Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Jared Kushner-Netanyahu Connection

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

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

Friday, June 28, 2019

Jared Kushner's Jobs & Growth Plan

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

"Dear Lord Rothschild,

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

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

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

Yours sincerely, Arthur James Balfour."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kushner's Economic Plan touts three initiatives:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Morrison Itching to Attack Iran

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

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

If IRAN goes to war with America?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Project Rozana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Lesh Unleashed

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

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

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

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

Enter Lesh, in Kenny's words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 24, 2019

The French Report

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

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

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

According to Sydney University's student paper,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, back in the real world:

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

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Other Bob Hawke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange? 6

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

Phillip Adams began the session by declaring that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adams then moved on to ask Carr:

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 21, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange? 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange? 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange? 3

Just for the record, ABC Radio National's hosts of The Minefield, Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens, interviewed Peter Greste on 12/6/19 under the rubric A free press, sure, but free from what? And free for what?

Free of any mention of Julian Assange, that's what. Here's the relevant portion from Greste, following Aly's contention that the divide between the digital public and the traditional media is now so great as to appear unbridgeable:

"We've got to work a lot harder to regain public confidence in the media," replied Greste, "I hate the idea of talking about a business model that news ought to be a product and commodity that we sell... I don't think we should be thinking of the news as a product to be bought, sold and traded. I think if we see it as a public good, then we can start thinking about what to expect and need from our journalism. Then we can think about how we might design a machine that delivers that outcome. At the moment, what we're doing is allowing the digital environment to unfold in an ad hoc, random kind of way... We need to say: What do we need? and how to design a system to deliver that outcome."

Invoking news as the "public good" is the closest Greste gets in his statement to the subject of Julian Assange. Nitpicking aside, if concepts such as "public good", public interest, and the good, old-fashioned truth are not inextricably interlinked, then what is Greste on about here?

In a letter from the UK's Belmarsh Prison to independent British journalist Gordon Dimmack, who decided to make it public in May this year, following the US Justice Department's decision to lodge additional charges against Assange under the Espionage Act, Assange wrote:

"I have been isolated from all ability to prepare to defend myself, no laptop, no internet, no computer, no library so far, but even if I do get access it will be just for half an hour with everyone else once a week. Just two visits a month and it takes weeks to get someone on the call list and the Catch-22 in getting their details to be security screened. Then all calls except [to] lawyer[s] are recorded and are a maximum 10 minutes and in a limited 30 minutes each day in which all prisoners compete for the phone. And credit? Just a few pounds a week and no one can call in. A superpower that has been preparing for 9 years with hundreds of people and untold millions spent on the case. I am defenceless and am counting on you and others of good character to save my life. I am unbroken albeit literally surrounded by murderers. But the days when I could read and speak and organise to defend myself, my ideals and my people are over until I am free. Everyone else must take my place. The US government or rather those regrettable elements in it that hate truth liberty and justice want to cheat their way into my extradition and death rather than letting the public hear the truth for which I have won the highest awards in journalism and have been nominated seven times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Truth is ultimately all we have." (See 'Truth ultimately is all we have': Julian Assange appeals for public support, Oscar Grenfell,, 25/5/19)

Greste shows no indication whatever of any desire to "save" Assange's life. Indeed, Assange seems as remote from his thinking as the dark side of the moon. His position would appear beyond callous.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Mind-Forg'd Manacles of Greg Sheridan

Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of Murdoch's Australian offers up this little historical sketch on the background to today's protests in Hong Kong:

"When Beijing took control of Hong Kong in 1997, there was a certain brutality underlying the process. There was never any question of an act of self-determination for Hong Kong, as for other colonies being freed from their colonial rulers." (Soon one country, one system, The Australian, 15/6/19)

Yet, the exact same could be said with respect to Palestine:

When Britain took control of Palestine in 1917-18, there was a certain brutality underlying the process. There was never any question of an act of self-determination for Palestine, as for other colonies being freed from from their colonial rulers.

And that was because, as any historically literate person should know, Palestine had been promised in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the Zionist movement.

The historically illiterate Sheridan then goes on to say:

"Senior [Communist] party spokesmen have often enough said that all so-called 'overseas Chinese' are regarded as Chinese, and as owing loyalty to the Chinese state." (ibid)

The exact same could be said for Palestine:

Senior [Israeli] spokesmen have often enough said that all so-called 'overseas Jews' are regarded as Israelis, and as owing loyalty to the the 'Jewish' state.

Those who don't, of course, are denigrated as 'self-hating Jews'.

Quite how individuals like Sheridan can live in such a state of cognitive dissonance, intellectual laziness, and sheer grating ignorance is a source of never-ending fascination for me. I think the great English poet William Blake (1757-1827) captured ignoramuses like Sheridan to perfection in his poem London:

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Something Unique in Modern US Regime Change Wars

It must surely be unique in the context of post-World War II US regime change wars/imperial interventions that one has to go no further than the following report, Mission ends in flames, published in those two mainstream organs, the LA Times and the Washington Post.

So bold, blatant and in-your-face has the US lust for regime change in Iran become under Trump that, wonder of wonders, one has no need to look beyond the mainstream press itself to establish that dirty tricks, provocations and false flag operations are being deliberately used by the US as pretexts for a war against that country.

I rest my case:

"Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went to Iran this week for a two-day trip that was aimed at cooling tensions in the region. And then things blew up. On Thursday, two oil tankers - one a Japanese-owned ship - came under suspected attack in the Gulf of Oman... US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo quickly blamed Tehran for what he called 'a blatant assault'... Shortly after, the US military released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the tankers...  But the Japanese ship operator and sailors on board its ship, the Kokuka Courageous, saw 'flying objects' just before the attack, suggesting the tanker wasn't damaged by mines and contradicting the US military. The apparent attacks, a month after four other tankers were damaged in mine explosions that the Trump administration also blamed on Iran - without providing evidence - sharply raised fears in the strategically important region that Washington might use such incidents to punish the Islamic Republic even without ironclad proof of its involvement [...] Also unclear was what Iran would gain from such an assault - coinciding with Abe's high-profile visit to Tehran aimed at salvaging the 2015 international nuclear deal. Both ships, according to the Japanese government, were carrying 'Japan-related' cargo, leading Iranian foreign Minister Javid Zarif to question the timing of the apparent attacks. 'Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM Shinzo Abe was meeting Ayatollah Khamenei for extensive and friendly talks. 'Suspicious,' he tweeted, 'doesn't begin to describe what likely happened this morning'." (Nabih Bulos, 15/6/19)

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Assange? 2

Here's a further thoughtful response to Friday's JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME open letter to Morrison, Albanese and Australian MPs in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald that merits citing here as an addendum to my last post on Julian Assange:

"I was just about to sign the #journalismisnotacrime petition when I discovered it was all about our recent local federal police raids, which are certainly a major concern. But the petition is a bit parochial for me. What about Julian Assange, an international (Australian) martyr for publishing the truth as he knew it to be? He's about to be extradited to the US where God knows what shocking fates await him, and very few people here seem to care. He appears to have very limited popular support, possibly because he's not a 'proper' journalist. But I would have thought this was a great opportunity for his media sisters and brothers in arms to send a message to our own government that we must continue to support all those who who seek to reveal the truth - no matter what. Our collective blind eyes in the Assange case are a disgrace. Instead of abandoning him, he is entitled to whatever protection and support we are able to give him - and at least as much as our local journalists expect and hope for." (Peter Bower, Naremburn, 15/6/19)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Why Aren't Australian Journalists Backing Julian Assange?

First, the latest shocking news on the fate of WikiLeak's Julian Assange:

"Julian Assange will face a five-day US extradition hearing in February next year, a judge has ruled. [He] faces an 18-count indictment, issued by the US Department of Justice, that includes charges under the Espionage Act... Ben Brandon, representing the US, formally opened the case, a day after an extradition request was signed off by the [UK] home secretary, Sajid Ravid." (Julian Assange to face US extradition in UK next year, Haroon Siddique,, 14/6/19)

The following letter of concern over Assange's fate, naming Australian journalist Peter Greste, appeared in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

"Andrew Fowler's article was excellent in its balanced reporting of the facts ('Raids a wake-up to journalists who left Assange swinging', June 12). This was in stark contrast to Peter Greste's article several weeks ago, written with a certain callousness. Assanges's treatment does not reflect well on other journalists or on our successive governments. Fowler is correct that what has occurred to Assange may well occur to other journalists if they do not toe the line." (Virginia Robison, Killara, letter to the editor in Sydney Morning Herald, 14/6/19)

In addition, full page ads placed by appeared in both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian yesterday signed by 38 Australian journalists, including Greste, Alliance for Journalists' Freedom. The ad is billed as an "Open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese, Members of the Parliament of Australia," and is headlined "JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME".

Part of the text reads: "A healthy democracy cannot function without its media being free to bring to light uncomfortable truths, to scrutinise the powerful and inform our communities. Investigative journalism cannot survive without the courage of whistleblowers, motivated by concern for their fellow citizens, who seek to bring to light instances of wrongdoing, illegal activities, fraud, corruption and threats to public health and safety. These are issues of public interest, of the public's right to know. Whistleblowers and the journalists who work with them are entitled to protection, not prosecution. Truth-telling is being punished."

There are reference in the text to "whistleblowers Richard Boyle, David McBride and Witness K," but, significantly, not to Julian Assange.

The failure to include Assange in the ad would seem to have a lot to do with Peter Greste's 12/4/19 SMH/Age opinion piece, Julian Assange is no journalist: don't confuse his arrest with press freedom:

"As someone who has been imprisoned by a foreign government [Egypt] for publishing material that it didn't like, I have a certain sympathy for Assange. But my supports stops there. To be clear, Julian Assange is not a journalist, and Wikileaks is not a news organisation... Journalism demands more than just simply acquiring confidential information and releasing it unfiltered on the internet for punters to sort through. It comes with responsibility... We at the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom are committed to restoring public trust in in journalism, which can only happen if its practitioners work with responsibility and respect. I has never been about opening up a hosepipe of information regardless of the consequences."

Parenthetically, has Greste, I wonder, taken the trouble to read The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire (Verso, 2015). It contains an extensive introduction by Julian Assange and contributions by a range of journalists on the various regions covered by the files?

Understandably, aware readers - especially in Melbourne's Age - bridled at Greste's piece. John Wallace, for example, director of the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre, and a former member of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) judiciary committee Victoria, had this to say in the Age's letters pages:

"In Australia MEAA journalist code of ethics offers a less rigid view of journalism, one that allows departures from its standards under certain circumstances. The code's preamble states, in part, that 'Respect for truth and the public's right to information are fundamental principles of journalism'. In its guidance clause, the code recognises that sometimes there will be a conflict in its standards, and that in cases of 'substantial advancement of the public interest' it may be appropriate to override any particular standard. If one accepts the Wikileaks disclosures did substantially advance the public interest, Assange's work can certainly be seen as journalism."

Commented another, "Greste's commentary is especially churlish, given the wholehearted support he enjoyed from the Australian community during his own ordeal. A little less pomposity, please." (Nicholas Grey, Kent Town, SA)

One of the most pointed and relevant comments critiquing Greste's piece came in the form a tweet by an Australian journalist of Palestinian origin, Jennine Khalik: "thinking of being a white male journalist and getting arrested in egypt so people think everything I have to say once im out is relevant and insightful." (May 25)

Greste's assessment of Assange as 'not a journalist' cannot be allowed to stand. In fact, a retraction of his 12 April commentary and an apology seems to me to be in order.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Morning After the Night Before

We all know what it's like, that dreadful after-party hangover when all is unmasked by the cold, clear light of day and reality sets in with a vengeance. So it would appear to some/many (?) in the seat of Wentworth after the razzmatazz of election night fever abated:

"Didn't Dave Sharma pledge to tackle issues like climate change? It's only been a few weeks since the election, though long enough for recalling such particulars to become hazy, but isn't that what his letters, calls and pamphlets promised? So issues of national importance, have they fallen by the wayside? Dave now says he will focus on local issues, because that's what we want ('The promise of things to come', Courier, May 29). But do we need three layers of government focusing on local issues simultaneously? As our new member, the first thing he's done is earmark $15 million for the construction of a new headquarters for the Sydney Swans. Thinking of all the issues facing us right now, I could think of a lot more pressing than that one." (Patricia O'Neill, Paddington, Wentworth Courier, 12/6/19)

You get the sense from O'Neill's letter to the editor that that some/many (?) in Wentworth are feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the election of their new Liberal MP. Is this it? they seem to be saying. Is Sharma a complete dud?

But just to clarify, according to the aforementioned Wentworth Courier of May 29, another direct funding commitment, apart from that to the Sydney Swans h/q, was also made:

"Mr Sharma, who returned the seat to the Liberals just over a week ago, ran primarily on promises to deliver on local issues though offered no direct funds towards them. The only other direct funding commitment was $143,000 for more CCTV along the Bondi Beach promenade after a spate of anti-semitic graffiti." (The promise of things to come: MP Dave Sharma's commitments were mostly cost-free)

No surprises there, eh?.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

World Vision Australia's Forgotten Man

While I agree wholeheartedly with former World Vision head Tim Costello here:

"Celebrated humanitarian Tim Costello says middle Australia feels it is 'doing it hard' and some consider their annual trip to Bali a 'fundamental human right', while remaining oblivious to real suffering overseas. Mr Costello, who has stepped down as chief advocate of World Vision Australia, says political rhetoric over cost-of-living pressures has helped foster a misguided mindset among voters that they are struggling. He also called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to reverse his government's 'mean' foreign aid strategy, calling it embarrassing and foolish." ('Australians don't know how blessed they are', Nicole Hasham, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/6/19)

And here:

"World Vision says the Coalition has cut Australia's foreign aid budget each year since it came to power in 2014, to just 21c in every $100 of gross national income. It says the United Kingdom spends 70c in every $100 - a commitment enshrined in law - while Switzerland spends $1.10. Foreign Affairs  Minister Marise Payne has been contacted for comment. She has said the government was targeting its aid at the Indo-Pacific region. Mr Costello said foreign aid was at historic lows and urged the government to show 'moral leadership'." (ibid)

I'm wondering if Tim Costello, in his retirement, intends to focus on the plight of World Vision Australia employee Mohammed El Halabi, arrested by the Israelis in 2016, and put on trial accused of channelling millions of dollars of Australian government aid funding to Hamas. Halabi has languished in an Israeli prison ever since, and has alleged torture by his captors. And this despite DFAT and World Vision's own forensic audit finding no evidence of the misuse of of World Vision funds by El Halabi, and Israel's own failure to produce any evidence to back up its claims.


(See my 23/3/17 post The Halabi Affair and others if you will.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Look Who's Got a Gong...

... in the Queen's Birthday Awards:

1 Order of Australia Companion in the General Division:

"Rachel Kohn, Mosman NSW. For distinguished service to the broadcast media, particularly radio, as a creator, producer and presenter, and to Jewish Studies."

Kohn, you may remember, ran a long-running series, The Spirit of Things, on the ABC's Radio National. Particularly memorable on that show was her platforming of Aaron Klein, author of a 2007 book with the following, excruciatingly grotesque, title: 'Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land, Jihadists Reveal their Global Plans - to a Jew!'

Then there was her 21/9/08 production, Ties that Bind: Jewish Australians and New Zealanders, for the ABC's Encounter program, in which she laments that "in Australia , there's little understanding... of that Jewish loyalty to Israel. Zionism is a term of opprobrium for so many Australian non-Jews," prompting her Rabbi interlocutor on the program to opine that "we're dealing with professional anti-Semites who who cloak their anti-Semitism by being unduly critical of Israel."

Just click on her label below and read the Klein interviews, and my 29/9/08 post The Lies that Blind.

2 Order of Australia Medal in the General Division:

"Robert Magid, NSW. For services to business and commerce, and to the Jewish community."

Now how coy is that description? Magid is the owner and publisher of that thoroughly Zionist rag, The Australian Jewish News.

Just click on his label below and read my 1/4/13 post Robert Magid's Guide for the Perplexed on his bizarre musing, The wrong of return, which appeared in The Australian Jewish News of 22/3/13. And, while you're at it, I suggest you also take in my 22/5/13 post 'When the Chips are Down': A Review on his lame anti-BDS satire, When the chips are down.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Balancing Act 3

"Finally, the UN Report indicted Hamas for its 'extrajudicial executions' of suspected collaborators during Protective Edge. 'The fact that the majority of the victims had been arrested and detained before the conflict,' it observed, 'prompts concerns that they were executed in order to increase pressure on Gaza's population, with a view to preventing others from spying.' Most executions 'occurred a day after three [Hamas] commanders were killed by the IDF.' The Report also noted that because of the 'stigma' attached to collaboration, these executions had 'devastating' effects on family members, who had to cope with 'indelible stains' on their 'reputation and honor.' Inasmuch as the Report expressed sympathy for an alleged Israeli quandary (on releasing information), it might have paused to contemplate Hamas's quandary of resisting a brutal invasion while plagued by internal collaborators directly or indirectly on the payroll of the enemy. The Russian revolutionist Leon Trotsky cogently argued that in the midst of a foreign invasion, the threat of incarceration will not deter potential collaborators, because the very premise of aligning with the enemy is that its victory impends: '[T]hey cannot be terrorized by the threat of imprisonment, as [they do] not believe in its duration. It is just this simple but decisive fact that explains the widespread recourse to shooting.' It is in no way to extenuate Hamas executions to pose the inescapable question, How else was Hamas supposed to deter collaborators? The prohibition on executing collaborators would appear to fall into the same category as the prohibition on indiscriminate weapons: an insoluble dilemma. It might be recalled that a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising expressed as 'our great guilt' that 'immediately from the first day, we didn't kill' the Jewish collaborators. 'If a few of them had been killed, others would have been afraid to join the police. They should have been hanged on lamp poles, to threaten them... I'm sure that whenever there is internal treason, war must begin by destroying it.' The Report determined that these Hamas executions, not 'may' but unquestionably did 'amount to a war crime,' and it exhorted, 'whoever is responsible for the killings... must be brought to justice.' Nowhere in its indictment of Israel did the Report use such unequivocal and emphatic language. It also called upon Hamas to 'combat the stigma faced by families of alleged collaborators.' Although it acknowledged that Hamas had already undertaken to 'support the families of persons accused of collaboration,' the Report concluded that 'the far-reaching effects of stigma call for a stronger response.' Was Hamas legally required to organize a Collaborator Pride parade? " (Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, Norman Finkelstein, 2018, pp 322-323)


Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Balancing Act 2

"The UN Report [officially, Report of the Detailed Findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry Established Pursuant to to Human Rights Council Resolution S21/1 (22 June 2015)] set the stage for its indictment of Hamas by citing directly or indirectly official Israeli sources depicting a formidable Hamas weapons arsenal. But the battlefield performance of these weapons strongly suggested that the bulk of them consisted of little more than enhanced fireworks. The Report also dutifully regurgitated Israeli claims regarding the dazzling performance of the Iron Dome antimissile defense system, even though recognized experts and the facts on the ground refuted them. In an unusual acknowledgment, the Report did observe that  according to 'security experts,' Hamas's 'declared official policy' during [Operation] Protective Edge [in 2014] was 'to focus on military or semi-military targets and to avoid other targets, especially civilians.' It went on to document instances in which Hamas appeared to be targeting Israeli combatants and military objectives, while Israel itself acknowledged that Hamas mortar shells killed ten IDF combatants positioned on the Israeli side of the border. The report also observed that Hamas attempted 'in a few instances' to warn Israeli civilians of impending attacks and, in fact, these Hamas alerts were more effective than those issued by Israel 'because - unlike in Gaza - residents could flee to other areas of Israel less exposed to threats.' However, the Report found that the 'vast majority' of Hamas projectiles targeted 'population centers in Israel.' It devoted fully 15 paragraphs in graphic detail the effects of these Hamas attacks, even though only six civilians in Israel were killed and property damage was negligible. It is often suggested (although not by the Report) that if so few civilians died it was only on account of Iron Dome... The argument is factually false - Iron Dome probably didn't save many and perhaps not any lives - and even if it were true, irrelevant: if additional civilians would have been killed absent Israel's civil defense/shelter system and structurally sound edifices, should the casualty account then tally how many Israelis would have died if they lived in sub-standard, Gaza-like conditions? If calculation were to be based on 'all things being equal,' it abstracts from the root injustice that Israel and Palestine are not equal.

"The UN Report found that Hamas's projectile attacks 'may' have constituted 'war crimes':

*Hamas rocket attacks - 'rockets cannot be directed at a specific military objective and therefore strikes employing these weapons constitute indiscriminate attacks'; 'statements... indicate intent to direct those attacks against civilians';
*Hamas mortar attacks - 'statements... indicate in some cases... intent to target civilian communities... if they were used to target civilians or civilian objects, this would be a violation of the principle of distinction'; '[in] the cases in which attacks were directed at military objectives located amidst or in close vicinity to civilians or civilian objects, mortars are not the most appropriate weapons. The imprecise nature of mortars makes it difficult for an attacking party using this weapon in an area in which there is a concentration of civilians to distinguish between civilians and civilian objects and and the military objective of the attack.'

"In its defense, Hamas pleaded that 'Palestinian rockets are 'primitive' and not very technologically advanced but nevertheless the factions attempted to direct their rockets at military targets in Israel.' The Report curtly and coldly rejoined: 'The military capacity of the parties to a conflict is irrelevant to their obligation to respect the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks.' The humanitarian rationale behind prohibiting use of indiscriminate weapons is self-evident. But (in)discriminateness is a relative notion. It varies according to the most sophisticated guidance system currently available for a particular line of weaponry. So it is equally self-evident that the prohibition against indiscriminate weapons discriminates against poor states or nonstate actors that cannot afford cutting-edge technology. In the instant case, the Report effectively criminalized nearly the whole of Hamas's primitive arsenal.. And thereby it denied Gaza the 'inherent' right (anchored in the UN Charter) of armed self-defense, and the right (effectively sanctioned by international law) of armed resistance in its self-determination struggle. Even if it is admitted that notwithstanding its discriminatory effects, cogent reasons might be adduced to preserve intact the prohibition, still it hardly befits a human rights document to peremptorily dismiss as 'irrelevant' a wholly reasonable (if debatable) objection. It also warrants attention how much more sensitive the Report was to Israeli concerns. For example, the Report 'recognizes the dilemma that Israel faces in releasing information that would disclose in detail the targets of military strikes, given that such information may be classified and jeopardize intelligence sources.' Although it still placed 'the onus... on Israel to provide sufficient details on its targeting decisions to allow an independent assessment of the legality of the attacks,' the Report not only evinced a sensitivity absent in its high-handed dismissal of Hamas, but it also credited the Israeli alibi that information was withheld out of security concerns, and not because its release may undercut official lies. The Report proceeded to infer a sinister motive lurking behind Hamas rocket attacks. If these projectiles couldn't accurately target military objectives, then the Report 'cannot exclude the possibility that the indiscriminate rocket attacks may may constitute acts of violence whose primary purpose is to spread terror amongst the civilian population.' Spreading terror might have been Hamas's motive, but other possible motives also leap to mind. The rocket attacks could have been 'belligerent reprisals' (which international law does not forbid) to compel Israel to cease and desist from its terroristic assault on Gazan society. The Report itself noted that Hamas 'issued a statement confirming [its] intention to target Israeli civilians in response to Israel's 'targeting of Palestinian civilians in their homes and shelters.' Or consider the motive professed by Hamas leader Khalid Mishal during Operation Cast Lead (2008-9): 'Our modest, home-made rockets are our cry of protest to the world.' One wonders why the Report did not entertain these more benign possibilities.

"International law requires all parties to a conflict to 'take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack with a view to avoiding... injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.' The UN Report alleged that despite substantial impediments to its investigation, it was able to divine 'patterns of behavior' by Hamas that breached this legal obligation. It cited a quartet of incidents where Hamas fired rockets in close proximity to civilians. As it happens, Amnesty pointed to the identical four incidents in its indictment of Hamas. The duplication suggests a paucity of corroborative evidence. The Report also cited a handful of instances where Hamas 'conducted 'military operations within or in close proximity to sites benefiting from special protection under international law' - in particular, the environs of two to three schools and a church. These incidents were also cited in earlier investigations. The Report further noted that 'official Israeli' sources repeatedly accused Hamas of violating the 'feasible precautions' obligation, but it 'was not able to independently verify' these allegations. The Report acknowledged that the 'feasible precautions' obligation 'is not absolute'; that 'even if there are areas that are not residential, Gaza's small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply' with the obligation; and that several signatories to the relevant international instrument stipulated that 'for densely populated countries, the requirement to avoid locating military objectives within densely populated areas would be difficult to apply.' Still, the Report concluded that in light of 'the number of cases' in which Hamas 'carried out military operations within or in the immediate vicinity of civilian objects and specifically protected objects, it does not appear that this behavior was simply a consequence of the normal course of military operations,' and, 'therefore,' the law 'was not always complied with.' Although this was a cautious and qualified finding, the question must nonetheless be posed, Did the Report substantiate it? It would have to show that the instances it documented gave proof of a deliberate Hamas choice not to avoid civilian and protected objects, and were not just random events consequent on 'the normal course of military operations' in a densely populated civilian terrain. But the handful of incidents recycled by the Report, during a 51-day armed conflict in which Hamas fired seven thousand projectiles and engaged an invading army with unprecedented combat losses on both sides, does not appear to reach the evidentiary threshold of a 'pattern.' The Report not only failed to substantiate its qualified assertion but also indulged in groundless speculation. For example, it stated that 'if it is confirmed that in using... locations to conduct military operations, armed groups did so with the intent to use the presence of civilians or persons hors de combat... to prevent their military assets from being attacked, this would constitute a violation of the customary law prohibition to use human shields' and 'would amount to a war crime.' But the Report didn't provide a scintilla of evidence demonstrating such 'intent.' What was the point of such baseless conjecture, of which this is just one example, except to plant a false image in the reader's mind, or to appease Israel, which repeatedly accused Hamas of human shielding, or both? In its most audacious - or outrageous - speculation, the report verged on criminalizing nonviolent civil resistance as it posited that Hamas might wrongly exploit it:

'In one case of the bombing of a residential building examined by the commission, information gathered indicates that following a specific warning by the IDF that the house was to be targeted, several people went to the roof of the house in order to 'protect' the house. Should they have been directed to do so by members of Palestinian armed groups, this would amount to the use of of the presence of civilians in an attempt to shield a military objective from attack, in violation of the customary law prohibition to use human shields. With regard to this incident, the commission is disturbed by the reported call by the spokesperson of Hamas to the people of Gaza to adopt the practice of of shielding their homes from attack by going up on their roofs. Although the call is directed to the residents of Gaza, it can be seen and understood as an encouragement to Palestinian groups to use human shields.'

"Instead of showing compassion for Gazans as they risked life and limb to protect their, and their neighbors', family homes, the Report zeroed in on Hamas in order to deny it, on purely conjectural grounds, one of the few means of nonviolent resistance available to it in the midst of an annihilative attack - even going so far as to brand the Islamic movement's encouragement of such self-willed, heartrending acts, whose spiritual lineage traces back to Gandhi, an embryonic war crime It is also cause for sheer bewilderment why the Report designated an unambiguously civilian dwelling as a 'military objective' - did it automatically lose its protective status once Israel decided to target it, or did the Report start from the premise that everyone and everything in Gaza was, if not aligned, than alloyed with terrorism?" (Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom, Norman Finkelstein, 2018, pp 315-22)

To be continued...

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Balancing Act 1

The British government has just issued an official report called the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Annual Human Rights & Democracy Report, which "provides an assessment of global human rights development in 2018 and reports on the human rights situation in the 30 human rights priority countries." Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Hamas are included in the document. According to the Times of Israel, it:

"[S]aw continued violations by the Israeli government of international human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, including an increase in settler violence. While Israel's 'robust democracy' is acknowledged, the report expressed concern over 'pressure' exerted on members of civil society who criticize Israeli policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians. The document also expressed worries that last year's Jewish nation-state law could 'undermine' the rights of non-Jewish minorities. At the same time, the report accused both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas of 'continued human rights abuses'." (New UK human rights report accuses Israel of 'continued violations', Raphael Ahren, 7/6/19)

Note the document's spurious balancing act as reflected in the above news report. These days, sadly, whether such a report on Israeli massacres of Palestinians emanates from the United Nations itself, or from such human rights NGOs as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, it will invariably, and more to the point, criminally, be contaminated by the said spurious balancing act, and hence act as a cover for Israel's serial crimes against the Palestinians.*

It is only the meticulous scholarship of Norman Finkelstein, in his 2018 book Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom, with its laser-like analysis of reports by Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Council in particular - listed on the book's contents pages as Betrayal 1 and Betrayal 2 - which alerts us to the depth of this pernicious practice.

To show you what I mean, I intend, in my next two posts, to quote substantially from Betrayal 2, specifically under the (as will be seen ironic) heading, "Hamas War Crimes" (pp 315-324). I hope, in light of this new British government report, you'll bear with me and stay along for the ride. I can assure you that if you have any regard for the facts of the matter, it'll be well worth it.

Finally, do not hesitate to buy, order or steal a copy of Finkelstein's book!

[*As Finkelstein warns us on p 310 of his book: "In general, balance is an admirable quality: it connotes nonpartisanship and objectivity. But balancing out a wildly imbalanced balance sheet amounts to a partisan act of misrepresentation. The findings of UN-appointed commissions in other situations do take note of grossly lopsided balance sheets."]

Friday, June 7, 2019

One Month Ago in Australia is Now Ancient History

Truly, it seems only yesterday, when on May 5 this year I ventured out to a Sydney Writers Festival (SWF) event called A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth.

Chaired by ABC Four Corners' Sophie McNeill, Mexican reporter Anabel Hernandez, Iraqi-American writer Dunya Mikhail and Turkish journalist Ece Temelkuran were discussing the dire threat to journalists in their countries of origin. If my memory serves me correctly, an underlying assumption of the discussion then was that all were speaking in a country, Australia, where freedom of the press could, more or less, be taken for granted. (Palestine, Syria and Iran aside, of course.)

How ironic is it now, in the light of the recent Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on News Corps reporter Annika Smethurst and the ABC, that, barely a month on from May 5, this assumption can no longer be legitimately entertained?

What with Australia's abandonment of journalist Julian Assange and the plight of whistleblowers such as Richard Boyle (who blew the whistle on the ATO and faces 6 life sentences if found guilty) and David William McBride (a former legal adviser to Australia's special forces in Afghanistan and named alongside three ABC journalists in the ABC's search warrant),* not to mention PM Morrison's wholly unconvincing assertion that his government had been "operationally at complete arm's length" from the raids, it appears as though the comforting assumption of May 5 at the SWF that Australia has a free press and that msm journalists and public-spirited whistleblowers are safe from harm's way was nothing more than an illusion.

[*See Whistleblower caught the eye of storm, Michael Whitbourn, Sydney Morning Herald, 6/6/19. This, mind you, going back to the ABC's then uncontroversial publication on 11/7/17 of The Afghan Files, when Malcolm Turnbull was still prime minister! Note that Morrison succeeded Turnbull on 24/8/18. You can draw your own conclusion about the timing of these raids. I note too that Sophie McNeill has tweeted on the subject of the raids, referencing The New York Times, thus: "Shame. 'Australia stands out. No other developed democracy holds as tight to its secrets, experts say, and the raids are just the latest example of how far the country's conservative government will go to scare officials and reporters into submission'." (Australia: The world's most secretive democracy)]

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Morrison in the Solomons...

... schmoozing with the faithful.

Before departing the Solomon Islands for the UK, PM Scott Morrison spent his time there doing what comes naturally to him:

"Scott Morrison won the hearts and minds of the Solomon Islands' people, not through their politicians but their priests. Mr Morrison and his wife Jenny were escorted into St Barnabas Anglican Cathedral for an ecumenical service with the nation's church leaders... Anglican Archbishop Tome thanked God for Mr Morrison's visit, describing it as a 'historical day' in the life of the church... Archbishop Tome said Australia was 'a big brother, a big sister, or a mother' to his county. But Mr Morrison told the gathering Australia was more like a 'twin, a fellow family member' to its Pacific neighbour.

"The Prime Minister, who was earlier mobbed by children at Bishop Epalle Catholic School, said the churches were crucial to the region's social fabric, particularly in the Solomon Islands where more than 90% of people are Christian. Mr Morrison  - who attends an evangelical church... said while church and state should be kept separate, 'Australia understands the importance that faith communities play'... " (PM presses the flesh among the faithful, Ben Packham, The Australian, 4/6/19)

It should now be clear that despite his parroting about the separation of church and state, it's Morrison's actions in mixing with the faithful that reveal the real nature of the man.

"Earlier, Mr Morrison and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare agreed to expand a Pacific churches partnership initiative to encourage more exchange visits with Australian churches... At the conclusion of the service, Mr and Mrs Morrison spent time meeting dozens of the nation's church leaders, discussing the role that Christianity could play in Australia's Pacific 'step up'." (ibid)

As our recently re-elected Christian Zionist PM mixes more and more with the South Pacific faithful, we can expect to see the Solomon Islands joining the usual Pacific suspects who have long lined up with USrael in UN fora. In fact it has already done so - at the UNGA on 30/11/18. The General Assembly, having, in a resolution, "reiterat[ed] that any action by Israel to impose its laws jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem is illegal and therefore null and void," the Solomons lined up with Australia, Israel, the US, Canada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Guatemala to vote against it. (See my 7/12/18 post Morrison at the UN.)

A former Australian prime minister once opined in the 90s that Australia was in danger of turning into a banana republic. Under Morrison, it seems, we're more in danger of turning into a Cassava Christocracy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Harry's Game

Harry Triguboff (like Frank Lowy and the Pratts, father and son) is the Australian equivalent of conspicuous US Zionist billionaire political donors such as Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban*. By way of an introduction to the vital content of this post, the following data has been gleaned from his Wikipedia entry - with some of the limitations one has come to expect from that source:

In 2016, Triguboff was the richest person in Australia, and is currently the third richest. He was born in Dalien, Lianing, in the former Republic of China (1912-1949) after his Russian Jewish parents left Russia in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In 1947, Triguboff moved to Australia, becoming a citizen in 1961. Just two statements in his Wikipedia entry suggest that he is something more than just a philanthropic billionaire property developer. These read as follows: "Triguboff donates heavily to political parties and uses his influence to seek policy changes."/ "Triguboff, via the Harry Triguboff Foundation , funded a project at the Shorashim Center [in Jerusalem] to assist immigrant applicants to Israel in proving their Jewishness."

Which brings me now to the revealing profile of Triguboff by Tess Durack in the May 29, Murdoch-owned, Wentworth Courier. Titled Top of his game: Harry Triguboff AO, aged 86, is pulling no punches, here are just the plums:

"At the 86th Gala Birthday dinner of Harry Triguboff AO earlier this year, a diverse crowd descended on Darling Harbour's ICC ballroom. Titans of business intersected with Orthodox Jews, tradies and sub-contractors from an array of ethnic backgrounds and families who work for - or whose livelihoods depend on - Triguboff... [T]hey paid tribute to the billionaire property developer whose image was beamed on huge screens... and to raise funds for the hugely successful Our Big Kitchen charity which Triguboff has long backed.

"An introduction from Rabbi Dovid Slavin, founder of Our Big Kitchen, and it was time for the guest of honour to speak. 'I'm very lucky that I found you,' the founder of Meriton [Apartments Pty Ltd] told the crowd of over 200, 'and you are very lucky that you found me!'

"It was a typically candid comment from a man renowned for speaking plainly in a thick Russian accent which lingers despite calling Australia home these past six decades. But even those accustomed to Triguboff's direct conversational style were taken aback by the apparent stream of consciousness that followed that night, as he took aim at national parks and watered-down forms of the Jewish education in a speech that drew an audible gasp or two from some in the crowd.

"'Sydney is a very strange place,' he ruminated. 'The only place in the world where they have so many parks. Everywhere, national parks. They are only good for snakes. No one goes there.' Cue the gasps."

Two months later, Durack was granted an interview by Triguboff which occupies the remainder of her profile:

"In the weeks following the birthday gala he launched legal action against the NSW government - during the thick of its election campaign - over a tower he is building in North Ryde.  Does he feel optimistic about the result? 'Well I have to really belt them up,' he says with that trademark pugnacity. 'It's something that has to be done. Whenever I win a case against council - which is very often - I like it to be of benefit to everyone and if I can win this case, it will be of great benefit.'... I ask him how his day has been. 'My day? Fine! I have no bad days! If somebody is giving me the shits, I knock them out.'

"Annotated financial reports sit on the table in front of him... The space [at Meriton HQ on Kent Street] is filled with Chinese ornaments, signed sports paraphernalia and a stunning indigenous artwork in vivid pinks. I ask him who the artist is. 'I don't know. I don't care,' says Triguboff, his voice gruff and commanding. 'People who know painting - they know who it's by.' [...]

"Later today he will continue a 26-year battle to gain approval to secure a block of land on the northern beaches. Infuriated by the interference of councils, he says too many bad decisions are made because aldermen are worried they'll lose their seats. That he is not worried about such considerations puts him in a good position to win. 'I don't think I well win or lose my seat. I do what I think is right,' The ability to do the right' thing is something he respects and counts Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu and John Howard among those he admires. 'I don't think I like him,' he says of the former, 'but I have to admire him because he did such a good job for the country. And everyone loves John Howard. He will do anything for anyone... without thinking what's in it for himself, he did a good job for the country.' [...]

"I press him on the speech he made in Darling Harbour... Surely he can't mean for us to build on our national parks? 'It's true what I'm saying... Sydney is the only city in Australia where we have so many national parks. The problem is... is that nobody uses them, they are just wild - all that is there are snakes so nobody can go there'."**

[*See my 10/7/15 post Her Master's Voice, on Hillary Clinton's shameless courting of this Zionist mega donor to the Democratic Party;**This attitude of Triguboff's is actually long-standing. See my 28/9/10 post Zionist Chameleon.]