Friday, August 26, 2016

Poodles Pyne: Finding Inspiration in All the Wrong Places

Poodles Pyne is now arguably the only politician on Planet Earth ever to have claimed that he was inspired by Benjamin Netanyahu:

"Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne will lead a government push to secure Australia as the Asia-Pacific maintenance and sustainment hub for the Joint Fighter F-35 warplane, according to Defence sources... In a speech to defence industry figures last week in Melbourne, Mr Pyne said he wanted Australia's defence industry 'to become a major pillar of our economy'. He said he had been inspired by meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him France's decision under Charles de Gaulle to stop supplying high-tech arms to Israel had forced the tiny nation to develop its own domestic industry capability. 'Now Israel's defence industry is one of the great success stories of their economy', Mr Pyne said in the speech." (Pyne push to secure local hub for JSF maintenance, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 25/6/16)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Now What Was That About Kremlin Influence in US Politics?

A mind-blowing riff/update to Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy (2007) by's excellent Philip Weiss:

"Over the weekend there was a lot more talk about Donald Trump... loving Russia, and about how Vladimir Putin wants Trump to win. 'The hand of the Kremlin has been at work in this campaign for some time,' Hillary Clinton's campaign manager said on ABC. The Russian influence must be true because it's all over our media; but you can be sure it's only half true because they're saying it so loud. The other half of the truth is that Russia is going to lose, big (because the media are talking about it and because Trump is going down). And the media have a guilty conscience, because they know the US power structure is beholden to Israel, but they can't talk about that foreign influence.

"No one talks about the hand of Israel; but Hillary Clinton promises her biggest donor, Haim Saban, whose one issue is Israel, that she'll work against the boycott campaign and she'll meet Benjamin Netanyahu in her first month of office: the same Netanyahu who tried to undermine our president's signature foreign policy achievement by speaking and lobbying Congress under the president's nose, Netanyahu who said that America could be easily moved, Netanyahu who pushed the Iraq war in 2002 to transform the Middle East, even as Hillary Clinton was voting for that war.

"The latest batch of Clinton emails show that then Secretary of State Clinton was shuffling her schedule to meet with big Clinton Foundation donors who care about Israel. 'I'm on shuttle w Avigdor Libermann... I want to stop by to see hrc tonite for 10 mins,' wrote one of them.

"When Donald Trump tried to take a 'neutral' position on Israel, Hillary Clinton told the leading Israel lobby group AIPAC that he had 'no business' being president and she was going to take the relationship with Israel 'to the next level.' "When Bernie Sanders tried to stake out a neutral position on Israel, Clinton's catspaw at the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, complained privately, 'The Israel stuff is disturbing.' Or as Anne Lewis, Clinton's political guru who is also a Zionist, said, 'The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel.'

"Both Clinton, this summer, and Obama, four summers ago, squashed the party's grass roots when they made a move to change the party platform on Israel, because the nominees worried about losing big Jewish Zionist donors - whose influence over the Democratic Party is 'gigantic' and 'shocking,' JJ Goldberg and Stephanie Schriock of Emily's List said this spring.

"So Clinton made sure that the word 'occupation' didn't appear in the platform, in this the 50th year of the occupation. Just as Neera Tanden, the Clinton aide who heads a Democratic Party thinktank, censored articles that were critical of Israel; and a few months later the authors of those articles were no longer employed by her thinktank; and meantime Tanden kissed up to Benjamin Netanyahu, at the very time he was undermining President Obama on the Iran deal, and months after he had used racist appeals - 'Arab voters are coming out in droves' - to win another term.

"But let's talk about Russian influence.

"It has now been 10 years since The Israel Lobby paper was published in London - not here, because it couldn't be published here. Notwithstanding the article and book's impact, it's a shadow impact; everyone in the shadow of the establishment has read it and everyone in the establishment has read it too, but with a plain brown cover on it, as Colin Powell's former chief of staff joked. Because to be in the establishment you must deny its importance. The Atlantic, which commissioned and killed the original paper, continues to publish Jeffrey Goldberg, who once served in the Israeli military, and who helped give us the Iraq war with bad reports in 2002, and who tried to undermine the Iran deal and who calls the fascistic defense minister Avigdor Lieberman by his nickname 'Yvet' and the milquetoast centrist Yitzhak Herzog by his nickname 'Boogie.'

"And everyone in American public life calls the fascistic prime minister of Israel by his nickname, Bibi. Including PBS. I don't know what Vladimir Putin's nickname is, and I don't want to know.

"The central idea of the Israel lobby is simple and it has been confirmed a hundred times but the media will never report it directly. Here it is: United States support is an existential issue for Israel; but non-Jewish voters and leaders cannot be counted upon to love Israel on their own, and therefore the tiny American Jewish community must speak in one voice and (unified checkbooks) persuade American leaders that it's in the US's best interest to do so.

"Israel supporters confirm this idea again and again. 'What keeps me up at night is the dependence of Israel on the United States' - Abe Foxman. 'American Jews had a deferential attitude toward Israel. They saw their job to support Israel, to provide Israel with financial and political support it asked for' - Dov Waxman, scholar. 'Jews don't like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States... American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say no, we don't want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel' - the late neocon godfather Irving Kristol. 'We [Jews] don't need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel... because the essence of Zionism is... you [Jews] shape your destiny, you don't let others do it' - perennial White House aide and peace processor-charade leader Dennis Ross.

"So the Emergency Committee for Israel, a group started by Kristol's son Bill, gives Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton nearly $1m so he could become Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton after just 2 years in the House and then lead the charge against the Iran deal.

"But let's talk about Russia's influence.

"Israel's influence has distorted our politics for nearly 40 years. Tom Friedman told a British interviewer that George W Bush abandoned the peace process because he saw his father take on the Israel lobby and lose a second term. Tom Friedman said the Congress is 'bought and paid for' by the Israel lobby. Tom Friedman told an Israeli interviewer that if you put 25 neoconservatives on a desert island in 2002, we wouldn't have had an Iraq war.

"But Friedman never wrote about the lobby head on, a dereliction of duty if ever there was one. It is just too embarrassing or hurtful to talk about the role of Zionist Jews in US public life. The idea has to be suppressed because a) we all know that there is a dual loyalty element implicit in Zionism and talking about the lobby brings up the whole international-Jew canard; and b) the lobby has been effective by working behind the scenes as a 'nightflower,' so its purpose is defeated when people talk about it and everyone gets to weigh in. But if you don't talk about it, then everyone just accepts it as the given of the American power structure, which is where we are now. Chris Mathews is constantly doing Irish Catholic identity politics when Irish Catholic Americans come on his show, but he's afraid to say boo about the powerful pro-Israel Jews who own/run his employer Comcast, the largest media company in the country...

"From the start, empowered Jewish journalists denied that there was a lobby or it was powerful. Jeffrey Goldberg told the Center for Jewish History that it was no different from the ball-bearings lobby. David Remnick made the joke that if there wasn't an Israel lobby, Osama bin Laden would be able to go back into the construction business. And meanwhile he was publishing Jeffrey Goldberg's reporting about Saddam's links to Al Qaeda and Saddam's acquisition of WMD that helped the US get into Iraq. Why did Goldberg push this stuff? Was it out of concern for Israel? There's never been an accounting.

"And three years after his Osama joke, Remnick gave an interview to a Hebrew publication in which he acknowledged that the American Jewish community had sustained the occupation:

How long can you expect that they [US Jews] will love unconditionally the place called Israel? You've got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967... Sorry it can't go on this way. The Jewish community is not just a nice breakfast at the Regency.

"But like Friedman, Remnick doesn't publish this analysis under his byline. It's out of the side of his mouth. He knows there's a price to be paid. With the exception of Yousef Munayyer, Remnick publishes Zionists - people like Ari Shavit, who works for AIPAC and lobbies Jewish kids on campus, and David Makovsky, of the AIPEC spinoff WINEP, who has said that checkpoints won't be so burdensome when Israel uses 'appropriate biometrics' for Palestinians in those lines. The magazine's go-to reporter on Israeli political trends is Bernard Avishai, who's very good, but let's be clear - a cultural Zionist.

"If you don't like Russia, you can surely still make your way in public life, but if you don't like Israel, it's a CLM, as they say at Goldman Sachs. Career Limiting Move. When Jim Clancy accused pro-Israel groups of doing 'hasbara,' or PR, around the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, he lost his job at CNN. When Jimmy Carter accused Israel of practicing apartheid, he got attacked on air by Wolf Blitzer and Terry Gross and was exiled from the Democratic Convention.

"And four reporters at the New York Times have had kids in uniform for Israel, including columnist David Brooks, the go-to pundit on NPR and PBS who said after his dozenth trip to Israel that he is 'gooey-eyed' about Israel. And the New York Times bureau chief in Israel lives in an addition to a house that was stolen from a prominent Palestinian journalist in 1948; and that journalist's daughter the physician and activist Ghada Karmi has written and spoken about visiting that house to try and overcome her pain; but one thing you can be sure of: That story won't be in the New York Times. Josh Marshall will tell you all about Russia influencing Trump, and meantime he names his baby after an Israeli war hero, but ho hum.

"But let's talk some more about the Kremlin.

"The media is all about how much money Paul Manafort got from the Ukrainians, but the media won't tell you that the two guys advocating the bombing of Assad in the New York Times work at a thinktank, WINEP, that the Israel lobby group AIPAC spun off, and one of those authors has called for American Jews to be 'advocates for Israel,' not for Palestinians. It won't tell you that Sheldon Adelson regrets wearing an American uniform, and wished he was wearing an Israeli uniform.

"It will never put all the facts together and name the trend, as I'm doing here right now, out of my back pocket. So I remember that Samantha Power once described the Israel lobby as 'a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,' and as a result had to make the execrable rabbi Shmuley Boteach her consort in the rightwing Jewish community, so as to get the lobby's approval for her appointment to the UN job.

"And that Chuck Hagel once said that 'the Jewish lobby intimidates people' on Capitol hill, and he almost didn't become Defense Secretary because of that, and his grilling by the Senate resulted in a Saturday Night live sketch that didn't air in which Hagel was asked if he would 'fellate a donkey for Netanyahu.'*

"That's one good thing, everyone's now in on the joke. Even if the media can't discuss it, everyone knows it. Our system is rigged.

"But enough about all that. Let's talk about Russian influence." (Let's talk about Russian influence, 23/8/16)

[*See my 14/2/13 post USrael: The Movie.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Australian Values

"We don't need burqa-clad ladies telling us 'well, what are Australian values anyway?'" asserts the Q Society of Australia Inc: Upholding Australian Values guide to 'Australian values'. (Q on: Australian values)

I see. I wonder what the Q Society would make of this:

"High school student Lily, 17, from Lismore, in north-east NSW, says posting explicit photos or sex videos online is 'pretty normal' behaviour among her peers. 'I get asked for nudes all the time and give them out. It's how people connect these days,' she says. 'The girls take them to show to their boyfriends or to have some fun. Guys love to take pics of their dick. It's how people show off what they've got to offer, like advertising. I know girls who will deliberately have sex in public places with boyfriends and then talk about it in the playground with their friends - no one talks about it as a bad thing'." ('It was terrifying', Peter Munro/Rachel Olding, Sydney Morning Herald, 20/8/16)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Who Are You Staring At?

Just as well Benjamin Netanyahu wasn't an IDF conscript, and Odeh Bisharat, a Palestinian, in the wrong place at the wrong time:

"Two days ago, Benjamin Netanyahu hosted members of the Haaretz editorial staff for a closed conversation that lasted four hours, during which he spoke without interruption. 'Spoke' is a rather restrained understatement; Netanyahu lectured, preached, demanded and overwhelmed; he showed videos, slide presentations, maps, tables, and minutes. He scribbled a self-portrait, with an elongated nose and beads of sweat; he pounded on the table, raised his voice, lowered it, leaned forward and back in the meeting room, wrote on the board and erased. At one stage he approached my colleague Odeh Bisharat so angrily that I feared for his safety." (An overwhelming one-man theater performance by Benjamin Netanyahu, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 17/8/16)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Not Happy, Sophie McNeill!

Good God, what is wrong with the ABC's Middle East correspondent, Sophie McNeill?

Can't she see that Gaza isn't blockaded by Israel, but cradled in its loving embrace?

Can't she see that the West Bank isn't occupied by Israel, but liberated, as only it knows how?

Can't she see that it's not Israel, but the Palestinians themselves who are their own worst enemies?

Not according to the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Committee (AIJAC):

"In the last 16 months or so since McNeill started as Middle East correspondent, she has filed many stories that look at Palestinian suffering in Gaza, where her coverage focuses on the 'blockade' or, indeed, on the West Bank, where the focus switches to 'occupation'. Individually and over time, her body of stories do not deviate from reflecting the attitude and bias that Israel is predominantly responsible for Palestinian suffering." (ABC admits Gaza report errors, The Australian Jewish News, 19/8/16)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Done Under 18C for Daring to Criticise Israel

With support for the retention of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act sometimes being used as a measure of one's stand against racism, it is well to keep in mind its potential for misuse.

Former Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton put his finger on the problem in a recent tweet:

"RW nutters now howling for the repeal of 18C once wanted me to be done under it for daring to criticise Israel. Fucking hypocrites." (17/8/16)

He is referring, of course, to a complaint lodged under 18C against his passionate denunciation of Israel's 2014 genocidal attack on Gaza in the Herald.

Guardian journalist Amanda Meade pointed out at the time that "it is possible that the complaint will be thrown out because it is understood that the complainant - said to be Wayne Karlen, a constant critic of the paper on Twitter - is not Jewish. According to the act: 'Only an 'aggrieved person' may lodge a complaint. In the case of the racial hatred provisions, an aggrieved person is someone from the group targeted by the behaviour who is offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated because of his or her race'." (Mike Carlton's column and SMH cartoon: racist complaint lodged, 14/8/14)

This implies that if the complaint had been lodged by a Jewish Zionist as opposed to a non-Jewish Zionist, Carlton may well have become embroiled in a protracted legal battle fought on the false Zionist premise that criticism of Israel is a form of anti-Semitism.

The outcome could conceivably have come down to whether or not the presiding judge accepted this claptrap. Therein lies the problem with 18C for critics of Israel.

See also my 17/8/14 post Using Section 18C to Silence Critics of Israel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Real Boycotters

"Senior writer" at the Australian, Sharri Markson, reported yesterday that "A director of activist group GetUp! supports a boycott of Israeli products and wants to 'force Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety'." (GetUp! director fighting Israel)

My first impulse on reading this, of course, was to proceed forthwith to a public place, mount a soapbox, and proclaim to all and sundry: 'How dare GetUp! force poor Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety! Perennial FFS, isn't that, like, forever?'

Then I remembered the words of the great Palestinian historian (1910-1981) A.L. Tibawi on the period leading up to WWI, when control over Palestine was still just a steely gleam in Zionist eyes. If Ms Markson really wants to know what boycotting people and plunging them into a perennial state of existential anxiety is all about, she should read Tibawi:

"The Zionist objectives, both immediate and distant, were... well-known to the Arabs in Palestine and the neighbouring countries. In the spring of 1914 a Russian member of the Zionist Executive, Nahum Sokolow, complained in an interview with the Palestine correspondent of the Cairo newspaper al-Muqattam that the Palestinian and Syrian Arab hostility to Zionism was unjustified. The Arabs and the Jews were two branches of the Semitic tree; they co-operated in the fields of science and learning especially in Spain and contributed together to the European renaissance; the Jews were returning to their ancient homeland from which they were expelled by the Romans and the Crusaders; they bring with them the means of developing the country; they wish to come close to Arab civilisation and cooperate with the Arabs for the creation of a new Palestinian civilisation; they wish to revive their Hebrew language and establish their own schools in which the Arabic language and history would be taught.

"Sokolow was tackled by Rafiq al-Azm, the well-known Syrian historical writer and member of the Decentralisation Party. He agreed that as two Semitic cousins the Arabs and Jews ought to cooperate in reviving the glory of the Semitic civilisation, that Palestine with the rest of Syria required development, and that Jewish immigrants, coming from a more civilised environment, possessed skills that could be employed for the benefit of the country. But he regretted to see no evidence in Palestine that Jewish immigrants wished to unite with the Arabs in an effort to raise the standards of all its inhabitants, or that they wished to come close to the Arabs in any way. In fact they lived in complete isolation: they speak only their own languages; their children attend only their own schools; all their business is with Jewish firms; they organise a separate economy and they ignore local government and its laws; and above all they stubbornly refuse to abandon their foreign nationality and adopt the Ottoman.

"They must not be surprised if for these reasons the Arabs regard them as an alien people, and a foreign element interjected into their society. And this is the root cause of Arab apprehension regarding their economic and political future. For the present they feared and suffered from the competition of immigrants coming from more civilised environments. For the future they saw the political implications and feared for the eventual loss of their homeland.

"Sokolow's words were belied by these facts. If the Jews continued to lead a separate life in Palestine and to labour only for their own benefit, they must expect Arab hostility. 'To-day', the writer warns, 'the Syrian public opinion is unanimous in opposing Zionism.' The opposition in Palestine itself was led by young and educated men. News had just been received in Cairo that they sent telegrams of protest to Constantinople pointing out the dangers of Zionism and criticising the conduct of the Zionists in Palestine.

"It is clear that the writer had contact with unnamed Zionist leaders. 'We advised them', he writes, 'to cooperate with the Arabs for the benefit of a common homeland as native Syrians, not as foreigners waiting for an opportunity to take it for themselves...' He states that among the measures he recommended was not only the teaching of Arabic in Jewish schools but their opening to Arab children so that Arab and Jew could learn to live together. He also recommended that the Jews should share with the Arabs their business and mix with them socially. They should help the less experienced Arabs to learn modern methods. Above all he recommended the adoption of Ottoman nationality. But, he concludes, all that advice fell on deaf ears." (Anglo-Arab Relations & the Question of Palestine 1914-1921, 1978, pp 21-22)

And is still falling on deaf ears.