Friday, June 27, 2008

Breathtaking Zionist Hypocrisy

"What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." Hannah Arendt

Whenever Israel boosters open their mouths I am invariably struck by the hypocrisy of their utterances. One such egregious display of this "vice of vices" cropped up on 15 June in Rachael Kohn's introduction to her interview with Aaron Klein, author of Schmoozing with Terrorists, on her ABC Radio National program, The Spirit of Things. I'll be dealing with the interview and its subject in my next post. Ms Kohn's opening remarks, however, merit their own.

Here is how she began: "Recently I returned from Israel, where I met a number of exceptional people, one of whom is the young American-born Aaron Klein, who's the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the news website, Aaron's claim to fame is that he interviews terrorists, and he's just written a book about it. Now 'terrorist' is a term that I'm well aware has been virtually banned from common parlance, and I asked him about that. Nonetheless, it's his way of naming a threat that's far more real to Israeli citizens, than, say, to academics at Harvard who'd be horrified if they had to be searched by armed guards every time they went onto campus. Or to journalists in comfortable newsrooms who don't live in towns that are continually the object of rocket attacks. They've never known what it's like to do daily tasks that we take for granted, but is [sic] an act of faith for an Israeli, like taking the No. 7 bus on Jaffa Road. Or shopping in the Mahane Yehuda greengrocers market, both popular targets for suicide bombers in Jerusalem."

Overlook Kohn's uncritical use of the 'T' word. Overlook her snide dig at Harvard professor Stephen Walt (who, with co-author of The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer, also recently visited Israel). Overlook her attack on journalists who don't uncritically toe the Israeli line. Just focus on those final two sentences, about Israelis still spooked, if Kohn is to be believed, about the prospect of Palestinian suicide bombings in the buses and markets of Jerusalem. What she doesn't tell us is that long before Palestinian groups turned to such terror tactics, Israeli terrorists of the Irgun variety were pioneering them on Palestinian Arab civilian targets back in the 30s. Here's a partial list of same:-

Bombs in Market Places, Cafes, Homes:

17/3/37 Four bombs thrown into Arab cafes in Jaffa; 1 Arab killed, 10 injured. (Palestine and Trans-Jordan, 1937 - Colonial 146, 1938, p 6)
6/7/38 Bomb thrown in Haifa market place results in 8 Arab casualties. (Keesing's Contemporary Archives, III (1937-1940), 3177A)
14/7/38 Bomb explodes in Arab vegetable market, killing 12 and wounding 29, including women and children. (Ibid)
17/7/38 Three Arabs found murdered in Tel Aviv. Police arrest 5 Zionist Revisionists. (Ibid)
25/7/38 Bomb explodes in Arab vegetable market, killing 39 and wounding 64. (Ibid)
25/8/38 Bomb explodes in Jaffa vegetable market, killing 23 Arabs and wounding 30. (Ibid, 3312A)
27/2/39 Bombs explode in Haifa and Jaffa market places, killing 28 Arabs. (Ibid 3513)
2/6/39 Irgun bombs Arab melon market in Jerusalem, killing 5 and wounding 19. (Ibid 3642B)
19/6/39 Bombs explode in Arab market in Haifa, killing 9 and wounding 24. (Ibid)
3/7/39 Bomb thrown into Arab cafe in Haifa. (Ibid)

Attacks on Arab Buses:

20/8/37-26/9/37 Bomb wounds 2 Arabs. Bombs thrown at Arab buses wound 1 woman and kill another. (Palestine and Trans-Jordan 1937 - Colonial 146, 1938, p 8)
14/11/37 Arab bus shot at in Jewish Quarter. 3 Arab passengers, including 2 women dead. (Ibid, p 9)
4/7/38 Bomb thrown at Arab bus in Jerusalem kills 5 and wounds 7. (Keesing's, III (1937-1940), 3177A)
8/7/38 Bomb thrown at Arab bus in Jerusalem kills 4 and wounds 15. (Ibid)
29/6/39 Six attacks on Arab buses on roads near Tel-Aviv, Rehovoth and Petah Tikva result in 11 deaths. (Ibid, 3642B)

Wikipedia's List of Irgun attacks during the 1930s lists 33 incidents resulting in Arab deaths out of "at least 60 operations... during this period."

Here's the Irgun's truncated account from its website:

"After Ben-Yosef's execution [by the British], the Irgun launched a series of operations against the Arabs. The central acts were the explosions in the Arab markets of Haifa and Jerusalem. On July 6, 1938, a member of the Irgun, disguised as an Arab porter, went into the Arab market in Haifa, placed a large parcel beside one of the barrows in the centre of the market and left. Shortly afterwards there was a heavy explosion, which killed 21 Arabs and injured more than 50. A week later a similar incident took place in Jerusalem. A member of the Irgun concealed an electric mine in the Arab market in the Old City. It exploded shortly after the end of the prayer service in the mosque, when a large crowd had emerged onto the street. Eight Arabs were killed and more than 30 injured."

Here's a quote from historian J Bowyer-Bell:

"On July 4, the Irgun attacked Arab quarters, first in Jerusalem and then in Tel Aviv. Five were killed and 20 were wounded. Two days later an Arab 'porter' carried milk cans into the Haifa fruit and vegetable market. As soon as he found an empty corner, he left his cans and disappeared into the crowd. A few minutes later the cans detonated with a huge roar, spewing fire and fragments into the milling crowd of shoppers. Twenty-three Arabs were killed and 79 wounded. A similar attack in the Arab quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on July 15 killed 10 and wounded 29 more Arabs. The biggest explosion of all came on July 25, again in Haifa, leaving 39 dead and 46 wounded." (Terror Out of Zion, p 42)

Here's American historian Lenni Brenner:

"Early in September 1937, 13 Arabs had been killed, supposedly in retaliation for the deaths of 3 Jews. By 14 November the Irgun went on the offensive. Several Irgunists were determined to act on their own and the Irgun command headed them off by organizing a wave of operations that resulted in 10 Arabs killed and numerous wounded. Thereafter there were innumerable attacks on purely civilian Arab targets with the high point of the campaign coming in the summer of 1938. On 6 July a milk-can bomb went off in the Arab market in Haifa, leaving 21 dead and 52 injured. On 15 July July an electric mine in David Street in the old city of Jerusalem killed 10 and wounded 30. On the 25th another bomb in the Haifa market killed 35 civilians and wounded 70. On 26 August a bomb in Jaffa's market slaughtered 24 and injured 35." (The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, p 100)

And just to humanise:

"... a bomb exploded in the vegetable market in Jaffa. It went off early in the morning, when most housewives were milling round the stalls, squeezing the fruits before buying, accompanied by those of their children who were too young or too poor to go to school... The 'bomb' had been an oil drum, packed tight with old bits and pieces of rusty iron scrap and nails and explosives, rolled into the centre of the market place from a lorry which the authorities never traced, enough for every Arab to know its origin. There was a British officer training the extremist Zionists, who until his arrival had never done this sort of thing." (Soraya Antonius, The Lord, p 206)

To paraphrase Ms Kohn: 'Those Palestinians never knew what it was like to do daily tasks that we take for granted, but were an act of faith for them, like taking the No. X bus in Jerusalem. Or shopping in the Haifa greengrocers market, both popular targets for Jewish terrorists in Palestine'.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The late (1937 - 2008) great American comedian George Carlin surely had the likes of the Sydney Morning Herald in mind when he asked, "Why do they call Palestinian commandos terrorists, and Israeli terrorists commandos?" To quote from the most recent of the Herald's clueless editorials on Palestine/Israel: "Israel has dropped its refusal to negotiate with a terrorist organisation..." (The art of compromise, 23/6/08)

But it gets better: "For Israel, the social and economic costs of endless war are high."

For Israel! How perfectly understanding! Scraping together the wherewithal to put the jackboot into malnourished Gazans must be sooo painful. Just as well the Americans are a soft touch for a few quid.

And spare a thought for Israel's poor, put-upon 'commandos'. Why, only last month these heroes knocked on the front door of one of those scruffy Gazan houses with their jackboots, scuffing them in the process. Understandably impatient at the tardiness with which the woman inside was preparing to open the door (after all, they only wanted to say hi), they had rigged an explosive device which went off just as she was opening it. Palestinians, of course, have a dreadful habit of blowing up whenever Israelis are around, and this one was no exception. In fact, her head was torn from her body. Thank G-d our heroes escaped unscathed! Typically too, she had no control over her feral offspring who unfortunately witnessed their mother's unedifying loss of self control. In a civilized society they would have been neither seen nor heard. Then - can you believe this? - she just lay there rudely ignoring her guests while the latter were forced to do some unpaid babysitting for the next five hours as they kept watch for the Palestinian terrorists who infest the Strip. The nerve of the woman! Wisely, our Israeli heroes shut the brats, aged 2 to 13, in a bedroom for the duration of their stay. But not before teaching them enough discipline to deter them from venturing forth some two hours after they'd left. It is to be hoped that these children will benefit from such a lesson. I am confident the Herald's editorialist would agree.

[*Blast kills Gaza teacher in front of her children, The Independent, 12/5/08]

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gore Blimey!

In my 14/6/08 post on the Jewish National Fund (A Certain Jewish Tree Planting Group), I quoted the following from a two-page JNF advertisement in The Australian Jewish News of 14/10/05 : "Former American vice president Al Gore will be the keynote speaker at JNF NSW's 'Negev Tomorrow' campaign launch in Sydney... Significantly, [Gore] devotes an entire chapter of [his] book [Earth in the Balance] to the JNF citing its prescient policies of afforestation, desert reclamation and water resources."

Gore Blimey, I thought, an entire chapter devoted to the JNF. I'll have to check this out. So I borrowed a friend's copy of Earth in the Balance (1992). No chapter on the JNF! I perused the 2007 edition in a bookshop. Still no chapter on the JNF! Tried the index. Nothing under Jewish National Fund! Tried 'I' for Israel and came up with 'Israel: tree planting in, 324'. Eureka, I'd found the 'chapter'!

And here's what the 'chapter' (actually 2 paragraphs of Chapter 15: A Global Marshall Plan) said:-

"Another example of a tree planting movement that reclaims degraded land while serving related goals has been the effort throughout this century by Zionists to enlist the Jewish diaspora in planting millions of trees in Israel to create new forests. Indeed, the reclamation of the desert and degraded lands in Israel is one of the great ecological success stories, reversing centuries of land abuse and restoring productivity. (Unfortunately, more recent approaches to industrial agriculture have led to unsustainable water and soil depletion in some areas of Israel.)

"Meanwhile, the Jewish National Fund's tree planting movement continues to serve as a model for what could be accomplished all over the world, both in degraded areas of the underdeveloped world and in industrial societies. Generations of Jewish children in the US, for example, have raised money to plant entire forests in memory of a relative or in honor of a friend. In the process, these children have been given an invaluable lesson in the dynamics of soil and water conservation - and more subtly, the importance of loving the land."

It's time for some inconvenient truths:-

New forests? Non-endemic pine monocultures.

Centuries of land abuse? Not bad for a land without a people!

Loving the land? But without the natives: "This direct relation established between land use and land ownership led to the widespread and strategic use of planting throughout the Occupied Territories. Understanding the logic of Israeli land seizure, Palestinians intensified their agricultural land use, planting as a pre-emptive strategy in areas they felt were threatened with impending expropriation; such planting was often subsidized by Palestinian and international solidarity organizations. On the other hand, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organisation dedicated to the development of Israeli state land for the benefit of its Jewish population, was planting pine forests in areas declared as 'state land', mainly around greater Jerusalem in what it called 'the green belt'. These planting programmes were undertaken to prevent Palestinian planting, and to maintain land reserves for the new settlements or for the future expansion of exisiting ones. Pine trees were chosen both because of their fast growth and because of the acidic deposit of pine needles they leave on the ground, which eradicates most smaller plants and undergrowth between the trees. 'Pine deserts' were meant to make the land unusable for the Palestinian shepherds by depriving their flocks of pasture. In many places across the West Bank where there has been large-scale forestation by Israel, there has also been small-scale planting by Palestinians; the lines separating pine and olives are among the many boundaries produced by the colonization of the West Bank." (Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation, Eyal Weizman, p 120)

Al Gore's uncritical recycling of JNF propaganda does him no credit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Avnery's Apology: A Critique

Taking the Canadian Prime Minister's recent parliamentary apology to the indigenous people of Canada as his cue, veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery has followed his problematic essay 1948 (see my 1/6/08 post, Uri Avnery: A Critique) with an equally problematic stab at an official Israeli apology (An Apology, 14/6/08) to the Palestinian people:-

"We recognize the fact that we have committed against you an historic injustice, and we humbly ask your forgiveness. When the Zionist movement decided to establish a national home in this country... it had no intention of building our state on the ruins of another people. Indeed, almost no one in the Zionist movement had ever been in the country before the first Zionist Congress in 1897, or even had any idea about the actual situation here."

Avnery at least appears here to concede that there is no meaningful distinction between "national home" and "state." The contrary has, of course, been argued by legions of Zionist propagandists. The notion that the early Zionists were prepared to settle for anything less than a Jewish state has, however, been decisively refuted by Canadian philosopher and author of The Case Against Israel, Michael Neumann: "Could pre-Israel Zionism be understood as the quest for a homeland as opposed to a state?" he asks. "Was this to be a scattering of Jewish homes and farms, or a Jewish country with its own army, police, and government?" Neumann's evidence leaves us in no doubt. To quote just 3 of his many authoritative statements (pp 23-30):

1) "The founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, had already in 1896 written an essay called 'Der Judenstaat'. In it, he said, 'The Idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is a very old one: it is the restoration of the Jewish state... Let the sovereignty be granted us over a portion of the globe large enough to satisfy the rightful requirements of a nation, the rest we shall manage for ourselves'."

2) "Max Nordau, Herzl's vice-president at early Zionist congresses, wrote in 1920 that: 'I did my best to persuade the claimants of the Jewish state in Palestine that we might find a circumlocution that would say all we meant, but would say it in a way that would avoid provoking the Turkish rulers of the coveted land. I suggested 'Heimstatte [homeland] as a synonym for state... It was equivocal but we all understood what it meant... to us it signified Judenstaat and it signifies the same now'."

3) "Here is Walter Laqueur's account: 'When a Zionist delegation appeared on 27 February 1919 before the Supreme Allied Council, Weizmann was asked by Lansing, the American secretary of state, what exactly was meant by the phrase 'a Jewish national home'. Weizmann replied that for the moment [my italics] an autonomous Jewish government was not wanted, but that he expected that 70 to 80 thousand Jews would emigrate to Palestine annually. Gradually a nation would emerge which would be as Jewish as the French nation was French and the British nation British. Later, when the Jews formed the large majority, they would establish such a government as would answer to the state of the development of the country and to their ideals'."

But when Avnery claims that "the Zionist movement had no intention of building our state on the ruins of another people," it is hard to take him seriously. Assuming that the early Zionists went about their business of agitating for a homeland/state in Palestine without being aware of the grave implications their project held for the majority indigenous Palestinian Arab population defies belief.

Theodore Herzl, the 'father' of political Zionism, was certainly wise to the matter, writing in his diary in 1895: "We must expropriate gently the private property on the estates assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly. Let the owners of immovable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back. The voluntary expropriation will be accomplished through our secret agents. The Company would pay excessive prices. We shall then sell only to Jews, and all real estate will be traded only among Jews." (Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, I, 51)

Typically, however, as Israeli historian Benny Morris points out in his discussion of the idea of transfer (the Zionist euphemism for ethnic cleansing) in Zionist thinking, the leaders of the movement tended to be forthcoming only in private*. (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, p 41)

That the logic of the Zionist push for a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine meant that the Palestinians, absent an effective campaign of resistance, were doomed to dispossession, must surely have exercised the minds of all concerned, colonists and colonized alike. Neumann again: "Certainly it was possible that the Zionists would settle for less than all of Palestine. It was possible they would not forcibly transfer the indigenous population; it was just barely possible that, somehow, Zionism would be abandoned altogether. But there was no basis for supposing any of these outcomes likely. Nor could it be assumed that even a territorial compromise could be obtained without catastrophe... Indeed, the Palestinians could look at all of modern European history from the 17th century religious wars to the year of the Balfour Declaration as a record of failed territorial compromises. When settlers move into an inhabited area, territorial compromises are all too often mere pauses in a savage process of dispossession. This was apparent at the time. The rise of Zionism coincided with the last bloody stages of just such a process in the American West. Significantly, the American settler's progressive and very violent displacement of the native inhabitants was not some grand scheme thought out in advance. At many points in the story, the settlers seemed to have got all they wanted. But successful settlement and increasing immigration brought new usurpations. Enough was never, it seemed, enough. Even if the Zionists had never dreamed of taking all of Palestine from the Palestinians, it would have been foolish to suppose that they would not come to do so, bit by bit. The prospect of a Jewish state, therefore, posed a mortal danger to the Palestinians, a prospect of ethnic subjugation and very likely of what is now called ethnic cleansing." (pp 45-46)

As improbable as it sounds, Herzl and others may have entertained fantasies that the Palestinian Arabs could simply be bought out, but the Zionist movement's first Likudnik, Vladimir Jabotinsky, put paid to such nonsense in 1923: "Compromisers in our midst attempt to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked by a softened formulation of our goals, or a tribe of money grubbers who will abandon their birthright to Palestine for cultural and economic gains... Colonization has its own explanation, integral and inescapable, and understood by every Jew and Arab with his wits about him. Colonization can have only one goal. For the Palestinian Arabs this goal is inadmissible... Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population." (See my 12/6/08 post, Pemulwuy in Palestine for a fuller quotation) To this end, Jabotinsky saw the necessity for a successful Zionist colonization to proceed behind an iron wall of bayonets, perhaps British, preferably Jewish. He was adamant that every Jew "with his wits about him" understood the logic of the Zionist enterprise, and that the only question was how to cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population. In fact, even Herzl admitted the need for a Jewish paramilitary corps "in preparation for the struggle against the indigenous population whose land was being systematically occupied." (Diaries, I, 88-89) It was of course Zionist militarism and force of arms, Jabotinsky's "iron wall," that prevailed in 1948. Avnery's depiction of his Zionist forbears as essentially well-intentioned blunderers, therefore, lacks all credibility.

[*David Ben-Gurion, who was later to to preside over the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and become Israel's first prime minister, continued this venerable Zionist tradition of dissimulation. He is described by Benny Morris as a man who "knew what to say and what not to say in certain circumstances; what is allowed to be recorded on paper and what is preferable to convey orally or in hint." (The New History & the Old Propagandists, Haaretz 9/5/89)]

"The Zionist founders who came to this country were pioneers who carried in their hearts the most lofty ideals. They believed in national liberation, freedom, justice and equality. We are proud of them. They certainly did not dream of committing an injustice of historic proportions."

Lofty idealists? How to square this with the testimony of Zionist moderate, Ahad Ha-Am, who wrote as early as 1891: "They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause, and even boast of these deeds; and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination." Ha-Am was later compelled to ask, "Is this the dream of a return to Zion which our people have dreamt for centuries: that we now come to Zion to stain its soil with innocent blood?" He scathingly described Avnery's pioneers as "a small people of new Levantines who vie with other Levantines in shedding blood, in desire for vengeance, and in angry violence? If this be the 'Messiah', then I do not wish to see his coming." (Quoted in The Zionist Mind, Alan R Taylor, p 103)

Or take the findings of the shelved 1919 report, Recommendations of the King-Crane Commission with Regard to Syria-Palestine and Iraq. US President Woodrow Wilson, who believed that the wishes of the population concerned should be the determining element in the choice of a mandatory power, had sent Henry King and Charles Crane to take the pulse of both communities in Syria/Palestine. Finding that Lord Balfour, in his famous 1917 declaration favouring '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', had gone too far, they called for "the extreme Zionist programme" to be "greatly modified. For a national home for the Jewish people is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish State; nor can the erection of such a Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission's conferences with Jewish representatives, that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase." This was for public consumption. It was left to the British interviewees to reveal the elephant in the room: given the intensity of the indigenous opposition to unlimited Jewish immigration, "No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms."

Nor did Ha-Am's "new Levantines" improve with the advent of a leadership "obsessed"* from the 30s on with the idea of forced transfer of the Palestinians (Morris, Haaretz, 9/5/89) - a leadership who even managed to convince themselves that it was "just, moral and correct,"** who hatched and implemented (in April, 1948) Plan Dalet ["a strategic and ideological anchor and basis for expulsions"***] , and who "understood at every level of military and political decision making that a Jewish state without a large Arab minority would be stronger and more viable both militarily and politically."****

[*Morris, Haaretz, 9/5/89; **Morris, 1948 & After: Israel & the Palestinians, p 43; *** Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, p 63; **** Morris, 1948 & After, p 22]

Avnery's idea of "a solution that may not fulfill all justified aspirations nor right all wrongs, but which will allow both our peoples to live their lives in freedom, peace and prosperity" is, of course, the two-state solution: Israel as an apartheid state ("governed by laws of our own making" as he puts it, presumably including those laws which incorporate the distinction between Jews and non-Jews and deny 93% of Israeli territory to non-Jews, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and the Palestinian Arab refugees of 1948) on 78% of historic Palestine, and a truncated state of Palestine on the remaining 22% currently occupied by Israel, which he hypes as "... the free and sovereign State of Palestine in all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, which will be accepted as a full member of the United Nations..." Avnery clings to the stale formula now trotted out by every friend of Israel within coee of a microphone. Meanwhile, the settlements expand, the Jews-only roads snake across the occupied West Bank, and walls and cages spring up around defenceless and impoverished Palestinians faster than than the words 'viable, contiguous and independent Palestinian state' can trip off a politician's lip.

And what of the thorniest problem of all, that of the Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces under cover of war in 1948?

We must approach with open hearts, compassion and common sense, the task of finding a just, and viable solution for the terrible tragedy of the refugees and their descendants. Each refugee family must be granted a free choice between the various solutions: repatriation and resettlement in the State of Palestine, with generous assistance; staying where they are or emigration to any country of their choice, also with generous assistance; and yes - coming back to the territory of Israel in acceptable numbers, agreed by us."

Like the two-state solution, Avnery's notion of the refugees exercising a "free choice" of returning to "the territory of Israel in acceptable numbers, agreed by us" is yet another example of his "solution(s) that may not fill all justified aspirations." Despite the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) enshrines the right of all refugees to return and claim their properties (Articles 13 & 17), that the Palestinian refugees have the backing of the UN Charter and international law for their right of return, and that UNGA Resolution 194 calls for precisely that, Avnery is only prepared to go so far.

Sorry, Uri, it's back to the drawing board I'm afraid.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The 8 components of Islamophobia are:
1) Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
2) Islam is seen as separate and 'other'. It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
3) Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.
4) Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a 'clash of civilizations'.
5) Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or mulitary advantage.
6) Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
7) Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
8) Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.
From Islamophobia: A Challenge For Us All, The Runnymede Trust, 1997

Neocon rag, The Australian frequently features foaming Canadian calumnist Mark Steyn on its opinion page. His most recent appearance in The Voice of Murdoch in Australia, however, was as the subject of a news report, Freedom on Trial (14/6/08). Steyn is reportedly at the centre of a human-rights complaint by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) against Maclean's Magazine. According to The Australian, "the columnist was accused of flagrant Islamophobia after his bestseller, America Alone, was excerpted in the news weekly in 2006. If found guilty, Maclean's could be ordered to stop publishing Steyn's column or other articles likely to expose Muslims to hatred or contempt."

Phillip Adams (odd man out at The Heart of the Nation) has mad Mark's measure. Steyn Gang - as Adams irreverently refers to him - is a hoot and a half, but there's some serious mischief behind the 'merriment': "Mark Steyn has been making his mark, or leaving his stain, on the conservative speaker's circuit. First in the US and now in Australia. Here, as there, adoring crowds of neo-cons and camp followers flock to laugh at the Canadian columnist's jokes and to applaud his insights. Trouble is it's near impossible to tell one from the other. The insights are comical and the jokes unfunny." (Boom, boom: Mark Steyn is no joke - his insights could lead to a lot more bloodshed around the world, The Australian, 22/8/06)

Some of Steyn's unfunnies appeared in the March issue of progressive US monthly Harper's Magazine. They were taken from a list of "assertions and implications" attributed to him in Maclean's Magazine: A Case Study of Media-Propagated Islamophobia by the CIC. Islamopocalypse is Harper's heading:-

Muslims are "sheep shaggers."
The number of Muslims in Europe is expanding like "mosquitoes."
Muslims living in the West are incapable of being loyal citizens of Western societies.
In a few years, Europe will be "semi-Islamified," living under shari'ah law.
European Muslims are the "new owners" of European society and are behaving like "tenants with a right-to-buy agreement."
Muslims have a collective agenda of taking over the world, including the West.
Muslims will inevitably take over Europe; the only issue left to be determined is how "bloody" the transfer of power in Europe, to Muslims from non-Muslims, will be.
Belgium no longer belongs to the Belgiums: it has already been taken over by Muslims.
Japan will inevitably be taken over by Muslims.
America will be an Islamic republic by 2040.
The Muslim takeover of America will occur in a violent way, through a nuclear attack on the United States. A copy of the Koran that will survive the nuclear attack will be placed in a War Museum that will be built by the Muslims. This Muslim takeover will be like Hitler and the Third Reich's takeovers in Europe; Jews will be accused of various false conspiracies and will be massacred by the Muslims.
The United States will split into different countries and states. Much of the country will be destroyed; there will be a Christian state; there will be a Muslim state filled with the ideas of jihad; and Jews and other minorities will have to be smuggled into Canada to escape from the Muslims, who will be out to eliminate them.
There will be an oppressive religious police enforcing Islamic norms on the population, such important American icons as the USS Ronald Reagan will be renamed after Osama bin Laden, no females will be allowed to be cheerleaders, and popular radio and televison talk-show hosts will have been replaced by imams.
There will be a break for prayer during the Super Bowl, the stadium will have a stereotypical Muslim name, and the fans will be forced to watch the game in a Muslim prayer posture.
The star player on the Los Angeles Lakers will be a Muslim. A popular American actress, while accepting an Academy Award on national television, will announce her conversion to Islam and her marriage to the Muslim Lakers star.
Her conversion will inspire tens of millions of Americans to do the same, furthering the Muslim takeover.
Americans are not being as vigorous in the process of kicking "Islamobutt" as they should.
Muslims' attempts to promote an understanding of their culture and history are actually motivated by a superiority complex and a desire to portray non-Muslim Westeners as inferior, inadequate, stupid, and dim-witted.
Muslims rallying against Islamophobic publications are really attempting to persecute writers for no good reason.
Muslims routinely launch meritless lawsuits against writers.

Oh, and as our own dear Kate of Camden would say: They carry M15s under their heeejabs!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Certain Jewish Tree Planting Group

"By the way you may know of a quite popular Jewish tree planting group called the Jewish National Fund, might be some green synergy there, although again it is implicated in West Bank annexations possibly." From an email posted at by Tom McLoughlin of Ecology Action Sydney.

So "popular" that, as you'd be aware from my last post, DPM Julia Gillard attended the JNF's "gala dinner" in Melbourne on 4/6/08. So what exactly is the JNF? A tree planting group? A tree planting group called the Jewish National Fund? A tree planting group that has gala dinners attended by the likes of Gillard? And what's this about "implicated in West Bank annexations"? Some tree hugging outfit.

Israel is often hyped as a 'vibrant democracy' by its boosters in the media, so it should come as no surprise to find, in this age of bullshit and greenwash, that the JNF Australia website is a particularly vibrant green. The homepage informs us that "The mission of the JNF of Australia is to develop a sustainable environment in Israel by continuing and enhancing the historic partnership of all the Jewish people with the land." There's even a short - ahem - potted history: "The planting of the first forest in honour of Herzl in 1904 started a revolutionary enterprise: the reafforestation of the land. By 1947 the JNF had planted 5 million trees, but by the JNF's centenary in 2001 the total topped 220 million. Israel became the only country in the world with more trees at the end than at the beginning of the 20th century."

Green synergy, eh?

Here's just some of the dirt:-

"The Fund was established in 1901 as one of the instruments of the World Zionist Organization in implementing its objective - the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish state. The role assigned to the Fund in this enterprise was the acquisition and development of territory for Jewish colonization. Accordingly the Fund acquired, through purchase and other means, land in Palestine as the inalienable possession in perpetuity of the Jewish people. The Fund purchased its first land in 1905; by 1948 it held 3.5% of the lands of Palestine, and by 1967, 17% of the lands of the state of Israel. However, the impact of the Fund on land policies in Israel far outweighs the influence suggested by this fraction: in 1960 the Israeli Parliament adopted land laws under which the policies of the Fund, "for Jews only," were applied to 92% of the lands of the state." (The Jewish National Fund, Walter Lehn with Uri Davis)

"Among ourselves it must be clear that there is no place in the country [Palestine] for both peoples together... With the Arabs we shall not achieve our aim of being independent people in this country. The only solution is Eretz Israel [Palestine], at least the west part of Eretz Israel, without Arabs... and there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, transfer all of them, not one village or tribe should remain..." Joseph Weitz*, deputy chairman of the Board of Directors of the JNF from 1951 to 1973, quoting from his 1940 diary in A Solution to the Refugee Problem, Davar, 29/9/67.

"[I]n the critical areas of immigration, settlement and land development the Israeli sovereign, the Knesset, which is formally accountable to all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, has formulated and passed legislation ceding state sovereignty (including taxation) and entered into Covenants vesting its responsibilities with organizations such as the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency and the JNF, which are constitutionally committed to serving and promoting the interests of Jews and Jews only. It is through this procedure of legal duplicity, the ceding of state sovereignty and vesting its responsibilities in the critical areas of immigration, settlement and land development with Zionist organizations constitutionally committed to the exclusive principle of 'only for Jews', that legal apartheid is regulated by Israel. And it is through this mechanism of legal duplicity that the State of Israel has successfully veiled the reality of Zionist apartheid in the guise of legal democracy since the establishment of the State of Israel to date." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, Uri Davis, p 48)

"The South African Forest [Golani Junction] was planted on the site [of the Palestinian Arab village of Lubya, destroyed in the course of the massive ethnic cleansing operations carried out by the Israeli army under the cover of the 1948 war] by the JNF, together with the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Sports Authority, Regional Council of Lower Galilee, and Local Council of Kefar Tevor... It appears that the JNF of South Africa (together with the Israeli government and municipal bodies...) chose to plant the South African Forest and (together with the Friends of the JNF and the Women's Zionist Organization of South Africa) situate the recreational area and the children's playground on the ruins of the Palestinian Arab village of Lubya, located in Lower Galilee, inside pre-1967 Israel, ethnically cleansed under the cover of the 1948 war and subsequently razed to the ground. Under Israeli law, notably the Absentees' Property Law of 1950, the thousands of 1948 Palestine refugees of Lubya and their descendents remain stateless refugees outside the borders of the State of Israel... The refugees of Lubya are denied their right of return to their home village and properties. Instead the cattle of the so-called socialist cooperative Zionist settlements of Lavi and Sedeh Ilan are given access. The war crime perpetrated by the Israeli army against the people of Lubya in 1948 is paradigmatic. Some 400 rural and urban Palestinian Arab localities have been similarly ethnically cleansed and razed to the ground in whole or part. In many localities, Lubya and elsewhere, the crime is covered up by JNF forests..." (Davis, pp 53-55)

"To avoid international censure, JNF established Himnuta as a JNF subsidiary with wide powers to operate in the West bank and to 'buy' land [in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention], frequently through forged papers for the settlement of Jews in the occupied territories. Though Himnuta is run as a division of JNF, formally, it is a private company - and therefore, its dealings go largely unsupervised It has never issued financial statements or publicized any information about its business deals, even though it is financed in part by state funds, nor is it subject to oversight by either the state comptroller or the High Court of Justice. 'The JNF today holds 99% of the company's shares, and its official offices are at the JNF. Legally Himnuta is an independent company; in many other aspects, it is the JNF by another name'... In addition to Israel Lands Authority (ILA) and Himnuta unlawful activities in the occupied West Bank, JNF openly acquired land there and planted 'forests' on it in its standard way of staking claim and acquisition of Palestinian land." (Financing Racism & Apartheid: JNF's Violation of International & Domestic Law, Palestine Lands Society, 2005, p 28)

"JNF is registered as charity in many countries. Due to the influence of the Jewish communities in these countries, JNF local boards, Friends-of-JNF boards or similar groups include distinguished members of the non-Jewish community in the country concerned. Very likely they are not aware of the extent and severity of JNF's violation of international law in its operations in Israel. Gala events, donations and bequeaths collect many millions of tax-free dollars which are used in Israel for illegal practices." (PLS, p 29)

And to add some local colour - vibrant green of course:-

"Former American vice president Al Gore will be the keynote speaker at JNF NSW's 'Negev Tomorrow' campaign launch in Sydney... A firm friend of Israel, Gore is credited with a strong commitment to Israel, to religious liberties and civil rights, to a progressive immigration policy and a humane social safety net... Significantly, [Gore] devotes an entire chapter of [his book, Earth in the Balance] to the JNF citing its prescient policies of afforestation, desert reclamation and water resources." (JNF snares former US vice president, The Australian Jewish News, 14/10/05)

"Prime Minister John Howard will be honoured with a JNF forest in his name at a gala dinner in Melbourne next month. To be named the John Howard Negev Forest, the forest will be located in Israel's Negev region, the focus of the JNF's Negev Now campaign [which "aims to raise funds to increase the infrastructure and population of the Negev region, particularly through the construction of two water-treatment plants."]... The Howard forest will become the third such tribute paid to an Australian PM. Forests have also recognised Sir Robert Menzies and Bob Hawke, as well as former governor-general Sir Zelman Cowan. The Australia Israel Friendship Forest in the Galilee, which was dedicated in 1988, also bestows a general honour on all the prime ministers of Australia and Israel in a tribute to the Australian Bicentenary and the 40th anniversary of the State of Israel." (JNF to honour Howard with forest in Israel, AJN, 20/4/07)

"The JNF of Australia fully supports proposed legislation in the Israeli Parliament that would allow it to enforce a policy of only leasing land to Jews. The bill, which recently passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset, was approved by a 64-16 margin... According to [JNF NSW executive Rob] Schneider, the bill calls for severing the 46-year relationship between the ILA and the JNF. Under the current arrangement, the ILA manages JNF lands, which account for close to 13% of land on pre-1967 Israel... [Schneider] anticipates JNFA will raise between $9 million and $15 million in 2007." (JNF Australia backs land bill in Knesset, AJN, 3/8/07)

"Commemorate the Yahrzeits of your loved ones by planting trees in the Australian JNF Yizkor [Remembrance] Forest**." (from a JNF ad in the AJN of 16/11/07)

Clearly, a tree planting group like no other.

[* Weitz was one of the group around the leader of the Zionist movement in 1948, David Ben-Gurion. The group is referred to by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe as "the 'Consultancy', an ad-hoc cabal assembled solely for the purpose of plotting and designing the dispossession of the Palestinians." (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p 5)

[** This forest is planted on the lands of Ijzim, a destroyed Palestinian Arab village, ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces in the 1948 war.]

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pemulwuy in Palestine

Rambam (v): To be sponsored by smooth-talking Israel lobbyists in Australia on a grooming session by tough-talking PR people in Israel with a view to the sponsored adopting the missionary position for Israel when required in Australia. Usually said of Australian politicians, media hacks and other serviceable community misleaders.
Rambam Fellowship, Journalists Mission etc: Formal designations given to the process of rambamming. (From MERC's Dictionary of Zionist Discourse)

It's amazing what a little bit of rambamming can do to an Australian politician. Take our Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for example. She was a bit of an unknown quantity for the Israel lobby prior to her rambamming in 2005 [See my posts Rambammed (23/2/08) & Ram Bam Thank You Ma'am (19/2/08)]:

"[Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) president Philip] Chester said the fact that he had 'never heard [Julia Gillard] say a word about the Middle East' was no indication of any lack of support for Israel, but added that he was more comfortable with Gillard filling the deputy role having been to Israel, which she visited for the first time last year." (Rudd 'good for the Jews', but Gillard still untested, The Australian Jewish News, 7/12/06)

But that was yesterday. This is today:

"Julia Gillard has brought a new abbreviation to the world of politics. In Canberra's corridors of power she is now simply referred to as DPM, a contraction of her position in relation to Kevin Rudd that ignores her other responsibilities as Minister for Education, Social Inclusion, Employment & Workplace Relations. She also appears to be wavering in her habit of acknowledging traditional land owners at the beginning of her speeches. Addressing the Jewish National Fund in Melbourne on Wednesday evening, she acknowledged Albert and Debbie Dadon, Michael Danby, David Ben-Gurion and Mark Dreyfus before giving a nod to the Wurundjieri people and their past and present elders." (Shortcuts for Gillard, DD McNicoll, The Australian, 6/6/08)

See what I mean? The DPM's still reeling from her rambamming back in '05. She's become a soft touch, mere putty in the hands, like so many of her rambammed colleagues. She just can't say no, and now finds herself the guest of honour at the Australian chapter of the JNF.* As she rises to speak to the assembled fundies, she can be heard muttering to herself, 'I don't know what's come over me'. She begins her speech in the customary way, "I would like to acknowledge the...," only to find herself saying, "the Jewish people, the traditional owners of the land of Israel on which we met..." Why, Julia's so out of it she's even seeing the ghost of Jewish elder, David Ben-Gurion, sitting between Danby and Dreyfus! And, will you look at that! Danby's giving a knowing wink to Dreyfus through the shade of Ben-Gurion himself, as if to say, 'That's our girl!'

But seriously now, what the **** is going on here? We have the DPM, whose leader has just formally apologised to the indigenous people of this country "for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these fellow Australians," addressing a meeting of one of the key Zionist colonial institutions responsible for inflicting similar profound grief, suffering and loss on the indigenous people of Palestine, and giving the approving nod to none other than the Lord High Ethnic Cleanser and Architect of the Palestinian Nakba himself, David Ben-Gurion.

Just to put a bit of perspective on this, allow me to quote at length from that honest exponent of gun Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940), who bequeathed to us a veritable conga line of Israeli Likudniks such as Begin, Shamir, Sharon, Netanyahu, Olmert, and Tzipi Livni. Jabotinsky wrote in 1923: "Any native people - it's all the same whether they are civilized or savage - views their country as their national home, of which they will always be the complete masters. They will not voluntarily allow, not only a new master, but even a new partner. And so it is for the Arabs. Compromisers in our midst attempt to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked by a softened formulation of our goals, or a tribe of money grubbers who will abandon their birthright to Palestine for cultural and economic gains. I flatly rejected this assessment of the Palestinian Arabs. Culturally they are 500 years behind us, spiritually they do not have our endurance or our strength of will, but this exhausts all of the internal differences... They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervour that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie... This childish fantasy of our 'Arabo-philes' comes from some kind of contempt for the Arab people, of some kind of unfounded view of this race as a rabble ready to be bribed in order to sell out their homeland for a railroad network. Colonization has its own explanation, integral and inescapable, and understood by every Jew and Arab with his wits about him. Colonization can have only one goal. For the Palestinian Arabs this goal is inadmissable. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. If it were possible (and I doubt this) to discuss Palestine with the Arabs of Baghdad and Mecca as if it were only some kind of small, immaterial borderland, then Palestine would still remain for the Palestinians not a borderland, but their birthplace, the center and basis of their own national existance. Therefore it would be necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs, which is the same condition that exists now. Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population - an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy. In this sense, there are no meaningful differences between our 'militarists' and our 'vegetarians'. One prefers an iron wall of Jewish bayonets, the other proposes an iron wall of British bayonets, the third proposes an agreement with Baghdad, and appears to be satisfied with Baghdad's bayonets - a strange and somewhat risky taste - but we all applaud, day and night, the iron wall." (Quoted in Lenni Brenner's The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, pp 74-75)

The advocates and practitioners of gun Zionism, of course, spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to divert the world's attention from the bloody bayonets of their colonial enterprise in Palestine, but without them they would not have been able to realise their goal of wiping Palestine from the map and creating an ethnically pure nation state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. That Gillard, Rudd & C0 either cannot see - or refuse to see - the Israeli colonial-settler project for what it is, inevitably casts doubt on the sincerity of their apology for "past mistreatment" of Australia's own indigenous population.

To underline Labor's schizophrenia here, the Rudd government is reportedly "considering erecting an official memorial in Canberra commemorating indigenous Australians killed in the so-called 'Aboriginal Wars'... The submission [to do so, from the Labor-aligned Canberra Institute,] nominates a number of conflicts to be commemorated, including the Pemulwuy-led Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars from 1790, the Black Wars of Tasmania, the Port Philip District Wars from 1830 to 1850, the Kalkodoon Wars of North West Queensland 1870 to 1890, and the Western Australian Conflict of 1890 to 1898... [In addition] the Federal Government yesterday announced the inclusion of the Myall Creek Aboriginal massacre site, near Inverell, on the National Heritage List at a 170-year memorial service." (A memorial controversy, Call to honour 'Aboriginal Wars', Sunday Telegraph, 8/6/08)

I'm getting confused. Isn't armed resistance to foreign occupation and dispossession by indigenes officially branded 'terrorism' these days? Surely the Rudd government isn't toying with the idea of an official memorial commemorating a bunch of Aboriginal terrorists? Those who tried to drive us into the sea? Those who spurned our generous offers of baubles and beads? Those who refused to be partners for peace? Those with the blood of our innocent pioneers on their hands? Those who hated us not for anything we allegedly did to them, but simply for being the wonderful folk that we were (and still are)?

How is John Citizen expected to cope with the cognitive dissonance created by commemorating Aboriginal resistance to colonial invasion and dispossession here, while his political representatives condemn it in Palestine as terrorism? How can he be expected to accept an apology for the bloody deeds of his pioneer forbears here, while his political representatives insist on turning Australia's federal parliament into a forum for celebrating the bloody deeds of Israel's pioneers in 1948? (See my 14/3/08 post, The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3)

Australian explorer Edward John Eyre wrote in 1845 about Australia's indigenous 'terrorists': "It is true that occasionally many crimes have been committed by them, and robberies and murders have too often occurred; but who can tell what were the provocations which led to, what the feelings which impelled such deeds? Neither have they been the only or the first aggressors, nor has their race escaped unscathed in the contest. Could blood answer blood, perhaps for every drop of European's shed by natives, a torrent of their, by European hands, would crimson the earth." (An Account of the Manners & Customs of the Aborigines & the State of their Relations with Europeans)

What Eyre wrote over one and a half centuries ago resonates today in Palestine.

[*I'll deal with the JNF at length in my next post.]

Monday, June 9, 2008

Murdoch's Man in Gaza

In my 17/5/08 post, Murdoch's Man in Beirut, I drew the reader's attention to the hack, ramshackle journalism of The Australian's Middle East correspondent, Martin Chulov.

Here are two, more recent examples:-

"The announcement of indirect talks between Syria and Iran [sic], to be brokered by Turkey, did not come as a surprise to Washington... " (Israel's gamble on Syria isolates US, 24/5/08)

And, as our intrepid News Limited journalist picks his way among the smoking ruins and rotting garbage of terror hotspot Hamastan, he makes a truly amaaazing discovery: Gazans are "continuing to blame the Israelis and their allies for the crushing two-year siege." (Gazans stock up as Israel threatens war, 7/6/08)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rudd Gives Palestine the Brush-Off

The Sydney Morning Herald's Alan Ramsey was alone among our mainstream journalists (so far as I am aware) in reporting on a letter sent by Melbourne's Women for Palestine organization to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, asking them to give favourable consideration to moving "a parliamentary motion recognising May 15, the actual date of the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation, as a day of 'catastrophe, dispossession, displacement, exile and occupation' for the 700,000 Palestinians who'd lost their homes, their land and, in many cases, their lives in May* 1948." (Little or no time for Palestinians in Parliament, 17/5/08) Neither responded. This request, of course, was an attempt to balance the motion, "celebrating... the achievements of the State of Israel in the 60 years since its inception," moved by the Prime Minister (and seconded by the Opposition Leader) in the House of Representatives on March 12 this year.

[*Actually, from December, 1947 to the ceasefires of January-March, 1949.]

Ramsey also reported that, although each of the Parliament's 226 politicians were emailed on the matter, only one acknowledgement (from Kate Ellis, Rudd's junior minister for Youth and Sport) was received. He concluded his opinion piece with an account of two ill-fated attempts to raise the issue of the Palestinian Nakba in Federal Parliament:

"In the Parliament this week [12/5-16/5], two women MPs tried to prick their colleagues' consciences. The Greens senator Kerry Nettle and Labor's Julia Irwin, both from Sydney, tabled motions in the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Irwin was allowed three minutes to speak on Wednesday, not in the house chamber itself but in the auxiliary main committee room. She said, in part: 'Eight years ago, I visited Israel and the occupied territories. The experience changed my views. Today we remember what Palestinians call al-Nakba, the catastrophe. Sixty years ago, Palestinians fled their homes to escape the massacres. Can those of us in Western nations, who have expressed congratulations to Israel on its 60th birthday, not spare a moment to remember the suffering of the Palestinian people 60 years ago, and the daily consequences of their dispossesion, displacement, exile and occupation? Today those 700,000 Palestinian refugees have grown into 7 million. Four million live under illegal occupation. Three million live as non-citizens in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and other countries. Palestine was never a land without people. Today it is a people without a land'.

"Kerry Nettle's motion on Thursday urged, in part: 'That the senate (a) acknowledges and sympathises with the Palestinians whose homes were destroyed or seized and family members killed 60 years ago at the inception of the state of Israel, which the Palestinians call al-Nakba, the catastrophe; (2) remembers with shame the failure of the international community to prevent the bloody events that followed the unilateral declaration of independent statehood by the Israeli leaders; (3) acknowledges the unique relationship between Australia and Palestine, commends the Palestinian Authority's commitment to democracy, reiterates Australia's commitment to Palestine's right to exist and our ongoing support to the peaceful establishment of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and and on this, the 60th anniversary, pledges frendship and enduring support to the people of Palestine'.

"There was no debate. Nettle did not get to speak in support of what she wanted her collegues to do. What the Senate then did was throw out Nettle's motion by 48 votes to five, with 23 senators declining to vote. The entire exercise - the reading of the motion and the subsequent vote - took nine minutes. Julia Irwin got three minutes.

"Our even-handed Middle East policy."

Almost two weeks after May 15 had come and gone, those who proposed the Nakba motion finally received a response to their letter - not from the Prime Minister, but from Garry Quinlan, Senior Adviser (Foreign Affairs, National Security, Defence & Trade).

It was the quintessential, platitudinous, bureaucratic brush-off. To add insult to injury it hadn't even been vetted for typos.*

Here's the gist: "... Australia has long supported efforts to reach a lasting and comprehensive settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Australian Government greatly values its strong friendship with the Palestinian people and the contributions made by Australia's Palestinian community to our society. In the Parliamentary motion moved by the Prime Minister *to publicly reiterated the Australian Government's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a solution based on the recognition of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state and Israel's right to live in peace within secure borders. The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to re-state Australia's firm belief that the establishment of an independent and economically viable Palestinian state must remain a key objective of the Middle East peace process. The violence and loss of life that have marked the many years of the conflict are tragic and a matter of deep sadness to the Government. The Australian Government does not, however, consider that the Parliamentary motion you propose would contribute to the peace process currently underway between Israel and the Palestinian Authority."

Just what you'd expect from a prime minister who has declared that support for Israel is "in my DNA."

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Uri Avnery's 1948: A Critique

If you want to sort the political sheep from the goats in the Palestine/Israel fold, just look at the positions taken by pundits on the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948-1949. Uri Avnery is a case in point. Avnery is the 84 year-old veteran leader of Israel's peace movement, Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc), and an often perceptive and insightful commentator on the Israel/Palestine conflict. Yet his recent essay, 1948* (10/5/08,, reveals a major blind spot. In fact, at many points, I thought I was reading Benny Morris.

[*In which he states that his wartime reports from that era "will soon appear in English."]

Avnery views the first Arab-Israeli war as two wars: that waged by Zionist forces against the Palestinians (from the UN partition resolution of 29/11/47 until the proclamation of the state of Israel on 14/5/48), and that waged by Zionist forces against Arab military intervention after 15/5/08. He misrepresents the first as an "ethnic war" of the kind that wracked the Balkans in the 1990s. In doing so he overlooks the fact that the great bulk of the Jewish community in Palestine had only entered the country over the previous 30 years, under British imperial sponsorship and protection, and against the wishes and interests of its indigenous Arab inhabitants. Although both the Palestine and Balkan conflicts are characterised by acts of ethnic cleansing, the latter clearly lacked the colonial context that pertains in Palestine, which is more accurately described, from 1948 to the present, as a war between a colonial-settler movement and an indigenous population.

Avnery writes, "At the time, I hoped until the last moment that [the war] could be avoided... " Really? Avnery played an active part in a movement which expressly aimed to create an exclusively Jewish state in a land inhabited by a non-Jewish majority, and he hoped that the inevitable clash "could be avoided"? Did he really expect the Palestinians to just stand by as their homeland was carved up by the Bushs and Blairs of the day? And this despite their violent opposition to an even earlier partition proposal in the 30s? Avnery then writes, "In retrospect it is clear to me that it was already too late." One is compelled to ask, why only "in retrospect"?

Avnery continues, "The Arab side was determined to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in the country which they (rightly) considered an Arab country. That's why the Arabs started the war." Hello? What is this talk of "the Arabs [starting] the war"?

In hoping that the war could have been avoided, but realising in retrospect that it was already too late by 1948, Avnery implies that, at some earlier point, war could have been avoided. If so, when? He doesn't say. Could it be that the Zionist idea itself, with its goal of creating a Jewish state in a non-Jewish land, is to blame for the 1948 war? When Yusuf Diya-uddin Pasha al-Khalidi, the mayor of Jerusalem in 1899, wrote to Zadok Khan, the chief rabbi of France, advising that, since Palestine was already inhabited, the Zionists should "in the name of God let Palestine be left alone," maybe Herzl, who was shown the letter, should have taken his advice. In retrospect, would that not have been the better course? But Avnery doesn't go there, presumably because blaming the war of 1948 on the Zionist project itself would only undermine his faith in that project. Hence his glib talk of "the Arabs starting the war."

And can he be serious about the following? "When I enlisted at the beginning of the war, we were totally convinced that we were faced with the danger of annihilation." Annihilation? Surely not at the hands of the Palestinians? Hillel Cohen, in his 2008 study of Palestinian collaborators, wrote of a pervasive "unwillingness to do battle" on the part of the Palestinians and claimed that "Senior figures in the Shai and Jewish Agency concluded that the Arabs of Palestine were not interested in fighting. They also deduced that Jewish offensive actions had increased the ranks of Palestinian fighters." (Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948, pp 232 & 234). The leadership of the Haganah, in a 25/3/46 memorandum to the Anglo-American Committee, exhibited no such fear: "As far as the strength of the Arabs of Palestine is concerned, we are in possession of well-founded information. There is no doubt that the Jewish force is superior in organization, training, planning and equipment, and that we ourselves will be able to handle any attack or rebellion from the Arab side without calling for any assistance from the British or Americans. If you accept the Zionist solution [partition and a Jewish state in the greater part of Palestine] but are unable or unwilling to enforce it, please do not interfere, and we ourselves will secure its implementation." (Quoted in Before Their Diaspora, Walid Khalidi, p 306)

At the hands of the Arab armies then? Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has written: "In public, the leaders of the Jewish community portrayed doomsday scenarios and warned their audiences of an imminent 'second Holocaust'. In private, however, they never used this discourse. They were fully aware that the Arab war rhetoric was in no way matched by any serious preparations on the ground... they were well informed about the poor equipment of these armies and their lack of battlefield experience and... training... The Zionist leaders were confidant that they had the upper hand militarily and could drive through most of their ambitious plans. And they were right." (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p 46) The Arab states' lack of enthusiasm for war was also evident in their failure to intervene before May 15, 1948, by which time the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, including areas of the UN-proposed Arab state, was well under way. It is difficult to imagine how the Avnery we know today could have fallen back then for propaganda about "annihilation."

Avnery's refusal to acknowledge that ethnic cleansing was perpetrated by Zionist forces prior to the Arab military intervention in May, 1948, is astonishing. He writes, "The hundreds of Arab villages throughout the country dominated the main arteries that were crucial to our survival... In the middle of May, when the expected intervention of the Arab armies was approaching, we were already in possession of a contiguous territory. This was not yet 'ethnic cleansing' but a by-product of the war. Our side was preparing for the massive attack of the Arab armies and we could not possibly leave a large hostile population at our rear. This military necessity was, of course, intertwined with the more or less conscious desire to create a homogenous Jewish territory. In the course of the years, opponents of Israel have created a conspiracy myth about 'Plan D[alet]', as if it had been the mother of ethnic cleansing. In reality that was a military plan for creating a contiguous territory under our control in preparation for the crucial confrontation with the Arab armies." Benny Morris has said much the same thing: "There was no Zionist 'plan'... of evicting the Arab population, or of 'ethnic cleansing'. Plan D... was the master plan of the Haganah... to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on the emergent Jewish state." (Quoted in my 11/5/08 post, Benny Unhinged)

For both Avnery and Morris, it seems, as long as there's a war going on, moving the civilian population on with a spot of shock and aware is justified and cannot be described as ethnic cleansing. Yet wasn't World War 1, for example, the context for the ethnic cleansing/genocide of the Armenians by the Turks? After the Turkish defeat at Sarikarmis, and during the Allied assault at Gallipoli, the Turkish leadership, fearing an attack on Anatolia itself and viewing the Armenians as a potential fifth column (Avnery's "large hostile population at our rear"), moved in earnest to eliminate them. (See A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide & the Question of Turkish Responsibility, chapter 4, Taner Akcam)

Both Avnery and Morris play down the significance of Plan D, which provided for the destruction of Palestinian towns and villages and the expulsion of their inhabitants: yes, they admit, there was a plan, but it wasn't The Plan. Avnery slips the following in almost as an afterthought: "The military necessity was, of course, intertwined with the more or less conscious desire to create a homogenous Jewish territory." More, I would suggest, rather than less. Ilan Pappe's coupling of Plan D with the desire to create an Arabrein Jewish state is surely more accurate: "Plan Dalet was not created in a vacuum. It emerged as the ultimate scheme in response to the way events gradually unfolded on the ground, through a kind of ad-hoc policy that crystallized with time. But that response was always inexorably grounded in the Zionist ideology and the purely Jewish state that was its goal. Thus, the main objective was clear from the beginning - the de-Arabisation of Palestine - whereas the means to achieve this most effectively evolved in tandem with the actual military occupation of the Palestinian territories that were to become the new Jewish state of Israel." (Quoted in my 11/5/08 post, Benny Unhinged)

Without any reference to the manifest injustice of the UN partition plan for Palestine*, Benny Morris has written propagandistically of the Palestinian Arabs "defying the will of the international community, as embodied in the UNGA Resolution of November 29, 1947 (No 181)" (Quoted in my 7/5/08 post, Bend It Like Benny). Avnery's reference to it is not much better: "The Arab spokesmen... demanded the withdrawal of the partition resolution. The Jewish side stuck to [it wanting] to prove that it was possible." The latter assertion is simply not true. Zionist forces did not stop at the 54% of Palestine assigned to the Jews by the partition resolution, but went on to overrun a further 24%, conducting operations in the UN-proposed Arab state from April to May, 1948. Nor did they 'stick to' the partition plan's recommendation that Jerusalem be separate from both the Jewish and Arab states.

[* See my 14/3/08 post, The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3.]

Both Avnery and Morris fudge the issue of responsibility for the Nakba. Here's Avnery: "But the reality of the war itself caused the mass exodus." And here's Morris: "Most of Palestine's 700,000 'refugees' fled their homes because of the flail of war..." (Quoted in my 7/5/08 post, Bend It Like Benny). The reality of war/the flail of war, take your pick. It's euphemisms all round, folks. Anything to avoid acknowledging the ugly reality of Zionist ethnic cleansing.

Avnery does, however, concede as much in his discussion of war No. 2: "[A]fter the advance of the Arab armies was halted, a deliberate policy of expelling the Arabs became a war aim on its own." But even that is heavily qualified by the rider, "For truth's sake, it must be remembered that this was not one-sided. Not many Arabs remained in the territories that were conquered by our side, but, also, no Jew remained in the territories that were conquered by the Arabs, such as the Etzion Bloc kibbutzim and the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Jewish inhabitants were killed or expelled. The difference was quantitative: while the Jewish side conquered large stretches of land, the Arab side succeeded in conquering only small areas." Avnery sounds not unlike your average Zionist propagandist here: the massive violence of the perpetrator is balanced, even cancelled, by the counter-violence of the victim; the overwhelming, state-of-the-art firepower of the IDF by the homemade Qassems of Hamas; the million odd Israeli cluster bombs in south Lebanon by the two Type-81 cluster strikes of Hezbollah (See Lebanon/Israel: Hezbollah Hit Israel with Cluster Munitions During Conflict,, and so on.

Avnery writes that "The real decision was taken after the war: not to allow the 750,000 Arab refugees to return to their homes." Ah yes, the real decision. Does he really believe, tooth-fairy style, that only after "we had received orders to kill every Arab who tried to return home" (See his account below of his wartime experiences), not to mention the wholesale destruction and theft of the refugees' villages, homes, lands, and businesses during the war, that such a decision was made? One longs for the honesty of a Yeshayahu Ben Porat? "Yeshayahu Ben Porat was a member of the Haganah during this period. He noted that while he had been in the Zionist youth movement, he 'was trained to despise the Arab population'. He was taught that he must one day struggle for a Zionist state that would be goyim rein. 'They did not educate us in the perspective that there will be a Jewish state here where Arabs and Jews will live together. The hidden thought and sometimes the overt thought was: they will go away and we shall stay'. Ben Porat later recalled that on the eve of the conflict most Jews believed, 'we needed a war with the Arabs. In the kibbutzim they looked at the Arab villages in the vicinity and they divided up their land in their thoughts." (The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from Their Homeland, Michael Palumbo, p 37)

Avnery writes of his war record thus: "When the war broke out, I immediately joined a combat brigade (Givati)... the place of every decent and fit young man at such a time was in the combat units... At the beginning of the war I was a private soldier in the infantry and fought around the road to Jerusalem [ in the UN-proposed Arab state?], and in the second half I served in the Samson's Foxes motorized commando unit on the Egyptian front... Throughout the war I wrote up my experiences... I reported that we had received orders to kill every Arab who tried to return home." And did he carry them out? He doesn't say.

Israeli activist, author, and one-time political ally of Avnery Uri Davis has commented that: "[T]o my knowledge [Avnery] has yet to account for his activities, possibly war crimes, in the 1948-49 war as a soldier with the Giv'ati battalion commando unit 'Samson's Foxes' directed... by such criminal 'orders of the day' as were issued in the daily battle sheets of the political commissar of the Giv'ati battalion, Abba Kobner, a survivor of the Nazi occupation of Europe and the Kobna Ghetto rebellion, who turned to Nazi rhetoric himself, issuing such battle sheets as Battle Sheet dated 12.7.1948 entitled 'Aju al-Yahud (The Jews Have Come): The Night of Raid and Purge: 'Indeed we broke the spirit of the enemy and also rent their bodies open. But the enemy strength is still there. It is an enemy. It is an army. Though we are confidant that the dung of the corpses of the invaders [will fertilize] our fields into blossom...' After all, Uri Avnery is reported to have taken part in the Samson's Foxes operation in the Palestinian Arab village of 'Ibdis, subsequently destroyed and razed to the ground... and to have participated in operations where the Samson's Foxes were ordered to move from Arab village to Arab village and 'shoot at anything that moved, man, woman, child, camel or donkey'* as well as to have taken part in operations in the south where the Samson's Foxes commandos 'raced with their jeeps after all those [Arabs] like hunters hunting rabbits' (Yair Lev, The Subject: Uri Avnery, Guerilla Pictures, 2002). Uri Avnery does not deny his participation in these operations - but claims that he did not shoot." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, pp 147-148)

[*In his essay, Avnery writes of the modus operandi of Samson's Foxes: "In general, things happened this way: in the course of the fighting, an Arab village came under heavy fire. Its inhabitants - men, women and children - fled, of course, to the next village. Then we fired on the next village, and they fled to the next one, and so forth, until the armistace came into force..."]

I leave the last word to Uri Davis: "Uri Avnery and Gush Shalom are aware that the laws on war crimes are not subject to the statute of limitations and perpetrators can be brought to trial anywhere, anytime. They have joined their voices to those inside Israel and abroad condemning the war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as cautioned against the prospects of Israeli attempts to orchestrate the mass expulsions of Palestinians from the post-1967 occupied territories under the cover of the US-led illegal attack on Iraq. Yet, given Avnery's own failure and the failure of his camp to engage in self-critical assessment of their political choices in 1948, condemn the war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli army in the course of the 1948-49 war, and motivate prosecution for these war crimes, their peace advocacy today is tainted in that it betrays the rights of those most victimized by the political Zionist settler colonial project in Palestine, the 1948 Palestine refugees and their descendents, some 4 million people today." (p 148)