Monday, April 29, 2019

First They Came for Assange

A must-read from Greece's former finance minister and Professor of Economics at the University of Athens, Yanis Varoufakis:

"My meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange all took place in the same small room. As the intelligence services of a variety of countries know, I visited Assange in Ecuador's London embassy many times between the fall of 2015 and December 2018. What these snoops do not know is the relief I felt every time I left.

"I wanted to meet Assange because of my deep appreciation of the original WikiLeaks concept. As a teenager reader George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, I, too, was troubled by the prospect of a high-tech surveillance state and its likely effect on human relations. Assange's early writings - particularly his idea of using states' own technology to create a huge digital mirror that could show everyone what they were up to filled me with hope that we might collectively defeat Big Brother.

"By the time I met Assange, that early hope had faded. Surrounded by bookcases featuring Ecuadorian literature and government publications, we would sit and chat late into the night. A device on top of a bookshelf emitted mind-numbing white noise to counter listening devices. As time passed, the claustrophobic living room, the badly hidden ceiling-mounted camera pointing at me, the white noise, and the stale air made me want to run out into the street.

"Assange's detractors have been saying for years that his confinement was self-inflicted: he hid in Ecuador's embassy because he jumped bail in the United Kingdom to avoid answering sexual assault allegations in Sweden. Women must be heard when reporting assault. Only the violence that men have inflicted upon women for millennia is viler than the disrespect and denigration to which women are subjected when they speak up.

"I recall saying to Julian that, had it been me, I would want to confront my accusers, and listen to them carefully and respectfully, regardless of whether official charges had been brought. He replied that he, too, wanted that. 'But, Yanis,' he said, 'if I were to go to Stockholm, they would throw me in solitary and, before I got a chance to answer any allegations, I would be bundled into a plane heading for a US supermax prison.' To drive the point home, he showed me his lawyers' offer to Swedish authorities to go to Stockholm if they guaranteed that he would not be extradited to the United States on espionage charges. Sweden never considered the proposal.

"During Assange's years in Ecuador's embassy, in circumstances that the United Nations deemed 'arbitrary detention,' many friends and colleagues mocked his fear - and lambasted me for believing him. Last September, the historian and feminist intellectual Germaine Greer summed up that belief on Australian public radio: 'He won't be extradited to the United States,' she said derisively, blaming Julian's lawyers for misleading him into fearing such an extradition while collecting his book's royalties.

"Now he is languishing in Belmarsh, a notorious English high-security prison, in a windowless basement cell with even less fresh air and light than before. Unable to receive visitors, he awaits extradition to the US. 'Let him rot in hell,' is a frequent response from good people around the world who were incensed by WikiLeaks' release of Hillary Clinton's emails ahead of the 2016 US presidential election, which blew fresh wind into Donald Trump's sails. Why, they ask, has Assange not released anything damning on Trump or Russian President Vladimir Putin?

"Before I explain why his detractors should reconsider, let me state for the record my personal frustration with his support of Brexit, his injudicious attacks against his feminist critics, his editorializing in favour of Trump, and, crucially, his communications with Trump's people. I expressed this frustration to his face several times. But castigating WikiLeaks for not publishing leaks that damage all sides equally is to miss the point. WikiLeaks was established as a digital mailbox where whistle-blowers could deposit information that is true and whose revelation is in the public interest. This is WikiLeak's sole obligation. By design, it cannot control who leaks what; its technology prevents even Assange from knowing a whistle-blower's identity. If this means that most leaks will embarrass Western powers, that is WikiLeaks' great, if imperfect, service to us - service that, to my frustration, was diminished by Julian's editorializing.

"Recent developments prove that his current predicament has nothing to do with the Swedish allegations or his role in aiding Trump against Clinton. With Chelsea Manning in prison again for refusing to confess that Assange incited, or helped, her to leak evidence of US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the best explanation of what is going on comes from Mike Pompeo, Trump's first CIA director and now US Secretary of State.

"Pompeo described WikiLeaks as 'a non-state hostile intelligence service.' That is exactly right. But it is an equally accurate description of what every self-respecting news outlet ought to be. As Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky have warned, journalists who fail to oppose Assange's extradition to the US could be next on the hit list of a president who considers them the 'enemy of the people.' Celebrating his arrest and turning a blind eye to Manning's continued suffering is a gift to liberalism's greatest foes.

"Besides liberalism, Assange's persecution by the US security-industrial complex has another victim: women. No woman, in Sweden or elsewhere, will get justice if he is now thrown into a supermax prison for revealing crimes against humanity perpetrated by awful men in or out of uniform. No feminist goal is served by Manning's continued suffering.

"So here is an idea: Let us join forces to block Assange's extradition from any European country to the US, so that he can travel to Stockholm and give his accusers an opportunity to be heard. Let us work together to empower women, while protecting whistle-blowers who reveal nefarious behavior that governments, armies, and corporations would prefer to keep hidden."

Sunday, April 28, 2019

56th Black Friday

Words fail:

"On the 56th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wound 110 civilians, including 37 children, 3 women, 4 paramedics and a journalist." (, 27/4/19)

Reading Brendan O'Neill

What happens when you just make it up as you go along? Well, chances are that what you write will end up looking something like an opinion piece by Brendan O'Neill - half-baked, propagandist. 

O'Neill, editor of Spiked, is often recycled in Murdoch's Australian, and it's easy to see why:

"[F]ocus too much on Islamist terrorism these days and you risk being accused of Islamophobia. 'Christians used to do this kind of thing,' they will say, inaccurately, to deflect attention from their own unwillingness to take a strong moral stance on Islamist extreme violence. Or they will point out that the US and Britain and other nations are still engaged in violent conflicts in the Middle East... even though they must know, somewhere inside their moral universe, that there is an immeasurable difference between America's military campaigns in the Middle East (which are wrong)... " (Islamist barbarism thrives on West's weak response, 26/4/19)

"Which are wrong"? Why the brackets, Brendan? Why the dropped voice? Why not say it loud and clear: AMERICA'S MILITARY CAMPAIGNS IN THE MIDDLE EAST ARE WRONG? And why not say why? Because Islamist terrorism has been the result of such campaigns - from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya and to Syria.

"... and the wilful slaughter of children queuing for sweets..."

Of course, our USraeli friends are never "wilful" when they slaughter children queuing for sweets:

"Witnesses to Sunday's incident said a missile that appeared to be a rocket hit an area just outside the gates of the Rafah Preparatory, a boys school where children were queuing to buy sweets and biscuits from stalls. The school had been providing shelter to more than 3,000 people - the same number that had been seeking refuge at a girls school in Jabaliya last Wednesday when it came under attack from a hail of Israeli shells. In contrast to that strike, which wrecked a classroom full of sleeping woman and children, the physical destruction this time appeared minimal: just a small but deep hole in the road where the missile had landed. But that clinical effect masked a devastating human cost. Pools of blood... were seen inside and outside the school, demonstrating how the blast's powerful impact had wished inside the grounds of what was supposed to be a safe haven." (Gaza school attacked as children queue for sweets, Robert Tait,, 3/8/14)

Nothing personal there, of course, just good, clean collateral damage, right? Sorry about that, kids.

"Whether it is their accusations of Islamophobia or their morally relativistic comparison of today's new barbarism with the behaviour of Western armies, the liberal elites key aim seems to be to avoid having to take a strong position on this new, strange, spectacularly anti-human violence."

And, Brendan, what precisely do you mean by "liberal elites"? Do you mean someone like Obama's Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton? 

Was her position on "today's new barbarism" not "strong"? Didn't she propose defeating ISIS "on the battlefield" and working "with our allies to dismantle global terror networks"? (See Combating terrorism & keeping the homeland safe,

And yet you've already said, "America's military campaigns in the Middle East are wrong." So cut the crap and tell us what you mean by "a strong position."

The trouble with Clinton is that she doesn't seem at all interested in taking on certain regimes who inspire and stoke Islamist terrorism, and for obvious reasons:

"On the contributions given by state actors to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was US Secretary of State, Assange discusses one email in particular: 'There's an early 2014 email from Hilary Clinton... to her campaign manager, that states that ISIS is funded by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.' He states, 'Actually, I think this is the most significant email in the whole collection, perhaps because Saudi and Qatari money is spread all over the place including into many media institutions. Analysts know, even the US government has mentioned, or agreed with, that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIS, funding ISIS, but the dodge has always been that it's just some rogue princes using their cut of the oil money to do whatever they like but actually the government disapproves, but that email says that no, it's the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have been funding ISIS." (Never forget: the towering exposure of Hillary Clinton by Assange and WikiLeaks, Clinton Emerald,, 13/11/16)

Nor, for that matter, does the other side of the US coin, non-liberal, populist Donald Trump.

"A weak and morally disoriented West that will not strongly condemn the nihilistic ideology behind the slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka..."

Now that "nihilistic ideology" wouldn't be Saudi Wahhabism, would it, Brendan?

 "... is a West that cannot feign surprise when such violence continues. It is no longer enough to say 'that's awful' and then move on; we need a serious reckoning with the war on Christians, the rise of seventh-century barbarism and the collapse of any semblance of moral restraint among the new terrorists."

And Brendan, isn't your phrase, "the rise of seventh-century barbarism," just a sneaky euphemism for Islam? Please explain why this isn't Islamophobia.

Bet you'd never conflate the barbarity of the Crusades with Christianity, or for that matter "America's military campaigns" - which you admit are ("wrong").

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Portrait of a Sri Lankan Wahhabi

This report should be read in conjunction with my last post:

"Zaharan Hashim, a radical Muslim preacher accused of masterminding the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, never hid his hatred. He railed against a local performance in which Muslim girls dared to dance. When a Muslim politician held a 50th birthday party, he raged about how Western infidel traditions were poisoning his hometown, Kattankudy.

"There were, Zaharan said in one of his online sermons, three types of people: Muslims, those who had reached an accord with Muslims, and 'people who need to be killed'. Idolaters, he added, 'need to be slaughtered wherever you see them'.

"Zaharan has been described by Sri Lankan officials as having founded an obscure group with inchoate aims: a defacement of a Buddha statue, a diatribe against Sufi mystics. But in his hometown, and later in the online world of radical Islam where his sermons were popular with a segment of Sri Lankan youth, it was clear for years that Zaharan's hateful cadences were designed to lure a new generation of militants. 'He was influential, very attractive, very smart in his speeches, even though what he was saying about jihad was crazy,' said Marzook Ahamed Lebbe, a former Kattakudy politician and member of a local Islamic federation. 'We all underestimated him. We never thought he would do what he said.'

"Standing among seven masked men in black, Zaharan is the only one with his face exposed. Sri Lankan investigators believe that eight suicide bombers carried out the attacks on the hotels and mosques Sunday, one of the bloodiest assaults ever claimed by IS. On Thursday investigators said they believed Zaharan was one of two suicide bombers who targeted the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital. (The Sri Lankan police have also identified him as Mohammed Zaharan.)

"Muslims in Kattakudy said they had repeatedly contacted the police to warn that Zaharan was dangerous, but that the authorities played down the threat [...] Growing up in Kattakudy, an oasis of Islam on a majority Buddhist island with significant Hindu and Christian minorities, Zaharan's religiosity was unremarkable. Most houses here have a picture of Mecca on their wall, and road intersections are decorated with golden monuments in Arabic.

"Zaharan and his brothers were sent by their father, a small-time seed and spice seller, to a madrassa, where teachings adhered to a strict interpretation of Islam. But even as he impressed with the fluency of his Koranic recitation and easily made friends, Zaharan confronted his teachers and accused them of failing to adhere to true Islam. Like other Kattakudy youths lured by new overseas fashions, he had come under the spell of foreign preachers whose sermons were being passed around town by DVD, said MBM Fahim, one of his classmates... 'He spread misinformation about us,' Fahim said. 'He said the the school should close because it was teaching the wrong way. He was just a student and he was saying like this. Zaharan was kicked out of school. He enrolled at another Islamic college but never graduated, his acquaintances said. Still, by listening to the sermons of charismatic but extremist preachers based in India and Malaysia, Zaharan was honing his oratory.

"After getting ejected from serving as imam of one mosque for his extremist views, Zaharan started a group in 2014 called National Thowheeth Jamaath or NTI, which drew from the austere Wahhabi tradition that claims to follow the faith as practiced in the age of its founder, the Prophet Mohammed." From Sri Lanka bombings: 'Mastermind' never hid his hatred, Hanna Beech, The New York Times/Sydney Morning Herald, 26/4/19)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Kingdom of Horrors

The facts speak for themselves:

"Saudi Arabia yesterday beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shiites, in a mass execution... for alleged terrorism-related crimes... It marked the largest number of executions in a single day in Saudi Arabia since January 2, 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people for terrorism-related crimes in what was the largest mass execution carried out by Saudi authorities since 1980. Among those executed three years were four Shiites, including prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr... " (Saudi Arabia beheads 37 mostly Shiite citizens, Aya Batrawy, AP/The Sydney Morning Herald, 25/4/19)

Then comes this :

"King Salman ratified by royal decree yesterday's mass execution and that of 2016. He has asserted a more decisive leadership style than previous monarchs since ascending to the throne in 2015." (ibid)

WTF? No 'brutal despot' here. No 'butcher'. Just a guy with "a more decisive leadership style" than his predecessors.

The fact is that anti-Shiite sectarianism and persecution has always been a characteristic of Saudi Wahhabi rule. The House of Saud and its fanatical Wahhabi brand of Islam had been around in the Nejd since the 18th century but were unable to dominate the whole of the territory of what is known today as Saudi Arabia until after World War I, and this with help - of course - from Great Britain.

The Saudi dynasty's twentieth century shock troops were the ultra-Wahhabi fanatics, the ISIS of their day, known as the Ikhwan. What follows comes from a to-do list drawn up by the Ikhwan in 1925. It outlines just what they expect the Saudi ruler of the time, Ibn Saud, to do about the Shiite population of eastern Arabia:

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

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

"Any Shi'as who refuse to keep to these rules must be exiled from Moslem territory.

"With regard to the Shi'as of Qatif, the Imam (may God give him strength!) should compel the Sheikh Ibn Bishr to go and see personally that our requirements are carried. We have advised the Imam to send missionaries and teachers to certain districts and villages which have now come under the rule of true Moslems, and to order his viceroys, emirs and other officials to co-operate with these missionaries in bringing these people back to Islam and forbidding sins and lawlessness." (Arabian Days, Sheikh Hafiz Wahba, 1964, pp 135-6)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Arms Industry Funds Australian Militarism

"The head of the Australian war Memorial, Brendan Nelson, was personally receiving payments from the multinational arms manufacturer Thales while publicly defending the institution's controversial acceptance of donations from weapons companies. The AWM has strongly denied any suggestion that Thales' payments to Nelson for his work as a board member created a conflict of interest, saying Nelson donated any money he received and cleared the arrangement as required with the federal government. The AWM has drawn criticism for accepting funding from weapons manufacturers, including Thales, which is a sponsor and supporting partner of the institution. The Medical Association for Prevention of War told a Senate inquiry last year such sponsorship was 'contemptible' and pointed out the 'stark' irony of an institution commemorating the horrors of war accepting money from companies that profit from conflict." (From Brendan Nelson denies 'conflict of interest' after passing on fees from arms firm to war memorial, Christopher Knaus,, 24/4/19)

There you have it folks, the arms industry, enabled by a former Liberal Party leader, directly involved in stoking one of Australia's fastest-growing and nastiest trends, militarism.

And while we're at it on Anzac Day, another hyped component of Australian militarism, here's British war poet Wilfred Owen's Anthem for Doomed Youth, written during World War I, which consumed the poet himself:

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

The Senator from Vermont

"US democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is standing by his criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying Israel is 'now run by a right-wing, dare I say, racist government'.... The senator from Vermont said he was 'not anti-Israel" but felt Netanyahu was 'a right-wing politician' who was treating the Palestinian people 'extremely unfairly'. Sanders then added that he was '100% pro-Israel' and that the country has 'every right in the world to exist... in peace and security and not be subjected to terrorists' attack'." (Sanders hits out at 'racist' Israeli rule, McClatchy/AP/Sydney Morning Herald, 24/4/19)

This says just about everything you really need to know about the politics of 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

In the words of a university friend quoted in his Wikipedia entry, he was "a  swell guy, a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, but he wasn't terribly charismatic." While he has a track record of being on the side of the people against the system, he's obviously intellectually blinkered by his youthful brush with Zionism, including a stint on an Israeli kibbutz in the early 1960s.

It speaks volumes too about the limits to freedom of speech and thought in the so-called 'land of the brave and home of the free'. Sanders "dares to say" that Israel now has "a racist government," but cannot bring himself to acknowledge that the Zionist project in Palestine itself is inherently racist (dare I say apartheid), and that every Zionist government since 1948 has contributed its share of anti-Palestinian racism to the present racism of the Netanyahu government.

What's more, while Sanders' talk of Palestinians being treated "extremely unfairly" doesn't even begin to acknowledge the extent of Zionism's genocidal onslaught against them, to confine said unfairness merely to the present Netanyahu government is beyond belief.

And finally, to prate about terrorism without reference to Israel's role as the pioneer of terrorism in the Middle East surely has to be the mother of all sins of omission.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Chalk & Cheese

France's former ambassador to Israel, Gerard Araud:

"The problem is that the disproportion of power is such between the two sides that the strongest may conclude that they have no interest to make concessions. And also the fact that the status quo is extremely comfortable for Israel. Because they [can] have their cake and eat it too. They have the West Bank, but at the same time they don't have to make the painful decision about the Palestinians, really making them totally stateless or making them citizens of Israel. They won't make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is an apartheid [situation]. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already." (A conversation with outgoing French ambassador Gerard Araud, Yara Bayoumy,, 19/4/19)

Australia's former ambassador to Israel, "very proud ambassador for Israel to the world," and Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Wentworth, Dave Sharma:

"The documents... emphasised Mr Sharma's role in the decision [to move Australia's embassy to Jerusalem]. 'The Prime Minister will announce he has found the arguments put forward by Australia's former Ambassador to Israel... persuasive,' it said." (Australian embassies warned over security before Scott Morrison's Israel announcement, Dan Conifer,, 9/2/19)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Something Unique in Australian Journalism?

Has veteran Australian journalist Tony Walker done something unique in Australian journalism? Call on a bloviating Zionist lobby operative to put his money where his mouth is:

"In an opinion piece in Sydney's Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Leibler, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, likened [Melissa Parke's] criticism (ill-defined) of Israel to a 'new anti-Semitism'. 'Disguising itself as anti-Zionism, the new anti-Semitism uses criticism of Israel as a Trojan horse to perpetuate age-old stereotypes about Jews under a quasi-intellectual cover,' Leibler wrote. I reached out to Leibler to ascertain what criticism of Israel might be acceptable in the interests of enabling reasonable discussion about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, and its attitudes more generally to the peace process. He did not respond." (Melissa Parke incident raises difficult questions about Israel, Tony Walker,, 17/4/19)

Monday, April 22, 2019

On the Campaign Trail with Dave Sharma

"And while we may no longer be Australia's ambassador to Israel, we will be very proud ambassadors for Israel to the world." (Rachel Lord, From Australia's ambassadors to Israel to ambassadors for Israel to the world, Jerusalem Post, 14/6/17)

Here are the latest sightings of Dave Sharma, former Australian ambassador to Israel, currently "very proud ambassador for Israel to the world", and Liberal candidate (yet again!) for Turnbull's old seat of Wentworth:

1) The following words of  Australia's "very proud ambassador for Israel to the world" make me wonder whether, in cases such as this, a 'noble sentiments' version of the 'directions for use' instruction found on pharmaceuticals is needed:

"I wish a Chag Pesach Sameach to the Jewish community celebrating the festival of Passover. I have many fond memories of nights spent around the Seder table in Israel reflecting on the escape from oppression, the pathway to liberty, and the triumph of freedom. These messages are just as relevant today, and we must remember these values as we struggle against intolerance and affirm the freedom we cherish as a society. As we reflect on why this night is different from all other nights and retell the story of the escape from Egypt, we should also pause to cherish the freedoms we enjoy here in Australia..." (Former Australian ambassador to Israel and candidate for Wentworth in the upcoming election Dave Sharma sends his message for Pesach,, 18/4/19)

In the case of Sharma's noble sentiments above, for example, it could read: 'Applicable only to Australian Jews in particular, and Australians more generally. Not to be taken at all seriously by occupied/diaspora Palestinians'.

2) The Wentworth Courier, reveals, in a sneak-peek, that Mr & Mrs Sharma and the kids are now well and truly installed in their newly renovated Paddington terrace, "filled with treasures from his time abroad." (Souvenir edition, Melissa Hoyer, 17/4/19)

You will, of course, be fascinated to know that Dave and his wife, "international human rights lawyer for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade," Rachel Lord, "share their home with two Israeli street cats", "ceramics from the Middle East and Mediterranean", and "a tiled coffee table from Hebron."

Most interesting is the photograph of Dave's framed Zionist posters, 'Visit Palestine' (Franz Krausz, 1936) and 'Come to Palestine' (Zeev Rabin), which hark back to a time when Zionists had no problem whatever with the P-word (and which have most recently been appropriated by supporters of the Palestinian cause).

Alas, Ms Hoyer did not take the opportunity to ask Australia's "very proud ambassador for Israel to the world" about them, sadly depriving us of what could well have been a most interesting answer.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Extraordinary Death Experience

I've heard of election pitches, but this:

"The Liberal Party needs a variety of views, including people who have extraordinary life experience... I ran the war in Iraq for a year. That is unique experience." (Molan mounts insurgency to keep seat, David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/4/19)

Yes folks, without Major-General Molan in charge, the war in Iraq would've been a complete and utter disaster.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Speaking Truth to Power, 1954

While we're focusing the 50s, consider the following powerful words of Henry A. Byroade, Assistant Secretary of State (1952-55), addressing the Dayton (Ohio) World Affairs Council on April 9, 1954. They'd be inconceivable today, coming from a key US administration figure:

"To the Israelis I say that you should come to truly look upon yourselves as a Middle Eastern state and see your own future in that context rather than as a headquarters, or nucleus so to speak, of worldwide groupings of peoples of a particular religious faith who must have special rights within and obligations to the Israeli state. You should drop the attitude of the conqueror and the conviction that force and a policy of retaliatory killings is the only policy that your neighbors will understand. You should make your deeds correspond to your frequent utterances of the desire for peace." (Violent Truce: A Military Observer Looks at the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1951-1955, Commander E.H. Hutchison, 1956, pp 97-98)

Just to be clear, among other things, Byroade is calling on Israel here to abandon a central pillar of Zionist ideology, the 'Jewish people' concept, which underpins the claim that Israel is not merely a state of its citizens, but rather a state representing all Jews, regardless of where they live, or whether they wish to be part of this fictional, supranational, entity.

Such plain-speaking, however, inevitably drew the wrath of the Zionist lobby of the day: "I had all kinds of problems," he recounted in an official interview, "There was a lot of pressure put on the Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, to get me out of the Service. I know: he talked to me frankly about it. He said to me once that a part of these problems were rumors about my sexual life. John Foster Dulles said, 'The President and I know exactly what's behind all this.' He said, 'Do you realize when I ran for the Senate in New York, they tried to pin a sex rap on me?'" (Truman Library - Henry Byroade Oral History Interview, 9/88,

Friday, April 19, 2019

Death of a Sheikh

Just a reminder that Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine - the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) - is not a thing of the past. The mass expulsion of Palestinian Arab civilians by Zionist terror gangs began well before the creation of Israel and the intervention of Arab state forces in May 1948, and continued up until armistice lines were agreed to in March 1949. There were, of course, more mass expulsions when Israeli forces overran the West Bank in 1967.

But that doesn't mean that Israel wasn't busy doing what it does best in the 18 years between 1949 and 1967, when Jordan controlled the West Bank.

The following incident occurred in 1952, just one of many examples of Israeli brutality against Palestine's indigenous Arab population recorded by Commander E.H. Hutchison, USNR, in his memoir, Violent Truce: A Military Observer Looks at the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1951-1955 (1956). (Hutchison was an Observer in the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization's (UNTSO) Mixed Armistice Commission (MAC) in Jerusalem from 1951-54):

"Since the beginning of the Armistice, Jordan and Egypt had complained on many occasions that Israel was cutting down her Arab population by driving Bedouins and even Arab villagers across the border. Israel was condemned in some instances but had taken no steps to allow the return of the Arabs.

"On September 17, 1952, an incident occurred that gave us a chance to study one of these cases first hand. It gave us an interesting insight into the lot of the Bedouin and the village Arab still living inside Israel. On the morning of the 17th, Major Itzaq, Senior Jordan Military Delegate to the MAC, called to inform us that the Israelis had expelled ten families of the es-Sani tribe and that they had been stopped inside the Jordan border south of Hebron. This wasn't the only call during the week concernong the es-Sanis and on the 22nd of the month we went into the area and counted over 100 families, nearly 1,000 members of the tribe, camped temporarily just inside Jordan... [From] the only tent that had been pitched, an old man stepped out... He looked fierce, but his eyes twinkled. Sheikh El Hajj Ibrahim es-Sani beckoned us to his tent.

"In the Western World the table pounding would have started at once - but not here. Solemn greetings were exchanged... It was fully thirty minutes before the District Police Commander expressed his regrets that his government could not allow the es-Sani tribe to remain in Jordan. He hastened to explain that Jordan's arable lands were already crowded, and if the es-Sanis were allowed to stay, Israel would push other tribes across the border. There were still approximately 15,000 Bedouins in the Negev.

"Sheikh Ibrahim listened attentively; occasionally he cast his eyes upwards and spread his hands in a gesture of despair. When the district commander had finished, there was a minute of dead silence. El Hajj Ibrahim looked from one to the other and then dramatically presented his case. According to him the es-Sanis were once a rich tribe. Their many herds grazed over the lands of the Negev but the people, other than those assigned to tend the herds, lived on the lands they cultivated southeast of Beersheba... At the end of the Arab-Jewish hostilities, the Israelis forced them to leave these lands and move to El Laqiya, northeast of Beersheba. The land there was poor, but they worked hard, and during the next three years they had made it productive to the extent that Israel declared a quantity of their grain as surplus crop and demanded that it be sold to the government at a fixed price. El Hajj Ibrahim continued. He explained that over a month ago the Israeli Military Government had told him Israel was going to establish a settlement at El Laqiya and that his tribe would have to move to Tel Arad. He knew the Tel Arad area well and, seeing no possibility of survival there, ignored the order. A week later the Israelis brought in tractors and representatives of a land company; work was started on the es-Sani lands. El Hajj Ibrahim took his complaint to the Israeli courts and, according to him, they granted him a provisional judgment against both the Military Governor of Beersheba and the land company engaged in the work. The tribe was given permission to stay at El Laqiya.

"The legal action, however, did not stop the Israeli Military Governor, who moved in rapidly to enforce his demands. When he stated that the tribe would have to go to Tel Arad, by force if necessary, the old Sheikh countered by saying that he would move his tribe to Jordan before he would go to Tel Arad. The Military Governor explained that this would be against the terms of the Armistice with Jordan but that he would make no attempt to stop the move. El Hajj Ibrahim took the offer and the border east of El Laqiya, usually carefully guarded by Israel against infiltration, remained open until his tribe crossed into Jordan. 'Now,' he concluded in a shout, 'you stop me. Where can I lead my people?' El Hajj angrily whacked the carpeted ground.

"Following this conference we immediately arranged for a meeting between the Israeli and Jordanian representatives at the border area near the scene of the crossing. Here we were informed by the Military Governor of Beersheba, Lt. Colonel Hermann, and the Chief Israeli Delegate to the MAC, Lt. Colonel Ramati, that El Hajj Ibrahim es-Sani had asked if he could move his tribe, 'residents of Tel Arad,' into Jordan. The Military Governor stated that he had told the Sheikh he could not grant such permission but would not object to the move... After days of bickering it was finally arranged for the tribe to return to Israel, although the Israelis wanted them transported inside Jordan to a point opposite and closer to Tel Arad. The Jordanians refused to do this and it was finally settled that the transfer would be made at the original point of crossing, on the Hebron-Beersheba road.

"It was October 26, before the es-Sanis were back in Israel. Seventeen of the tribe members had vanished deeper into Jordan and the search for them was not pressed. The crossing was a drama of frustration and despair driven by an unrelenting force. The Israeli court action was forgotten. By allowing the es-Sanis to cross into Jordan under threat of being sent to Tel Arad, the Israeli Military Governor had very cleverly been able to make credulous his claim that these were nomadic people who should not be allowed to control the more productive areas. Lt. Colonel Hermann, who admittedly pressured the tribe to leave their lands and openly allowed them to cross into Jordan, now blandly stated, with authoritative cunningness, that the es-Sanis had broken the laws against crossing the border and must be held responsible for the violation.

"On the days of the crossing operation, the Israelis turned out in a show of force. Five trucks were brought from Beersheba for which the tribe was charged L160 per truck, per trip. The grain was resacked and loaded on the trucks; nothing else was taken on these trucks. The grain was not being sent with the tribe. It was being placed in separate storage where, as I was told, an amount would be deducted to cover the cost of the crossing operation plus an amount to cover the back taxes and surplus grain claimed by the Israeli Government.

"Armed Israelis sat next to armed Arabs as the members of the tribe filed across the border. The men were searched by soldiers and police. The women were taken under a bridge where they were similarly inspected by Israeli police women. Many arguments broke out and displays of temper frequently brought the always present tension near the breaking point. The Sheikh paced among the members of his tribe, alternately shouting orders and offering words of consolation. He was visibly under a great strain.

"Towards evening on October 26, the last truck, piled high with tents and personal belongings, lurched over the border. The stragglers of the tribe were precariously perched on top of the load. I walked over to Sheikh Ibrahim and his eldest son, Mohammed, who were preparing to follow their tribe. We shook hands solemnly. Mohammed had lost none of the anger he had displayed throughout the operation. His lips drew tight: 'What you have seen is all that is left of a once prosperous and respected tribe.'

"The old Sheikh cupped his left hand over our handclasp in friendship. He was still very much the leader - in his memory, the leader of a proud and carefree people. Now, his eyes reflected defeat. Three weeks later a small notice appeared in the Israeli papers which stated that Sheikh El Hajj Ibrahim es-Sani had died at Tel Arad." (pp 30-37)

NB: Hutchison gives the figure of 5,491 Arabs driven from Israel into Jordan from June 1949 to October 1954 (p 91)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Not Your Average Fanatics

One of the most disturbing trends around today is the tendency of many well-meaning folk - Ilhan Omar for one - to apologise, or otherwise back down, when under attack by Zionists for comments in support of the Palestinian cause. The simple fact of the matter is that it is those who advocate for Israel, not those who advocate for Palestine, who should be apologising for their role in aiding and abetting Israeli apartheid. If pro-Palestinians have done their homework, and are in command of the facts, there should be no backing down or appeasement of Israel lobbyists.

US academic Steve Salaita's essay The problem with apology ( should be read in its entirety by anyone intending to weigh in on the subject of Palestine/Israel. Here's an extract:

"You probably know that pro-Israel activists are intense, but unless you've been their target it's hard to imagine the level of intensity. They never stop. This relentlessness separates them from garden-variety fanatics. A single punishment, no matter how vicious, is never enough. Their goal is to force targets into destitution, and then they'll keep going until observers are destitute by association. The belligerence honors the settler-colonial entity to which they're devoted. If you fight back (the correct decision), they'll smear you as anti-Semitic. If you ignore the noise, they'll grow louder. And if you apologize, well, it would be a bad idea. They'll see it not as a victory, or an opportunity for reconciliation, but as an invitation to be more exasperating. The lists of journalists, academics, writers, artists, politicians, musicians, and activists punished for affirming Palestinian life - or merely for running afoul of right-wing Zionist orthodoxy - illustrates that recrimination is its own kind of stimulus. It's been so effective, may as well accelerate the model. It's hard to imagine the model's demise without reshaping the anatomy of US political discourse. And forget about avoiding it. If you criticize Israel's behavior - or condemn Zionism, the more important approach - you simultaneously risk defamation, or at least the nattering inanity of both voluntary and professional trolls. Institutions exist around the world to protect Israel's reputation and inoculate the state against the kind of inquiry any healthy community understands as normal. These institutions are funded by billionaires and various government agencies. It can lead to the bizarre scenario of a solitary Twitter critic getting pitted against the world's most powerful forces. I was once that solitary critic."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

'An Outbreak of Pro-Palestinian Sentiment'

"Bill Shorten is under renewed pressure to haul anti-Israel Labor MPs into line as an outbreak of pro-Palestinian sentiment within the opposition threatens to disrupt his election campaign." (Jewish leaders demand clarity on Israel stance, Richard Ferguson, Paige Taylor, The Australian, 16/4/19)

Let's hope it's highly contagious!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What's Bill Doing?

Ah yes, Bill Shorten and the Pratts:

"Bill Shorten rebuffed an invitation to catch up with Rupert Murdoch in January and also passed on the opportunity to meet him this month after the media mogul flew into Sydney with son Lachlan. But the Opposition Leader has no such qualms about breaking bread with Anthony Pratt, Australia's richest man and generous political benefactor. On the second day of the federal election campaign... Shorten made a detour to Pratt's Sydney luxury apartment overlooking Circular Quay and Sydney Harbour. He was there for lunch with the cardboard box king who... has a net worth of $12.9 billion..." (No time for Murdochs as Shorten meets Pratt, Kylar Loussikian, Sydney Morning Herald, 13/4/19)

Loussikian goes on to review Shorten's relationship with the Pratt family, including the recent fundraiser at the Pratt mansion in Melbourne's Kew, on which I posted earlier this month.

However, the only clue we get to what this all means is the following: "And as one Labor staffer put it: 'Someone's got to pay for the fliers'."

Typical of the blinkered mainstream press, however, the question of what's in it for Pratt is never asked. How telling is that?

Monday, April 15, 2019

Jonathan Freedland's Dream Zionists

Here's the liberal Zionist editor of The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland, pretending that Netanyahu's victory at the polls will be equally bad for Jewish Israelis and Palestinians, and omitting the fact that it was the former who enabled it:

"So Palestinians will have to brace themselves for a Trump 'peace plan' that is likely to deny them the territory they need to build a state of their own. Meanwhile, Netanyahu's victory promises a further assault on democratic norms and the rule of law inside Israel. It surely spells gloom for the long-term prospects of both peoples, but they are used to that by now. It's been this way on and off for most of the last quarter century. For truly this is the age of Netanyahu." (Netanyahu's victory means life is about to get worse for Palestinians,, 10/4/19)

George Orwell would be turning in his grave if he knew Freedland had been awarded a special Orwell Prize in May 2014 for his 'journalism'. Certainly, at least on the subject of Palestine/Israel, he seems incapable of producing anything other than pro-Israel PR.

In a 2012 New Statesman essay, Yearning for the same land, Freedland reveals why.

In it, he argues unconvincingly that, alongside the Zionism we're all familiar with, "the expansionist desire to control the entire biblical land of Israel," there's another "true" Zionism, consisting of "the more modest claim that there should be a Jewish national home within historic Palestine," and that that is the Zionism he, Freedland, professes. IOW, it's two states for two peoples, with the Palestinians getting a mere 22% of their historic homeland at most, contingent on the unlikely event of every soldier and settler pulling up stakes and getting out.

Whatever their imagined difference, both Zionisms, of course, subscribe to the same dogma, namely that Jews constitute not a faith community, but a "people" who, "like every other people, have a right to self-determination in the historic land of their birth." Although the concept of Jewish peoplehood has no basis in fact (and has been exploded most recently by Israeli historian Shlomo Sand in his 2009 book The Invention of the Jewish People), Freedland accepts it uncritically. Nor does he acknowledge the absurdity of this fictional people's achieving its fictional right of self-determination at the expense of another.

Sensing he's on shaky ground here, he attempts to bolster his case by shamelessly playing the Holocaust card: "The Jewish people, scythed by the Holocaust and after centuries of persecution, were gasping for breath in 1948; their need for a home was as great as that of any people in history. They had the right to act, even though the cost for another people, the Palestinians, was immense." Overlooked, of course, is the bleeding obvious that it was Germany, not the Palestinians, who perpetrated the Holocaust, not to mention the fact that the majority of Jews displaced by the war would have preferred to migrate to the United States and elsewhere than to Palestine.

Freedland goes on to claim that there was no "logical" connection between the pre-1967 Zionist colonisation of Palestine and the post-1967 Zionist colonisation of its West Bank and Gaza remnants. The Israeli settlement of the occupied territories was not, he asserts, "the ineluctable consequence of Zionism - as the Israeli right argued then and now." Presumably, for Freedland, those responsible for settling pre-1967 Palestine, his "true," Labor, Zionists, were more than content with their "national home" in 78% of historic Palestine. How strange then that their behaviour after 1967 belies this:

"The authorized, 'legal' settlements began in the era of the Labor-led governments, from 1967 to 1977. They flourished in the days of the Likud governments that followed and during the subsequent period of the Labor, Likud, and unity governments. In the course of the negotiations that engendered the September 1993 Oslo agreement, and in the period following it, the settlements saw an unprecedented building boom. All the the subsequent governments have made a point of approving new construction, ostensibly only within the boundaries of the existing settlements, but they have always supported - by political and budgetary deed and by failing to enforce the law and deter violations - the establishment of new settlements in the guise of new neighborhoods and 'illegal' outposts." (Lords of the Land: The War Over Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007, Idith Zertal & Akiva Eldar, 2007, pp xvii - xviii)

Freedland, of course, overlooks entirely the colonial-settler roots of the Zionist project and the trampling of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs' right to national self-determination following World War I; the fact that political Zionism, from its inception, was focused exclusively, as one of its early slogans put it, on 'a land without a people'; and that Zionist colonisation, like every other form of colonisation, has only ever trampled underfoot the rights of those it has dispossessed.

Freedland may try to fool us with his airy talk of Zionist "dreamers" and "two peoples, fated to seek their dreams in the same land," but in truth he's only fooling himself.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Lie Back & Think of Two States

The Labor candidate for the WA seat of Curtin, Melissa Parke, "has pulled out of the contest after reports she told a public meeting last month that Israel's treatment of Palestinians was 'worse than the South African system of apartheid'." (Labor's candidate for Curtin, Melissa Parke, withdraws from federal election race,, 12/4/19)

Parke didn't pull out - she was pushed out. And what's more, she was pushed out not for any wrongdoing on her part, but simply for stating the bleeding obvious.

The details of the push are still murky, and will likely remain so, but this will come as no surprise:

"ECAJ chief executive Alex Ryvchin said he had conveyed his concerns about Ms Parke to several Labor figures." (Jewish advocates label WA Labor's star pick for Curtin 'extreme and divisive', Nathan Hondros,, 10/4/19)

Yet another example of the malign hold of the Israel lobby over Bill Shorten's Labor Party.

Presumably, the ideal Labor candidate/politician is one who does no more than mindlessly chant the 'two-state' solution mantra.

But, of course, the Israel lobby has an even greater hold over Morrison's Liberal Party.

Scott Morrison's principal private secretary, Yaron Finkelstein, described as "in charge of the political strategy of the office," and "a former advisor in the Howard government, and later the chief executive of heavyweight of Liberal campaign firm Crosby Textor," (Power behind the leaders, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/4/19) has some very interesting baggage indeed:

"The NSW Liberal Friends of Israel group was launched at NSW Parliament House in Sydney this week [15/8/12]... Chairman Yaron Finkelstein told J-wire: 'All Liberal State and Federal Members of Parliament from NSW have been asked to join the Liberal Friends of Israel, and be active participants in its programme of events which include intelligence and policy briefings, visiting speaker functions and ongoing Australian/Israeli political exchanges'." (NSW Liberal Friends of Israel, Henry Benjamin,, 15/8/12)

Did anyone dare decline?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Julian Assange: Free Speech Warrior

The hypocrisy of the fake free speech warriors at The Australian is exposed in the Murdoch rag's editorial on the arrest of genuine free speech warrior Julian Assange:

"It is not known when Assange might face a US court, but he should. He could not hide forever. In the interests of all Western nations and the fight against terror, US security and military services need to protect sensitive information and close loopholes that allowed so much data to be extracted and dispersed." (Assange must be accountable, 13/4/19)

Here is Assange's compelling rationale for the over 2 million US diplomatic cables published up to 2015 from his introduction to The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire (2015):

"While national archives have produced impressive collections of internal state communications, their material is intentionally withheld or made difficult to access for decades, until it is stripped of potency... What makes the revelation of secret communications potent is that we were not supposed to read them. The internal communications of the US Department of State are the logistical by-product of its activities: their publication is the vivisection of a living empire, showing what substance flowed from which state organ and when.

"Diplomatic cables are not produced in order to manipulate the public, but are aimed at elements of the rest of the US state apparatus, and are therefore relatively free from the distorting influence of public relations. Reading them is a much more effective way of understanding an institution like the State Department than reading reports by journalists on the public pronouncements of Hilary Clinton, or Jen Psaki.

"Whilst in their internal communications State Department officials must match their pens to the latest DC orthodoxies should they wish to stand out in Washington for the 'right' reasons and not the 'wrong' ones, these elements of political correctness are themselves noteworthy and visible to outsiders who are not sufficiently indoctrinated. Many cables are deliberative or logistical, and their causal relationships across time and space with other cables and with externally documented events create a web of interpretive constraints that reliably show how the US Department of State and the agencies that inter-operate with its cable system understand their place in the world.

"Only by approaching this corpus holistically - over and above the documentation of each individual abuse, each localized atrocity - does the true human cost of empire heave into view." (pp 5-6)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Projecting Jakov Baratz

Australia has an Israel lobby with many shop fronts. There's the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), the Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD), and so on.

There are Israeli dupes aplenty, on both sides of the political divide, in federal and state parliaments.

There are Israel-friendly journalists and columnists in the Australian press.

And then, in a class of his own, there's Greg Sheridan, who has been rooting for Israel in The Australian since, oh... time immemorial.

Needless to say, Netanyahu's success in Tuesday's Israeli election has him at his breathless, gushing best.

"Benjamin Netanyahu take a bow," opens his 'analysis' of the 'great' event.

Lost in admiration for this "giant of modern global politics," Sheridan goes to truly extraordinary lengths to play down Netanyahu's ideologically-fueled designs on the whole of Palestine:

"Netanyahu was widely criticised for statements during the campaign about possible future Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This led to some ridiculous headlines to the effect that Netanyahu had said he would annex the West Bank. He said nothing of the kind. His comments were, of course, ambiguous and could be criticised as irresponsible. But as with everything Netanyahu says, they must be evaluated carefully and in all their complexity. He was asked whether he would extend Israeli sovereignty to West Bank settlements and replied along the lines of: Who says we're not? This is a representative Netanyahu formulation, full of implications but with no specific commitment. He was also asked whether this would apply to isolated settlements or just the big settlement blocks, most of which are adjacent or almost adjacent to Jerusalem. These would then be part of Israeli sovereign territory. Therefore if you want to interpret Netanyahu's comments in the softest possible manner, he is merely restating orthodoxy. Making the same commitment for isolated settlements is much more problematic. Netanyahu specifically was not talking about the outposts or settlements that are illegal under Israeli law. The comments must also be understood in the context of Israeli electoral dynamics. Netanyahu was worried some of the smaller right-wing parties would fall under the 3.25% threshold for getting seats in the Knesset. These votes would then be wasted and Netanyahu might have fallen short of government. So for a while he was encouraging settlers and others to vote for non-Likud right-wing parties. But then he got worried that... " (Netanyahu remains Israel's hardball hero, The Australian, 11/4/19)

Is this kind of apologetic not unique in the annals of Australian journalism? Has any Australian msm journalist ever gone to greater lengths to ward off criticism of an Israeli land-thief? The expression 'bending over backwards' hardly begins to do Sheridan's cosseting of Netanyahu justice.

How is one to explain Sheridan's weird adulation of Netanyahu? While we may never get a satisfactory answer to that question, it is worth keeping in mind that his brain throngs with things he picked up long ago from his reading.

For example, Sheridan once revealed that he had been "seduced" by Morris West's 1968 wild eastern, The Tower of Babel.* More precisely, it seems that he was seduced by the novel's fictional hero, General Jakov Baratz:

"He had come to [Palestine] as a child, son of a landless trader from the Baltic, and he had never forgotten the splendour of his arrival: the furnace blaze of the sun, the blinding sky, the mountains hewn as if by wild axe-men, the desert where the air danced and cities and palm trees swam upside down and vanished at a glance. As a youth he had farmed it, building rock walls with his bare hands, carrying baskets of earth on his back, planting the vine twigs and the lemon-trees. As a man he had fought over it, using the military skills that the British had taught him, counting every bloody mile from Lydda to Ramle, to Abu Ghosh and the final foothold on Zion. And now his love for it was manifold: a dark passion that bound him closer to the soil than he ever had been to the body of a woman. He was jealous too, like all lovers; because his tenure in the beloved was always insecure - and no one knew better than he how strongly it was threatened." (p 30)

If, in fact, we are what we read, could the bookish Sheridan, perhaps, be projecting an indelible memory of Jakov Baratz onto Benjamin Netanyahu? Pure speculation, of course, but how else to explain what is going on here?

[*See my August 2009 series of posts, West's Wild East.]

Thursday, April 11, 2019

'Warts & All', 10 Years On

Good God, was it only 10 years ago that The Australian's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, was singing the praises of his beloved thus?

"That Israel of the Western mind (and indeed of the Arab mind) is a hateful place: right-wing, militaristic, authoritarian, racist, ultra-religious, neo-colonial, narrow-minded, undemocratic, indifferent to world opinion, indifferent especially to Palestinian suffering. Yet the Israel I know is mostly secular, raucously, almost wildly democratic, has a vibrant left-wing, having founded the kibbutz movement, one of the only successful experiments in socialism in human history. It is intellectually disputatious; any two Israelis will have three opinions and be happy to argue them to a lamp post. It is multi-ethnic, there is a great stress on human solidarity, there is due process. And I've never heard an Israeli speak casually about the value of human life." (Israel still looks good, warts and all, The Australian Literary Review, 6/5/09)

As for that "vibrant left-wing", well here it is, 10 years on, barely alive:

"Several measures indicate that Israel's shift to the Right may be permanent. Around 63% of Jewish Israeli voters identify as Right-wing, compared with just 15% for the Left and 18% who consider themselves centrist." (Centrist looks to topple Netanyahu, Raf Sanchez, The Telegraph/ Sydney Morning Herald, 9/4/19)

And where's all that fabled "human solidarity"? What with the UN Commission of Inquiry into the 2018 Gaza protests finding "reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities knowing they were clearly recognizable as such."

And what about those Israelis who've never "spoken casually about the value of human life"? Where are they now?

There's PM Benjamin Netanyahu, declaring that Israel is "the nation-state of the Jewish people - and of it alone."

There's the pretender, Benny Gantz, boasting that he'd returned parts of Gaza to "the Stone Age" and killed "1,364 terrorists" in 2014.

There's former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, threatening to "chop off Palestinian heads with an axe."

There's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, describing Palestinian children as "little snakes" and "all Palestinians" as "the enemy."

Truth is, the Netanyahus, Gantzs, Liebermans and Shakeds of Israel were always there, in one form or another, and Sheridan's settler-colonial utopia has always been a nasty piece of work.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What's Dave Doing?

"Liberal candidate for Wentworth Dave Sharma argued that the policy had shades of communism. 'I don't want to see it like the Soviet Union where we all have to buy a Trabant,' he said, referring to the notoriously unreliable vehicle produced in East Germany." (Electric car surge puts grid 'at risk', Cole Latimer, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/4/19)

Well, he may be kicking the commie can, but at least he's not waving an Israeli flag... yet.

Is Syria Really that Hard?

This really annoys me. It comes from a review by poet and critic Geoff Page of Australian poet Jennifer Maiden's latest work, Brookings: the Noun:

"The most controversial poems will probably be those that refer to the White Helmets in the Syrian Civil War. In the collection's most compelling narrative, George Jeffreys: 24, Maiden's long-standing, morally compromised heroes, George and Clare, successfully rescue 'a three-year-old Druze girl whose father had died in a car accident in Mount Druitt... ' She is being held by the White Helmets who, according to George Jeffreys, 'plan... an expert video in which she (will) succumb slowly and horribly to poisoned gas'.

"To this reader, there are clearly very few 'heroes' left in the Syrian Civil War but it still seems disconcerting to blacken the White Helmets' reputation on the basis of what might merely be Russian and/or Syrian government disinformation. The truth is hard enough to establish in Syria, let alone from Penrith, where Maiden is writing. It's possible Maiden, on this issue, has just this once lost her usual sophisticated agnostic equilibrium. Maybe she knows something we don't but, if so, it's not in the text." (Poetic dissection of major moral complexities, Sydney Morning Herald, 6/4/19)

As if misrepresenting Washington's dirty war in Syria as a "Civil War," and advocating for the discredited White Helmets, were not enough, Page, a resident of Grafton, scoffs at the possibility that someone from Penrith in western Sydney might actually be better at joining the dots in the Syrian conflict than the mainstream media.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Gideon Levy: Israel is Voting Apartheid

An apartheid state voting for apartheid? Who'd have thought?

"There will be one certain result from Tuesday's election: around 100 members of the next Knesset will be supporters of apartheid. This has no precedent in any democracy. A hundred out of 120 legislators, an absolute of absolute majorities, one that supports maintaining the current situation, which is apartheid. With such a majority, it will be possible in the next Knesset to officially declare Israel an apartheid state. With such support for apartheid and considering the durability of the occupation, no propaganda will be able to refute the simple truth: nearly all Israelis want the apartheid to continue. In the height of chutzpah, they call this democracy, even though more than 4 million people who live alongside them and under their control have no right to vote in the election.

"Of course, no one is talking about this, but in no other regime around the world is there one community next to another where the residents of one, referred to as a West Bank settlement, have the right to vote, while the residents of the other, a Palestinian village, don't. This is apartheid in all its splendor, whose existence nearly all the country's Jewish citizens want to continue.

"A hundred Knesset members will be elected from slates referred to as either right-wing, left-wing or centre, but what they have in common surpasses any difference: none intend to end the occupation. The right wing proudly says so, while the centre-left resorts to futile illusions to obscure the picture, listing proposals for for a 'regional conference' or 'secure separation.' The difference between the two groupings is negligible. In unison, the right and left are singing 'say yes to apartheid.'

"As a result, this election is so unimportant, so far from crucial. So let's cut the hysteria and the pathos over the outcome. Neither civil war nor even a rift is in the offing. The people are more united than ever, casting their vote for apartheid. Whatever Tuesday's result may be, the country of the occupier will remain the country of the occupier. Nothing defines it better than all the other marginal issues... So there's no reason to hold our breath over Tuesday's results. The election is lost in advance. For the country's Jews, it will shape the tone, the level of democracy, the rule of law, the corruption in which they live, but it won't do a thing to change Israel's basic essence as a colonialist country.

"The far right wants the annexation of the West Bank, a step that would make permanent in law a situation that has long been permanent in practice. Such a step would present a tempting advantage. It would finally rip off Israel's mask of democracy and might finally generate opposition both in the country and abroad. But no person of conscience can vote for the fascist right wing, which includes people who advocate the expulsion of Palestinians or the construction of a Third Temple on the Temple Mount, the destruction of the mosques there, or who even dream about extermination. (From Israel is voting apartheid, Haaretz, 7/4/19)

Monday, April 8, 2019

White Shite 2

The following extract comes from Zac Beauchamp's incisive critique of Kaufmann's White Shift:

"Much of [Kaufmann's] argument centers on relaxing what he calls the 'anti-racism norm,' the informal rules that stop mainstream Western political leaders and intellectuals from nakedly appealing to white identity and cultural fears. 'If politics in the West is ever to return to normal rather than becoming more polarized, white interests will need to be discussed,' Kaufmann writes. 'Not only is white group self-interest legitimate, but... in an era of unprecedented white demographic decline it is absolutely vital for it to have a democratic outlet.' This means politicians speaking openly of the need to maintain 'white culture' in their societies, and to emphasize the assimilation of migrants into the traditions and national identity that define whiteness. Acting on this means a series of policy proposals that sound like straight-up concessions to the far-right political forces Kaufmann claims to oppose.

"He suggests that Western nations should develop a 'cultural points system on immigration' that would rank immigrants on things like their 'assimilability to existing groups.' He proposes Europe put refugees in 'long-term refugee camps' rather than allowing them to move into existing cities and towns, a kind of segregation designed to to prevent native whites from freaking out. He advocates creating a form of 'second-tier citizenship' for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, which would 'deny them membership in the nation and the right to vote.' Kaufmann wants to let Trump build a wall on the Mexican border, and even defends the idea of white student groups on US college campuses. 'It is unclear to me why no members of a dominant group would be interested in their cultural traditions, ethno-history, and memories,' he muses...

"Chapters seven and eight of Kaufmann's book are dedicated to attacking the social justice left, blaming their overly censorious definition of 'racism' for helping produce the rise of the far right. In these chapters, Kaufmann advances a definition of 'racism' as, essentially, personal animus toward nonwhites and 'racial discrimination which results in a violation of citizens' right to equal treatment before the law.' He contrasts this with what he calls the 'left-modernist' account, the notion of 'structural racism,' which views racism as deeply embedded within systems that ultimately privilege whites over nonwhites. The problem... is that it is impossible to talk seriously about modern race relations without discussing structural racism. Racial prejudice did not disappear after the American civil rights movement; it simply became less overt. The anti-racism norm prevented people from outright saying, 'Black people are inferior,' but it didn't stop them from perpetuating a social system that privileged whites over nonwhites.

"Yet Kaufmann dismisses the very idea of structural racism as pseudoscientific gobbledegook. 'Indicators of structures of white oppression have largely disappeared,' he argues. 'Arguments based on critical race theory, history, or income differences do not constitute evidence of a structure of white privilege. Too often proponents make unfalsifiable claims which intimate that white privilege is engraved into the soul of society.' Kaufmann is mostly talking about research on race in America here - and he is presenting a straw man portrait of it. Even if you only care about quantitative research, as Kaufmann seems to, there are hundreds of studies, often validated by researchers in large meta-studies, documenting 'evidence of a structure of white privilege.'

"One review of 28 quantitative studies on job applications finds that 'whites receive on average 36% more callbacks than African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos,' and that levels of discrimination have not changed since 1989. A literature review on racism in unemployment, housing, credit, and other markets from scholars at Princeton and Harvard found that 'the weight of existing evidence suggests that discrimination does continue to affect the allocation of contemporary opportunities,' and that 'our current estimates may in fact understate the degree to which discrimination contributes to the poor social and economic outcomes of minority groups.' A massive report from the National Institutes of Health found that 'racial and ethnic minorities tend to receive a lower quality of healthcare than non-minorities, even when access-related factors, such as patients' insurance status and income, are controlled.'

"The causal mechanisms here are straightforward. Slavery, Jim Crow, and racially discriminatory practices like 'redlining' created a society in which African Americans were separated from the white population and shunted into inferior institutions. This was not fixed overnight in the late 20th century; on some metrics, like measures of school segregation, the United States has actually gone backward of late. Nor did white attitudes change overnight; while explicit prejudice toward all groups became less popular, stereotypes about minorities persist and affect the way whites treat minorities. The result is that it's still harder on average for minorities to live in safe neighborhoods, attend high-quality schools, or get access to the best health care. White Americans now enjoy systemic privileges purely because they were born white, a brute social fact that is among the most well-documented in all of American social science.

"Kaufmann does not engage with the literature in any sustained way... the sense you'd get from reading Whiteshift's middle chapters is that 'anti-white radicalism' - his term - is a bigger problem in the modern West than actual racial discrimination. This is vital to Kaufmann's argument. Because structural racism doesn't exist, he argues, white identity politics are no different from minority identity politics. 'Expressing a white identity, or group self-interest, or an ethno-traditional national identity which includes a white-majority component, isn't racist,' he writes. 'The same holds true for black, Muslim, or other minority interests.' This equation can only be true if a politics of 'white identity' does not require, by its very nature, maintaining a social structure in which whites enjoy privileged and unfair access to social goods. But to defend 'white group interests' today in the West  is to defend white privilege." (The Virtue of Nationalism and Whiteshift: books that explain Trump,, 26/2/19)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

White Shite

You know in your bones that if a celebrity scholar gets an entire (broadsheet) page to strut his stuff, a thumbs-up editorial, and a glowing introductory article in Murdoch's Australian, that something's seriously amiss. I'm talking here about The Australian's new poster boy, Eric Kaufmann.

Just to fill you in, here's part of the glowing intro by Bernard Lane:

"The political Left is unlikely to succeed in its attempt after the Christchurch Muslim massacre to reimpose politically correct taboos on immigration debates, says an international expert on the rise of right-wing populism. In the war of words after Christchurch, Left activists and Muslim firebrands [!!] have attacked conservative politicians and media outlets for supposedly arming the Australian-born accused killer with bullets of xenophobia and hate speech... 'The Left is trying to use Christchurch to delegitimate the conversation [!!] about Muslim integration and immigration - this is no more intelligent than the Right using jihadist attacks like Charlie Hebdo (in Paris in 2015) to demonise Muslims,' London-based political analyst Eric Kaufmann told The Weekend Australian.

"In his book White Shift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities, he argues the success of the populist Right in the West is driven by rapid ethnic change and the white majority's fear for its identity, not by the economic misery of workers 'left behind'. He offers a surprising idea for taking the heat out of culture conflict in the West and easing polarisation in politics. Until recently, mainstream parties had followed the Left's 'anti-racist taboos' on criticising multiculturalism or immigration, thereby gifting votes to Donald Trump, Brexit and a host of parties such as One Nation, he said. With actual racism in decline [!!], the post-1960s Left had widened the definition of racism and demonised white majorities, unwittingly serving as 'a force multiplier' for the populist Right.

"Professor Kaufmann, from Birkbeck College, University of London, predicts immigration trends will see minorities outnumber whites in the US by 2050, with Australia going 'majority-minority' one or two decades later. He said it was not racist for whites, like any other ethnic group, to expect their interests to figure in the trade-offs of immigration policy. Parties such as One Nation actually made white terror attacks less likely because they served as a democratic safety valve for the angst of white majorities [!!], he said. He said there was a danger of more white terror if conservative white insecurity about immigration was forced back underground. But far-right attacks such as last month's massacre of Muslims in New Zealand were 'rare and not really on the rise'.' (Left losing migrant high ground, 6/4/19)

Not at all rare, however, are Western massacres of Muslims in the Middle East by white majority Western 'defence' forces, cheered on, or tacitly supported, by their white majority base at home, but these of course are nowhere mentioned in Kaufmann's calculus.

I'll have more to say about his thesis in my next post, but will leave you to ponder the following key extract from his book, as it appears in The Australian of April 6:

"Ethnic nationhood, which restricts citizenship to members of the majority, is clearly a non-starter. But things aren't so black and white. There is a third possibility - ethno-traditional nationhood, which values the ethnic majority as an important component of the nation alongside other groups. Ethno-traditional nationalists favour slower immigration to permit enough migrants to voluntarily assimilate into the ethnic majority, maintaining the white ethno-tradition. The point is not to assimilate all diversity but to strike a balance between vibrant minorities and an enduring white Christian tradition." (White Fright: It's not racist to be attached to one's own culture)

Jesus Christ!

To be continued...

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Under British Bayonets

Further to my last post, and in particular to Arnold Toynbee's reference to interwar Jewish immigration into Palestine being "imposed on the Palestinian Arabs by British military power until the immigrants were sufficiently numerous and sufficiently well-armed to be able to fend for themselves with tanks and planes of their own," legendary US journalist I.F. Stone's 1946 coverage of illegal postwar Jewish immigration into British Palestine, Underground to Palestine, has some interesting light to shed on this subject.

Far from being the hapless survivors of Nazi concentration camps, many of the East European Jewish immigrants described by Stone were heavily indoctrinated Zionist youth, in short the ideal type to take on the British and/or the Palestinian Arabs militarily:

"As soon as the train began to move, everybody began to sing. The first song whose words I could make out was a Yiddish song written by a young man I was to meet soon. It was called 'Khalutsim, Gretan Zikh Far Eretz Israel' [Pioneers Prepare Themselves for Palestine]. The singing was spontaneous and joyful... Khalutsim means pioneers in Hebrew and is the term for people who have been in training for life in a settlement in Palestine. They are the Zionist elite, dedicated to the building of Palestine. The ten I was with, five boys and five girls, had all trained for several months in the same kibbutz [collective training settlement] in Poland. It was a kibbutz near Lodz called Dror [Freedom], supported by funds of the Poale Zion, the labor Zionist movement." (pp 38-39)

And note here how the immigration process is fully in the hands the leaders of the Zionist yishuv [settlement]:

"We each filled out a blue certificate printed in Hebrew on one side and in English on the other. It was called, 'Permit To Enter Palestine.' We wrote in our name, the names of our parents, the place and date of our birth, and our nationality by birth. The certificate stated that we 'had been found qualified by the representatives of the Jewish Community of Palestine for repatriation to Eretz Israel.'

"The certificate cited four authorities for the Jewish community's action.

"The first was from Ezekiel: 'And they shall abide in the lands that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers abode, and they shall abide therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children, forever.'

"The second was from Isaiah: 'With great mercies will I gather thee.'

"The third was Lord Balfour's Declaration of 2 November 1917, and the last was The Mandate for Palestine." (p 177)

Needless to say, the Palestinian 'natives' and their wishes were nowhere on the minds of Stone's interlocutors.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Britain's Dirty Game in Palestine

One of the best assessments of the origins of the nightmare known as the Palestine problem, and of Britain's responsibility for it, was written in 1968 by the great British historian and philosopher of history Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975):

"The story [of Palestine] is a tragedy, and the essence of this tragedy is that about 1,500,000 Palestinian Arabs have now become refugees as a result of the intervention of foreign powers in their country's affairs. The might of these foreign powers has been irresistible, and the evicted Palestinian Arabs have been forcibly deprived of their country, their homes, and their property without having been allowed to have a voice in the determination of their own destiny.

"Though the facts are public, there is widespread ignorance of them in the Western World and, above all, in the United States, the Western country which has had, and is still having, the greatest say in deciding Palestine's fate. The United States has the greatest say, but the United Kingdom bears the heaviest load of responsibility. The Balfour Declaration of 2nd November 1917 was the winning card in a sordid contest between the two sets of belligerents in the First World War for winning the support of the Jews in Germany, Austria-Hungary, and - most important of all - in the United States.

"In promising to give the Jews 'a national home' in Palestine, the British Government was, I believe, using deliberately ambiguous language. As a citizen of the United Kingdom, I declare this belief of mine with feelings of shame and contrition, but I do believe that this is the truth. Throughout the First World War and after it, the Government of the United Kingdom was playing a double game. Perhaps a lawyer might be able to plead plausibly that there was no inconsistency between the respective pledges that Britain gave to the Arabs and the Zionists, or between the inclusion of the Balfour Declaration in the text of the mandate taken by Britain for the administration of Palestine and the classification of this mandate in the 'A' class - a class in which the mandatory power was committed to giving the people of the mandated territory their independence at the earliest date at which they would be capable of standing on their own feet. Whatever the casuists might say, laymen - Arabs or Jews - would, I think, naturally infer, bona fide, from the British Government's various statements and acts that it had made two commitments that were incompatible with each other.

"At the same time when the mandate was drafted, offered, and accepted, the Arab Palestinians amounted to more than 90% of the population of the country. The mandate for Palestine was an 'A' mandate, and, as I interpret the Hussein-McMahon correspondence, Palestine had not been excepted by the British Government from the area in which they had pledged themselves to King Hussein to recognize and support Arab independence. The Palestinian Arabs could therefore reasonably assume that Britain was pledged to prepare Palestine for becoming an independent Arab state. On the other side, the Zionists naturally saw, in the British promise of 'a national home' in Palestine, the entering wedge for the insertion into Palestine of the Jewish state of Israel which was in fact inserted there in 1948.

"To my mind, the most damaging point in the charge-sheet against my country is that Britain was in control of Palestine for 30 years - 1918-1948 - and that during those fateful three decades she never made up her mind, or at any rate never declared, what her policy about the future of Palestine was. All through those 30 years, Britain lived from hand to mouth, admitting into Palestine, year by year, a quota of Jewish immigrants that varied according to the strength of the respective pressures of the Arabs and the Jews at the time. Those immigrants could not have come in if they had not been shielded by a British chevaux-de-frise. If Palestine had remained under Ottoman Turkish rule, or if it had become an independent Arab state in 1918, Jewish immigrants would never have been admitted into Palestine in large enough numbers to enable them to overwhelm the Palestinian Arabs in this Arab people's own country. The reason why the state of Israel exists today and why today 1,500,000 Palestinian Arabs are refugees is that, for thirty years, Jewish immigration was imposed on the Palestinian Arabs by British military power until the immigrants were sufficiently numerous and sufficiently well-armed to be able to fend for themselves with tanks and planes of their own. The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the World, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the World's peace. Britain's guilt is not diminished by the humiliating fact that she is now impotent to redress the wrong that she has done.

"As an Englishman I hate to have to indict my country, but I believe that Britain deserves to be indicted, and this is the only personal reparation that I can make." (From the Forward to The Palestine Diary by Robert John and Sami Hadawi, 1970)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

We Shall Not See His Like Again...

... hopefully:

"Victorian Labor MP Michael Danby left the parliament yesterday as he had entered it - a champion of Israel, of the world's persecuted..." ('Straya, what a country' Danby bows out, Richard Ferguson, The Australian, 3/4/19)

Forget the Murdoch propaganda about "the world's persecuted," which, it goes without saying, excludes one of the most persecuted and tormented people on the planet - the Palestinians - Danby's role has, first and foremost, been one of keeping Labor Party MPs on the Zionist straight and narrow.

As The Australian Jewish News once put it:

"Jewish voters needed a Jewish MP... to keep in line a Labor opposition flying with an unsecured left-wing, and after November 2007, to act as a watchdog within the new Rudd Government... He corrals his parliamentary colleagues and forces them to think long, hard and seriously about matters that often conjure knee-jerk reactions. 'During a recent political controversy, we had 11 federal MPs get together on an Israel issue. Mike Kelly [MP] convened them and I organised with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), who had a delegation up there, to sit down with us and we strategised together', Danby said. That is like America - people being part of the normal run of Australian politics and that's the way it should be'." (See my 1/3/09 post Nipping at their Heels)

Danby reportedly had this to say in his valedictory speech:

"'As all of the wog kids who are now members of parliament, on both sides, will intrinsically appreciate, our presence also says something about the pluralistic, inclusive nature of most Australians. We all made it'." (ibid)

One cannot help wondering whether any MPs present were moved to reflect on the blatant contradiction inherent in Danby's tribute to Australia's pluralism and inclusivity on the one hand, while, as an ardent Zionist, supporting just the opposite in occupied (river to sea) Palestine on the other.

Not to mention how many Labor MPs may be glad to see the last of this yapping terrier "watchdog".

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Way of The Greens

Only in Murdoch's Australian:

"Jewish groups [ie Zionist lobbyists] are furious over 'hatred-inciting' [ie factual] comments accusing Israel of 'genocide' made by the lead organiser of the Greens' campaign in Melbourne's most Jewish electorate."* (Greens face backlash over genocide claim, Elias Visontay, 2/4/19)

Oh dear!

"David Jeffery, a staffer for Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May in the seat of Macnamara [formerly known as Melbourne Ports], said [correctly] deaths in the Gaza Strip were 'genocide', and used the hashtags '#F...kFascism' and '#noPrideInGenocide' in Facebook posts." (ibid)

Howls of outrage from readers of the The Australian: 'Booh! Hiss!' 'Off with his head!' 'To the stake!'

Enter Grand Inquisitor Alex Ryvchin, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Hue and cry subside as he thunderously hurls the charge:

"Mr Jefferey's 'appalling comments represent the lowest form of activism. [They] betray a complete contempt for the sovereign rights of the Jewish people and an ignorance of fact and history - which can serve to incite hatred'." (ibid)

And then, smiling, almost in a whisper:

"[I urge Ms Hodgins-May] to consider whether she wishes to be associated with a person of Mr Jefferey's temperament and intellectual capacity'." (ibid)

Enter a shaken Steph Hodgins-May:

"Ms Hodgins-May told The Australian she would make arrangements for Mr Jeffery to spend time with the Jewish community in the seat 'to better learn why the language was harmful'." (ibid)

The accused is then dragged in to cries of 'Recant! Recant!' from readers

And then, in a still, small voice:

"Mr Jeffery told The Australian he was 'wrong to use a word like genocide... to describe the actions of the Israeli government, although I strongly oppose its conduct'." (ibid)

[*"The comments from last year, which have been seen by The Australian, have since been deleted." (ibid).]

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Blight Unto the Nations

Seldom does the abyss between fact and fiction yawn more widely than in The Economist:

"Little Israel commands attention because it has a big history: biblical romance and technological talent; the slaughter of the Holocaust and military prowess, energetic democracy and the long occupation of land claimed and inhabited by Palestinians." (King Bibi: a parable of modern populism, The Economist/ The Australian, 30/3/19)

"Israel offers an important test of the resilience of democracy. On April 9 voters face a fateful choice. Re-elect Netanyahu and reward him for subverting the independence of Israel's institutions. Or turf him out in the hope of rebuilding trust in democracy - and aspiring to be 'a light unto the nations'." (ibid)

Lest we forget, April 9 will be the 71st anniversary of the massacre of the Palestinian villagers of Deir Yassin, carried out by Irgun terrorists on orders from their leader, Menachem Begin, in 1948.

Begin, of course, went on to found Israel's ruling Likud party in 1973, becoming its prime minister from 1977-83, and presiding over the brutal invasion (1982) and occupation (1982-2000) of Lebanon.

Netanyahu is his ideological heir, presiding in turn over one massacre after another - operations Returning Echo (2012), Pillar of Defence (2012) and Protective Edge (2014) - against the largely defenceless inhabitants of the blockaded Gaza ghetto, not to mention the ongoing bloodletting along the Gaza border.

And how does The Economist spin this butcher's bloody record?

"With deft use of diplomacy and the mostly cautious use of military force he has boosted security without being sucked into disastrous wars." (ibid)

Monday, April 1, 2019

Remi Kanazi Denied Visa after ADC Intervention

The following Australian government outrage hasn't, to my knowledge, been covered in the mainstream Australian press. Here is the text of a petition circulating on the matter. (It may be found at

"World renowned American, Palestinian writer, poet and organiser Remi Kanazi has had his visa revoked. He was planning a speaking and performance tour of Australia. The organisers of his tour claim that the denial of his visa is an attack on free speech and the right of Palestinians to enter this country. Kanazi has been denied a visa after a campaign by the Anti-Defamation Commission to the minister for immigration.

"Marxism Conference organiser Vashti Kenway says that 'The denial of Kanazi's visa is a clear violation of the right of free speech in this country. This is the second time Palestinian speakers at our Marxism Conference have have had a visa denied them and the third to have major issues.'

"In 2016 Palestinian American journalist Ali Abunimah had to battle to get a visa into Australia and in 2017 Bassem Tamimi from the Palestinian Occupied Territories, father of political prisoner Ahed Tamimi, was denied entry. Prominent Palestinian spokesperson Nasser Mashni from Australians for Palestine says: 'This decision is an act of selective, politically-motivated censorship. It is clear the government is deliberately silencing and preventing human rights defenders and Palestinian voices for justice from being heard in Australia.'

"The Anti-Defamation Commission claim Kanazi is anti-semitic for his support for Palestinian resistance and have garnered support for their campaign from a number of MPs.

'The conflation of support for Palestinian resistance with anti-semitism is a common trope. Similar accusations have been levelled at British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and American senator Ilhan Omar in recent months. This is slander and operates to silence Palestinian voices. Standing up for the human right of Palestinians to resist their occupation and the war waged against them is entirely justified,' Kenway claims.

"Kanazi is a globally renowned and respected commentator on Palestinian issues. His political commentary has been featured by news outlets throughout the world including the New York Times, Salon, Al Jazeera English and BBC Radio. He has appeared in the Palestine Festival of Literature. this is the first time that he has ever been denied a visa anywhere in the world."

You click on the 'Remi Kanazi' label below to read his poem, The Dos & Don'ts of Palestine. And while we're at it, here's another from his 2011 collection, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance & Palestine:

Only as Equals

every time I think of 9/11
I see burning flesh
dripping off the bones
of Iraqi children in Fallujah
now Gaza
I tend to memorialize the forgotten
the collateral damage
eclipsing America's unpunished crimes

maybe it's because I'm a numbers guy?
because if I had a dollar
for every time
an Iraqi died since 2003
I'd be a millionaire

and don't get me wrong
sometimes I don't know
who to hate more
the governments in the West
or the politicians in the East
who sell their souls
quicker than the oil they export
straw men who use Palestine
as a tool to line their pockets
and don't give a nickel
to their people
quisling governments
who stitch mouths shut for a check
from Washington and AIPAC
how can they be
Israel's prototypical anti-Semite
if they're signing peace accords
to oppress their own people?

then Orientalists and hypocrites
talk about how democracy
can't be allowed in the Middle East
because of what happened in Gaza
a Hamas bogeyman
wrapped in democratic elections
Rahm Emmanuel wants to educate me
and my people
about democracy gone wrong
why doesn't he try
implementing one in Israel first?
instead of bowing down to terrorists
like his father and the IDF
lauding a third-rate, racist, European society
that's imploding faster
than its moral standing in the world
enlightened like 1950s Afrikaners
and slave traders
just because the house is beautiful
doesn't mean the bones you built it on
have fully decomposed

the Israeli left
is about alive as Ariel Sharon
I'm sick and tired
of asking for permission to resist
from antiquated leftists and progressives
who care more about keeping it Kosher
than moving things forward

I put down my pen and waving fist
to resist with college kids
and Palestinians
boycott and divest
because who cares about
preserving a living
when governments
are killing civilians?

we'll boycott Elbit Systems
Caterpillar and your apartheid companies
we're taking back the right of return
and the keys to our country
because we never asked you
to go back to Europe
or sit in open-air prisons
I'm not asking for your advice
I'm explaining the decision

you can stay here
with us
but only as equals
it's not that you're Israeli
it's that you're wrong
that's why I fight for my people!