr pause for thought on the subject of Israel - even though he reveals that his motive was merely to "reward a Palestinian leader who has signed up for a peaceful path to Palestinian statehood," and that that had to be "good for Israel." Carr describes the hue and cry as follows:

"Soon after my participation was announced, Jewish leaders launched an 'international petition' to force me to withdraw from the award. Sam Lipski, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Melbourne, denounced Hanan Ashrawi as a Holocaust denier. There was not a shred of evidence, and he was forced to withdraw and apologise. There were threats of funding being withdrawn from Sydney University. Its chancellor, Justice Kim Santow, barred Ashrawi from even appearing in the Great Hall. So much for academic freedom. Letters of protest were dispatched about the award going to a Palestinian, switchboards set aflame with indignation. This campaign had two objectives: to see that no Australian politician attended the presentation of the peace prize and that the peace prize be withdrawn. Lucy Turnbull, then the lord mayor of Sydney, withdrew her attendance. Her husband was running for Liberal Party preselection in the seat of Wentworth, home to a large and influential Jewish community. Kathryn Greiner was a member of the board which had made the decision to award the prize, but she phoned Stuart Rees, the director of the Sydney Peace Prize Foundation, and told him: 'I'll tell you how serious this is. Bob Carr won't come to the dinner. He'll flick the responsibility to [his deputy, Andrew] Refshauge at the last minute. And you won't get the Town Hall. It is more than Lucy's life is worth.' An article in The Australian suggested that by accepting this invitation I had damaged the federal Labor leadership of Simon Crean and quoted an anonymous member of his staff to that effect. Just as federal Labor is lifting its game, the NSW premier does this unconscionable thing that sets us back - this was the tone of the story planted by a member of Crean's staff but not, I am convinced, by Crean himself." (pp 176-7)

The proverbial penny had finally begun to drop:

"The day it appeared I received a call from a former colleague, Laurie Brereton, now serving in the federal parliament, who told me in strong language that I should not back down. He said, 'This group [he meant the Israel lobby, especially in Melbourne] is used to bullying to get its way. They do it all the time. You get nothing by backing off. Stand firm.'... I had already reached the same view as Brereton. If I had backed down it would have sent a melancholic message to all Australians of Arabic or Palestinian background: namely that, through its political clout, the other side - 'the lobby', 'the community' - will always crush you. I had given my word I would present this prize (ironically, because in one tiny way it would make a contribution to Israel being more secure). I would not back down. I have never received more support on any single issue in my time in public life. I was stopped in the street by strangers who said, 'Congratulations on not backing down... ' and seeing me look puzzled would add by way of explanation, '... in meeting...' and, not being able to recall the Arabic name would add, '... that woman.' It was the only controversy I can recall where this continued a month after publicity ceased. The award dinner was a sellout full of people from boardroom Sydney, who, I realised, had an instinctive understanding of what had gone on here: a plain bullying attempt to silence a side in the debate as legitimate as its opposite." (ibid)

The Israel lobby had overreached itself - and, critically, its bullying ways had come, via the media spotlight, to the attention of the man/woman on the street, as evinced by Carr above. He continues:

"The bullying Jewish leadership began to realise they had gone too far. I received a phone call from Frank Lowy, not to threaten or cajole but to ask out of curiosity, 'I just wondered why you did this?' Looking back I'm struck by the assumption there must be something perverse in treating a Palestinian with courtesy, as someone who might have an equal right to attention. I told him I did it because I believed encouraging peaceful Palestinians would be something one might do for a more secure Israel. But it dawned on me - with his phone call and the other reaction - what had been behind this campaign. I came to recognise it as a phenomenon that I later saw discussed on Mondoweiss, an American Jewish website, as 'Jewish Narcissism'. Maybe it's more fairly seen as an acute defensiveness and anxiety about losing friends. Whatever, there was a strong tone of 'How dare you'. That is, how dare you break ranks with us. How dare you criticise Israel. I later encountered this mentality when I was foreign minister." (ibid)

"The assumption that there must be something perverse in treating a Palestinian with courtesy"? The mind boggles. One cannot help but think at this point that if only Carr had spent a little more time reading about Israel's brutal treatment of occupied Palestinians on the ground at the time, instead of stroking Israel lobby egos, then he would have seen the idea of Ashrawi's receiving courteous treatment from Australia's Israel firsters as plainly risible. Still, it must be admitted that the transition from brainwashed Zionist dupe to pro-Palestinian activist is hardly ever a 'road to Damascus' thing.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bob Carr's 'Run for Your Life' 1

In my post, Kevin Rudd's 'The PM Years' (3/1/19), I mentioned several recent Australian memoirs that shed light on the tactics used by the Israel lobby to keep our politicians and journalists in line. One of these, Run for Your Life (2018), by former Labor Party foreign minister Bob Carr, has its own chapter on the subject - Me and 'The Lobby'.

These days, Carr is known for his efforts to push Labor in a pro-Palestinian state direction. This position, however, developed relatively late in his political career.

A mindset of blind support for Israel seems to have characterised most of the Labor Party since the creation of Israel in 1948, through to at least the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000. (It should be noted that NSW state MP George Petersen (1921-2000), and Bill Hartley (1930-2006), state secretary of the Victorian ALP from 1965 to 1970, were honourable exceptions to this tendency.) In fact, during this period, dogmatic support for Israel could almost be said to have become one of Labor's much-trumpeted 'values'.

I will examine the process of Carr's move from received to actual wisdom on the subject of Palestine/Israel, and the Israel lobby's response to same, in follow up posts. For now, here are excerpts from Carr's account of his early days, shilling for Israel:

"I had been a long-term supporter of Israel. In 1977, as a young trade union official, I had rented a room in the Trades Hall, bought some cask wine and invited Bob Hawke to come along and launch Labor Friends of Israel. I had remained its token president ever since and was always on hand to greet delegations and troop along to the [Israel] Independence Day celebrations... In 1983 I had visited Israel with a delegation of NSW Labor people... and had found it congenial enough, if not a revelation, admirable for its strong labour institutions. We met no Palestinians and were not driven around the occupied West Bank. At that time no Israeli historians had explored what had really happened in 1948. That would occur only when Benny Morris and others uncovered the story of massacres and expulsions that had forced the Arab population to flee. We just accepted the prevailing wisdom. It had been 'a land without a people for a people without a land': this was the Exodus narrative." (pp 174-5)

If Begin and Sharon's bloody invasion of Lebanon in 1982 registered with Carr, he doesn't mention it.

"I and my Labor crowd were in the Zionist camp. I remember joking with John Wheeldon, a former Labor senator and a minister in the Whitlam government, about our special closeness to Israel - with its craggy old Labour Party in permanent power, its collectivised agriculture, kibbutzniks who were Holocaust survivors... I entertained the notion that in retirement I might sign up as a volunteer to talk about the Holocaust to counter Holocaust denial. It seemed to me self-evident that the Jews were in fact an exceptional people who - and I said this in many speeches at their community events - had made a contribution to civilisation well above their numbers. I didn't dream that in feeding this self-image I might be encouraging a strand of thinking that, among other things, had Jews enjoying a view of themselves as the 'Chosen People' and therefore entitled to uncontestable rights to the land God gave them. (ibid)

As an example of collective delusion, the ALP's historical love affair with Israel is reminiscent of many Western leftists' unquestioning support for Stalinist Russia. To be sure, at the time, the lobby will have lapped up the kind of adulation of Israel expressed by Carr and others in the party - to the point of taking Labor's support for its cause for granted. But, as the old adage goes, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. My next post will look at Carr's gradual awakening to the reality of Palestine/Israel.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Confessions of an Innocent Bystander:

"The outgoing IDF chief of staff has acknowledged that Israel has been bombing Syria on a 'near-daily' basis for years, in a massive military campaign allegedly aimed at degrading Tehran's supposed military buildup in the region. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rarely acknowledge striking specific targets in Syria but its outgoing chief of staff just openly confessed to running a large-scale bombing campaign in its neighbor's territory. In 2018 alone, Israel dropped around 2,000 bombs on alleged Iran-linked targets, Gadi Eisenkot told the New York Times in his final interview as chief of staff of the IDF before he retires next week. 'We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit,' Eisenkot stated, confessing to carrying out strikes on a 'near-daily' basis." ('We struck thousands of targets': IDF chief of staff on Israel's 'near-daily' strikes in Syria,, 13/1/19)

Monday, January 14, 2019

50 Years of Anti-Palestinian Press Bias

Here's the introduction to an important new study of press bias relating to Palestine/Israel coverage which, sadly, merely confirms what we already knew from our casual reading, namely that the mainstream US press is overwhelmingly anti-Palestinian in content, and has been since 1967:

"A study released last month by 416Labs, a Toronto-based consulting and research firm, supports the view that mainstream US newspapers consistently portray Palestine in a more negative light than Israel, privilege Israeli sources, and omit key facts helpful to understanding the Israeli occupation, including those expressed by Palestinian sources. The largest of its kind, the study is based on a sentiment and n-gram analysis of nearly a hundred thousand headlines in five mainstream newspapers dating back to 1967. The newspapers are the top five US dailies, The New York Times, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. Headlines spanning five decades were put into two datasets, one comprising 17,492 Palestinian-centric headlines, and another comprising 82,102 Israeli-centric headlines. Using Natural Language Processing techniques, authors of the assessed the degree to which the sentiment of the headlines could be classified as positive, negative, or neutral. They also examined the frequency of using certain words that evoke a particular view or perception.

"Key findings of the study are:

*Since 1967, use of the word 'occupation' has declined by 85% in the Israeli dataset of headlines, and by 65% in the Palestinian dataset;
*Since 1967, mentions of Palestinian refugees have declined by an overall 93%;
*Israeli sources are nearly 250% more likely to be quoted as Palestinians;
*The number of headlines centering Israel were published four times more than those centering Palestine;
*Words connoting violence such as 'terror' appear three times as much as the word 'occupation' in the Palestinian dataset;
*Explicit recognition that Israeli settlements and settlers are illegal rarely appears both in both datasets;
*Since 1967, mentions of 'East Jerusalem,' distinguishing that part of the city occupied by Israel in 1967 from the rest of the city, appeared only a total of 132 times;
*The Los Angeles Times has portrayed Palestinians most negatively, followed by the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and lastly The New York Times;
*Coverage of the conflict has reduced dramatically in the second half of the fifty-year period." (Exclusive: are US newspapers biased against Palestinians? Analysis of a hundred thousand headlines says yes, Dorgham Abusalim,, 9/1/19)

A comparable study of the Australian press, you can be sure, would only replicate such a bias. It should also be noted that since the Fairfax (now Nine Entertainment Co.) and Murdoch presses  ceased to employ Middle East correspondents, the former now recycles reports from the Washington Post and The New York Times, while the latter draws on items from the Murdoch-owned The Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Meanwhile, in the Killing Fields of Gaza...

"Israeli forces have shot and killed a Palestinian woman as thousands demonstrated along the Gaza Strip's perimeter fence, according to Gaza's health ministry... At least 25 other Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire on Friday, including two members of the media and one paramedic... " (Israeli forces kill Palestinian woman during Gaza protests,, 12/1/19)

Is History History?

The dumbing down of the United States is getting worse. Food for thought:

"George Orwell famously forewarned in 1984, 'Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.' We shouldn't be surprised then by some recent, disturbing trends in the study of history. According to a new analysis by the American Historical Association, the number of students choosing to major in history at the nation's colleges has plummeted. Undergraduate history majors have fallen by more than a third in less than a decade, declining to their lowest levels since the '80s. The evidence indicates that the vanishing history major is not a short-term response to the Great Recession's lousy job market. If anything, the trend is accelerating. The undergraduate history major seems to be on the way out. [...]

"While understandable, the sharp national decline in studying the past should worry all of us, not just history professionals. Few history majors... become historians, but they do move on to become citizens. Knowledge of the past provides young people with a sense of place and a concept of temporal continuity, lessons to apply to the present and future, an interpretive framework and perspective for navigating the choppy global world. An epidemic of historical amnesia already plaques this country, which has often paid a terrible price and done grave harm to other foreign people and lands due to its ignorance of the past... " (History majors are becoming a thing of the past, except in the Ivy League, Marc Wortman,, 4/1/19

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Magic Mike Does Cairo

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has just (10/1) given a speech at the American University in Cairo. It is essentially, to borrow the words of The Bard, a tale told by a Christian Zionist idiot, full of imperial sound and fury, signifying God-only-knows-what in the years ahead. Since Pompeo is a little shaky on historical context, not to mention the most basic understanding of modern Western history - "In World War II, American GIs helped free North America from Nazi occupation" - I couldn't help but comment and quip as the spirit moved me. These gems, btw, are but excerpts, albeit in chronological order:

"This trip is especially meaningful to me as an evangelical Christian... In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and His Word, and the Truth."

OMG! Note the capitals.

"America's penchant for wishful thinking led us to look the other way as Hizballah, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime, accumulated a massive arsenal of approximately 130,000 rockets and missiles... aimed squarely at our ally Israel."

Of course, Hezbollah was only formed to resist the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1982. And Hezbollah only exists today to prevent the Israeli re-occupation of south Lebanon. And of course Israel couldn't possibly be described as a wholly owned subsidiary of the US, now could it? Or is it the other way around?

"The good news is this. The age of self-inflicted American shame is over... Now comes the real new beginning... The Trump administration did not stand idly by when Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his people."

US imperialism has never known shame. Nor has it ever stood idly by.

"For those who fret about the US of American power, remember this: America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We've never dreamed of domination in the Middle East. Can you say the same about Iran? In World War II, American GIs helped free North America from Nazi occupation. (!) Fifty years later, we assembled a coalition to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. Would the Russians and Chinese come to your rescue in the same way... that we have?"

So, in Iraq, the US was a "liberating force, not an occupying power," while the tread of Iranian jackboots can be heard over vast swathes of the Middle East. Really, inhabiting a parallel universe doesn't begin to describe the world of Pompeo and his fellow Christian Zionist brethren.

And yes, he did say that American troops "helped free North America from Nazi occupation." But then again, he comes from a country where only 1% of university graduates study history.

"Let's turn to Iran. President Trump has reversed our willful blindness to the regime and withdrew from the failed nuclear deal, with its false promises. The US re-imposed sanctions that should never have been lifted. We embarked on a new pressure campaign to cut off the revenues the regime uses to spread terror and destruction throughout the world. We joined the Iranian people in calling for freedom and accountability. And importantly, we fostered a common understanding with our allies of the need to counteract the Iran regime's revolutionary agenda. Countries increasingly understand that we must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them."

"Pressure campaign" = war of regime change.

"Spreading terror and destruction around the world": an precise description of the globe-girding depredations of the American capitalism and imperialism.

"We're building out (?) a healthy dialogue with the Government of Iraq, a thriving and young democracy. We're also building relationships for our shared prosperity. It is time for old rivalries to end for the sake of the greater good of the region."

To quote Tacitus' rendition of the words of the Caledonian chieftain who fought the Romans in first century Scotland: "To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire, and where they make a desert, they call it peace."

"We're also seeing remarkable change. New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently. Who could have believed a few years ago that an Israeli prime minister would visit Muscat?... In October of last year, the Israeli national anthem played as an Israeli judo champion was crowned the winner of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates. It was the first time - the first time - that an Israeli delegation was allowed to participate under its own national flag. It was also the first time an Israeli culture and sports minister attended a sports event in the Gulf. She said, and I quote, 'It is a dream come true. For two years we had talks in order to reach this moment.' It was hard for her to stop the tears."

I know the feeling.

"We strongly support Israel's efforts to stop Tehran from turning Syria into the next Lebanon."

And I can fully understand the Lebanese people strongly supporting Hezbollah's efforts to stop Tel Aviv from turning south Lebanon into the next Golan Heights.

"It is important to know also that we will not cease our campaign to stop Iran's malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world, the nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability, or advance the dreams of their people if Iran's revolutionary regime persists on its current course. February 11th will mark 40 years since the oppressive regime came to power in Tehran. America's economic sanctions against the regime are the strongest in history, and will keep getting tougher until Iran starts behaving like a normal country."

No mention, of course, of the CIA's overthrow of Iran's democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953, or the oppressive US-backed regime of the Shah (1941-1979), which led to the birth of "the oppressive regime (which) came to power in Tehran" in 1979.

And what's with this rhetoric about "security" and "economic stability" in the Arab world that Iran is supposedly standing in the way of? What Pompeo really means here is that the Arab world must lie back, spread its legs wide, and allow US corporations (and Israel) to have their way.

"Iran may think it owns Lebanon. Iran is wrong."

The mind boggles.

"In Iraq, the United States will help our partners build a nation free of Iranian influence."

With friends like the US, who needs enemies?

"And I think this is clear, but it is worth reiterating: The United States fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against the Iranian regime's aggressive adventurism. We will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively."

He means here that the US will underwrite Israel's top-dog status in the Middle East as per the doctrine of maintaining its QME (qualitative military edge) over the Arabs.

"The Trump administration will also continue to press for a real and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Again, we've adhered to our word. President Trump campaigned on the promise to recognize Jerusalem - the seat of Israel's government - as the nation's capital. In May, we moved our embassy there. These decisions honor a bipartisan congressional resolution from more than two decades ago. President Trump acted on this commitment."

Oh, the Palestinians! Yes, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will ineluctably lead to "a real and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians." How come only Trump, Bolsanaro, Morales and Morrison could manage to come up with this magic solution to the Israeli lion lying down with the Arab lamb in Palestine/Israel? Nobel peace prizes all round. Now!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Zionist Hypocrisy Alert

As rich as Zionist pontification and bombast is in chutzpah, hypocrisy and insufferable arrogance, I dare anyone to top this example:

"The Australian Labor Party recently passed a motion at the national conference that 'calls on the next Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state'... the motion provides much-coveted Western legitimacy for the Palestinian Authority, a non-state entity whose value system is at odds with that of Australia and indeed the entire liberal democratic world. As the international community marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the PA's state-in-waiting is a brazen violator of the declaration's most basic principles yet is being pre-emptively endorsed by Labor." (Palestine policy is a real killer, Danny Eisen & Sheryl Saperia*, The Australian, 8/1/19)

So, a Canadian and an American Zionist team up to condemn the policy of an Australian political party on behalf of a terrorist entity, currently in occupation of the ancestral homeland of the Palestinian people.

Now, if you think that's rich, there's more. There always is with these bullshitters.

For a Zionist to speak of an "entity whose value system is at odds with Australia," is to raise the obvious question as to whether the practises of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, occupation, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, which define the Zionist entity in Palestine, and which have been perpetrated by it on a daily basis ever since its misconception 70 years ago, are compatible with contemporary "Australian values."

What other mob would have the hide to assert an equivalence between an apartheid state and a liberal democracy?

But the piece de resistance, the very pinnacle of Zionist chutzpah, hypocrisy and arrogance must surely be the propagandists' accusation that the Palestinian Authority is a "brazen violator of the UDHR's most basic principles." Truly, is there anything more nauseating than a Zionist orating on the subject of human rights?

One of those "basic principles" can be found in the UDHR's Article 13: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

Ever since Zionist terror gangs ethnically cleansed most of Palestine in 1948, their upstart entity has rejected the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees - enshrined in Article 13 - to return to their homeland. And this, solely in the interests of maintaining a Jews-only state so that the likes of Eisen and Saperia can go and live there - if they wish.

Need more be said?

[*Danny Eisen is co-founder of the Canadian Coalition Against terror. Sheryl Saperia is a director of policy at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.]

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Sharma's Back

Dave Sharma's popped up again in yesterday's Nine Entertainment Co. (formerly Fairfax) rag The Sydney Morning Herald. 

In an opinion piece, Middle East power order at stake, this former Australian ambassador to Israel, pro-Israel propagandist, investor in Israeli startups, failed Liberal Party candidate in last year's Wentworth byelection, and Liberal candidate for Wentworth in the coming federal election, weighs in on the subject of Syria. The occasion, of course, is Trump's recent flagged intention to withdraw from the US-generated and sustained conflict there.

All the tell-tale signs of the official story on Syria are there: "civil war", "civilian uprising", "Ba'athist regime of Bashar al-Assad", "rebel-held area around Idlib," the notion that but for Russian and Iranian "intervention" Asad would be toast etc

As you'd expect, Sharma's heart (which never at any stage of his career had room for the plight of the brutalised Palestinians, groaning under the Israeli jackboot) goes out to the Kurds, and their "nascent" state in Syria - they, alas, will have to seek the protection of Asad to escape their Turkish nemesis.

Sharma's bleeding heart is nowhere more poignantly on display than in this particular puke of purple prose: "There are few peoples or nations in the Middle East more deserving of national self-determination and statehood than the Kurds: a people of 35 million who respect the rights of minorities, treat women as equals, eschew terrorism and anti-semitism, and have been a steadfast force for stability in the Middle East and western security partner for decades."

Get it? If you're a useful fool for USrael in its ongoing colonisation, pillage and plunder of the Arab world you're a "steadfast force for stability in the Middle East" and deserving of statehood! Otherwise...

Then, of course, there's the Iranian menace, eternally engaged in "the establishment of a land bridge running from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, and into Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea." And if, God forbid, the US cop does carry through on his proposal to withdraw his thin blue line of 2,000 troops from Syria, Sharma sagely predicts that the Middle East, "not particularly stable now," will "become a little more dangerous."

What rubbish this is! Still, if it helps raise Sharma's profile with the fickle voters of Wentworth...

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Bolton & Friends Trump Trump

In case you are under the illusion that US presidents alone call the shots when it comes to US foreign policy, check this out:

"President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, has rolled back Trump's decision to rapidly withdraw from Syria, laying out conditions for a pullout that could leave US forces there for months or even years. Bolton, making a visit to Israel said on Sunday that US forces would remain in Syria until the last remnants of Islamic State were defeated and Turkey guaranteed it would not strike Kurdish forces allied to the United States. He and other top White House advisers have led a behind-the-scenes effort to slow Trump's order and reassure allies, including Israel." (Trump's Syria pull-out on hold, David Sanger, The New York Times/Sydney Morning Herald, 8/1/19)

The US foreign policy establishment, it seems, has reminded Trump who the real target of the US war machine is - not Islamic State, but Syria (and Iran).

In fact, far from being an enemy of the US, Islamic State (as well as al-Qaida's Syrian franchise, the Nusra Front), should properly be seen as a component part of Washington's strategy to wear down the Syrian Arab Army as a prelude to the eventual overthrow of the Ba'athists in Damascus. As Stephen Gowans puts it:

"That Washington regarded the Nusra Front in a different light than Islamic State, was evidenced, in the first instance, in the reality that CIA-armed and trained rebels were embedded with al-Nusra, but not, it seemed, with Islamic State. One could search far and wide through press reports for mention of insurgents on the Western payroll who were cooperating with the Islamic State and turn up nothing. In contrast, references to US-backed rebels operating conjointly with al-Nusra were legion. Islamic State appeared to be a true anathema as far as Washington was concerned, while it was clear that US officials regarded al-Qaeda's official affiliate in Syria on altogether different terms. This became clear when Russia entered the fray in Syria with the stated goal of destroying terrorist groups, and Washington acted as if it had forgotten that it had tarred Jabhat al-Nusra with the terrorist brush. Russia can't be targeting terrorists, Washington complained. If that were its true goal, it would only be attacking Islamic State. It seemed that, unofficially at least, the United States preferred that Jabhat al-Nusra be viewed as part of the agglomeration of 'moderate' rebel groups. So it is that when the US Director of Intelligence James Clapper was asked exactly who the much-talked-about moderates were, he replied: 'Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who's not affiliated with Islamic State.' Hence, as far as Washington was concerned, every non-Islamic State armed group was moderate, including al-Nusra, even though the al-Qaeda affiliate had been designated a terrorist organization by the United States itself, and despite the fact that it was part of an organization - indeed, the largest part - which attacked New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

"The reason for separating Islamic State from the Islamist insurgency against the Syrian Ba'athists, and regarding it as immoderate, was that, unlike al-Nusra and the al-Qaeda affiliate's CIA-armed auxiliaries, Islamic State aspired to replace more governments than Washington cared to see replaced. The US government was willing to work with any group which shared its goal of de-Ba'athifying Syria, as long as it limited its aims to that end. But it was not willing to work with an organization which also wanted to oust the government in Baghdad - which Washington had installed - or the monarchy in Riyadh, which Islamic State condemned as un-Islamic, but which Washington considered an important ally.

"What recommended Jabhat al-Nusra to Washington was that it was a useful instrument in the campaign to efface Arab nationalist ideology from the Syrian state. The US strategy was to afford the al-Nusra coalition enough support for it to wear down the Syrian government sufficiently enough that the Ba'athists would acquiesce to a political transition, but never so much support that they would be forced to yield power to the Islamists. In other words, Washington had no intention of seeing either of the participants in the decades-long battle between secular Arab nationalism and Sunni political Islam prevail. Washington would let the two sides bleed each other dry, and when they were exhausted, interpose itself with a 'compromise' candidate who would cater to US interests.

"Washington played a similar game with Islamic State, though not by calibrating its level of support, which it wasn't providing anyway, but by calibrating its military campaign against the group. The Pentagon struck Islamic State hard in Iraq, but barely at all in Syria. US airstrikes were concentrated in Iraq, reported The Wall Street Journal, because 'in Syria, US strikes against the Islamic State would inadvertently help the regime of President Bashar al-Assad militarily.' Likewise, France 'refrained from bombing the group in Syria for fear of bolstering' the Syrian government. The British, too, focused their air war overwhelmingly on Islamic State targets in Iraq, conducting less than 10% of their airstrikes on the Islamist organization's positions in Syria. The New York Times reported that 'United States-led airstrikes in Syria... largely focused on areas far outside government control, to avoid... aiding a leader whose ouster President Obama has called for.' Hence, US-coalition 'airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria... were so limited as to make it little more than a symbolic gesture.' Robert Fisk summed up the phony war against Islamic State in Syria with a sarcastic quip: 'And so we went to war against Isis in Syria - unless, of course, Isis was attacking Assad's regime, in which case we did nothing at all'." (Washington's Long War on Syria, 2017, pp 150-52)

Monday, January 7, 2019

Do These Fools & Knaves Really Think...

... we're not wise to their tricks?


"'The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for president Assad to step aside'... As Obama issued his statement, the leaders of France, Germany and Britain joined him in calling on Assad "to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside'." (Assad must go, Obama says, Scott Wilson, The Washington Post, 18/8/11)


"A dozen Latin American governments and Canada have delivered a blistering rebuke to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, questioning the legitimacy of his second term and urging him to hand over power as the only path to restoring democracy in this crisis-wracked South American country... The US is not formally a member of the [Lima] Group but has been a vocal supporter and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participated in the meeting by video conference." (Regional powers urge Maduro to step down, Franklin Brecino, AP/The Sun-Herald, 6/1/19"

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Antidotes to the Official Story on Syria

What unmitigated crap this is from The Economist's latest editorial:

"With [Russia's] help, the heinous dictator Assad has won Syria's civil war after nearly eight blood-soaked years... Rather than stitching Syria back together, Russia has let Assad continue to tear it apart. It has helped him bomb his opponents into submission and given cover for his use of poison gas... He has pushed bitter Sunnis into the arms of extremists. Inequality, corruption and divisive rule originally fuelled the rebellion and nurtured the jihadist insurgency... " (After saving Assad's regime, Putin must take hold of the peace, The Economist/ The Australian, 5/1/19)

In one form or another, it has been relentlessly peddled by one msm outlet or another as the official line on the war in Syria - in reality, a war against Syria.

You can see some of its elements above: the demonisation of Asad as a Middle Eastern tyrant out of central casting, masking, of course, his popularity among Syrians generally; the deliberate framing of the conflict as a civil war, to disguise the bleeding obvious fact that it was really just another attempt - after Iraq and Libya - by the US and its client states at regime change; and the perverse portrayal of Asad as a wrecker, rather than as a defender of his country's independence and sovereignty etc etc.

It's more than time for an antidote to the official story's false narrative. I take this opportunity, therefore, to commend either (or both) Tim Anderson's The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change & Resistance (2016) or Stephen Gowans' Washington's Long War on Syria (2017). Since I'm reading the latter at the moment, here's an extract, countering the alleged sectarian nature of the Asad government, another favourite anti-Syrian government propaganda trope:

"The myth that the Assad governments, both those of Hafez and Bashar, were sectarian, persisted for decades, and the myth's longevity was due in no small part to its political utility to Washington and its Sunni Islamist allies. The myth was insinuated into the journalism of North America and Western Europe where it was often used to frame the US war on Bashar al-Assad's Syria as a sectarian civil conflict pursued by a state captured by an Alawite minority to advance its sectarian interests at the expense of the Sunni majority. Accordingly, the Syrian government was often described in the Western press as 'Alawite-led' while the armed opposition was just as often referred to as 'largely Sunni.' This ignored the reality that both the Syrian Arab Army, and Assad's cabinet, were also largely Sunni, and that this was a political (rather than sectarian) conflict between secular Arab nationalists on the one hand, and jihadists (backed by the US and its allies) on the other. But propagation of the myth of sectarian warfare comported with the predilection of Western discourse for Orientalist depictions of the Global South as a territory riven by ancient inter-communal animosities, which necessitated the intervention of the United States - the self-proclaimed force for good in the world - to establish order. It was useful for US strategists to propagate this understanding for a few reasons.

"First, it undergirded the imperialist strategy of divide and rule. Ideological agendas conveyed in Western media reached not only Western audiences, but audiences beyond the West, including in Syria. If the Syrian Sunni majority could be led to understand the Assad government as an instrument of the Alawite community, all the better for the US foreign policy goal of extirpating Arab nationalism from the Syrian state.

"Second, the myth of the Assad government as an Alawite instrument of oppression concealed the central role that secular Arab nationalism played in the Middle East and in the politics of the Assad government. This obfuscated the true dimensions of the conflict. If there were any references in Western media to the Assad government's commitment to the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party's values of freedom from foreign domination, state direction, planning and control of the economy, and working toward the unity of the Arab nation, I'm not aware of them. Acknowledging the ideological framework within which the Syrian government operated, rather than presenting Syrian leaders as motivated by a lust for power to advance a sectarian agenda on behalf of the Alawite minority, would have presented Syria's Arab nationalists as rational actors pursuing what many may have considered defensible, if not praiseworthy goals. However, to serve US foreign policy objectives, US strategists favoured the portrayal of Assad as a power hungry Alawite despot, covering up the Arab nationalist themes that genuinely pervaded his politics.

"Third, the false depiction of the Assad government as animated by a sectarian rather than a secular Arab nationalist agenda encouraged an understanding that US leadership, which is to say, Western interference in Syrian politics, was necessary and desirable for the supposed lofty humanitarian reason of bringing about peace in a country troubled by the oppression of a religious majority by a religious minority.

"In short, the myth of Alawite oppression of the Sunni majority both encouraged the phenomenon of inter-communal strife, and then used it to justify a US-led program of regime change to overcome it." (pp 31-2)

Friday, January 4, 2019

Why I Don't Buy 'The Saturday Paper'

Here's the reason I don't buy Melbourne publisher Morry Schwartz's The Saturday Paper, which, I hear, is quite popular with progressive Australians:

"Schwartz says: 'I think Israel is over-tackled. The media are too obsessed with it, but a balanced view, sure'." Schwartz also publishes the Quarterly Essay and The Monthly (See my 4/3/14 post The Saturday Paper.)

"The Saturday Paper's coverage of Israel's [2014] assault on Gaza has been conspicuously, well, non-existent." Tim Robertson, Palestine & the Saturday Paper,, 1/8/14 (See my 28/1/15 post The Glass Wall.)

"[The Monthly's] seen as a left-wing publication but the publisher is very right-wing on Israel. He's Jewish... and he's very much to the Benjamin Netanyahu end of politics. So you can't touch [Palestine]. We just don't touch it. There's just a glass wall goes around it." John Van Tiggelen, a former editor of TSP and now staff writer at The Monthly (See my 28/1/15 post The Glass Wall.)

Now as it happens, a copy of TSP dated 27/10/18 has just come my way. That issue contains an analysis, by the paper's chief political correspondent, Karen Middleton, of the fallout from Morrison's Jerusalem fizzer, covering both its impact on the Wentworth byelection and on our relationship with Indonesia. Reading through the piece, Turnbull used to head off regional distrust - lo and behold! - I find Middleton characterising the Palestine/Israel conflict as "longstanding unrest between the Israelis and Palestinian people."

Which, I assume, is music to Morry's ears.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Kevin Rudd's 'The PM Years'

It is in the nature of political lobbies to operate behind closed doors, away from the public eye. Australia's Israel (or Zionist) lobby is no exception. In fact, it is probably true to say that most Australians are simply unaware of its existence, let alone its powerful hold over our elected representatives, not to mention its relentless policing of the corporate media. And that lack of awareness, to be sure, is just the way the lobby would have it.

Be that as it may, given the Israel lobby's hugely successful impact on Middle East policy formulation by governments from both sides of the political divide, as well as its equally successful role in shaping and managing mainstream media discourse on the Middle East, any inside account of its modus operandi is more than welcome. Recent memoirs, by former foreign minister Bob Carr, former prime minister Kevin Rudd, and journalists John Lyons and Mike Carlton, have helped expose the lobby's interventions and manipulations in these two key areas. Indeed, judging by their revelations, it could be said that we are approaching critical mass here - to the point where no truly sentient Australian can any longer feign ignorance of either the Israel lobby's existence or its clout.

I've already mined Carr's Diary of a Foreign Minister (2014) and John Lyons' Balcony Over Jerusalem for their insights. As time permits, I'll move on to Carr's Run for Your Life (2018) and Carlton's On Air (2018) in later posts. For now, I'll deal here with Rudd's Kevin Rudd: The PM Years (2018), annotating where necessary:

"Then there was the question of Israel. Back in 2003, under the Howard government, the Israeli intelligence services had taken it into their heads to use forged Australian passports in one of their operations abroad. They had been found out. Dennis Richardson, the director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation at the time, had hauled them over the coals. The Israelis had been forced to sign an agreement with us that if we were to continue intelligence cooperation with them in the future, they would never do this again. Obviously the Israelis had not taken us seriously, because they did it again - this time in a botched intelligence operation which culminated in the assassination of a Hamas leader visiting Dubai. Mossad had left their paw prints all over the operation. The Israeli authorities plainly did not care that by using and abusing Australian passports, they were placing at risk not just the integrity of our passport system but, more importantly, the safety and security of hundreds of thousands of Australians who travelled on these passports through the Middle East each year.

"The matter was brought to the National Security Committee of the cabinet. Dennis Richardson, who had recently been appointed secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs by our government, was an experienced senior diplomat of the old school. His advice to us was unequivocal: unless Australia wished to be seen as a 'soft touch' by the Israelis, we had to act firmly and decisively. We should expel the Mossad representative at the Israeli embassy in Canberra, and make public our reasons for doing so. Only then would it be considered a significant enough issue in Israel to force the political arm of the government to rein Mossad in.

"I looked around the room. Everyone was nodding in agreement - except Julia [Gillard]. I asked her explicitly whether she supported the recommendation. She grunted her assent. I knew for a fact that Julia had been cultivating a close relationship with the Israeli lobby in Australia. There was nothing wrong with that, particularly given her own pro-Palestinian background from her days as a left-wing political activist. I was also conscious that her partner, Tim, had gone to work for a prominent member of the Jewish community in Melbourne. I didn't want any fractures in the government on this one."

Just how close Gillard's relationship with the Israel lobby was is explored in some detail in Carr's Diary of a Foreign Minister. For the details, I refer you in particular to my posts The Carr Diary: Reflections 4, 5 & 6 (18-20/4/14) and my 18/1/13 post The Prime Minister who Put Her Job on the Line for Israel.

With respect to Rudd's assertion that Gillard had a "pro-Palestinian background from her days as a left-wing political activist," he is mistaken. Just the opposite is the case. (See my post 14/8/10 post The Real Julia Gillard.)

"When [foreign minister] Stephen Smith made our position public, the Israeli government was less than impressed. Their ambassador, Yuval Rotem, came in to protest. And that's when the complaints from the Australian Jewish lobby started to come in thick and fast. I had no qualms about saying publicly that the decision by Israeli intelligence services to use and abuse the Australian passport system was not the action of a friendly government. I then said as much to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I told him I expected him to take action against Mossad.

"Colin Rubenstein, a leading conservative political activist from Sydney, and Mark Leibler from Melbourne went off their heads. How could Australia have the temerity to treat our friend and ally Israel in such cavalier fashion? How could we be certain that Mossad had done this? Surely we were mistaken... And even if Mossad had done it, weren't such things done on a regular basis in the ugly world of intelligence? I was then lobbied by our own Jewish members of parliament, led by Michael Danby and Mark Dreyfus. They came to see me, demanding that I 'do something'. My response was to ask what they would have done if they were either foreign minister or prime minister of a country and another country had forged their passports in order to assassinate someone who at that stage was under the protection of another country (the UAE) with whom Australia also had a close relationship."

Rubenstein is the executive director of Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) and Leibler is its national chairman. AIJAC is based in Melbourne.

"However, out of respect for my parliamentary colleagues, I suggested that we invite leading members of the Jewish community to the Lodge for dinner to discuss the matter further. The dinner was held on 3 June, and I remember the evening well. I sat there politely as Mark Leibler berated me for having committed a hostile act. I found this remarkable as I had been a strong defender of the state of Israel from the earliest days of my diplomatic career and had always been a vigorous campaigner against all forms of anti-Semitism. And for Leibler to attack the democratically elected prime minister of his country as he sought to argue the interests of another country was beyond the pale.

"'You do realise that this is Israel's second offence?' I said. 'What do you mean?' he asked. 'They did exactly the same under Howard, got a gentle rap over the knuckles, and promised never to do it again.' Leibler looked stunned. 'I don't believe you.' 'Then why don't you sit down with the head of Foreign Affairs, who is the former head of ASIO, and I'll authorise him to brief you on exactly what has happened here,' I countered. 'I think you'll find that our response to Israel's actions has been entirely reasonable under the circumstances.'

"Leibler still stared at me in disbelief. And then disbelief turned to anger. Apropos of nothing, he said, 'Julia is looking very good in the public eye these days, Prime Minister. She's performing very strongly. She's a great friend of Israel. But you shouldn't be anxious about her, should you, Prime Minister?' It was Leibler at his menacing worst." (Kevin Rudd: The PM Years, 2018, pp 282-84)

Rudd's dinner at the Lodge is the subject of a most interesting report by Peter Hartcher, the Sydney Morning Herald's international editor, for which see my 22/6/10 post The Best Israel Policy Money Can Buy. See also the account of same in The Australian Jewish News, quoted in my 11/6/10 post Those Irresistable Zionist Pheromones Again 2.

Sadly, "Leibler at his menacing worst" was not the wake-up call that Rudd needed on the matter of Israel, because just over a year later we find him, with Danby, in a Melbourne Max Brenner outlet condemning those advocating its boycott. A more disillusioned Rudd can be seen later in Carr's 2014 Diary of a Foreign Minister, for which see my 20/4/14 post The Carr Diary Reflections 6. Finally, we have the Israel critic of later years, for which see my 23/2/17 post Rudd & Netanyahu Cross Swords, as well as the following  passage from his memoir:

"Elsewhere on the international front there was good news to be had. In October 2012, nearly five years after I had launched the initial campaign, the news finally came through of Australia's extraordinary win for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Gillard was never an enthusiast. Through the influence of her 'Middle East Advisor', Bruce Wolpe, Gillard had already begun unravelling a number of Australian votes on UN General Assembly resolutions on Palestine in order to appease the far-right Jewish lobby in Melbourne. When I was prime minister and foreign minister, Australia's voting profile on Israel had changed from one of unquestioning compliance with US and Israeli interests, to one which was much more aligned with British voting patterns in the UN. Our votes were still more sympathetic to Israel than those of the rest of Europe. But this was not good enough for Gillard. The far-right Jewish lobby in Melbourne wanted to go back to the good old days of the Howard government. And Gillard wanted to deliver. This would be coordinated through her loyal operative Wolpe to ensure that Australia would once again join the likes of the US, Palau and maybe two or three other Pacific micro-states, in voting against UN General Assembly resolutions that were critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. It was no surprise that Gillard would later be awarded, together with Abbott, an honorary doctorate at an Israeli university for her services to the cause. The only problem was that these were not services to Australia's cause. They were services to the Israeli Government's cause under prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his total opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state." (pp 508-09)

Of course, Rudd still hasn't broken through his childhood/religious/Labor Party conditioning to arrive at a real understanding of the dark apartheid heart of the Zionist project in Palestine, and probably never will, but at least he's experienced a learning curve of sorts.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Martyrs of the Third Intifada

"One of the most enduring popular movements of 2018 has been the ongoing Great March of Return in the besieged Gaza Strip. Since 30 March, thousands of Palestinians in the small coastal territory have demonstrated along the boundary with Israel, demanding the implementation of Palestinian refugees' right of return and an end to the crippling 11-year siege of Gaza.

"But such high-scale mobilisation has come at a high cost: according to Middle East Eye's calculations, 190 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces within the scope of the demonstrations between 30 march and 30 November - equivalent to one Palestinian killed every 31 hours in eight months. The numbers exclude more than 50 victims of air strikes or other Israeli military actions when demonstrations were not taking place.The death toll peaked on 14 May - the day the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem - when 68 people were killed.

"During that same time frame, more than 25,000 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces in Gaza, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. One Israeli soldier was killed within the context of the March." (from Gaza: The Palestinians who died during the Great March of Return, Ahmad Nafi and Chloe Benoist,, 28/12/18)