Thursday, September 3, 2015

Oliver Sacks' NYT Obituary: A Corrective

The following paragraph appeared in the New York Times obituary for the late neurologist and author Oliver Sacks (1933-2015), and was re-run in the Sydney Morning Herald of September 1:

"Oliver Wolf Sacks was born on July 9, 1933, in London, the youngest of four sons of Samuel Sacks and the former Muriel Elsie Landau, who were both doctors. His father, in Sacks' words a 'moderately Orthodox' Jew, read the Bible daily, and Sacks often demonstrated a spiritual impulse in his books. But in Uncle Tungsten, his 2001 memoir about his childhood love of chemistry, he explained that the inflamed Zionist meetings his parents held before the war helped turn him away from organised religion." (Author demystified brain's quirks, Greg Cowles)

So Zionist meetings turned Sacks off... religion?

Why would political meetings turn one off religion?

The NYT appears to be (deliberately?) conflating Zionism with Judaism here.

Yes, Sacks was an atheist, but it was not the aforementioned "inflamed Zionist meetings" which turned him away from "organised religion."

No, what they turned him away from was something very different - political Zionism and Zionists, as can be seen from the relevant passage in his 2001 memoir:

"Zionism played a considerable part on both sides of my family. My father's sister Alida worked during the Great War as an assistant to Nahum Sokolov and Chaim Weizmann, the leaders of Zionism at the time, and with her gift for languages, was entrusted with the translation of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 into French and Russian, and her son Aubrey, even as a boy, was a learned and eloquent Zionist (and later, as Abba Eban, the first Israeli ambassador to the UN). My parents, as doctors with a large house, were expected to provide a venue, a hospitable place, for Zionist meetings, and such meetings often took over the house in my childhood. I would hear them from my bedroom upstairs - raised voices, endless argument, passionate poundings on the table - and every so often a Zionist, flushed with anger or enthusiasm, would barge into my room, looking for the loo.

"Those meetings seemed to take a lot out of my parents - they would look pale and exhausted after each one - but they felt a duty to host them. I never heard them talk between themselves about Palestine or Zionism, and I suspected they had no strong convictions on the subject, at least until after the war, when the horror of the Holocaust made them feel there should be a 'National Home'. I felt they were bullied by the organizers of these meetings, and by the gangsterlike evangelists who would pound at the front door and demand large sums for yeshivas or 'schools in Israel'. My parents, clearheaded and independent in most other ways, seemed to become soft and helpless in the face of these demands, perhaps driven by a sense of obligation or anxiety. My own feelings (which I never discussed with them) were passionately negative: I came to hate Zionism and evangelism and politicking of every sort, which I regarded as noisy and intrusive and bullying. I longed for the quiet discourse, the rationality, of science." (Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, pp 15-16)

The question arises: is the NYT covering for Zionism here?

PS: Considering his childhood experience of Zionist bullying, Sacks would have been well-placed to write another book with a title as catchy as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - 'The People Who Mistook Someone Else's Country for Their Own'.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The 'Scuffle' 2

Remember Lincoln's adage: "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time"?

Apparently, the msm think you can.

The other day it was the Sydney Morning Herald and Associated Press doing the fooling when they described an armed Israeli thug torturing a Palestinian kid as a "scuffle." (See my 31/8/15 post The 'Scuffle' 1.)

Well, today, in Peter Beaumont's 'analysis' of the incident in the Guardian (Nabi Saleh images illustrate changing asymmetry of Israeli-Palestinian conflict), it's still a bloody "scuffle" !!!

Then there's this:

"Seen in different ways by different commentators with different agendas..."

FFS, this is not a matter of 100 flowers blooming.

There are only two agendas here: that of the victim, and that of the perpetrator.

And only two possible commentaries: that of those who understand that if your child is being mugged, you go to his aid. No ifs or buts. You just fucking do it!

And that of those who heart the INVASION, OCCUPATION and COLONIZATION of someone else's land, particularly if it's Israel that's doing the INVADING, OCCUPYING and COLONIZING.

Which side is Peter Beaumont on here? 

"... the only thing they could agree on was that the images represented a vivid summation of some idea: of the brutality of occupation; of the weakness of the soldier involved..."

The weakness of the soldier involved? So the marauding, military thug is on the same level as his victim? The deluded and aggressive spawn of an INVADING, OCCUPYING, COLONIZING power is on the same level as his INVADED, OCCUPIED, COLONIZED and clearly terrified victim?

Frankly, the only weakness here is the collusive, faux balancing act of Peter Beaumont.

"... of the need to use more or less violence on demonstrators..."

What about the need to END the OCCUPATION by sanctioning the bejesus out of the OCCUPYING power until it gets the fuck out of the OCCUPIED territory, lock, stock and settler barrel?

"... of the use by Palestinians of children as a propaganda tool."

So Palestinians children, described by Israel's 'justice' minister as "little snakes," are realistically supposed to sit on their hands at home while their parents go out to protest the seizure of their land? Should their parents tie them up or shackle them perhaps?

Too bad then if some Israeli settler terrorists come along and firebomb their homes, I guess. What will Peter Beaumont say then, I wonder?

"Amid the disagreements, a pressing question has emerged: what did the images show? The reality is as complex as it is unsettling and contradictory."

Oh yes, what did those images show? Now that's a hard one.

Way too hard, it seems, for Peter Beaumont and the Guardian.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Takfiri Tripe

Macbeth must surely have had Australian takfiri Neil Prakash in mind when he spoke of "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing":

"'Hunters for Jannah (Paradise), message me... We need to fulfil our promise to Allah,' Prakash said in an internet post. 'Let your blood be a witness for you on DOJ (day of judgement)! My beloved siblings, be the ripe fruit that Allah swt loves and tells his angels he loves... Don't settle for second row, Be a forerunner!

"He also posted comments about the rewards of being killed in an explosion or suicide bombing. 'Oh how the martyr is rewarded, sheds his blood to see the beautiful face of his Rabb (Lord)! Blowing up kuffar for a place in Akhira (the afterlife),' he said.

"'Message me if your (sic) ready to meet your Lord in pieces!" (Drone kills Oz-linked Islamic terrorist, Mark Schlieb, The Australian, 28/8/15)

Monday, August 31, 2015

The 'Scuffle' 1

On today's Sydney Morning Herald website, there's a video clip of a thug torturing a 12-year-old boy. Despite the brutality, I would advise everybody to watch it, and then read the accompanying Associated Press report, Video of Palestinian woman [sic], Israel soldier scuffling goes viral.

The level of misrepresentation in the AP report can only be described as criminal.

Nowhere does it mention the MEGA-FACT that the site of the 'scuffle', the Israeli-OCCUPIED West Bank, is OCCUPIED territory - just as OCCUPIED as any territory OCCUPIED by Nazi troops in OCCUPIED Europe during World War 2.

And to call the incident a 'scuffle' is a total obscenity: A heavily-armed, masked, uniformed Israeli thug, choking and slamming an injured 12-year old child (with one arm in a plaster cast) against a boulder, is a 'scuffle'?

Or a 'skirmish', as the incident is elsewhere described?

The denial of reality evident in the SMH/AP report on this outrage is itself an outrage, and shames everyone responsible for it, from its drafting through to its publishing.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Leigh Sales Pitch for Israel 2

Leigh Sales: Israel is a country that a lot of people around the world who've never been to Israel have an opinion about.

And your implication is what exactly? Let me guess:


despite countless excellent first-hand reports on Palestine/Israel available in newspapers and on the internet...

despite numerous fine docos (none of which the ABC ever screens)...

and despite a constant stream of scholarly and reputable studies (none of which, it seems, Leigh Sales, with her degree in international studies and blog called well-readhead, has ever read)...

... we don't know what we're talking about unless we've been there?


Gideon Raff: Oh, yeah.

Sales: Do you think that people understand the reality of life in Israel very much?


Let me guess: Palestinian terrorists under every bed? Palestinian rockets falling like rain? Palestinian...

FFS, at the risk of repeating myself to the point of tedium, every square inch of 'Israel' from the River to the Sea is stolen Palestinian land.

Raff: Absolutely not. I think first of all, there's a lot of judgment about Israel. Some of it is right and some of it isn't. I think in order to understand Israel you should visit Israel.

Oh, yeah, especially if you're a politician or a journalist. Just call the bloke from Rambam Tours Inc.

Even just to see the sheer size of the place. I think because it's... on everybody's headline all the time, people think that it's a huge country, but the truth is that it's a very small country and we live together, Arabs and Jews and secular Jews and Orthodox and Ethiopians and Russians and it's such a mix of tribes.

Oh yeah, just one big, happy family really.

Raff's got his Zionist talking point down pat. Passing off the ethnocratic Jewish monoculture as an Australian-style multiculture works like a charm with people like Sales.

Does the well-readhead one (LOL) even know that - contra Raff's spin about Jews and "Arabs" living "together" - the majority of the "Arabs" were sent packing in 1948 & 1967, and that the rest are either under direct jackboot occupation or reduced to third class citizenship in an apartheid state?

And on one hand such an amazing democracy, with freedom of speech expected more than even in the United States.

Oh, yeah, what an "amazing democracy"... as long as Israeli Jews are in the majority - which was precisely the point of the Great Ethnic Cleansing of 1948!

And on the other hand, there's stuff that our government does that you can be critical of, of course. But I think it's probably [one of] the least understood places on Earth.

Oh, yeah, if only people really understood us...

The problem is, Gideon, they DO, only too well.

Well, maybe not people like Leigh Sales.

Sales: Gideon Raff, very interesting to have you on the program. Thank you very much. (Oh, dear, did I really write a book in 2009 (On Doubt) advocating the virtues of a doubtful mind?)

Raff: Thank you very much. (And thanks for yet another softball interview. This country's a dream run for guys like me.) 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Leigh Sales Pitch for Israel 1

On Thursday night, the 7.30 Report's Leigh Sales interviewed Gideon Raff, perpetrator of the Israeli television series, Prisoners of War (screened on SBS in 2013).*

What can I say? It was basically a Sales pitch - for Israel.

I'm going to devote two posts to it. For the first, I merely wish to vent on the following gobsmacker by Raff, which, need I say, went completely unremarked by Sales:

"I found that the term prisoners of war actually applies to all of [the Israeli prisoner's family], and maybe even to all of us as a country in Israel."

Oh, FFS... and your jailers are?

So fanatical Israeli colons steal someone else's land, destroy their homes, drive most of them out into permanent exile, and occupy, murder, imprison and torture the rest on a daily basis... and Raff's telling us it's his mob who are doing it tough...?!

Just imagine someone out there trying to get the ABC or SBS to screen a television series on imprisoned Palestinians. (Yes, I know it's a tautology.):

Palestinians, you say? We'd love too, but...

Well, let's say that somewhere out there, in some parallel world, on some parallel ABC or SBS, something called Palestinian Prisoners of Israeli Terrorism & Apartheid - there are around 6,000 at the moment - actually gets a run, one of its prisoners could perhaps be someone like... Rasmea Odeh.**

Never heard of her?

OK, here's a new poem about her by the greatest activist singer-songwriter of our time, David Rovics.*** Says it all really:

Rasmea was born in Palestine a year before she had to flee
Her family left their home at gunpoint - since then she's been a refugee
She lived a hard life in the camps, her dad had to move away
Try to support his family from way out in Michigan, USA
When Rasmea was first arrested, not much older than a kid
There had been a bombing, and the next thing the authorities did
Was round up the whole neighborhood - 500 women, children and men
They tortured Rasmea - they only stopped when
They extracted their confession - she did what she had to do
Having no idea when her ordeal would be through
After 10 years in a dungeon, in the land of stolen fates
She was sent to Jordan, from where she moved to the United States
Rasmea made a life here helping refugees like her
Adapting to their new lives and the people they once were
Until her home was raided because she once checked the wrong box
For not mentioning the confession produced by the electro-shocks
Again Rasmea was arrested - once again stripped of citizenship
Some drink deeply of their freedom - some only get a little sip
The fact that she was tortured was not considered of import
Only Israeli military evidence was recognized by the American court
Now they say they will deport her from the city on the lake
They say that 20 years ago she made a technical mistake
They say Rasmea is a terrorist, but I'd say it would seem
Rasmea Odeh is the victim of a terrorist regime

Coming up: A Leigh Sales Pitch for Israel 2

[*See my 21/1/13 post 'Prisoners of War': Those Bloody Arabs Again!;**Visit & the Free Rasmea Now FB page; ***See my 20/6/12 post Holy Land 5.]

Friday, August 28, 2015

Christian Zionism in PNG

If you thought idol-smashing zombies were confined to ISIS-controlled Iraq and Syria, think again.

They're on Australia's doorstep:

"Today (26/8) is Repentance Day in Papua New Guinea, when highlights include the public burning of traditional carvings used in what the organisers call 'idol worship and witchcraft'. The day will also, bizarrely, feature a national collection of money as an 'Aliyah' offering - to promote the migration of Jewish people to Israel, which some American evangelical Christians view as a prerequisite for the second coming of Christ. The day is a public holiday, marked by 'prayer ceremonies' across the country.

"The president and vice-president of the PNG Council of Churches... warned that the cash collection aroused concern. They said the country's mainstream churches had not been consulted about the introduction, four years ago, of Repentance Day as a 'covenant' originally signed by then prime minister Michael Somare, nor about today's program... Parliamentary Speaker Theodore Zurenuoc* was accused of Taliban-style cultural terrorism when in 2013 he launched a 'cleansing exercise' to destroy the building's totem poles which he viewed as demonic, and which were ordered to be chopped up and burned." (PNG to torch its 'demonic' carvings, Rowan Callick, The Australian, 26/8/15)

[*"The Papua New Guinea Trade Union Congress, PNGTUC, has called on the police to arrest the Speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenuoc for destroying public property. The Post-Courier paper says the appeal comes on the back of more condemnation of the cleansing exercise which the Speaker began last week to remove ungodly images and idols from the House. A lintel containing 19 ancestral masks from the provinces was removed and chopped up in the first wave of the exercise. A four-tonne pole which contained carving traditions from around the country was next on the list until Prime Minister Peter O'Neill personally intervened... and stopped the work. PNGTUC general secretary, John Paska, praised the prime minister but said Mr Zurenuoc's actions were criminal in nature and he should be arrested. He also says the Community Development Minister Loujaya Kouza, who told the Post-Courier that an Israel-based Messianic group advised her to push for the removal of the intricate carvings, should be stripped of her portfolio." (PNG union want Zurenuoc arrested for destroying public property,, 17/12/13)]

Worth a read: Purging Parliament: A New Christian Politics in PNG? (ANU SSGM Discussion Paper 2014/1)

Here's an extract from an essay in that publication, The rise of Christian fundamentalism & the link to Israel (pp 8-9):

"At the core of Christian Zionism is the belief that the return of the Jews to their Holy Land and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 fulfils biblical prophecies and foreshadows the second coming of Christ.The State of Israel has given official encouragement to Christian Zionism and Israeli religious leaders have fostered the sorts of linkages which took Loujaya Kouza and others to Israel in 2013. State-to-state linkages between Papua New Guinea and Israel have also been strengthened in recent years and in 2012 Papua New Guinea was one of 41 countries that abstained from the UN General Assembly vote on according Palestine non-member observer status in the United Nations (Solomon Islands, where Christian Zionism is also growing, was among the 138 voting in favour). Prime Minister O'Neill led a delegation to Israel in October 2013 where he visited religious sites, signed a joint Declaration of Co-operation (specific areas of prospective Israeli assistance include defence, security and intelligence capability, agriculture, and information technology and communications) and an agreement reciprocally waiving visa requirements, and proposed to establish a Papua New Guinea embassy in Israel. The O'Neill Government has since approved a joint venture partnership with an Israeli group to develop the agro-industry... Although there is not necessarily wrong with these ties to Israel, it may be that the spread of Christian Zionism has implications for Papua New Guinea's foreign policy."

One to watch.