Saturday, March 24, 2018

Salivating Zionists

John Howard responds to Kevin Rudd (see my 21/3/18 post More Fool He) in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

"The statement of [Rudd's] about the existence of WMDs, to which I... have most frequently referred over the years was contained in a speech he delivered to the State Zionist Council of Victoria on October 15, 2002. In it he asserted that it was 'an empirical fact' that Iraq possessed WMDs. He based his assertion not on intelligence material, but on a bulletin from the Federation of American Scientists, which listed Iraq among a number of states in possession of chemical and biological weapons and with the capacity to develop a nuclear program."

Friday, March 23, 2018

The 'Human Rights' War on Syria

Herewith the introductory paragraphs to Australian historian -The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, 2008 -  Jeremy Salt's must-read:

"The perfidious role of 'human rights' organizations in the war on Syria has been exposed again with the Amnesty International report on Syria for 2017/18, followed by an equally tendentious article in the Melbourne Age newspaper by Claire Malinson, Amnesty's national director for Australia.

"In the name of human rights these organizations have actually worsened the crisis in Syria. They have never dealt honestly with its primary cause, the determination of the US and its allies seven years ago to destroy the government in Damascus as part of a bigger plan to destroy the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah strategic axis across the Middle East. Democracy, human rights and the best interests of the Syrian people were never on the agenda of these governments. They were cold-blooded and remorseless in what they wanted and the means by which they sought to get it.

"By calling violent armed groups 'rebels' and 'the opposition', these 'human rights' organizations conceal their true nature. By calling the Syrian government a 'regime', instead of the legitimate government of Syria, representing Syria at the UN and representing the interests of the Syrian people, they seek to demean it. By accusing it of carrying out indiscriminate attacks on its own civilian population, on the basis of what they are being told by their tainted sources, they seek to demonize it. By accusing it of carrying out chemical weapons attacks, without having any proof, they perpetuate the lies and fabrications of the armed groups and the governments that support them.

"Behind the mask of 'human rights' these organizations are promoting the war agenda of western and regional governments. Some are worse than others. Human Rights Watch might as well be a formal annex of the US State Department, but they all play the same duplicitous game.

"East Aleppo is the template for what we are seeing now in the outrage over East Ghouta, the district on the outskirts of Damascus in which hundreds of thousands of people are being held hostage by takfiri armed groups. Aleppo was infiltrated by these groups in 2012 and the eastern sector of the city gradually taken over, as the army was already too hard-pressed on other fronts to stop this happening. Until then Aleppo, a commercial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic city, had managed to stay out of the war but now it was sucked right in. There was nil support in Aleppo for the takfiris but they had the guns and they were ready to kill to get their way. Advancing on government held positions, they devastated the old centre of the city with their attacks. Digging tunnels, they blew up some of its most famous buildings. Art, architecture, history meant nothing to them. They destroyed the square minaret of the Umayyad mosque and their attacks led to the destruction of the Aleppos souk, one of the oldest and most colourful markets in the world.

"In the districts they controlled they ruled by terror, massacre and murder and the institution of the most repressive sharia laws. Under the secular Syrian government, women and men have the same rights before the law, under the takfiris women have no rights that are not granted to them by men. They sought the extirpation of all those they did not regard as true Muslims (Shia and Alawi amongst others): one of their earliest acts was the kidnapping of two orthodox Christian prelates, never seen alive again. It was these armed groups and the foreign governments behind them that were responsible for the dire situation in East Aleppo, yet it was the Syrian government, the 'regime' as they chose to call it, that was blamed by the media and 'human rights' organizations. The White Helmets, embedded with these groups, and funded by the same governments which had armed and financed them, were used as the main propaganda prop. Their staged rescues filled the pages of the corporate media. They were effectively canonised by George Clooney, the documentary on their bogus bravery and sham rescues winning an Oscar award, unfortunately not for bad acting, which should have been the prize." (, 4/3/18)

Thursday, March 22, 2018


"For a handful of settlers to take their laws, values, language, technology, medicine and civic institutions out of Europe and transplant them to largely underdeveloped lands across the other side of the planet in an age of no internet, no smartphones and no air travel is a miracle; a miracle that not only continues to benefit those whose ancestors set it in motion but those who joined the team later." (We should rescue these people from a failing system bent on revenge, Sherry Sufi*, The Australian, 20/3/18)

[*Chairman of the West Australian Liberal Party's policy committee.]

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

More Fool He

Kevin Rudd in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

"In virtually every speech Howard has given on Iraq since 2003, he has also sought to justify his decision to go to war on the grounds that I, too, had said at the time that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. As in fact had most people. But there is a small problem with this argument. Like most Australians then, I had no access to intelligence material. I accepted the government's claims about the existence of Iraqi WMDs at face value - it didn't cross my mind that Howard would flagrantly misrepresent its content." (Monstrous strategic mistake that took us to war in Iraq)

It didn't cross his mind? Really? Well, I never...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Britain's 'Collective Amnesia'

Ever get the feeling that the Iraq war (2003-), the great war for regime change and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East (let's cut the crap about oil), has largely receded from living memory?

That the impact of digital amnesia and neoliberal policies on peoples' lives has been so great that the 21st century's equivalent of World War I now seems almost as remote as that war?

That one of the reasons people are so gulled by the official 'rebels vs the dictator' line on Syria is because they've forgotten what the Iraq war was really all about?

Now I haven't read British writer Will Self's latest novel but I cannot fault his response to the following interview question:

The Iraq war also features heavily in Phone. Why was it important to you to include?

"I cannot think of a serious literary novelist in this country who's tackled the Iraq war at all. And I think it is the biggest stain on our national character of the past 20 years. And I think that collective amnesia about it and refusal to engage with it is playing out in political decisions that are being made now." (Will Self: 'The novel is absolutely doomed', Alex Clark,, 18/3/18)

But it's worse than that: never forget that "the biggest stain on [Britain's] national character" of the past 100 years is the Palestine problem and that not one "serious [British] literary novelist," except the now forgotten Ethel Mannin (1900-1984)*, has tackled that particular stain.

[The Road to Beersheba (1963); The Night & its Homing (1966)]

Monday, March 19, 2018

'Journalism', SMH, 17/3/18

"At Aida Refugee Camp we meet another young man who walks us through the camp he calls home, which has existed for 70 years since the Europeans arrived in Palestine." (Where the West was lost: The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem is one of the world's truly great art hotels, Nina Karnikowski, Traveller, Sydney Morning Herald, 17/3/18)

So just 70 years ago a mob of generic 'Europeans' just turned up in Palestine and, lo, a Palestinian refugee camp came into being???

"Increasingly, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, savage 'wars among the people' are simply not viable." (Never-ending wars make for more My Lai massacres, C. August Elliott, Sydney Morning Herald, 17/3/18)

So one day the people of Iraq and Afghanistan just decided to turn on one another - and not an American, Brit or Australian soldier in sight???

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tel Aviv, Mon Amour


"Young filmmaker Naor and his mother are on a road trip through Israel, and Naor is telling his near-silent mother the story of recent events in his life. In this, he and his writer grandfather and his artist girlfriend, Yael, have defied the order to evacuate Tel Aviv and are living in the near-abandoned city under threat of being bombed. This is the contemporary world but there is no indication of a date, reinforcing the real-world fact that Tel Aviv is frequently under threat. Raphael Jerusalmy, a former member of the Israeli intelligence services turned humanitarian worker turned antiquarian book dealer and novelist, lives in Tel Aviv. Like the famous photograph of the string quartet in the ruins of Sarajevo, his book celebrates the persistence of art in times of chaos... it combines a jolting realism with the timeless quality of fables." (Review of Evacuation by Raphael JerusalmyIn short fiction, Spectrum, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/3/18)

What can I say?

First, I'm reminded of Rowan Atkinson's wonderful 'Devil Sketch', modified thus:

'Israeli poet-warriors, if you step forward - my God there are a lot of you... '

Second, "there is no indication of a date" because there is no "real-world fact that Tel Aviv is frequently under threat."

Yes, in the context of the first Gulf War, the Iraqis fired Scuds at Tel Aviv in January 1991, but let's stick with the "real-world facts," shall we? Here's the BBC: "... eight missiles streaked in and exploded in balls of flame... Casualties are believed to have been light - nobody was killed, and only a few people injured. It is the first time Tel Aviv has been hit in the history of the Israel-Arab conflict." (BBC ON THIS DAY/18/1991: Iraqi Scud missiles hit Israel, 18/1/91)

And as for projectiles fired more recently from the bombed out Gaza Strip, here's The Jerusalem Post of 16/11/12: "Hours earlier, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in the direction of the greater Tel Aviv area and prompted a red alert air raid siren to be sounded in the city for the second straight day. The IDF stated that the rocket had not landed in Tel Aviv, but local residents reported hearing an explosion following the siren. No injuries or damage were reported." (Two rockets land outside Jerusalem; two fired at TA, Yaakov Lappin, 16/11/12)

Obviously, more racket than rocket...

Third, and related to the above, whence the "chaos" in Tel Aviv?

Fourth, since Kerryn has risibly dragged the 1992-96 Siege of Sarajevo into this, it should be remembered that almost 14,000 Sarajevans were killed in the siege, 10,000 apartments were destroyed and 100, 000 damaged.

And finally, the million dollar question: has Kerryn never heard of that bloody great pile of rubble somewhere to the south of Tel Aviv called the Gaza Strip?