Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Just a Thought

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

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

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Ongoing Nakba

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

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 The database remains unpublished due to political pressure from the US, Israel and some European states.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

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Hard Truth About Journalism Today...

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

"The problem is that we just don't have a press that really wants to challenge power on issues they consider 'personal.' Speaking at the 1985 Prayer Breakfast, Ronald Reagan said, 'I wish I could say more about it, but it's working precisely because it's private.' That should have been an invitation for investigative reporting. Instead the media, then and now, tends to acquiesce to elite secretiveness, not out of any conspiracy, but due to a culture of reverence for established power, liberal or conservative. Most journalists believe in meritocracy - not merely that it's a good idea, but that it actually exists. They know that some politicians game the system, but they're committed to the idea that the system basically works. And it does, but not in favor of democracy." (Following up on the 'Family': Six questions for Jeff Sharlet, Bill Wasik, harpers.org/blog/2008/06

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

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Redundancy of Dave Sharma

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

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

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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Melbourne's Wahhabi Dupes

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

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

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

How absolutely right he is, Wahabbist ideology notwithstanding.

Be Patient

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


Friday, July 12, 2019

Away from Blog for a Week


Australia's Assault on History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 11, 2019

That Guy on the Bridge

Sydney is getting weirder by the day:

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

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

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

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

Like I said, weirder by the day.

Monday, July 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Phillip Adams' Filibustering

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Julian Assange Updates

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

When Richard Carleton Interviewed Ghassan Kanafani

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Trump's Man Smashes it in East Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 1, 2019

Scott Morrison Courts Trump at G20 Summit

Why not come and play golf here in Australia?

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

Mind if we join you in a war against Iran?

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

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