Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Iraqi Kurdish Independence Referendum

Kurdish warlords plot independence course to fill the ISIS vacuum, The Economist/The Australian, 25/9/17:

"As the jihadists of the so-called Islamic State retreat, the Arab and Kurdish forces allied against it in Iraq are turning their arms towards each other.

"Rather than celebrate victory, Masoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, called a referendum on independence for today, not just in his constitutionally recognised autonomous zone but in the vast tracts that his forces seized from Islamic State. Protesting against this threat to Iraq's integrity, Iraq's Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi gathered his commanders at Makhmour, opposite the Kurdish front lines. If the referendum went ahead, Kurdistan 'might disappear', he warned. Hoping to prevent to prevent their allies from sparring, Western mediators have stepped in. But yesterday Barzani remained committed to his referendum.

"Kurdistan is far from ready for statehood. The government is steeped in debt; its coffers are empty. The Peshmerga, its vaunted fighting force, is split among family-led factions.

"Barzani, for his part, has made a mockery of the political system. In 2015 he shut parliament after it tried to limit his powers and questioned how he spends oil revenues. Instead of dealing with the region's ills ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections planned for November, he has used the referendum to distract the public and rouse nationalist fervour. Rallies across Kurdistan feature fireworks and fiery rhetoric. 'Whatever it takes (to gain independence),' says a normally cool-headed official at a rally. A toll of half a million dead, he suggests, could be acceptable.

"Neighbours around the enclave are uniting against the Kurds. Iraqi politicians speak of closing its airspace. Fearing that the referendum will stir separatists sentiments among their own Kurds, Turkey and Iran have mulled closing their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey is conducting military exercises on the frontier. It could turn off the tap of the territory's only pipeline, blocking its oil exports. Western powers are also threatening to withhold aid to Kurdistan if Barzani rejects their proposals.They are offering Barzani and Abadi a room in the US embassy to negotiate a deal under their auspices. Abadi might endorse a process that buys him time. Barzani is still hoping for a path to independence.

"Many Kurds, for now at least, would prefer their leaders focus on improving Kurdistan rather than seceding. Even in the Kurdish capital, Irbil, the referendum has left many nonplussed. As the threat of a siege mounts - Kurdistan imports almost everything - people are stockpiling basics. Flights out of Irbil are packed. But many are feeling squeezed financially. The referendum is 'a luxury only the rich like Barzani can afford,' complains a teacher, who moonlights as a taxi driver because of cuts to salaries. Beyond Barzani's strongholds the campaign for independence has begun belatedly, if at all. In a straw poll in the main market of Sulaymaniyah, in the east, your correspondent could not find one Kurd who said he would vote.

"In the Nineveh Plains, where an earthen wall splits the Arab- and Kurdish-ruled areas, other minorities view the referendum as an impossible loyalty test. 'Each side is forcing us to choose when we should just abstain,' says a priest at St Joseph's, a towering Chaldean church that serves displaced Christians in Irbil. Abadi is planning a conference for Christians to air their grievances at the end of the month. Barzani is urging priests not to go.

"The tensions are also affecting Kurds beyond Kurdistan. Under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad was Iraq's largest Kurdish city. Many Kurds have since drifted north, but hundreds still hold positions in the government and the army. Their loyalty has been questioned and jobs put at risk.

"If violence flares, Kirkuk may be where it starts. The fighting could spread quickly along the region's ethnic faultlines into Syria, where Arab and Kurdish forces are also competing to take land from Islamic State.

"Even if the referendum passes, Barzani is not obliged to declare independence. A deal might better serve his interests. Right now, he risks ignominy if the exuberance of statehood that he has stoked should dissipate, and his people flee a failed and besieged state. With an accord, he could boast of at least bringing evasive Iraqi officials to the table. He might yet win their agreement to restore the old subsidy for the Kurds that was cut when they began selling Kirkuk's plentiful oil independently. And he might add the Peshmerga to the Iraqi government's payroll, as was done for the Shia militias. He would thus alleviate Kurdish fears of being marginalised, having served their purpose in fighting Islamic State.

"Come the election in November, Western powers are likely to turn a blind eye if the ballot is again postponed. If so, Barzani could thus secure his position as Kurdistan's preeminent warlord, and prolong his one-man rule."

Monday, September 25, 2017

That Was Then. This Is Now

Compare and contrast:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine... " Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917

"Over 50 Christian and Muslim sites have been vandalized in Israel and the West Bank since 2009, but only 9 indictments have been filed and only 7 convictions handed down, according to Public Security Ministry data. Moreover, only 8 of the 53 cases are still under investigation, with the other 45 all closed." (53 mosques & churches vandalized in Israel since 2009, Yotan Berger & Nir Hasson, Haaretz, 24/9/17)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Joy of British Imperialism

What a damning indictment of little britain this finding is:

"The British public are generally proud of their country's role in colonialism and the British Empire, according to a new poll. At its height in 1922 the British Empire governed a fifth of the world's population and a quarter of the world's total land area... YouGov found 44% were proud of Britain's history of colonialism while only 21% regretted that it happened. 23% held neither view... The British Empire is not widely taught in detail in British schools, with history lessons tending to focus on other areas." (British people are generally proud of their country's role in colonialism and the British Empire, poll finds, Jon Stone, independent.co.uk, 19/1/16)

Trawling through the 320 comments which follow the report, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of little brits wouldn't even know the Balfour Declaration if it hit them in the face. Staggeringly, only one mentioned Palestine, Britain's worst ever colonial crime, and even then referred to it as 'Israel'.

Some examples of the abysmal ignorance of little brits on the subject of British colonialism in general, and the Middle East in particular, are as follows. The first borders on Trumpian parody:

"British Empire. Fantastic. Winners. Changed the world for the better. And made a fortune while doing it. No sitting idle on benefits for them. Technology, the law, exploration - the Brits were at the forefront. But nice to see so many comments from the heirs of so many losers. Obviously not exterminated. Clearly no genocide. To cap it all, the British were thoroughly nice too, freely handing back countries when the natives had gained some modicum of civility. Best Empire ever." (ScottishDanno)

As for the Middle East:

"The Middle East, to it's (sic) benefit would be seeing the rule of secular law right now rather than the vicious rule of religion." (PGwood)

Simple-minded PGwood is obviously blissfully unaware that his country was single-handedly responsible for transforming unsuspecting multi-sectarian Ottoman Palestine into the viciously mono-sectarian Jewish state of Israel.

The only response to PGwood, from NK, missed the opportunity to point this out, asking merely "Why would you want Britain to meddle in how people run their own countries? If reform is to take place there then let it happen from within. Look at the mess in Iraq and Syria right now because of British and US meddling."

PGwood, clearly oblivious to the fact that the Middle East isn't 'next door' to Britain, replied, apropos of nothing: "If your neighbour is throwing rocks at his wife, do you say something about it. or not?"

Coming closer to Britain's meddling in the Middle East, but nonetheless maddeningly vague, is this effort:

"Those getting all misty-eyed about colonialism would to well to reflect on its enduring legacy. No, not cricket and railway networks but the mess that is now the Middle East and North Africa and the human wave that is only starting to rebound on Europe. Empire is (sic) a very long embrace indeed." (lastflightout)

To which came this blame-it-all-on-the-French, blatantly racist reply:

"It didn't endure. It has no legacy. And actually, the Middle Eastern and African countries with most problems seem to have been French, not British. Regardless, when the civilised Europeans left, the natives returned to their brutal, savage and backward ways." (Brad_Humberside)

Which in turn elicited the following rejoinders: "Saudi Arabia? Israel? Yes? Would you like to have another go at defending British barbarism?" (Kay Parlay); "'civilised Europeans' - yes, so civilised they didn't know to wash their behinds after defecating, or wash their hands after that before eating." (adamcrossphoto)

But back to the "problems" of the Middle East. We've already had Brad_Humberside pointing the finger at the French, now we've got this genius blaming the Ottoman Empire:

"The middle east problems were as much caused by the collapse of Ottoman power (only partially nudged over the line by the British and French) and the ungainly carve up afterwards. Not the Empires finest moment maybe but you can only ever deal with the problems in front of you at the time." (RevCr)

Only partially NUDGED over the line!!!??? But let's focus on "the problems in front of you," shall we?

There was, in fact, no problem for the British and French to deal with in the Middle East during World War I or immediately thereafter. Rather, these two imperialist bovver boys created problems for the people of the Middle East:

Britain, for example, who had promised her Arab allies independence in the 1915 McMahon Treaty, betrayed them by agreeing to divide the Arab world between themselves and the French in the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. It then went on to compound that treachery by supporting, in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, thus creating the Palestine problem where before there had been no such problem.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The One Subject On Which All US Presidents Agree...

... and why.

Remember, as you read the following 'Who'd-have-thought,' that its author, Aaron David Miller (Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center), believes that the presidency, not the Israel lobby, is the decisive force in US Middle East policy. Hence his surprise at the enduring nature of the Trump/Netanyahu bromance:

"A year ago... I predicted that it would only be only a matter of time before US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be annoying the hell out of one another, and that anyone who believed that Trumpland would produce a dramatic improvement in the US-Israeli relationship ought to lie down and wait quietly until the feeling passed... Clearly... I've been dead wrong. As Netanyahu and Trump met Monday at the United Nations General Assembly for the third time in the president's first eight months - a first in the history of US-Israeli relations - even I'm a little stunned by how the relationship has blossomed seemingly without serious disruption and complication. So where did I wander off the highway? And what, if anything, might change in what appears to be not just an extended honeymoon but a pretty happy marriage?" (Mea culpa: I said Trump & Bibi would blow up, foreignpolicy.com, 18/9/17)

Back in the wake of the 2007 publication of Mearsheimer & Walt's groundbreaking study, The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, Miller insisted in an interview that "the two professors attached far to much importance to the influence of the pro-Israeli community [Miller's euphemism for Israel lobby] as a force in America's Middle East policy," that "when presidents lead... lobbies almost always will follow," and that, "in the case of Arab-Israeli peacemaking... lobbies don't carry the day." (Debate over controversial 'Israel Lobby' continues, npr.org, 20/9/07)

In light of his 'Oh-what-a-surprise' Foreign Policy piece, I'd remind Miller's of the following words of Mearsheimer & Walt's (taken from the introduction to the book Miller dismissed, in the above interview, with these words: "I'm not sure I would describe the book as a thoroughly important one."):

"America is about to enter a presidential election year... The candidates will inevitably differ on various domestic issues - health care, abortion, gay marriage, taxes, education, immigration - and spirited debates are certain to erupt on a host of foreign policy questions as well... Yet on one subject, we can be equally confident that the candidates will speak with one voice. In 2008, as in previous election years, serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep personal commitment to one foreign country - Israel - as well as their determination to maintain unyielding US support for the Jewish state. Each candidate will emphasize that he or she fully appreciates the multitude of threats facing Israel and make it clear that, if elected, the United States will remain firmly committed to defending Israel's interests under any and all circumstances. None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the United States ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. Any who do will probably fall by the wayside." (p 3)

And why is this so?:

"The real reason why American politicians are so deferential is the political power of the Israel lobby." (p 5)

So much for presidents leading and lobbies  - Miller can't even bring himself to say 'Israel lobby' - following.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

When Rudd Went Rogue...

Ever dreamt of having the POWER & INFLUENCE to put words into a politician's mouth? Read on:

"Five days later I [John Lyons] was in Cairo, covering a visit by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. At a news conference, he spoke about his desire for Iran to agree the regular international inspections of its nuclear facilities. An Egyptian journalist asked: if Iran and other nations had to agree to inspections, why shouldn't Israel? Rudd remarked that he could not dispute the logic, and agreed that all countries with nuclear weapons should have to submit to regular inspections.

"My ears pricked up. I knew Israel preferred that nobody even referred to their nuclear weapons, let alone talked about inspections...

"So after the news conference I asked Rudd if he could elaborate on his comments. He told me: 'Our view has been consistent for a long period of time, and that is that all States in the region should adhere to the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty], and that includes Israel. And therefore their nuclear facility should be subject to IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspection.'

"Soon afterwards, Rudd was a guest at one of Albert Dadon's banquets at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem... The evening had been going calmly... when the mood in the room suddenly changed. An unwelcome guest had just arrived at the banquet courtesy of the Internet. My interview with Kevin Rudd in which he declared that Israel should not be exempt from international inspections had just been published online. People were standing looking at their phones and reading the story. The anger started bouncing off the walls.

"Sylvie came over to me: 'That man over there is telling people that you've verballed Kevin Rudd in your interview!'

"'That man' was Yuval Rotem, Israel's Ambassador to Australia - who had travelled to Jerusalem for that trip...

"By now it was fair to say I was pretty fired up. So often people instinctively blame the messenger if they don't like what someone has said. And so I went looking for Rotem. 'Ambassador, I hear you are telling people that Kevin Rudd did not make those comments about nuclear inspectors.'

"Rotem seemed uncomfortable that I had challenged him. 'Well, no Australian foreign minister has ever said that before,' he answered. 'Why would Kevin Rudd say it?'

"'Don't you think that's a question for you to ask Kevin Rudd?' I resonded. 'There are two tapes of that interview - I have one and Mr Rudd's staff have one. Would you like a copy? And Mr Rudd is just over there... '

"Just then Rudd's chief of staff, Philip Green, walked past. I beckoned him over. 'Philip, Mr Rotem is saying Foreign Minister Rudd never called for international inspectors for Israel's nuclear facilities.'

"'He did,' replied green. 'We have no problem with your story.'

"I then went looking for [Michael] Danby, who was also telling people in the room he doubted the story, and explained the same thing to him. Danby then switched his anger from me to Rudd. 'I'm going to take this up with Andrea Faulkner,' he said, referring to the Australian Ambassador to Israel...

"Now that it was clear that the quotes were not made up, the gates of fury opened against Kevin Rudd. The next morning I saw huddles in the foyer of the King David Hotel as different groups from Dadon's delegation discussed the issue.

"Dadon told me that while theoretically Israel should be under the same regime of inspections as anyone else, in reality they should be exempt. He was going to talk to Rudd and insist that he say at his upcoming press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Israel had 'unique' security circumstances'.

"At the press conference, Lieberman addressed the nuclear issue. 'What is important is not whether any country is a member of the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] but whether it is responsible,' he said. 'Israel does not regard any inspector as necessary, as it is a responsible country, and we have proved this for many years.'

"Then came Rudd's turn to speak. He concentrated more on Iran's situation, saying Australia was deeply concerned about Iran's nuclear program. Then he mentioned Israel. 'We recognise... Israel's unique security circumstances... but in terms of our fundamental position on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as it applies to this region... all states should be in, including Israel.'

"And so, while he had restated his position, he had added the words that Dadon told me he had wanted him to add.

"Dadon could not come to the press conference but, knowing that I was going along, telephoned me at home that night. He asked: 'Did Kevin use the phrase 'unique security circumstances?'

"'Yes,' I said.

"'Good.'" (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, 2017, pp 268-71)

For the details as reported at the time, see my 20/12/10 post The Kevin Rudd Road Show 2.

Yet again: BUY THIS BOOK!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Rohingya Nakba

"Amnesty International says it has found evidence of an 'orchestrated campaign of systematic burnings' by Myanmar security forces targeting dozens of Rohingya villages over the past three weeks. The human rights group released a new analysis of video, satellite photos, witness accounts and other data that found more than 80 sites were torched in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State... The UN children's agency estimates about 389,000 people have fled to Bangladesh to escape a military offensive that has been described as ethnic cleansing." (Military burning Rohingya out: Amnesty, The Australian, 16/9/17)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Shout It from the Rooftops!

Could this be the first time in Australian history that the following sentiment has been publicly expressed?:

"For more than 20 years, Australians have read and heard pro-Israel positions from journalists, editors, politicians, trade union leaders, academics and students who have returned from the all-expenses-paid Israel-lobby trips. As someone who has both taken one of these trips when I was the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and then many years later lived in Israel for six years, I am in a position to compare what one is exposed to on these trips and the truth. In my opinion no editors, journalists or others should take these trips: they grotesquely distort the reality and are dangerous in the sense that they allow people with a very small amount of knowledge to pollute Australian public opinion. Those on the trips return to Australia thinking they have some sort of grasp of the place, but they have spent more time in Tel Aviv's most expensive restaurants and cafes and in settlements than looking at the real crisis behind trying to continue an occupation against another people. The effect of these trips is to shore up opinion behind the hardline pro-settlement elements of Israel politics. They allow Israel to avoid the public backlash that objective reporting of their settlement activity would bring." (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, John Lyons, 2017, p 288)

If you haven't yet purchased a copy of Lyons' book, please, do it NOW!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rambamming Works Wonders

John Lyons, former Middle East correspondent for The Australian has reported in his new book that:

"Soon after I arrived in Israel, I asked an Israeli military commander, Lieutenant Colonel Eliezer Toledano, the operations officer for the Israeli Army in the West Bank, whether he regarded the West Bank as 'occupied'. He looked puzzled. I explained that for years the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne had insisted to me that the West Bank was not 'occupied'. 'If this is not occupied then the media has missed one of the biggest stories of your time, our withdrawal from the West Bank,' the commander responded, laughing." (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, 2017, p 279)

The aforementioned "pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne" is, of course, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), organisers of the  'Rambam study visit' to Israel in which Anne Aly and several other federal Labor politicians (Meryl Swanson (NSW), Milton Dick (QLD), Julian Hill (VIC), Steve Georganas (SA) and SA senator Alex Gallacher) participated in March this year.*

Just how successful the visit was in Rambamming home AIJAC's 'not occupied' propaganda line is particularly evident in the report-back responses of Rambamees Meryl Swanson, MP (Paterson, NSW) and Milton Dick (Oxley).

Here's Swanson:

"Like a lot of people, I had watched documentaries and read things and thought, these people [Palestinians] are occupied. I've come home feeling that [view] has somewhat shifted, and that my perspectives are far broader now... I'm now thinking about what I can do in my electorate to form [agricultural] linkages with Israel." (Israel trip empowered MPs, The Australian Jewish News, 4/4/17)

And here's Dick:

"I think terms that are often bandied about - like settlements, occupation, apartheid and the wall - these are all easy catchphrases and cliches to use, and often there isn't a counterbalance given to a lot of those arguments." (ibid)

[*For the record, in addition to the above flock of Labor sheep, AIJAC was also shepherding around, at the same time, a flock of their Liberal counterparts: Tony Pasin (SA) ("Sadly... too much of what we read [in newspapers] is written through a villain and victim prism, and not through the prism of peace."), Nicole Flint (SA), Andrew Hastie (WA), Andrew Wallace (QLD) and SA state shadow minister Corey Wingard.]

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kissing Cousins

Australia's first female Muslim MP, Labor's Anne Aly (Cowan, WA), went on a study tour of Israel in March this year. Apparently, so overwhelmed was she that she's only just now gotten around to unburdening herself on the subject at an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) debriefing in Perth:

"When the opportunity came to visit Israel, I was grateful because I needed to have the experience. I needed to go and see for myself... to actually experience what it was like in Israel rather than fit into some kind of position I should take on any of the issues... I really wanted to formulate my own opinion through my own experience, because nothing replaces the experience of actually being somewhere and having that experience of being there." (WA MP talks of her visit to Israel, jwire.com, 14/9/17)

Ah, the politician's lot. That email/phone call. That knock on the door. What could it portend? Well, blow me down if it isn't an opportunity to visit Israel.

And what a wonderful opportunity that is! Just imagine, you not only get to formulate your own opinion of the Palestine/Israel shindig through your own experience, but have attentive Israel lobbyists on hand to decide where you go and who you speak to, and afterwards whisk you off to all the best eateries in the land. You'd be silly to pass it up, eh?

As it happens, Aly, who had arrived in Australia at the tender age of two, recalled the words of her mother:

"Growing up... my mother always called Jewish people our cousins. Always called Israelis our cousins."

Cousins, eh? Not so much a rambamming as a family visit! (After all, isn't MUM the word?) And, hey, doesn't Mrs Aly's homely maternal wisdom put the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 in a whole new light? Mere family tiffs! And all praise to cuz Anwar for kissing and making up with cuz Menachem at the White House in 1979, cuz since then it's been kissing cousins all the way.

The despair over the Palestine/Israel contretemps that had apparently dogged Ms Aly for all of her 49 years disappeared, I'm pleased to hear, in an instant:

"It's really easy to get caught up in the kind of despair of you know 40 or 50 years of no resolution, but what I saw, what I saw was inspiration. What I saw was people who want to live in peace... "

No, nothing even vaguely resembling a brutal OCCUPATION - just smiling, welcoming Israeli cousins, all apparently cooing 'Shalom ilaykum, cuz' at Ms Aly.

Of course, once blinded by anti-Israel propaganda, she could now see that Mum was right all along:

"The only exposure that I really ever had to the whole Palestine-Israel question was with propaganda. We really need to be vigilant against that, and particularly we need to be vigilant against propagandising the situation to be about Muslim versus Jew. It's not about Muslims versus Jews. Muslims and Jews are cousins."

And the proof in the pudding? Her Israeli cousins tenderly ministering to their fallen-on-hard-times Syrian cousins:

"Dr Aly recalled an emotional encounter at the Ziv hospital in Safed, where Israeli doctors treat victims of the Syrian Civil War. Dr Aly talked about how she became a translator for her fellow MPs [Senator Alex Gallacher, Julian Hill, Steve Georganas, Meryl Swanson and Milton Dick*]. She also reflected on her admiration for the doctors and staff who are treating the injured Syrians."

Now that must've been one, like, almighty emotional encounter for the normally phlegmatic Aly, cuz: "When I was going to the White House people were like, 'Wow you must be so excited to meet Obama' and I was like 'meh'." (Why teenage extremism is personal for Anne Aly, Rachel Olding, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/2/16)

[*I'll deal with these rambammed non-relatives in my next post.]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Way Forward

"The human rights and Palestine solidarity organization, BDS South Africa, welcomes the calling-off of the Africa-Israel Summit which was meant to take place in Togo next month. The decision comes following several boycott threats. This is welcomed as good news by human rights organisations and the global BDS movement which has called for the isolation of Israel over its human rights abuses and violations of international law... Last month it was reported that several countries, including South Africa, were planning to boycott the summit. South African Ambassador Sean Benfeldt explained that South Africa will not take part because the summit was viewed as a step by Israel to normalize relations between Africa and an 'occupation state.' In addition, the head of International Relations for South Africa's governing ANC party, Minister Edna Molewa, is quoted as saying on the issue: 'We cannot turn a blind eye to Israeli efforts to galvanise support from Africa and elsewhere, with a view to undermining the Palestinian cause.' BDS South Africa welcomes the decision and commends South Africa and other African states who were to boycott the summit. However, our governments must continue to resist all Israeli attempts to influence, corrupt or weaken our solidarity with the Palestinians - including attempts, in contradiction to our policies, by some within our own Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The Palestinians were a people that supported us during the darkest days of Apartheid, while Isreal, we painfully remember, was supplying arms to the Apartheid government." (BDS South Africa Press Statement: Israel-Africa Summit called off following boycott threats, 11/9/17)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Avnery Takes Us For a Ride

In support of the contention that age doesn't automatically confer wisdom, I offer the following reflection by birthday boy, Uri Avnery:

"The Arabs were here before we arrived... I still believe that the early Zionists made a terrible mistake when they did not try to combine their aspirations with the hopes of the Palestinian population. Realpolitik told them to embrace their Turkish oppressors instead. Sad. The best description of the conflict was given by the historian Isaac Deutscher: a man lives in an upper floor of a house that catches fire. In desperation the man jumps out of the window and lands on a passerby down below, who is grievously injured and becomes an invalid. Between the two, there erupts a deadly conflict. Who is right?" (A confession: Uri Avnery turns 93, antiwar.com, 8/9/17)

The first 3 sentences indicate either that Avnery has no real understanding of the settler-colonial nature of the Zionist movement or, more likely, is merely having a lend of us. Beyond sad.

Given its settler-colonial nature, at no stage in its history could the Zionist movement have given any serious thought to "combining their aspirations with the hopes of the Palestinian population."

Just to drive home the point, let me quote from an early Zionist document which a reader of this blog kindly referred me to recently. The author of Our Program, Menachem Ussishkin, Secretary of the First Zionist Congress (1897) and head of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) from 1923 until 1941, wrote in 1904:

"In order to create... a Jewish state in Palestine, it is above all necessary that the whole soil of Palestine... should be in the possession of Jews... But how is land obtained in any country? Only in one of the following three ways: by force, that is, by depriving the possessor of his property by violent means; by forced sale, that is, by expropriation (the taking of private property for public purposes) by the state; or by voluntary sale. Which of these three means is applicable in Palestine? The first is entirely excluded. For that we are too weak... "

Not excluded, mind you, because it was morally repugnant, but excluded because the Zionist movement had yet to take up arms and ethnically cleanse Palestine. Ussishkin, btw, would go on, in 1936, to advocate that the Palestinian Arabs be transferred to Iraq.

As for Avnery's "best description of the conflict [with the Palestinians]," Deutscher's fable of the falling man, see Christopher Hitchens' demolition job on that, quoted in my 27/2/14 post George Brandis, 'Hitch 22' and Some Burning Questions.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What an Inspiration She Is!

"The Australian government encourages the people of Africa to see us as an open-cut mine for lessons learned, for skills, for innovation and, I would like to think, inspiration." - Julie Bishop quoted in Australians ripping $40b out of Africa, Eryk Bagshaw, The Sun-Herald, 10/9/17)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Innocent Bystander in Tough Neighbourhood...

... just drops in to say hello:

"Israeli jets flew low over the city of Saida in southern Lebanon in southern Lebanon on Sunday causing sonic booms that broke windows and shook buildings... " (Israeli jets break sound barrier in south Lebanon causing damage, reuters.com, 10/9/17)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Phillip Adams: Normalising Zionism

More muddying of the Palestine/Israel waters by the ABC's Philip Adams:

"We are all, each and every one of us, dual citizens... Just as Muslims pray to Mecca, Australia's Roman Catholics are, in a real sense, dual citizens of Australia and Vatican city. Australian Jews, from the Orthodox to the secular, have a form of dual citizenship with Israel. All diaspora cultures are powerfully connected to the cultures that gave them birth... " (Layers of loyalties, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 9/9/17)

Let's get this straight.

Australian Muslims have no designs on Mecca. They merely face it when praying, and, on occasion, visit as pilgrims.

Australia's Roman Catholics acknowledge the Pope as their spiritual leader. For historical reasons, he just happens to reside in the Vatican.

While Israeli Jews resident in Australia may be said to constitute an Israeli diaspora,  Australian Jews, in general (whether born overseas or in Australia), have no diasporic connection whatever with Israel.

Just because political Zionism pushes the fantasy that all Jews, no matter their ethnicity, origin, or current citizenship, constitute a 'people/nation', and that the Zionist entity known as Israel is the 'national home' of this alleged 'people/nation' does not make it so.

And just because successive governments of this entity have sought to con Jews into emigrating there by legislating an apartheid 'Law of Return' (1950), granting anyone who can demonstrate a biological connection with a Jewish woman automatic citizenship rights, does not mean that Australian Jews are bound by it or have to take it seriously.

Suffice it to say that it is precisely the most ardent Zionists in Australia's Jewish community - Colin Rubenstein, Vic Alhadeff, Michael Danby et al - who never take advantage of this "form of dual citizenship," as Adams puts it, and emigrate to Israel.

The only genuine diaspora associated with the usurping Zionist entity is the Palestinian Arab diaspora. But you'll never hear about that from Adams.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Zionists and their fellow-travellers (think here of Turnbull/Shorten, for example) are always banging on about Israel's alleged lack of security. They discourse endlessly about its need for 'secure borders,' 'security fences,' and about 'living in a tough neighbourhood.'

All bullshit, of course, designed to mask a genocidal reality.

The simple fact of the matter is that ever since the predatory, European settler-colonial movement known as Zionism was introduced into historic Palestine by the British after World War I, it has turned the lives of its indigenous Arab population into a living hell of insecurity and fear.

When next you hear a Zionist droning on about Israel's alleged need for security, spare a thought for the utterly defenceless inhabitants of the tiny West Bank village of Umm al-Kheir:

"Spent the last two days at Umm al-Kheir, a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills, enjoying the wonderful hospitality, generosity, and loving kindness. This was not my first trip there. And as much as I hate to say it, as with most things in Palestine, things are so much worse than my last visit. The illegal colonial settlement of Carmel belonging to the entity called Israel surrounds the village on almost every side. Some of the tents and housing units are less than 20 feet from the 'security fence'. Housing units in the illegal settlement have increased and more are being built, with plans to take more of the land owned by the village to continue expansion.

"The villagers sit day after day waiting for the illegal occupation soldiers to come with their bulldozers to demolish more of their housing. People speak openly about their discouragement for their future but still stand steadfast, [saying] that they will not be moved or defeated. Our tent was one of those closest to the fence and for two nights we sat up most of the night while Zionists threw stones over the fence at the tent or at anything that appeared to move. The village leader says the violence is increasing all the time and fears that one of these nights something much worse than stones will be thrown. Fortunately, no one was hurt (physically) the past two nights but there was little or no sleep for us or any of the men of the village who sat up keeping an open eye and ear to try to spot the thugs doing this. The commotion would wake up many of the villagers and you could hear the crying of many frightened small children throughout the night.

"This is an every night occurrence and everyone is exhausted, all of the time, and can only catch a few hours of sleep after sunrise. Phone calls to the police of the entity called Israel Police as well as the Palestinian Authority Police are a waste of time. No one will respond to the calls for help to make the settler violence stop. Many Internationals, such as ourselves, go for a few nights (when we have the people to do so) to help with a protective presence but it doesn't stop the ever-increasing settler violence. The Bedouin are a very peaceful people and are committed to nonviolence but they are called terrorists by the Zionists and most of the Zionist-supporting governments of the world (such as the United States). More International presence is needed, and more of the world needs to know the truth." (Two nights in Umm al-Kheir: a journal, palsolidarity.org, 5/9/17)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Israeli Pot to North Korean Kettle

You'd think a UN-defiant, nuclear-armed, apartheid state would simply STFU, but nooo:

"Israel condemned on Monday the hydrogen bomb test carried out by North Korea on Sunday, saying the test 'is a continuation of the defiant conduct' of the country. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement that 'North Korea must comply with all of the Security Council resolutions and refrain from testing and developing weapons of mass destruction and the means to launch them." (Israel condemns North Korea's nuclear test, calls for 'decisive international reaction', Barak Ravid, haaretz.com, 4/9/17)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Refugee Specialists

"Mention any trouble spot in the Third World over the past ten years, and, inevitably, you will find smiling Israeli officers and shiny Israeli weapons on the news pages." (The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, 1987, p xii)

"Israel has continued to sell weapons to Myanmar as thousands of Rohingya refugees flee the military's violent crackdown in the Rakhine state. The weapons sold to Myanmar include over 100 tanks, weapons and boats used to police the country's border, according to human rights groups and Burmese officials Israeli arms companies such as TAR Ideal Concepts have also been involved in training Burmese special forces who are currently in the Rakhine state where most of the violence has taken place." (Israel arming Myanmar amid ongoing massacre of the Rohingyas, Areeb Ullah, mintpressnews.com, 5/9/17)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A British Education

Last Monday's Q&A dealt, in part, with the issue of Britain's colonial crimes, particularly in relation to India. Among other things, we learned that discussion of these is absent from Britain's history curriculum:

Tony Jones: I'm just wondering, have young Brits come to terms with their colonial past?
Laurie Penny: No, we haven't at all. Young Brits of every class have no idea about our colonial past. That is being deliberately done. We're deliberately denied or kept away from education about the graphic facts of what the British did around the world, including in this country, to the people of this country. The crimes of the British and the crimes that we've committed and were done in our names, over 400 years of pillage and conquest is something that we don't like to think about. And yet, it is everywhere in modern British history. When people talk about Brexit, it's stunning to me that if you ask British people who voted for Brexit what their major fear is, their fear is people will come to our country and take our things.
Shashi Tharoor: That's exactly right.
Laurie Penny: I just can't... It doesn't compute. We don't know this history. I took history in British schools up to the age of 18. And I got a pretty good grade. And...
Shashi Tharoor: You never learned a line of colonial history, did you?
Laurie Penny: Almost everything you have just said, I learned from your book.*

It should never be forgotten that it was 'Great' Britain's issue of the Balfour Declaration that created the Palestine's Israel problem.

[*Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India (2017)]

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


The Murdoch press is currently on a Captain Cook binge, with a 5-part series by journalist Trent Dalton, Cook Rediscovered. Today's essay, An Endeavour for the age, contains these words from Cook's journal: "... the natives... did not offer to touch any of our Casks that had been left ashore and in the after noon 16 or 18 of them came boldly up to within 100 yards of our people at the watering place and there made a stand - Mr Hicks who was the officer ashore did all in his power to entice them to him by offering them presents but it was to no purpose all they seem'd to want was for us to be gone... "

Quite. Cook read the Australians' body language correctly.

For these representatives of the original owners of this land, Cook and his men represented only one thing - trouble. They felt it first in their bones, before they felt it, as buckshot, on their bodies.

While they could not, of course, have known at the time of their coming dispossession at the hands of wave after wave of European settlers, their gut instinct told them that no good could possibly come of these invaders, and that only one response was required, namely, BUGGER OFF!

Another, far wordier Briton, the writer G.K. Chesterton, detected, in his fashion, a similar reaction on the part of the indigenous Arab inhabitants of Palestine to invading European Zionists in 1920:

"The Syrians and Arabs and all the agricultural and pastoral populations of Palestine are, rightly or wrongly, alarmed and angered at the advent of Jews to power... I will give one curious example from one of the best and most brilliant of the Zionists. Dr. Weizmann is a man of large mind and human sympathies; and it is difficult to believe that any one with so fine a sense of humanity can be entirely empty of anything like a sense of humour. Yet, in the middle of a very temperate and magnanimous address on 'Zionist Policy,' he can actually say a thing like this: 'The Arabs need us with our knowledge, and our experience and our money. If they do not have us they will fall among sharks.' One is tempted for the moment to doubt whether any one else in the world could have said that, except the Jew with his strange mixture of brilliancy and blindness, of subtlety and simplicity. It is much as if President Wilson were to say, 'Unless America deals with Mexico, it will be dealt with by some modern commercial power, that has trust-magnates and hustling millionaires.' But would President Wilson say it? It is as if the German Chancellor had said, 'We must rush to the rescue of the poor Belgians, or they may be put under some system with militarism and a bullying bureaucracy.' But would even a German Chancellor put it exactly that? Would anybody put it in the the exact order of words and structure of sentence in which Dr. Weizmann has put it?.. If the Zionists wish to quiet the fears of the Arabs, surely the first thing to do is to discover what the Arabs are afraid of. And very little investigation will reveal the simple truth that they are very much afraid of sharks; and that in their book of symbolic or heraldic zoology it is the Jew who is adorned with the dorsal fin and the crescent of cruel teeth... But the case is yet more curious than that. These simple tribes are afraid, not only of the dorsal fin and dental arrangements which Dr. Weizmann may say (with some justice) that he has not got; they are also afraid of the other things which he says he has got. They may be in error, at the first superficial glance, in mistaking a respectable professor for a shark. But they can hardly be mistaken in attributing to the respectable professor what he himself considers as his claims to respect. And as the imagery about the shark may be too metaphorical or almost mythological, there is not the smallest difficulty in stating in plain words what the Arabs fear in the Jews. They fear, in exact terms, their knowledge and their experience and their money. The Arabs fear exactly the three things which he says they need... " (The New Jerusalem (1920), pp 289-291)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Israel: The World's Greatest Gerrymanderer

Israel gets creative to counter its demographic disadvantage (thenational.ae.com, 31/8/17) is a must-read from Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook:

"Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a crushing rebuke to the perennial optimists roused to hopes of imminent peace by the visit to the Middle East last week of Donald Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. At an event on Monday in the West Bank celebrating the half centenary of Israeli occupation, Mr Netanyahu effectively admitted that US efforts to revive the peace process would prove another charade. There would be no dismantling of the settlements or eviction of their 600,000 inhabitants - the minimum requirement for a barely feasible Palestinian state. 'We are here to stay forever,' Mr Netanyahu reassured his settler audience. 'We will deepen our roots, build, strength and settle.'

"So where is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict heading if the two state solution is dead? The answer: back to its origins. That will entail another desperate numbers battle against the Palestinians - with Israel preparing to create new categories of 'Jews' so they can be recruited to the fray. Demography was always at the heart of Israeli policy.

"During the 1948 war that founded a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinian homeland, 750, 000 Palestinians were expelled in a campaign that today would be termed ethnic cleansing. By the end, a large native Palestinian majority had been reduced to less than a fifth of the new state's population. David Ben Gurion, the country's founding father, was unperturbed. He expected to swamp this rump group with Jews from Europe and the Arab world.

"But the project foundered on two miscalculations.

"First, Ben Gurion had not factored in the Palestinian minority's far higher birth rate. Despite waves of Jewish immigrants, Palestinians have held fast, at 20% of Israel's citizenry. Israel has fought a rear guard battle against them ever since. Studies suggest that the only Israeli affirmative action program for Palestinian citizens is in family planning.

"Israeli demographic scheming was on show again last week.

"An investigation by the Haaretz newspaper found that in recent years, Israel has stripped of citizenship potentially thousands of Bedouin, the country's fastest growing population...

"Meanwhile, another Rubicon was crossed this month when an Israeli court approved revoking the citizenship of a Palestinian convicted of a lethal attack on soldiers. Human rights groups fear that, by rendering him stateless, the Israeli right has established a precedent for conditioning citizenship on 'loyalty.' Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked underlined that very point this week when she warned the country's judges that they must prioritise demography and the state's Jewishness over human rights.

"The second miscalculation arrived in 1967. In seizing the last fragments of historic Palestine but failing to expel most of its inhabitants, Israel made itself responsible for many hundreds of thousands of additional Palestinians, including refugees from the earlier war. The 'demographic demon' as it is often referred to in Israel, was held at bay only by bogus claims for many decades that the occupation would soon end. In 2005, Israel bought a little more breathing space by 'disengaging' from the tiny Gaza enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants.

"Now, in killing hopes of Palestinian statehood, Mr Netanyahu has made public his intention to realise the one settler state solution. Naftali Bennett, Mr Netanyahu's chief rival in the government, is itching to ignore international sentiment and begin annexing large parts of the West Bank. There is a problem, however. At least half the population in Netanyahu's Greater Israel are Palestinian. And with current birth rates, Jews will soon be an indisputable minority - one ruling over a Palestinian majority.

"That is the context for understanding the report of a government panel - leaked last weekend - that proposes a revolutionary reimagining of who counts as a Jew and therefore qualifies to live in Israel (and the occupied territories).

"Israel's 1950 Law of Return already casts the net wide, revising the traditional rabbinical injunction that a Jew must be born to a Jewish mother. Instead, the law entitles anyone with one Jewish grandparent to instant citizenship. That worked fine as long as Jews were fleeing persecution or economic distress. But since the arrival of one million immigrants following the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the pool of new Jews has dried up.

"The United States, even in the Trump era, has proved the bigger magnet. The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported last month that up to one million Israelis may be living there. Worse for Mr Netanyahu, it seems, that at least some are included in Israeli figures to bolster its demographic claims against the Palestinians. Recent trends show that the exodus of Israelis to the US is twice as large as the arrival of American Jews to Israel...

"With a pressing shortage of Jews to defeat the Palestinians demographically, the Netanyahu government is considering a desperate solution. The leaked report suggests opening the doors to a new category of "Jewish" non-Jews. According to Haaretz, potentially millions of people worldwide could qualify. The new status would apply to 'crypto Jews' whose ancestors converted from Judaism; 'emerging Jewish' communities that have adopted Jewish practices; and those claiming to be descended from Jewish 'lost tribes'... "

Sunday, September 3, 2017

My Quarrel with Salman Rushdie

I notice that yesterday's Australian is plugging Salman Rushdie's new anti-Trump novel.

In case you're wondering what laser-like insights into the current American freak show await therein, never forget that Rushdie once dismissed the Palestine problem, on an American talk show, as "a kind of old quarrel." (Seth MacFarlane & Salman Rushdie on Israel, youtube, 2011)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 2 Months to Go

November 2, 1917- November 2, 2017

Article 20 of the Palestinian National Charter (1968):

"The Balfour Declaration, the mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong."

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sectarian Birds of a Feather

"It was in 1989, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the Government of India turned in its membership in the Non-Aligned Movement and signed up for membership in the Completely Aligned, often referring to itself as the 'natural ally' of Israel and the United States.* (They have at least this one thing in common, all three are engaged in overt, neocolonial military occupations: India in Kashmir, Israel in Palestine, the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.) (Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy, Arundhati Roy, 2009, p 146)

1989, it seems, also saw the birth of India's 'Temple Mount' movement:

"Claims that the [17th century Muslim mausoleum known as the] Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple  have surfaced periodically, either from lone Hindu mavericks, revisionists, or extremist Hindu groups ever since PN Oak, an Indian writer, published his 1989 book Taj Mahal: the True Story, in which he claimed it was built before Muslim invaders came to India. Proponents of this theory resent that its glory belongs to India's Muslim heritage and argue that since some of the Mughal invaders destroyed Hindu temples or converted them into mosques, it follows that the Taj Mahal must have originally been a Hindu structure." (Taj Mahal is Muslim tomb not Hindu temple, Indian court told, Amrit Dhillon, theguardian.com, 30/8/17)

In fact, a group of Hindu lawyers, who claim that the Taj Mahal "had originally been a temple called Tejo Mahalaya dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva," are currently petitioning the Agra court for the right to perform Hindu prayers at the Taj Mahal.

Sound depressingly familiar?

[*Israel is currently India's chief weapons supplier.]

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hypocrisy Overload

There is something really quite nauseating about a wet-behind-the-ears supporter of the failed fascist/apartheid state of Israel, which has been ethnically cleansing, occupying and colonising Arab Palestine since 1948, and subsists on US aid and weapons, lashing Venezuela as "a failing socialist state"; complaining that "the Australian government is rejecting temporary visa applications from [Venezuelan] students, and parents coming coming to visit their children who live here - because of the volatile situation"; and bemoaning Australia's failure to stand up for "freedom, democracy and the rule of law... abroad as well as at home." (Punching below our weight, we've not even stood up for our values, Matthew Lesh, The Australian, 29/8/17)

Lesh is a former official of the pro-Israel Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) and currently, according to his appended bio, "a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

John Lyons Jumps Ship

August 14 tweet from John Lyons:

Delighted to announce am joining ABC News as Head, Investigative & in-depth journalism. Tks Oz for 10 great years. Thanks ABC for the opportunity!

I'm very pleased for you, John. Now will Palestine finally get an airing on the ABC?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

WA Labor Votes to Recognise a Palestinian State

Bob Carr tweet of the day: WA Labor joins 4 other states and ACT branch backing unqualified recognition of Palestine. Response to settlements & Israeli hardliners.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Under the Heel

You can learn a lot from the Australian's editorials. (Fortunately, so in need are we of enlightenment in these dark times, their always industrious editorialist churns out around three per day.) As it happens I found two of today's particularly enlightening.

Spain confronts jihadi menace, for example, informed me that between 711 and 1492 "most of what is now Spain and Portugal was under the heel of Muslim Moors."

I got from this that Muslims had heels and that to find oneself under one of these was indeed most unfortunate.

As for the second, Patriots should close ranks informed me that "the defacement of statues of Captain Cook, Queen Victoria and Governor Macquarie in Sydney" was a huge NO-NO.

This got me wondering. Was I safe in concluding that the editorialist believed that, unlike your Muslim Moors, Christian Brits lacked this particular anatomical feature?

I believed I was - which led me to speculate:

Are heels an exclusively Muslim thing? Is this because of Islam? Is it in the Muslim DNA, so to speak, to grind non-Muslims underfoot?

Conversely, are Christians (and Jews for that matter), by virtue of their heel-lessness, therefore incapable of such dreadful behaviour?

Yes, that must be it! And so, with the editorialist's assistance, I could not but reflect on just how lucky Australia's first peoples were to make the acquaintance of James, Victoria, Lachlan and their ilk!

My God, if it'd been those bloody Muslims and their bloody heels, they'd have been in real trouble.

One to Avoid

Paul Monk's review of Douglas Murray's book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam tells us more about the Islamophobia of the Monks and Murrays of this world than it does about either contemporary Europe, the Middle East or Islam. (Murray, BTW, is an associate editor of the Spectator.)

Here's Monk's hilarious opening paragraph:

"Douglas Murray was born in London in July 1979, putting him midpoint between Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's January flight from Paris to Tehran to lead the Shia Muslim revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December, which triggered a global Sunni Muslim jihadist reaction." (Resisting Europe's Muslim tide, The Australian, 26/8/17)

No hint here that the Iranian revolution was a popular revolt against the repressive US client regime of the Shah, which emerged as the result of a CIA-engineered coup against the democratically-elected  government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. Just a "Shia" brainsnap on Khomeini's part, apparently.

Likewise, there's no hint that Monk's grand "global Sunni Muslim jihadist reaction" was kicked off in Afghanistan by the US, which funded, trained and armed Sunni Arab jihadis such as bin Laden for use against the Russian-backed secular government of Afghanistan.

IOW, poor old Murray had the terrible misfortune to be born at a time when those fiendish Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, experienced a sudden rush of blood to the head, which caused them to drop everything, and plot the forced Islamification of Europe, while the imperialist West, both the US and its European clients, was just innocently standing by, minding its own business as usual.

"In short, this journalist, author and political commentator has lived all his life against a background of Muslim insurgency and terrorism, as well as massive and now all-but-unrestricted Muslim immigration into Europe."

Of course, what prompted said "massive" Muslim immigration into Europe just may have had something to do with US/US client regime-change wars in Libya and Syria, but hush, we don't want to go there, it might spoil the story.

"Against that background, he reflects on the angry last writings of the great Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, denouncing what she saw as the betrayal of the West and the capitulation of its leaders to Iranian and Sunni jihadist intimidation."

"Great"? Totally unhinged, actually.

Monk concludes his review with his own (and - what a coincidence! - Murray's) "uncomfortable" reflection on "the Gothic and other Germanic migrations into the Roman Empire," and "the Arab migrations of the 7th and 8th centuries that swamped the southern and eastern littorals of the Roman world and overran the Persian and Turkish worlds."

So the Arabs are the new Goths and Vandals, and the Turks, who did not appear on the scene until the 11th (Seljuqs) and 13th (Othmanlis) centuries were rolled (swamped!) by the Arabs in the 7th and 8th centuries? Right...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fact Checking Zionist Trolls

Comment threads following items on Palestine/Israel posted on the Internet invariably contain contributions originating from cogs in one or another part of Israel's vast propaganda mill. These contributions, of course, are designed merely to sow confusion and muddy the waters.

Here, for example, are 3 examples taken from the comment thread following the article Canadian 'crusader' sparks outrage with Bethlehem anti-Muslim video (middleeasteye.net, 13/3/17). They are consecutive and the orchestration is clear:


PLO isn't secular. Read the Constitution of Palestine

Lloyd Kennedy/ Fasdunkle:

Article 4 of the constitution states that
1: Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions shall be maintained.
2: The principles of Islamic Shari'a shall be the main source of legislation.
3: Arabic shall be the official language.
It doesn't state that the ruling authorities are not secular.

Nan/ Lloyd Kennedy:

Sharia is Islamic religious law, so yes, it does say the authorities are not secular. They must follow Islamic religious law.


Total bullshit, of course.

Here is Article 4 of the Palestinian National Charter (1968)*:

"The Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential and inherent characteristic; it is transmitted from parents to children. The Zionist occupation and the dispersal of the Palestinian Arab people, through the disasters which befell them, do not make them lose their Palestinian identity and their membership of the Palestinian community, nor do they negate them."

Article 16, the only one that refers to religion, reads as follows:

"The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country's religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support."

[*Basic Political Documents of the Armed Palestinian Resistance Movement, Leila S. Kadi, PLO Research Center, 1969, pp 137 & 139]

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Woman Who Can't Say No

"Julie Bishop... has produced not a single sentence of substance or originality while in the portfolio." (Greg Sheridan, Bishop's errors of judgment compound the Coalition's woes, The Australian, 14/2/11)

Damn right, Greg!

In evidence:

When asked by the immediate past president of Zionism Victoria, Sam Tatarka, if Australia would open a consulate or high commission in West Jerusalem, Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop responded that "if she could overcome the cost and security issues," she would "consider" it. ('A significant step', The Australian Jewish News, 24/8/17)

A simple 'No' (preferably with a roll of the eyes) would have been quite sufficient.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Homework, Anyone?

As much as I love Abby Martin, is it too much to expect of her, and other progressives who 'get' Palestine, to bone up on the early history of the Palestine problem? This is her riff on the subject from the same video extolled in my last post:

Martin: They should have created Israel not in the God-damn Middle East. Put it in fucking Australia. Like, what the hell were they thinking? It's insane.

[MERC: Actually, Abby, "they" shouldn't have put it anywhere, neither in Palestine, nor in Australia. The creation of ethnocratic, apartheid states are never a good idea.]

Rogan: I don't know enough about the history of that region...
Martin: I mean, Sykes-Picot, Western empires basically just drew a line through the Middle East and divided all these countries and formed all these borders back, like, 120 years ago and I don't know, like 19... when was Sykes-Picot? I dunno, somewhere around that time.

[MERC: But surely, Abby, you've heard of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, particularly in the year of its centenary?]

So anyway, fast forward to when the Ottoman Empire was colonising this area...

[MERC: Abby, you mean 'rewind'. And also, however bad their repression of the Arabs during World War I was, the Ottomans at least didn't flood Greater Syria with Turkish colons.]

... and the British were occupying what is Palestine, right, and the Zionist lobby was really strong. This is well before the Holocaust, and they were super, super strong and emboldened, and they were negotiating with the Brits about where they can form, like, a Jewish state, and there was really no support until the Holocaust where they were able to sell, like, you know, the fear more and there was even false flag attacks where Zionist organisations were going round different Arab countries and committing terrorism and they're saying, like, the Jews need to come and escape, you guys are being persecuted. Like, they'd actually carry out terrorism in, like, synagogues and stuff and it's all documented.

[MERC: Abby, you've fast-forwarded a tad too far here. The synagogues you mentioned were in early 50s Iraq, after the creation of Israel in 1948.]

But the ethnic cleansing that went on, I mean, it's horrific. There's dozens of massacres that happened in the formation of Israel because even though it was partitioned by the UN - I don't know who gave this international body the authority to partition a country on top of another country, but on top of that there are several massacres that just continued to take more and more of the land as I said, and that was called the Nakba, and so all those people were expelled violently and purged from their land, and we visited some of these refugee camps and the people were, like, literally... our houses are, like, 5 miles away and we're just stuck in these camps and we've been here for 50 years. Yeah, it sucks.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

At Last, Plain Speech on Israel

A MUST-WATCH video from The Empire Files' Abby Martin: Abby Martin exposes Zionism and Israel on Joe Rogan Podcast at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBRxt5ufnGg&feature=youtu.be

Here's the opening:

Martin: You showed me that Dennis Prager video. It was an argument about Israel where he was talking about why Israel deserves to exist. After being there, man, holy shit. I feel like people have no idea... I didn't even know what the hell was going on till I went to Palestine and saw how crazy it was, but, man...
Rogan: What was it like? Give me your thoughts.
Martin: So everyone mistakenly thinks that Hamas controls Palestine. That's not true at all. There's 3 different areas that were drawn up with the original partition. There's the West Bank, which is totally under military rule by Israel, and then there's the Gaza Strip, which is, like, the open-air prison which they bomb the shit out off like every couple of years, and Hamas controls that area. And then there's Jerusalem which is an international city centre that both Arabs and Jews live in, but the West Bank has been occupied militarily since 1967, and it's complete martial law. There's checkpoints, all political parties are illegal, you can't... having a gun is like the least of it. You can't hold a flag, you can't belong to a political party, you literally can't do shit. If you're a Palestinian you just have to sit there and submit, and even if you share a photo of someone who's like been killed by an Israeli soldier, you go to jail for the amount of months...
Rogan: Whaat?
Martin:... based on the shares and likes of the photo... they'll penalise you more and put you in prison for longer and longer. I mean, I'll just tell you one thing... like you put something on Facebook, and it'll be a photo of someone who died, and it'll be like you're sharing a martyr and inciting people, like, to commit suicide, like, on behalf of Palestinians, and you go to jail, and they put them in jail. There's a 99.7% conviction rate, kids are tortured, kids are imprisoned. It is absolutely insane. We went to a funeral... some guy, some farmer who was shot by Israeli forces, and we went to the funeral. All the women are wailing, crying, and as we're leaving the Israeli forces had set up a checkpoint right outside the home. So they're tear-gassing and shooting rubber bullets at people who are simply attending a funeral. We went to a girl's house named Aya who got shot in the vagina for peacefully protesting at some protest and they shot her. They shot 200 people that day. One guy next to her died and another guy was paralysed. They have a policy of shoot to cripple where they shoot guys in their dicks.
Rogan (inhaling audibly)
Martin: Yeah, it's fucking nuts, man. The West Bank is no joke. I thought that I was gonna die several times...

Watch it... and spread it around.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Spain's Tony Blair

What a piece of work is (this) man:

"This time it was Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. I am especially aggrieved at the brutal violence that has left dozens dead and injured in one of Europe's most important cities and one of the places I love the most... ," writes former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar in yesterday's Australian (For us not to be defeated, we must defeat terrorists).

Aznar, you'll recall, Spain's prime minister from 1996-2004, joined the 2003 Bush, Blair, Howard jihad against Iraq, which opened that country up to al-Qaida, led directly to the Madrid train bombings of March 2004  (192 killed and over 1,800 wounded), and contributed to his massive defeat in the 2004 Spanish elections.

"A personal responsibility is linked with a political purpose within those who voluntarily sign up for this jihad in its different manifestations. Any anti-terrorist policy that wishes to be successful must actively address these two aspects. In this respect, any self-blame, any reasoning designed to ignore the underlying political purpose, any desire to excuse the terrorist or blame the societies that suffer terrorism - including those with Muslim majorities - is completely out of place." (ibid)

But for Aznar there was no "personal responsibility" attached to "voluntarily signing up" to Bush's jihad in Iraq, nor one iota of "self-blame":

"I am going with my head held high and proud of the job I have done," he declared after being booted out of office in 2004. (Spain's Aznar: No regrets on Iraq War, foxnews.com, 22/3/04)

And, when asked how he felt about the carnage in Madrid, he uttered these words:

"Calm, serene, fulfilling my responsibilities and obligations as always... I see a lot of light in hope and in the future."

Maybe that explains why this war criminal is now a director of News Corp and opining in Murdoch's Australian.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Palestine Can Wait

Not just criminal, cutthroat scum, but mega-delusional as well:

"Spain has been a serious target for Islamic State because of its five-centuries-old land claims to the territory of Melilla and Ceuta, on the African continent bordering Morocco. The Counter-Terrorism Project reports: 'Spain's current anxieties are exacerbated by ISIS, al-Qa'ida, and other Islamist groups' vows to 'reconquer' what they refer to as 'al-Andalus',' the historic Arabic name for the Iberian mainland. Up until the late 15th century, large parts of Spain and Portugal were under the control of an Islamic caliphate. Spain is thus considered part of 'occupied lands' by jihadists and a legitimate target for re-inclusion in a future Islamic Caliphate. A Spanish-speaking ISIS member declared in 2014, 'I tell you, Spain is the land of our forefathers, and, Allah willing, we are going to liberate it, with the might of Allah...'

"Last year Islamic State called on its followers to attack Spanish tourist sites to avenge the crimes committed by Spain against Muslims, referring to the bloody 1212 Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa where 60,000 Muslims were killed." (Tougher controls thwarted attacks, Jacqueline Magnay, The Australian, 19/8/17)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Educating Macron

Shlomo Sand's Why I cannot be a Zionist: an Open Letter to Emmanuel Macron:

"As I began reading your speech on the commemoration of the Vel d'Hiv round-up... I was grateful that you... took a clear position... yes, France is responsible for the deportation [of Jewish origin people to the death camps], yes, there was anti-Semitism in France before and after the Second World War... I saw these positions as standing in continuity with the courageous statement you made in Algeria, saying that colonialism constitutes a crime against humanity. But... I was rather annoyed by the fact that you invited Benjamin Netanyahu. He should without doubt be ranked in the category of oppressors, and so cannot parade himself as a representative of the victims of yesteryear...

"I stopped being able to understand you when, in the course of your speech, you stated that 'Anti-Zionism... is the reinvented form of Zionism.' Was this statement intended to please your guest, or is it purely and simply a marker of a lack of political culture? Has this former student of philosophy... read so few history books that he does not know that many Jews or descendants of Jewish heritage have always opposed Zionism, without this making them anti-Semites? Here I am referring to almost all the old grand rabbis, but also the stances taken by a section of contemporary orthodox Judaism. And I also remember figures like Marek Edelman, one of the escaped leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, or the communists of Jewish background who took part in the French Resistance in the Manouchian group, in which they perished. I also think of my friend and teacher Pierre Vidal-Naquet and of other great historians and sociologists like Eric Hobsbawm and Maxime Rodinson... And finally I wonder if you seriously expect of the Palestinians that they should not be anti-Zionists!

"Nonetheless, I suppose that you do not particularly appreciate people on the Left, or, perhaps, the Palestinians. But knowing that you worked at Rothschild Bank, I will here provide a quote from Nathan Rothschild. President of the union of synagogues in Britain, he was the first Jew to be named a lord in the United Kingdom, where he also became the bank's governor. In a 1903 letter to Theodor Herzl, the talented banker wrote that he was anxious about plans to establish a 'Jewish colony'; it 'would be small and petty, Orthodox and illiberal, and keep out non-Jews and the Christians.' We might conclude that Rothschild's prophecy was mistaken. But one thing is for sure: he was no anti-Semite!

"Of course, there have been, and there are, some anti-Zionists who are also anti-Semites, but I am also certain that we could find anti-Semites among the sycophants of Zionism. I can also assure you that a number of Zionists are racists whose mental structure does not differ from that of other Judeophobes: they relentlessly search for a Jewish DNA (even at the university I teach at).

"But to clarify what an anti-Zionist point of view is, it is important to begin by agreeing on the definition of the concept 'Zionism', or at the very least, a series of characteristics proper to this matter... First, Zionism is not Judaism. It even constitutes a radical revolt against it. Across the centuries, pious Jews nurtured a deep ardour for their holy land, and more particularly for Jerusalem. But they held to the Talmudic precept intimating that they should not collectively emigrate there before the coming of the Messiah. Indeed, the land does not belong to the Jews, but to God. God gave and God took away again; and he would send the Messiah to restore it when he wanted to. When Zionism appeared, it removed the 'All Powerful' from his place, substituting the active human subject in his stead.

"We can each give our own view on the question of whether the project of creating an exclusive Jewish state on a slice of land with a very large Arab-majority population is a moral idea. In 1917, Palestine counted 700,000 Arab Muslims and Christians and around 60,000 Jews, half of whom were opposed to Zionism. Up till that point, the mass of the Yiddish-speaking people who wanted to flee the pogroms of the Russian Empire preferred to migrate to the American continent. Indeed, two million made it there, thus escaping Nazi persecution (and the persecution under the Vichy regime).

"In 1948 in Palestine there were 650,000 Jews and 1.3 million Arab Muslims and Christians, 700,000 of whom became refugees. It was on this demographic basis that the State of Israel was born. Despite that, and against the backdrop of the extermination of the European Jews, a number of anti-Zionists reached the conclusion that in the name of avoiding the creation of fresh tragedies it was best to consider the State of Israel as an irreversible fait accompli. A child born as the result of a rape does indeed have the right to live. But what happens if this child follows in the footsteps of his father?

"And then came 1967. Since then Israel has ruled over 5.5 million Palestinians, who are denied civil, political and social rights. Israel subjects them to military control: for part of them a sort of 'Indian reservation' in the West Bank, while others are locked up in a 'barbed wire holding pen' in Gaza (70% of the population there are refugees or their descendants). Israel, which constantly proclaims its desire for peace, considers the territories conquered in 1967 as an integral part of the 'land of Israel,' and it behaves there as it sees fit. Thus far 600,000 Jewish-Israeli settlers have been moved in there... and this has still not ended!,

"Is that today's Zionism? No!, reply my friends on the Zionist Left - which is constantly shrinking. They tell me that we have to put an end to the dynamic of Zionist colonisation, that a narrow little Palestinian state should be created next to the State of Israel, and that Zionism's objective was to establish a state where the Jews would be sovereign over themselves, and not to conquer 'the ancient homeland' in its entirety. And the most dangerous thing in all this, in their eyes, is that annexing territory threaten's Israel's character as a Jewish state.

"So here we reach the proper moment for me to explain to you why I am writing to you, and why I define myself as a non-Zionist or anti-Zionist, without thereby becoming anti-Jewish. Your political party has put the words 'La Republique' in its name. So I presume that you are a fervent republican. And, at the risk of surprising you: I am, too. So being a democrat and a republican I cannot - as all Zionists do, Left and Right, without exception - support a Jewish State. The Israeli Interior Ministry counts 75% of the country's citizens as Jewish, 21% as Arab Muslims and Christians and 4% as 'others' (sic). Yet according to the spirit of its laws, Israel does not belong to Israelis as a whole, whereas it does belong even to all those Jews worldwide who have no intention of coming to live there. So for example, Israel belongs a lot more to Bernard Henri-Levy or to Alain Finkelkraut than it does to my Palestinian-Israeli students, Hebrew speakers who sometimes speak it better than I do! Israel hopes that the day will come when all the people of the CRIF ('Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France') and their 'supporters' emigrate there! I even know some French anti-Semites who are delighted by such a prospect. On the other hand, we could find two Israeli ministers close to Netanyahu putting out the idea that it is necessary to encourage the 'transfer' of Israeli Arabs, without that meaning that anyone demanded their resignations.

"That, Mr President, is why I cannot be a Zionist. I am a citizen who desires that the state he lives in should be an Israeli Republic, and not a Jewish-communalist state. As a descendant of Jews who suffered so much discrimination, I do not want to live in a state that, according to its own self-definition, makes me a privileged class of citizen. Mr President, do you think that makes me an anti-Semite?" (counterpunch.org, 11/8/17)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Innocent Bystander in Tough Neighbourhood...

... strikes again, and again, and again, and again, and again [...]:

"Providing the most specific details yet on Israel's ongoing series of military strikes inside war-torn Syria, Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel revealed today that Israel has carried out nearly 100 distinct military actions over the last five years specifically related to what they believed were Hezbollah-bound arms convoys." (Air Force chief: Israel has attacked Syrian arms convoys nearly 100 times in 5 years, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 16/8/17)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Four Corners' Hatchet Job on Lee Rhiannon

It is always worth keeping in mind that, despite the lurid fantasies of the right-wing nut jobs at News Corpse to the effect that the ABC is a bastion of leftist radicalism, the state broadcaster is in fact merely the propaganda arm of the Australian establishment.

Last night's Four Corners program, Inside the Greens: A Party in Turmoil, which featured former Greens leader Bob Brown and others attacking NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, was a case in point.

Cast your mind back to 2010-2011, when Sydney's Marrickville Council, dominated at the time by The Greens, bravely took a stand for Palestine by adopting a pro-BDS policy against the purchase of Israeli products, and when its Greens Mayor, Fiona Byrne only narrowly failed to snatch the NSW state seat of Marrickville from Labor for her party at the 2011 state election.

Many of Rhiannon's detractors on Four Corners have form going back to that time. Here's a reminder:

Sally Neighbour, the current executive producer of Four Corners, used to write for Murdoch's Australian, and earlier took The Greens to task (Divided we fall) in Morry Schwartz's The Monthly. (See my 3/2/12 post Get Rhiannon! 2)

Richard Di Natale, the current federal leader of the party, once cluelessly agreed to the proposition that the Palestinians should "recognise Israel's existence as a Jewish state," before later backtracking when apprised of the implications of what he'd said. (See my 23/5/15 post Richard Di Natale Reclassified.)

Bob Brown, the party's founder, has attacked the NSW Greens in the Murdoch press, claiming NSW Greens' support for BDS was "against his advice" and urging the branch to stick to "bread-and-butter issues." (See Bob Brown & A Failure of Courage, 1/4/11)

Ian Cohen, a former NSW Greens MLC, has condemned his party's support for BDS as "old style" and expressed concern about "Jewish community outrage." (See my 31/3/11 post Kahane Down Under?)

Christine Milne, Di Natale's predecessorhas spoken out against BDS, travelled to Israel (although whether or not at her own expense we do not know), and once spoke in favour of regime change in Libya. (See Some Questions for Christine Milne (21/4/12), Has Christine Milne Been Rambammed? (11/7/14), A Gripe About The Greens (24/3/11))

Jeremy Buckingham, a NSW Greens MLC, joined the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and signed the so-called London Declaration on Combatting Antisemitism. (See my 27/5/13 post Et tu, Jeremy?)

The issue of the NSW Greens' support for Palestine emerged only obliquely in the program. Presenter Louise Milligan's bias against that support, however, was clear at this point:

Milligan: While her leader is travelling the country, trying to hold his party together, Lee Rhiannon has flown to the Middle East and is crossing into Palestine.
Rhiannon: When you see it like that you can see why they call it an apartheid wall. What you see when you arrive in this country is apartheid. From the West Bank to Gaza, people are treated as second class citizens. Their human rights are ignored or abused.
Milligan: And she's still lobbing political grenades at her party: reviving a campaign to boycott Israeli businesses in Australia which has seen a backlash against the Greens in the past.
Rhiannon: There is a value in this campaign, and it's a reminder of why people like ourselves in Australia and around the world... it's time to reassess this form of struggle, because there are very clear examples of the value it brings to solidarity and the results it can achieve.
Milligan: Her leader disagrees.
Di Natale: It's not something that the Australian Greens have ever supported. It's not something that I support.
Milligan: It's these sorts of clashes with the federal party that have prompted the Greens elders to tell Four Corners it's time for Senator Lee Rhiannon to go.
Brown: Oh, well, you know, I've been living with Lee for 30 years, but it's the end of Lee's reign. The end is nigh, and I look toward the future.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Israel's 'Soul'

Israel's soul laid bare on a comedian's stage, says the headline of Agnes Nieuwenhuizen's review of Israeli writer David Grossman's A Horse Walks into a Bar in The Australian (12/8/17).

Opening sentence:

"Don't miss David Grossman's A Horse Walks into a Bar, a novel that offers profound insights into the soul of a nation and of one of its hapless citizens... "

So ethnocratic, apartheid states have souls? Interesting...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tim Fischer on John Lyons

Here's an excellent letter from today's Australian by former deputy prime minister (1996-1999) under John Howard, Tim Fischer:

"There is the good, the bad and the ugly in the Middle East. The Six-Day War reportage on its 50th anniversary year 2017 has been skewed, or was until the publication of the penetrating book Balcony Over Jerusalem by John Lyons. This book is the first in years to give a mention of substance to what happened on the fourth day when Israeli forces killed 34 US sailors on the USS Liberty, quickly apologised and paid reparations. Israel downplayed the saga while the US mounted a huge cover up, all exposed by the quotes Lyons has dug out, especially from Adlai Stevenson.

"Aligned spokesmen for Middle East countries will always skip over the ugly as they promote their country's perceived interests. Lyons details how parts of the honest debate on such issues as West Bank occupation in Israel are shut out of debate here in the Australian media and public domain. It is a subject that needs to be tackled for the truth to come out on the many complexities of the Middle East. It must be told without filters, shutters and threats." Mudgegonga, Vic

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 3 Months to Go

Damn! I forgot to post on the Balfour Declaration on August 2 - still, better late than never.

It's important to understand that the decision to issue the Declaration was confined to the British war cabinet, and that it was not debated in the House of Commons at the time. Only one MP, Joseph King (Liberal), raised the matter in the Commons, on November 19, 1917, 17 days after it was issued.

King asked foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour merely "whether the desire of the Government to see established a Jewish Zionist nationality in Palestine has been communicated to the Allied Powers, especially to France, Russia, Italy, and the Allied States; and whether it is one of the Allied war aims, or only a British war aim, to set up a Zionist community in the Holy Land."

And Balfour replied merely that "no official communication has been made to the Allies on the subject," and that "His Majesty's Government hope that the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people will result from the present war."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Syria Must Burn

Here's Zionist chutzpah for you: Syria must go on burning so a nuclear Israel can feel safe from... Iran.

"Israeli officials and other diplomats familiar with the situation are finally detailing the circumstances regarding the lead-up to the southern Syrian ceasefire agreement reached between the US and Russia, revealing secret talks were held in Amman and in an unnamed European capital city about the plan beforehand. Israeli officials were involved in the talks, and unsurprising given their public position since the ceasefire was announced, made clear they were unconditionally opposed to the ceasefire agreement, and objected to the creation of safe zones to limit combat in the areas. The reason for Israel's opposition to the ceasefire similarly appears to have been exactly what they've complained about since, that they believe any calm in Syria necessarily benefits Iran, and that anything that might conceivably move toward ending the Syria War must hand Iran some sort of specific defeat. It is this Iran-centric view of the Syrian conflict, despite Iran having a fairly limited involvement in it, which has led Israeli military officials to say they don't want ISIS to lose in Syria, and since the ceasefire's announcement that they are prepared to join the conflict simply to ensure that Iran, by which they mean the Shi'ite government, doesn't win." (Israel held secret talks with US, Russia to object to Syria ceasefire, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 9/8/17)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

'Everybody Down There Loves Israel'

"The high level of support for Israel in Australia's Jewish community is often reflected by Australia's politicians. I was invited to a lunch for Israeli journalists in Jerusalem. One had just been to Australia on an organised trip, and when we were introduced she said to me: 'I love Australia! You guys talk Zionism better than we do!' I asked her what she meant. 'Everybody down there loves Israel. We met your Opposition Leader [Tony Abbott], who told us how much he loved Israel. We thought he was fantastic, but then we met Prime Minister [Julia] Gillard. She was even better. They were saying things you would not normally hear an Israeli say!'" (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, John Lyons, 2017, pp 262-63)

OK, did you cringe? Vomit? Curse? Go foetal?

Really now, do you need to know anything else about the simple-minded pricks who 'run' this bloody country?

For God's sake, BUY LYONS' BOOK NOW and educate yourselves!

As for Abbott and Gillard, far from being poles apart politically, they were united in their opposition to any light being shed on the Palestinian cause. When the Australian Union of Students (AUS) bravely took up the Palestinian issue and sought to educate Australian students on the matter, the thuggish Abbott, along with his nerdy sidekick, Greg Sheridan, attended an AUS conference at Monash University in 1977, the highlight of which, for them, was their disruption of a film night on Palestine sponsored by the AUS. As for Gillard, when she became president of AUS in 1984, she made it her mission to, in the words of David Marr, "take Palestine out of student politics." Gillard, in fact, even threatened to take pro-Palestine student politicians to court for calling her a Zionist!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

AIJAC Strikes Back

"The longer I was in Israel, the more I realised that key figures in the Australian Jewish community sat on the far right of the Israeli political spectrum. In Israel I was able to have meaningful discussions with key army or intelligence figures about the Palestinian issue. But with many of Australia's Jewish leaders this was just not possible. It was almost as if they felt that, given they were not living in Israel, they needed to take a harder line than many people who were living there." (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, John Lyons, 2017, pp 260-61)

"In response to our legitimate articulation of an alternative viewpoint on the Middle East, Lyons has devoted a chapter of his memoir to falsely portraying AIJAC as an extreme, hardline mouthpiece for the Israeli Right. Is this the same AIJAC that sponsors programs for prominent Israeli Labor leaders to visit Australia, as part of our efforts to expose people from both countries to counterparts from across the political and social spectrum? Is this the same AIJAC that issued a media release in February this year openly criticising Israeli legislation that would retrospectively legalise settlement outposts on land owned by Palestinians? In a healthy democracy, holding the media to account is arguably as important as holding politicians to account. Lyons ended his comment piece by quoting hard-left Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar's demonising of AIJAC and saying the Australian government did 'not (give) a shit' about his children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lyons also describes as a hero another Israeli journalist even more extreme, Haaretz's Gideon Levy, an advocate of economic, artistic and academic boycotts against Israel. That's like forming your view of Australia from Green Left Weekly. It's sad that Lyon's response to the normal functioning of interest groups in a pluralist democracy is so vitriolic but it does demonstrate the value of AIJAC and others in advancing additional evidence and alternative views to his." (In Israel, as anywhere, objectivity, balance, multiple voices are critical to credible journalism, Mark Leibler, The Australian, 7/8/17)

Monday, August 7, 2017

What's Asad Got to Do With It?

This is how the Australian's national security editor, Paul Maley, chooses to introduce his story on the alleged Islamic State plot to blow up a Sydney-Abu Dhabi flight last month:

"As Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad rained down chemical gas on the village of Khan Shaykhun... a senior Islamic State fighter in Syria sent a text message to his brother in Australia." (From Syria to Sydney: how plot unfolded, 5/8/17)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

That Shitty Little Country 3

A chip off the old block:

"The fur began to fly when the Netanyahu family's 10-year mixed-breed bitch Kaiya allegedly defecated in a Jerusalem park while being walked by eldest son Yair. A neighbour who said she witnessed the act wrote on Facebook that when she challenged Yair to clean up after the animal, he made an obscene gesture with his middle finger." (Cops list Bibi as bribery suspect, AP, AFP, The Australian, 5/8/17)

See That Shitty Little Country 1 (6/2/09) & 2 (24/3/09)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Australian Reviews John Lyons

John Lyon's invaluable book, Balcony Over Jerusalem, was reviewed in today's Australian by one of its journalists, David Leser.

Unfortunately, Leser's seemingly irresistible urge to defend the indefensible - apartheid Israel - and indulge in special pleading for Palestine's colonisers and occupiers tells us far more about Leser than it does about Lyons' book.

Here we go then:

"... the Middle East is a hellishly complex place. Every aspect of history is contested. Every word is loaded."

Quite why Leser feels he has to reference the entire Middle East when dealing specifically with Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is anyone's guess. But I simply don't understand how he can seriously talk about contested history and loaded words without reference to the following passage which he earlier quotes from Lyons' book: "If the whole world could see the occupation up close, it would demand that it end tomorrow. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians would not pass muster in the West if the full details were known. The only reason Israel is getting away with this is because it has one of the most formidable public-relations machines ever seen..."

Without Israel's vast propaganda apparatus there'd be neither contestation nor loading.

"I've argued with family members over this issue, and lost Jewish friends in the process - all because I believe, like Lyons, that the occupation is a moral stain on both the Jewish State and the Jewish soul."

I don't get it. Why the arguments? Occupied river-to-sea Palestine belongs to neither Leser nor his family. Neither he nor his family nor his Jewish friends have a right to one centimetre of Palestinian soil. And not only is the occupation he refers to "a moral stain," the very existence of a "Jewish Stateon Palestinian Arab land is a moral stain on all who conceived it, created it, and, today, continue to support it.

"My concern is that for all the rush of understandable anger [Lyons] directs at Israel, his book is mostly devoid of sympathy for the multiple internal problems and frailties that Israelis face, not to mention the wild diversity of the country's immigrant survivor population."

Does Leser seriously expect Lyons (or anyone else), who has, in Lyons' words, seen the occupation "up close," to sympathise with its perpetrators? Has Leser, in his 40-year-old career as a journalist, ever once felt sympathy for the people of any other occupying power? And, seriously, where is the "wild diversity" in a Jewish state?

"Throughout history Jews have been despised, displaced, vilified, persecuted and, ultimately exterminated for the fact of their Jewishness, and they have carried their collective trauma - this epigenetic inheritance - into a murderous neighbourhood where they are both a minority and majority at the same time. A tiny minority among hundreds of millions of (mostly) Arabs and a majority when it comes to the Palestinians."

And the Palestinian Arabs are responsible for that? Historical anti-Semitism in Europe trumps the right of Palestinians to their Palestinian homeland? What kind of sick morality is that? And who funneled European Jews into said "murderous neighbourhood"? I'll tell you who - the murderous Zionist movement, motivated by one hell of a murderous idea: Jews in, Palestinians out.

"That, along with countless wars and acts of terrorism over the past 70 years, is what has driven the psychopathology of victimhood and its inevitable - and terrible - consequence: oppression."

Yes, countless wars... initiated by the Israeli army. And countless acts of terrorism... initiated by the Israeli army and its pre-state predecessors, the Haganah, the Irgun and the Stern Gang.

But the biggest deception here is Leser's omission of any reference to the Zionist movement. The dark truth is that Israel is the product of a settler-colonial movement, riding roughshod, as these movements do, over the rights of the natives, not some pitiable creature whose past was so traumatic that it just can't help using the Palestinians as a collective punching bag.