Sunday, January 31, 2010

Serious Countries

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanYahoo-Serious was asked if Israel was losing the support of the international community over Operation Cast Lead. "The answer... is clearly not," he replied, "Yeah we've lost a numeric count at the UN. But the quality count? No. The serious countries, the decent countries, they know the truth. They know the score. They know that no country has faced the kind of terror rocket attacks that we have faced, except for Britain during World War II... " (Netanyahu makes no apologies, Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/1/10)

The serious countries, eh? Yep, like Nauru and Micronesia, the presidents of which Pacific pinpricks have just toured Israel, meeting with PM NetanYahoo-Serious and the country's deadly serious Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, visiting the usual pilgrimage sites such as Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Sderot(grad) and Masada, and, finally, unwinding at a Dead Sea spa.

The seriousness with which Israel takes the likes of Nauru and Micronesia is down to their provision of fig leaf services to the naked pariah in the United Nations: "Both Pacific Island countries regularly back Israel in UN voting. Of 19 anti-Israel UN resolutions introduced in 2008 and 2009 Nauru sided with Israel 80% of the time and abstained from voting on the other resolutions." (Jerusalem hosts Pacific Island presidents,, 21/1/10)

Alas, according to the above source, the presidents of Palau and the Marshall Islands, fellow fig leaf providores to the naked pariah, had been invited but declined to participate.

Now, as a measure of just how seriously Nauru's statesmen (& women) take the business of attaching themselves to the pariah state's privates, Nauru's UN ambassador, Marlene Moses, has emerged with a compelling rationale from which I have plucked the following gems:

"Nauru is a small, isolated island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Israel is an island in its own right, surrounded by a sea of unfriendly neighbours."

"[B]oth Nauru and Israel face threats to their very existence. Nauru's great challenge comes in the shape of climate change... Israel is confronted by those who would deny its right to exist and attempt to relegate it to the history books."

"I am sometimes asked why we vote the way we do and if we suffer any negative repercussions. Without question, the pressure to vote against Israel is great. I am sure that many countries fail to vote their conscience out of fear. Nauru, with a long tradition of independence and voting our conscience, has no such qualms. In fact, we are often stunned by the cowardice demonstrated by countries far larger and more powerful than our own."

"Many assume our votes are nothing more than the result of chequebook diplomacy or close ties to the US. That is simply not true. We receive not a single dollar in development aid from the US. Nauru votes with Israel because of its strong conviction that Israel has a right to exist. Together with the US, Israel and Nauru are united by a commitment to democracy and human rights. We recognise Israel's unique status in a region where these principles are not found in abundance." (Why we side with Israel, Australian Jewish News, 29/1/10)

Hm, close ties to the US? Maybe all has now been forgiven, but according to Nauru's Wickipedia entry the US Department of State has fingered Nauru as a major money-laundering center, used by narcotics traffickers and organized crime figures.

OK, but if, as Ms Moses claims, Nauru does tricks for Israel free, why has Australia been paying through the nose for its services?: "A former AusAID director who headed Nauru's AusAID program throughout 2003, has labelled aid payments to Nauru as 'unmitigated bribes' that ensure the [Howard] Government's 'Pacific Solution' continues. Nauru has received $100 million from Australia since a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in 2001. The Australian government spends an average of $2 million a month to run the Nauru detention centre." (SMH, 28/5/07)

To be sure, Australia's pheromones couldn't possibly compete with those of Israel, but there's a matter more concerning still, as the following data from the AusAID website indicates: "As the largest* donor to Nauru [$23.4 million in 2009-10], Australian assistance targets most sectors. AusAID supports key leadership and management roles in Government Agencies such as the Departments of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Education and Health..." (Australian aid to Nauru,

Foreign affairs? Seriously now, could Australia be in the business of pimping Nauru to Israel? Just asking.

[*Apparently, in 2002, after a 22-year relationship with Taiwan, the little floozy dropped him for a US$150 million Chinese aid package.]

[See my posts Israel's Pacific Solution (9/11/09) and Israel's Pacific Solution 2 (12/11/09)]

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Politics of Holocaust Memorial Day

"Invoking the biblical enemies of the Jewish people, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, marked International Holocaust Memorial Day [January 27] with a warning that Jews once again faced annihilation. Speaking on Wednesday to Holocaust survivors who had gathered at the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Poland, where more than 1 million Jews were murdered during World War II, Mr Netanyahu said such murderous hatred must be stopped in its tracks. Quoting the biblical account of the attacks on the Jews by the people of Amalek as Moses led them out of Egypt, Mr Netanyahu urged Jews today to 'remember what Amalek did to you'. 'I have come here today from Jerusalem to tell you: we will never forget', Mr Netanyahu said, then made an oblique reference to Iran... In Berlin, Shimon Peres became the first Israeli president to mark International Holocaust Memorial Day on German soil. Like Mr Netanyahu, he drew parallels between the dangers of the regime in Tehran and the Nazi dictatorship, and referred to Germany's moral duty to protect Israel from outside attack." (We will never forget, says Netanyahu at Auschwitz, Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/1/10)

What is going on here? Why do European leaders pander so to such seasoned hucksters as Netanyahu and Peres? Is there, perhaps, some method in their madness? You bet! Read on:

"In Europe, the Shoah has duly become the image of everything that the Europe of today is not: dictatorship, intolerance and hatred of Israel. Thanks to it, modern Europeans know what is their opposite. But why now? Why is it that, in the aftermath of the Nazi defeat, the genocide was only a reference point on which the victors could agree, whereas today it has become the symbol of the Second World War in its entirety - in the cinema, on television, in political cliches, school syllabuses and state celebrations. One answer is that during the unification of Europe, the Genocide and the Jews served in the construction of a European identity. The European subject who, at an earlier epoch, had succeeded so well in differentiating himself from the Jew ('he is not like us'), is now eager to demonstrate how much he loves him: first because now 'he is like us', and second because he no longer lives here. This is a hypothesis which would have to be verified for every European state.

"Ironically, Germany has donated the darkest chapter in its history to be the symbol of the new European identity: Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is worth returning to the choice of date, not only because Germany's decision on this has been taken up by the other states, but also because it shows most clearly the process of amnesia through which remembrance constructs itself. Germany did not set a date to remember all Nazi crimes. It did not choose the day of Hitler's accession to power as the date for its official day of commemoration, or the day the anti-Jewish racial laws were passed, or November 9, the day the Nazis chose to unleash what they themselves called Kristallnacht and which for years was a non-official commemoration day for many parts of West German civil society - until it was replaced by the new official day. Nor did it choose the day Poland was invaded, signaling the start of the Second World War. Germany does not commemorate May 8 or 9, the date of the fall of the Reich. Why exactly has it chosen January 27, the day of the liberation of Auschwitz?

"The German Federal Republic was not, of course, born anew in 'Year Zero'. As many have pointed out, the judiciary included many magistrates who had served under Hitler. The post-war ban on Nazi Party members working as civil servants was quickly rendered meaningless under American influence. The appointment of Hans Globke - a jurist who had assisted with the Nuremberg Laws and anti-Semitic legislation in the Nazi-occupied territories - as Adenauer's Under Secretary of State and chief of personnel from 1953 to 1963, on the grounds that he was not formally an NSDAP member, was only the most blatant symbol of continuity during those years. The German economic elite that had provided the material infrastructure for the genocide also remained in place. In the postwar period, soldiers who had deserted the Nazi Wehrmacht received no pension; those who had served in the SS did. In lieu of any official self-examination, the German state has preferred to elide all the questions arising from the Nazi period into that of Auschwitz. No political price would then need to be paid by the Globkes, the Krupps, IG Farben and the SS pensioners; nor would any compensation need to be paid to those who did resist. Remembered only as the Holocaust, the past now consists solely of victims - the Jewish people - and executioners, the Germans of the past.

"This process reached its apotheosis in the aftermath of German reunification. As a stable republic, solidly established within an instiutionalized Europe, Germany moved to complete the reconstruction of the past: transforming the memory of Nazism into that of the genocide, and the genocide into remembrance of the Holocaust. Over 8 million Soviet soldiers were killed in the fight against Nazi Germany; some 16 million Soviet citizens are estimated to have died overall during the Second World War, many of them civilians from Ukraine or what is now Belarus. Official remembrance of those deaths seems set to follow the USSR into oblivion; there is scant place for them on Holocaust Day. The same question might be asked of the vast monument to the Jews constructed in the center of Berlin: Would it not count for more if the tens of millions of non-Jews who perished were also honored, in due proportion? Are their deaths of less significance than the others?

"Again, why choose Auschwitz in particular; why not Bergen-Belsen, for example, which is at least in Germany? Even if the worst atrocities were concentrated in the former camp, doesn't the choice of the site nevertheless repeat what the Nazis did - relegating the horror to 'over there', outside the homeland, far away to the east among the 'inferior Slavs'? (The school trips to Poland organized by Israel's Ministry of Education also serve to relegate the Jewish genocide to the margins of Europe; it is harder to imagine these visits taking place in Dachau, Bergen-Belsen or Buchenwald, in the heart of Germany.) ...

"Another feature of the new philosemitism is the attempt to forge a German 'Judeo-Christian' identity. A few years ago the tabloid Berliner Zeitung front-paged a story on September 11, 2004 about a mass Evangelical Christian pray-in at the Brandenberg Gate, with the blue-and-white of Israel's flag prominently displayed across the center of the layout. The German mass media determinedly attach Israeli images in this way as if offering a humanist guarantee of 'the other'. What could be more convenient for the representatives of German culture, whether Christian, Liberal, Green or Social Democrat, in the city with one of the highest Muslim populations in Europe - and a country in which racist attacks on them are on the rise - than the symbol of Jewish, that is, Israeli 'Otherness', precisely on the occasion of a Christian gathering? The Israeli flag, like the Berlin streets named after Yitzhak Rabin and Ben Gurion, become symbols through which German identity is thought. The bogus Judeo-Christian tradition does not correspond to any concrete history; it is an ideological invention invoked against Islam, in which the Jew plays the role of the imaginary other.

"In Berlin, the culture of philosemitism takes on a particularly frenetic character. A whole array of (Ashkenazi) folklore is on offer: exhibitions on Orthodox Judaism, performances of klezmer or Hassidic music and dance. In this respect, the Germans differ from other Europeans, but only in degree; in a large part of Western Europe, the violence directed toward the Other hides itself behind this need for an Other who is like us. This is another effect of the reduction of the Nazi experience to remembrance of the Jewish genocide: this newly constructed past - the Jew as absolute victim - seves as a cover for a new Islamophobia that cannot but recall attitudes that Europe once had toward the Jews: Muslims must modernize, they must become 'like everyone else', in other words, like Europeans." (The Myths of Liberal Zionism, Yitzhak Laor, 2009, pp 23-29)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Churchill: No Quarter for Zionists

"War is peace, freedom is slavery, & ignorance is strength." George Orwell, 1984

Had enough of waved, worn, daubed, tatooed, in-your-face Australian flags this week? Need a laugh after Tuesday's little proto-fascist festival? Then sit back and be entertained by the following cobber-ly correspondence between flag-waving uber-patriots, Chaim Weizmann and Winston Churchill:

"Dear Mr Prime Minister, May I appeal to you to consider once more the question of the Jewish Fighting Force? Ever since our conversation in September, 1940, I have known that we have your sympathy in this matter, and that it has not been for lack of goodwill on your part that the scheme, then approved, was allowed to drop. The disappointment among the Jews, and especially the Palestinian Jews, at being denied their own fighting force, national name, and flag, was very great, but such was their determination to take an active part in the war, that in spite of many further discouragements, 24,000 Palestinian Jews have volunteered for military service, and, I understand, have done well. Now I address to you a double appeal. First, that these men should be gathered into a Division of their own, and that that Division should be permitted to carry the flag with the Star of David to the European battle-field." Chaim Weizmann, 4/7/44

"My dear Doctor Weizmann, I am sorry to find that I have not yet replied to your letter of 4 July, about the question of the Jewish Fighting Force. I can assure you however that I have given my personal attention to your suggestions, with which as you know I have much sympathy... About the Flag. I should like to know what it looks like before I embark on this contentious ground." Winston Churchill, 5/8/44

"My dear Mr Prime Minister, Your letter of August 5th in reply to mine about the Jewish Fighting Force has given me great encouragement, and I thank you for it most warmly. In the first place it is a renewed assurance of your personal sympathy with the desire of the Jews to fight the Nazis under their own name and flag... The moment that the War Office is in a position to discuss concrete proposals, I and my colleagues will be more than ready. In the meantime, I have the greatest pleasure in sending you a sketch of the proposed flag - two horizontal blue stripes on a white back-ground with the Star of David in the centre. It is known to Jews all over the world as their national symbol. You helped us to raise it in Palestine a quarter of a century ago; its meaning has grown with our growth: under your supreme leadership we hope to see our young men follow it into battle alongside of the Union Jack." Chaim Weizmann, 5/8/44

"My dear Mr Prime Minister, The Government publishes to-day the announcement about the formation of a Jewish Brigade Group... We know how much we owe to you for the consummation of this project, and I would like at once to send you some expression - even if brief and inadequate - of our gratitude, both on my own behalf and on that of my colleagues, for all your help in this matter, as well as for your unwavering sympathy and encouragement in all our struggles. The decision to form a Brigade Group is one of great symbolic significance at this time of stress and strain for the Jewish people. We shall not forget." Chaim Weizmann, 20/9/44

"Dear Mr Prime Minister, Following on my letter of September 20th, I should still like to raise the question of the Flag for the Jewish Brigade Group. In my letter to you of August 5th, I enclosed, as asked by you, a sketch of our national flag. May I now submit to you a suggestion and a request? It is our conviction that the future of the Jewish nation is bound up with the British Empire, and this Jewish Brigade Group (the first self-contained all-Jewish fighting unit since ancient times) is part of the British Army. A strong feeling is arising amongst us that these facts should be expressed through the Jewish Flag carried by the Brigade being quartered with the Union Jack, as in the enclosed sketch. Would this meet with your approval?" Chaim Weizmann, 21/9/44

"My dear Dr. Weizmann, I think it would be better to adhere to the original design for the flag for the Jewish Brigade, which you sent me with your letter of August 10 last. I am glad to inform you that this design has been approved by the War Cabinet. As a matter of convenient administration, it would be better that the flag should not be flown in Egypt. But authority is being given for the Jewish Brigade to fly it as soon as they land in Italy." Winston Churchill, 28/10/44

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The JBD of Seduction

"The seduction of Annabel Crabb was a civilised affair. Crabb is, after all, a proper woman, with more than a tint of Jane Austen: rosy-cheeked, hard-working, fair-minded, witty, articulate, a social satirist, educated in Adelaide, though, unlike Austen, happily married, with a second baby on the way. None of this prevented her seduction. Her suitor was tall, smooth, well-funded, cosmopolitan and determined. He was not the only alpha male trying to turn her head, but he had the most to offer and the most to gain. At first Crabb ignored the advances of this would-be tempter, this modern Mr Darcy. She was non-responsive to offers of greater wealth. She pointed out she was pregnant and that she loved to write for a living. None of this dissuaded Mr Darcy, who offered still greater blandishments. The pressure began to build. And why not? Even Jane Austen, a spinster who lived with her parents, was capable of abandon. As she wrote to her sister in 1796, after meeting her real-life Mr Darcy: 'I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together'. One can only imagine the amount of profligate and shocking sitting down together by Ms Crabb and Mr Darcy. So the slow and expensive seduction took place, leaving Mr Darcy, also known as Mark Scott, managing director of the ABC, to rejoice in extracting Crabb from her Fairfax family. Victory came at a price: about $250,000 a year, all underwritten by the Australian taxpayer." (The ABC of seduction: how Mr Darcy depends on damsels, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/1/10)

That was Herald columnist Paul Sheehan on a fellow Fairfax journalist's jumping ship.

Sheehan knows a thing or two about seduction. Not of the ABC variety of course - they have standards to maintain - but seduction of the JBD variety. A belated disclosure (of sorts) emerged in a 19/1/09 column, Obama is walking a high wire: "I had a briefing with [Khaled Abu] Toameh in November, though can claim no credit for finding him. It was part of a study tour for Australian journalists to Israel, sponsored by the Jewish Board of Deputies which was omitted from my column last week." (See my 19/1/09 post Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH 2)

To hell with the seduction of Annabel Crabb, if only Sheehan would titillate us with the juicy details of his own JBD seduction - all that profligate and shocking sitting down together by he and Mr Darcy aka Vic Alhadaff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. OMG, I'm blushing already.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Me, Myself & I

Priceless. Circus Israel quality:

What do you say now, Mr Goldstone?
By Doron Rosenblum, Haaretz, 21/1/10

A week after the earthquake in Haiti, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the estimated number of dead in the disaster is between 100,000 and 200,000. The good news is that one of the members of the Israeli mission, Shmuelik ('Shmil') Shufel, has a new granddaughter of 2.6 kilos. No, she doesn't have a name yet. Thanks for asking.

The joy in the Israeli camp is not infecting the residents of the wretched island - or what's left of it - and that too is quickly dying. And there's a reason for this: not only is there death and destruction wherever you look, but a case of diarrhea, discovered in our mission, is seriously holding up efforts to rehabilitate the island.

Yes, while the whole world is rallying in its clumsy, ponderous way to 'help' devastated Haiti, the Israeli mission is doing its work with the same determination that has given Israel an international reputation. We cannot but recall Operation Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War: in Haiti, too, one treads amid ruins; here, too, the locals run to you crying and begging and with arms outstretched; here, too, one is embedded in an IDF spokesman's pool; here, too, the locals are stunned to see you. The difference is that here you are not condemned and slandered. Is that only because they don't recognize us, despite the huge signs and the flags we have hoisted?

We are on what was once the main street. Stumbling toward us is an old man, crying, beating his chest, mumbling in an incomprehensible language and apparently pointing to the UN forces camp, which is hidden behind a destroyed building. We do not understand his language, but we can guess what he wants to say: 'Just look at this UN! All they know how to do is talk nice, send commissions of inquiry and issue condemnations against countries that are doing battle against terrorism - but when it comes to the nitty-gritty on the ground, the UN is revealed in all its impotence!'

We can only nod in agreement. We offer the old man water, even though we did not succeed in training him, not even with a Bamba snack, to say, 'Toda', and 'boker tov, Yisrael!'

Shouts are heard from a house. We approach cautiously - it could be an ambush - and see a black man of middle age lying under a concrete beam and groaning loudly. Shmuelik says he has a feeling the man is a Jew. How? By his watch: an unconvincing Rolex replica. Great excitement seizes the mission.

'Ivrit? Ivrit?' we shout. The man goes on groaning and moaning. We try again: 'Hebrew? Hibrea?' But the man closes his eyes and crosses himself.

Yehoyachin ('Fush') Noch-Shlefer, a division commander in Zaka, conjectures that maybe the man is a descendant of the Marranos in Spain. His forefathers, who were obviously learned in the Torah, fled from Seville to Toledo and from there to Portugal, and it's definitely possible that one of them, or at least someone in the family, found himself on Columbus' ship the 'Santa Maria', as an interpreter and barber. The ship, as everyone knows, foundered off the islands of Hispaniola, which include today's Haiti. Thanks to his prayers he was vouchsafed a miracle and was spared the fate of his comrades, who were left at the site and massacred by the locals. It is very possible that the man under the concrete beam is a direct descendant of his, the product of decades of mixed marriages with mulatto women who converted to Judaism. And he doesn't even know that he's one of ours.

'Hispana?' we try, 'Maimonides?' The man groans. Maybe with choked-up joy. The excitement chokes us up, too, and the team starts to dig around him, plays him a Yehoram Gaon song and updates him about Gilad Shalit.

But our mission does not have the right equipment to raise the beams - in contrast to the other missions, which have the right equipment but not our genius. Some of us wonder why these phlegmatic Americans can't pitch in and lend us, say, an aircraft carrier. If we had that, we could save the whole island for sure.

Nevertheless, we dig on, and the man, or at least his upper half, which is immediately given the name Netanel, is saved.

Will he make aliyah?

'Water', he whispers. Look at that, he's already being evasive, the Galitsyaner.

The chaos we find in this would-be state is beyond belief. The prime minister is a perspiring incompetent who isn't capable of deciding anything; the local government is corrupt and every week another mayor is arrested; the gap between rich and poor is appalling; the leaders of the government live in magnificent villas or luxury towers, whereas the level of ordinary construction is less than substandard and is cluttered with drainage pipes, airconditioners and rusting boilers; and murder is an almost daily occurence.

This wannabe state, which is borderless and has never managed to live even a day of peace, is effectively ruled by two forces - the generals and the clerics - and the boundaries between them are often blurred. The voodoo beliefs here attribute magic powers to rocky slopes, stones and graves, not to mention certain words and gestures. For example, they believe in their ability to burn the consciousness of of their enemies or to vanquish their adversaries by making them sit on a lower chair. There are tales of zombies thousands of years old that rise up at night and demand ownership of houses they claim belong to them.

We recall Graham Greene's somewhat prophetic novel 'The Comedians' and the film that was based on it: the alienated poseurs who found themselves in Haiti during the period of the Duvalier regime; the members of the terrifying secret guard known as the Tonton Macoutes, with the impenetrable shades that were their uniform and trademark; that 'poor Haiti [which is] not invented - not even blackened for dramatic effect. Impossible to deepen that night', as Greene put it. Well, it turns out to be possible. We hope, at least, that we have brought with us a ray of light, enlightenment and morality from a faroff land.

Yes, the inhabitants know, or should know, that without the Israelis (or 'Americanos', in the local dialect) they have no one to rely on at the moment. This fills the heart - ours, anyway - with pride. Too bad there has to be such a sad event in order to invoke, when all is said and done, our high morality.

'Angels in blue and white', we call ourselves, and this bit of self-indulgence brings tears of emotion to our eyes every time. 'Thank you', we whisper to us and kiss our hand, 'thank you for existing'. But will anyone remember? Will anyone chalk up points for our side? Where are you now, Mr Goldstone? Don't we deserve to have most of the items in your report erased?

Toward evening, the Israeli field hospital prepares for a circumcision ceremony: for Reb Netanel (when all of him is collected), for 10 orphans and, some say, for the president of Haiti himself. By the way, would you believe that his aunt on his mother's side was a commando in the Palmach?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Israel's Best Kept Secret

Hypocrisy is the homage which vice renders to virtue - La Rochefoucauld: Maxims

The British medical journal The Lancet has accused aid organizations, governments and the UN of "putting self-interest, a scramble for photo opportunities and rivalry before the organization of the [Haiti] relief effort." "Some agencies," the journal observed, "even claim they are 'spearheading' the relief effort. In fact, as we know only too clearly, the situation in Haiti is chaotic, devastating, and anything but co-ordinated. The journal did not name the offenders..." (Aid groups accused of putting publicity first,, 24/1/10)

Hm... no names, eh? Could The Lancet perhaps have had a certain Middle Eastern country in mind, one with an image in dire need of burnishing after perpetrating its very own Made-in-Israel earthquake on another tiny island of Made-in-Israel poverty and deprivation?

Just take a look at the self-referential headlines in last Friday's Australian Jewish News: Israel answers the call; Israeli relief agencies & the IDF are at the forefront of the global aid mission in Haiti; Australian Jews rally for Haiti; Israel leads rescue efforts; Why we must give more; Dealing with disaster; Tikkun olam - a duty to help. And that was just the front page!

Inside we find Israel spearheads Haiti effort; Global Jewish relief effort for Haiti; Racing the clock, IDF rescues survivors; ZAKA 'proudly desecrating Shabbat'; and IDF rises to the occasion. Then there's the kitschy Kron cartoon, modelled on the iconic David Rubinger shot (for Life magazine) of the 3 Israeli soldiers gazing, seemingly awestruck, at the Wailing Wall following the 1967 Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem, the West Bank etc. Against a backdrop of collapsed buildings, the iconic 3, sans helmets, guns and uniforms, are garbed as doctors with stethoscopes around their necks and pens protruding from their front pockets, and the soldier - sorry, doctor - in the middle is holding a box of medical goodies emblazoned with a Star of David. Underneath, in upper case bold, is the caption "HEROES."

But it's the self-reverential editorial, Why we must follow Israel in helping Haiti, which is the piece de resistance of the AJN's 'Haiti' coverage: "It's one of the world's best-kept secrets. Like the concealed work of a great artist, hidden away under layers of paint under a canvas that has been reused, so too has Israel's true nature been obscured from the public gaze in recent years by layer upon layer of vindictive political propaganda and ill-informed or even malicious media bias. But, every so often, a glimpse of reality shines through. For those of us aware of the Jewish State's unbounded capacity for compassion and humanity, the country's swift and substantial response to the earthquake in Haiti has come as no surprise. A nation born out of tragedy, a people plagued by disaster, albeit manmade, Israel has long been equipped to deal with catastrophe and willing to share its experience and expertise. Moreover, as Binyamin Netanyahu noted, that sense of global responsibility - tikkun olam - is a central tenet of Judaism. 'Despite being a small country, we have responded with a big heart', the Israeli Prime Minister said. 'The fact is, I know, that this was an expression of our Jewish heritage and the Jewish ethic of helping one's fellow'... The efforts of the Jewish State to alleviate the suffering in Haiti are, of course, made without any thought of reward or recognition. The government, the Israel Defence Forces, as well as medical and aid agencies such as Magen David Adom and Zaka, do not ask for praise. But it is a gratifying side effect that for once the world's media has chosen to focus its cameras on the force for good that Israel not only aspires to be but so often succeeds in being, rather than its preferred proclivity towards highlighting the seemingly negative aspects of the country's ongoing war against terror."

There's more, of course, but I'm sure you've got the idea.

As Netanyahu says, tikkun olam (literally, 'repairing the world') may well be a central tenet of Judaism, but, contrary to the hype of the editorial, it can hardly be considered a central tenet of the Jewish State and its amen chorus in the West, as an anonymous draft document in my possession reveals: "The prevailing attitude towards international development in both Israel and the Jewish world is reflected by the Hebrew maxim, aniye ircha kodmim - translated as 'the poor of your town come first'. The Government of Israel spends approximately 0.06% of the state's Gross National Income on official development assistance, less than 10% of the internationally accepted target for developed countries. [The footnoted comment to this reads: "Half of this relates to the absorption of Jewish immigration into Israel." IOW, boosting the Jewish demographic in Israel. In which case, Israeli spending on overseas aid is more like 0.03% of GNI.] On this matter there is little perceivable political divide in Israel, making it one of the few issues where the Israeli establishment is in almost complete consensus. In relation to Jewish philanthropy outside Israel, the vast bulk of giving focuses locally with an additional portion directed towards Israel." (Towards a Tikkun Olam Policy for World Jewry & Israel)

Now if Netanyahu could persuade the US Congress to pay off Haiti's crippling $641 million foreign debt by subtracting it from the US's annual $3 billion odd - extremely odd - subsidy to Israel, we might be talking some serious tikkun olam. Until then...

As for Israel's backyard Haiti, aka the Gaza Strip, Israel's alleged "unbounded capacity for compassion and humanity" has been conspicuous by its absence:

1) "Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-I) said the Israeli authorities at Erez checkpoint this week prevented the exit of 17 sight-impaired patients, suffering from various eye diseases, from the Gaza Strip in order to undergo cornea transplants, a treatment not available in the Gaza health system." (Israel prevents 17 sight-impaired from leaving Gaza for treatment, WAFA, 11/1/10)

2) "The Israeli Navy kidnapped on Sunday at dawn 6 Palestinian fishermen in Palestinian territorial waters in the Rafah area, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Navy also opened fire at the fishermen and boarded 2 boats." (Israeli Navy kidnaps 6 Palestinian fishermen in southern Gaza, Said Bannoura, IMEMC News, 17/1/10)

3) "Israel has opened the floodgates of one of its dams in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, flooding Palestinian houses and causing severe damage." (Gaza flooded after Israel opens dam gates,, 18/1/10)/ "On Monday Israel's National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told a meeting of German Ministers that Israel gives the Palestinians more water than they are required to by treaties." (Israeli minister claims Israel provides Palestinians 'more than enough water', Saed Bannoura, IMEMC News, 19/1/10)

4) "Israel tanks opened fire on Tuesday midday at residents' homes located in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah." (Israeli tanks open fire at residential areas in southern Gaza Strip, Ghassan Bannoura, IMEMC News, 19/1/10)

None of that made it into the Australian ms media, of course, although some in the Israeli media, to their credit, could see through the PR hoopla: "[T]he remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza. Only a little more than an hour's drive from the offices of Israel's major newspapers, 1.5 million people have been besieged on a desert island for two and a half years. Who cares that 80% of the men, women and children living in such proximity to us have fallen under the poverty line? How many Israelis know that half of all Gazans are dependent on charity, that operation Cast Lead created hundreds of amputees, that raw sewage flows from the streets into the sea?" (Israel's compassion in Haiti can't hide our ugly face in Gaza, Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, 18/1/10)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Batch

Keeping tabs on the steady stream of Australian pollywaffles and their media cronies flocking to Israel for Zionist makeovers is not an easy task. The phenomenon, which I've labelled rambamming (see my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too), takes place, naturally, very much outside the glare of the media spotlight, and much of it, I suspect, passes us by entirely. As it happens, it's only thanks to The Australian Jewish News (more of which later) that I've only just stumbled across the November 2009 rambamming of a batch of (mostly Liberal) unrepresentative swill from Victoria.

One excruciatingly twee account, under the label Israel: study tour, actually found its way into Legislative Council Hansard: "Mrs [Andrea] COOTE (Southern Metropolitan) - I would like to commend AIJAC - the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council - for helping to arrange a study tour which was conducted last week with a number of colleagues from this place and one from the other place. Together with Bruce Atkinson, Jennifer Huppert, Jan Kronberg, Peter Kavanagh, Jenny Mikakos, Theo Theophanous, Bernie Finn and Christine Fyffe, the member for Evelyn in the other place, we visited Israel for a week. My personal experience certainly made me realise how lucky we are to live in a country such as Australia and to be able to work in peace and harmony. It was so tangible to see just how difficult and complex the circumstances are in the Israeli situation. I also put on record my admiration for the members of the Jewish community - their tenacity, their courage, their innovation and indeed their cooperation with the Palestinian authorities, which we generally do not see. For example, the doctors at the Save a Child's heart foundation [sic] are doing a miraculous job with young children, many of whom come from the Palestinian authority [sic] and are given a new lease on life by having their hearts repaired by some excellent and talented doctors. It was also very pleasing to see Mr and Mrs Gandel and Jeannie Pratt among the Australians who have done a huge amount for Israel. It was pleasing to see Australians who are so committed. The trip was a life-changing experience." (24/11/09)

Yes, Mrs Coote, you're a credit to your state, and definitely worth every taxpayer dollar regularly stuffed into your pockets by the Judicial Remuneration Tribunal. And speaking of $$$, wasn't your little "study tour" great value for money? Nothing like a visit to Greg Sheridan's plucky country to make us realise we're living in Donald Horne's lucky country, right? So good to learn too that the "Jewish community" - by which I assume you mean Israelis - are taking such wonderful care of kiddies "from the Palestinian authority" - by which I assume you mean the occupied West Bank. What's that? You're not familiar with that sort of language? Oh, sorry, please forget I said it. I promise I'll watch my language from now on. Yeah, right, Palestinian kids and Israeli doctors. Heart-warming stuff that! But my goodness, as you say, it's all sooo awfully, awfully "difficult and complex" over there, isn't it? There, there. You poor thing, just lie back on this heavily padded parliamentary bench here, relax and have a well-deserved snooze. But, hey, aren't those Jews/Israelis/whatever great?!

Now if you thought Andrea was a tad wide-eyed, lend your ears to fellow Lib Jan Kronberg, interviewed in this week's AJN. Here are some of Jan's revelations:

a) In a word, Israel is a "miracle." But if you prefer, here's the longer version: "In spite of the stress of living under the perpetual threat of terrorism and the relentless nature of threats by Iran and Israel's other neighbours, the courage of the Israeli people is palpable and inspiring. Israel is such a bustling, vibrant economy - no wonder others covet it in the way they do." That's right, Jan, they're just plain green with jealousy.

b) The West Bank's Separation Wall may have been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice, but for Jan it "gives you a measure of comfort when you go about your business." Err, whose business, Jan?

c) Jan "spoke with a number of people, including members of the general public, who were very upset, bewildered and saddened by the savage and woefully unbalanced criticism in the Goldstone report." Yes, folks, if you thought Gaza was bad, it pales beside Goldstone! And no, there's no indication she spoke to any members of the general public in Gaza, many of whom were murdered, maimed or made homeless by the savage and woefully disproportionate nature of the Israeli attacks dealt with in the Goldstone report.

d) In a perpetually terrified nation, the most terrified of all live in... Sderotgrad. Jan provides us with just an inkling of what it's like for those who live at the very epicentre of Islamic Terror: "My feelings of having shared this morning with the people of Sderot will stay with me forever. You simply could not think of anything else other than when another rocket may be fired. Could we get to the shelter in time?"

e) And how's this for a scoop? Although it hasn't even been picked up by the Israeli media, our Jan has proof positive that Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living in... Gaza!: "We were shown the collection of spent missiles kept at the police station and a number on show still had their green, red, and yellow casings, signifying which terrorism group fired them - al-Qaeda, Hamas or al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade."

f) Israel, heart of a heartless world: "The work of the surgeons, nurses and volunteers at the Save a Child's Heart Fund at the Wolfson Medical Centre, Holon, is an inspiration. It is important to highlight children from the developing world going to Israel to have life-saving heart surgery. We also saw a number of Palestinian children in the unit, along with their mothers, during our visit."

g) And her colleagues? "They were so impressed with what Israel has done and what it represents for all of us." Naturally.

I don't know about you but I can't wait to hear from the others - Bruce, Jennifer, Peter, Jenny, Theo, Bernie and Christine. (You know, the one from "the other place.")

FYI: "Several MPs spoke with conviction about their commitment to voting prolife: Thankyou to Bernie Finn (MLC), Jan Kronberg (MLC) and Peter Kavanagh (MLC) for their well-thought speeches... We really are so blessed to have such MPs standing up so strongly for the unborn in Parliament." (Pro life prayer rally against the Decriminalization Abortion Bill,, 7/10/08)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ex-Parrot Sighted

To use an ornithological analogy, finding the following sentences in the pages of The Australian is akin to spotting specimens of the Paradise Parrot, last seen in SE Queensland in 1928 and presumed extinct:

"[Obama's] only obvious failure has been Israel. He misjudged the intransigence of Benjamin Netanyahu and the power of his support on Capitol Hill. But he will keep persisting in trying to rescue the Jewish state from the perils of its own hubris and paranoia."

No, of course it wasn't Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan - some things never change. It's US 'libertarian conservative' columnist Andrew Sullivan in his review of Obama's first year in office, A pragmatist of ease & grace (The Sunday Times/The Australian, 21/1/10), and it's about as good as it gets in Murdoch fishwrapper.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...

To adapt the words of the late, immortal George Carlin, I don't just have pet peeves when it comes to politicians, I have major psychotic hatreds. One - just one - relates to Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), the Lord Balfour of the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917.

As David Hirst in his invaluable history of the Arab-Israeli conflict points out: "The Balfour Declaration was one of the two key documents that have shaped the modern history of the Middle East. The other was the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916. This secret deal was part of an understanding in which the 3 major allies, Britain, France and Czarist Russia, defined each other's interests in the post-war Middle East. Sir Mark Sykes, Secretary to the British Cabinet, and the French plenipotentiary, M Georges Picot, agreed that, after the break-up of the Ottoman empire, Britain and France would divide its former Arab provinces between them... France was to take over Lebanon and Syria, Britain would get Iraq and Transjordan. Palestine was to be placed under an 'international administration' of a kind to be decided on later." (The Gun & the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, 1977, pp 37)

I'll be returning to Sykes later in this post, but, as Hirst relates, "The Balfour Declation grew out of Sykes-Picot, but, in retrospect, its importance far outweighs it. Indeed, it is difficult to recall a document which has so arbitrarily changed the course of history as this one. The Arab-Israeli struggle is the likeliest of contemporary world problems to precipitate the nuclear doomsday; if it does, surviving historians will surely record that it all began with with the brief and seemingly innocuous letter... which Arthur Balfour, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, addressed to Lord Rothschild on 2 November 1917." (ibid pp 37-38)

You will, of course, be familiar with the second paragraph: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

In retrospect a colonialist cock-up of the first order, you may, like myself, have wondered from time to time if, in retrospect, Balfour had ever had any regrets over the document that bore his name. Unfortunately, it would appear that he didn't: In 1925 he set sail to inaugurate the new Hebrew University in Palestine. Embarking first at the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, he made his way to Cairo. There he was spared a protest staged by Palestinian Arabs living in Egypt, when the Interior Minister, Isma'il Sidqi, had the protesters arrested - surely proof positive, in light of the reception given by the Mubarak regime to the recent Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina aid convoy, that some things never really change in the Land of the Pharoahs. (See Palestine & Modern Arab Poetry, Khalid A Sulaiman, 1984, p 51)

From Cairo, Balfour travelled on to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Balfour biographer R J Q Adams takes up the story: "There was much pausing at kibbutzim and townships where Jewish settlers wished to cheer the man they identified as their benefactor, and Balfour smilingly endured the unwonted part of popular hero. The highlight of the visit was the formal inauguration on 1 April of the new university, and, before an assembly of ten thousand gathered at the foot of Mount Scopus, Balfour did the honours garbed in the gown of the chancellor of Cambridge University. Like Weizmann, he found the long speeches trying - most were in Hebrew, a language of which he knew nothing - but he endured them, and the ceremony concluded to tumultuous applause. Fatigued by the extended ceremonies, he was pleased to spend a few days as the guest of Lord Samuel, since 1920 the high commissioner in Jerusalem. He revived quickly, and was soon enjoying tennis with his host on the clay courts of the residency. The British authorities and the Jewish defence force, the Haganah, provided security for the official party, but Balfour wished to continue on to view the historic sights of Syria, where the protection of the visitors became the responsibility of the French administration, already anxious over a recent insurrection. Their plans soon went awry as in Damascus a hostile Arab crowd - infuriated by the presence of the author of the hated 1917 Declaration - advanced on his hotel, only to be received by French cavalry who fired volleys of warning shots. General Sarrail, the military governor, was anxious to bundle the party out of his city, and Balfour and his friends were packed off to Beirut and kept on board ship for three days before their vessel was allowed to sail. Though Balfour brushed aside his adventure, insisting he had faced worse times in Ireland, later he would speak only of the Palestinian days of his adventure. Certainly it in no way shook his confidence in the rightness of the famous Declaration, and he steadfastly discounted any signs of religious and racial strife in Palestine, writing in 1927, 'Nothing has occurred during that period to suggest the least doubt as to the wisdom of this new departure'." (Balfour: The Last Grandee, 2007, pp 368-369)

Sir Mark Sykes (1879-1919), he of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, was apparently a different man entirely:

"Sir Mark Sykes had returned to Paris early in February [1919] from a tour of over two months in Palestine and Syria, and had brought disquieting news. What he had observed on that journey had opened his eyes to realities that had hitherto escaped him. He had been particularly affected by his own discovery of the gap between what he had previously understood Zionism to be and what he had just seen of Zionism in the making in Palestine and of its effects on the minds of the Arabs. '... From being the evangelist of Zionism during the War he had returned to Paris with feelings shocked by the intense bitterness which had been provoked in the Holy Land. Matters had reached a stage beyond his conception of what Zionism would be. His last journey to Palestine had raised many doubts, which were not set at rest by a visit to Rome. To Cardinal Gasquet he admitted the change of his views on Zionism, and that he was determined to qualify, guide and, if possible, save the dangerous situation which was rapidly arising'. Syke's views about the Sykes-Picot Agreement had undergone a similar revulsion: he had become convinced of its inadaptability to actual conditions and of the futility of trying to execute it. And, although he was feeling worn out with the exertions of his tour, he had hurried back to Paris bent upon doing all he could to correct false hopes and put a brake upon ambitions which now seemed to him insensate. But within a few days of his return he fell ill and died: and it is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that, for Jews, Arabs and British alike, to say nothing of the French, his death at that juncture was little short of a calamity. Without going so far as to suppose that one individual, however genuine, talented and forceful, could have infected the Versailles peacemakers with his own sense of justice, there is little doubt that, had he lived, his recital of facts and his forecast of consequences might have filled the minds of the politicians with those anxieties which are often, in politics, the beginning of wisdom. In those few days of activity before his fatal illness, Sykes had seen Lord George, Balfour and several of his French and Zionist friends, and had begun the campaign for a return to sanity upon which he had set his heart. What effect his warnings may have had at the time is not known. But when, a few weeks after Sykes' death, [Emir] Faisal's proposal for an inquiry [to visit Syria and Palestine and ascertain the wishes of the population*] on the spot began to be seriously considered, the prevalent sentiment in British, French and Zionist political circles was one of still greater discomfort. And Balfour went to the lengths of addressing a memorandum to his chief, in which he urged that Palestine be altogether excluded from the purpose of the inquiry, while Clemenceau kept insisting that France could not consent to its being held unless it were to cover Iraq and Palestine and well was Syria." (The Arab Awakening, George Antonius, 1938, pp 290-292)

[*This became the King-Crane Commission with regard to Syria-Palestine & Iraq, 28/8/1919. See my 18/6/08 post Avnery's Apology: A Critique]

To draw on Carlin again, it looks like the wrong man got pencilled in for a sudden visit from the Angel of Death.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti: The Israeli Connection

You'll be pleased to hear that "Within minutes of a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake slamming the Caribbean nation of Haiti, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had instructed the Israel Defense, Foreign Affairs and Public Security ministries to urgently administer humanitarian aid... As Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital, the Israel Foreign Ministry prepared an IDF search and rescue team for departure... " (Israel rushes humanitarian aid, IDF rescue units to Haiti, Joel Leyden,, 13/1/10)

Yes, "Within minutes..."!

Israel, of course, is world famous for its humanitarianism: "Israel is very well known and respected for its humanitarian efforts which stretch from Gaza to the Pacific Ocean." (ibid)

Allow me to run that past you again: "Israel is very well known and respected for its humanitarian efforts which stretch from Gaza..." Yes, you read correctly.

But of course: "Even under mortar and sniper fire by Hamas Islamic terrorists, the IDF makes every effort, at the risk to their own soldiers, to send tons of medical and food supplies into Gaza." (ibid)

Why, even as I type, "Israel's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Amos Radyan, is... travelling by car to Port au Prince in order to make an initial assessment. Radyan will be risking his life as he travels over broken roads, fallen electric lines, floods and possible harrassment by the desperate and starving." (ibid)

Spare a thought for this brave and selfless soul!

But there's more. Did you know that "In 1947, Haiti voted for the United Nations partition of Palestine and the Creation of the State of Israel." (ibid)

But not before a slight hitch, mind you:

At the 13th meeting of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on the Question of Palestine on 14/10/47, Haiti's representative at the United Nations, Antonio Vieux, "in stating the views of his Government, would argue on the basis of legal facts, rather than on sentiment. He did not believe that the Jews had any right to claim a whole or part of Palestine as their fatherland on the basis of historical connection. The suffering of the Jewish people, distressing as it had been, was not an argument for the partition of Palestine or for their claims on a land inhabited for thousands of years by another people; nor did their material contribution during the preceeding twenty five years constitute a vested interest in Palestine. If such a principle were accepted, it could create an unfortunate precedent for the determination of possession on the basis of material contributions. Moreover, it was inconsistent with Haiti's ideals and its concept of national sovereignty." (The Palestine Diary, Vol 2, Robert John & Sami Hadawi, 1970, p 212)

"After the Ad Hoc Committee had listened to all contending parties, voting was begun on the resolution submitted by Subcommittee Two, which represented the Arab point of view. The first resolution proposed to call upon the International Court for a decision as to the competency of the United Nations to deal with the Palestine question. By a vote of 25 to 18, with 11 abstentions, the full Committee rejected this proposal. A second and closer vote of 21 to 20 decided that the UN was competent to enforce, or recommend the enforcement of partition without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine. In view of later developments it is important to note that on both of these issues Argentina, Greece, Haiti, and Liberia were among the countries which supported the Arab states. A third resolution recommended the absorption within the territories of members of the UN of those Jewish displaced persons who were unable to be repatriated. The vote on this was 16 to 16 with 26 abstentions... the United States cast a negative vote." (American Zionism & US Foreign Policy 1942-1947, Richard Stevens, 1962, pp 174-175)

"The debate on the draft resolution of the Ad Hoc Committee, which recommended the partition of Palestine, began to the accompaniment of a 'great gathering' of American Jews in the public galleries on the morning of 26 November 1947." (John & Hadawi, pp 249-250) At that debate Mr Vieux firmly stated Haiti's opposition: "'[M]y Government does not consider that the concrete solutions put forward as a result of the sub-committees' work are satisfactory; and the representative of the Republic of Haiti, in accordance with his Government's views, will vote against the partition of Palestine'." (John & Hadawi, p 257)

Now, if a vote had been taken on that day, the partition proposal would have failed to secure the two-thirds majority necessary. And so, "before the vote in the [General] Assembly, 6 countries became the target for Zionist and US pressure or, as it is called in UN circles, 'arm-twisting'. These were: Haiti, Liberia, the Philippines, China, Ethiopia, and Greece. The arm-twisting worked, for only Greece remained firm in opposition, moving, in fact, from abstention in Committee to a negative vote in the Assembly. China and Ethiopia continued to abstain, while Liberia moved from abstention to an affirmative vote and the Philippines, from what would have been a negative vote, to the affirmative... The delegation of Haiti underwent the same mysterious process of transformation [as the Philippines]; a clearly negative speech followed by an affirmative vote. It was through such dubious 'manipulations' that a favourable vote for the Jewish State was obtained at the UN." (Zionism, Israel & Asian Nationalism, GH Jansen, 1971, pp 199-200)

So what kind of pressure was applied to Haiti to reverse its position on the partition of Palestine?: "The vote of Haiti was reportedly secured through Adolph Berle, who used the promise of American economic assistance. An ex-governor, well known for his Zionist and White House connections, personally telephoned the Haitian Government urging that its delegate be ordered to change his vote. Consequently, the Haitian delegate, Mr Antonio Vieux, who had voted against partition on Wednesday, explained that his Government had ordered a reversal for economic reasons." (Stevens, p 179)

As well as the Israel News Agency informing us that Haiti "voted for the UN partition of Palestine and the Creation of the State of Israel," it adds that "many Haitians share much respect and admiration for Israel and its struggles"

How very true, as the invaluable research of Israeli scholar Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi reveals: "The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere holds many distinctions in the annals of misery and inhumanity. For the past century, Haiti has been a miserable, hellish US colony. Between 1915 and 1934 it was occupied by US forces. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as assistant secretary of the navy, drafted its constitution. Later on, as president, he ordered the marines removed, but everything left behind was set up to ensure continuing American control. Haiti's government between 1957 and 1986 was a hereditary dictatorship: Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, inherited from his father, Papa Doc, the title of President-for-Life, with the right to designate his successor - though he was confirmed in what locally passes for an election... Haiti's military needs were quite limited, and Israel could supply them all. There were Israeli military advisers in Port-au-Prince, and the guards watching over the security of President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier carried the ubiquitous Uzi. When Duvalier became more concerned about attacks by rebels, he bought antiaircraft guns from Israel. Israeli advisers were reportedly helping the Haitian government in maintaining 'internal security'. Officers of the Haitian military have visited Israel for training. The elite Leopard counterinsurgency unit, created by Baby Doc, was trained in Israel. Israeli entrepreneurs have become active in Haiti; the Israeli foreign office has been giving 'high priority' to these contacts. These entrepreneurs were all doing business with the Duvalier family and its friends - as did all foreign investors in Haiti, since no one else owned anything worth owning in the country. Israelis have launched profitable agricultural ventures in Haiti and other Caribbean islands... The Duvalier regime was replaced in January 1986 by a new government, in a transfer of power successfully engineered and carried out by the CIA. The actual transfer of power was supposed to take place on the morning of January 31. Jean-Claude Duvalier was to leave Haiti on a US air force plane, and the new government was supposed to be introduced. Something went wrong: as a result the White House announced that Duvalier was gone, while he was still in Port-au-Prince. What went wrong? The US media blamed poor coordination between the State Department and the White House. But CIA sources say the reason for the delay was Israeli intervention. According to this unconfirmed story, the Mossad station in Haiti was concerned about the harm to Israeli interests in the region, and managed to convince Duvalier to stay. American pressure prevailed, of course, and Baby Doc left a few days later. What this story reflects, even if untrue, is the reality of Israeli involvement in Haiti, to the extent that it can be construed as influential in such situations." (The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why, 1987, pp 96-98)

Apart from Papa and Baby Doc, another Haitian 'admirer' of Israel is one, Prosper Avril: "Among those released by the rebels [following the CIA ouster of the democratically-elected government of Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004] is the former general Prosper Avril, a leader of the notorious Presidential Guard under both Duvaliers. Avril seized power in September 1988, and was deposed in March 1990. A US district court found that his regime engaged in a 'systematic pattern of egregious human rights abuses'. It also found him personally responsible for enough 'torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment' to award 6 of his victims a total of $41 million dollars in compensation. The victims included opposition politicians, union leaders, scholars, even a doctor trying to practice community medicine. Avril's repression was not subtle: 3 torture victims were paraded on national television with their faces grotesquely swollen, their limbs bruised and their clothing covered with blood. He suspended 37 articles of the constitution, and declared a state of siege. The US started protecting Avril shortly after the 1994 restitution of Aristide. In November that year, the then secretary of state, Warren Christopher, relayed to the US ambassador intelligence reports that the Red Star Organisation, under Avril's leadership, was planning a 'harassment and assassination campaign directed at... Aristide supporters'. This information was not passed on to the Haitian authorities. In December, the Haitian police, acting on their own information, sought to arrest Avril at his home. Immediately after the police arrived, US soldiers turned up and tried to dissuade them from making the arrest. By the time they got in, Avril had fled to the neighbouring residence of the Columbian ambassador. Police searching Avril's house found military uniforms, illegal police radios and a cache of weapons. He escaped to Israel but later returned to Haiti, where his international and potential military support deterred further attempts to arrest him. He founded a political party, which has never fielded candidates in an election but was invited by the [US Republican Party-affiliated] International Republican Institute (IRI) to participate in developing an opposition to Aristide. In May 2001, after US troops had withdrawn from Haiti, the police finally seized the opportunity to execute Avril's arrest warrant. The successful arrest was greeted with applause by the vast majority of Haitians and by human rights and justice groups in Haiti, the US and Europe. Amnesty International asserted that the arrest 'could mark a step forward by the Haitian justice system in its struggle against impunity': 'the gravity of the human rights violations committed during General Avril's period in power, from his 1988 coup d'etat to his departure in March 1990, cannot', Amnesty said, 'be ignored'. France's Committee to Prosecute Duvalier concluded that 'the general must be tried'. On 9 December 2003, the magistrate investigating the Piatre Massacre in 1990, when several peasants lost their lives, formally charged Avril with responsibility. He was in prison awaiting the end of the pre-trial proceedings when he was freed on 2 March - a few days after Aristide was deposed." (Who removed Aristide? Paul Farmer, London Review of Books, 15/4/04)

So when you read about Israel contributing to humanitarian aid efforts in Haiti (and I guarantee you will) don't be surprised. Baby Doc, currently in France, and Prosper Avril, whereabouts unknown, both ardent 'admirers' of the Jewish State, won't be.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Closed Minds Behind Closed Doors

Most of us aren't, of course, privy to what really goes on at a Fairfax or a News Limited or an ABC or an SBS when it comes to reporting on Palestine/Israel. We can only draw inferences from what we read and hear regarding the extent of censorship, self-censorship, intimidation, pressure, prejudice, red lines, guidelines and sheer abysmal ignorance that we know shapes what we read about the issue. Any insight into the mindset and behaviour of opinion shapers at these news dispensers is, therefore, welcome.

Michael Visontay, currently teaching a course on Sport & the Media at the University of NSW, and a columnist (Beyond Chutzpah) for The Australian Jewish News, was a former Senior Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Among 10 "Jewish and non-Jewish resolutions for the year ahead," set out in his Beyond Chutzpah column of 8 January, Visontay resolves, at number 7, as follows: "Feel more sympathy for Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. It's been too easy to avoid thinking about how hard their lives are while grappling with the political agendas of people criticising Israeli government and military policy." (2010: a top ten to-do list)

Does this extraordinary statement by a former SMH editor of Zionist persuasion, mean that, to the extent that he was involved in the selection and framing of news and opinion pieces on the issue concerned, his number one priority was always to fend off criticism of Israel?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting It Reut

When your product's a dud and your name is mud, who ya gonna call? Why, Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of Israeli strategic think tank, the Reut Institute, of course:

Shalom. My name's Gidi Grinstein, but you can call me GG. "A year on from Operation Cast Lead, one thing is increasingly clear: together with the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the two military operations exposed a dire need to reform Israel's security and foreign policy doctrine. The borders of Gaza and Lebanon may be quiet, but a fierce global battle for our basic legitimacy is raging."*

No, it's not our fault, nothing ever was, is or will be. In 2006 we "were dragged through 33 days of an exchange that left a relatively high number of casualties, 133, as well as trauma to Israeli society that will take years to heal." Yes, dragged - kicking and screaming all the way!

And in 2009, although "our military power was unmatched, yet it was offset by the offensive on Israel's legitimacy that led to a significant setback in our standing among the family of nations..." That's right, all our good work in Gaza - undone by a low, sneaky, snivelling offensive on our legitimacy! Why a great nation such as ours can't just conduct a simple backyard burn without all those bleeding hearts out there wringing their hands over every last rodent and cockroach in the pile is beyond me, but that's the way it is these days, and that's why I, GG, am here to advise you.

Now, "in its first 20 years of existence, between 1947 and 1967, Israel had remarkable military successes. Notwithstanding the bravery of our soldiers... these achievements were the outcome of a victory in the intellectual battle of ideas and concepts. David Ben Gurion's 1947 Seminar, when he prepared himself to be the leader of a nascent state in an existential military confrontation, generated a set of principles for Israeli national security that proved so effective that many of them remain relevant today." Actually (and here GG's voice descended to a whisper) just between you, me and the wall, it wasn't so much the old man's 'seminar' wot worked a treat as his Plans C & D, which we've been implementing ever since, depending on the circumstances. You know, knocking off their leaders; knobbling their finances; cutting down any who resist; strangling their economy; destroying their towns and villages; expelling their inhabitants. Anyway, the point I wish to make is that "Israel's wars are won, or lost, on the drawing boards of strategists and planners before a single shot is fired."

OK, 1947 was then and 2010 is now, and so I want to move on from the subject of our routine, ho-hum, slo-mo wiping of Palestine off the map to that other front I mentioned - "the fierce global battle for our basic legitimacy."

You see, "frustrated by our military might, our adversaries - and primarily Iran and its allies in Hezbollah and Hamas - experimented with politics and violence to cap our power and diminish it. Over time, they were able to crystallise a set of ideas that have proven to be very effective. Instead of seeking to conquer us, they seek to bring about our implosion, like South Africa or the Soviet Union."

That's right, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, that Axis of Clarified Evil (ACE), have been working overtime deep in the bowels of their devilish, daisy-cutter proof bunkers, crystalising ideas. The wily, wicked wascals! Their Satanic Majesties are currently honing and deploying such ideological WMDs as "civilian casualties" and "resistance" to devastating effect. Such concepts, in fact, are slowly but surely, in an increasingly gullible world, blowing our 'Terrorists, the lot of 'em', even the ones in nappies!' mantra out of the proverbial water.

But it gets worse. The Horned Ones have taken "the battle to other arenas, primarily to the international community, working to de-legitimise us and turn us into a pariah state." How so? "Our politicians are sued, campaigns to boycott our products gain traction and our very existence is challenged in academic institutions and intellectual circles."

It's time to call a spade a spade. What we are facing here is an existential threat, nothing less. And I, GG, like our great leader BG, am here to reveal how it can be headed off at the pass: "The most effective barrier to fundamental de-legitimacy is personal relationships. In every major country, Israel and its supporters must sustain thousands of personal connections with the entire elite in business, politics, arts and culture, science and academia. This requires not only an overhaul of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and much larger embassies with significant operating budgets, but also mobilising Israeli civil elite in Israel and overseas to the task."

We must draw up 'Movers & Shakers' lists in every country that matters. And every door of every mover and shaker in town shall be knocked on, Mormon-style, though with a soft cop/hard cop routine in case of resistance - yikes, that word again! - maybe even Mossad back up if necessary. Yes, these moving and shaking dupes of the ACE should be made to understand that from hereon in they're going to be having a deep and personal relationship with us Israelis, something warm, regular and intimate - sort of like a bowel movement.

To accomplish this, every Israeli embassy shall forthwith be expanded to the size of Baghdad's Green Zone, if not larger.

But there's another dimension: "Israel's de-legitimacy is propagated in a few global metropolises such as London, Madrid or San Francisco that are hubs of international non-governmental organisations, media outlets, academia and multinational corporations. Therefore, an extraordinary effort must be made in these areas to isolate Israel's de-legitimisers and the double standards that allow them to operate." To that end, such 'hubs' will be given the old tried and tested 'wall & checkpoint' treatment. Just as we've managed to prevent suicide bombers from Judea and Samaria getting through to the heartland, we'll do the same to these de-legitimising ideological suicide bombers, and, while we're at it - why not? - destroy their damn de-legitimising ideological-terrorist infrastructure as well.

We're mean, we're keen, and we're not gonna take it any more! Reut, guys?

[*Harsh lessons from Gaza, The Australian Jewish News, 8/1/10. Additional fly-on-the-wall reporting by MERC]

Monday, January 11, 2010

Arms Possession & Art

If you're a Palestinian, it's arms possession:

"Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall, was indicted in an Israeli military court yesterday. Abu Rahmah was slapped with an arms possession charge for collecting used tear gas canisters shot at demonstrators in Bil'in by the army and showcasing them in his home... On receiving the indictment Adv. Gaby Lasky, Abu Rahmah's lawyer said that 'the army shoots at unarmed demonstrators, and when they try to show the world the violence used against them by collecting and presenting the remnants - they are persecuted and prosecuted. What's next? Charging protesters money for the bullets shot at them?' On December 10, exactly one year after receiving the International League for Human Rights' Carl Von Ossietzky Medal - on International Human Rights Day - Abu Rahmah was arrested during an Israeli military night-time raid for his involvement in organizing unarmed protest against the Wall in the village of Bil'in. The indictment served yesterday also includes charges of incitement and stone-throwing. As part of a recent wave of repression against the Palestinian popular protest movement, Israel has charged numerous grassroots organizers with both stone-throwing and incitement. In at least one case, that of Mohammed Khatib from Bil'in, the court found evidence presented on a stone-throwing charge to be falsified. In the past 6 months 31 residents of Bil'in have been detained by the military, and in neighboring Ni'ilin, 91 have been arrested in the past 18 months." (Display of used tear gas canisters earns Bil'in activist an arms charge,, 23/12/09)

But if you're an Israeli, it's 'art':

"In the past 9 years, 8,000 Qassam rockets were fired on the southern Israeli town of Sderot, located less than a mile from Gaza. 8,000 times the children, women and men of Sderot have heard the sirens, and run to seek shelter. The city of Sderot and its citizens are still recovering from the traumatic experience of daily attacks and a war in their backyard. Constantly on alert, Sderot's residents are always ready to escape to the nearest shelter upon hearing the frightful sound of the siren. Under these conditions, the Sderot Dove Project was born. In Gaza, lathes work day and night manufacturing Qassam rockets destined to target Sderot. As a response, in Sderot, lathes have been put to use by Israeli Artist Eldor Levi to create sculptures of doves formed from pieces of actual rockets that have fallen on the city. Each of the limited edition 1,000 doves are mounted on a display base with a medallion quoting the verse from Isaiah 2:4: 'They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up weapons against other nations and never again will they know war'. Proceeds from Eldor's handmade doves will be used for social programs in Sderot as well as for the building of a music conservatory for the children of Sderot. The people of Sderot struggle on a daily basis for that day when they will know only peace, normalcy and co-existence. They pray that one day the steel of rockets will only be used for the sculpting of doves and other peaceful purposes. Supported by the Economic Development Council of Sderot, this project aims in helping bring back the hope and smiles to the special people of Sderot, especially the children. Please help by being a part of this important project. This Special Edition Dove will serve as a reminder of the daily trials on life in Sderot, as well as the inexhaustible strength of the Jewish people and its never ending desire for peace. The Sderot dove is scultped from actual peaces of Qassam rockets that landed in Sderot over the past 9 years. This powerful contrast of the peaceful dove created from deadly weapons is a compelling statement for peace, conveyed to us by Israeli sculptor Eldor Levi. This Limited Edition sculpture makes a unique gift for collectors of unique art, Synagogues, Jewish Organizations, or treasured as a family symbol of peace for the Jewish Nation... 1,000 Piece Special Limited Edition. Buy now..." (

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fit to Print?

The heroic saga of the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza has finally made it into the Australian mainstream press.

Sluggish Fairfax Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis actually bestirred himself to note, but only in the context of "clashes between Egyptian security forces and Palestinian protesters at the Rafah border crossing," that: "[A]n international aid convoy, Viva Palestina, including the British MP George Galloway and 17 [sic 1] members of the Turkish Parliament, was allowed to cross at Rafah into Gaza. Mr Galloway had spent the past month travelling from London to deliver 198 truckloads of aid and supplies, challenging Israel and Egypt's blockade of the strip... Egyptian police had earlier scuffled [sic 2] with about 500 Australian, British and American protesters [sic 3], who were travelling with Viva Palestina, as the company tried to leave El Arish, an Egyptian resort [sic 4] city 50 kilometres south of the Gazan border. A number of international protesters were injured, but eventually a compromise was reached and most of the convoy was allowed to enter Gaza. Egyptian officials had told the convoy that some of the trucks could not pass through Rafah and would have to enter Gaza by southern Israel, though there was no guarantee that Israel would allow the trucks into Gaza. 'We refused this', Mr Galloway said. 'It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza. Because nothing that ever goes to Israel ever arrives in Gaza'." (Hamas confronts Egypt over blockade, Sydney Morning Herald, 8/1/10)

A woefully inadequate account indeed, made even worse by the above-noted innacuracies: 1) There were actually 5 Turkish MPs. Koutsoukis seems to have confused the number of nationalities taking part in the convoy (17) with the number of Turkish MPs; 2) Scuffled? 55 injured, some hospitalised, 7 arrested! Some scuffle! 3) As I've indicated, this was a truly international effort, with representatives from 17 different nations, only one of which, I believe, came from Australia; 4) In describing the Mediterranean port city of El Arish as a "resort city," Koutsoukis seems to be confusing it with the Red Sea resort town, Sharm El Sheikh.

But if you think Koutsoukis sleeps at the proverbial wheel, check out Murdoch's John Lyons: "A riot broke out on the Egyptian border yesterday when trucks with international aid were prevented from entering Gaza.' (Egyptian guard dies in Gaza border clash, The Australian, 8/1/10)

Now in case you were wondering what other important breaking news was preventing Lyons from covering the Viva Palestina epic, allow me to reference his same-day feature article, Roads of rage in Jerusalem. In it, John takes us on a harrowing journey through hell and back, enough to dwarf anything coming out of Gaza or its environs:

Trying to enrol his kids at Jerusalem's French School, he describes at length the unseemly bickering between French and Palestinian parents which caused him to remark to his good wife, "This meeting cannot end well." And the rest, as they say, is all down hill.

"Summer was upon us," he writes, and "while in Australia summer can mean long days, hot nights in the back yard, watching Test cricket or going to the beach, in the Middle East it's a time to be dreaded. This is already one of the most volatile places on earth; add to that searing heat, appalling traffic and people already pumped up on conflict and fear, and the combination can be lethal. Jerusalem becomes a battle zone. Conflict appears to infuse itself into almost every aspect of life here; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sets much of the tone. One hot day as we walked past the Damascus Gate of the Old City we saw a group of young Palestinians and Israelis. They pushed against each other, shouting into each other's faces. The only difference was that the Israelis had guns: they were soldiers." A trivial difference, no doubt, for one in the pay of News Limited. Hardly worth mentioning really.

Then he relates a blood-curdling case of trolley rage involving wifey in a Jerusalem supermarket. A mere bagatelle, however, because "[t]hen we tried driving." The operative word there being tried. Well, what a saga! As important as they are, however, I won't go into the gory details other than to quote the following: "A neighbour, from the European Commission, gave us some driving advice: 'In Israel never give anyone the finger when you're driving'. In Brussels, he said, he'd never hesitated to give other drivers the finger. But he'd done it once in Israel, and saw the recipient reach into her glovebox and pull out a gun. He didn't wait around to see whether she was prepared to use it." Pulling out a gun? Israel? Who would have thought?

And then, who should our terrified scribe run into at the post office but "[t]he rudest woman in the world," followed by... but you've got the picture by now, dear reader.

Viva Palestina? As you can see, The Australian's Middle East correspondent simply had too much on his plate. Perfectly understandable under the circumstances described. But hang on there, isn't it now winter in Jerusalem? Oh, dear!

Ah, Koutsoukis, Lyons, Knight, Brown - where would we be without you?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ponytails vs The Company

"Avatar is not only a stunning work of movie technology, it is a stunning attack on America and the West, reports Greg Sheridan." (Fact & friction on a big screen, The Sunday Telegraph, 3/1/10)

Apparently, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, whose presentation of the Palestine/Israel conflict can best be summed up as The Hamas Terrorist Death-Cult vs The Plucky Country, finds the plot of Avatar way too melodramatic: blue people "with long necks and ponytails who swing through the trees like Tarzan" and "live in perfect harmony with nature" vs the "big, evil company, which is naturally American" and "wants to mine the blue people's home for a precious mineral called - you won't believe this - unobtainium."

"This is," he rails, "a version of the left-wing interpretation of Iraq, and even of Afghanistan and Vietnam," and "doesn't make any sense and it's utterly unhistorical. If the Americans had just wanted Iraq's oil they could have simply bought it from Saddam Hussein and saved the billions the military operation has chewed up."

Regarding Iraqi oil, I'm actually inclined to agree with him. Where we part company, however, is over his typically neoconservative misrepresentation of Iraq's death throes as birth pangs.

Well, if Iraq wasn't/isn't primarily about oil, what was/is it about? US sociologist James Petras is a reliable guide here:

"The imperial policies adopted by Washington are a direct response to the power and centrality of the biggest multi national corporations (MNCs) in the US economy. Free trade agreements, IMF and World Bank policies, privatizations, the lowering of tariff barriers and the establishment of over 180 military bases in more than 130 countries are responses to the structural imperatives of the US economy and more particularly to the biggest US MNCs, which operate throughout the world. Imperialism is not a policy, a conspiracy or a product of any single administration, but a structural reality with political determinants and an economic basis. However, policies based on the economic imperatives of this structure are formulated by decision makers in Washington and implemented via the state apparatus.

"Most of the key policies that support US imperial economic interests are not made in the context of broad public debate. Nor are imperial interests stated as such. A small circle of mostly non-elected officials make decisions 'behind closed doors' and plan imperial policies, aided by the 'advice' constructed by a host of Washington-based policy forums such as the US Centre for Foreign Relations (the choice of east coast 'liberal' trilateralists), the Heritage Foundation (preferred by George Bush the elder) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) (run by Dick Cheney's wife, and one of several forums used by the latest generation of neo-conservative neo-imperialists). The public is then fed the ritual rhetoric of 'freedom', 'democracy' and so on, presenting the imperialist project in its various forms (the Iraq War, for example) as an advance of the 'forces of freedom, democracy and free enterprise' (to quote from George W Bush's 2002 National Security Report).

"The structural determination of strategic interests is compatible with, if not necessitated by, these 'closed doors'. Thus the argument that proposes 'conspiracies' to be more significant than structural determinations is misplaced and based on false distinctions. Structural and 'conspiratorial' determinants operate on different if not incompatible levels. Structural economic factors, such as MNCs, establish the general framework of US policy, while policymakers elaborate policies to advance these companies' interests. This process takes place out of public sight, and hence is conceivable as a 'conspiracy', but not without the active participation of the CEOs of the major multi-nationals. Moreover, there are moments when particular policy makers can carve out a degree of independence from particular MNCs in specific regions and pursue their own ideological agendas even at the cost of the MNCs. The most striking example of this exceptional circumstance is the behaviour of sectors of the US state apparatus with relation to the Middle East during the George W. Bush presidency. An influential group of US Zionists, closely allied with and having strong loyalty to the Israeli state, formulated a strategy of permanent war in the Middle East based on the unilateral use of US military power to enhance the survival of Israel.

"Zionist policymakers targeted several oil-producing countries that have provided exorbitant profits for American MNCs, purchased US treasury notes to balance the current US account deficit and had major ties with US financial institutions. Moreover, these Zionist policymakers exacerbated the political and diplomatic isolation of the US in the world and created oil price volatility and huge budget deficits. In theory, and in their own eyes, these Zionists are not opposed to American MNCs, nor are they against forcefully building US imperial power. However, by harnessing US imperial power to Israeli interests, they effectively overrode the structural imperatives of some American MNCs.

"This was clearly the case in the launching of the Iraq war. To destroy Iraq's economy, the infrastructure was destroyed and pillaged; to destroy Iraq's national unity, religious and ethnic groups were politicized and polarized. The result: Israeli power in the Middle East was enhanced and the US move towards new targets. Syria was boycotted by the US; Iran became a target for attack; and Saudi Arabia has been the focus of fierce ideological critiques to the advantage of Israeli interests. As an unintended result, the US empire has become bogged down in a prolonged, losing colonial war, its budget and trade deficits have grown geometrically, the entire Middle East has been destabilized and the pro-Israel animus towards Muslims has awakened and transformed hundreds of millions into enemies of the US economic and military presence. Strategically, it has been argued, the US military has been stretched to and beyond its capacity to defend or expand the empire. Conscription would polarize the country and weaken support for imperial politics. By any objective measure, the Zionist attempt to fuse US empire-building and enhanced Israeli power by inventing a joint US-Israeli power bloc in the Middle East has been a dramatic failure. In fact, it has eroded imperial power.

"This is a clear example of how policymakers have acted not only behind the backs of the public, but behind the backs of the MNCs and against the structural imperatives of empire. Clearly there is not always a direct relationship between the structural imperatives of empire and the effective realization of corporate global interests. Ideological factors can lead policymakers to deviate from prioritizing MNC interests in favour of other loyalties, as we have seen today in the case of US Middle East policy. No doubt at some point in the not too distant future, Zionist policies may provoke a 'correction' in US imperial policymaking. Already the state is divided between pro- and anti-Zionists, between Israel-firsters and empire-builders. To the degree that Israeli Middle Eastern ambitions jeopardize the greater interests of the biggest US MNCs, there is likely to be a major political showdown, with the Israeli power bloc in the US mobilizing all its resources to pressure Congress, the political parties and the President to back Israeli ambitions against the MNCs, and with the MNCs' spokespeople calling on the same to focus on the 'bigger picture' of inter-imperialist competiton, an overextended military and a hostile Middle East investment climate.

"Ultimately the test is whether powerful economic structural imperatives based on the massive presence of US MNCs in the world economy will be a match for a politically powerful faction of Jewish capital located in leading economic sectors such as the mass media and finance. Ultimately the structural imperatives of empire-building will predominate over the parochial interests of the Israel-first crowd. But there may be profound domestic and international crises before the issue is resolved.

"In conclusion, delineating the economic strengths and relative weaknesses of the US MNCs helps us to partially understand imperial politics. But it is also necessary to analyse the political and institutional sphere in which imperial politics are elaborated and pursued. While the imperial state represents the MNCs, it does so in its own manner, and occassionally policies pursed may sacrifice one set of imperial interests for another." (Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neo-Liberal Capitalism, James Petras & Henry Veltmeyer, Zed Books, 2005, pp 32-34)

[See also my 22/12/08 post Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze]

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Israel's Taliban: Let's Get Biblical

Let's get Biblical, Biblical,
We wanna get Biblical, let's get into Biblical
Let us see their bodies bleed
Their bodies bleed, let us see their bodies bleed.

To the tune of Olivia Newton John's Let's Get Physical

"A delegation of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP) met with the US Ambassador to Israel, Mr James Cunningham, today (30/12/09) and called for a reassessment of the entire US policy vis-a-vis the Israelis and Palestinians. The rabbis told Ambassador Cunningham that it was time to try the Biblical approach to the dispute over the Land of Israel. 'The past 17 years have proven without a shadow of a doubt that every square inch ceded by Israel to the Palestinians was transformed into a platform of hatred and terrorism', RCP Director Rabbi Avrohom Shmuel Lewin told the ambassador. 'In other words, the 'land for peace' formula in the Israeli-Palestinian context, besides being a formula that goes against the Divine will, is ineffective, obsolete, and an exercise in futility. Most of all it is a dangerous policy that only leads to bloodshed and instability in the region and harms vital American interests in the region as well', Lewin said... Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky, chairman of the RCP... presented the ambassador with the Halachic (Jewish legal) ruling signed by over 350 prominent rabbis in Israel that it is forbidden to give up even one inch of territory controlled by Israel today... The ambassador was visibly moved by Rabbi Sholom Gold, a leading rabbi in Jerusalem... who described the suffering that the Jewish people have endured ever since the implementation of the Oslo Accords... Rabbi Dov Lior, the Rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, said: 'G-d gave the US the power and influence to affect the rest of the world and supporting Israel is the key to America's success'. Ambassador Cunningham told the rabbis that he does not see how the problem can be solved 'without taking into consideration the Palestinians', to which Rabbi Gold remarked: 'Ever since we started taking the Palestinians into consideration the situation only worsened'. The ambassador asked the rabbis, 'So what is your solution to the problem?' Rabbi Gerlitzky replied: 'You must switch the entire approach to the situation. We all believe in the Holy Bible and up until now we tried every formula except for that which is delineated in the Bible. Let's try it and who knows, Mr Ambassador, maybe this is your defining moment, that G-d Almighty has placed you in this capacity in order to precipitate a new course which will bring a true peace to the entire region'." (Rabbis tell US Ambassador 'Time to 'Go Biblical' with Arabs', Gil Ronen, Arutz Sheva - Israel National News, 30/12/09)

So what exactly does 'going Biblical' with the natives mean in practice?

Let's start with the Book of Exodus. You might recall little more than the reference to a land 'flowing with milk and honey' but forget that it was peopled by Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. As the Israelites were fleeing Egypt, Yahweh promises Moses and the people: 'When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you to the Canaanites etc etc, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices, but you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces'.

Then there's the racism, xenophobia and militarism of of the Book of Deuteronomy: after the King of Heshbon refused passage to the Israelites, Yahweh gave him over to the Israelites who captured and utterly destroyed all the cities, killing all the men, women and children. As Yahweh says: 'When Yahweh your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you - the Canaanites etc, etc... and when Yahweh your God gives them over to you... you must utterly destroy them... Show them no mercy... For you are a people holy to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession'. Deuteronomy tells the Israelites that when they approach towns along the way, they are to offer terms of peace to the inhabitants. If the people accept the peace terms, they are to be reduced to serving Israelites as forced labour; if they refuse, all the adult males are to be killed and the women, children, and animals are to be taken as spoils of war. When however, the Israelites reach the lands where they are to dwell, they are to annihilate the inhabitants entirely so that they cannot tempt the Israelites to worship their gods. 'But as for the towns of these peoples that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them - the Hittites etc etc - just as Yahweh your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against Yahweh your God'.

The Book of Joshua describes the conquest of key cities, and their fate in accordance with the laws of the Holy War. Even when the Gibeonites were to be spared, the Israelite elders complained at the lapse in fidelity to the mandate to destroy all the inhabitants of the land. Joshua took Makkedah, utterly destroying every person in it. A similar fate befell other cities: everything that breathed was destroyed, as Yahweh commanded. Joshua utterly destroyed the inhabitants of the cities of the north as well. Yahweh gave to Israel all the land that he swore to their ancestors he would give them. The legendary achievements of Yahweh through the agencies of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua are kept before the Israelites even in their prayers: 'You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it'. (Abridged from The Bible & Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology & Post-Colonialism in Israel-Palestine, Nur Masalha, 2007, pp 271-273)

Got the picture? That these narratives of Israelite ethnic cleansing and genocide are largely fictional is immaterial. Unfortunately, even Israelis who reject the likes of Lewin, Gerlitsky and Gold are fed them as fact: "Most Israelis today [1992], as a result of Israeli education, regard the Bible as a source of reliable historical information of a secular, political kind. The Zionist version of Jewish history accepts most Biblical legends about the beginnings of Jewish history, minus divine intervention. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are treated as historical figures. The descent into Egypt and the Exodus are phases in the secular history of a developing people, as is the conquest of Canaan by Joshua. The Biblical order of events is accepted, but the interpretation is nationalist and secular. The historicization of the Bible is a national enterprise in Israel, carried out by hundreds of scholars at all universities. The starting point is Biblical chronology; then evidence (limited) and speculation (plentiful) are arranged accordingly. The Israeli Defence Ministry has even published a complete chronology of Biblical events, giving exact dates for the creation of the world... Claiming this ancient mythology as history is an essential part of Zionist secular nationalism, in its attempt to present a coherent account of the genesis of the Jewish people in ancient West Asia. It provides a focus of identification to counter the rabbinical, Diaspora traditions. Teaching the Bible as history to Israeli children creates the notion of continuity. It is Abraham ('the first Zionist', migrating to Palestine), Joshua and the conquest of Palestine (wiping out the Canaanites, just like today), King David's conquest of Jerusalem (just like 1967). (Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, quoted in Nur Masalha's The Bible & Zionism, pp 21-22)

The fact of the matter is that Israel went Biblical with the indigenous population of Palestine in 1948, and has continued to do so, one way or another, ever since.