Sunday, February 28, 2010

'Quality Journalism' Alert

"'Quality journalism is not cheap', said Murdoch. 'The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive distribution channels but it has not made content free. We intend to charge for all our news websites'." (Murdoch plans charge for all news websites by next summer, Andrew Clark, Guardian, 6/8/09)

Here's some QJ from The Australian, circa 27/2/10. Bet you can't wait to pay for it:

Cameron Stewart*: Israel warned before: diplomat [*Associate Editor; 2009 winner of "the highest honour in Australian newspapers, the Graham Perkins Award for Australian Journalist of the Year"]:

"Ian Wilcock, who was Australia's ambassador in Israel from 1997 to 1999, has told The Weekend Australian that he met Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem twice during his posting to convey to them strong concerns about the potential abuse of Australian passports by Israeli intelligence... Mr Wilcock declined to comment on the Israeli response to his warning."

Why? What's he scared of? Did Stewart bother asking him?

"But diplomatic sources say Israeli officials had given no promises and had appeared to be offended by the suggestion they might abuse the identity of Australian citizens."

Appeared to be offended? Either they were or they weren't. And why is Stewart pulling punches when only the day before he wrote: "The Australian has been told that during that meeting with Israeli government officials, the Israelis responded with 'enraged self-righteousness' at the suggestion that they would condone such identity theft"?

Which is it, Mr Quality Journalist? Did the Israelis merely appear to be offended, or did they respond with enraged self-righteousness?

Parenthetically, after reading Stewart's piece, I've come to the conclusion that Wilcock is a better representative of Israel than he is of Australia. Not only does he decline to comment on the Israeli response to his warning, but, such is the quality of his solicitude for Israelis, he does a better job of Mark Regev than Mark Regev: "The former ambassador said the willingness of Israelis to go to such extremes reflected their deep fears about national security. 'It is important to understand the psychology of Israelis in dealing with national security threats', he said. 'The Holocaust may be old news to a great part of the world but it is a living and deeply painful memory to Israelis and to Jews everywhere. Israel will never leave the security of the country to others. The belief is that Jews must be able to look after themselves'." (ibid)

Indeed Malcolm Fraser could well have had Wilcock in mind when he was quoted (on the same page) as saying that "the Jewish state could no longer use the Holocaust as an excuse to justify state-sanctioned murder, and criticism of its policies should not be dismissed as anti-Semitism." (Holocaust no excuse for murder: Fraser, Mark Dodd)

Anyway, I bet his warning to the Israelis about messing with Australian passports had them shaking in their (jack)boots.

John Lyons*: Locals accept Dubai assassination was a Mossad operation [*Middle East correspondent]:

"Things are heating up in the Middle East. They are getting worse rather than better."

The profundity! The profundity!

"Unless the pattern of history has suddenly changed, Hamas and its supporters will now do everything they can to target and kill a senior Israeli or Jewish figure abroad. And so the cycle continues."

Says who? Where's the evidence? Since when has Hamas ever killed anyone abroad?

And here's The Australian's idea of a Quality Opinion Piece: Pre-emptive attack inevitable when international law fails: If the UN had more backbone, Israel wouldn't need to act unilaterally, Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science fiction at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and president of NGO Monitor:

"In 1981, the Israeli Air force destroyed the Osiraq [sic: Osirak] nuclear reactor, the core of Saddam Hussein's effort to acquire nuclear weapons... Israeli leaders had the responsibility of preventing a power-mad dictator who threatened to blow up half of Israel from getting nuclear weapons."

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Super Israeli Air Force selflessly taking on the responsibility of saving half of Israel (& the planet) from another power-mad dictator bent on frying half of Israel (& the planet) with non-existant WMDs.

"If [the international legal system, including the UN] had any relation to justice, terrorists such as al-Mabhouh would be apprehended and brought to trial, and any country that gave them shelter would be punished by the UN."

The UN should act as Israel's hitman, just as the US did in Iraq.

"Al-Mabhouh was a cold-blooded murderer; he bragged about having kidnapped and killing two Israeli soldiers."

Mossad death squaddies are warm, cuddly softies who lie awake at night wrestling with the morality of it all. Oh yeah, and post-Dubai, extremely photogenic.

"The bitter reality is that for Israel, and for others, such as Hezbollah's Lebanese targets, the international legal frameworks provide no protection."

What are you whinging about, Gerald? ILFs haven't done much to protect millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis and Egyptians from Israel either.

Hezbollah's Lebanese targets? Israel's been bombing, invading and occupying Lebanon for decades, killing thousands of Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians, and Hezbollah's the danger?

"In the Dubai operation, there was no collateral damage, no innocent civilians were hurt. No buildings were bombed and no country's air space or sovereignty was violated..."

Why did Israel leave Gaza to those klutzes in the IDF then? Why didn't it employ Mossad instead? And to return to the Osirak operation for a minute, weren't innocent civilians killed there? Wasn't Saudi and Jordanian air space violated? Wasn't Iraqi sovereignty trampled?

OK, that was Quality Journalism at The Weekend Australian, which comes out on Saturdays. Should you require more of it on Sunday, the place to go - and I'm sure I don't really need to remind you of this - is, of course, The Sunday Telegraph:

Yoni Bashan*: Aussie spy stooges go into hiding (28/2) [*Ex-Australian Jewish News and Young Journalist of the Year courtesy of News Limited's 2009 News Awards]:

"Australian officials are still yet to [still yet to?!] speak to 2 of the 3 Australian passport holders whose lives were thrown into turmoil when their identities were stolen by assassins thought to be an Israeli secret service hit squad."

Lives thrown into turmoil? Memo from Tony Abbott to Julie Bishop: 'Hey, Jules, listen up! While we've got Rudd on the run and in apology mode, I want you to insist that he immediately don sackcloth & ashes and crawl on his hands and knees all the way to Israel to apologise on his hands and knees (Hang on, he's already assumed that position, hasn't he? Forget that bit!) for the turmoil into which he, personally, has thrown these poor Israelis... er, Aussies... er, Israelaussies... er, Austraelis... whatever, or else resign! Also, I want you to offer all such unfortunates carte blanche, rolled-gold, no-questions-asked, Christmas Island- No Way, Joshua! asylum in Australia. Hang on, aren't our Zionist mates pulling out all stops to entice Australian Jews to Israel? Yeah, better forget that bit too'.

Thought to be an Israeli secret service hit squad? No, no, no! Only a churl would think that!

"The trio's names and passports were cloned during an execution plot targeting Hamas strongman Mahmoud Rauf al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month."

Hamas strongman? You bet, labelling al-Mabhouh merely 'a senior Hamas leader' doesn't do him justice! He was in fact The Hamas Terror Master's Hamas Terror Master, if you can follow that, and 2009 winner of the Osama bin Laden Terror Master of the Year award.

"Ms McCabe, who is married and pregnant, has gone into hiding, complaining she was 'terrified', unable to sleep and worried for her baby's health."

Memo from Tony Abbott to Julie Bishop: 'Jules, me again. Seeing this McCabe chick's gone into hiding, I want you also to demand that Rudd drop whatever else he's doing and, still in his best sackcloth & ashes gear, and still on his hands and knobblies, broadcast the following: 'Nicole, Nicole, Wherefore art thou, Nicole? Please email details of your whereabouts to me at krudd @ i'm so sorry, sorry as a pm can be dot gov dot au so that I'll know where to crawl'.

"Mr Bruce, a student living in Jerusalem, was being shielded by relatives."

Strewth, I thought only Hamas and Hezbollah did the human shield thing! Must be catching on.

"The Sunday Telegraph has learned that Australian Jewish leaders have been told not to comment following an email circulated by the Zionist Federation of Australia."

Omerta rules among the Kosher Nostra, OK?

You can't beat Quality Journalism over at News Limited. But I'd like to.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Israel: The Ultimate Identity Fraud

Up to here with Mossad death squads and identity fraud? Sorry, there's more:

1) "ASIO is investigating at least 3 dual Australian-Israeli citizens whom it suspects of using Australian cover to spy for Israel. The investigation was under way at least 6 months before the assassination in January of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh... Authorities in Dubai have revealed that 3 people suspected of involvement in the assassination were travelling on forged Australian passports, using the names of 3 dual Australian-Israeli citizens. The 3 people linked to Mabhouh's death are in no way connected to the 3 being investigated by ASIO... According to 2 Australian intelligence sources who have been in contact with The Age, the 3 dual citizens under ASIO surveillance all emigrated to Israel within the past decade. Each of the men has since travelled back to Australia at different times to legally change their names and obtain new Australian passports... In each case, the men have changed their names from surnames that could be read as European-Jewish sounding names, to names more typically identified as Anglo-Australian... The new Australian passports have since been used to gain entry to a number of countries that are hostile to Israel, including Iran, Syria and Lebanon... The Age understands that the 3 Australian nationals share an involvement with a European communications company that has a subsidiary located in the Middle East." (ASIO in fresh Israel spy probe, Jason Koutsoukis/Jonathan Pearlman, The Age, 27/2/10)

2) Lebanon? Did they say Lebanon? Seems the place is fairly swarming with Israeli spooks: "Lebanon's security service says that since November 2008 it has broken up no fewer than 25 Israeli spy rings. The reported arrest this month of a colonel in Lebanese army intelligence... brings the number of those charged to 70-plus; 40 of them are in Lebanese police custody." (Not such a success, The Economist, 25/2/10)

Communications? Did they say communications? "Aside from the alleged spies, the Lebanese say they netted fancy surveillance and communications gear disguised as, among other things, Thermos flasks, canisters of motor oil and battery chargers." (ibid)

3) But surely all this is just a mere slip of the Israeli halo, and all the "lone beacon of democracy in a hostile region" has to do, as today's editorial in The Australian sagely advises, is "take Australia's concerns seriously, co-operate with investigations, acknowledge wrongdoing and ensure it is never repeated"?

OK, but haven't we been there before? Wasn't it only yesterday that The Australian reported on its front page that "Australian authorities quietly approached [on bended knee, with gaze averted?] the Israeli government in the 1990s to seek assurances that Australian passports would not be abused after it was feared Israeli agents had doctored several New Zealand passports"? (Aussies caught in Israeli spy hit, Stewart/Maley)

And wasn't Israel's reaction to our humble request reported as one of "enraged self-righteousness"? (ibid)

As for acknowledging wrongdoing, is The Australian serious? After all, as the horse's mouth (aka The Jerusalem Post) reminds us, "If there are two traits that are meant to typify the average Israeli it is the fear of being a freier [sucker] and an innate inability to apologize." (My word: Doing what comes naturally, Liat Collins, 20/2/10)

And then there's that slight matter of Mossad's 'passport factory' and its operatives. Would the editorialist want that dismantled and its crew thrown on the dole queue?

Passport factory?! Do tell:

"In the world of international terrorism, both privatized and state-sponsored, passports... are the coin of the realm. Terrorists targeting America are particularly eager to get their hot little hands on Canadian and New Zealand passports, for a number of reasons, most especially because the holders don't need visas across a wide swathe of the globe, including the US. Now... discovering how the terrorists procure travel documents provides important clues as to how they operate - and with whose complicity.

"In April [2004] I wrote about the 'passport farm' Israeli agents set up in New Zealand, in which 4 employees of Mossad... were caught trying to obtain a NZ passport in the name of a housebound paraplegic. Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara were arrested, in a much-publicized case, and jailed, while Prime Minister Helen Clark openly raged against what was undoubtedly an Israeli intelligence operation. Since then there have been a few rather interesting, albeit ominous, developments.

"It turns out that the ringleader, Ze'ev William Barkan, who fled before NZ security could nab him, was and presumably still is a member of the Israeli diplomatic corps, having served at embassies in Vienna and Brussels. He was last seen in North Korea, traveling with a Canadian passport as 'Kevin Hunter', where he turned up in Pyongyang as a 'consultant' brought on to help the North Korean government build a 'security fence' in order to keep their people in. Now that the East Germans have wound up in history's dustbin, the Israelis are the current experts in the field.

"Barkan is a man of many skills, and one of them, according to an aid worker cited by the Sydney Morning Herald, is this: 'He goes to Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand and deals with gangs who rob tourists of their valuables and passports', the aid worker said. 'Barkan is mostly interested in passports and there have been a number of Australian passports'. Intelligence analysts in NZ believe Barkan, a former navy diver in the IDF, was trying to secure a 'clean' passport for use in a sensitive Israeli undercover operation in the region, less risky than a forged passport'.

"The inner workings of Barkan's NZ operation were exposed when the fourth suspect in the case, Tony Resnick, was outed. Mr Resnick, 35, who fled the day after the arrest of Kelman and Cara, was a paramedic with the St John Ambulance in Auckland before taking a job as a healthcare lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology. He had previously worked as a paramedic in Israel, and in his capacity as a paramedic in NZ, had visited the home of the targeted paraplegic. Using Resnick's connections to wheelchair-bound and otherwise incapacitated NZealanders, Barkan's cabal targeted people who would not likely be traveling abroad, and set up a passport farm by stealing their identities. The Israelis were caught by a suspicious official, who checked their references and laid a trap. But the question that is no doubt haunting the government of NZ is how many times did they succeed before they were caught - and to what purpose was Israel culling travel documents?

"The answer to this last question is discernible if we look at Israel's record in this regard. The botched assassination of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan caught the Israelis with their pants down on the passport issue: the assassins were outfitted with Canadian travel documents. This incident no doubt came to mind as NZ government officials contemplated the meaning and purpose of Israel's underground passport factory.

"Speaking of Canada, the story of the Mossad's NZ hijinks took a Canadian twist when that country's foreign ministry announced that it was investigating the matter of Barkan's passport. NZ's foreign minister, Phil Goff, replied: 'I have read with interest the Canadians are following up allegations he may have travelled at some point on a stolen Canadian passport. When he came to NZ my understanding was he was travelling on a US passport. Clearly there would be co-operation between police forces in different countries to try to get to the bottom of these things'.

"So there's an American twist, too. Barkan reportedly had an American accent, and said he came from Washington, DC, where his family supposedly was in the 'windows and doors' business. The Sydney Morning Herald confirms his Washington residence, and says Barkan grew up there as Zev Bruckenstein, where his father was director of religious studies at a synagogue." (Passport to terror, Justin Raimondo,, 6/8/04)

But all of the above, and more, is but the tip of the iceberg. Israel is a country that has practiced identity fraud on a grand scale for decades now. After all, didn't it steal Palestine, tamper with its ethnic identity, and call it Israel? Identity fraud doesn't get much more brazen than that.

Friday, February 26, 2010

You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling

Now that Australian passport holders have become accomplices (witting or otherwise) in Mossad's latest murder, it's worth asking if the proverbial penny has at last begun to drop for some of our political and media elites that something is indeed rotten in the State of Israel.

Let me tell you there are some pretty pained people out there. Take today's Australian for instance. Now I know that the more scrupulous among you wouldn't even use it to wrap the malodorous remains of your latest fishing expedition in, let alone buy it and read it, but Murdoch's Australian does have a heart - after all, why else would it bill itself as The Heart of the Nation? Yes, I know, I'm full of them - and that organ, while it couldn't really be described as breaking at the moment, is at least suffering unprecedented palpitations over the Loved One's brazen betrayal of his nearest and dearest.

How best to capture the feeling? I think perhaps The Righteous Brothers had it about... well, right. Remember their priceless tearjerker, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling? - "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips/ And there's no tenderness like before in your fingertips/ You're trying hard not to show it, baby/ But baby, baby I know it/ You've lost that lovin' feeling/ Whoa, that lovin' feeling/ Now it's gone, gone, gone, wooooooh." Ah, takes you back, doesn't it?

OK, you probably never dreamt you'd be reading the likes of the following cris de coeur in the pages of The Australian, but here they are (along with my own knifework of course) culled from not one, not two, but three pages of coverage:

"Foreign Minister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem, early yesterday to express his 'grave concern' about the issue. 'I've made it crystal clear to the ambassador that if the results of (our) investigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend', he said. The Prime Minister vowed the government would 'get to the bottom' of the case. 'We will not be silent on this matter', Mr Rudd said. 'Any state that has been complicit in the use or abuse of the Australian passport system, let alone for the conduct of an assassination, is treating Australia with contempt and there will therefore be action by the Australian government in response', he said." (Aussies caught in Israeli spy hit, Cameron Stewart/Paul Maley, The Australian, 26/2/10)

Treating Australia with contempt, eh? Well try this on for size: "Israeli officials conceded nothing and promised nothing in response to Australia's demands." (ibid) And this: "Australian authorities quietly approached the Israeli government in the 1990s to seek assurance that Australian passports would not be abused after it was feared Israeli agents had doctored several New Zealand passports. The Australian has been told that during that meeting with Israeli government officials, the Israelis responded with 'enraged self-righteousness' at the suggestion that they would condone such identity theft." (ibid)

Enraged self-righteousness? How completely out of character! How totally unlike Godzone in the Middle East! Who would have thought yesterday's Godzone would be today's Godzilla? Quick, pass me the smelling salts, I'm feeling faint!

Well hello, Stevie, Kevie? It's a no-brainer, guys. Other than contempt, what else would you expect from a homicidal thug and bully whom you've sucked up to for decades? Like, gratitude?

And I bet you've never seen this before in The Australian: "The normally voluble Jewish lobby group Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIPAC) last night declined to comment on the looming diplomatic spat. An AIJAC spokesman told The Australian its director, Colin Rubenstein, was seeking more details." Normally voluble? Are Cameron and Maley taking the piss or are they what? And that bit about old Rubes seeking more details. OK, Cameron and Maley, you mightn't have actually said it, but I know what was on your minds: he's on the line to spinmeister Regev and can't be disturbed until he's learnt his latest (party) lines by heart, right?

Then there's this headline: Shock for unlikely bunch of killers. Killers! Killers! The Australian is actually calling Israelis - at least those who murdered al-Mabhouh - killers! Well I never!

OK, so the title's ironic, and the report is not about the actual killers, but those 3 Australian passport holders, currently residing in Israel, whose identities were allegedly stolen by Mossad, and who wouldn't kill a fly. Well, if they're Israeli-Australians, that's the ms media presumption. Yet if an Israeli or American had been knocked off, and Arab-Australian passport holders somehow implicated, wouldn't it be a case of guilty until proven innocent at The Australian? And wasn't Mossad whistleblower Victor Ostrovsky, author of By Way of Deception, telling ABC Middle East correspondent Anne Barker only this morning on Radio National's AM that Mossad had this quaint custom of asking visiting dual nationals, "if, when you're here in Israel, we may need to use your passport for security purposes, would you allow us to do that? And," he added incredibly, "people would say yes. And there were shelves of real passports just waiting to be used." Now, in light of Ostrovsky's disclosure, are we not entitled to presume that our 3 Israeli-Australians were not in fact the victims of passport theft after all, but willingly surrendered their passports to Israeli security officials? Consider the implications of that one! And on another matter entirely, wasn't one of the report's authors, The Australian's Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, only a short while back, enthusiastically making out that just about every Tom, Dick & Harry in the Arab world had it in for al-Mabhouh and that Mossad was merely one suspect in a veritable queue of assassins? To view the egg on Lyons' face see my 8/2/10 post Disinformation Services.

Finally, we come to Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan and his Comment. The Australian's foreign editor is very much in head teacher mode here, censorious, pissed off, but clearly still smitten by his favourite student. The surly (Greg prefers plucky) young thug has just beaten his victim senseless and left him bleeding in the moonlight, but, alas, has broken one of the school's baseball bats in the process. And there's the rub: "Israel has every right to wage war against those who wage war against it but Israel certainly does not have the right to misuse the passports of innocent Australians. This was a very bad mistake by Jerusalem... Morally, there is no difference in Israel's actions from those of the US when it targets al-Qa'ida and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan for strikes by unmanned drone aircraft... But one glaring question out of this debacle is how did it go so wrong. Israel has conducted numerous operations like this, often enough with the co-operation of one or other Arab intelligence agency. [!!!] The reach, expertise and stealth of Mossad is legendary in the Middle East, and a substantial part of Israel's overall military prestige. But this operation has attracted all the wrong kind of publicity and left behind embarrassing video images and evidence of Mossad agents' behaviour. The misuse of Australian passports is a shocking mistake by Israel... Apart from the US, Israel has no better friend than Australia. Similarly, there could be only a tiny handful of leaders in the world as committed to Israel as Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. A smart nation, and Israel is normally among the smartest, does not ever, under any circumstances, burn friends like that. Canberra has a very close, active and intimate intelligence relationship with Israel. Many of our top intelligence people go there for consultations and even for special short course training. [Now how's that for an admission?] It is astonishing to find a circumstance in which the PM is condemning Israel. To misuse the Australian connection in this way is a very poor show by the Israelis. For God's sake don't do it again." (Theft burned a strong supporter)

Although it may appear on the surface to be merely a case of 'Off you go, lad. I know boys will be boys, but try and show a little more respect for school property in the future', there's much more to it than that. Behind the stern, bespectacled, Jesuitical gaze that peers out from the photograph that graces Greg's opinion pieces, beats today a heavy heart, that of a Righteous Brother: Baby, baby, I'll get down on my knees for you/ If you would only love me like you used to do, yeah/ We had a love, a love, a love you don't find every day/ So don't, don't, don't let it slip away/ Baby, baby, baby, baby/ I beg of you please, please/ I need your love, I need your love/ So bring it on back, so bring it on back/ Bring it on back, so bring it on back/ Bring back that lovin' feeling/ Whoa, that lovin' feeling/ Bring back that lovin' feeling/ 'Cause it's gone, gone, gone/ And I can't go on, no... "


Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Three of Us

"In early winter [2002], an incident occurred that was seared into my memory. A coworker and I were suddenly directed to go down to the Mall entrance [of the Pentagon] to pick up some Israeli generals. Post-9/11 rules required one escort for every 3 visitors, and there were 6 or 7 of them waiting. The Navy lieutenant commander and I hustled down. Before we could apologize for the delay, the leader of the pack surged ahead, his colleagues in close formation, leaving us to double-time behind the group as they sped to Undersecretary [Douglas] Feith's office on the 4th floor. Two thoughts crossed our minds: are we following close enough to get credit for escorting them, and do they really know where they are going? We did get credit, and they did know. Once in Feith's waiting room, the leader continued to speed to Feith's closed door. An alert secretary saw this coming and had leapt from her desk to block the door. 'Mr Feith has a visitor. It will only be a few more minutes'. The leader craned his neck to look around the secretary's head as he demanded, 'Who is in there with him?' This minor crisis of curiosity past, I noticed the security sign-in roster. Our habit, up until a few weeks before this incident, was not to sign in senior vistors like ambassadors. But about once a year, the security inspectors send out a warning letter that they are coming to inspect records. As a result, sign-in rosters were laid out, visible and used. I knew this because in the previous 2 weeks I watched this explanation being awkwardly presented to several North African ambassadors as they signed in for the first time and wondered why and why now. Given all this and seeing the sign-in roster, I asked the secretary, 'Do you want these guys to sign in?' She raised her hands, both palms toward me, and waved frantically as she shook her head. 'No, no, no, it is not necessary at all'. Her body language told me that I had committed a faux pas for even asking the question. My fellow escort and I chatted on the way back to our office about how the generals knew where they were going (most foreign visitors to the 5-sided asylum don't) and how the generals didn't have to sign in. I felt a bit dirtied by the whole thing and couldn't stop comparing that experience to the grace and gentility of the Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian ambassadors with whom I worked." (Open door policy, Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski,, 19/1/04)

Speaking of nameless, faceless Israelis with seemingly unfettered access to the highest levels of US decision-making, check out the following news report, which to my knowledge, typically, did not make it into the ms Australian media:

"In his recent testimony to the UK Committee investigating the Iraq war, British Prime minister Tony Blair admitted that Israeli officials influenced and participated in the decision by the US and UK governments to attack Iraq in 2003. During testimony regarding his meetings in Texas with then-US President George W Bush in 2002, Blair stated, 'As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this'." (British PM: Israeli officials were part of decision to invade Iraq, Saeed Bannoura, IMEMC News, 20/2/10)

Blair's shifty and tantalising mention of Israeli officials at his meetings with Bush prompted Professor Stephen Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, to cite his words as further proof of one of the book's key findings - that "[p]ressure from Israel and the lobby" was "a critical element" in the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in March 2003. (Israel Lobby, p 230) This, of course, was like a red rag to a bull for Israel's hasbara peddlers, hence the pre-emptive publication in the February 18 Age of The Israel lobby myth revived again, by Dvir Abramovich, director of the Centre for Jewish History & Culture at the University of Melbourne.

Predictably, while Abramovich finds some wriggle room in Blair's testimony - "[A] close reading of what Blair actually said ('the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time') reveals that he was referring to Israel's actions in the West Bank during Operation Defensive Shield, not to the decision to invade Iraq" - he conveniently omits Blair's 2nd (conversations between Bush, Blair and the Israelis) and 3rd sentences (those conversations being a major part of all this), with their suggestion that these conversations had more to do with Operation Iraqi Freedom than Israel's mugging of the West Bank, Operation Defensive Shield.

The full story of Israeli involvement in the war on Iraq is still to be told, with missing pieces like Blair's (and Janis Karpinski's recent reiteration of Israeli agents in Abu Ghraib) popping up from time to time. I've already posted some of Mearsheimer & Walt's citations of Israeli cheerleading in the lead up to the war (Greg Sheridan: Conjuror Extraordinaire, 1/4/08). And I've also posted on Stephen J Sniegoski's superb study The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, & the National Interest of Israel (Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze, 22/12/08). Sniegoski's discussion of active Israeli involvement in the decision-making process that led to the Bush/Blair war on Iraq helps place Blair's (and Kwiatkowski's) comments in context:

"Returning to the role of the Office of Special Plans (OSP) [created by Wolfowitz and Feith in August 2002]: as a result of a FBI probe of Israeli spying in the US (ongoing since 1999), which was leaked to the public in... 2004, it came out that Israeli agents had direct contact with members of the OSP. In essence, it was not simply that individuals in the OSP were pro-Israel, but that some of them might be conspirators in a clandestine operation launched by Sharon's Likud Party; they were, as Robert Dreyfuss called them, 'agents of influence' for a foreign government. The spotlight shifted to the OSP because the FBI, in its probe of Israeli spying, observed OSP analyst Larry Franklin meeting with an Israeli official in the presence of two officials from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In October 2005, Franklin plead guilty to the charge of having turned over highly classified intelligence documents to an Israeli government official and to members of AIPAC, who in turn handed them to the Israeli Embassy... However, the FBI investigation implied much more than the spying of Franklin and some AIPAC officials, illustrating the Israeli connection to the office that had played such a monumental role in providing the propaganda to justify the US attack on Iraq. For Franklin was intimately involved in secretive activities for the OSP. Without notifying the State Department or the CIA, the OSP had been involved in back channel operations that included a series of secret meetings in Washington, Rome and Paris to discuss regime change in Iraq, Iran, and Syria. These meetings brought together OSP staff and consultants (Franklin, Harold Rhode and Michael Ledeen), expatriate Iranian arms dealer Manichur Ghorbanifar, AIPAC lobbyists, Ahmed Chalabi, and Italian and Israeli intelligence officers. In short, it appears that various neoconservatives connected with the Department of Defense were consciously working with Israel in shaping American Middle East policy.

"Israel was also involved in promoting the US attack on Iraq apart from these covert dealings. Some of the spurious intelligence provided to the US came directly from Israel, as shown in a study by Shlomo Brom, a senior researcher at one of Israel's leading think tanks, the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. A special panel of the Israeli Knesset investigated and confirmed the charge that Israeli intelligence services had greatly exaggerated the Iraqi WMD threat. Yossi Sarid, a member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, charged that Israeli intelligence had deliberately misled the US. According to James Risen in State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, Israeli intelligence officials frequently traveled to Washington to brief top government officials. The CIA was skeptical of the Israeli intelligence and after the Israeli briefings would circulate reports throughout the government discounting the Israeli information. Wolfowitz and other neoconservatives who had met with the Israeli officials, were enraged by the CIA's negative response, with Wolfowitz complaining vehemently to CIA Director Tenet.

"It has been alleged that the OSP was provided with information by a special unit created in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office. Israel had a history of providing questionable intelligence in regard to Iraq to make that country appear threatening. As pointed out earlier, shortly after the September 11 terrorism, Aman, Israel's military intelligence service, reportedly claimed that Iraq had been involved in the attacks. In June 2002, Efraim Halevy, the director of the Mossad, informed a closed meeting of the NATO Alliance Council in Brussels that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was renewing its efforts to develop nuclear weapons...

"It has been argued that Israel, in its support for war on Iraq, was simply going along with the US government. Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson maintains that the Israelis initially wanted the US to focus on Iran not Iraq, and only shifted to supporting the war on Iraq in early 2002 upon realizing that a war on Iraq had become definite American policy. As mentioned earlier, the report that the IDF's supreme intelligence agency, Aman, at the time of 9/11, promoted the disinformation that Saddam was behind the terrorist attacks militates against the idea that the Israeli government as a unified entity was opposed to the war during this early period. However, even if there had not been complete Israeli support for a US attack on Iraq prior to the early spring, the director of the Mossad's public backing of the major WMD justification for the war in June 2002, before an influential NATO audience, would belie any argument that Israel was simply a reluctant follower of US policy. The fact of the matter is that the Israeli government was pressing the US to attack Iraq and actively abetting the war propaganda process. Ranaan Gissin, a senior Sharon adviser, told the AP in August 2002, 'It will only give Saddam Hussein more of an opportunity to accelerate his programme of WMD'. Gissin said Sharon sent the US government Israeli intelligence estimates that Saddam had boosted production of chemical and biological weapons in anticipation of war with the US. Gissin also claimed that Saddam had recently ordered Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission to speed up work on developing nuclear weapons. 'Saddam's going to be able to reach a point where these weapons will be operational', Gissin direly warned. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also trumpeting the necessity of war. In September, 2002, the Wall Street Journal published a piece by Netanyahu entitled 'The Case for Toppling Saddam', in which he held that 'This is a dictator who is rapidly expanding his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons, who has used these WMD against his subjects and his neighbors, and who is feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons'. Netanyahu waved the red flag of Saddam's purported nuclear threat. 'Two decades ago it was possible to thwart Saddam's nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation', Netanyahu exclaimed... Netanyahu's focus was Iraq's alleged nuclear threat. '[T]he imperative is to defang the Iraqi regime by preventing its acquisition of atomic weapons', Netanyahu solemnly declared in October 2002. 'No inspectors will be able to do that job'. In fact, as early as April 2002, Netanyahu was briefing US senators as to the nuclear danger of Saddam Hussein. According to columnist Robert Novak, Netanyahu warned that Saddam 'not only is acquiring nuclear weapons but may have the means of delivering them against the US' via 'satchels carried by terrorists'.

"It is noteworthy that the pro-war position in Israel transcended the Likudnik right, being taken up by Labor leader Shimon Peres, who was serving as Sharon's Foreign Minister. Peres stated in September 2002 that 'the campaign against Saddam is a must. Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people, but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors'.* Former Labor Party Prime Minister Ehud Barak also stressed the need for military action... In late December 2002, Robert Novak maintained that Prime Minister Sharon was privately urging American lawmakers to support an attack on Iraq for the benefit of Israel... In February 2003, as the American attack approached, Prime Minister Sharon told a visiting delegation of American congressmen in Israel that the war against Iraq would provide a model for how the US should also deal with Syria, Libya, and Iran. 'These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of WMD, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve'. While Sharon said that Israel will not be directly involved in the attack on Iraq, he emphasized that 'the American action is of vital importance'. In short, Sharon was advising the US how it should deal with Israel's enemies." (pp 168-172)

[*LOL: Read my 7/4/09 post By Way of Deception.]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Unsent Letters

Ever wanted to respond forthrightly - even directly - to some swinish letter or opinion piece but knew it'd be a case of casting pearls before some swine of a letters or opinion editor with a distinct inability to distinguish a sow's ear from a silk purse? Sows' ears such as the following, for example, each followed by a silk purse from yours truly:

"If it is indeed true that Mossad were able to find and dispose of Hamas terrorist leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, instead of the UK criticising Israel it should be asking Mossad to find and dispose of Osama bin Laden (Mossad suspected of forging passports, 18/2)." Michael Burd, Toorak, Vic (The Australian, 19/2/10)

Michael, your repeated and tiresome sniping on behalf of Israel always manages to miss the mark. 'Hamas tewworist leader' may have been all the go way back when, but following Israel's wilding in Gaza, and Justice Goldstone's finding that it was a "deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population," it's like sooo dated. And as for Mossad disposing of Osama, shouldn't they first clean up Israel - beginning with its war criminal leaders and ending with themselves?

"It is an unfashionable thing to say, but I have a considerable admiration for the Israeli way of doing things. They want something, they get it. They perceive someone as their deadly enemy, they kill them. They get hit, they hit back. They don't waste time explaining or justifying or agonising; nor do they allow their detractors to enter their country and then afford them generous welfare payments. They just act. No messing. No scruples. Not even a shrug and a denial, just a rather magnificent refusal to debate anything." (Mossad act beats box office fare, Melanie Reid, The Times/The Australian, 19/2/10)

Dear Melanie, as a spruiker for the thugs and assassins of an apartheid terror regime, simple solidarity with its victims dictates that I perceive you as my deadly enemy, and who better than yourself to know what that entails. So be warned - your time is up. And no, I won't waste time explaining, justifying or agonising over my decision, I'll just act, with no mess, no scruples, not even a shrug and a denial, just a magnificent refusal to debate anything. You do understand, don't you? [1]

"It's fantastic that the Dubai authorities are leaving no stone unturned in trying to figure out how a group of Israelis of varying ages and baldness was able to kill a terrorist on their soil. Perhaps when they have finished this, an investigation can commence into how a self-proclaimed murderer was able to freely travel there and procure Iranian arms under their noses. The passport fraud is the ultimate moral deflection." Dr Doron Samuell, Woollahra, NSW (The Australian, 20/2/10)

Hey Doc, wasn't that latest Mossad 'hit' in Dubai absolutely awesome! For doddering, balding, walking stick-wielding old codgers like us, a Mossad hit beats a shot of Viagra every time, right? Talk about the ultimate erection.

"If only, Geoff Saunders (Letters, February 19), Western intelligence operatives were as clever as Mossad. Then Saddam and Osama would have been 'hit' without nations going to war." Alice Khatchigian [2], Ryde (SMH, 20/2/10)

If only, Alice Khatchigian (Letters, February 20), Western intelligence operatives were as 'clever' as you and Mossad. Then nobody would be safe. Following Mossad's excellent example, in addition to your approved Israeli and Western assassins, just from Asia alone we might well have, say, Chinese, Sri Lankan [3], Burmese and North Korean assassins strutting their stuff in this country. Not even the streets of Ryde would be safe. Now wouldn't that be fun, Alice?

Now back to pigs. Pigs will fly if ever I see the following kind of root and branch analysis of Mossad in the ms Australian media [4]:

"Israel's policy of overseas assassination raises profound issues that threaten the basis of the modern state: sovereignty, rule of law and national and personal security. Israel has a publicly-stated policy of violating the sovereignty of any and all countries in order to kill its opponents. In both proclamation and actual practice, Israeli law, decrees and actions abroad supersede the laws and law enforcement agencies of any other nation. If Israel's policy becomes the common practice world-wide, we would enter a savage Hobbesian jungle in which individuals would be subject to the murderous intent of foreign assassination squads unrestrained by any law or accountable national authority. Each and every state could impose its own laws and cross national borders to murder other nations' citizens or residents with impunity. Israel's extraterritorial assassinations make a mockery of the very notion of national sovereignty. Extra-territorial secret police elimination of opponents was a common practice of the Nazi Gestapo, Stalin's GPU and Pinochet's DINA and has now become the sanctioned practice of the US 'Special Forces' and the CIA clandestine division. Such policies are the hallmark of totalitarian, dictatorial and imperialist states, which systematically trample on the sovereign rights of peoples. Israel's practice of extra-judicial, extra-territorial assassinations, exemplified by the recent murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room, violates all the fundamental precepts of the rule of law. Extra-judicial killings ordered by a state, mean its own secret police are judge, jury, prosecutor and executioner, unrestrained by sovereignty, law and the duty of nations to protect their citizens and visitors. Evidence, legal procedures, defense and cross examinations are obliterated in the process. Liquidation of opponents abroad is the logical next step after Israel's domestic show trials, based on the application of its racial laws and administrative detention decrees, which have dispossessed the Palestinian people and violated international laws. Mossad death squads operate directly under the Israeli Prime Minister (who personally approved the recent murder). The vast majority of Israelis proudly support these assassinations, especially when the killers escape detection and capture. The unfettered operation of foreign state-sponsored death squads, carrying out extra-judicial assassinations with impunity, is a serious threat to every critic, writer, political leader and civic activist who dares to criticize Israel." (Mossad's Murderous Reach: The Larger Political Issues, James Petras,, 21/2/10)

[1] Sadly, the times being what they are, I hasten to add that this 'threat' is merely satire.
[2] Alice has recently become a favourite of the letters editors. See my 3/12/09 post Revolted.
[3] See my 20/10/09 post Exporting Zionism 2.
[4] For an insight into what is curiously called 'quality Australian journalism' on this subject see my 8/2/10 post Disinformation Services.]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Greg Sheridan: The End is Nigh!

Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan has me aquiver with his apocalyptic prophecy of a mad, bad Ahmadinejad acquiring "a nuclear arsenal [which] encompasses the possibility of the destruction of us all." (Tehran on path to our destruction, The Australian, 18/2/10)

And you'd better believe him because, as the prophet explains, "[t]he truth is that history is littered with states behaving irrationally and pursuing irrational ends, and doing so in often destructive ways... Saddam Hussein was such a canny, realist calculator of the odds that his regime ended up gone and he ended up dead. It is intensely ahistorical to believe political regimes will always act according to Western conceptions of enlightened self-interest." (ibid)

Saddam? OK, he may have been as bad as Ahmadinejad, but was he as mad as Ahmadinejad? You see, back in 2003, "Greg Sheridan was a constant and loyal disseminator of the line that the Baghdad regime had WMDs and was prepared to use them. The fact that they hadn't been used early in the 2003 conflict was put down to the efficiency of the coalition forces in deploying 'its vast intelligence strength' ('without the presence of coalition forces it could have used WMDs easily'); and to Saddam Hussein's rational thinking ('Use of chemical weapons would therefore be little short of a suicide gesture'.)" (Americans try to psych rational opponent, The Australian, 22/3/03 - quoted in Getting the Story Straight: Greg Sheridan in the Shifting Moral Sands of Iraq, Martin Hirst & Robert Schutze)

Ah, but who remembers what "the most influential foreign affairs commentator in Australia*" was writing back then? Certainly not Australia's "most influential foreign affairs commentator." [*According to The Australian's website]

Yes folks, it's all doom and gloom from hereon in: "Stand by for some bad news. No, I mean really bad news. The world is not going to apply crippling sanctions to Iran. Even if it did, Iran would not be deterred from developing nuclear weapons."

The only ray of hope, it seems, would be the roar of Israeli F16s winging their way east: "The only way that Iran can be significantly delayed in its pursuit of nuclear weapons is through an Israeli air strike on its nuclear facilities." (Tehran on path to our destruction)

Wait a minute! Hold your horses! Put the sackcloth and ashes back in the box! Wasn't Australia's "most influential" once of the view that "Iraq remains the most likely source of WMDs for al-Qa'ida" (A threat we ignore at our peril, The Australian, 14/10/02)?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sins of Omission

Islamophobia is to Murdoch's Australian as anti-Semitism was to Der Sturmer.

This is the opening sentence of a news report in Murdoch's Wall Street Journal:

"Malaysian authorities said Wednesday that officials caned four Muslim men and, for the first time, three Muslim women this month after being found guilty of having sex out of wedlock." (Malaysia says Muslim women caned, James Hookway, 18/2/10)

And this is how it appears in The Australian a day later:

"Human Rights groups have condemned the caning of three Muslim women for having extramarital sex, the first time the punishment has been carried out in Malaysia." (Muslim women caned, AP, 19/2/10)

Why does The Australian leave out those 4 men? There can only be one reason: for maximum Islamophobic effect, portray the punishment as misanthropy, pure and simple.

The Australian needs a bloody good thrashing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Goldfarb's Ghetto

Phillip Adam's interview with American journalist and author Michael Goldfarb (Late Night Live, Radio National, 15/2/10) was a sad affair indeed. Such were Adams' philosemitic gushings that, had Ariel Sharon been within earshot, they would surely have had the comatose war criminal blushing. But then we've sort of grown used to Adams' on this score. Haven't we? No, the greater worry this time around was Goldfarb, who had come to these shores to promote his new (2009) book, Emancipation: How Liberating Europe's Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution & Renaissance.

Goldfarb's subject is an important one: Napoleon's opening of the ghetto gates and the gradual integration and assimilation of Western Europe's Jews into the wider, non-Jewish European society. And all was well (Adams excepted) until Goldfarb said this: "In 1806 Napoleon decides to convene the Jewish leadership in Paris and he calls it the Grand Sanhedrin... and puts to them 12 questions about what it means to be Jewish... What is your first allegience? Is it to France or is it to the return to Palestine? These are very important questions..."

In fact, Napoleon asked no such question. His 6th question, which addressed the issue of national allegience, reads as follows: "Do the Jews born in France, and treated by the law as French citizens, acknowledge France as their country? Are they bound to obey the laws and follow the directions of the Civil Code?" (Napoleon Bonaparte's 'Grand Sanhedrin', In none of his 12 questions did the French emperor make any reference to Palestine or the idea of Jews 'returning' there. Nor do the relevant pages (97-99) in Goldfarb's book refer to them. What then possessed Goldfarb, would-be historian of the Jewish emancipation, to perpetrate such a Zionist distortion of the historical record? At least part of the answer emerges in the following dialogue:

Adams: What does Israel mean to you, Michael? Let's go back to this ancient argument about where does your loyalty lie. What does Israel mean to Michael Goldfarb?

Goldfarb: Mm... Let me give you the irrational one first. Um... 5 years before I was born Auschwitz was in existence. I feel that the existence of the state of Israel is as good a guarantee as I can possibly have that that will never happen again. Not because it's a militaristic state - a nuclear-armed Jewish state makes me feel, atheist that I am, secular and integrated as I am, assimilated, a little bit safer. I acknowledge to a very considerable degree that's irrational.

Incredibly, in 2010, for this comfortable and feted American journalist and pseudo scholar, the theft of Palestine and the 62-year ordeal of its inhabitants is completely eclipsed by an admittedly irrational self-serving invocation of Auschwitz and a narcissistic notion that the existence of Israel, presumably as a Jewish state, makes Michael Goldfarb feel somehow safer. And for that, the fate of the Palestinians and their fundamental right to a peaceful and secure life in their own land is as remote from his essentially tribal concern as the fate of the fabled dodo. As it is equally for Adams:

Adams: And I would concur with that. As a young man, when I learned about the Holocaust, I fully understood emotionally the need for a Jewish state, but now?

At this point Goldfarb offers an even lamer excuse and descends into utter gibberish:

Goldfarb: Now, you know, for me - I've reported from there, I've visited, I have Israeli colleagues. It is an interesting part of my identity because it's become such a source of argument and litmus test within the Jewish community what your attitudes to Israel are. Do you support the government full stop? Do you take the Likud point of view at all times? And it can lead to very unpleasant arguments...

Adams: Well you don't, I know...

Goldfarb: I don't know... Probably not... You know, I don't. [!!!] But look, um...I think that the most interesting thing I could say about this is I would like to have, as a Jew, the same right as an Israeli, which is to join any one of 3,575 political parties and vote for the person of my choice... I'm exaggerating that number for people who aren't Jewish and don't follow Israeli politics, but there's a huge number of parties and points of view across the political spectrum in Israel that somehow Jews who don't live in Israel are not allowed to have that same range of points of view which bothers me. Um... but you know the most interesting thing...

That Goldfarb has in fact returned to a ghetto more closed and claustrophobic than any in Western Europe before the emancipation - the ghetto of political Zionism - occurs neither to him nor to Adams. On the one hand, he lauds the German poet Heinrich Heine as the "first real Jewish genius," and extols his message, "What is the task of our age? It is the emancipation of the whole world," explaining it as "the idea that the Jewish people should lead not just for their emancipation, but for the emancipation of women, of slaves, at that point of time, of the Irish under the jackboot of the English oppressor..." On the other, he and his unctuous urger, Adams, maintain a deafening silence about the desperate need for Palestinian emancipation.

"And that [emancipatory] tradition," chirps Adams, "continued right through the civil rights movement." But then, says Goldfarb, "for many local reasons it began to dissipate," before paraphrasing Eric Hobsbawm to the effect that (irony of ironies), "as many modern Jews are not orthodox and they've lost the ability to practice religion, Israel has become like religion... the equivalent of faith..."

Sadly, for all Goldfarb's celebration of the cultural and intellectual heroes of the Jewish emancipation and renaissance, universalists like Moses Mendelssohn and Heinrich Heine (the true heirs of whom are those Jewish Israelis who share the struggle of the Palestinian defenders of West Bank villages such as Nil'in and Bil'in or those Jews who fight the lies and distortions of Zionism on university campuses, in print and in cyberspace in the countries of their birth), his bottom line is really no more sophisticated than that of a local teenage Zionist blogger (who shall remain unreferenced) who believes that "when the chips are down, it's Israel, not Australia, who'll save us from the angry Jihadis because we know that it'll kick more ass than Australia."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Snowball's Chance

Further to my last post on Noel Pearson:

Should a student at the American University in Cairo (AUC) wish to attend a speech on "civic engagement" given by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan and ask a question of HM, he/she, according to an email sent to AUC students this month, is asked to "submit any questions they have for HM The Queen, which are relevant and related to the topic of HM's lecture," and informed that "We [The Gerhart Centre] will select a maximum of 4 or 5 of the pre-approved questions from students." (Queen Youtube at the AUC, The Angry Arab News Service, 16/2/10)

Reading the above, I was struck by how similar The Gerhart Centre's vetting process was to that of getting a letter into The Australian, save that the Centre at least lets students know in advance that critical questions will have the proverbial snowball's chance in hell of getting through.

No prizes then for guessing which of the following two letters on Pearson's pearler made it to The Australians' letters page yesterday:

"It's unusual for Noel Pearson to have a flight of fancy that's as different as chalk from cheese when he makes links between Aboriginal culture and that of the Jews ('Aborigines can learn from Jews how to preserve culture and prosper', Commentary, 15/2). Both may always have been considered minority peoples but the Jews survived/thrived because they had one big idea together with one tenacious strategy. The Jews' big idea was their monotheistic god and their survival strategy on being dispersed from their homeland was sheer bloody-minded struggle against all odds. A prerequisite was never-ending self-discipline. Aboriginal culture can perhaps have a big 'religious' idea for modern Australia in its own traditional respect for 'country' - the environment for non-Aborigines - as mother and as spiritual nurturer. As to the first Australians' strategy for eventually winning out, like the Jews, perhaps the first step would be Pearson's revolution to reject all the soft options of the welfare state based on handouts." L. Leroux, Acton, ACT

"Noel Pearson's admiration of the Jewish people ('Aborigines can learn from Jews how to preserve culture and prosper', 15 February) is curious for its omissions. In praising their 'resilience and seriousness as a people' and dedication to never forgetting history, he seems to have conveniently overlooked the modern state of Israel. As a Jew, I am constantly astounded how many non-Jews are able to celebrate the Jewish religion and ignore what's happening in Palestine. Modern Zionism has co-opted Judaism and left millions of Palestinians dispossessed in the name of a post-Holocaust myth. Pearson should spend some time in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel proper and discover the real meaning of modern Judaism. Israel's ever-deepening occupation of Palestinian lands is a curious way to fight racism when Israeli laws are specifically designed to segregate people along racial lines." Antony Loewenstein (Aborigines should not look to modern Jews as any kind of inspiration,, 16/2/10)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Earth to Noel Pearson...

Noel Pearson's back! No sooner had I posted on the subject of his recent bizarre radio comments on Australia's Jewish community (Zionism Goes Native, 11/2/10), than he's come out with an amplification of same in today's Australian: Aborigines can learn from Jews how to preserve culture and prosper. While his radio rave was but a brief aural strip-tease - Did I just hear what I thought I heard? - his op-ed can only be described as the Full Monty. And as with many a Full Monty, some things are best left to the imagination - or in this case, unsaid.

While I appreciate the need for debate over the struggle of Australia's indigenous people with the consequences of dispossession and settler-colonial racism, I found Pearson's piece both acutely embarrassing and fundamentally dishonest. Embarrassing, on the one hand, because he essentialises Jews in true reverse racist fashion, substituting positive stereotypes for the anti-Semites' negative, and dishonest, on the other, because he studiously ignores the elephant-in-the-room - Zionism's ongoing project of wiping Palestine (and Palestinians) off the map.

Without beating further around the bush, here are the relevant chunks with my comments in bold:

"I sometimes ponder the peoples of the world, their relative qualities, their contributions to the contemporary world and their role in history. I sometimes ask myself which peoples I most admire, and so from time to time I compile a top 10 list. Not just admirable people, but also awful people: when one is awe-filled by a people. [Doesn't he have anything more productive to do?] Therefore the English make my list out of a grudging respect for their extraordinary qualities. [Their extraordinary qualities? Please convince me that Pearson is not pushing the kind of racial essentialism first (?) expounded by Gobineau and later taken up by the Nazis.] Once, while we stood gazing down at Westminster, my friend Peter Botsman gave a moving evocation of the sheer toughness of a people who could produce the likes of James Cook, Oliver Cromwell [Tell it to the Irish] and Winston Churchill [Tell it to the Arabs]. I could no longer deny how truly awful the English were as a people... [So Pearson is in awe of those who dispossesed his own people? Go figure.] At the top of my list are the Jewish people. [The Jewish people? Pearson is here deploying the standard Zionist fiction that Jews the world over are not just a faith community, but constitute a distinct 'people' or 'nation' who, unless resident in their Israeli 'homeland', are deemed to be living in a state of exile ('diaspora') even if that is their choice.] No people have contributed more to civilization than the Jews. [Civilization? Civilization? Not only is civilization a loaded word, but it seems Pearson would have us rank alleged contributors to same in the manner of those pathetic individuals who hawk around the internet lists of Nobel Prize winners, who may or may not identify as Jews, as a mark of supposed Jewish-Israeli superiority over Arabs. If as Jose Ortega Y Gasset once wrote, 'Civilization is nothing else but the attempt to reduce force to being the last resort', then that surely rules out kick-arse Israel and its amen chorus around the world.] Many of the greatest thinkers - Jesus Christ, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein - were Jews. [Surely 'great thinking' (as well as its opposite) is common to all human beings.] They have led or played decisive roles in developing or powering philosophical movements. At all points of the spectrum, from liberalism to socialism. From Ayn Rand to Joseph Stiglitz. From Paul Wolfowitz to Paul Krugman. Their ancient committment to education and high learning is of course fundamental to their success. It is often said that their persecution and oppression is also an explanation for their resilience and seriousness as a people. Beleaguered peoples such as my own mob could do worse than draw upon the example of the Jews. They offer some lessons about how a culturally distinct people might hold their own and succeed in a world that is often without pity. First, there are lessons in the way they deal with the past. They have never forgotten history and they never allow anybody else to forget history; they fight staunchly in defence of the truths of history, but they never make their history a burden for the future. They have worked out how to deal with the past without cultivating and nurturing victimhood among themselves. Too many peoples turn victimisation in history into the victimhood of the present. [What a bumper crop of cliches and sweeping generalizations he trots out here. They have never forgotten history? Why do I get the distinct impression here that Pearson thinks the Bible is history? They fight staunchly in defence of the truths of history? What, like Alan Dershowitz? They never make their history a burden for the future? As distinct from a burden for the Palestinians? They have worked out how to deal with the past without cultivating and nurturing victimhood among themselves? Doesn't Pearson read The Australian Jewish News? This week's chronically unfunny Kron cartoon had that awful bully boy, Ahmadinejad, kicking sand in poor little law-abiding Israel's face at the beach. Just as well that burly lifesaver Australia, calling out 'Hey you!', was there to protect him.] Second, there are lessons in the way they deal with racism. They staunchly defend themselves against racism, but they avoid making racism their problem. [Given that, according to a 2009 Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (Monash University) survey approximately 80% of Australian Jews regard themselves as Zionists, can we not infer that they are helping, each in his own way, to make Israeli racism a problem for the Palestinians?] Properly understood, racism should be a problem of the racialists, not the burden of those against whom it is directed. Of course the effects of racism are real, but the point is to not succumb to its psychological effects. Racism ultimately succeeds when it destroys the psychology of its victims and leaves them defeated. A people subject to racism have the difficult challenge of not succumbing. The Jews are such a people. [A people subject to racism? You want experts in this field? People not merely subject to the odd bit of racist graffiti, but to dispossession and apartheid and exile and occupation and pogroms and massacres and death squads and land confiscations and home demolitions and pauperization and arbitary arrest and torture as well? The kind who've been copping that and more for over a century now without succumbing? Try the Palestinians.] Third, there are lessons in the way they have maintained their identity as a people while engaging in the wider world into which they have dispersed through the diasporas [Ziospeak alert]. They have maintained an identity as a community and a sense of peoplehood, religion, tradition, culture and history while at the same time engaging at the cutting edge of whatever the world has to offer. Their peoplehood has survived diasporas [x2] probably because they have maintained an orthodox heart [meaning?] at their centre while the rest of their community engages in orbits around that gravitational centre, and they engage according to their own choices with the rest of the world. This is a vision for an Aboriginal future in my part of the country. We want Cape York to be the point of gravitation, to be home, to be the hearth for our people. But we want our young members in the future to orbit around that hearth and to engage in the world. We can maintain a sense of peoplehood and common identity and religion and language."

OK, I can dig "our young members in the future orbiting around their Cape York hearth and engaging with the world," and I wish them well on their journey. But Pearson's current orbit, or should I say trajectory, now frankly that's a bit of a worry. Earth to space cadet Pearson... Earth to space cadet Pearson...

Afghan Rambam

"A senior Australian army media adviser who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has revealed that a culture of excessive spin and unnecessary secrecy stopped important information reaching the public. Andrew Bird, who left the army in December after 8 years as an information operations and media adviser, said the defence force deliberately obscured or painted an overly rosy picture of the war in places like Afghanistan... Mr Bird said that when the defence department organised for Australian journalists to travel to conflict zones, the journalists were prevented from seeing anything negative compared to journalists from the US or Britain who had greater access. 'The way we do it with the Australian army, we take it almost like a show tour. You fly in, everything is rehearsed on schedule and you fly out again', Mr Bird said." (Veteran charges army over spin, Nick McKenzie/Rafael Epstein, Brisbane Times, 12/2/10)

I'm sure Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, Peter Hartcher and their many rambammed mates throughout the Australian ms media* (not to mention their politician clones) know exactly what Andrew Bird is talking about. [* See my regularly updated 30/3/09 post I've Been to Israel Too]

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Trojan Horse

I have been reading with fascination the memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs, the British military (and later civilian) governor of Jerusalem (1918-1926), and chronicler of some of the earliest manifestations of the implementation in Palestine of that fraught and fateful document, the Balfour Declaration of November 2 1917. Hindsight, of course, reveals that, in issuing the Balfour Declaration, which promised the Zionist movement "a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people," Imperial Britain was creating an imperial cockup of the first order.

Back in 1918, however, with Palestine barely out of Turkish hands, it appears from Storrs' telling that virtually no one, save those at the highest level, had the foggiest notion of its existence, let alone how ill-conceived its promise was going to prove, although, judging by his opening sentence, composed around 20 years down the track, Storrs was beginning to grasp, it seems, something of the problems ahead: "Europe had learned before, during and particularly after the War, the full significance of Irredentism (invented but unfortunately not copyrighted by Italy): practical Zionism, or Irredentism to the nth, was new to most and stood alone. I happened to have learned something of it from the chance of my few weeks in the War Cabinet Secretariat, but with 95% of my friends in Egypt and Palestine (as in England) the Balfour Declaration, though announcing the only Victory gained by a single people on the World Front, passed without notice; whilst the few who marked it imagined that the extent and method of its application would be laid down when the ultimate fate of Palestine (assuming the conquest of its northern half and final Allied victory) had been decided." (Orientations, 1939, p 352)

Storrs' account of the imposition of martial law in Jerusalem in 1918 reveals what was no doubt the British government's first practical step in implementing the Balfour Declaration on the ground in Palestine: "The Administration of Occupied Enemy Territory was of course a temporary measure, and General Allenby's first proclamation, drafted by Mark Sykes and translated into French, Italian, Arabic and Hebrew, had announced that Jerusalem was under Martial Law, and would remain so as long as military considerations made it necessary. Martial Law would be strictly in accord with the Law and Usages of War as laid down in the Manual of Military Law. The ultimate fate of Palestine none then knew, though the Balfour Declaration made its incorporation into a presumably French Syria less and less probable, even if Jerusalem were internationalized: Jewish policy dreading the position of a tolerated minority in a great Arab majority... The now famous doctrine of the Status Quo was the bedrock of the General's policy (as it must be of any honest military occupation) in secular as well as in religious matters and, though frequently difficult to interpret and bitterly assailed (as well as invoked) by one or both parties in every subsequent controversy, this same Status Quo proved a strong defence against the encroachments from all quarters to which O.E.T.A. [Occupied Enemy Territory Administration] was continually subjected." (p 307)

Unfortunately, however, the top-hatted fools at the top of the imperial tree had ensured that there would be one almighty exception to this eminently sensible doctrine of adherence to the status quo: "The Military Administration notably contravened the Status Quo, in the matter of Zionism. Palestine had been (and in 1918 half Palestine still was) a province of the Moslem Ottoman Empire, and the vast majority of its inhabitants were Arabs. Under the Status Quo we were entitled (and instructed) to impress upon those desiring immediate reforms that we were here merely as a Military Government and not as Civil Reorganizers. Our logical procedure would therefore have been to administer the territory as if it had been Egypt or any other country with important minorities; making English the official language, and providing Arabic translations and interpreters, and treating the resident Jews, Europeans, Armenians and others as they would have been treated in Egypt. Far different from this conception was the attitude of O.E.T.A. General Allenby's very first proclamation and all that issued from me were in Hebrew, as well as in English and Arabic. Departmental and public notices were in Hebrew and, as soon as possible, official and Municipal receipts also. We had Jewish officers on our staffs, Jewish clerks and interpreters in our offices. For these deliberate and vital infractions of military practice O.E.T.A. was criticized both within and without Palestine. They were surely justified by the announcement by Great Britain and the almost universal endorsement of the Balfour Declaration on 2 November 1917, which gave any occupying Power the right to assume, though the League of Nations was then unborn and Mandates hardly conceived, that the ultimate Government would have to reckon with Zion." (p 312)

Yes indeed! Never backwards in coming forward, their 'title' deed to Palestine in hand, the Zionists were coming, whether Storrs was ready or not: "When... early in March Clayton showed me the telegram informing us of the impending arrival of a Zionist Commission, composed of eminent Jews, to act as a liaison between the Jews and the Military Administration, and to control the Jewish population, we could hardly believe our eyes, and even wondered whether it might not be possible for the mission to be postponed until the status of the Administration should be more cleanly defined. However, orders were orders; and O.E.T.A. prepared to receive the visitors. Confidential enquiries revealed Arab incredulity of any practical threat. Zionism had frequently been discussed in Syria. Long before the War it had been violently repudiated by the Arab journal al-Carmel as well as officially rejected by the Sultan Abd al-Hamid in deference to strong Moslem feeling; to which it was presumed that a Christian Conqueror who was also the greatest Moslem Power would prove equally sensitive. The religious Jews of Jerusalem and Hebron and the Sephardim were strongly opposed to political Zionism, holding that God would bring Israel back to Zion in His own good time, and that it was impious to anticipate His decree. The Zionist Commission travelled by train from Egypt, and after some contretemps whereby they were marooned awhile on the platform of Lydda Station, arrived by car in Jerusalem. I received in the Governorate Major Ormsby-Gore, and Major James de Rothschild, Political Officers, Lieut. Edwin Samuel, attached, Mr Israel Sieff, Mr Leon Simon, Dr Eder, Mr Joseph Cowan and Dr Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization. Monsieur Sylvain Levy, an anti-Zionist, was attached to the Commission as representative of the French Government. The party being under the official aegis of the British Government, I assembled in my office the Mayor of Jerusalem and the Heads of Communities in order that they and the visitors should meet, for the first time anyhow, in surroundings at once official and friendly. The Jerusalem faces were unassuring. I find among my letters home the plan of the dinner party with which I followed up this first meeting...: Mr Abu Suan of Latin Patriarchate, Musa Kazem Pasha al- Husseini, Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr Sylvain Levy, French Orientalist, The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sa Grandeur Thorgom Kushagian, Armenian Bishop of Cairo (acting Armenian Patriarch), Arif Pasha Daudi, ex-Ottoman Official of good family, Lt.-Col. Lord Wm. Percy, Ismail Bey al- Husseini, Director of Education, Dr Weizmann, Military Governor, His Eminence Porphyrios, Archbishop of Mount Sinai, Locum Tenens Orthodox Patriarchate, Major J. de Rothschild, Mr D. Salameh, Vice -Mayor of Jerusalem (Christian Orthodox), Major Ormsby-Gore." (p 353)

That the Jerusalem faces were unassuring speaks volumes. What follows is the stuff of drama: Zionist Deception meets Arab Civility: "After proposing 'The King' I explained that I had seized the occasion of so many representatives of communities being gathered in Jerusalem to clear away certain misunderstandings aroused by the visit of the Zionist Commission. Dr Weizmann then pronounced an eloquent exposition of the Zionist creed: Jews had never renounced their rights to Palestine; they were brother Semites, not so much 'coming' as 'returning' to the country; there was room for both to work side by side; let his hearers beware of treacherous insinuations that Zionists were seeking political power - rather let both progress together until they were ready for a joint autonomy. Zionists were following with the deepest sympathy the struggles of Arabs and Armenians for that freedom which all three could mutually assist each other to regain. He concluded: 'The hand of God now lies heavy upon the peoples of Europe: let us unite in prayer that it may lighten'. To my Arabic rendering of this speech the Mufti replied civilly, thanking Dr Weizmann for allaying apprehensions which, but for his exposition, might have been aroused. He prayed for unity of aim, which alone could bring prosperity to Palestine, and he quoted, generalizing, a Hadith, a tradition of the Prophet, 'Our rights are your rights and your duties our duties'." (p 354)

What a pity that Jerusalem's representative to the first Ottoman Parliament of 1877 and Mayor of Jerusalem in 1899, Yusuf Diya-uddin Pasha al-Khalidi (1829-1907), wasn't there to repeat his famous plea (in letter to Zadok Khan, France's Chief Rabbi*): "In the name of God, let Palestine be left alone."

[*Kahn showed it to Theodor Herzl who replied to al-Khalidi assuring him that, if the Zionists were not wanted in Palestine, "We will search and, believe me, we will find elsewhere what we need." Oh yeah.]

Storrs goes on (perhaps to exorcise any misgivings he still had) to labour the imperial delusion to which he continued to cling, at least until the publication of his memoirs: "It had been from a sense of previousness, of inopportunity, that Clayton and I had regretted the immediate arrival of the Zionist Commission; certainly not from anti-Zionism, still less from anti-Semitism. We believed (and I still believe) that there was in the world no aspiration more nobly idealistic than the return of the Jews to the Land immortalized by the spirit of Israel. Which nation had not wrought them infinite harm? Which had not profited by their genius? Which of all was more steeped in the Book of Books or had pondered more deeply upon the prophecies thereof than England? The return stood indeed for something more than a tradition, an ideal or a hope. It was The Hope - Miqveh Yisroal, the Hope of Israel, which had never deserted the Jews in their darkest hour - when indeed the Shechinah had shone all the brighter, 'a jewel hung in ghastly night'. In the triumph of the Peace the wrongs of all the world would be righted; why not also the ancient of wrongs?" (p 354)

Very much a man of his times, I'm afraid.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Israel's Errand Boy

United Nations members are divided into 5 regional groupings - African Group, Asian Group, Latin American Group, Eastern European Group, Western European & Others Group (WEOG). These groups nominate and vote for member states to join UN bodies such as the Security Council and the Human Rights Council. The WEOG also includes a subgroup of non-European (and two non-EU European) states, consisting of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Switzerland. This subgroup is known by its acronym, JUSCANZ.

Plucky widdle Israel, the one with (bad) attitude and distinctive (dead) body odour, has, until now, been on the outside of the UN, pissing in as they say - the Arab and Islamic states in the Asian Group being understandably wary of the rogue's complete lack of respect for the territory of others and his habit of scent marking same and going straight for the jugular of anyone who comes near (although he has apparently had permanent membership in WEOG for UN activities in New York since 2004).

No longer, it seems. The lout is now inside, with his feet up, all bristles and barked orders, and will no doubt be pissing just about everyone off before too long, and - you guessed it - it's apparently all Australia's doing: "Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said, 'Australia should be congratulated for its role in facilitating Israel's membership in [JUSCANZ]." Crossing his fingers, Rubes added, "'I hope this means Israel will finally be allowed to take part in all UN activities. For too long, Israel has been denied equal treatment at the UN. This is a small, albeit much delayed, step toward an end to the anti-Israel ground rules and hostile sentiment that has long prevailed in the halls of the UN'." (AIJAC congratulates Australia for its role in helping Israel achieve membership of UN subgroup,, 1/2/10)

Apparently, the bugger's world record of 79 fingers* to 79 Security Council resolutions so far is neither here nor there.

[*Rogue state: Israeli violations of UN Security Council resolutions, Jeremy Hammond, Dissident Voice, 27/1/10]

A Job for the Boy

Here's a little strand of the Israel/Gillard affair* that had hitherto escaped my attention: "A former jazz guitarist who is developing a $450 million Melbourne tower has persuaded Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard's partner, Tim Mathieson, to give up his hair-care business to sell residential property instead. Albert Dadon hired Mr Mathieson as a contractor to find international buyers for apartments in the 50-storey project that overlooks Flagstaff Gardens. The appointment tightens the links between Mr Dadon and Ms Gillard after her visit to Israel in June as a guest of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, which he founded and chairs. Mr Dadon was the artistic director of the Melbourne Jazz Festival for several years but has emerged in recent times as executive chairman of Ubertas Group and a good friend of the Rudd government. He sponsored Kevin Rudd on a visit to Israel in 2002 when the Prime Minister was Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, and did so again in 2005. The two had lunch together shortly before the 2007 federal election, The Age reported earlier this year. Mr Dadon is married to Debbie Besen, daughter of Highpoint Property Group chairman and Sussan clothing store founder Marc Besen. Ms Gillard disclosed her partner's appointment to Ubertas Group in a letter to the registrar of members' interests last Friday, saying the new job had started last month. A spokesman said Ms Gillard did not expect any perceived conflict of interest to arise from the job. 'However, the appropriate steps will be taken to ensure both Ms Gillard and Mr Mathieson discharge their professional duties in an entirely appropriate way,' she said. Any conflicts would be declared in federal cabinet if required, she said. While the federal government is supporting the residential property sector through its social housing programs, its $4 billion RuddBand plan to support commercial projects like residential towers was voted down in the Senate in June. Mr Matheison met Ms Gillard in a hair salon in 2004 and has run a hair-care business in recent years. He is one of the government's men's health ambassadors." (A man of many properties, David Crowe, Australian Financial Review, 23/10/09)

[*See my posts Her Brilliant Career (29/5/09) & Gillard: 'Sychophant' (22/8/09) ]

No perceived conflict of interest??? Pull the other! We have here yet another reason why Gillard, Rudd & Co. simply cannot be trusted with the formulation and conduct of Australian foreign policy on Palestine/Israel.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Zionism Goes Native

"If world Jews were indeed a nation, what were the common elements in the ethnographic cultures of a Jew in Kiev and a Jew in Marrakesh, other than religious belief and certain practices of that belief? Perhaps, despite everything we have been told, Judaism was simply an appealing religion that spread widely until the triumphant rise of its rivals, Christianity and Islam, and then, despite humiliation and persecution, suceeded in surviving into the modern age. Does the argument that Judaism has always been an important belief-culture, rather than a uniform nation-culture, detract from its dignity, as the proponents of Jewish nationalism have been proclaiming for the past 130 years? If there was no common cultural denominator among the communities of the Jewish religion, how could they be connected and set apart by ties of blood? Are the Jews an alien 'nation-race', as the anti-Semites have imagined and sought to persuade us since the 19th century? What are the prospects of defeating this doctrine which assumes and proclaims that Jews have distinctive biological features (in the past it was Jewish blood; today it is a Jewish gene), when so many Israeli citizens are fully persuaded of their racial homogeneity? Another historical irony: there were times in Europe when anyone who argued that all Jews belonged to a nation of alien origin would have been classified at once as an anti-Semite. Nowadays, anyone who dares to suggest that the people known in the world as Jews (as distinct from today's Jewish Israelis) have never been, and are still not, a people or a nation is immediately denounced as a Jew-hater. Dominated by Zionism's particular concept of nationality, the State of Israel still refuses, 60 years after its establishment, to see itself as a republic that serves its citizens. One quarter of the citizens are not categorized as Jews and the laws of the state imply that Israel is not their state nor do they own it. The state has also avoided integrating the local inhabitants into the superculture it has created, and has instead deliberately excluded them. Israel has also refused to be a consociational democracy (like Switzerland or Belguim) or a multicultural democracy (like Great Britain or the Netherlands) - that is to say, a state that accepts its diversity while serving its inhabitants. Instead, Israel insists on seeing itself as a Jewish state belonging to all the Jews in the world, even though they are no longer persecuted refugees but full citizens of the countries in which they choose to reside. The excuse for this grave violation of a basic principle of modern democracy, and for the preservation of an unbridled ethnocracy that grossly discriminates against certain of its citizens, rests on the active myth of an eternal nation that must ultimately forgather in its ancestral land." (The Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand, 2009, pp 21-22)

What follows came at the end of an interview with "prominent aboriginal leader" Noel Pearson on the ABC's Radio National:

Noel Pearson: Part of the challenge of Indigenous recovery will be for the state to retreat while we build Indigenous responsibility and rebuild Indigenous people taking charge of their own lives.
Emily Bourke: And he's appealed to Aboriginal Australians to consider the experiences of the Jewish community.
Noel Pearson: They are a community who have never forgotten history and they never allow anybody else to forget history. They fight staunchly in defence of the truth. They fight relentlessly against discrimination but what they have worked out as a people is that they never make their history a burden for the future." (Pearson slams Native Title laws, AM, 9/2/10)

What does Pearson mean in that final soundbyte? Who precisely does he mean by "they?" The Australian Jewish community only? Jews in general? Israelis? And what "history" exactly is it that "they" have never forgotten? And that second sentence about "fight[ing] staunchly for the truth," what is that supposed to mean? All Jews? Albert Einstein? Colin Rubinstein? Antony Loewenstein? What about "fighting relentlessly against discrimination?" How then does he explain Israel and all its works? Are "they" a "people" or a faith? And whatever does "they never make their history a burden for the future" mean?

Pearson's comment recalls for me the following disturbing anecdote in Australian doctor Howard Goldenberg's* new book Raft: "In his closing words, Goldenberg, an orthodox Jew, incongruously likens the Australian Aboriginals' struggle to that of Israel. He quotes an Aboriginal man as telling his son: 'Us mob gotta learn from your mob'. 'What do you mean?' asks his son. 'I mean - you mob, you got your land back, you got your culture, you got your pride... We gotta be like that'. Its a pill too bitter to swallow. If this doctor is advocating Israeli settler colonialism (with all its parallels to white Australian settler colonialism) as a righteous model for Australia's Aboriginal people, some readers may find themselves seeking a second opinion." (From the review by Mat Ward, Green Left Weekly, 27/1/10)

[*See my 7/8/09 post A Tale of Two Interviews]

What exactly is going on here? Here's a clue: "The Jewish community is actively involved in the process of reconciliation between Aboriginal... Australians and the broader Australian people. In 1996 the Advisory Group for Faith Communities to the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation elected the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) representative as its Convenor, and he participated in the Renewal of the Nation's Congress, for 1,500 invited delegates in May this year [1997]. Jewish groups and individuals are amongst the most active in the community in developing projects with, and in support of, Indigenous Australians.' (J.O.I.N. Australian Jewish Community,

On the face of it, such endeavours would seem admirable, but the involvement of Israel lobby group ECAJ suggests the possibility that, whatever benefits may accrue to Australia'a indigenous people from such contacts, they also provide Australian Zionists with an opportunity to portray their settler-colonial project in Palestine, with all that that entails by way of Palestinian dispossession, as a case of dinky-di indigenes winning back control of 'their' ancestral homeland.

The business of Zionist colonials masquerading as natives who miraculously managed to win back what had once been 'theirs' certainly seems to be thriving in Canada. For example, leading Canadian Zionist politician and academic Irwin Cotler has developed a great little sales pitch: "For Israel, rooted in the Jewish people, as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal relgion, the first of the Abrahamic religions. In a word, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language - Hebrew - and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago. Israel, then, is the aboriginal homeland of the Jewish people across space and time. It is not just a homeland for the Jewish people, a place of refuge, asylum and protection. It is the homeland of the Jewish people, wherever and whenever it may be, and its birth certificate originates in its inception as a First Nation, and not simply, however important, in its United Nations international birth certificate. The State of Israel, then, as a political and juridical entity, overlaps with the 'aboriginal Jewish homeland'; it is, in international legal terms, a successor state to the biblical, or aboriginal, Jewish kingdoms. But that aboriginal homeland is also claimed by another people, the Palestinian/Arab people, who see it as their place and patrimony." (Quoted in Jews are aboriginals & the Christians love us, Cecilie Surasky,, 23/4/09)

And just how impressive is this little Canadian Zionist production?: "B'nai Brith will be accompanying 44 Aboriginal leaders on a 'Stand with Israel' Mission Tour that departs on August 13, 2005. The 'New Allied Christian Caucus for Israel' group, the largest Aboriginal representation to travel to Israel, will be led by the heads of Winnipeg's First Nations Family Worship Centre Pastor Rev. Raymond McLean. B'nai Brith Canada's Midwest Regional Director, Alan Yusim, who worked closely withe the Aboriginal leaders to develop the trip's itinerary, will be representing the Jewish human rights organization. The group will begin its journey in Jerusalem and visit holy sites. During their stay, Jerusalem's Mayor Uri Lupolianski will honour Rev. McLean along with the delegation of First Nations leaders who will participate in the opening ceremonies of Israel's National Festival of Arts and Music. The group will also make a special stop at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. B'nai Brith has also initiated meetings with Israeli government officials and experts, who will participate in talks with the Aboriginal leaders on economic development, infrastructure-building and techniques for combating poverty based on the Israeli experience. This Mission to Israel is the third consecutive collaboration between B'nai Brith and the Aboriginal community. The initial B'nai Brith-sponsored 2003 'Holocaust and Hope Educators' Tour' followed directly the outbreak of the David Ahenakew affair. The mandate of the Aboriginal group is to build on the positive foundations already established between the Assembly of First Nations and the Jewish community, to fight antisemitism, and to create awareness of Israel as a sister democracy." (Stand With Israel Aboriginal Mission Tour 2005,

I have no idea just how extensive this kind of collaboration is. However, it is gratifying to learn that some indigenous Canadians at least are proving resistant: "Harley Eagle works with First Nations peoples with the Mennonite Central Committee in Canada. I was stunned to learn that he has been approached on multiple occasions by Canadian Jewish groups who identify as aboriginal. 'They come to us and tell us 'our paths are similar. We have gotten our land back. We hope the same for you. We are cut of the same cloth'. Harley says they tend to target Christian aboriginal people as well as inter-tribal political groups to form a larger political body. They invite people on trips to Israel. But Harley's group had already been doing an exchange program with Palestinians. 'For we younger First Nations people who haven't experienced colonialism and being put on reservations directly, the Palestinian program helps us remember what our people went through. It's very powerful, but for the Palestinians, visiting native American reservations is shocking because they see the future of their own people'." (Indigenous peoples and Israel-Palestine, Cecilie Surasky,, 24/4/09)

For the record, Pearson puts in frequent appearances on the op-ed pages of Murdoch's Australian and is director of the Cape York Institute. The CYI's chairperson, Professor Marcia Langton, travelled to Israel in 2003 as "the Inaugural National Australia Bank Yachad Scholarship Fund Fellow to investigate Israeli approaches to systemic educational disadvantage." (The YALP Story,