Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dross & Gold in The Weekend Australian

Conflating ISIL violence with Palestinian resistance to JSIL violence, hyping JSIL as a bastion of anti-terrorism and a bulwark of civilisation, urging Australia to adopt a more pro-JSIL 'narrative', and claiming that JSIL and Australia are made of the same stuff, takes a special kind of chutzpah, but, make no mistake, Israel's ambassador to Australia, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, has proven equal to the task:

"At a meeting of the UNSC this week Australia brought the focus of the council on to the topic of countering terrorism. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop contended that in order to adequately address terrorism, the UN must work together to learn from, and support one another in efforts to root out the perpetrators of radical violence. I applaud this initiative of Australia's, because Israel for decades has been one of the most consistent victims of radical religiously motivated violence, but we cannot fight it alone. As Bishop remarked, radical Islamic terrorists 'are an affront to Islam. All of us, including Muslim communities themselves, must do more to negate the violent extremist narratives of terrorists and denounce radical preachers of hate in our midst'. Israel sits at the frontline of the terrorists' threat and to curtail their radical dystopia from consuming the civilised world a strong and prosperous Israel is vital. This is why free and democratic countries, like Australia, should forge a strong alternative narrative of their own, that can counter the narrative of violence stoked by militant Palestinians and Islamic State. To recognise that an attack on Israeli citizens is an attack on the same fundamental ideals upon which countries like Australia were built: this is the narrative that will demonstrate to Islamic extremists that when they attack Israel - when they desecrate peaceful faith - they attack a camaraderie of nations that will not tolerate violence as a political tool." (Terror: the enemy of Palestinian statehood, The Australian, 22/11/14)

But if Ben-Shmuel's transparent sales pitch on page 15 of The Weekend Australian was its dross, Middle East correspondent John Lyons' factual and well-researched feature on the rampant Israeli colonisation fueling Palestinian desperation was its gold, effectively nailing  Ben-Shmuel's blatant hasbara:

Where the ambassador prattled on about "a grotesque theatre of violence perpetuated by a ruthless band of Palestinian extremists," and "bands of disgruntled and radicalised Palestinians [taking] matters into their own hands," Lyons wrote of "a gang of about 50 masked men [who] left Yitzhar, home to some of the most violent settlers on the West Bank, and attacked Palestinians as soldiers standing near watched on," and "armed gangs which frequently roam the West Bank destroying olive trees owned by Palestinians or attacking Palestinians physically." (Settlers fuel cycle of bloodshed)

Where Ben-Shmuel paid the obligatory lip service to "sustainable statehood for Palestinians," Lyons made no bones about the fact that the Israeli government was working to make this impossible: "While the new battle for Al-Aqsa is the immediate cause of the violence the longer-term cause is Israel's continuing expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank... They are systematically eating up land which Palestinians say should be their state and are often being built on privately owned Palestinian land... Anyone who drives across the West Bank today will see a skyline dominated by Jewish settlements."

That said, I do have one quibble in relation to Lyons' report. It comes with his initial framing of the Palestine/Israel conflict as "a new round of hostility between these two ancient combatants."

This is not an ancient struggle stretching back to the mythical 'time immemorial'. It's actually no older than World War I, when the British government of the day, in an act of monumental folly, climbed into bed with Chaim Weizmann's Zionist Organisation, and duly gave birth, in November 1917, to a right little bastard known as the Balfour Declaration. And the rest, as they say, is history - with which I expect Lyons to be familiar.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our Most Recently Rambammed

Sarah Ferguson: How do you account for [the Israel lobby] wielding so much power?
Bob Carr: I think political donations and a program of giving trips to MPs and journalists to Israel
(7.30 Report, 9/4/14)

The names of the four journalists recently rambammed by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (but not divulged in last week's Australian Jewish News - see my 15/11/14 post Why So Coy? 2) have at last appeared in this week's AJN, along with some of their deathless 'insights'.

Drum roll (or should that be shofar blast?):

David Wroe, Fairfax's defence and national security correspondent:

"Commenting on why the international media is harder on the Israelis than the Palestinians [???!!!], Wroe said it does 'expect more' from Israel. '[They] are the grown-ups [???!!!] in this conflict. They are a relatively wealthy democracy [???!!!], a sophisticated country with high education levels, they have the support of the world's most powerful country. We hold them to a higher standard [???!!!]. Does that let the Palestinians off the hook too frequently, yes, almost certainly, I wouldn't deny that. They literally do get away with murder'." (Media's double standards, 21/11/14)

I imagine Gideon Levy's piece, reproduced in my 28/10/14 post Palestinian Resistance 101, would be wasted on this goose.

Joe Aston, Australian Financial Review columnist and Nine Network roving reporter:

"... said 'very sadly' that he thought peace was 'a dream in the medium term'. 'When [PA president Mahmoud] Abbas talks about the attempted murder of Rabbi Glick and observes that it was committed by a martyr, a hero, it makes a lot of his statements in English very meaningless [but] I think Bibi's continued establishment of settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem is, if not central, certainly incendiary... certainly announcing growth in those settlements during the Kerry negotiations was a difficult sell for Israel'."


Laura Jayes, Sky News political reporter "was unavailable to present on the evening."


Rowan Dean, editor, The Spectator Australia:

"The crux of the matter is, quite simply, the Palestinians are not interested in anything that allows a Jewish majority state to exist alongside them. Their TV programs, their crossword puzzles, their kids' books are all about demeaning Jews. Arabs are told from birth that Jews are really subhuman and to be got rid of'."

Pretty hardcore, eh? No wonder, this bloke's got real form - just click on the label below.

OK, that's that lot then, but we still don't know who the 4 journalists are who were rambammed by AIJAC at the same time - see my 15/11/14 post Why So Coy? 2.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Paul Sheehan: Toeing the Likud Line

Twice-rambammed (2006 & 2008) Sydney Morning Herald calumnist Paul Sheehan just couldn't help himself.

With the leader of Jewish State in the Levant (JSIL) having recently laid down the latest Likud party line, namely, that ISIL and Hamas "are branches of the same poisonous tree," all his Fairfax acolyte down under had to do was toe it:

"Although this attack appears to have nothing to do with Islamic State, it was the latest in a series of attacks on Jews by Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent weeks, the same blood fever that has led hundreds of young men... to travel from throughout the Muslim diaspora to join the butchery of Islamic State..." (Jews bare [sic] the brunt for naive hatred of Israel, 19/11/14)

And omit, of course, any mention whatever of the "blood fever" that has JSIL fanatics butchering occupied Palestinians, or "intransigents" as Sheehan styles them:

"The core basis of hostility to Israel is a lack of acknowledgment that most of the constrictive actions Israel has taken in the Palestinian territories - the walls, roadblocks, security restrictions - has been in reaction to an intransigent Palestinian political culture, a template set in place 45 years ago by the corruption and rejectionism of the first Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat..."

OK, I knew your eyes would be rolling at this nonsense. But guess what? So did Sheehan:

"Israel's arguments are routinely greeted with eye-rolling cynicism, as if the Israelis are the bullies of the Middle East..."

As if... FFS!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Playing With Fire in Jerusalem: 2014 & 1929

Yesterday's attack by two Palestinians on a West Jerusalem synagogue is a stark reminder that those Israelis who would mess with the status quo on occupied Arab East Jerusalem's Haram ash-Sharif are playing with fire. This has been acknowledged by no less than the head of Israel's Shin Bet, Yoram Cohen:

"While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly points an accusing finger at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Israel's top secret security service said Tuesday he did not believe Abbas was responsible for the current round of terror and violence... According to the Shin Bet head, the central factors behind the current violence were the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir... and attempts by Israeli legislators to change the status-quo on the Temple Mount. According to Cohen, visits by right-wing MKs and attempts to introduce legislation which would change the status quo on the flashpoint holy site were the main factors for rising tensions in East Jerusalem... 'The religious aspect which latches onto the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict is very dangerous and volatile because it has implications on the Palestinians and Muslims around the world. We must do everything we can to defuse the current tensions,' Cohen said." (Shin Bet chief: Abbas is not inciting terror, Attila Somfalvi,, 18/11/14)

Those possessing more than a nodding acquaintance with modern Palestinian history may recall the events in Jerusalem and Hebron of August 1929 and see a parallel with the situation today. The following vivid account of those events is by American journalist Vincent Sheean:

"The disorders of Friday resulted in many deaths among both Jews and Arabs (the Arabs including Christians as well as Moslems), and the impulse of murder continued for a week. At the end of the terror the official roll for Jerusalem was: 29 Jews and 38 Arabs killed, 43 Jews and 51 Arabs wounded...

"The horrors of Friday in Jerusalem were followed by something much worse: the ghastly outbreak at Hebron, where 64 Jews of the old-fashioned religious community were slaughtered and 54 of them wounded. Hebron was one of the four holy cities of Judaism, and had a small, constant Jewish population since medieval days. These were not Zionists at all; a more innocent and harmless group of people could not have been found in Palestine; many of them were Oriental Jews, and all were religious. They had had nothing to do with the Zionist excesses [in Jerusalem], and had lived in amity with their Arab neighbours up to that day. But when the Arabs of Hebron - an unruly lot, at best - heard that Arabs were being killed by Jews in Jerusalem, and that the Mosque of Omar was in danger, they went mad... the Jewish houses were rushed by the mob, and there was an hour of slashing, killing, stabbing, burning and looting...

"I cannot, at this late date, go through all the story of that week; it has been told over and over again... At the end of the disturbances the official British casualty lists showed 207 dead and 379 wounded among the population of Palestine, of which the dead included 87 Arabs (Christian and Moslem) and 120 Jews, the wounded 181 Arabs and 198 Jews...

"The effort to be an efficient, unemotional newspaper correspondent was difficult to the point of impossibility. Living as I did without sleep and without rest, eating little, and that at the weirdest hours, I should probably have collapsed in time simply from physical exhaustion. But there was a great deal more in it than that. I was bitterly indignant with the Zionists for having, as I believed, brought on this disaster*; I was shocked into hysteria by the ferocity of the Arab anger; and I was aghast at the inadequacy of the British government. I knew that the Moslem authorities were trying to quell the storm, and that the British officials were doing their best against appalling difficulties; I also assumed that the responsible Zionist leaders (none of whom were in Palestine then) had done what they could. But all around me were the visible evidences of their failure. Although I had spent a good part of my life amid scenes of violence and was no stranger to the sight of blood and dying men, I had never overcome my loathing for the spectacle even when it seemed, as in some of the conflicts I had witnessed, compelled by historical necessity. But here, in this miserable little country, no bigger, in relation to the rest of the world, than the tip of your finger in relation to your body, I could see no historical necessity whatever. The country was tiny and already inhabited: why couldn't the Zionists leave it alone? It would never hold enough Jews to make even a beginning towards the solution of the Jewish problem; it would always be a prey to such ghastly horrors as those I saw every day and every night: religion, the eternal intransigence of religion, ensured that the problem could never be solved. The Holy Land seemed as near an approximation of hell on earth as I had ever seen." (Personal History, 1935; quoted in From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism & the Palestine Problem Until 1948, Edited by Walid Khalidi, 1971, pp 298-300)

Britain's 1930 Shaw Commission, charged with the task of investigating these events, concluded that their immediate cause was: "The long series of incidents connected with the Wailing Wall... but the incident among them which in our view contributed most to the outbreak was the Jewish demonstration at the Wailing Wall on 15 August 1929."

"The fundamental cause, without which in our opinion disturbances either would not have occurred or would not have been little more than a local riot," the Commission concluded, "is the Arab feeling of animosity and hostility towards the Jews consequent upon the disappointment of their political and national aspirations and fear for their economic future... The feeling as it exists today is based on the twofold fear of the Arabs that by Jewish immigration and land purchases they may be deprived of their livelihood and in time pass under the political domination of the Jews."

If, for Sheehan, Palestine in 1929 was "as near an approximation of hell on earth as I had ever seen," one can only wonder what he'd make of it today.

[*These were the 'Maccabees', armed followers of Vladimir Jabotinsky, godfather of Revisionist Zionism, the movement which, in its current Likud incarnation, now governs Israel. Netanyahu's fire-eating father, Benzion, was Jabotinsky's secretary. See my 24/9/11 post Benzion, My Father.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shlomo Sand: To Be a Jew in Israel

Essential reading from Shlomo Sand's whistle-blowing must-read How I Stopped Being a Jew (2014):

"To be a Jew in the State of Israel does not mean that you have to respect the commandments or believe in the God of the Jews. You are allowed, like David Ben-Gurion, to dabble in Buddhist beliefs. You may, like Ariel Sharon, eat locusts while keeping a kosher household. You may keep your head uncovered, as do the majority of Israeli political and military leaders. In most Israeli towns, public transport does not operate on the Shabbat, but you should feel free to use your own car as much as you like. You may gesticulate and hurl insults at a football stadium on the sacred day of rest, and no religious politician will dare protest. Even on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, children freely play on their bicycles in every courtyard in the city. As long as they do not come from Arabs, anti-Jewish abominations remain legitimate in the state of the Jews.

"What is the meaning, then, of being 'Jewish' in the State of Israel? There is no doubt about it: being Jewish in Israel means, first and foremost, being a privileged citizen who enjoys prerogatives refused to those who are not Jews, and particularly those who are Arabs. If you are a Jew, you are able to identify with the state that proclaims itself the expression of the Jewish essence. If you are a Jew, you can buy land that a non-Jewish citizen is not allowed to acquire. If you are a Jew, even if you speak only a stumbling Hebrew and envisage staying in Israel only temporarily, you can be governor of the Bank of Israel, which employs only four Israeli Arabs in subordinate positions out of a staff of seven hundred. If you are a Jew, you can be minister of foreign affairs and live permanently in a settlement located outside the legal borders of the state, alongside Palestinian neighbours deprived of all civic rights as well as sovereignty over themselves. If you are a Jew, you can not only establish colonies on land that does not belong to you, but can also travel through Judea and Samaria on roads that the local inhabitants, living in their own country, do not have the right to use. If you are a Jew, you will not be stopped at roadblocks, you will not be tortured, you will not have your house searched in the middle of the night, you will not be targeted nor will you see your house demolished by mistake. These actions, which have continued for close to fifty years, are designed and reserved solely for Arabs.

"In the State of Israel in the early twenty-first century, does it not appear that being a Jew corresponds to being a white in the southern United States in the 1950s or a French person in Algeria before 1962? Does not the status of Jews in Israel resemble that of the Afrikaners in South Africa before 1994? And is it possible that it might soon resemble the status of the Aryan in Germany in the 1930s? (Resemblance has its limits, however: I utterly reject the least comparison with Germany in the 1940s.)

"How, in these conditions, can individuals who are not religious believers but are simply humanists, democrats and liberals, and endowed with a minimum of honesty, continue to define themselves as Jews? In these conditions, can the descendants of the persecuted let themselves be embraced in the tribe of new secular Jews who see Israel as their exclusive property? Is not the very fact of defining oneself as a Jew within the State of Israel an act of affiliation to a privileged caste which creates intolerable injustices around itself?" (pp 85-7)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shlomo Sand: The 'New Jews'

Essential reading from Shlomo Sand's whistle-blowing must-read, How I Stopped Being a Jew (2014):

"According to the spirit of its laws, the State of Israel belongs more to non-Israelis than it does to its citizens who live there. It claims to be the national inheritance more of the world's 'new Jews' (for instance, Paul Wolfowitz, former president of the World Bank; Michael Levy, the well-known British philanthropist and peer in the House of Lords; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Vladimir Gusinsky, the Russian media oligarch who lives in Spain) than of the 20% of its citizens identified as Arabs, whose parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were born within its territory. Various nabobs of Jewish origin from around the world thus feel the right to intervene in Israeli life; through massive investment in the media and the political apparatus, they increasingly seek to influence its leaders and its orientation.

"Intellectuals who know well that the state of the Jews is their own also figure among the ranks of the 'new Jews'. Bernard-Henri Levi, Alan Dershowitz, Alexandre Adler, Howard Jacobson, David Horowitz, Henryk M. Broder and numerous other champions of Zionism, active in various fields of the mass media, are quite clear about their political preferences. Contrary to what Moscow meant for Communists abroad in former times, or Beijing for the Maoists of the 1960s, Jerusalem really is their property. They have no need to know the history or the geography of the place, nor are they obligated to learn its languages (Hebrew or Arabic), to work there or pay taxes, or - thank heaven! - to serve in its army. It is enough to make a short visit to Israel, readily obtain an identity card, and acquire a secondary residence there before returning immediately to their national culture and their mother tongue, while remaining in perpetuity a co-proprietor of the Jewish state - and all this simply for having been lucky enough to be born of a Jewish mother.

"The Arab inhabitants of Israel, on the other hand, if they marry a Palestinian of the opposite sex in the occupied territories, do not have the right to bring their spouses to live in Israel, for fear that they will become citizens and thereby increase the number of non-Jews in the Promised Land.

"That last assertion, in fact, requires a certain amplification. If an immigrant identified as Jewish arrives from Russia or the United States along with his non-Jewish wife, the latter will have the right to citizenship. However, even if the spouse and her children are never considered Jews, the fact that they are not Arab will prevail over the fact of not being Jewish. 'White' immigrants from Europe or America, even if not Jewish, have always enjoyed somewhat tolerant treatment. To diminish the demographic weight of the Arabs, it is judged better to weaken the Jewish state through non-Jewish dilution, so long as the newcomers are white Europeans." (pp 84-85)

Next post: Shlomo Sand: To be a Jew in Israel

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How Much Can a Koala Bear?


No sooner has Tony Abbott declared that Australia was "nothing but bush" and "extraordinarily basic and raw" before the coming of the White Man in 1788 than he's draping G20 summit attendees with... koala bears. (Kissing koalas charm G20 leaders,, 16/11/14)