Friday, May 31, 2019

Murdoch Venom

Reading Murdoch's Australian is like watching a funnel web spider walking leisurely across your living room floor. You are so transfixed by the horror of it all that you just cannot look away.

By way of example, here are just two from the rag's letters page:

"Now that the Coalition has received a new mandate, Scott Morrison should follow up on the commitment he made at last year's Wentworth by-election to move Australia's embassy to Jerusalem. (Ari Hurwitz, Vaucluse, NSW, 27/5/19)

"I'm not buying Anthony Albanese's change of heart. A damascene conversion requires him to repent, and I suspect he still harbours the mortal sins of open borders, wealth redistribution, rampant taxation and class warfare deep in his breast. Belief in the discredited miracle of magic-pudding economics won't be sufficient to get him to the Pearly Gates of the Lodge." (Peter Raftery, Indoorroopilly, Qld, 27/5/19)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Albanese? Class Warrior? 2

Even Nine Entertainment Co (formerly, Fairfax) is echoing Murdoch's 'Albanese the Red' propaganda line, albeit far more faintly:

"Accustomed to losing, the left will have one of its fiercest combatants in the top job... 'Every fantasy of an old-time left-winger is finally happening,' said one factional enthusiast. 'We've been speculating for decades about what it would look like.' Lest anyone start waving the red flag and singing L'Internationale... " (Is Albanese new light on the hill? Michael Koziol, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/5/19)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Albanese? Class Warrior?

Give me a break!

The  Murdoch press is replete with straw men and women. Anyone who dares not toe its line is painted in the most lurid of colours. Labor leader-in-waiting, Anthony Albanese, is no exception to the rule - except that, at this stage at least, the Murdoch press has hopes of grooming him as another Bob Hawke, or Tony Blair, if you will.

But first, the straw man:

Albo vows to end class war ran the banner headline on page one of Thursday's issue of The Australian. (For the uninitiated, Albo, a purported left-winger, looks set to succeed the hapless Bill Shorten as leader of the federal Australian Labor Party.)

All talk here of 'class war' is, of course, ludicrous. Whether it's Shorten or Albanese at the helm, the ALP wouldn't know what class war was if it hit it in the face. Still, such propaganda tropes are standard fare, deployed by the Murdoch press against any public figure it chooses to mount a crusade against..

The Australian's Peter van Onselen, now a professor of politics at the University of Western Australia and Griffith University, dishes out the following Murdochratic advice/ directive:

"He may well be, having shown a willingness over the years to crab-walk away from causes considered too radical for a mainstream politician... But to do so in more than an superficial way... Albanese will need to prove that he truly believes in the economic structures that support people's aspirations... " ('Tory fighter' should follow Hawke)

Although I'm not party to Albanese's past record of rhetorical flourishes, I seriously doubt he's ever resorted to expressions the Big End of Town, Us & Them, neoliberalism, privatisation, and other expressions of the social and political reality that oppress us all on a daily basis. For example, has he said anything about the $33bn stock market surge which followed Morrison's election win?

For the record, Friday's Australian trotted out a photograph of Albanese with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, taken last year. Front page, of course. Here's the opening paragraph:

"Labor's leader in waiting Anthony Albanese will be forced to jettison the hard-left policies he has espoused for more than three decades... Mr Albanese has become close to far-left British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn... " (From left field: Albanese, Corbyn and co, Andrew Burrell/ Andrew Clennell)

Further on in the same piece, there's a reference to his "decades-long history as a spear-thrower for Labor's hard left."

In the same issue, former Zionist lobbyist (and, quite incidentally, MP for Melbourne Ports) Michael Danby, has an opinion piece, headed Let's see if feisty Albo's made of Hawke's right stuff, in which we find yet more blather about Albo/Hawke, as well as this wonderful example of the psychological phenomenon known as projection: "... a ratbag such as Jeremy Corbyn."

I am familiar, however, with Albanese's utterly lame and gutless statements over the years on the subject of Palestine/Israel, the infallible test of principle and courage in today's world. For example:

2009: "I don't support the boycott of Israel, I support engagement... dialogue and discussion." (Q & A)

2011: Albanese accused the then Greens-dominated Marrickville Council of "simplistic sloganeering" when they bravely dared to adopt a pro-BDS policy, and lamely opined that "the inner west of Sydney is... a place where neighbours live in harmony regardless of religion or race."

2016: Albanese expressed "concern" about foreign policy funding, and said China, Israel and Taiwan were among the biggest spenders of sponsored travel and donations in Australia.

2018: Albanese warned about "Israel's actions... damaging the country's reputation."

Friday, May 24, 2019

Morrison: Business As Usual at the UN

For example:

"The United Nations general assembly has overwhelmingly backed a motion condemning Britain's occupation of the remote Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. The 116-6 vote left the UK diplomatically isolated and was also a measure of severely diminished US clout on the world stage. Washington had campaigned vigorously at the UN and directly in talks with national capitals around the world in defence of the UK's continued control over the archipelago, where there is a US military base at Diego Garcia. The vote was in support of a motion setting a six-month deadline for Britain to withdraw from the Chagos island chain and for the islands to be reunified with neighbouring Mauritius. It endorsed an advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February, calling on the UK to relinquish its hold on the territory in order to complete the process of decolonisation." (UK suffers crushing defeat in UN vote on Chagos Islands, Owen Bowcott/Julian Borger,, 23/5/19)

Right... so who comprised this charmless, colonial gang of six who voted against self-determination for the dispossessed and dispersed Chagossian islanders? Wouldn't you know it:

The US, Hungary, Israel, Australia, UK and the Maldives.

Not, mind you, that, with the Murdoch press trumpeting Morrison as The Messiah from The Shire, you'd expect to see this telling information in the Australian msm.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spotlighting Netanyahu's Role in the US War on Iran

The following article (If the US goes to war with Iran, Netanyahu will be the prime suspectChemi Shalev, Haaretz, 16/5/19), is of considerable interest when we consider that Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister at the time of the 2003 Iraq War, felt obliged to keep as low a profile as possible with respect to Israel's crucial role as the key detonator of the war. Sharon relied instead on his US Ziocon assets and the Israel lobby to steer the Bush administration in the direction he wanted, that of regime change and the balkanisation of Iraq, and to utililise the US military, as opposed to the Israeli, to bring this about.

Since that time, it should be clear to all and sundry that the current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has ditched the pretense of Israel as an innocent bystander in matters of regional regime change and balkanisation, and come out, time and again, publicly swinging in favour of a war with Iran. As Shalev points out, if and when the US takes on Iran militarily, there'll be no hiding the key role of Netanyahu's Israel in initiating the move to Iraq Iran. (Note that I have somewhat truncated Shalev's essay in order to highlight his thesis):

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the only world leader to openly express support for the escalating US campaign against Iran, but his statement is an exception to the general Israeli rule... The attempt to distance itself from an American military operation in the Middle East, as if Israel were merely a fan sitting in the bleachers cheering its favorite team, inevitably sparks analogies to Yitzhak Shamir's policy of restraint in the 1991 Gulf War and Ariel Sharon's similar attitude during the 2003 war in Iraq... And while Israel did not come under direct attack in the 2003 Iraq War, it was nonetheless compelled to defend itself against claims, which proliferated as the war progressed, that it had pushed President George W. Bush to decide on the attack in the first place. In the lead up to that ill-fated war, Netanyahu was once again one of a handful of prominent Israelis who preferred to break the silence. In public testimony before the Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives in 2002, Netanyahu assured American lawmakers that Saddam either had nuclear weapons or was on the verge of acquiring them... Deposing Saddam, Netanyahu promised, would do wonders for the Middle East as a whole...

"But even without his damning testimony from the past... if war breaks out between the US and Iran, he will be named as the prime suspect as far as its opponents are concerned. Netanyahu... persuaded Donald Trump to abandon Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu convinced Trump that a combination of crippling economic sanctions and a credible military threat will force Tehran to beg for a new and improved nuclear deal, which will include its malevolent regional activities... Netanyahu become a one-man cheerleading squad for Trump's latest moves.

"But while the campaign to blame Israel for the Iraq War was limited to a relatively small clique of its most vociferous critics - the most prominent of which were Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in their book about the Israel lobby - conflagration with Iran would dramatically expand the circle of Israel-accusers... It's situation today is substantially worse. After burning his bridges with American liberals, including most Jews... many Democrats are far more likely to point fingers at Netanyahu the moment the first American soldier is killed... Netanyahu believes that the Iranian leadership, like much of the Arab, understands only force. He is convinced that the intense economic pressure coupled with the nightmarish specter of American bombers laying waste to their country will compel Tehran to come back to the negotiating table on all fours in order to carve out the fabled 'better agreement' that both Trump and Netanyahu claim, with no evidence, is eminently achievable... [But] Iran does not view itself as a weak and vulnerable state that has no choice but to capitulate to US ultimatums, but as an equal rival determined to foil Trump or, at worst, survive him...

"Small wonder that in the past 48 hours, White House officials have started to brief US reporters that Trump is less happy with the bellicose approach of his National Security adviser John Bolton, known as one of Israel's closest confidantes in Washington. The catalyst for Trump's reservations was the leaked story of a Pentagon paper prepared for Bolton that envisaged sending 120,000 US troops to fight against the Iranians. Trump boasted that if it came to open conflict, the size of the US force would be much larger, but distanced himself from what critics describe as the warmongering winds emanating from Bolton's office. Experienced Washington observers claim that, based on previous patterns, Trump will soon start criticizing Bolton in public and, after a short hiatus, boot him out of the White House as well... Netanyahu may have to face the possibility that his all-in bet on Trump has failed to produce the dividends he sought and that the anti-Iran strategy built on his beautiful friendship with the US president could be on the verge of collapse.

"The remaining options are both unpalatable for Netanyahu. The first is that Iran will resist recently fortified economics sanctions and continue to incrementally abandon its commitments under the 2015 nuclear accord, without risking any retaliation from the countries that still adhere to it. The second is a military fare-up between Iran and the US, which or may not cripple Tehran's nuclear infrastructure but is certain to inflict human suffering, financial upheaval, escalating internal strife in Washington and the certainty that Netanyahu will be held responsible for them all. Worse, Trump may eventually reach the same conclusion."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Witless in Wentworth

Former Australian Ambassador for Israel, and self-styled 'modern' Liberal, Dave Sharma is now the new Liberal Party MP for the seat of Wentworth. So who voted for him, and why? My picking through the post-election msm garbage - slim pickings, I know  - has so far revealed the following interesting emissions:

"'I voted for Kerryn last year but not now,' said Anna, 33, who did not want he last name used. She said she had cast a vote for Dr Phelps to signal her frustration to the Liberal Party, but over the week decided to vote for Mr Sharma, influenced in part by his campaign's daily phone messages to her emphasising trust and compassion." (Liberals confident Sharma to nab Wentworth, Nick O'Malley, The Sun-Herald, 19/5/19)

"Natalie Solenko, 83, who emerged from the booths with her 76-year-old husband Bruce Young, said she had voted Liberal, as she had since arriving in Australia from Russia via Paris in 1951: 'I have lived under a communist party, thank you very much.' She said she had told her greens-voting daughter that she should go and live in a tent." (ibid)

OK, is it updates as they arise, or enough already?

Eurovision Update

Remember Radio National's Fran Kelly interview with Sydney University political science academic and self-described "Eurovision fanatic," Anika Gauja? (See my 5/5/19 post Zero Gravitas.)

Well, trawling through Gauja's Eurovision tweets from Tel Aviv (and omg their name is legion!), just to see what else, if anything, she was up to over there, I noticed the following:

*Apart from #Eurovision, for the next two weeks I'll be based at the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem, working with Gidi Rahat and the reform team on improving the health of Israeli political parties @IDIisrael (13/5/19)

Improving the health of Israeli political parties? The mind boggles. Now I may be naive, but I would have thought that parties such as Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, HaBayit HaYehuda and the rest are fairly brimming with Zionist self-esteem and Greater Israel vigour.

Then, back to Eurovision itself, there's this:

*There's something about Israel's hosting of #Eurovision that reminds me of that kind of person who always turns the conversation round to be about themselves (14/5/19)

What a stunning revelation! Who, but our Eurovision fanatic, would have thought that Eurovision in Israel would be all about... Israel?

Hm, I wonder when Operation Eurovision, or whatever it's called, will resume again in Gaza now that the party's over...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Trump Conscripts Morrison

Strap yourself in, Australia, and brace yourself for what could be Christian Zionist PM Scott Morrison's first regime change war:

"The ABC confirmed the President and Mr Morrison spoke at length about security challenges around the world, especially Iran. Mr Trump warned Tehran to 'never threaten the United States again' as concerns over a potential US-Iran conflict escalate. The US is sending B-52 bombers to the Middle East to counter what the Trump administration says are 'clear indications' of threats from Iran to US forces there. Shortly after the leaders spoke, the White House issued a formal read-out of their conversation. 'The two leaders reaffirmed the critical importance of the long-standing alliance and friendship between the United States and Australia, and they pledged to continue their close cooperation on shared priorities,' Deputy Press Secretary said in a press statement." (Donald Trump likens Scott Morrison's election victory to his 2016 presidential win and Brexit, Andrew Probyn/Andrew Greene, 20/5/19,

The Hyping of Hawke 4

Finally, in my series, The Hyping of Hawke, it is sobering to reflect on the fact that what is often referred to today as fake news played a crucial role in the erosion of Labor Party opposition to Hawke's obscene rush to join in the US-led war in the Gulf. It is equally sobering to note just how few questioning journalists there were back then - just like today!

Thankfully, there was one back then, the Reporters without Borders representative in Australia, Max Watts:

"In January 1991, the Australian parliament took a vote on whether to join the United States and go to war with Iraq. A journalist, Max Watts, asked one of the Australian [Labor] senators, the late Olive Zakharov, which way she intended to vote. Through her assistant, Max was informed she planned to vote for going to war. Max asked, Why? He was told that Iraqi soldiers had gone into a hospital in Kuwait, taken 306 babies out of their incubators and left them to die. Max, with his decades of experience in identifying inconsistencies in suspect stories, thought it rather odd that the number should be so precise. Who has time to count to 306 in a war zone?

"Max asked a friend, Dr Rosie Kubb... how many incubators are there in Melbourne? The population of Melbourne is about four million people. Dr Kubb checked it out. There were about 80 incubators for the city of Melbourne, which has a population three times that of the whole of Kuwait.

"The life of a lie may be short, but this lie was believed by enough people for long enough to enable George Bush Sr. to execute Gulf War I. The truth about the Kuwaiti Babies story was not exposed until eleven months later, after the war was over and thousands of innocent people had been killed. The story had been fabricated by a United States public relations company, Hill and Knowlton, to 'sell' the war. The company had dressed the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States as a nurse, and had her filmed telling the story. She was presented on television as a Kuwaiti nurse who had counted the babies, even though she was in the United States at the time the incident was alleged to have taken place." (Invasion of Iraq: An Eyewitness Account, Waratah Rose Gillespie, 2004, p 13)

The Hyping of Hawke 3

By now, after reading my previous two posts questioning his virtual canonisation, it should be apparent that the late, former Australian prime minister, Bob Hawke, was, with his fatal decision to involve Australia in the brutal US-led Gulf War of 1991, very much the war hawk.

Of course, the impacts of war today are seldom confined to the immediate area of conflict, but consideration of their wider impact is of scant concern to those who, like Hawke, are hell-bent on waging them. One of those areas of impact is inevitably the home front.

The following three extracts, detailing the dark forces unleashed by St Bob here in Australia, come from academic Christine Asmar's invaluable essay The Arab-Australian Experience, in Australia's Gulf War (1992). Although the 'experience' she describes took place almost ten years before 9/11, it is chilling to note the sheer depth of Arabophobia and Islamophobia of the time, a phenomenon that Hawke cannot evade responsibility for unleashing, and one that continues to haunt us today with a vengeance:

"For Arabs born and brought up in Australia the experience of the Gulf War was shattering: 'I'd never thought of myself as anything but Australian', said Mary Rebehy, 'and suddenly I realised that some people had never accepted us as Australians at all'. Similarly, John Brennan of the Ethnic Affairs Commission told an audience at the University of Sydney of his shock at having to confront in Australia the 'reservoir of pathological loathing' towards both Arabs and Muslims. A writer to the Age expostulated: 'Australians be damned! They are an alien fifth column and should be interned'. Arab children were abused from passing cars as they walked to school and intimidated by fellow-students while at school, sometimes without teachers intervening. Muslim Arab women were spat at, abused, and had their headscarfs ripped off their heads... Islamic institutions such as the mosque and Islamic Centre at Lakemba in Sydney; the mosques at Preston and Coburg in Victoria; and a Muslim primary school in Perth were all subject to abusive calls, bomb threats and break-ins as were the premises of Arab organisations such as the Lebanese Women's Association and the Australian Arabic Welfare Council, both in Sydney. Many Muslim Australian women became afraid to leave home, even to go shopping." (p 65)

"A particular source of contention arose from the belief that ASIO (the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization) had carried out surveillance, and possibly even harassment of members of the Arab community. An article in the Bulletin in January 1991 claimed that ASIO had mounted 'an operation which has seen the surveillance of scores of Moslems living here, phone tapping, [and] a recommendation to intern certain people'. ASIO was reported to have claimed that 'NSW could be a target of Arab terrorist attacks or sabotage', and that six terrorist plots had been foiled in Australia during the Gulf War. Such reports encouraged the tendency to equate 'terrorist' with 'Arab'. Since no Australian of Arab origin has ever been charged with any crime involving political violence, the reports added to the Arabs' sense of being victimized. Responding to a claim that Muslims were behind attacks on Jewish institutions, the President of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board made it clear that 'there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that any Muslim community is behind these attacks'. A large number of individuals in the Arab community, mostly political activists, reported that they had been visited by security personnel and questioned, although there was no suggestion of any physical harassment taking place. Some, however, alleged other forms of harassment and surreptitious surveillance. Whether true or not, those who believed such actions were taking place felt intimidated." (p 73)

"The widespread stereotyping of Arabs left a legacy of vulnerability and alienation. The experience of an unprecedented level of hostility has traumatized many Arabs in Australia, leading some to question the the Australian model of multiculturalism. In the words of Hassan Moussa, a prominent member of the community: 'The war has had a terrible effect on the community's sense of identity. Even today a lot of people are reluctant to say they are of Arab origin. It is very possible that the community may have become isolated and marginalized as a result of this crisis'. Ramsey Jebeile of the Australian Arabic Welfare Council has noticed that, after the Gulf War, Arab schoolchildren and their parents were showing an increased alienation, and a willingness to attribute any unwelcome developments at school to racist discrimination. Even more disturbing is the potentially self-fulfilling sense of hopelessness among school leavers about discrimination ruining their job prospects." (p 79)

To be continued...

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Hyping of Hawke 2

Here's Paul Kelly's version of the late former PM Hawke's contribution to the Gulf War (August 1990 - February 1991), otherwise known as Operation Desert Shield:

"In early 1991 after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and his defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Hawke authorised Australia's most important military commitment since Vietnam. For Hawke, the argument was irrefutable - it was a repelling [of] aggression, it involved support for the alliance since US President George H W Bush was spearheading the action; but, more decisively, it meant support for the UN authorised position. In November 1990 the Security Council passed its 'war resolution' approving 'all necessary means' to reverse the invasion. Australia's contribution was a modest three ships. Hawke had considered five but, worried about casualties, opted for caution. For the Labor Party and the Left - still shaped by the Vietnam experience - this was a turning point. Many feared a disaster but the war was short and successful. While Australia's contribution was small, the significance of the decision was great - the nation had moved beyond the psychology of Vietnam." (Lover, fighter & peacemaker, The Australian, 17/5/19)

Needless to say, Kelly's is a caricature of the reality, designed solely to burnish the image of St Bob. The following data has been culled from The Case Against Australian Participation by Janet Powell & Richard Bolt, in Australia's Gulf War (1992). (Powell was the parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats, 1990-91.) I set it out here by way of rebutting each of Kelly's propaganda points in the order in which they are raised:

Saddam's alleged "defiance of UNSC resolutions":

"In fact Iraq had in several statements demonstrated sufficient realism to comprehend that it would have to withdraw for the crisis to end. Its recent history shows reversals of apparently intractable positions as the pressure of circumstances demanded; for example, in handing back territory won from Iran during their recent war... This was clear from a leaked UN transcript of Secretary-General [Peres] de Cuellar's 13 January meeting with President Saddam Hussein, in a last minute bid to avert war. Despite public claims that the Iraqi leader had refused to even discuss withdrawing the transcript reveals that President Hussein 'produced a map of Kuwait and asked... 'Where should Iraq withdraw to?' But he also said that open discussion of withdrawal 'as war was looming' would be damaging to him. Contrary to the rhetoric of war advocates, a negotiated settlement backed by sanctions would not have required that Iraq be appeased with unprincipled enticements to withdraw. Assurances could have been given that withdrawal, payment of compensation, and the dismantling of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would be followed by increased efforts to convene a Middle East peace conference, and agreement that the World Court should adjudicate on Iraq's claims over the disputed Rumaila oilfield on its border with Kuwait... Such assurances were ruled out simply to reduce the prospects of success in the contrived eleventh hour-hour negotiations initiated by the United States." (p 32-3)

"It was a repelling of aggression":

"The Australian Government justified its commitment of naval forces as a contribution to the enforcement of sanctions, which it claimed could not be effective without policing. However, other successful sanctions regimes, such as that against South Africa, were not enforced. And the multi-national naval task force in the Gulf was far larger than needed for enforcement... In fact, the predominantly US naval force was structured from the outset to give the Bush Administration the option of launching war against Iraq. It was based on Operation Plan 90-1002', an existing contingency plan for an oil war in the Middle East... Sanctions enforcement was thus a convenient pretext for deploying warships in anticipation of war." (pp 29-30)

"It meant support for the UN authorised position":

"The US-led blockade usurped the Security Council, which has the power to authorize a blockade where sanctions 'have proved to be inadequate'. The UN Charter requires that the military forces contributed to a blockade by member countries be subject to the 'strategic direction' of the Council's Military Staff Committee. Because sanctions had not proved to be inadequate, with diplomatic pressure serving an effective means of sanctions enforcement, and to avoid the shackles of the Military Staff Committee's control, the Bush Administration bypassed the United Nations by citing Section 51 of the UN Charter, which upholds nations' right of collective self-defence. President Bush obtained an invitation from the Emir of Kuwait to impose a blockade in defence of his country. Prime Minister Hawke fully supported the United States by announcing on 10 August that Australia's deployment of two warships and a supply vessel was primarily to 'enforce the blockade on Iraq and Kuwait'. But no request for Australian help had been received from the Emir of Kuwait (it arrived some time later) and no blockade had been approved by the Security Council. This was such a blatant breach of the UN Charter that it was later disowned by Senator [Gareth] Evans. After weeks of wrangling, the Security Council finally gave its retrospective blessing for the sanctions to be enforced by those countries that were already doing so. However, its Military Staff Committee was not placed in overall command; this was a US, not a UN blockade." (p 30)

"The advocates of war cited Security Council Resolution 678 as evidence that this was a UN war, consistent with its Charter's provisions for military action. But 678 was worded to leave all decisions on the war... to the US. The Security council had simply rubber-stamped a decision of the Bush Administration. As UN Secretary-General Peres de Cuellar said as his alarm at the loss of life grew, 'This is not a United Nations war'." (pp 36-37)

"The war was short and successful":

"The pre-war suffering of Iraqi civilians was magnified economically by the war, as the [US-led] coalition systematically bombed Iraq's civil infrastructure: power stations, water purification plants, communications facilities, roads and bridges. Thousands died from the direct effect of the blasts - homes, hospitals, markets, mosques... were incidentally destroyed - and many more from the resultant collapse of health and transport services, the loss of clean water, and food shortages. The most authoritative estimate so far is that 9,000 to 21,000 Iraqi civilians died from the effects of the war. The resultant civil uprising crushed by the Iraqi leadership left 20,000 Iraqis dead, with another 15,000 to 30,000 refugees dying on the road or in camps. The war 'resulted in the largest movement of people in the shortest amount of time in any modern war', as millions fled their homes. The civilian death toll is mounting as normally treatable diseases - diarrhoea (causing infant death from dehydration), typhoid, gastroenteritis, hepatitis, meningitis, polio and cholera - sweep the country. A Harvard University team estimates that 170,000 Iraqi children will die from the after-effects of the war.... Finally, the slaughter of Iraq's armed forces raises serious humanitarian questions. Some 100,000 to 120,000 perished with half dying in the last few days, many while retreating to Iraq. They were mostly a dictator's conscripts who faced execution for deserting, and whose lives could have been spared by reliance on sanctions." (pp 34-36)

Then there's this uncritical, almost casual assertion of Kelly's that deserves attention: "The nation had moved beyond the psychology of Vietnam." The nation had moved, or Hawke had moved? Was this necessarily a good, or a bad thing? Should not the lessons to e learnt from of our uncritical and overzealous involvement in Vietnam have been uppermost in the mind of any prime minister worth his salt, let alone in that of a Labor prime minister? All of these matters are, of course, bypassed in Kelly's hagiographical account. More broadly, could it not be said of Hawke that, by involving Australia in America's first assault on Iraq, he helped pave the way for Liberal prime minister John Howard to involve Australia in America's war on Iraq in 2003?

Finally, just to highlight Hawke's (and Bush senior's) hypocrisy on this matter, consider these pertinent words of Powell's:

"This was not a war which saw the United Nations at last fulfill its Charter, free of Cold War shackles, but one in which the United Nations was hijacked by the United States in pursuit of largely national interests and in violation of the spirit of the UN Charter. Contrary to Mr Hawke's claim, this was not a war which carried a message that big nations cannot invade small ones and get away with it. Syria is still in Lebanon, Israel is tightening its grip over the Occupied Territories, the United States has not renounced its unlawful invasion of Panama, Indonesia's annexation of East Timor remains appeased by the United States and Australia, Turkey still occupies Cyprus, China is in Tibet, and so on. None of these countries are under threat of sanctions, let alone war, despite numerous UN resolutions which have not been complied with. The Gulf War was an oil-based exception to this pattern of appeasement." (p 38)

To be continued...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Hyping of Hawke

Just prior to election day, former ACTU boss and Labor prime minister Bob Hawke (1929-2019) passed away. The msm, including,  the Murdoch press, rang with his praise, as in the passing of a saint.

Bill Shorten, for example, emailed as follows:

"An Australian at home in Asia, a voice heard and respected in the councils of the world. A country that steps up and plays its part, keeping peace in the Middle East, keeping Antarctica safe for science... As president of the ACTU, Bob was the champion of unpopular causes: *The right of unions to organise and bargain * Opposing French nuclear testing in the Pacific * Opposing the war in Vietnam * Opposing Apartheid and defending Nelson Mandela, when conservatives were branding him a terrorist." (From Bill Shorten's email Remembering Bob Hawke, 17/5/19)

Murdoch's Australian had this to say:

"He was magnificent on Israel. On apartheid. On Antarctica. On French nuclear testing. in the Pacific." (From larrikin to legend, Caroline Overington, 17/5/19)

And, in a feature article by its editor at large, Paul Kelly, this:

"Tensions [between the Whitlam government and the ACTU] were exacerbated by a new development in Hawke's life - his passionate embrace of the cause of Israel. He formed close bonds with many Jewish leaders and campaigned fiercely for the Soviet Union to allow the immigration of Jews to Israel, to end a situation he saw as a grave injustice." (Lover, fighter & peacemaker, 17/5/19)

It's those references to Israel that belie all the warm and fuzzy pre-election media effusions about St Bob, and, whatever his other accomplishments, reveal a dark side wholly forgotten, it seems by a historically illiterate mainstream and social media. We need to go back then to the 70s to see what I mean, and, in particular, the following shocker:

"Relations between Hawke and the Arab community had often been strained. Since Hawke's first visit to Israel in 1971, he had made his pro-Israeli sympathies very public. 'The problem', wrote Blanche d'Alpuget, Hawke's biographer, 'is that in his speeches on the Middle East, Hawke has devoted only a small percentage, if any... to the plight of the Palestinians, while highlighting the violent physical and verbal assaults upon Israel by her neighbours. He thus projected the impression that, for him, the Palestinians were irrelevant'. reports such as the one in the Daily Telegraph in 1974 that 'I'd A-Bomb Arabs, says Hawke' did not endear him to the community. His personal identification with Israel was so strong that he had once declared: 'If I were to have my life again, I would want to be born a Jew', and 'I'm an Israeli'." (Christine Asmar, The Arab-Australian Experience, in Australia's Gulf War, Edited by Murray Goot & Rodney Tiffen, 1992, p 72)

There's no getting around this indecent colonial obsession of Hawke's, and what it led to in the 80s and early 90s, a subject I'll return to in my next post.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Operation Breaking 'Breaking the Silence'

The Israeli organisation Breaking the Silence, an organisation of Israeli veterans working to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, which collects and publishes the testimonies of Israeli soldiers on the reign of terror inflicted by the IDF on occupied Palestinians, has done sterling work in exposing the brutal reality of Israeli military rule in the West Bank and Gaza.

Here, for example, are but three BTS testimonies among many from Israel's 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, reproduced by Norman Finkelstein in his breathtaking 2018 book Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom (pp 258-60):

[What were you shooting at?]
At houses.
[Randomly chosen houses?]
[How much fire were you using?]
There was constant talk about how much we fired, how much we hit, who missed. There were people who fired 20 shells per day. it's simple. Whoever feels like shooting more - shoots more. Most guys shot more. Dozens of shells [per day], throughout the operation. Multiply that by 11 tanks in the company.


I don't know how they pulled it off, the D9 operators didn't rest for a second. Nonstop, as if they were playing in a sandbox. Driving back and forth, back and forth, razing another house, another street. And at some point there was no trace left of that street... Day and night, 24/7, they went back and forth, gathering up mounds, making embankments, flattening house after house.


There was one afternoon that the company commander gathered us all together, and we were told that we were about to go on an offensive operation, to 'provoke' the neighborhood that dominated us, which was al-Bureij... Because up until then, we hadn't really had any engagement with them... [W]hen it started getting dark my tank led the way, we were in a sort of convoy, and there was this little house. And then suddenly we see an entire neighborhood opening up before us, lots of houses, it's all crowded and the moment we got to that little house, the order came to attack. Each [tank] aimed at whichever direction it chose... And that's how it was really - every tank just firing wherever it wanted to. And during the offensive, no one shot at us - not before it, not during it, not after it. I remember that when we started withdrawing with the tanks, I looked toward the neighborhood, and I could simply see an entire neighborhood up in flames, like in the movies. Columns of smoke everywhere, the neighborhood in pieces, houses on the ground, and like, people were living there, but nobody had fired at us yet. We were firing purposelessly.

However, as Finkelstein warns:

"Once Israel successfully browbeat the international human rights community into submission, the only remaining chink in its armor was domestic human rights organizations. Of these, Breaking the Silence most aroused Israel's wrath. The soldier eyewitness testimonies it had compiled after each of Israel's massacres in Gaza were us unimpeachable as they were devastating. Israel consequently set out in a very public way to destroy Breaking the Silence... Should it neutralize breaking the Silence, Israel will have cleared the last obstacle in its path to committing future massacres in Gaza. Henceforth, no one will be around to compellingly document its crimes for a Western audience. However reputable and reliable Palestinian human rights organizations might be, unfortunately and unfairly, they lack credibility among the broad public in the West. In the 'operations' to come, Israel will be able to carry on as it pleases, emboldened in the knowledge that it can do so with guaranteed impunity. It's a new sequence of catastrophes waiting to happen." (p 288)

Could this be Operation Breaking Breaking the Silence's opening salvo?

"A group of active reserve duty IDF soldiers are flying to the UK this summer to share their testimony in parliament with MPs. This event, hosted by the [former Labour] MP [turned independent in February] Ian Austin in the Palace of Westminster on June 11, is part of a campaign on the dilemmas faced by Israeli soldiers on the ground. Organised by the Israel Britain Alliance and the organisation 'My Truth', the event will include opportunities for parliamentarians to put questions to soldiers." (IDF reserve soldiers hosted by MP Ian Austin in parliament to share testimony, Mathilde Frot,, 16/5/19)

Friday, May 17, 2019

It's Time

Scott Morrison: "Australians can be absolutely assured I will burn for you every day." (Not time to risk Labor: Morrison, Joe Kelly, The Australian, 17/5/19)

Australians: Sorry, Scott, not necessary, just tomorrow, OK? But, hey, don't forget to crash first.

Shorten: 'We Can't Waste Talent'

Good grief!

First this:

"Those close to Shorten and Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong say things are shaping up well for former foreign minister Julie Bishop - should she want a job... Wong has already described Bishop as 'a very effective diplomat'... Another name in the race, even if by his own suggestion: former communications minister turned gambling lobbyist Stephen Conroy." (Chatter reaches fever pitch on plum overseas postings, CBD, Kylar Loussikian/Samantha Hutchinson, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/5/19)

Then this:

"Labor leader Bill Shorten has left the door open to offering former foreign minister Julie Bishop a job if Labor wins government. In a pitch to West Australian voters at a business breakfast yesterday, Mr Shorten praised the high-profile Perth Liberal, saying he thought of her 'very highly'. Asked if she would be offered the position of ambassador to the United States when it becomes vacant next year, Mr Shorten first acknowledged Ms Bishop had said she wants to work in the private sector. He then added: 'I'll certainly be talking to her. I know that her and Penny [Wong] have a very good working relationship... I will always rate her highly. I'm not going to put a name against a label because we haven't even won. But I'm saying to you unreservedly here, I've got a lot of respect for her. Chloe and I know her well. She's a good person... we can't waste talent'." (Shorten considers Bishop for US ambassador role, Judith Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/5/19)

Bishop? Conroy? Any more spent LibLabs out there, desperately seeking relevance under a possible Shorten regime? I shudder to think.

Bishop first. Her reported comment of January 2014, in Israel, questioning the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, namely, "I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal," should rule her out, both on the grounds of ignorance of international law and common knowledge, not to mention elementary decency. She it was, too, who withdrew Australian funding from the Palestinian Authority on the grounds that it could be given to "Palestinian criminals" in July last year. As the head Labor Zionist, Shorten's words are predictable, but what does Bishop and Wong's alleged "very good personal relationship" tell us about the latter?

Conroy? Good God! Assessed by the astute Bob Carr as having "an umbilical attachment to Israel," Conroy, alone in the Labor Party in 2003, endorsed the Bush/Blair/Howard war of regime change in Iraq.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Dave Sharma: Lolly for the Lobby

What a surprise:

"Minister Paul Fletcher and Liberal candidate for Wentworth Dave Sharma have announced funds of over $210,000 to The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies... Fletcher said 'This funding will benefit a diverse range of members of the Wentworth community including boosting critical support services and providing opportunities for enriching social interaction and activity.' The NSW JBOD is part of a total amount of $450,000 to benefit Wentworth.

*$112,500... for its We Are All Sydney: Community Leadership Program
*$99,225... for its Respect, Understanding, Acceptance Program

"The NSWJBD President Lesli Berger said: 'The funds will enable us to take both of these programs to new heights. Given the ever-increasing importance of engaging with other communities and faith groups, we commend and thank the federal government and Dave Sharma for recognising this vital need and making funds available for these programs'." (Funding boost for The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies,, 15/5/19)

Now if you want to go beyond the spin and see just what kind of sweetness and light the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has been dispensing in NSW over the years, here are just 3 of my posts on the subject:

Building Bridges... to Israel (14/12/13)
Israel 101 for Cops (28/10/11)
Coming to a School Near You (23/8/10)

Just click on the 'Board of Deputies' label below and scroll down.

The NeverEnding Nakba

"Israeli soldiers have shot 16 people at the Gaza frontier on a day of rallies commemorating the mass displacement of Palestinians during the war that led to Israel's creation in 1948. Each year... on 15 May, Palestinians mark the nakba, or catastrophe..." (Israeli forces shoot 16 Palestinian protesters at Gaza frontier, Oliver Holmes/ Hazem Balousha,, 16/5/19)

Quite how the above squares with this later paragraph is anyone's guess:

"Gaza's health ministry said a total of 65 people were wounded by live fire, shrapnel, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. It said the 65 included 22 children and three paramedics." (ibid)

Certainly Israel's Haaretz made no bones about it. Here's their lead paragraph:

"Sixty five Gazans were injured Wednesday as Israeli security forces used live fire, tear gas and skunk spray against 10,000 protesters commemorating Nakba Day along the Gaza border, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported." (10,000 Gazans march on Nakba Day, 65 injured in clashes with Israeli forces, Yaniv Kubovich & Jack Khoury, 15/5/19)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Benny Morris, Again

Today is Nakba Day. So I thought I'd reflect on the latest emission by Israeli 'historian' Benny Morris, author of the 1988 book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, written at a time when he could have passed muster as an historian, albeit relying exclusively on Israeli archival material for his tome. Whatever Morris' worth as a historian back then, he has unfortunately undergone a precipitous decline to the point where, today, he is little more than a peddler of pro-Zionist hasbara. Indeed, one could say that the scholarly worth of an historian of the Palestine problem is in inverse proportion to his Zionism, and that there is no better example of the applicability of this axiom than Benny Morris.

What follows is his attack in the current issue of The Atlantic on the views of Palestinian-American legislator, Rashida Tlaib. I have reproduced here only the historical component of Morris' hatchet job on Tlaib, and interpolated my own comments in his text (in italics in square brackets), as well as the wonderfully acid, tweeted commentary of Asad Abukhalil (aka The Angry Arab) (in bold in square brackets) on same. Morris' distortions of the Palestinian past are enough to discredit what he has to say on the more recent history of the Palestine problem:

"On Friday, Representative Rashida Tlaib was attacked by President Donald Trump for a 'horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust' and for having 'tremendous hatred of... the Jewish people.' Trump's off-base attack distracted from the actual problems with Tlaib's account of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which she deployed deliberately imprecise language, misleading her listeners about the early history of the conflict in Palestine and misrepresenting its present and future.

"Tlaib told the hosts of the Yahoo News podcast Skullduggery that when she remembers the Holocaust, it has a 'calming' effect on her to think that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land, and some their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity; their existence in some ways had been wiped out... all of it in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post the Holocaust, post the tragedy and terrific persecution of Jews across the world [sic] at that time.' She was, she said, 'humbled by the fact that it was [my Palestinian] ancestors that had to suffer for that to happen.'

"But the historical reality was quite different from what Tlaib described: The Palestinians indirectly, and in some ways directly, aided in the destruction of European Jewry.

"After Hitler's accession to power in Germany in 1933, German and then European Jews sought escape and safe havens. But all the Western countries, including the United States and Britain and its dominions, closed their doors to significant Jewish immigration. [In large part because the Zionist movement wanted them only in Palestine.] Palestine emerged as the only potential safe haven. In 1932, the British allowed 9,500 Jews to immigrate to Palestine. In 1933, the number shot up to 30,000, and in 1935, it peaked at 62,000.

"But from 1933 onward, Palestine's Arabs - led by the cleric Muhammad Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem - mounted a strident campaign to pressure the British, who governed Palestine, to bar all Jews from entering the country. [You are telling me that the Palestinians were opposed to the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews who wanted to create a Jewish state on Palestinian lands and who wanted to displace the natives? And they were opposed to that? That is certainly anti-Semitic. If the Palestinians wanted to prove they were not anti-Semitic they should have given up their homeland, and told the Jewish immigrants to take it over, and they should even have welcomed the bullets and bombs directed against them. Anything less would indeed be anti-Semitic. Just think of it this way, if millions of Muslims wanted to come to America against the wishes of the American population and create a Muslim state over all the US, and if the Americans were to oppose their plan, would that not be outright anti-Islam bigotry? Think about it. Benny Morris may have a point here. Not only that, as Morris tells us, those impudent Palestinians revolted against those who occupied their homeland.] To press home their demand, in 1936 they launched an anti-British and anti-Zionist rebellion that lasted three years. [How dare they!] Apart from throwing out the British, the rebellion's aim was to coerce London into halting all Jewish entry into Palestine.

"Moreover, the anti-Jewish violence [Well, the Zionists were indeed Jewish and they wanted to create a state atop Palestine. So Palestinians should have fought Buddhists and Hindus just to prove they were not anti-Semitic?], which claimed the lives of hundreds of Jews and wounded many more, itself served to deter would-be emigrants from seeking to move to Palestine. [And Palestinians should have been mindful of this and abandoned their opposition to mass immigration? Seriously?] British entry certificates for Jews to Palestine declined to 30,000 in 1936, 10,000 in 1937, and 15,000 in 1938. Those who couldn't get in were left stranded in Germany, Poland, Hungary, and elsewhere. Almost all died in the Holocaust, which the Germans unleashed in 1941.

"But the Palestinians' contribution to the Holocaust was also more direct. Husseini, having fled Palestine during the revolt, helped pro-Nazi [but only because they were against the British occupation of their homeland] generals launch an anti-British rebellion in Iraq in 1941 (which itself engendered a large-scale pogrom against Baghdad's Jews, the Farhoud). [As Orit Bashkin, a genuine historian, cautions in her nuanced account of the Farhud ('New Babylonians: A History of Jews in Modern Iraq' (2012)) "a distinction should be made between an analysis of the Farhud and the Farhudization of Jewish Iraqi history - viewing the Farhud as typifying the overall history of the relationship between Jews and greater Iraqi society." As a Zionist, of course, Morris indulges simplistically in the latter. As Bashkin points out: "The Jewish community strived for integration in Iraq before and after the Farhud. In fact, the attachment of the community to Iraq was so tenacious that even after such a horrible event, most Jews continued to believe that Iraq was their homeland. The vision was shattered only by the realities created following the 1948 war in Palestine." (pp 138-39) That Zionism was the undoing of Iraq's Jews (among other Jewish communities in the Arab world) is made abundantly clear by Bashkin: "Equating Judaism and Zionism imperiled Jewish communities in Arab countries. Rather than thinking about the ways in which Arab regimes served colonialism, Arabs began worrying about whether the Jews living among them were serving the interests of Zionism. In this sense British colonialism created a Jewish problem in countries where there had not been one before. There were no conflicts between Arabs and Jews in countries where there had not been one before. There were no conflicts between Arabs and Jews in Ottoman Palestine prior to the arrival of British colonialism and Zionism." (p 160)]

"When that rebellion failed, he fled to Berlin, where he was given a villa and a generous monthly salary, and lived in comfort until the end of the world war. During the war, he helped recruit Muslims from the Balkans for the German army and the SS, and in radio broadcasts exhorted Middle Eastern and North African Arabs to launch jihad against the British and 'kill the Jews.' (The texts of Husseini's broadcasts appear in the historian Jeffrey Herf's book The Jewish Enemy.) [Herf btw, although a Zionist historian, is at pains in a 2014 essay, 'Haj Amin, al-Husseini, the Nazis & the Holocaust', to point out that Husseini "did not have an impact on Hitler's decision to murder the Jews of Europe." He also makes no distinction in his essay between Judaism, the faith and Zionism, the political ideology, yet hypocritically critiques Husseini, a Muslim cleric, for failing to make the same distinction. Incredibly, Herf also writes thus of the Nakba: "While acknowledging pressure from other groups that made war in 1948 seem inevitable, the war of 1948 and the Arab-Israeli conflict may not have taken place without al-Husseini... " IOW, Ben-Gurion's Zionists would have taken their cue from a Jewish state-accepting/collaborating Husseini, and Zionists and Palestinians would have lived happily ever after together in the same land. Some fairy tale that!]

"Subsequently, Hussein fled Germany and, with the Allies reluctant to trigger Arab anger by trying him for collaboration [seeing the British were responsible for driving Husseini into Hitler's arms in the first place], settled down in Cairo. In 1947, he rejected the UN partition plan to settle the Palestine conflict and helped launch the first Palestinian and pan-Arab war against the Zionist enterprise. He spent his last years in Lebanon, embittered by the loss of Palestine and the pan-Arab failure to effectively support the Palestinians, and published a series of anti-Semitic articles before his death in 1974.

"The most prominent Palestinian American intellectual, Edward Said, toward the end of his life enjoined the Palestinians to study the Holocaust and empathize with what had happened to the Jews, if only to properly understand the deep-seated fears and aspirations of the Israelis. It would seem that Tlaib has forsworn such an effort. [I have no idea here just what Morris is referring to here when he paraphrases Edward Said - propagandists generally don't do footnotes - but let me conclude this post with the following eminently commonsense reflection of Said's on the Holocaust and the fate of the Palestinians, written in 2002 during Israel's cruel West Bank rampage, Operation Defensive Shield: "Every human calamity is different, so there is no point in trying to look for equivalence between one and the other. But it is certainly true that one universal truth about the Holocaust is not only that it should never again happen to Jews, but that as a cruel and collective punishment, it should not happen to any people at all. But if there is no point in looking for equivalence, there is a value in seeing analogies and perhaps hidden similarities, even as we preserve a sense of proportion. Quite apart from his actual history of mistakes, Yasir Arafat is now being made to feel like a hunted Jew by the state of the Jews. There is no gainsaying the fact that the greatest irony of his siege by the Israeli army in his ruined Ramallah compound is that his ordeal has been planned and carried out by a psychopathic leader (Ariel Sharon) who claims to represent the Jewish people. I do not want to press the analogy too far, but it is true to say that Palestinians under Israeli occupation today are as powerless as Jews were in the 1940s. Israel's army, airforce, and navy, heavily subsidized by the United States, have been wreaking havoc on the totally defenseless civilian population of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. For the past half century the Palestinians have been a dispossessed people, millions of them refugees, most of the rest under a 35-year-old military occupation, at the mercy of armed settlers who systematically have been stealing their land and an army that has killed them by the thousands. Thousands more have been imprisoned, thousands have lost their livelihoods, made refugees for the second or third time, all of them without civil or human rights." (From the essay Low point of powerlessness in Said's 2004 book From Oslo to Iraq and the Roadmap,  pp 206-07)]

Wankers Like These

What ever did the Palestinians do to deserve the attention of wankers like these?

"Nothing titillates the Icelandic bondage and dominance-themed band Hatari more than a glaring contradiction... They have slammed Eurovision in Israel... as being 'built on a lie', calling it propaganda and a whitewash, yet they have agreed to represent their country in Tel Aviv this week, expressing genuine love for the competition's message of unity and diversity... With their deadpan humour, Hatari challenged the country's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, to a traditional Icelandic trouser-grip wrestling match the day after the Eurovision finale, to be adjudicated by a 'neutral UN-sponsored referee'... 'Eurovision is, of course, a beautiful thing... based on ideas of peace and unity and this year it's held in a country that's marred by conflict,' says Tryggvi Haraldsson. 'Letting the narrative of the fluffy, peace-loving pop contest go on unchallenged in this context in our view is extremely political... To push back, Hatari's first port of call after landing was to drive to the largest city in the occupied West Bank. More than 200,000 Palestinians live in Hebron, but the presence of ultranationalist Israeli settlers around the main souk has in effect shut down local life in its centre as army checkpoints cut off the area. 'It's so absurd to be in this contest... and everyone is super polite; it's all about the music and everybody loves each other,' says Tryggvi Haraldsson at his hotel in Tel Aviv. 'And to be in that bubble a day after witnessing apartheid in action just an hour's drive away is the contradiction that we want to be aware of.'... Tryggvi Haraldsson says he supports any non-violent movement that campaigns for Palestinian rights, including BDS,'even though, obviously, and paradoxically, our approach is very different'." ('Hate will prevail' Icelandic BDSM band put Eurovision and Israel in a bind, Oliver Holmes,, 13/5/19)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The $3.5m Question


"It has been dubbed Scott Morrison's secret $500,000 fundraising coup - and it happened at billionaire Anthony Pratt's mansion [Raheen in March]... Here's what we missed. [Liberal federal president Nick Greiner made sure to invite Charles Goode, he of the impressive Melbourne Rolodex and also the chair of the Cormack Foundation, the much debated $75 million Liberal-aligned donor. And Greiner - the clever man - made sure Goode was seated next to the Prime Minister. Scomo sure didn't waste the opportunity. We are informed by senior Liberal sources that before the Raheen dinner, the Cormack Foundation - whose board also includes former PM John Howard and fellow grandee Richard Alston - had agreed to donate $3m to the federal party's campaign fund. After Morrison's dinner chat with Goode that amount was increased by $500,000 to a record $3.5m..." (ScoMo's $500,000 booster, Margin Call, Will Glasgow & Christine Lacy, The Australian, 9/5/19)

Remember how, despite former PM Malcolm Turnbull's extensive services to Netanyahu, he had to pay $1.75m of his own money to pay for his 2016 election campaign? (If not, see my 6/3/18 post Poor Old Malcolm.)

Well, what to make of the above? Seems like Anthony Pratt's Raheen was no more than a venue for this fundraiser, and Howard and Alston, like Turnbull before them, are having to dip into their own pockets to fund Morrison's election campaign.

Which has me puzzled: if the Zionist money of yore is no longer forthcoming, then why are these Liberal Party clowns still bending over backwards, foreign policy-wise, for Israel?

Dave Sharma Watch 2

Poor old Dave Sharma's reportedly under email attack from some nutter claiming "he was facing a year in jail for not disclosing that his father was from Trinidad and Tobago," and "would end a global conspiracy to cover up molestation by the church and establishment." (Better call in Mossad, The Sauce, Sunday Telegraph, 12/5/19)

OMG, what to do? Well, Dave being Dave and all, it's obvious who he's gonna call, innit?

"... Dave Sharma enlisted ex-Mossad cyber-security specialist Adi Ashkenazy." (ibid)

There you go!

And Dave is pointing the finger at - wait for it - "foreign influence." (ibid)

Now that's chutzpah for you!

Still, despite his woes, Dave, who reportedly "persuaded" PM Morrison to relocate Australia's embassy to Jerusalem during last October's Wentworth by-election, should surely derive some comfort from such 'good' news as this:

"Israeli occupation forces have sharply escalated their demolitions of Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem. As a result more Palestinians have been made homeless this year than in all of 2018." (Israeli home demolitions skyrocket in Jerusalem, Tamara Nassar,, 11/5/19)

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it's business as usual for the valiant Israeli Defense Forces:

"Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian on Friday during weekly protests along the border with Israel, Gaza health officials say. In addition to the 24-year-old male fatality, 30 other people were wounded by live gunfire during the protest, in which thousands participated they said." (Israeli troops kill Palestinian at Gaza border protest - medics, Nidal Almughrabi, editing Catherine Evans,

Monday, May 13, 2019

Israel's Real Eurovision Entry

KAN (Israeli Public Broadcasting) Eurovision Israel has produced a fun(ny) haha video, promoting the coming Eurovision Song Contest, to be staged in Tel Aviv this coming weekend. Called This is the land of honey, honey! it bombs (ahem) spectacularly.

"Let Lucy and Elia take you in [sic] a musical journey throughout the most important parts of Israel. We promise you won't forget it," runs the accompanying text. And it's true - This is the land of honey, honey! is not only unforgettable, but uniquely so. It is in fact so bad, so guache, and so tacky, that KAN was forced to issue a same day (10/5) disclaimer after the tweeted thumbs-down started pouring in: "Just to be clear: the musical was satire and was meant to deal with stereotypes about Jews in Israel. YES, also by self-deprecating humor like we love. We know our flaws and we're not ashamed to laugh at all of them."

KAN's disclaimer, however, fails to convince, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the Zionist project, from go to WOE, is, and has never been, a laughing matter, for Palestinians obviously, but also for all sentient Jews and non-Jews not reeling under the influence of ziocaine. Israel's once vaunted propaganda machine, like its military performance since its whipping by Hezbollah in 2006, has seen one spectacular fail after another. This is the land of honey, honey! is just the latest debacle.

To see why, I've transcribed the whole production, adding stage directions in brackets. Keep in mind that Elia's tall, attractive companion, Lucy, is purported to be an Arab Israeli, and note that when she admits this, in contrast with words such as 'Jews' and 'Israel', the word 'Arab' is written in the relevant subtitle in the lower case throughout (arab). You'll note too the capitalised words. Buckets ready?


(Clueless young Western couple arrive at Tel Aviv airport for Eurovision. Young women hold signs: Mr Grinfeld, Miss Ayoub. Cut to short, pudgy young man (Elia) holding sign, which reads):

Dare to Dream
Euro(heart circling Star of David)ision
Song Contest
Tel Aviv 2019

Elia (confronts clueless Westerners, singing): Stop, don't say a word. I know just what you heard, that it's a land of war and occupation...
Lucy: But we have so much more than that, you'll see the prices and say, 'what?' we like to call ourselves the startup nation.
Lucy (handing clueless couple mobile phone with image of Elia and herself on it): We're here to be your guide, a small country with big pride
Elia: So please kapara join this quick indoctrination
Lucy (following clueless couple into lift): And there's a lot here to be seen, if you will it, it's no dream, please let us help you have a great vacation

(Clueless couple seated in an empty theatre look cluelessly at one another. Cut to airport terminal. Elia and Lucy pop up, chorusing):

This is the land of milk and honey, honey, we are the land of milk, the land is always sunny, sonny, we are as smooth as silk

Lucy: I'm Lucy, I'm arab, yes some of us live here
Elia: Elia, from Russia, we fled there out of fear
Lucy: In fact most of [sic] Israelis have complex identities, that is why we all look at each other here as frenemies
Elia: Most of us are Jews, but only some of us are greedy
Lucy (in subway with clueless new arrivals): And you might notice people here are very very needy (person stoops to offer coins)

(Cut to bus station)

Lucy: We're generous, we're kind (as some Israeli is shown helping a luggage-ladden visitor onto a bus), we'll always help a stranger

(Cut to interior of bus)

Elia (sitting with Lucy opposite clueless couple): The drivers are all mad, so cars can be a real danger
Lucy: This is the land of honey, honey, and living here is bleak (Cut to Elia lying tummy down on floor of bus) The land is always sunny, sonny

Elia & Lucy (arms around clueless couple): It's your love that we seek

(Cut to panoramic shot of Tel Aviv)

Elia (wearing an 'I love Iron Dome' t-shirt): Such a marvel, look at that, on open shop and it's Shabbat

(Cut to hugging gays)

Elia: Gays are hugging in the streets (Cut to vegan protester), protests against eating meat, it is easy to achieve only in [sic] here, Tel Aviv, only here, in Tel Aviv, It's too expensive but I won't leave, (sitting at cafe table, confiding) They joke that we all drink espresso, which is crazy because like... who doesn't like to drink espresso, it's like coffee, everybody drinks coffee
Lucy (emerging from cafe): Hallas, Elia

(Cut to Elia crossing bridge): Stroll the parks, walk on the bridges and enjoy our lovely bitches
Lucy: But wait! There's so much more to the country than Tel Aviv, tell them boys!

(Cut to Israeli guy in swimwear, singing): In Eilat there are the corals, and the good shawarma
(Cut to orthodox Jewish guy, singing): Haifa has Bahai Gardens, and a good shawarma, all the street food here is great
(Cut to male chorus & Elia): As a game we like to vote it, generally speaking I think you should try shawarma

(Cut to the Dead Sea)
Lucy: This is the lowest place on earth, the deadest of the seas, because of all the... (Elia, floating in the water, replies 'phosphate?') You'll float so be at ease, It's a sad, sad tragedy because of all the factories, in a number of some[sic] years the sea will disappear
(Cut to panoramic shot of East Jerusalem)
Elia & Lucy (popping up suddenly): And our beloved capital, golden Jerusalem, see the shuk, the old city, and (solemnly intoning) visit YAD VASHEM
(Cut to church)
Elia: Experience the holy sites, gods [sic] watching from above, yes, people here are crazy, and that is what we love
(Cut to airport flash dancers): This the land of honey, honey, we're waiting just for you, our land is sunny, sonny, can't wait for the Eurovision too

A Thing Easily Moved

What was it Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was caught on videotape saying back in 2001?: "I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction."

For example:

"Unusually specific intelligence reports about Iranian threats to US forces in the Middle East triggered a request by the military for additional assistance as a deterrent against possible aggression, Pentagon officials said yesterday. That threat prompted the Trump administration to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier and its strike group, along with several bombers, to bolster forces in the region." (Spies expose Iranian 'attack plot', The Wall Street Journal/AFP, The Australian, 8/5/19)

Cue Israel:

"News site Axios said [US National Security Adviser John] Bolton's warning came after Israel which has pushed to isolate Iran, passed on intelligence about a possible plot by Tehran 'against a US target in the Gulf or US allies like Saudi Arabia or the UAE'." (ibid)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Morrison's 'International Duties'

What ever could Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute, possibly mean by this nonsense?

"Scott Morrison has served as Prime Minister for nine months, carrying out his international duties with confidence." (A world of difference goes unnoticed, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/5/19)

This perhaps:

"Australia quietly opened a trade and defence office in West Jerusalem in March, with no official government announcement and no officials attending the meeting." (Australia opens trade and defence office in Israel, Louis Dillon,, 3/5/19)

What a mensch is Morrison, eh?

Offensive vs Defensive Wars...

... your msm guide:


"Syrian government and allied Russian warplanes have intensified a week-long bombardment of Syria's Idlib province, targeting hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure as tens of thousands of residents fled toward the border with Turkey, activists and monitors in the rebel-held region said. The serial campaign has killed about 100 civilians and put at least 10 hospitals out of service." (Air strikes shatter Idlib truce, Zakaria Zakaria, Washington Post/Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald, 8/5/19)

"Waves of Russian and regime jets and helicopters have poured missiles and barrel bombs onto the enclave in the past week, destroying hospitals and killing scores of civilians." (Civilians, hospitals target of new Assad blitz, Richard Spencer, The Times/The Australian, 8/5/19)

defensive war

"In the course of [Operation] Cast Lead [2008-09], Israel had damaged or destroyed 'everything in its way,' and not in its way, including 58,000 homes, 1,500 factories and workshops, 280 schools and kindergartens, electrical, water, and sewage installations, 190 greenhouse complexes, 80% of agricultural crops, and nearly one-fifth of cultivated land. Whole neighborhoods were laid waste. It also damaged and destroyed 29 ambulances, almost half of Gaza's 122 health facilities (including 15 hospitals), and 45 mosques. By the time it withdrew, the IDF had left behind fully 600,000 tons of rubble and 1,400 corpses, 350 of them children." (Gaza: An Inquest into It's Martyrdom, Norman Finkelstein, 2018, p 127)

Friday, May 10, 2019

'Guardians' of Israel

Most interesting:

"Anonymous far-right groups have launched co-ordinated activity across online platforms in a bid to influence the outcome of the federal election. A group of 'Australian' Facebook pages has been found to be part of a network of at least 15 accounts involved in co-ordinated dissemination of 'misinformation and misleading content', according to analysis by social media intelligence company Storyful... 'Five Facebook pages, sharing anti-Islam content while promoting 'traditional' Australian values, were found to be part of a network of Facebook pages discovered by Storyful that share fringe news content in a co-ordinated manner - links to articles are shared to the network of Facebook pages at the same time and using the same accompanying text. The articles often contain misleading or highly partisan information and many included bigoted or anti-Islam themes. The pages have regularly claimed politicians and the media have remained silent on violence committed by Muslims and frequently spruik One Nation or Fraser Anning.' Storyful, owned by News Corp, The Australian's parent company, said the pages included Guardians of Australia. No sharia law - never ever give up Australia, and Fair Suck Of The Sav, Mate."  (Far right unites to sway poll outcome, Mark Schliebs, The Australian, 7/5/19)

Now here's where the plot thickens:

"Of 17 administrators for the Guardians of Australia page, 12 are listed as being in Australia and 3 in Israel. Two accounts listed as belonging to people in India are administrators of the No sharia law - never give up Australia, along with 6 in Australia and 2 whose locations are unknown." (ibid)

If you track down their FB page, you'll see a lead photo, which reads, BANS BEGIN GOA WILL NOT TOLERATE ANTI-JEWISH SPEECH JUST AS WE WILL NOT TOLERATE HATE SPEECH AGAINST THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN ISLAM. Scroll down, and you'll come to a gormless Israeli yoof, name of Hananya Naftali, darkly intoning in a video that RADICAL ISLAM WANTS TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD, apparently by stealth, which boy wonder calls "the silent jihad."

Further down, you'll come to another Naftali video: THE ISRAEL-GAZA SITUATION, in which he informs us, in so many words, that while Hamas rains rockets on Israel, Israel responds against "terrorist targets in Gaza," while simultaneously "taking care of civilians" there by showering them with humanitarian aid, electricity and water.

It appears that what these self-proclaimed Guardians of Australia are really guarding is... Israel. What a surprise!

Now just in case your not averse to rolling in his muck, you might want to check out "IDF reservist" Hananya Naftali's tweets.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dave Sharma Watch

Y'all know former Australian ambassador to Israel (or is it the other way around?), and Wentworth wannabe, Dave Sharma by now, right?

How could you not?

*After all, government documents obtained by the ABC in February reveal that PM Morrison was persuaded by Sharma to move the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision that, coincidentally, was announced during last October's Wentworth by-election in the hope that Jewish voters there would rally to his cause.

*And who could forget Mrs Sharma's heartfelt sentiment that "we will be very, very proud ambassadors for Israel to the world"?

*Not to mention her husband's gushing declaration that "Israel will always be in our hearts, blood, souls, veins."

Memorable indeed!

Which brings us to the question, as the federal election nears, of what the man who has declared himself literally riddled with Israel has been up to. So, here's a round-up, incomplete no doubt, but so telling nonetheless of the stark Israelicentric realities of elite politics in this country:

"Independent MP Kerryn Phelps says 'dirty tricks' are behind the removal of hundreds of political posters promoting her campaign for the federal seat of Wentworth in Sydney's affluent eastern suburbs. Dr Phelps is fighting to retain the seat she won after a resounding 20% swing against [Liberal Party] candidate Dave Sharma in the October by-election. But on Friday night her posters were taken down in several locations along New South Head Road at Rose Bay, at Bondi and in Elizabeth Bay, Dr Phelps said... The Liberal Party's posters remained in place, Dr Phelps said, adding: 'So you can make your own conclusions about that.' But Liberal candidate Dave Sharma flatly denied having anything to do with it, saying his posters had suffered the same fate." (Kerryn Phelps alleges 'dirty tricks' behind removal of election campaign posters in Wentworth, Sue Daniel,, 14/4/19)

"Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel, told The Australian: 'I was very concerned to see that my opponent has been retweeting endorsements from a prominent supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, one who has called on Australians to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Israel this month.' However Phelps, who converted to Judaism when she married [Jackie] Stricker... in 2011, had already deleted her retweet after being alerted to the author @Saints_Dragons' anti-Israel history. There was no mention of BDS or Israel in the Tweet, an endorsement of her re-election campaign by @Saints_Dragons, which Phelps had initially retweeted. Phelps told The Australian this, confirmed she was a supporter of Israel and made it clear she did not condone BDS. The story, and Sharma's comments, were then binned. When asked about the story that never was, Phelps told PS: 'It was a shameful attempt by Dave Sharma to discredit me and destroy my reputation within the Jewish community'." (Stayin' alive in Wentworth amid smears as campaign goes nuclear, PS, The Sydney Morning Herald, 4/5/19)

"Not spotted, however, [at the Liberal Party'a election fundraising machine at Justin Hemmes' gothic Vaucluse pile The Hermitage] former Australian ambassador to Israel turned Liberal candidate in Wentworth... Dave Sharma. He wasn't at Bondi Pavilion's High Tide Room either, where there was a local meet the candidates event with his independent rival, Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps. But CBD did eventually locate him, at another swanky Wentworth home, this time in Double Bay, where he was attending a Liberal friends of Israel event." (Hemmes' lavish cocktail party for Libs, CBD, Kylar Loussikian, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/5/19)

"And while Hemmes, Morrison and a slew of his Cabinet including Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham sat down for a $13,750-a-head fundraising dinner on Monday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne slipped out of the side door. She was a key guest at the Liberal Friends of Israel dinner at another lavish home in Double Bay that evening, raising money for Wentworth candidate Dave Sharma. While our attempts at wrangling the name of the mystery host came to nought - we're told it was a secretive Israeli tech player - we can tell you the dinner also attracted Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton, Fletcher staffer Will Nemesh and carpet scion Yosi Tal. (Tal also happens to be the president of the Friends of Israel." (Cash collection, CBD, Kylar Loussikian/Samantha Hutchinson, Sydney Morning Herald, 8/5/19)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

More Zionist Hypnosis in Australian MS Press

Whether it's the Nine Entertainment Co press, or the Murdoch, both rags are adamant that Israel and Hamas have fought THREE WARS since 2008:

"... the two sides, we have fought three wars... over the last decade." (Toll rises as Gaza violence flares, Nidal al-Mughrabi, AP, Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald, 6/5/19)

"Israel and Hamas... have fought three wars... since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007." (Rockets, missiles shatter Gaza truce, Fares Akram, AP/The Australian, 6/5/19)

"Israel says its blockade is necessary to stop weapons reaching Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since the group seized control of Gaza in 2007... " (Ceasefire claimed as attacks ebb, Nidal al-Mughrabi/Jeffrey Heller, Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald, 7/5/19)

"Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and the escalation brought them to the brink of another." (Israel, Palestinians pull back from brink, AFP/The Australian, 7/5/19)

But were they really WARS, or more akin to just shooting fish in a barrel?

Here is the incomparable Norman Finkelstein once again on the first of these alleged 'wars', Israel's Operation Cast Lead (2008-09), in which he irrefutably testifies to the latter characterisation:

"To justify the magnitude of the devastation it wreaked, Israel endeavored to depict the Gaza invasion as a genuine military contest. [US analyst Anthony] Cordesman* delineated in ominous detail, enhanced by tables, graphs, and figures, the vast arsenal of rockets, mortars, and other weapons that Hamas allegedly manufactured and smuggled in through tunnels (including 'Iranian-made rockets' that could 'strike at much of Southern Israel' and 'hit key infrastructure'), as well as the 'spider web of prepared strong points, underground and hidden shelters, and ambush points' Hamas allegedly constructed. He reported that according to 'Israeli senior officials,' Hamas mustered 6,000-10,000 'core fighters.' He juxtaposed the 'Gaza war' with the 1967 war, the 1973 war, and the 2006 war, as if they belonged on the same plane. He expatiated on Israel's complex war plans and preparations, and he purported that Israel's victory was partly owing to its 'high levels of secrecy,' as if the outcome would have been different had Israel not benefited from the element of surprise. The Israeli brief alleged that Hamas 'amassed an extensive armed force of more than 20,000 armed operatives in Gaza,' 'obtained military supplies through a vast network of tunnels and clandestine arms shipments from Iran and Syria,' and 'acquired advanced weaponry, developed weapons of their own, and increased the range and lethality of their rockets.'

"Nonetheless, even Cordesman was forced to acknowledge, if obliquely, that what Israel fought was scarcely a war. He conceded that Hamas was a 'weak, non-state actor,' whereas Israel possessed a massive armory of state-of-the-art weaponry; that the Israeli air force 'faced limited threats from Hamas's primitive land-based air defense'; that 'sustained ground fighting was limited'; that the Israeli army avoided engagements where it 'would be likely to suffer' significant casualties; and that 'the IDF used night warfare for most combat operations because Hamas did not have the technology or training to fight at night.' However, overwhelmingly, Cordesman persisted in his dubious depiction of Cast Lead. Israel had demonstrated that it could fight 'an air campaign successfully in crowded urban areas,' according to him, as well as 'an extended land battle against a non-state actor.' In fact, the air campaign was not a 'fight' any more than shooting fish in a barrel is a fight. As if (however unwittingly) to bring home this analogy, Cordesman quoted a senior Israeli air force officer who boasted, 'The IAF had flown some 3,000 successful sorties over a small dense area during three weeks of fighting without a single accident or loss.' But how could it be otherwise if 'the planes operated in an environment free of air defenses, enjoying complete aerial superiority'? Depicting Cast Lead as a protracted ground war was no less detached from reality Hamas was barely equipped, barely present in the conflict zones, and barely engaged by Israeli forces except when it could not fight back." (Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom, 2018, pp 63-64)

[*"Shortly after Operation Cast Lead ended on 18 January 2009, Anthony Cordesman published a report titled The 'Gaza War': A strategic analysis. It warrants close scrutiny both because Cordesman has been an influential military analyst, and because the report neatly synthesized and systematized Israel's makeshift rebuttals as criticism of the invasion mounted." (ibid, p 39) And how often have we heard this Israeli apologist on Radio National over the years?]

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Zionist Hypnosis in Australian MS Press

Rockets, missiles shatter Gaza truce (Fares Akram, AP/The Australian, 6/5/19)

"[Israeli] retaliatory barrages"
"retaliatory airstrikes"
"retaliatory airstrikes"

Toll rises as Gaza violence flares (Nidal al-Mughrabi, AP/Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald, 6/5/19)

"Israel hit back"
"Israel retaliated"
"[Israeli] tanks and aircraft responded"

Israel, Palestinians pull back from brink (AFP/ The Australian, 7/5/19)

"Israeli retaliatory strikes"
"Israel said it strikes were in response to"

Shoot at Anything that Moves

Whenever you read about Israeli war crimes in Gaza in the msm, the latter's stenographers will faithfully parrot Israeli army spin about every effort being taken to ensure that Palestinian civilians come to as little harm as possible during the course of military operations. In fact, the opposite is true. For Israel, all Palestinians are the enemy. Hence, Palestinian civilians will always bear the brunt of any such Israeli attack.

Here is more from Norman Finkelstein on the original Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009):

"Parrying the censorious thrust of these human rights reports, Israel's brief declared that it 'took extensive measures to comply with its obligations under international law,' and that... the IDF directed attacks 'solely against military objectives,' and endeavored to ensure that 'civilians and civilian objects would not be harmed...

"Based on what journalists and human rights organizations found, and what Israeli soldiers in the field testified, however, a radically different picture of Cast Lead comes into relief. 'We're going to war,' a company commander told his soldiers before the attack. 'I want aggressiveness - if there's someone suspicious on the upper floor of a house, we'll shell it. If we have suspicions about a house, we'll take it down... There will be no hesitation.' A combatant remembered a meeting with his brigade commander and others where the 'rules of engagement' were 'essentially' conveyed as, 'if you see any signs of movement at all you shoot.' Other soldiers recalled, 'If the deputy battalion commander thought a house looked suspect, we'd blow it away. If the infantryman didn't like the looks of that house - we'd shoot' (unidentified soldier); 'If you face an area that is hidden by a building - you take down the building. Questions such as 'who lives in that building[?]' are not asked' (soldier recalling his brigade commander's order); 'As for rules of engagement, the army's working assumption was that the whole area would be devoid of civilians... Anyone there, as far as the army was concerned, was to be killed' (unidentified soldier); 'We were told: 'any sign of danger, open up with massive fire' (member of a reconnaissance company); 'We shot at anything that moved' (Golani Brigade fighter); 'Despite the fact that no one fired on us, the firing and demolitions continued incessantly' (gunner in a tank crew). 'Essentially, a person only need[ed] to be in a 'problematic' location,' a Haaretz reporter found, 'in circumstances that can broadly be seen as suspicious, for him to be 'incriminated' and in effect sentence to death'." (Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom, pp 44-45)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Israel Provokes, Palestinians Retaliate

Whenever you read lying msm accounts of Israel's most recent brutal hammering of Gaza, of the 'Palestinians attack/Israel responds' variety, keep in mind that Israel is essentially a one-trick pony. Its modus operandi of the past few days in Gaza is just a re-run of all those other brutal hammerings, stretching back to Operation Cast Lead of 27 December 2008-18 January 2009.

And just to remind you of that prototypical Israeli military rampage, here is Norman Finkelstein's meticulous account of same, taken from his latest must-read book, Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom (2018):

"In June 2008, Hamas and Israel entered into a cease-fire brokered by Egypt, but in November of that year Israel violated the cease-fire. It carried out a lethal border raid on Gaza... Then and now, the objective was to provoke retaliation and thus provide the pretext for a massive assault.

"Indeed the border raid proved to be the preamble to a bloody invasion. On 27 December 2008, Israel launched 'Operation Cast Lead.' It began with an aerial and ground assault. Piloting the most advanced combat aircraft in the world, the Israeli air force flew nearly three thousand sorties over Gaza and dropped one thousand tons of explosives, while the Israeli army deployed several brigades equipped with sophisticated intelligence-gathering systems, and weaponry such as robotic and TV-aided remote-controlled guns. On the other side, Hamas launched several hundred rudimentary rockets and mortar shells into Israel. On 18 January 2009, Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire, 'apparently at the behest of Barack Obama, whose presidential investiture was to take place two days later.' However, the siege of Gaza persisted. The Bush administration and the US Congress lent Israel unqualified support during the attack... But overwhelmingly, international public opinion (including wide swaths of Jewish public opinion) recoiled at Israel's assault on a defenseless civilian population. In 2009, a United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission, chaired by the respected South African jurist Richard Goldstone, released a voluminous report documenting Israel's commission of massive war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. The report accused Hamas of committing cognate crimes but on a scale that paled by comparison. It was clear that, in the words of Israeli columnist Gideon Levy, 'this time we have gone too far.'

"Israel officially justified Operation Cast Lead on the grounds of self-defense against Hamas rocket attacks. Such a rationale did not, however, withstand even superficial scrutiny. If Israel wanted to avert Hamas rocket attacks, it would not have triggered them by breaching the 2008 cease-fire. It could also have opted for renewing - and for a change, honoring - the cease-fire. In fact, as a former Israeli intelligence officer told the Crisis Group, 'The cease-fire options on the table after the war were in place there before it.' If the goal of Cast Lead was to destroy the infrastructure of terrorism,' then Israel's alibi of self-defense appeared even less credible after the invasion. Overwhelmingly, Israel targeted not Hamas strongholds but 'decidedly 'non-terrorist,' non-Hamas' sites.

"The human rights context further undermined Israel's claim of self-defense. The 2008 annual report of B'Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) documented that between 1 January and 26 December 2008, Israeli security forces killed 455 Palestinians, of whom at least 175 were civilians, while Palestinians killed 31 Israelis, of whom 21 were civilians. Hence, on the eve of Israel's so-called war of self-defense, the ratio of total Palestinians to Israelis killed stood at almost 15:1... In Gaza alone, Israel killed at least 158 noncombatants in 2008, while Hamas rocket attacks killed 7 Israeli civilians, a ratio of more than 22:1. Israel deplored the detention of one Israeli combatant captured in 2006, yet Israel detained some 8,000 Palestinian 'political prisoners,' including 60 women and 390 children, of whom 548 were held in administrative detention without charge or trial... It's ever-tightening noose around Gaza compounded Israel's disproportionate breach of Palestinian human rights. The blockade amounted to 'collective punishment, a serious violation of international humanitarian law.' In September 2008, the World Bank described Gaza as 'starkly transform[ed] from a potential trade route to a walled hub of humanitarian donations.' In mid-December, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that Israel's '18-month-long blockade has created a profound human dignity crisis, leading to a widespread erosion of livelihoods and a significant deterioration in infrastructure and essential services.' If Gazans lacked electricity for as many as 16 hours each day; if Gazans received water only once a week for a few hours, and 80 percent of the water was unfit for human consumption; if one of every two Gazans were unemployed and 'food insecure'; if 20 percent of 'essential drugs' in Gaza were 'at zero level' and more than 20 percent of patients suffering from cancer, heart disease, and other severe conditions were unable to get permits for medical care abroad - if Gazans clung to life by the thinnest of threads, it traced back, ultimately, to the Israeli siege. The people of Gaza, OCHA concluded, felt 'a growing sense of being trapped, physically, intellectually and emotionally.' To judge by the human rights balance sheet at the end of 2008, and setting aside that the cease-fire was broken by Israel, didn't Palestinians have a much stronger case than Israel for resorting to armed self-defense?" (pp 13-16)

More Guardian Stenography for Israel...

... but, interestingly, someone at the Guardian inadvertently neglected to pull a sentence contradicting it.

Guardian Australia headline:

Six killed in Gaza as Israel responds to multiple rocket attacks

First sentence of report:

"An infant and her pregnant mother were among six people killed in Gaza after Israel responded with airstrikes and tank fire to about 250 rockets being fired over the border by Palestinian militants..." (Emma Graham-Harrison, 5/5/19)

Paragraph 5 of same report:

"The spike in violence began on Friday when two Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli security forces during protests along the Israeli-Gaza perimeter fence."

So the headline and first sentence of the report, both of which toe the insidious Israeli propaganda line of 'Palestinians always attack/Israelis merely respond', is discredited in paragraph 5 of the same report.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Zero Gravitas

Before I proceed further with this post, let me nail my colours to the mast: one's position on Palestine is an infallible litmus test of one's moral and intellectual courage. If you willfully ignore the plight of Palestine, look the other way, self-censor, or otherwise hold your tongue on the subject when the need or opportunity comes to speak out, your worth and potential as a moral, thinking human being will be greatly diminished, and whatever you have to say on other matters of concern or importance will be wreathed in the rank odour of hypocrisy.

What follows is a transcript of how 'our' ABC 'handled' the news that Twitter had suspended some pro-BDS accounts at the behest of the Israeli government to enable the Eurovision Song Contest to be staged in Tel Aviv without controversy. Radio National Breakfast presenter, Fran Kelly, a self-proclaimed "activist" (Wikipedia), and rated by Crikey as "one of the most influential media players in the country" (Wikipedia), conducted an interview with an Australian academic on the matter. Now I must confess, as a listener to Radio National, to never having heard Kelly show any indication of knowledge of, or concern over, Israeli brutalities in Palestine, so the way in which she conducted the interview came as no great surprise to me.

More importantly, what possessed the ABC to choose, as an interlocutor on this important issue, an associate professor in international relations at Sydney University, Anika Gauja, whose Twitter profile reads thus: "A/Prof politics USyd. Political parties, members, representation. Ocean swimmer, Eurovision fanatic, Farnham tragic, knife collector & wine student"?

It's clear from this that someone on RN made a decision to dispense with the substance of the matter - blatant Israeli pressure to shield from legitimate criticism its exploitation of Eurovision to burnish its increasingly tarnished image - and opt instead for a "Eurovision fanatic" with no obvious knowledge of, or concern for, Israel's escalating oppression of the Palestinian people. Questions abound: Who made that decision, and why? Why wasn't a BDS spokesperson interviewed? Or at least involved in the interview? What does this choice tell us about the prevailing culture of the ABC, lambasted, hilariously, by the Murdoch press as a hotbed of leftism? What does it tell us about red lines, self-censorship, and fear of pressure from the Israel lobby?

OK, so finally here's the transcript - with my interpolations in square brackets. Read it and weep for the ABC; for what the hell is going on in our neoliberal, corporatised universities; and for our hapless students of international relations and who knows what else:

Fran Kelly: Within a matter of weeks Australia will again take to the stage in the Eurovision Song Contest that's being held in Israel this year. Kate Miller Heidke will perform the song Zero Gravity in Tel Aviv. But the lead up to the contest has been overshadowed by widespread calls for musicians to boycott the event over Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. The effort has been gaining traction with international artists and other public figures. But overnight Twitter announced it had suspended a small network of accounts after complaints from Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs that fake accounts were promoting the boycott. This highlights once again the politicised nature of the world's biggest music competition. Anika Gauja is Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Sydney, and she happens to be a huge Eurovision fan. So who's behind the push for the boycott of Eurovision in Israel? (Calls for Eurovision boycott, Radio National,, 3/5/19)

[Call me old-fashioned and out of touch here, but is there a new breed of academic out there who combines serious scholarship and an obsession with one or another manifestation of mind-numbing trivia? I'm fascinated! Can anyone, perhaps, provide me with other examples?]

Anika Gauja: The movement called the BDS movement - Boycott Divestment & Sanctions - which has been around since the mid 2000s and, as you mentioned, they're trying to highlight what they would say is Israeli war crimes or atrocities against the Palestinians in Israel.

["What they would say... "??? What, only them? Not our recognised repository of international law, the UN? Oh look, here's a snippet from the recently released UN Independent Commission of Inquiry's report on the Gaza border protests: "The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that during the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity...? "In Israel"? No, in the occupied Gaza Strip.]

FK: And they've got some high profile people aboard in this camp.

AG: Yeah, yeah. Brian Eno signing a letter and... international celebrities but the European Broadcasting Union which is the body responsible for staging the Eurovision has remained absolutely steadfast in its opposition to the boycott. It basically says that boycotting Eurovision is not a political event and its an event that's geared toward promoting diversity, togetherness, compromise, peace, harmony, so boycotting something like that is boycotting the values and ethos of Eurovision.

[You're kidding me? Do you have any idea how grotesquely irrelevant this Eurovision PR patter is to the manifest horrors being perpetrated by the Israelis in OCCUPIED Palestine?]

FK: And that position has got some high profile support too from people like Stephen Fry.

AG: Exactly.

FK: Well, the EBU, which produces Eurovision, goes against the spirit of the contest celebrating the [inaudible] unity. Last month over 100 public figures endorsed this boycott. We've got this counter thing. Has it made any difference to any of the countries taking part in Eurovision?

[Well, why not interview one?]

AG: No, it hasn't. I mean... there have been protests in Australia when Australia ran its song selection contest, and Madonna is going to perform at the grand final this year, which is quite an interesting and unique event for somebody outside of Europe. There've been calls for her to boycott, but none of the nations officially participating have withdrawn as a result of those calls.

[Seriously, who gives a fuck about Madonna?]

FK: And what do you make of this announcement overnight from Twitter that they've suspended a small network of accounts after complaints by Israel? Just more politicisation, isn't it?

AG: Yeah, absolutely. I think that in terms of Eurovision this is probably quite unprecedented. There's always controversy in the run up to the contest, but to have Twitter come in and and censor social media accounts is very interesting.

["Very interesting"??? A blatant violation of free speech at the behest of a Jewish supremacist apartheid state is merely "very interesting"?]

FK: What does past behaviour tell us? Would you expect to see protests... at the Eurovision Song contest outside and would you expect to see protests on stage... ?

AG: I think that the security this year because of the BDS campaign is going to be absolutely unprecedented, so I would be very very surprised if there are protests outside. Inside I think it's a different matter. We have seen in recent years protesters or pranksters being able to storm the stage... so it is possible for people to compromise security.

FK: What about the contestants themselves though?

AG: What's more common is you have a more subtle process that's built into a performance or a song... Occasionally a comment will be made... which can be interpreted as political but its a sort of subversive process.

FK: Am I right in saying it happens on the election weekend?

AG: Yeah, yeah, this is terrible for me cause my 2 passions conflict and this year I've chosen to go to Israel for the contest rather than hang around for a federal election...


PS 6/5/19: Now this FFS: "Prolonged fighting could overshadow Eurovision and potentially deter international travellers from coming in for the festive event." (Israel and Gaza exchange rocket fire as death toll mounts after month-long fighting lull, 5/5/19, 1:31pm,