Monday, January 31, 2011

Homely Mona

Oh my mama told me
'Cause she said she learned the hard way
She say she wanna spare the children
She say don't give or sell your soul away
'Cause all that you have is your soul
So don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of the bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

(All That You have Is Your Soul, Tracy Chapman)

The Age has finally today managed an opinion piece on Egypt's intifada - by an Egyptian-born "writer and lecturer on Arab issues" no less. Unfortunately, while Mona Eltahawy 's All Egyptians are being liberated from the burden of history promised a fresh, Egyptian perspective, it delivered little more than cliches: "Generation Facebook - kicking aside the burden of history, determined to show us just how easy it is to tell the dictator it's time to go."

I wish that were the worst of it, but it wasn't. Well into her puffery Eltahawy came out with this decidedly peculiar statement:

"Meanwhile, the uprisings are curing the Arab world of its obsession with Israel. Successive Arab dictators have tried to keep dissent at bay by distracting people with the Israeli-Arab conflict. Israel's bombardment of Gaza in 2009 increased global sympathy for Palestinians. Enough with dictators hijacking sympathy for Palestinians and enough with putting our lives on hold for that conflict."

How facile is that? Would that the Arab world were obsessed with the threat posed by Israel!

Is this Egyptian writer seriously telling us that Egyptian dictators, Sadat and Mubarak, were in the business of distracting their people by harping on the Israeli-Arab conflict as she calls it? How? By concluding a peace agreement with Israel and establishing diplomatic relations? Is that what she means by an obsession with Israel? How has Mubarak, USrael's useful tool in keeping Gaza sealed off from the outside world, hijacked sympathy for Palestinians and put poor little Mona's life on hold? Please explain.

OK, so who the hell is Mona Eltahawy anyway, and why, after the above, should we be reading such drivel? Sampling a selection of her earlier pieces reveals a woman seemingly so desperate to fit in with the trendies of her New York* home, that she's effectively become an advocate for Israel, happily sticking it to the Arabs.

In What use are all the wars? (Washington Post, 28/7/07), she casually notes that "Israel's occupation of Palestinian land has caused no end of misery, poverty and frustration for the Palestinians." (Yes, Mona, living under occupation can be sooo frustrating!) But then, as if apologising for her use of the 'o' word, she hastens to add, "It has even scarred the Israeli people's conscience." Ah, but not enough to stop them from voting for one war-mongering, Palestinian-dispossessing, Palestine-colonising governent after another.

Then she's lamenting that, although "Egypt has been at peace with Israel for 28 years," Mubarak "has never visited Israel." It's just not good enough, is it? Mubarak should not only be in bed with Israel, but be seen to be.

So Mona points the way: "I visited Israel for the first time in September 1997... I wanted to see things for myself and not have to rely on the 'official' narrative given by our media." And? And? And what did you find, Mona? The lady doesn't say! How coy is that?

But for sheer anti-Arab venom (and gaping silence about Israel), Israel, opium of the people, written, mind you, during Israel's 2008-2009 wilding in Gaza (The Globe & Mail, 30/12/08), takes the cake. In it, Mona lets fly at those who dared to ask why she wasn't writing about Gaza. Her answer? Writing about Gaza implies "toeing the party line, Hamas is good, Israel is bad," and she'll be buggered if she's going to give in to pressure and say a bad word about Israel.

No, Mona's New York-friendly frame of reference completely obfuscates political Zionism's 100+ year project of swallowing Palestine while simultaneously spitting out its indigenous Palestinian Arab inhabitants by implying an equivalence between Israeli coloniser and Palestinian colonised, Israeli ethnic cleanser and Palestinian ethnically cleansed: "But what to say about a conflict that for more than 60 years now has fed Arab [she can't even bring herself to refer to Palestinians as Palestinians] and Israeli senses of victimhood and their respective demands to stop everything else we're doing and pay attention to their fights because what's the slaughter of anyone else - be they in Darfur, Congo or anyone else - compared to their often avoidable bloodletting." There you go, folks: even while Israel's in the thick of massacring well over a thousand Palestinians in Gaza, wounding and scarring thousands more, and reducing their homes and vital infrastructure to smoking rubble, Mona's hitting us with the old Zionist talking point, Why are you anti-Semites focusing on Gaza when you've got Darfur and the Congo to focus on? And yes, Mona, your mutual bloodletting could have been avoided if only your Israeli friends hadn't broken the ceasefire which had been in place for months beforehand.

But even the above faux balancing of victims is unmasked by Mona's vile ascription of Palestinian blame for the actions of a suicide bomber in the midst of an anti-Israel demonstration in Iraq! Of course, the bigger picture of Zionist Jewish-state sectarianism deliberately exporting its divisive ethno-religious model to the rest of the Middle East via Zio-conservative agenda-setters in the former Bush administration, most lately in Iraq**, is entirely missing in Mona's off-the-top-of-my-head opinion piece.

And then she's off on an Arab-bashing rant in which no reference to Israeli agency is allowed to intrude: "Lebanon keeps generations of Palestinian refugees in camps that serve as virtual jails." (But what are they doing in Lebanon in the first place, and why do they remain there?) Jordan killed tens of thousands of Palestinians in 1970. (But why were they in Jordan in the first place?) Christian Phalangists slaughtered 3,000 Palestinian refugees in Sabra & Shatila in 1982. (But whose allies were they and who allowed them into the camps?) Israeli defense minister, Ariel Sharon, was found guilty of indirect responsibility for that massacre by an Israeli inquiry. (But did that prevent him from later becoming prime minister?)

Finally, after arguing that Mubarak "unleashed state-owned media frenzy at Israel that has fanned a near-hysterical hatred for the country among ordinary Egyptians," Mona trips herself up with "Yes, Israel's occupation of Arab land angers Egyptians," and then proceeds to compound the mess by whining that, alas, "there is absolutely no space in Egyptian media, culture or intellectual circles for discussing Israel as anything but an enemy." But what is Mona saying here if not: Sure the Israelis may be occupying and abusing the Palestinians (who have really only got themselves to blame for that), but why aren't we Egyptians celebrating The Joy of Israel?

The website has appropriately included Mona in a list of 'Housies', which it explains is "short for House Arabs and House Muslims, equivalent to Malcolm X's 'House Negro' and 'Field Negro'," and wonders why she and the other Housies were too busy to attend a protest outside the White House against the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen and in support of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning. Ikhras even hazards a tongue-in-cheek guess as to what Mona may have been up to at the time: "Mona Eltahawy was addressing the TEDWomen audience. She spoke about everything there is to know about Muslim women in a nutshell except for the fact that they're on the receiving end of US bombs and depleted uranium and bear the brunt of oppression under occupation in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine as widows and mothers of shattered, displaced, tortured families." (Disorganized priorities (as usual), 18/12/10)

Jump to Mona's blog,, for A Jew & a Muslim go upstate (5/9/09), and you find it's even worse than Ikhras could ever have imagined. There you can read all about the interfaith "retreat" where, for three - THREE! - days "we compar[ed] and contrast[ed] the Torah's and Quran's rendition of the Joseph saga." Oh, and you'll be surprised to know that one of Mona's "favorite people" is a "Jewish woman" who argues that "My people were kicked out but it's always been our land. And now we've just returned to our homeland."

[* Talk about being tempted by the shiny apple! ** See my 22/12/08 post Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze]

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Palestine Comes Closer

irhal, irhal, ya 'ameel, ba'at bilaadak lisraa'eel (anti-Mubarak slogan: Get out, get out, agent/ traitor, you sold your country to Israel)

Reflections of a gloating Angry Arab:

"You can only gloat now about the fortunes - sorry, misfortunes - of the terrorist state of Israel. What can you say about a state that has based its entire strategic posture on the preservation of dictatorial regimes all around it? Do you understand why I have always been confident that Israel's days are numbered? This is a historic necessity that can be analyzed in historical materialist terms. Do you now understand why Netanyahu has ordered his officials to be silent about Egypt? Their panic equals that of the Mubarak family.

"I really doubt there is one Israeli official left in the Israeli espionage embassy in Cairo. I really doubt that now. Do you think that if the Egyptian people were free to choose their representatives, they would impose a siege on Gaza? That they'd invite Netanyahu for Ramadan iftar? Just look at the Iraqi government, which is a puppet government jointly controlled by a kooky Ayatollah (Sistani, the cleric of occupation) and the US occupation. Only one - ONE - elected (in a puppet election) guy, Mithal Allusi, dared to speak for peace with Israel. And how popular was that, even with Israeli and American money allegedly showered on him. Do you know how many assassination attempts he has survived over the years? Two of his sons were assassinated.

"You'd be surprised if you thought my categorical rejection of Israel isn't shared by the Arab people. I met a young Saudi couple on their honeymoon in Lebanon last summer. Do you know what their first destination was? Not the regular tourist sites. They donned kuffiyehs and went to the Resistance Museum in Mlita. Comrade Amer wrote to me yesterday that he never felt Palestine closer. I cannot disagree. The picture will only get bleaker for Israel and for Israelis. This has been the doing of a century of terrorism against Arabs. When I went on a speaking tour to US-run Pakistan 4 years ago, the Pakistanis told me that the US congress had pressured General Musharraf (or Busharraf as Pakistanis liked to call him) to recognise Israel, and he just couldn't because he knew how explosive that'd be among the Pakistani public.

"The US will continue to pay the price for its decades-long, wholehearted embrace of Israeli occupation and terrorist interests above all else. And all for the state of Israel. The US has alienated millions and millions of Arabs over its pro-Israel policies (and of course over its embrace of Middle East dictatorships, part and parcel of its support for Israel). That was what US Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, warned against back in 1948 when Truman was considering recognizing Israel. This is not to say the US hasn't imperialist interests of its own: of course it has. There is oil, but the Zionist lobby in Washington DC has really put all policy considerations under the headline of support for Israel. In the long term, Israel will also prove to be a big boost for anti-Semitism around the world, especially when Israel goes under. And for that you may also blame the Zionist state of Israel and its decades of terrorism against Arabs." (, 29/1/11)

Water Rats

They say that when a ship begins to take on water, its rats take to the water. Ditto for your ship of state.

Mrs Mubarak and heir apparent, Gamal, in time-honoured, woman-and-children-first tradition, have reportedly washed up in London, while Captain Hosni seems to have lashed himself to the wheel in defiance of the rising waters.

Such a pity. They were such a nice family, as US VP Joe Biden and his lovely wife, Jill, testified in June last year before embarking on a tour of Africa:

Joe: Hey folks, we're here in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt just having met with president Mubarak, and Jill met with Mrs Mubarak. My discussions with president Mubarak were about the number of joint efforts we have under way. We're working very closely with them and trying to deal with the crisis in Gaza as well as Israeli-Palestinian peace. We also had discussions with other areas of great concern, the Sudan, we're working closely together. They are one of the few countries that have been very forward leaning in Iraq and engaging the Iraqi government and... they're also engaged in Afghanistan. But Jill, you were out with Mrs Mubarak?

Jill: Yeah. I met with Mrs Mubarak and we found that really we had so much in common. She's engaged with women's issues and childrens' issues. We talked about the importance of reading and early childhood education, the importance of libraries. And then she's hosting a conference on child trafficking and that's very important to her and actually she's established a peace park. So after I left the meeting I went to see her peace park and what she's doing and how important it is for children especially to feel a sense of peace in the world. So we had a very nice meeting, We had a lot in common.

Joe: Well, you know, I have known president and Mrs Mubarak now since a long, long time, since back in the late 70s even before he became president, and we met on scores of occasions and it's good to see him and in good health and there's an awful lot together we can get done." (On Board, Travels with the Vice President,

Maybe when Mubarak does jump ship he and the missus could shack up with Joe-n-Jill. After all, isn't that what friends are for?

But hey, others have taken the plunge as well:

"The national airline El Al has whisked some 200 Israelis, including families of Israeli diplomats, out of Egypt on board an emergency flight to escape the chaos engulfing the Arab country... A special EL Al flight, including dozens of tourists as well as diplomat's families landed at Ben Gurion Airport early Saturday evening. Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon and diplomats have remained in Cairo. The Israeli embassy in Cairo has been closed since the riots broke out, and will remain closed on Sunday." (Dozens of Israelis flee Egypt on emergency flight, Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 29/1/11)

What a mensch is this Mr Levanon! But wait... what's this?

"Matthew sent me this from Cairo: 'I just drove by what used to be the Israeli embassy in Cairo. It's now completely empty, the staff has fled. There is no longer an Israeli flag hanging in Cairo or anywhere else in Egypt'." (Israeli flag removed from Cairo,, 29/1/11)

Damn, Mr Levanon's steadfastness - just another hasbaroid!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Mubarakas, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

With apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ozymandias

US: Egypt Is All About Israel

Mubarak may be eating his people alive, but for the United States, all that matters is that he's good for Israel:

"Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he's been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with - with Israel... I would not refer to him as a dictator." US Vice President Joe Biden (Quoted in Joe Biden says Egypt's Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn't step down..., Dan Murphy,, 27/1/11)

Shihab Rattansi, Al-Jazeera: But you have more leverage than that. Surely... the President or the Secretary of State can speak to Mr Mubarak and say: 'Call off your repressive security forces, now begin a transition to true democracy and stop torturing people while you're at it'.

PJ Crowley, US press secretary: But again, you're casting this in zero sum terms and I reject that. We respect what Egypt contributes to the region. It is a stabilizing force. It has made its own peace with Israel and is pursuing normal relations with Israel. We think that's important. We think that's a model that the region should adopt broadly speaking. (PJ Crowley confronted on US support for Egypt. Gives very poor answers,, 26/1/11)

Friday, January 28, 2011

'This is not Iran or Algeria you know...'


"I would like to include here an incident that I believe is an indication of both the increasing lack of empathy on the part of the Egyptian regime over the past few years and the extent of its alienation from the people. This case does not imply that the Egyptian regime is at risk of imminent instability or collapse.

"During the 2000 legislative elections, a small community in rural Egypt brought to my attention some of the problems they had encountered with the security forces. They had been denied entry to vote, which resulted in the death of a few locals as well as injury to many more. A well-publicized affair, the case was covered in the international media as well as national opposition party newspapers.

"The community was angered by the lack of governmental response - whether in the form of an apology or compensation for the families of the victims. Following the scandalous publicity of the event, state security had sealed off the area to prevent further communication between locals and outsiders. After these tragedies of election day, I was compelled to sneak into the community disguised as a local, with the help of some genuine residents who took the risk out of a desperate need to communicate with the outside world. As a stream of locals sneaked in and out of the back entrance of a local notable's house, which acted as my base, state security personnel were sitting in the reception room drinking tea and observing the main entrance, oblivious to the action. During interviews and discussions, members of the community asked me to pass on their grievances, if possible, to any senior government official that might listen. They assumed that the lack of governmental response might be due to information being blocked prior to reaching a higher level.

"Later, I contacted a senior and highly respected public figure in government. I explained the sequence of events and highlighted the ill feelings that had developed within the community toward the government. The senior government official was very understanding and appeared to grasp how important it was to compensate the families of the victims in order to regain the community's confidence and trust. The senior government official also promised that he would contact the minister of interior and look into the situation personally. I subsequently left feeling satisfied that the problems of the community would be addressed.

"The next morning at work, I was contacted on a personal mobile phone by a senior state security officer, who introduced himself and informed me that a meeting was in order. A few hours later, I arrived at the officer's state security office, which was based at the Ministry of Interior's headquarters in Cairo. The officer was sitting behind his desk drinking tea and watching an interview being conducted on the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel with a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. As I entered the office, he picked up the phone and asked the person on the other end to ensure that the Brotherhood interview was being videotaped. Then, after pleasantries, the officer began asking me about the election events surrounding the community in question. I relayed the same information I had narrated the previous day to the senior government official. The officer listened carefully and then proceeded to question the reasons behind my interest and concern about this particular issue. When the officer discovered that it was an impersonal matter based on humanitarian concern that had led me to seek assistance for the distraught community, and that I was not linked to the village through family or friendship ties, he was very puzzled. The officer then proceeded to justify the events to me by placing the blame on the community. He claimed that the people had not listened to the security forces and that this was what had caused the injuries and deaths. He then went on to compare the role of the state to the role of parents, and the role of citizens to the role of children. In his words, 'If the parents tell the children not to go out onto the streets and the children disobey and get run over by a car, is that the parents' fault? No it is not. The same with [that local community], they misbehaved and did not follow instructions so they paid the price, is that the government's fault? No it is not, it is their own fault for being careless'.

"After about an hour of discussions with little progress, I conceded that it was time to leave. Just before leaving, I repeated the point that my decision to bring this matter to the attention of the authorities was intended to inform them of the fragile situation so that they could hopefully do something constructive to defuse the tension and potential instability in the community. The officer smiled, thanked me for my concern, and stated that he would try to help, even though still maintaining that the locals were the ones at fault. As I was opening the door to leave, the officer looked over and said, 'This is not Iran or Algeria you know. Everything is under control... We will never make the same mistakes as them. There will never be instability or uprisings... It will never happen here'." (Egyptian Politics: The Dynamics of Authoritarian Rule, Maye Kassem, 2004, pp 190-192)

The harder they come...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Perfidious Albion, Again

The following frank admission of Britain's responsibility for the Middle East conflict by British colonial administrator, diplomat and ambassador to the UN (1964-1970) Hugh Foot (1907-1970) comes from his 1964 memoir, A Start in Freedom:

"The failure of British administration in Palestine was inevitable. The double sin had been committed of raising false hopes both with the Arabs and with Jews. The hopes were false because they were conflicting. The Arabs who fought with Britain in the first world war to throw off the yoke of the Turkish Empire were led to believe that they were fighting for their freedom. The Jews were led to believe by the Balfour Declaration in 1917 that they would win a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Relying on British assurances they too fought and worked with us. But Palestine was populated and owned by Arabs. Other nations share the responsibility with us. The United States in particular urged us on in the pursuit of policies which were bound to lead to conflict. But the main responsibility was ours. It is true that when the Balfour Declaration was made and indeed for many years afterwards no one, other than a few Jewish visionaries, thought of a Jewish State in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration promised support for a Jewish National Home in Palestine. It was just, but only just, possible to imagine a Jewish National Home in an Arab country progressing towards self-government and eventual independence. Later on various plans of cantonisation or condominium were broached. But by prevarication and procrastination and basically by the fundamental dishonesty of our original double dealing we had made disaster certain. In the narrow compass of the Holy Land we had unleashed two hopes, two forces, two nationalisms. In 1915 we supported King Feisal's desert rising. In 1917 we signed the Balfour Declaration. The surprising thing is that it was twenty years after those actions before the Arabs revolted and almost another decade before the Jews turned to violence and rebellion. By trying to please both Arabs and Jews we lost the respect and friendship of both and eventually earned the contempt of the world by an ignominious withdrawal. We left those who had relied on our promises to fight it out among themselves. I pray that we shall not make the same terrible error again - in southern Africa for instance." (pp 35-36)

But they have - and in Palestine again: Britain, the nation that betrayed the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian people by unleashing on them one of the most toxic strains of European nationalism and settler-colonialism, namely political Zionism, has not only not apologised for its 31-year long Crime against Palestinian Humanity (1917-1948), but is now second only to the United States in aiding and abetting political Zionism's continuation and monstrous amplification of that crime:

"The Palestinian Authority's security strategy to crush Hamas and other armed groups on the West Bank was drawn up by Britain's intelligence service, MI6, leaked papers reveal. The strategy included internment of leaders and activists, closure of radio stations and replacement of imams in mosques - the bulk of which has since been carried out. Two documents drafted by the Secret Intelligence Service with other British government departments are understood to have been passed to Jibril Rajoub, the former head of PA security in the West Bank, at the beginning of 2004 by an M16 officer. The evidence in the cache given to al-Jazeera TV and shared with The Guardian, highlights the role British officials and security advisers have played in creating and bolstering the PA administration in the West Bank, which is backed and financed by the US, the EU and most Arab states as it pursues what are now all but moribund peace talks with Israel.

"The British papers, one of which is headed 'Palestinian security plan - confidential', included proposals for a security taskforce based on Britain's 'trusted PA contacts' outside the control of 'traditional security chiefs', a British-US security 'verification team' and 'direct lines' to Israeli intelligence... In the most controversial section, the 2004 MI6 plan recommends 'Degrading the capabilities of the rejectionists - Hamas, PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and the [Fatah-linked] al-Aqsa Brigades - through the disruption of their leaderships' communications and command and control capabilities; the detention of key middle-ranking officers; and the confiscation of their arsenals and financial resources'. The document adds: 'We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ figures, making sure they are well-treated, with EU funding'.

"The leaked intelligence plan can be seen in retrospect as a blueprint for PA security control of the West Bank, which has become harsher and more extensive since the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007. Hundreds of Hamas and other activists have been routinely detained without trial and subjected to widely documented human rights abuses. The former MI6 officer, Alistair Crooke, who worked for the EU in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said recently that the documents reflected a 2003 decision by the then prime minister Tony Blair, to tie British and EU security policy in the West Bank and Gaza to a US-led 'counter-insurgency surge' against Hamas - which backfired when Hamas won the 2006 elections.

"The CIA played the central role in building up PA security forces from the late 1990s, in close cooperation with the Israeli military and intelligence, detailed in the leaked documents. But particularly after the killing of three US officials in the Gaza Strip in 2003, British forces played an increasingly active role - though always in close cooperation with their counterpart US agency, according to diplomatic sources. A sequence of leaked British documents begins with an unmarked but detailed MI6 draft of the security plan, faxed from the Egyptian embassy, at a time when the agency was working closely with Egyptian intelligence*; continues with a second more formal paper jointly drafted by SIS, which floats internment; and is then translated into a series of official papers drafted by the Jerusalem consulate's military liaison office, which liaises with British special forces, the SAS and SBS [Special Boat Service].

"The documents confirmed that by 2005, British projects under the Palestinan security plan - first drafted and passed to the PA under MI6 auspicies - included extensive funding of the most controversial parts of the PA security apparatus, including general intelligence, special forces and preventive security under the heading of 'UK-Palestinan projects'." (MI6 creates blueprint for smashing Hamas, Milne & Black, The Guardian/SMH, 27/1/11)

[* How very interesting!]

Britain's criminality in Palestine today, as you will have gathered from the preceding paragraph, includes complicity in the use of torture:

"The British government is complicit in torturing political prisoners detained and jailed in the occupied West Bank by the PA, a senior British officer said. The officer, James Macinnes is charged with training the PA's top security officials as part of a plan to provide assistance and financial support to PA agents in arresting and torturing members of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas. Macinnes admitted to the British role in torturing Palestinian prisoners after an Arab organization for human rights in London revealed that the PA has been torturing prisoners affiliated with Hamas for years.** Torture techniques used in PA prisons included shabh (hanging) of all kinds, beatings with cables, pulling out nails, suspension from the ceiling, flogging, kicking, cursing, electric shocks, sexual harassment and the threat of rape, according to the report. At least 6 Palestinians have died under torture in PA prisons and many other former detainees have permanent disabilities. The human rights organization said that it has documented such 'crimes' for 3 years, from October 2007 to October 2010. During that period, the report said, PA security forces in the West Bank detained 8, 640 Palestinians at a rate of 8 arrests per day. 'Every one of those detainees has been subject to humiliating and degrading treatment, and stayed in cells for more than 10 days', the report said. 'The analysis shows that an astonishing 95% of the detainees were subjected to severe torture, others feeling the detrimental affects on their health for varying periods'. The report also found that 77% of those who had been detained by the PA security forces had been arrested in the past by Israel. Representatives of the organization met with victims or their relatives, and distributed a questionnaire, in secret, to detainees who were held in PA prisons. 'Men and women from all sectors of Palestinian society have been subject to arrest and torture', the report noted. 'These include students, workers, teachers, doctors, engineers, university professors and lawyers'." (UK tortures Palestinians by proxy,, 25/1/11)

[** See my 21/12/09 post Cops Are Tops]

The buck, of course, must stop with former British prime minister Tony Blair (now the Middle East Quartet's special envoy!), under whose watch (1997-2007) Britain's abuse of the Palestinian people resumed with a vengeance. No surprise then to find the following among al-Jazeera's Palestine papers:

"[Blair] was frequently scorned for his efforts to develop the economy of the West Bank... [He] was seen as focusing too much on winning small concessions from Israel for minor development projects, while proving reluctant or impotent when it came to persuading Israel to ease bigger restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank. In one memo reviewing his proposals, Mr Blair is accused of showing bias to the Israeli security forces and of advocating 'an apartheid-like approach to dealing with the occupied West Bank'." (Tony Blair 'biased' towards Israel, leaked documents claim, Adrian Blomfield,, 26/1/11)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


"There seems to be a widespread, deeply held supposition that politicians - politicians! - will save us, if we can only put the right ones in charge of the power structure. And behind this supposition there is an unspoken - and, in many cases, unconscious - belief in the inherent goodness of this power structure itself! To be sure, it is a goodness that most progressives believe has been lost or diminished, or perhaps not yet realized. But there seem to be few doubts in the ultimate moral efficacy of this power structure, however lost or latent it might be at any given time. It just needs to be guided properly.

"All this is very strange to me. I came of age in a time when politicians of every stripe were considered little more than sinister buffoons: gasbags, grifters and gloryhogs in the pay of the rich and powerful - and in happy thrall to a brutal power structure based on violence, war, corruption and cronyism. We thought this not because we considered ourselves cool or too hip or too cynical for that establishment drag, man; we thought this because of what we had seen with our own eyes.

"We saw people torn from their private lives by an implacable militarist state and forced to kill and die in a savage, pointless imperial war that left millions of innocent people dead. We saw people gunned down in the street or clubbed into bloody goo for peaceful acts of dissent against the power structure. Politicians mouthed witless pieties that no one believed they believed, while behind the scenes elections were fixed (or 'ratfucked'), contracts were rigged, laws were laughed at, and rules were broken at every turn. Cities were left to choke and rot; an entire industrial infrastructure was sold off to enrich a tiny, tax-dodging elite feasting on foreign slave labor. The wars went on and on, covertly and overtly; the living standards of working people kept plunging relentlessly; the prisons filled up; the farms went down; torturers, murderers, liars and thieves were applauded to high heaven." (From Goonstruck: The Mysterious Mind of Modern Progressives, Chris Floyd,, 24/1/11)

Not Getting It at the Herald

As usual, when it comes to Israel pulling the wings off Palestinian flies, the Sydney Morning Herald editorialist just doesn't get it. Comparing The Guardian editorial cited in my last post but one with what follows, is to plummet, journalistically-speaking, from the sublime to the beyond ridiculous:

"... al-Jazeera takes us into the heart of a live, continuing negotiation with the survival of nations at stake." (The peace talks without fig leaves, 26/1/11)

Ooh, isn't it exciting? The fate of nations? Will little Israel survive, do you think?

"The exposure will be embarrassing and dangerous for the Palestinian negotiators. They've talked of swaps of Arab-populated villages just inside Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank... "

Oh, they have, have they? The Herald still hasn't twigged that it's Israel who talks, the Palestinians who listen... and concede: "In several areas, Livni pressed for Arab citizens of Israel to be included in a future Palestinian state as part of a land-swap deal, raising the contoversial spectre of 'transfer'." (Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees, Black/Milne, The Guardian, 24/1/11)

"To be sure, it was not a total surrender at the 2007 Annapolis talks..."

A 99.9999% surrender then?

"But it was largely a negotiation of unequals, with one side making most of the concessions."

And the Herald's going to let you guess which side.

"Even a lame-duck Bush administration, and a discredited Ehud Olmert government, was able to make progress."

Progress? ... you mean, in playing Whac-A-Palestinian?

"Now the test for both sides is to show if they have the political strength to face down their extremists and clinch an agreement."

For God's sake, the Palestinian puppets can't even face themselves in the mirror any longer, let alone anyone else. And what's this extremist nonsense? No, let me guess: a Palestinian extremist is one who has stopped rooting for the 20-year long fire sale of his rights, aka (hilariously) the peace process, and an Israeli extremist is one who burns down Palestinian olive trees... as opposed to Netanyahu & Co, who just send in the bulldozers to uproot them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Art of False Negotiations

Another timely Circus Israel classic on the peace process that passeth all understanding (, 21/3/08):

Circus Israel's revered national game, faux negotiations with the Palestinians, is on again - and as fresh as ever. We talk and we take, while the clock ticks away. And when the sun goes down, Circus Israel's a little larger and Mohammed's a little more exhausted.

But is it as easy as it looks? We spoke with Circus Israel's current ringmaster and head bullshit artist, Ehud Olmert. Here's how he plays the game...

EO: Listen, Abbas knows my end game. More land, fewer Arabs. That's it. But we meet anyway, for Condoleezza Brown Rice and the European Union. We talk. I kill time. We talk. I kill more time. Anything I can do to stall. I stall like a yeshiva boy outside the girls' toilet. If I didn't have some fun with it, I'd go crazy. I floss my teeth, I start sobbing, I laugh like a monkey, I text Livni with raunchy jokes. I make us exercise, half an hour, as much as they'll take. I told Erekat, 'You're so fat, Saeb. Sweat, goddam you!' Oy, the things that pop out of my mouth. 'Mahmoud, let's give each other a massage'. 'Hey, who's this Guitar Hero I keep hearing about?' But seriously, when I just can't take any more, I run some jeeps into Tulkarm for a shoot-up and the Pals go pout for a few days. Look, it is what it is. They can't take a hint, so we do what we have to. It makes the time pass.

Circus Israel: Aren't you concerned they'll call your bluff and agree to your terms?

EO: My terms? My terms are bubbles. You can hardly see them - then poof.

CI: But seriously -

EO: Listen, this'll never end. Even if they agreed to leave, who says they'd stay away?

CI: What about Sderot and Ashkelon? If this conflict never ends...

EO: Sderot and Ashkelon are waging the eternal struggle of the Jewish People by making our enemies look bad. We all have to sacrifice. I have to get a sore tuchus listening to Ahmed Qureia. Hey, how about a massage?

The Shit Hits the Fan

With the release to al-Jazeera of thousands of pages of Palestinian 'peace process' documents spanning the years 1999-2010, the shit's hit the fan, the cat's out of the bag, and its gotta be all over red rover for the puppets of the Palestinian Authority. Move over, Ben Ali.

Adapting and updating an old post-1967 Israeli occupation joke captures perfectly the relationship between the key players: God calls the Americans, the Israelis and the Palestinians to his house and they sit around in armcairs - Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni. Suddenly they realise the Palestinians are missing. Where's Abbas? asks Sharon. Where's Qureia? asks Rice. Where's Erekat? asks Livni. God claps his hand to his forehead. Of course, he says, I forgot. Mahmoud, Ahmed, Saeb! Bring 6 coffees right away!

But as these records reveal, for the Palestinian cause, the so-called peace process, stretching back to the Madrid peace conference of 1991, has been more a series of dirty deeds done dirt cheap than a bad joke.

The Guardian's editorial of 23 January offers as good an introduction as any to this appalling tale:

"Gerald Kaufman once described Labor's 1983 manifesto as the longest suicide note in history. If ever a set of documents merits this epithet, it is surely the one we publish today. Written by Palestinian officials, obtained by al-Jazeera and shared with the Guardian, the papers are the confidential record of ten years of efforts to seek a peace agreement with Israel.

"It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; the Israelis, who are polite in word but contemptuous in deed; or the Americans, whose neutrality consists of bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong. Together they conspire to build a puppet state in Palestine, at best authoritarian, at worst a surrogate for an occupying force. To obtain even this form of bondage, the Palestinians have to flog the family silver. Saeb Erekat, the PLO chief negotiator, is reduced at one point to pleading for a fig leaf: What good am I if I'm the joke of my wife, if I'm so weak, he told Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

"Palestinian concessions roll on. The Israeli settlements around East Jerusalem? Sold, two years ago in a map which allows Israel to annexe all of the settlements bar one, Har Homa. Mr Erekat called it the biggest Yerushalayim (he used the Hebrew word for Jerusalem) in history. Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livni acknowledges the pain involved, but refuses the offer. Israel banks the concession anyway. They are building in occupied Gilo today as if there is no tomorrow. Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in the Muslim world? That, too, is up for grabs. Mr Erekat said he was prepared to consider 'creative ways' to solve the problem of Haram al-Sharif or the Temple Mount.

"The surrender of land Palestinians have lived on for centuries prompts more demands. Not only does Israel want all of East Jerusalem, Har Homa, and the settlement blocks of Ariel and Ma'ale Adumim which carve strategic swathes out of the West Bank. Not only does it insist on a demilitarised state. It also wants Palestinain leaders to sign away their future. When Mr Erekat asked Ms Livni: 'Short of your jet fighters in my sky and your army on my territory, can I choose where I secure external defence?'. She replied: 'No. In order to create your state you have to agree in advance with Israel - you have to choose not to have the right of choice afterwards. These are the basic pillars'.

"Before the extreme right politician Avigdor Lieberman rose to prominence, the papers reveal that Israel asked for some of its Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinain state. Since then, state population swaps have entered the mainstream of Israeli debate, but no one is asking the Israeli Arabs themselves. Has the former nightclub bouncer from Moldova become more Israeli? Or is Israel behaving more like a Moldovan nightclub bouncer?

"One requires Panglossian optimism to believe that these negotiations will one day be resurrected. Nineteen years of redrawing the 1967 borders, of expanding the boundaries of Jerusalem, of refusal to accept the return of Palestinian refugees, and of pleading for a fig leaf, has sullied the concept of peace. The Palestinian Authority may continue as an employer but as of today, its legitimacy as negotiators will have all but ended on the Palestinian street. The two-state solution could just as swiftly perish with it. If that is to be saved, three things have to happen: America must drop its veto on Palestinian unity talks and take up Hamas' offer of a one-year ceasefire; a negotiating team that represents all major Palestinian factions must be formed; and Israel has to accept that a state created on 1967 borders, not around them, is the minimum price of an end to the conflict. The alternaive is to allow the cancer of the existing one-state solution to grow and to prepare for the next war. No one will have to wait long for that."

The Guardian's recommended course of action, premised as it is on the Americans dropping the hand of their Israeli brat, clipping him over the ear, and grounding the bugger for as long as it takes, is naive in the extreme. How about the United Nations General Assembly declaring rogue Israel an apartheid state and imposing international sanctions? After all, as the Guardian reports: "Livni told Palestinian negotiators in 2007 that she was against international law and insisted that it could not be included in terms of reference for the talks: 'I was the minister for justice', she said. 'But I am against law- international law in particular'." (Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees, Ian Black & Seumas Milne, 24/1/11)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Museum Piece

The Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons resumes poking a stick at Hezbollah (See my 19/1/11 post South Side Story).

A guided tour:

1) Headline: Hezbollah's homage to a deadly past, and future (22/1/11). A thoroughly nasty piece of work indeed. Think venemous snake or scorpion. Israel? Think lamb or fluffy kitten.

2) Subhead: "A bizarre Lebanese theme park mocks Israel & signals the militants' vendetta can only escalate" Of course, deadly, bizarre, mocking, mafia-like. Be afraid, very afraid!

3) "Military museums across the world usually commemorate the efforts of their own country's soldiers. But this is different." Different? As in... bizarre?

4) "This park, at Mleeta, near the border with Israel, is about death, destruction, revenge and warning." Unlike Israel's which are all about life, creation, forgiveness and welcome.

5) "Given the animosity between Hezbollah and Israel, this is probably the only place in Lebanon where Hebrew words can appear in the open. At the centre of the park... is a mock graveyard with massive Hebrew words warning any Israeli drones or satellites overhead: one says 'The Abyss' while another says 'Lebanese Quagmire'." Ah yes, without Hezbollah, Hebrew would be very much in the open in Lebanon, taunting at checkpoints, barked orders over a loudspeaker to come out of your home at 2 in the morning with your hands raised, and cursing in prisons and torture chambers.

6) "A guide beckons us into a cinema... they begin rolling a history of the Israeli-Arab conflict... It shows Israeli 'Zionist' soldiers..." Oh, so they're not Zionist soldiers? Oh, I see, it's a dirty word these days? I wonder why.

7) "... storming the Old City as they conquer Jerusalem. The editor obviously forgot the bit about the UN General Assembly resolution in 1947..." Err... could that possibly be because Israel's storming of the Old City took place in 1967, John?

8) "... saying 'independent Arab and Jewish states... shall come into existence in Palestine'." And? What's with the "..." John? Shall I supply the missing bit?: "... and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem..." I mean you were talking about Jerusalem and the partition resolution of 1947, weren't you? Oh, I see, you didn't think it important to tell the punters that, according to that resolution, Jerusalem was supposed to have been internationalised under UN administration and that those Israeli stormtroopers had no right storming either East (1967) or West (1948) Jerusalem? Right...

9) "While Hezbollah... delights in the propaganda of the museum..." Ah, but not Israel. No propaganda at Yad Vashem. No propaganda at Yad ha-Shiryon (The Armored Corps Memorial Site & Museum at Latrun). No, sir, for Israel it's the facts, the whole facts and nothing but the facts, OK?

10) I'll end with a little quizz.

You are a Middle East correspondent, in Lebanon to do a story on Hezbollah. You want to consult some expert opinion. Here are 6 possibilities. Choose 3:

1) Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think tank established by AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee), and author of If War Comes: Israel vs Hizballah & Its Allies; 2) The Economist; 3) Jonathan Spyer, Israeli academic and author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict; 4) Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh, associate professor of political science at the American University of Beirut & author of In the Path of Hizbollah; 5) Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Lebanese scholar & author of Hezbollah: Politics & Religion; 6) Hala Jaber, British-Lebanese journalist (The Sunday Times) & author of Hezbollah: Born with a Vengeance.

Hm... too hard? I'll make it easier for you. You're not just any ME correspondent - you're John Lyons of Murdoch's Australian.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Get George!

If there's one thing that gets me going it's playing fast and loose with history, otherwise known as cliocide (See my 11/1/11 post Casual Cliocide (to Oud Accompaniment)).

Arguably, no history has fallen victim to cliocide more than that of Palestine, whether modern or ancient. Here's just the latest example:

"Colin Firth's hopes of Oscar glory for his portrayal of George VI are under threat from an apparent internet smear campaign alleging that the wartime monarch had Nazi sympathies... His depiction of George VI's battle to overcome a stammer has won acclaim and box office success on both sides of the Atlantic for the British-made film The King's Speech... There are fears that its success at next month's Oscars could be hampered by an email apparently being circulated to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, who vote on the awards, accusing the film of 'glossing over' history. It alleges that George VI, the father of the Queen, actively 'stymied' efforts by Jews fleeing Nazi Germany to settle in British-controlled Palestine... While historians have suggested George VI viewed Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement favourably, fearing that war would lead to the break-up of the Empire, he is remembered as an inspirational figure during the struggle that followed." (Nazi claim threaten's to ruin Firth's Oscar night, The Age, 20/1/11)

This report elicited the following corrective letter: "It seems a bit unfair to taint George VI with anti-Semitism in 1939 using facts not verified until years later... There was a large and bloody revolt by Palestinian Arabs from 1936 to 1939. A major trigger was illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. There was no obvious reason to support this immigration at the time - and there were plenty of reasons to be against it in terms of imperial policy, which would no doubt have been George's primary concern. Britain had previously promised Palestine to both the Arabs and the Jews, and the conflict this caused had started. More immigration would have been more fuel on the fire." Charles Meo, Northcote (21/1/11)

Which elicited in its turn, as surely as night follows day, the following claptrap from one of our usual suspects: "Charles Meo claims there was 'no obvious reason to support' Jewish immigration into Palestine in the late 30s. The perilous situation that Germany's more than 500,000 Jews found themselves in during those years was an obvious and very necessary reason. In addition, by restricting Jewish immigration into Palestine after 1939, Great Britain was in breach of its League of Nations obligation to help establish Palestine as the homeland of the Jewish people." Merv Morris, East St Kilda (22/1/11)

Meo's clarification, while welcome, is by no means the end of the matter, however.

The subtext of the anonymous email smear seems to be that the main focus of the Zionist leadership in Palestine at the time was the rescue of German Jewry from Nazi persecution, but that they were 'stymied' in this endeavour by the perfidious British, who were at best cowards (Chamberlain) and at worst anti-Semites (George VI).

Now, if one can discern, in the following account of this period (by a Zionist historian), the faintest trace of concern for the plight of German Jews, as distinct from an overwhelming preoccupation with the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, then my critical faculties have completely deserted me:

"The [British] White Paper of 1939 which indicated a strong movement towards the Palestinian Arab position [a direct result of the 1936-1939 Palestinian revolt referred to by Meo] was seen by Weizmann and the mainstream Zionists as a deep betrayal of Jewish trust in British promises and as a self-evident vehicle to safeguard British interests in the event of an outbreak of war. 75,000 Jews would be admitted to Palestine over the following 5 years and thereafter Jewish immigration would be in the gift of the Palestinian Arabs. For the Irgun [the military wing of the Zionist revisionist movement], it was a defining watershed which initiated a new campaign - this time, not only against Palestinian Arabs, but also against the British... The Irgun issued a long statement which delineated its approach to the White Paper. It proclaimed that no nation in history had ever succeeded in winning its independence without resorting to military force. The British, the statement claimed, 'instigated, favoured and allowed to continue' episodes of Arab violence in order to backtrack on the Balfour Declaration and ultimately nullify the promises made to the Jews. It warned that 'a Jewish ghetto in Palestine will be established only over our dead bodies'... Weizmann was depicted as a British stooge and the Zionist Organization was condemned for its bequest of 'pacifism at any price'. The Round Table conference of early 1939, the Irgun argued, had brought them to this impasse and the only way forward was to 'reconquer the Land of Israel'... A week before the invasion of Poland, the Irgun killed 3 British CID members whom they accused of torturing an Irgun commander. The day before the Germans crossed the border with Poland, the British arrested and imprisoned the entire high command of the Irgun. As history records, [Vladimir] Jabotinsky immediately took the opportunity to throw his personal support and that of the Revisionist movement behind the Chamberlain government. [Irgun leader] David Raziel in a communique from prison resolved to do the same and declared a ceasefire - much to the surprise of [Avraham] Stern and the rest of the Irgun high command. This was the first step in a series of political and personal disputes between Raziel and Stern... It ended in a split with Stern leading his own group out of the Irgun. This was known perjoritavely by the British as 'the Stern Gang' - later as Lehi - which still saw the British as the central enemy. Stern devoutly believed that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' so he approached Nazi Germany. With German armies at the gates of Palestine, he offered co-operation and an alliance with a new totalitarian Hebrew republic. He hoped that with German assistance, he could now bring 40,000 Jews from occupied Europe to Palestine to overthrow British rule." (The Triumph of Military Zionism: Nationalism & The Origins of the Israeli Right, Colin Shindler, 2010, p 217-218)

We also learn from Shindler that:

a) The British in 1939, far from blocking Jewish immigration into Palestine, had merely decided to reduce it. (Shindler, of course, neglects to explain that they had finally woken up to the fact that 'favouring the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people', as per the Balfour Declaration of 1917, was, in the teeth of the violent and sustained Palestinian Arab resistance of 1936-1939, just another of those 'It seemed like a good idea at the time' ideas.)*

b) Chamberlain had broad Zionist support for his policy of appeasement.

c) The Sternists, who were later to bequeath Israel one of its prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir, were happy to solicit German support in their fight against the British.

In addition, the historical record indicates that even as ardent a gentile Zionist as Winston Churchill was in favour of restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine, recognising, as he proclaimed in parliament, that "[w]e have obligations to the Palestinian Arabs as well as to the Jews and world Jewry" (Churchill & The Jews, Martin Gilbert, 2007, p 151).

It is not the makers of The King's Speech who are glossing over inconvenient facts, but rather the anonymous author of the email.

[* See my 19/1/10 post It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Islamophobic Chef

The Australian's Sally Neighbour shows you how to whip up a delicious, long-lasting Islamophobic souffle in no time at all.

Find one fire-breathing Muslim, preferably a convert as these tend to puff up better than the more traditional Middle Eastern Muslim ingredients. Don't bother with Christians or Jews, Islamophobic souffles are the in-thing right now.

Place him on the steps of NSW Parliament House. Whip him up until he's nice and frothy: "I hate the parliament in Canberra. I want to go straight for the jugular vein and advise the parliament that they have no right to legislate. They should immediately step down and let the Muslims take over." (Gillard should step down & 'let the Muslims take over', 20/1/11)

Continue whipping for two more days (Full-bred Aussie with a longing for sharia law, 21/1/11; Over my dead body, 22/1/11) before placing in oven.

When ready, serve with a hot Aussie sauce ("History tells us that if we don't nip this nonsense in the bud now, if we don't fight to retain our freedom and way of life, it will be so much harder later." Grace Bee, Bowral, NSW), or as we here at the Australian prefer, an even hotter Zionist concoction ("If Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon, who advocates extreme Islamist ideology, has lost his 'commonsense', Bill Matthew (Letters, 21/11), and should be ignored, what can be said about the commonsense of the extremist Islamists who advocate violent Jihad and fly planes into buildings? Should they also be ignored?" Henry Herzog, St Kilda East, Vic).

Stand back and watch it go!

The White Man's Burden

"There aren't many other places in the world where white people tell brown people what to do." Ethan Bronner*, Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times

Ah, Ethan, if only it were a matter of telling them what to do.

How about shooting them?

"During an arrest raid in Hebron which appeared to target Hamas men released from PA custody the day before, Israeli forces shot and killed a 66-year-old man in his bed, in what appeared to be a case of mistaken identity." (Hebron man executed during Israeli raid,, 8/1/11)

Or destroying their homes?

"Members of the Younis family watch while their home is demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the West Bank village of Azzun Atta near Qalqilya, January 11, 2011." (In photos: family watches Israeli forces take down home, Khaleel Reash,, 14/1/11)

Or gassing them?

"On Wednesday evening, Israeli troops threw tear gas canisters into a home in the village of Zabouba, west of Jenin in the northern West Bank, causing 11 people to suffer from [gas] inhalation." (Israeli troops tear gas house near Jenin, 5 children arrested in hebron, 4 fishermen in Gaza,, 20/1/11)

Or arresting them?

"Near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday morning, eight Palestinians were arrested including five minors." (ibid)

Or kidnapping them?

"Also on Thursday, the Israeli navy kidnapped four Palestinian fishermen from the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis." (ibid)


[* See my 30/11/10 post Once a Sow's Ear... ]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Zionist Amnesia

The following sentence encapsulates the gist of a liberal Zionist critique of Israel which appeared on the opinion page of today's Sydney Morning Herald:

"The current government is attempting to redefine Israel's raison d'etre as one premised on racism and prejudice towards Arabs." (Those who speak out against oppression the true patriots, Assa Doron)

The statement, of course, is ludicrous in the extreme, implying as it does that prior to the election of Netanyahu, Israel's raison d'etre was not premised on racism and prejudice towards Arabs.

This can only mean that prior to the election of Netanyahu, Doron, described as "an Israeli-Australian academic and fellow in the school of culture, history and language at the Australian National University," had been in a coma, from which he'd emerged, on election day, an amnesiac.

How, otherwise, to explain his seeming total ignorance of the Zionist project in Palestine since its very conception in the mind of its founder, Theodor Herzl, who wrote in his diary the fateful words: "We shall try to spirit the penniless [Arab] population [of Palestine] across the border... while depriving it employment in our country."

To redefine Israel's raison d'etre as one not premised on racism and prejudice towards Arabs, Israel has to first be de-Zionised, which is to say de-colonized. The legacy of Herzl has to go.

Desperate & Dateless Aussies

"Australia and NATO coalition allies made a desperate bid to convince a disillusioned and divided Dutch government to keep its troops in Afghanistan, WikiLeaks cables reveal. But the reluctant Dutch believed there was no 'coherent, winnable, game plan' for creating a stable democratic government in Kabul, classified US diplomatic cables, dating from 2007, show... Efforts to boost the coalition contribution in Oruzgan in the wake of the looming Dutch withdrawal had modest success. A joint Dutch-Australian approach to Singapore resulted in a field hospital but a request for military support from Indonesia had resulted in an offer of 'one policeman'." (Canberra, NATO 'pleaded' with Dutch to stay in Afghanistan', The Australian, Mark Dodd, 20/1/11)

I had no idea the Indonesians had such a wicked sense of humour.

Just Asking

The Australian just loves blokes like this:

"A Sydney artist whose anti-burka mural has infuriated left-wing and Islamic activists is vowing that the provocative artwork will stay in place despite death threats, abuse, a string of vandalism attacks, a violent weekend protest and a police request to remove it. Newtown glass sculptor Sergio Redegalli has this week restored the mural painted outside his studio for more than the 40th time after dozens of graffiti and paint-bomb attacks by protesters who say it is racist and inflammatory. In the latest incident last Sunday, a crowd of 50 activists hurled paint at the mural and then turned on police who had to call in reinforcements to restore order. Seven men were arrested and charged with offences including resisting police, assaulting police and destroying or damaging property... The sculptor... says he has since been visited by local police who asked him to take down the mural after learning of a threat to fire-bomb it. He refuses to do so in the interests of free speech and public debate." (Artist defies 'bullies' over burka mural, Sally Neighbour, 19/1/11)

OK... have I got this right? The freedom-loving Mr Redegalli believes in free speech, but not in freedom of dress?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Get the Sheik!

Two items popped up in the media recently that took me back - to 2006.

The first, completely ignored by the Australian ms media, came in the UK Guardian of January 8, which reported Blair's home secretary, Jack Straw, as saying, "Pakistanis, let's be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders' wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders. But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men... who target vulnerable young white girls. We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way. These young men are in a Western society, in any event, they're fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically. So then they seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care... who they think are easy meat." (White girls seen as 'easy meat' by Pakistani rapists, says Jack Straw, David Batty)

Easy meat...

The second came in Murdoch's Australian on January 15 and began: "There is one point on which ASIO and Australia's most controversial Muslim cleric, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali agree: home-grown extremism is on the rise." (Cleric fears rise of home-grown radicalism, Paul Maley)

Ah yes... meat... Sheik Taj!

The hysteria whipped up by Murdoch bin filler over that man's sound bite all those years ago came flooding back...

Specifically, back to the front page of The Australian of October 26, 2006, where to a blazing front page headline, Muslim leader blames women for sex attacks, the nation learned to its horror that Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, "the nation's most senior Muslim cleric," had sermonised (in Arabic and to his flock) as follows: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred." (Richard Kerbaj)

Now although Hilali and Straw use the same meat metaphor to refer to scantily-clad young women, they naturally reflect differing cultural paradigms. When it comes to messing with such 'meat', Straw, in line with Western feminist orthodoxy, squarely blames the men. Our traditional, unreconstructed, patriarchal Muslim imam, on the other hand, in effect asks, as indeed would many non-Muslim Australians, What do these women expect, dressed like that?

How utterly unsurprising!

Now the merit, or lack thereof, of either position is not the issue I intend to address in this post. No, what I found quite extraordinary at the time, and will discuss here, was the extent to which The Australian deliberately set out to use the mufti's decidedly non-pc, but otherwise unremarkable, sound bite to whip up a veritable Walpurgis Night of Islamophobic fear and loathing.

The Australian's campaign (I can hardly call it 'coverage'), spread over 10 days, constitutes perhaps the most sustained attack on an individual by a media outlet in this country within recent memory. It is sufficient to list merely the relevant headlines on a day-by-day basis to appreciate its virulence and dimensions. I include here only the headlines for news reports (many of them front page), editorials, opinion pieces and blocs of letters:

26/10/06: Muslim leader blames women for sex attacks (front page)

27/10/06: Mufti outrages his people (fp); Daughter beautiful gems or pieces of meat (fp); Goward calls for expulsion of Hilali; 'I'm misunderstood' excuse is wearing thin; Sheikh quit as mufti when his pay was cut; 'Women are treated like jewels'; Scarf's 'about God, not men'; Apologist worked for jihadi journal; Muddle headed mufti; These rantings don't reflect Muslim ideals; Time to muzzle the outrageous mufti; Sheik never should have received permanent residence; Mufti not alone in his intolerance of non-Muslim women

28/10/06: Hilali: no one can sack me (fp); Metaphor hides mufti's real message (fp); ALP deal halted sheik's expulsion (fp); Muslims at odds over Hilali ban; Relaxed Hilali gets star treatment; I was just protecting their honour; Modesty is important, say Christian leaders; Sheik's values out of step with modernity; Muslims seem to forget that pluralism works both ways

30/10/06: Mufti praises Iraq jihadists (fp); Canberra ignored secret agent's warning on sheik (fp); Fellow imams launch push to oust mufti; Enemies demonise Islam, say leaflets; Shake off Hilali PM urges Muslims; I'm not fresh meat: Muslim women hit back; Use religious garb sensitively: archbishop; Hilali's radical mentor; Islam can modernise & remain relevant; Immigration advice ignored at our peril; Is the Labor Party ashamed of giving residency to Hilali?; No place for zealots & those who find excuses for rape

31/10/06: Sheik blasts judges on rape (fp); Ill Hilali agrees to step aside; Eyes opened by Islamic chauvinism; Experts urge caution on role of martyr; My brother made fear a familiar foe; Sheik's words are impossible to ignore; Australia's interests abused for short-term gain

1/11/06: Muslims fear extremists will seize control; Hilali to stay on as mufti; Men 'provoked' into sex assaults: imam; Sheik remains defiant over rape comments; No, sheik, sorry isn't good enough

2/11/06: Risk of race riot if Hilali stays; Libs slam Fraser on Islam; Sharia law breach in eye of the non-beholder; Taking moral equivalence to an extreme; Silver lining to Hilali

4/11/06: Sheik wants probe into his sermon; Descent to fresh dissent

Seriously, someone should write a book about the role of the Murdoch press in fomenting Islamophobia and creating divisions in this country. The above is just one among many Islamophobic beat-ups concocted by The Australian since Muslim-bashing became one of its main preoccupations.

SMH: Relevant & Timely, Not

Utterly clueless and totally irrelevant, in the grand tradition of Sydney Morning Herald editorials on the Middle East:

"Did heavy rain in NSW help bring about the fall of a dictator in North Africa? Those chaos theorists who toyed with the idea of a butterfy's flapping wings setting off a storm halfway round the world might like to play around with the effect of a global grain shortage on Middle East politics." (Downfall shakes the region, 18/1/11)

And here's the concluding sentence: "The longer this stale regime [Egypt] continues, uncriticised and propped up with Western aid, the more unpredictable its political explosion."

Remind you of a certain other stale, uncriticised, propped-up entity?

And BTW, although the Tunisian intifada began on December 17 last year, the Herald's first report on the subject didn't appear until almost a month later, on January 15.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

South Side Story

More 'quality', 'objective' reporting from The Australian's Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, occasioned by Hezbollah's withdrawal from Lebanon's 'unity' government:

His headline: Lebanon ticks as fanatics walk out (15/1/11)

Lebanon is "a country that is one part rampant capitalism, one part Shia fundamentalism."

It "bounced back after Hezbollah fighters took to the streets in 2008, guns blazing, to protest against moves to shut down their private communications system."

And - shiver me timbers! - barely "an hour from the extravagance of central Beirut, one finds through the southern suburbs the medieval mindset of fundamentalist Shia Islam: sharia law is supreme, four wives are permitted for each man and many women are covered in black, not even their eyes visible."

Has Lyons made himself clear? Not since the Taliban has the world seen such a mean and ornery bunch of polygamistic, medieval, fundie-fanatics as Hezbollah and its constituents!

Only one thing though. It may keep Murdoch happy and be just what the readers of The Australian want, but that doesn't stop it from being complete and utter bullshit.

To inject a little reality here:

The women of the southern suburbs: "There are plenty of women to be seen on the streets wearing all sorts of Beirut styles, of every type. True, the muhajjabat are greater in number than they are on Hitchen's Hamra, but the fashionistas are also out in great number. And I for one have seen lower decollatage in the attire of a young woman right out in front of Fadlallah's mosque riding behind her beau on one of the ubiquitous motorscooters than I have anywhere else on the streets. In the southern neighborhoods of Beirut, women's clothing is just not a huge issue... It seems it is to Western journalists - and probably their rditors - who are absolutely obsessed with it, but not the residents of these neighborhoods." (Demonising, exoticising & domesticating the Arab world - all at once, Semi-Expert: An Arabist in Beirut,, 25/4/09)

Sharia law in the southern suburbs: Another fiction. See my 12/6/09 post When Greg Met David.

Polygamy in the southern suburbs: Hello? In Islam, any man is allowed, subject to conditions, up to 4 wives, even Lebanon's poor old Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri, for whom Lyons' has nothing but sympathy ("Mr Hariri had spent 14 months in one of the toughest jobs in the world...").

OK, how many wives does Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah have?

One. Man, what a phony!

Surely Hezbollah's late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Fadlallah (1935-2010), was the Warren Jeffs of Beirut's southern suburbs then: "Are you for polygamy? Polygamy has a dark as well as a bright side. As to the dark side, polygamy has a negative psychological effect on both the wife and children. But at the same time, polygamy helps in reducing illegal relationships to the bare minimum... Are you married to two women? No. I have just one wife." (Ayatollah Sayyed Fadlallah Official Website,

Another phony!

Hm, suppose we go further afield... to the source of the contagion, Iran. Surely, surely, Ahmadinejad's up to his neck in wives?

No, just one.

OK, what about the foaming Shia fundie-fanatic's foaming Shia fundie-fanatic, the late Ayatollah Khomeini?

Sorry, just one.

And yet, according to Murdoch's man in the Middle East, in the deep south of Beirut, they've got two hanging off each arm!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Rising Tide of Pro-Israel Bias at the ABC

"There is a rising tide of opposition to a plan by a Sydney Council to boycott Israel. The Marrickville Council has joined a global ban of goods and services from Israel over its occupation of the Palestinian territories," announced the reader of ABC TV's 7 pm news last night.

OMG, thought I, a veritable Zionist tsunami, heading straight for plucky little Marrickville Council! I upped the volume control.

"But critics say the council should stick to looking after rates and rubbish and leave foreign policy to Canberra," the newsreader continued. Ah, thought I, no tsunami after all, just critics.

No sooner had I breathed a sigh of relief, however, than the ABC's reporter-on-the-spot had me sweating again as he weighed in with, "Marrickville's anti-Israel boycott is causing a big stir."
Big stir! OMG, it's that rising tide of opposition again!

And then, there it was - rising tide of opposition and big stir all rolled into one (rather ample, I have to say) female form in the person of Rosana Tyler, state Liberal candidate for Marrickville and VP of the Newtown Synagogue.

"I find that most reasonable people are simply against this," she cried, presumably after doorknocking every house in the electorate, sorting out the reasonable from the unreasonable residing therein, asking them, 'Do you support the Greens/Labor/Hamas-dominated Marrickville Council's call for wiping Israel off the map, yes or no?' and completing the required back-of-the-envelope math to arrive at her scientifically impeccable conclusion.

Marrickville Council was by now knee-deep in this rising tide of opposition. But worse was to come when another rising tide of opposition appeared, in the form of a photo of Anthony Albanese, federal Labor Minister for Transport and noted authority on parameters, who was quoted as saying that "Foreign policy is a fair way outside the parameters of the role of Marrickville Council..."

Poor Marrickville Council was treading water by this stage. Another rising tide of opposition and that'd be it! All over, red rover...

Alas, along came a third rising tide of opposition, with someone dubbed "a spokeswoman for the state Minister for Local Government, Barbara Perry" quoted as saying, "Marrickville Council should concentrate on rubbish collection and rates rather than trying to solve the long standing Middle East conflict."

And that was it! Marrickville Council was simply swept away, along with the credibility of the ABC, by the latter's rising tide of pro-Israel bias.

But at least we now know what constitutes a rising tide of opposition at the ABC - 3 critics, at least 2 of whose seats are under threat from The Greens.

Bonzer Bloke. Shame About His People

Senior American officials just loved President Ben Ali. He made them feel so secure, and he was good for the ladies too:

"Hello. I just finished a really very good and extensive discussion with the president. Tunisia is a good friend of the United States, and has been for decades. It is a deep relationship. We have broad cooperation across a range of issues. We have obviously discussed the circumstances here in the region, in terms of security and counter-terrorism... Tunisia has taken a lead in the Arab Maghreb Union, which we believe is a useful organization for addressing all kinds of issues... We talked about internal matters here in Tunisia, about the course of reform. And I do want to say that the extraordinary role of women in Tunisia was something that I raised, that women have made great progress here." (Condoleezza Rice, Remarks after Meeting with Tunisian President Ben Ali, Tunis, 6/9/08,

The creme de la creme of Western intellectuals were impressed too. There may have been a tad too many portraits of the president for their liking, but hell, Colonel Qaddafi he ain't. And, of course, he was good for the ladies too:

"On the face of it, the country is one of Africa's most outstanding success stories. In the 2006-7 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, it was ranked No. 1 in Africa for economic competitiveness, even, incidentally, outpacing 3 European states (Italy, Greece, and Portugal). Home ownership is 80%. Life expectancy, the highest on the continent, is 72. Less than 4% of the population is below the poverty line, and the alleviation of misery by a 'solidarity fund' has been adopted by the United Nations as a model program... [Tunisia's] Code of Personal Status was the first in the Arab world to abolish polygamy, and the veil and the burka are never seen. More than 40% of the judges and lawyers are female. The country makes delicious wine and even exports it to France... Mr Ben Ali does not make lengthy speeches on TV every night, or appear in gorgeously barbaric uniforms, or live in a different palace for every day of the week. Tunisia has no grandiose armed forces, the curse of the rest of the continent, feeding parasitically off the national income and rewarding their own restlessness with the occasional coup." (Christopher Hitchens, At the desert's edge, Vanity Fair, July 2007)

But his people? What can I say? There's no satisfying the rabble:

"My host introduced me to the gardener... He explained that he was from Jbal Dinar, a small village about 40km from Ain Drahem in NW Tunisia. He told me about an incident in his village. A few weeks ago there was a cold snap in Tunisia and it snowed heavily in some parts of the country, including the area around Ain Drahem. Being a remote area, it lacked facilities. The people there are poor due to the scarcity of resources and lack of jobs. Therefore, they could not endure the cold snap. The authorities promised to help them. The day aid arrived, a TV crew was there to record and preserve the historic moment! According to the gardener, people were handed some old wool blankets and some food. But after the cameras had left, these were taken back!... My only question is: Where is the Solidarity Fund?" (What happened is not an isolated case!,, 2/1/11)

"Zine Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's president since Bourguiba's ouster in 1987, has called the hijab 'an imported form of sectarian dress' that 'does not fit with Tunisia's cultural heritage'. At a meeting of the state-dominated National Union of Tunisian Women, officials demanded that women in the audience remove their veils [sic] and in some cases tugged on them, according to a 2006 US State Department human rights report on Tunisia. 'The authorities stepped up harassment of women wearing the hijab', Amnesty International... said in its 2007 report on Tunisia. 'Some were reportedly ordered to remove their hijabs before being allowed into schools, universities or workplaces; and others were forced to remove them in the street', the report said." (Tunisia veil case threatens 'odious rag' struggle, Daniel Williams,, 3/6/08)

"Meanwhile, the full horror of repression over four weeks of demonstrations is beginning to emerge. Human rights groups estimate at least 150-200 deaths since 17 December. In random roundups in poor, rural areas youths were shot in the head and dumped far from home so bodies could not be identified. Police also raped women in their houses in poor neighbourhoods in and around Kasserine in the rural interior. Sihem Bensedrine, head of the National Council for Civil Liberties, said: 'These were random, a sort of reprisal against the people. In poor areas, women who had nothing to do with anything, were raped in front of their families. Guns held back the men; the women were raped in front of them. A handful of cases were reported in Kasserine and Thala last Monday. Rape was often used as a torture technique under the regime; opposition women report they were raped in the basement of the interior ministry, as were men, too." (Confusion, fear & horror in Tunisia as old regime's militia carries on the fight: Tunisian capital witnesses violent clashes between armed forces and those loyal to former president Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali, Angelique Chrisafis,, 16/1/11)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Israel's Place in the US Empire

The following AFP report turned up in today's Australian:

"US and Israeli intelligence services collaborated to develop a computer worm to sabotage Iran's nuclear efforts. Western intelligence and military experts said Israel had tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, which reportedly shut down a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges in November in a bid to delay its ability to make nuclear weapons. The testing took place at Israel's heavily-guarded Dimona complex in the Negev desert, which houses the Middle East's sole - but undeclared - nuclear weapons arsenal, The New York Times reported yesterday. The push to create the Stuxnet worm was a US-Israeli project with the help, knowingly or not, of Britain and Germany." (Israel, US behind tech attack)

Another example of why, in relation to the Middle East, I often refer to USrael, Siamese twins joined at the hip. This is consistent with the imperial framework conceived by James Petras, referred to in my previous post.

In Petras' schema of the "Hierarchy of Empire" - A. Central Imperial Powers (CIP); B. Newly Emerging Imperial Powers (NEIP); C. Semi-Autonomous Client Regimes (SACR); D. Client Collaborator Regimes (CCR) - Israel is something of an "anomaly":

"Israel is clearly a colonialist power, with the fourth or fifth biggest nuclear arsenal, and the fouth biggest arms exporter in the world. Its population, territorial spread and economy, however, are puny in comparison with the imperial and newly emerging imperial powers. Despite these limitations Israel exercises supreme power in influencing the direction of US war policy in the Middle East via a powerful internal Zionist political apparatus, which permeates the state, the mass media, elite economic sectors and civil society. Through Israel's direct political influence in making US foreign policy, as well as through its overseas military collaboration with dictatorial imperial client regimes, Israel can be considered part of the imperial power configuration despite its demographic constraints, its near universal pariah diplomatic status, and its externally sustained economy." (Rulers & Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants, 2007, p 64)

Implicit in USrael's development of the anti-Iranian Stuxnet worm is the complete subordination within the imperial system of the two CIP states mentioned, Britain and Germany (as well as those not mentioned), to the US's Israeli twin, a bizarre state of affairs surely without parallel in history.

Tunisia's Place in the US Empire

The hypocrisy! Notice how, when one of the US gang gets his backside well and truly whipped by those whose faces he's been grinding in the dust, the US acts as if it had no idea what had gotten into him. If only he'd behaved himself, he wouldn't be in that Saudi guesthouse today:

"The United States has warned its Middle Eastern allies to reform or be overthrown, as youths protesting against Tunisia's 50-year dictatorship clashed with police in the country's capital. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, ended a tour of the Gulf with a warning that leaders who failed to carry out political and economic reform risked being cast aside." (Change or fall, Clinton warns Mid-East leaders, Richard Spencer, Telegraph/Sydney Morning Herald, 15/1/11)

The word ally, with its suggestion of independent, rational choice, masks a grubby reality of winks, nods, bribes, arm-twisting and other unsavoury backroom dealings. Allies, such as Ben Ali's Tunisia, are more correctly described as client states in a US imperial system, subordinate but vital cogs in the machinery of US global domination.

In his book Rulers & Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants (2007), James Petras refers to them specifically as Client Collaborator Regimes (CCR), and sums them up thus:

"At the bottom of the imperial hierarchy are the CCRs. These include Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf States, Cental American and Caribbean Island states, the Axis of Sub-Saharan States (ASSS), namely Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Ghana, Columbia, Peru, Paraguay, Mexico, Eastern European states (in and out of the EU), former states of the USSR (Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia etc), the Philippines, Indonesia, North African states and Pakistan. These countries are governed by authoritarian political elites dependent on the imperial or Newly Emerging Imperial Powers (NEIP) states for arms, financing and political support. They provide vast opportunities for exploitation and export of raw materials. Unlike the Semi Autonomous Client Regimes (SACR), exports from client regimes have little value added, as industrial processing of raw materials takes place in the imperial countries, particularly in the NEIP. Predator, rentier, comprador and kleptocratic elites, who lack any entrepreneurial vocation, rule in the CCR. They frequently provide mercenary soldiers to service imperial countries intervening, conquering, occupying and imposing client regimes in imperial-targeted countries. The client regimes are thus subordinate collaborators of the imperial powers in the plunder of wealth, the displacement of peasants, the exploitations of billions of workers and the destruction of the environment." (p 62)*


a) "The Tunisian Government is an important ally for the US in its resource-driven colonial wars with Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. A United Nations report on secret detention practices lists Tunisia as having secret detention facilities where prisoners are held without International Red Cross access. Intelligence services in Tunisia are coordinated with US efforts in the War on Terror and have participated in interrogating prisoners at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and in Tunisia. Recent WikiLeaks diplomatic cables reveal that the US not long ago was concerned about the growing anger on the streets and the corruption of Ben Ali and the Trabelsi family (his wife's family) who treat everything in the country as theirs. A list of WikiLeaks cables from the US Embassy in Tunisia posted on The Guardian newspaper website indicate that the US considers Tunisia as a police state 'with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems', and the Ben Ali family as 'quasi mafia'. Nevertheless, the State Department boasts about the active support the Tunisian security forces receive from the US in spite of Ben Ali's government record of serious human rights violations. According to the State Department website: 'The US and Tunisia have an active schedule of joint military exercises. US security assistance historically has played an important role in cementing relations. The US-Tunisian Joint Military Commission meets annually to discuss military cooperation, Tunisia's defense modernization program, and other security matters'." (Tunisia: IMF 'Economic Medicine' has resulted in mass poverty & unemployment, Basel Saleh,, 31/12/10)

b) "[T]he Obama administration tried last year to give [Ben Ali] what would amount to a parting gift: $282 million worth of upgrades to Ben Ali's helicopter fleet. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency - which handles military hardware sales to US allies - informed Congress on June 30 [last] that it wanted to send 'equipment, parts, training and logistical support' to Tunisia for 12 SH-60F Sikorsky-made multimission helicopters. It's a twin-engine 'copter used - as the name suggests - for attacking targets as well as airlift. The navy uses them as the Seahawk. Tunisia's military supposedly was to use the SH-60s for 'over-water search and rescue capabilities'. It's unclear if the deal ever went through. The DSCA didn't return a request for clarification. But our pals at War Is Business report that since Ben Ali came to power in 1987, US military assistance to him has totaled $349 million - meaning the SH-60 sale represented a massive escalation in aid." (US had helo deal with ousted Tunisian dictator, Spencer Ackerman,, 14/1/11)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Send in the Clown...

Don't bother, he's here:

Can you work this guy - Anthony Albanese, Minister for Transport - out?

Marrickville Council, part of Albo's fiefdom of Grayndler, has dared to make the BDS of Israel part of its practice. However, instead of lauding this perfectly correct, highly commendable and long overdue move, this alleged lefty MP has gone on the attack, presumably under orders from the prime minister. And in Murdoch's Australian of all places! (Local government goes beyond the pale with boycott of Israel, 14/1/11)

Among other things, Albo's accused the Marrickville councillors, both Labor and Greens, of "simplistic sloganeering." And he knows what he's talking about here, because his whining in Murdoch fishwrapper is full of it:

1) "I believe that engagement between peoples promotes understanding and tolerance..."

2) "Surely contact and engagement between Palestinians and Israelis is a precondition for a peaceful settlement."

3) "The inner west of Sydney is... a place where neighbours live in harmony regardless of religion or race."

What can such airy fairy nonsense possibly mean in a context where the vast bulk of Israelis are rusted on to the notion that Palestine is their exclusive domain, and either acquiesce in, or actively support, the colonisation of Palestinian lands (not to mention rejecting the right of Palestinians exiled in 1948 to return to their homes and lands)?

Maybe that should have been Send in the clowns... because in the same edition of Murdoch dropsheet comes this drive-by smear in a letter by Zionist academic Philip Mendes: "Any boycott of Israelis alone is discriminatory given that it is based on an ethnic stereotyping of all Israelis as evil, and is implicitly if not explicitly racist. It is only fascists and xenophobes who classify whole peoples as inherently bad or inferior."

Ever heard a peep from him about Israel's crippling blockade of Gaza*, the BDS measures once applied to apartheid South Africa (of which I assume he would have been in favour at the time), the vile, impoverishing sanctions regime applied by the US against Iraq** or those now in place against Iran?

[* "'As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (US embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without 'quite pushing it over the edge', one of the cables read." (WikiLeaks: Israel aimed to keep Gaza economy on brink of collapse, Reuters, Haaretz, 5/1/11); ** 1991-2010]