Thursday, June 30, 2011

What the Lamp Post Heard

Here's Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, setting us right on the terribly misunderstood inhabitants of the Middle East's only democracy:

"That Israel of the Western mind (and indeed of the Arab mind) is a hateful place: right-wing, militaristic, authoritarian, racist, ultra-religious, neo-colonial, narrow-minded, undemocratic, indifferent to world opinion, indifferent especially to Palestinian suffering. Yet the Israel I know is mostly secular, raucously, almost wildly democratic, has a vibrant left wing, having founded in the kibbutz movement one of the only successful experiments in socialism in human history. It is intellectually disputatious; any two Israelis will have three opinions and be happy to argue them to a lamp post. It is multi-ethnic, there is a great stress on human solidarity, there is due process. And I've never heard an Israeli speak casually about the value of Palestinian life. I've heard Israelis voice a desire to neutralise Hezbollah or remove Hamas from leadership in Gaza, but I've never in any context heard an Israeli express the view that the value of a human life is determined by race." (Israel still looks good, warts & all, The Australian, 6/5/09)

Now that lamp post he mentioned intrigues me. I got to wondering just what sort of intellectual disputations it was soaking up these days?

Could it be, perhaps, something like the following discussion, taken from the comment thread on the Netanyahu speech (quoted in my last post) over at the Israpundit website?

Two of Greg's vibrant Israeli leftists, Yamit82 and Elliot, are taking a short break from Building Socialism on Kibbutz Karl Marx, to engage in deep intellectual disputation (in the vicinity of said lamp post) on the best way to achieve peace in the area and whether their prime minister should maybe go the extra mile to get there. Their opinions, of course, are naturally extraordinarily varied, and it goes without saying that they ooze compassion with, and solidarity for, suffering humanity, particularly the Palestinians:

yamit82: I feel like vomiting over BB, the groveling ass kisser. Italy as we have learned is the largest violator of sanctions against Iran, except Germany. Not a word about the rise of antisemitism and anti-Israel boycotts in Italy. No mention of Shalit and Pollard's release as a precondition to even sit down with the maggots...

Elliot: So, Yamit, what exactly should your idea of a PM of Israel do? ... With all of the talk, Israel has been taken in by the talkers. The boundaries of discussion are only the terms of Israel's 'piecemeal surrender for false peace'. If war is the only way to reset the dialogue, then what strategy would you endorse? It's like finding oneself on a dark street with a gang of thugs coming to kill you. They taunt and threaten. Strategy A - Go for the biggest thug or the leader of the wolfpack and utterly destroy him. (Would that be Iran or Obama?) The followers will back down. Strategy B - Take out the closest perps (Hamas & Hezbollah) so that those further away will keep their distance. Strategy C - Wait long enough and let them attack one another. Strategy D - Repent and call upon the Lord of Hosts. Praying Psalm 83 for Israel. With Bibi entertaining the babblers they'll never see it coming! Like David among the Philistines Samuel 1:21. I'm not sure how and when we'll get there, but Micah 4:13 will happen in our day! 'Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the L-RD, and their substance unto the L-RD of the whole earth'. Weakness incites the sons of Amalek. Weakness is lacking the means to destroy them, OR having the means, but lacking the will! Beware that Obama has been consistently inciting Israel's neighbours to expect land and ultimately all of a united Palestine sans Israel. It is a sad day for America when it falls into the hands of a wrathful G-d.

yamit82: My idea of a PM is one who is G-d fearing. He needn't be observant, but G-d fearing. That means he should fear G-d and not man. Diplomatically, he should accept negotiations, go to where they're held, say NO!!! and then return HOME!

Come Dance With Me

"Peace will only come from negotiations. It will be a negotiated peace. It cannot be imposed from the outside - not by any power and certainly not by one-sided UN resolutions. Peace requires negotiations. It requires mutual compromise. Palestinians compromise; Israel compromises; we both compromise. We're prepared to do so, but to do that, you need a negotiation. But a UN fiat, a UN declaration that is one-sided, would do several things. First it would violate the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel, but it would also harden the Palestinian position, because if the UN General Assembly adopts the Palestinian positions in advance of negotiations, why should they negotiate? So such a resolution, if backed by an overwhelming majority including the leading countries of the world, that could actually push peace back by hardening Palestinian positions, by pushing negotiations further away. So I think anyone who is interested in advancing peace will opt for direct negotiations and will oppose the attempt to impose a peace from the outside." (Benjamin Netanyahu, Joint press conference with PM Berlusconi of Italy, 13/6/11)

"Dominant male white Zionist Entity seeks partner for one-sided conflict resolution. I am powerful and fixated, yet profoundly complex and achingly poetic. You must be servile, desperate and repugnant to everyone. I love long, romantic walks on your land, sipping water from your aquifers, winter rain on a checkpoint, all-night talks about why I won't talk, reviewing combat errors and window-shopping. You adore construction and fruit-picking. Turn-offs - non-Jewish head coverings, non-Jewish falafel and non-Jews. Come, let's make a lasting arrangement with deep tunnels and soaring walls. Explore with me the small and crowded spaces that will be your home. We'll dance madly to Hatikvah as we say farewell! (Dov Weisglass* says, 'No fatties!)" (Circus Israel personals,, 5/3/08)

[* "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger." Senior government adviser Dov Weisglass explaining Israel's stranglehold on Gaza following the election of a Hamas government there in 2006.]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Paul Sheehan: Journalist Sans Frontieres

From Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan's obituary for Sabina Van Den Linden Wolanski (1927-2011):

"After creating a successful business importing elegant homeware from Europe and Japan, and astute investments in real estate, she became a woman of means. She then proceeded to give much of her wealth away. She supported a variety of causes which all had a common theme - to seek to increase tolerance between cultures.... She also funded a program for sending journalists to Israel, with no restrictions, so they could experience first-hand the complexities at the core of tensions in the Middle East." (Survivor used her loss to help unite world, 27/6/11)

Ah yes, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission*. And don't you just love Sheehan's spin: with no restrictions. Does that mean that our fearless, crusading journalist ventured to the frontlines of the Israeli colonisation of the West Bank, dodging 'rubber' bullets and tear gas canisters with Palestinians protesting the loss of their land to the Apartheid Wall; or venturing out with Palestinian farmers who harvest their olives while under attack by armed settler gangs; or walking to class with Palestinian kids in Hebron as they're pelted with stones by the brainwashed brats of settler scum; or witnessing the latest settler burning of a Palestinian orchard; or reporting on the Israeli demolition of a yet another Palestinian home?

Of course not.

For Sheehan, it means sitting at the feet of Israeli "warrior-scholars" such as former IDF chief Moshe 'Boogie' Ya'alon, listening to House Arab and Jerusalem Post 'journalist' Khaled Abu Toameh, or getting the drum on just how anti-Semitic Arabs really are from settler Itamar Marcus, before returning to pen Israeli propaganda without disclosing who sponsored him. (See my posts His Master's Voice (27/11/08); and Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH (13/1/09 & 19/1/09)

[*On what I term rambamming, of which the NSWJBoD Journalists Mission is but one component, see my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too.]

Monday, June 27, 2011

An Israeli-Occupied Mind

Spare a thought for all those Labor flaks and minders who lost their jobs at the last NSW state election. Where did they go when the electorate massacred their masters?

Well, one of them, Walt Secord, who had worked for the likes of Bob Carr, Kevin Rudd and Kristina Keneally, has found himself on the plush, cushioned benches of the NSW Legislative Council. But this is no sinecure, no retirement home. Even here there's work to do!

You see, no sooner had Walt dusted himself off, loosened his tie and rolled up his sleeves, than he set about the vital work of attacking one of our most basic human rights and diverting our men in blue away from their routine duties to 'protect' Israel's business interests down under:

"Newly appointed Member of Legislative Council Walt Secord has wasted no time demonstrating his support for Israel. Secord has called on NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher to provide assurances for the protection of businesses with Israeli links in light of recent Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protests. Secord, a former Australian Jewish News journalist, asked a series of formal questions on Monday, including what measures the government was taking to protect businesses and patrons affected by actions, such as the demonstration outside the Max Brenner chocolate shop on June 11. He also asked about the status of 2 arrests made on that evening and if the Government had plans to respond to similar incidents. 'With the BDS gaining support, the NSW Government and the Police Minister must ensure that companies with an Israeli connection are protected and are not unfairly targeted', Secord said. 'BDS is part of a worldwide attempt to isolate Israel, to boycott Israeli products, creativity, programs and culture. It has reached Australia and that is of concern. I vehemently oppose the BDS campaign'. Secord said that the government must protect members of the community from harm during protests. 'The NSW Government has a responsibility to protect staff and people who are drinking coffee or hot chocolate on a weekend morning in a cafe from violent protesters', he said. Secord also encouraged people who support Israel to visit a Max Brenner outlet and make a purchase 'as an act of solidarity and defiance against the BDS'. While not Jewish, Secord worked at The AJN between 1988 and 1991." (Police called to action on BDS, AJN, 24/6/11)

Like many Labor politicians, Walter is a welter of contradictions and a source of much puzzlement to any thinking man or woman. For those of you with an interest in the 'clueless conduct and views that madden to crime' of our polliewaffles (to adapt one of the more memorable lines from Ambrose Bierce's wonderful definition of the word 'maiden'), some insights may be gleaned by a perusal of Walt's - ahem - maiden speech of June 1:

"Growing up on a [Canadian] Indian reserve in the 1970s politicised me and made me finely and deeply attuned to injustice. I am the product of an interracial bicultural marriage. My father... is a full-blooded Mohawk-Ojibway status treaty Indian."

You'd think Walt's upbringing would've given him some insight into the brutal dynamics of settler-colonial societies and an ability to sense the species wherever found, including Israel, but no, seems he fell in with the wrong crowd:

"After a short stint as a youth employment public servant and a reporter on the Toronto Star... I migrated to Australia in September 1988... Shortly after arriving in Sydney I got a job at The Australian Jewish News. I worked there for almost 4 years. They gave me a go as one of their first non-Jewish reporters. I am pleased to say that that fair go was rewarded when I won an Australian Human Rights Award for a series of articles I wrote for that publication. But my proudest time at the AJN was defending myself against British Revisionist David Irving, who took legal action against me for appropriately describing him in print as a Holocaust denier... My links to the Jewish community predate my coming to Sydney and stretch back to the Indian reserve in Canada. I also owe a special debt of gratitude to a wonderful Jewish man, a mentor from my childhood. He is the late Godel Silber, a Holocaust survivor who became friends with my father... Mr Silber was extremely observant and religious. He told me about... the importance of Israel, the Holocaust and the need to fight racism and intolerance... Mr Silber also sparked my interest in the prevention of genocide..."

Yes, seems like Walt had it drummed into him that being a Jew automatically meant being a Zionist, and that you needed to tackle racism, discrimination and intolerance in every corner of the world but one:

"I will never be able to fathom the desire of one group to exterminate another race or faith. I have studied the Shoah, the Armenian Genocide, Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda."

But not the Nakba. The bullshit's there, of course:

"Everything I have learned only reinforces my strong commitment to cross-cultural diversity and interfaith activities."

But the bottom line is always:

"I am also a strong and vocal supporter of Israel. I support a two-state solution. But I also believe that Israel has a right to defend herself within secure and safe borders. On that note, earlier this week I approached leader of the Opposition Robertson, and obtained his approval to assume the Labor position on a reactivated NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel."

A most peculiar blind spot, but not uncommon in the ever thinning ranks of the ALP.

If not Walt, then other native Americans know a genocidal, colonial-settler project when they see one. A representative of the American Indian Movement West (AIM-WEST), Choctaw man Jimbo Simmons, will be on the latest blockade-busting Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

And a graphic description of the occupied Palestinian territories under the gun has appeared in the Mohawk Nation News. Titled Did you visit your relatives today? Is this Palestine or soon-to-be-Ongwehonwe, here's the conclusion. Sound familiar?:

"Palestinians say this is how they are being treated by the Israelis. Canadian police and military are being sent to Israel for training on 'crowd control'. Many of these fascist tactics were used on us during the 1990 Mohawk Oka Crisis. Five thousand Canadian troops surrounded 3 of our communities behind razor wire and fully armed troops because we opposed the desecration of our burial and ceremonial sites. We were surrounded by walls of police, soldiers, arms and checkpoints for 78 days. We had to wait hours to get through them and suffer from specially designed humiliation at the hands of police and troops. Canadian soldiers went into Mohawk homes purportedly looking for weapons. They smashed everything and even s--t on the floors. Many of us were arrested for 'political activities', which is called 'administrative detention'." (25/11/08)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Everyone Loves Rowan 3

If I had to select an example of what is wrong with the opinion page of the Sydney Morning Herald, a nail in the coffin, as it were, of the paper's precipitous decline into journalistic irrelevence, it'd be Rowan Dean's mendacious and slanderous Fame, not freedom, is the goal of the latest flotilla bound for Gaza (22/6/11).

To begin with, the very reason for its appearance - as a response to a piece by former Greens' MLC Sylvia Hale on why she was joining the second Freedom Flotilla to Gaza - constitutes an enduring outrage, the Herald having long ago adopted the perfectly idiotic and utterly servile position that any opinion piece considered in any way critical of Israel (rare enough in any event) simply cannot be allowed a life of its own on the opinion page without an accompanying right of response, on the very day of its publication, or soon thereafter, by one of the usual suspects from the Israel lobby or one of its useful fools. No other issue gets this kind of treatment.

By what mysterious route, I wonder, does such a response surface in the Herald?

This is how I imagine the process: author sends piece critical of Israel to Herald for publication; alarm bells go off; opinion editor alerts higher up; Herald finally contacts lobby representative; informs him/her that it intends to publish piece in X days time, and presents them with copy; lobby whips up its own or commissions a response; which, often as not, appears on the very same day and page as offending piece.

If I've got the process more or less right, and I'm always open to correction here, I'd still like to know whether the lobby's response is ever subjected to any kind of quality control. Or is it just a matter of gritted teeth and a meek, shamefaced thankyou? Or, even, heaven forbid: Yes, a fine piece indeed! We'd love to publish it.

Actually, I seriously doubt that quality control gets a look in here. After all, why would any halfway serious broadsheet accept a response on this issue from a creature of the advertising industry? I'm talking about the kind of individual who has no problem with inflicting on us all one of the most intensely annoying features of modern life, the televisual variety of which, with its goofy imagery, dumb messages and obscene cacophony, amounting to animated graffiti right there in the privacy of our lounge rooms, drives even those of us with half a brain to lunge for the mute. The kind of individual whose idea of an honest living is to package and perfume the often toxic turds of consumer capitalism. The kind of individual whose bread and butter comes from spinning the often elaborate webs of deception necessary to ensure a purchase. And, yes, the kind of individual who has the chutzpah to accuse others of perpetrating a scam:

"If you want to win lots of international awards and make a name for yourself in the advertising world, there's nothing better than knocking out a quick 'scam ad'. Scam ads are ads designed to be highly provocative*, to whip up controversy and to make the authors famous. The problem is, they are also fakes. Trendy inner-city lefties and Greens have now cottoned on to the scam ad trick. Deprived of anything serious to protest about, three frustrated Australian 'peace' activists have come up with a brilliant scam ad of their own: joining the Freedom Flotilla 2 for Gaza."

[* This from a guy who calls his website 'Rowan Dean Provocations'.]

Yes, just the kind of individual to suggest that the problem here lies not with Israel's genocidal behaviour and apartheid policies but with any manifestation of resistance, however peaceful, to same:

"This protest is a scam because it has no logical or intellectual underpinnings. It is designed solely for the purpose of attempting to recreate the outrage that occurred when last year's flotilla was intercepted by the Israelis and, in the presence of reporters including Paul McGeough, a firefight was provoked that resulted in the tragic, awful and pointless death of 9 activists. So, hey, let's do it again and see what happens!"

The real scam, of course, is Dean's: the vile suggestion that the victims of the Mavi Marmara massacre were responsible for their own deaths because they so provoked the peaceful Israelis falling out of the sky with guns that the poor dears had no option but to shoot them, point blank.

And that supposed responsibility comes by Dean quietly slipping in the word "firefight," feeding the unsuspecting reader the lie that the Turks also had guns and were giving as good as they got. In fact, neither Israel's own sham report into the events nor the UN's report supports this fiction of a firefight.

While Israel's Turkel Committee report on the subject "found that the IHH activists employed firearms against the IDF soldiers in order to prevent the IDF's takeover of the ship," even it wasn't prepared to venture further: "It should be mentioned that the Commission was not able to reach a definitive finding regarding whether the IHH activists brought firearms with them aboard the Mavi Marmara." Presumably then, assuming they even existed, these were weapons wrested from the invading Israeli pirates.

The UN's Fact-finding Mission on the massacre "found no evidence to suggest that any of the passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken on board the ship. Despite requests, the Mission has not received any medical records or other substantiated information from the Israeli authorities regarding any firearm injuries sustained by soldiers participating in the raid. Doctors examined the three soldiers taken below decks and no firearm injuries were noted. Further, the Mission finds the Israeli accounts so inconsistent and contradictory with regard to evidence of alleged firearms injuries to Israeli soldiers that it has to reject it." (para 116)

But rewriting history is not all Dean does. He also runs a fine line in smears:

"The purpose of this venture is a dangerous attempt to drum up notoriety for the individuals involved, whip up emotions, and pursue the popular Marrickville pastime known as Jew-baiting (sorry, I mean 'protesting against Israeli aggression and Zionist expansion'."

Concludes Dean, "The awful truth about the Freedom Flotilla 2 is that it's only worthwhile if it makes international headlines, and it will only make headlines if and when people get hurt."

Alas, the really awful truth about the Sydney Morning Herald is that, in publishing Dean's latest 'provocation', it's prepared to take on board much the same toxic sludge as the Murdoch press and Quadrant.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Everyone Loves Rowan 2

Following his first appearance as an instant Middle East expert in The Australian, adman Rowan Dean, next pops up in Quadrant with RIP Hamza, a polemic which asks the burning question, In light of the brutal torture and mutilation of 13 year-old Hamza al-Khatib in Syria, is it time to admit that the Arab Spring will never lead to an Arab Summer of Love? (7/6/11).

Summer of Love?

Well, you can blame that on Obama. No sooner did he refer to the Arab Spring and Israel's 1967 borders in his latest speech on the Middle East, than Rowan's fertile imagination went into top gear: "The western world's Summer of Love began on June 1st, 1967 with the release of the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Switching on their radios from Los Angele to London, millions of excited fans were seduced by the sweet harmonies of the fab four proclaiming: 'With our love, with our love we can save the world'."

Of course, the Beatles started no such thing: "The term 'Summer of Love' originated with the formation of the Council for the Summer of love in the Spring of 1967 as a response to the convergence of young people on the Haight-Ashbury district [of San Francisco]." (Summer of Love, wikipaedia) But what really took place in the West at the time is of little interest to our adman.

No, the point here is to concoct a fictional West, blissed out on peace & love, as a foil to an equally fictional Arab East, focused solely on the destruction of Israel: "June 1st 1967 also saw millions of Arabs from Baghdad to Beirut switching on their radios to hear the mesmerizing incantations of Iraqi president Abdel Rahman Aref proclaiming: 'The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity... to wipe Israel off the map'."

Rowan appears to have cribbed this from the Zionist propaganda site CAMERA, but tweaked the date for Aref's speech, 31 May, to June 1 to coincide with the release of Sergeant Pepper's. But, hey, what's a little fiddle with the facts to one who single-handedly put several London advertising agencies on the map?

Still, you get the picture: while the West was being seduced by the "sweet harmonies" of the "fab four," the Arab East was being hypnotised by the "mesmerizing incantations" of the decidedly unfab Aref.

Having invented his own Summer of Love, Rowan then hypes it as the guiding principle of all post-1967 history, Bush and Blair's little forays into Iraq and Afghanistan notwithstanding: Obama invokes Israel's 1967 borders because he's "a child of the sixties." Vietnam was lost to the commies because "the philosophy of All You Need Is Love spread its tentacles throughout the university campuses of Europe, America and Australia..." And, "[l]ying in a bed with his Japanese girlfriend by his side, a guitar and a bag of acorns, John Lennon redefined a new political strategy. Give Peace A Chance."

But, says Rowan, and here's the rub, Obama's 2011 hit, Give 1967 Borders A Chance, simply doesn't cut the mustard in Israel. Bibi just doesn't dig those "borders of the Summer of Love." In the words of the late Abba Eban, these are 'Auschwitz borders'. But wasn't he the guy who also said: "Propaganda is the art of persuading others of what one does not believe oneself" - which is one hell of a great contextualiser whenever an Israeli politician opens his mouth, no? Anyway, back to Bibi. He's a "pragmatist and soldier who saw his own brother killed in a hostage rescue... He, more than any Israeli Prime Minister since Menachem Begin, does not trust words, only actions."

So here's where Bibi's coming from: "During the lead up to the Six Day War in June '67, the stated goal of numerous Arab nations was the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish race. To this day, echoes of that intent remain, lurking in Hamas's charter and much of the poisonous schoolyard propaganda foisted by their rulers onto impressionable young Arab minds. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, putting the finishing touches to his nuclear arsenal, often repeats his desire for Israel to be engulfed in a sea of flames."

I'm sorry, but there's far too much folderol* here to overburden this post with rebuttals, so I'll restrict my commentary to Ahmadinejad's supposed oft-repeated "desire for Israel to be engulfed in a sea of flames." Of consuming interest, of course, but, like the Yeti, I've been able to find neither hide nor hair of the creature.

[*On the hollowness of Arab threats in '67 see my 14/6/11 post Straight for the Jugular. On Israel's supposed vulnerability, propaganda line, and eagerness for a stoush with Nasser, see my 24/9/09 post Koutsoukis Gets Real. Just click on the 1967 tag below. On the Hamas charter see my 30/3/08 post Jerusalem Prize Syndrome.]

What with Syria in murderous convulsions, the Egyptian army throwing its weight around, mayhem in Libya, and the Saudi crackdown at home and in Bahrain, reckons Rowan, "[t]his is hardly the dawning of a Middle Eastern Age of Aquarius."

Maybe, maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?

But it's obvious Rowan doesn't really give a rats for the Hamza al-Khatibs of the Arab intifadas. Their heroic struggle to break the shackles imposed on them for decades by authoritarian regimes, many of them US clients, pales into insignificance beside the only issue of consequence in the Middle East today - ensuring Israel's peace of mind: "Only when Israel can escape the ever-present fear and threat of imminent annihilation, with the mental security that gives her the confidence to cede the appropriate territory, will the option of two peaceful states co-existing side by side be feasible."

The confidence to cede the appropriate territory?! Takes your breath away, doesn't it?

Actually, Rowan (or is it now Dr Dean?), has hit on something here. He's spot on in acknowledging that his patient has a serious mental condition, but as usual, his diagnosis is off with the pixies. Israel is no naked, trembling virgin transfixed with fear as the swarthy, hairy, moustache-twirling members of the Arab chapter of the Hell's Angels circle her in drooling anticipation of an imminent collective deflowering. For starters, she's a he. (Trust Rowan to stuff that one up.) And a right piece of work he is too, judging by his case summary, which I just happen to have before me.

The following two extracts from the case summary of Dr Dorit Oz, his treating psychiatist at the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center in Jerusalem, should set the picture straight.

First his attitude towards the Arab world:

1) "Fear of loss of control torments Israel, and his aggressive behavior provides catharsis. When his feelings of vulnerability become unbearable, he imposes the destruction he fears others would impose on him. Although he characterizes his perceived foes as foolish and weak, he behaves as if they were implacable and more robust than he, lashing out in a manner others call disproportionate. This dynamic only reinforces his construct of a hostile universe in which his aggression is necessary and justified (and, paradoxically, nuanced)." (Israel in nut house, documents reveal,, 8/7/09)

Second (and here it gets kinky) his attitude towards the Palestinians:

2) "Israel's sexuality is ambiguous. Compulsive and earthy virility vies with a stifling, shame-based revulsion towards eroticism. Functionally, he cohabits with the Palestinians, whom he alternately regards as a treacherous but exotic concubine and a sullen, ungrateful wife. He rages that they 'take up all my time' and that his life would be a virtual paradise if they would 'just leave'. Yet his life is organized around controlling and disciplining them, and they provide a ready outlet for his aggression. Quiet interludes make him especially anxious, and he inevitably resumes intimacy through belligerent overtures." (ibid)

Stay tuned for the third fun-filled episode of Everyone Loves Rowan.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Everyone Loves Rowan 1

Ever noticed how the Australian ms media never seem to run out of instant Middle East experts to grace their opinion pages? And how sold on Israel they all are?

Now in case you hadn't noticed, no sooner had instant Middle East expert David Burchell mysteriously departed from the pages of The Australian (or, to recall his signature simile, "vanished like a wraith" - see my 25/4/11 post Spooky!) than up popped another, name of Rowan Dean, to take his place.

Rowan who?

Billing Rowan merely as "a regular panellist on ABC1's The Gruen Transfer and a social media commentator," as The Australian did, really doesn't tell us much about the man. A quick scan of his ABC bio reveals so much more:

"Rowan dropped out of the Australian National University in 1978 and headed to England. As a junior copywriter, he launched Fosters lager (and Paul Hogan) onto an unsuspecting British public. He worked for London agencies Ogilvy and Mather and Collett Dickenson Pearce, winning many awards. In the industry, he is best known for co-writing 'Photobooth' for Hamlet Cigars, an ad regularly voted among the best of all time. He has also run his own production company and been Chair of AWARD (the Australasian Writers & Art Directors Association). In 2006 he joined Euro RSCG as Executive Creative Director." (

Pretty impressive, eh?

So impressive that our opinion editors have been fairly beating a path to Rowan's door - resulting thus far in three bold-as-brass polemics on the Middle East in The Australian (30/4), Quadrant (7/6), and the Sydney Morning Herald (22/6). Seems everyone loves Rowan.

Now in case you were off exploring the craters of the moon and missed these priceless contributions to the sum total of our knowledge on today's Middle East, I've decided to devote this and two coming posts to each of the adman's gems, beginning with the first:

Rowan's opening number is suitably big picture, in inverse proportion to his knowledge maybe, but befitting the length, breadth and depth of his chutzpah.

In How an ad campaign can solve the crisis, the genius behind the Hamlet Cigars ad (Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet) boldy informs us how he's finally "worked out how to solve the Middle East conflict..."

And yes, it's "... with advertising."

But of course, why didn't we think of that?

In Rowan's ingenious prescription, the Arab states and Israel would each mount an advertising campaign, "selling the benefits of living in their countries to each other." And then, "based solely on the ads," the oppressed masses of the area could apply "to come and live" in the country of their choice. To give but one example: "If you're at your wit's end with life on the West Bank, apply to and you're off to a life of luxury in a high-rise in Riyadh."

Of course, you're not supposed to ask why said West Bankers might be at their wit's end - that'd impede the adman's narrative flow somewhat, know what I mean? - but you get the idea, no?

"There's only one catch," however, cautions the man who "launched Fosters Lager (and Paul Hogan) onto an unsuspecting British public." It's got to be an ethical campaign: "No propaganda. No spin. Just the truth." Oh, and "you're not allowed to demonise the competition."

Rowan himself, however, is bound by no such injunction, and demonises to his heart's content. "Numerous Arab states," he asserts, have spent "squillions" on "literature and news programs claiming Jews are all pigs who will drink the blood of your babies." He also advises the Arabs to "go easy on the blood and gore when advertising the benefits to the community of limb amputation for thieving, gang rape for apostasy or death by stoning for adultery." And, after ruling out any references to religion, he simply can't resist this little jab: "If your product's any good it will sell itself without relying on threats of eternal damnation or unsubstantiated claims of frolicking with virgins in the afterlife."

No surprises then to find that Rowan "bags working on the Israel account."

Or that this is how he sees the outcome of the campaign:

"[B]ased on humanity's universal and insatiable desire for personal freedom, opportunity for your offspring, liberty and equality, virtually every man, woman and child in the Middle East will want to move to Israel. Impractical, I know. But it might make them a little less keen to blow up the place."

Pretty neat, eh?

But flawed, fatally flawed.

Sure there's the hint in his sentence "Impractical, I know," but no explanation of why it's impractical.

Not that Rowan has any idea, mind you.

You see his painstakingly constructed house of cards collapses in a heap when you learn that all of those freedom-seeking Arabs, particularly those in refugee camps dotted around the Middle East who still call Palestine home after 63 years, haven't a snowflake's chance in hell of ever living in Israel as presently constituted, regardless of their wishes.

And why not?

Simple: they don't have Jewish mothers.

'Israel: For Jews only!' Now how are you going to sell that to the Arab world?

Back to the drawing board, Rowan.

Stay tuned for the next fun-filled episode of Everyone Loves Rowan.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


"The dark soul of the Bible has come alive among the sons of Nahalal and 'Ein Harod." Moshe Sharett

"Meanwhile, in the country as a whole, there developed around Unit 101 [1953-54] the aura of heroic legend. Its centrepiece was the Arab-fighter extraordinary, Meir Har-Zion. Two or three nights a week, for months on end, this young commando took part in reprisal raids, 'laconically killing Arab soldiers, peasants, and townspeople in a kind of fury without hatred'. He would introduce variations into a monotonous routine. Once, he and his comrades crossed the frontier, seized 6 Arabs, killed 5 of them with a knife as the others watched, and left the sixth alive so that he could tell. His private exploits revealed the same natural bent. On leave, and bored, he once made a daredevil foray deep into enemy territory; on his way back to Jerusalem he shot an Arab soldier on the main highway. Later his sister was killed by a bedouin on one of her own sorties into enemy territory. Har-Zion revenged her by killing two bedouins whom he deemed to be connected to her death. Eventually he was critically wounded in action; his life was saved by a battlefield tracheotomy performed with a penknife. His memoirs and numerous press interviews are the story of a man who can describe, with dry relish, what it is like to stab an Arab shepherd in the back - and who recommends that anyone who wishes for the 'marvellous, sublime feeling' of 'knowing that you are a male' should kill with a knife rather than a gun." (The Gun & the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, David Hirst, 1977, p 183)

"Undercover Israeli intelligence officers appeared on national television Saturday to talk about assassinating Palestinians in a program broadcast on Israel's Channel 10. Oren Beaton presented a photo album of Palestinians he killed during his time as a commander of an undercover Israeli unit operating in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Beaton explained that he kept photos of his victims. 'This is a photo of a young Palestinian man called Basim Subeih who I killed. This is another young man. I shredded his body, and the photo shows the remnants of his body', he said. The TV program also featured an undercover agent referred to as 'D', who openly admitted killing 'wanted Palestinians'. He complained of suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and said that the state had rejected his demands for compensation. The Channel 10 presenter appealed to the Israeli government to meet the agent's demands. 'Those are the Shin Bet agents we only hear about and never see, and thanks to them we live safely', she said... Agent 'D' said officers would... 'seize the target and wait until the commander arrives to confirm his identity. Then we shoot him'." (Israeli undercover agents boast of killing Palestinians on TV,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hartcher Brings the House Down

Here's the Sydney Morning Herald's political editor Peter Hartcher, writing in Saturday's SMH on former prime minister Kevin Rudd's alleged appearance on what Hartcher calls "the leadership catwalk":

"But Rudd's reach for moral leadership went beyond associating himself with organised religion. Consider two of his first acts as Prime Minister. The first was to sign the Kyoto Protocol, promising to address the 'great economic and moral challenge of our time'. The second was to apologise to Aborigines. Both were things that John Howard had extravagantly refused to do. Howard had given Rudd a precious gift. Both acts by Rudd were popular, as testified by the polls, and both bestowed a kind of moral benediction on a country that had been troubled by the government's failure to act on either... Rudd's critics were scornful of his symbolism. They completely missed an important dimension of Rudd as leader. Symbols are powerful because they are the visible signs of invisible realities. And while each symbolic act touched different invisible realities, the uber-appeal was moral. Religious voters and atheists alike found in Rudd a moral leader." (A transformer's sequel: Kevin Rudd understands why the people turned against him as PM - and what he could do to regain their trust, 18/6/11)

I think we can safely assume from the above that Hartcher approves of Rudd's February 2008 apology to Australia's indigenous people, an apolgy, you'll note, containing many references to past mistreatment:

"Today we honour the indigenous peoples of this land... We reflect on their past mistreatment... The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past... We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians... We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians... A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed... A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."

I think we can also assume from what he's written that Hartcher is prepared to give due recognition to the importance of symbols and "invisible realities" in politics.

Imagine my surprise then when the very same Peter Hartcher, on the very next day, speaking as a panelist on Israel & Palestine in the New Middle East at the Sydney Opera House's Ideas at the House, contemptuously dismissed fellow panellist Saree Makdisi's references to the Palestinian refugees of 1948, their inalienable right of return, and the need for an inclusive one-state solution, taking in the present Jewish population of Israel, Israel's Palestinian citizens, returned Palestinian refugees and those Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, as "a reversion to old narratives," completely "unrealistic," and an example of "Marrickville Council syndrome."

What possessed him, I wondered, to ramble on, quite irrelevantly, about Koreans, Tibetans and Maoris, and to arrogantly dismiss any discussion of the historical roots of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as little more than the airing of "old grudges" or "old illusions on a Marrickville Council scale"?

Damn silly questions, of course. The only question really worth asking in this context is surely: Who sponsored Hartcher's trip to Israel in 2009? (See my 15/3/10 post Pawns in a Propaganda Game)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Foul Play

'Friends of Palestine' like Victorian Greens MLC Colleen Hartland bring to mind the lines of William Blake: Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache; do be my enemy - for friendship's sake.

"The Parliamentary Friends of Israel and the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine made history, hosting their first joint event on Tuesday at Parliament House in Melbourne. The function farewelled football and community leaders bound for Israel to work with the Peace Team, an Australian Rules football team of Israelis and Palestinians... Caulfield MP [Liberal] and co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel David Southwick said the event was unprecedented and hoped it would usher in a new era of cooperation... 'If kids can play together, who are from different beliefs and different extremes, then we should be able to do the same sort of thing in the Victorian parliament'... Greens Colleen Hartland, the Greater Western Metropolitan MP and co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine said the coming together was natural. 'It took very little effort, just an email from the Friends of Israel and one back', Hartland said. 'We all thought, 'this sounds great'. It was just so obvious for the 2 groups to be involved'. The Greens MP said sport was a great equaliser. 'It is so imortant for young people to meet each other and see each other for what they are. Sport is one of those connectors'... The Peace team is the brainchild of Peres Centre for Peace Australian Chapter's Tanya Oziel and is being supported by The Peres Centre for Peace in Israel and Palestinian partner Al-Quds Association for Democracy & Dialogue." (History in the making, The Australian Jewish News, 17/6/11)

So all it took was a little email from a Zionist, and the Victorian Greens ('we'), without any discernible thought or research, threw caution to the winds and embraced a cheap little Zionist BDS-busting PR stunt, the sports equivalent of Paul Howes' TULIP.

Anyone with any nous could see this one coming a mile off: "Asked to comment on the stark contrast between the Victorian Greens working towards peace through dialogue, and the NSW Greens promoting boycotts against Israel, Hartland was tight-lipped. 'Peace is the most important thing that could ever occur', she said." (ibid)


For want of a little research this embarrassing collaboration could have been avoided. The following googled items say it all:

1. The Peres Centre for Peace in Israel

"The Peres Center was set up by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. It states as its mission 'to build an infrastructure of peace and reconciliation' in the Middle East. In practice, however, that translates as normalising the occupier/occupied relations of the Palestinians and Israelis. One of the Center's tools to 'promote peace and reconciliation' in the Middle East is through sports. In 2005 the Center organised a mixed Israeli/Palestinian football team to play Barcelona FC in Spain. Mr Dawood Hammoudeh, a researcher at 'Stop the Wall' NGO thinks the initiative was a cross between a publicity stunt and pro-Israel propaganda. 'It was a response to the Spanish boycott movement of Israeli football, an attempt to improve Israel's 'image', he told us. The [Center] also runs a program called the 'Twinned Peace Sports Schools' program. Each year the program brings around 2,000 children from the West Bank and Israel to play football or basketball together. The Peres Center claims the program is designed to 'instil values of peaceful coexistence' and allow participants to 'foster a profound appreciation of peace'. 'No such program should exist while the occupation continues', says Mr Hammadeh. Most Palestinians claim that the program portrays a false image of Palestinian/Israeli relations, one of normality, when in fact things are anything but. The Wall, the occupation, the daily military raids are glossed over to create a rosy picture of coexistence. 'They don't try to tackle the real issues', continued Mr Hammoudeh. The website talks of 'unexpected relationships and bonding between Palestinian and Israeli children'. Yet how can these relationships ever move beyond the superficial when the Palestinians live under military occupation and under normal circumstances are refused entry to Israel?" (What is the Peres Center up to? Clive Granger, Palestine Monitor, 9/12/10)

2. Palestinian Football

a) ".[I]n November 2006, the Palestinians failed to play against Singapore in the Asian Cup qualifier due to the singular reason that Israel barred team players from travelling out of Gaza. Earlier in 2006, Israel fired a missile into the densely populated Gaza Strip which destroyed its only football stadium. Such acts of sabotage thwart all efforts made by Palestinians to progress in this sport in their home territories. The world football organization FIFA granted Palestinians a nation status for the purposes of entering the world cup tournament in 1996. Since then, Israel has at every opportunity attempted to prevent the Palestinian football team from fielding its first choice players at the World Cup qualifiers. Israel's targeting of the Palestinian stadium and the restriction of movement has meant the Palestinian team is forced to have its practise sessions in Egypt. The team manager is faced with the challenge of training the players on an ad hoc basis, depending on who can manage to circumnavigate the Israeli checkpoints and travel to Egypt, and is also forced to wait until just before the starting whistle to name his squad based on the players present. Of course it naturally follows that the Palestinian side can therefore never experience the luxury of a home game - or an away game - in the presence of cheering Palestinian crowds. Israel's deliberate targeting of sports facilities, punitive travel restrictions on Palestinians, general undermining of Palestinian football, and in particular obstructing Palestinians from participating in international tournaments, has to be categorised as racial discrimination." (Blow the whistle on Israel: England's forthcoming soccer match with Israel conflicts with the campaign to keep racism out of sport, Ismael Patel,, 18/3/07)

b) "A friendly game between an Arab soccer team and a Palestinian team was supposed to inaugurate the new stadium being built in the eastern part of Al-Bireh, near Ramallah, at the end of the year. 'Supposed to' because the Civil Administration, an arm of the Defense Ministry, has ordered that the work be halted and is threatening demolition. FIFA, the international soccer federation, financed the stadium as part of a larger program to promote Palestinian soccer. The stadium covers 11 dunums (2.75 acres) and will hold 8,000 seats. An Israeli contractor, in partnership with a Dutch company and a Palestinian subcontractor, constructed the field. In October 2008, when the field was ready, FIFA president Joseph Blatter and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad laid the cornerstone for the stadium. The governments of France and Germany are paying for the construction of stands. The outer wall, the lighting and the scoreboard are being financed by the Al-Bireh municipality, which owns the land and within whose jurisdiction the stadium is located. In 1973, the municipality submitted for the approval of the IDF a detailed plan for the area where the stadium is now located. It received final approval from Israel's national Planning and Building Council and Supreme Planning Council in 1981. Nevertheless, on October 11 of this year, Israeli soldiers and representatives of the Civil Administration showed up at the site. They arrived via the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Psagot, which overlooks Palestinian neighbourhoods and was built on Al-Bireh land. They delivered a stop-work order from the administration to one of the workers (whose name was handwritten, in Hebrew, on it). On November 1, the municipality received a 'final' stop-work order - addressed anonymously to 'the holder', from 'the Supreme Planning Council's building inspection subcommittee', and issued by 'Assaf'. The document claims that work on the stadium's stands is being carried out 'without a license', and contains other standard admonitions: 'You were given an opportunity to appear before the inspection subcommittee to state your case. The subcommittee has concluded that the aforementioned work was carried out without proper permission... You are hereby obligated, in accordance with section... of the 1966 City, Village and Buildings Planning law, to cease activity upon and use of said land, and to raze the building... and to restore the location to its previous state within 7 days... If you do not act as required, all legal means will be taken against you, including demolition of the structure and any means required to restore the situation to its prior state, at your expense'. A German source has told Haaretz: 'This could become a major diplomatic issue between Germany and Israel. Just imagine: a German-financed project being torn down. It would definitely be a political scandal'." (What does Israel have against a Palestinian stadium? Amira Hass, Haaretz, 26/11/09)

3. Israeli Football

"A few months before seeing Beitar [Jerusalem]'s game against Hapoel Tel Aviv, I had visited Teddy Stadium for a match that epitomised another, uglier divide in Israeli society. The visiting team was Bnei Sakhnin, at the time the only club in the top division from an Israeli-Palestinian town, and one that is seen as the sporting standard-bearer of the country's Arab minority. Even more than on normal nights, the chants and songs from Beitar's terraces were full of anti-Arab sentiment. The away fans were screamed down as 'terrorists' and taunted with chants of 'The Temple Mount is ours' - a reference to the site in Jerusalem's Old City which is venerated by both Muslims and Jews. Easily the most popular chant, sung to a strikingly melodious tune, went like this: 'This is the Land of Israel/ This is the Land of the Jews/ We hate you Salim Touama [an Arab-Israeli football player]/ We hate all the Arabs'. Aaron Mordechai, a Beitar fan, is frustrated with the goalless draw, and angry with the referee and the opposing team. 'This is the problem with the Arabs', he says. 'Wherever they are, they make trouble'." (The not-so-beautiful game of football in Israel, Tobias Buck,, 2/1/10)

What ever happened to homework?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cheap Zionist Thrills

"The Marrickville mayor, Fiona Byrne, has a prior engagement and will not be attending tonight's concert by the award-winning Israeli singer Efrat Gosh... at the Camelot Lounge in Marrickville Road. Gosh, named Israeli female artist of the year last year, was originally going to perform just a single gig in Sydney last weekend." (Israeli culture in Marrickville, Sydney Morning Herald, 15/6/11)

Marrickville? Surely not!

- Afraid so. The buggers just couldn't resist now, could they?

So what happened?

"... the Israeli embassy in Canberra and the Zionist Federation in Australia decided to promote a second show as a direct consequence of the council's controversial 'boycott Israel' proposal earlier this year." (ibid)

Ah, the usual suspects! They must've put the hard word on young Efrat. I mean, she probably hadn't even heard of BDS, let alone Marrickville.

- Did they what!

"While Gosh lamented the politicising of her music, she said she thought Marrickville Council was short-sighted in its condemnation of Israel and she felt 'sorry' for those who had not experienced Israeli culture. 'Of course, it is a complicated situation, but unless you've actually lived there, through it, you don't really have an understanding of the people and the place', she said yesterday. 'There are so many religions, different types of people, and a great music scene in Israel. It is really them that are missing out... My brothers had to serve in the army and, like most Israelis, it was hard for them to see what goes on between the two sides', she said." (Israel strikes a note of defiance, Sallie Don, The Australian, 15/6/11)

Ah yes, the fabulous Israeli army - which has to be dragged kicking and screaming (But what about our souls?) to the wild West Bank to keep order among the thoroughly ungrateful Arabs who infest the place. But what a little trooper Efrat's turned out to be! Despite being consumed with anguish at the politicisation of her music, on learning of the existential threat posed to her homeland by Marrickville Council, she's agreed to stage a daring raid into enemy territory, at no small risk to her reputation as an artiste. And notice how diplomatically she puts it, as befits her obviously sensitive, artistic nature.

- Her handler, however, had no hesitation whatever in sticking it directly to Fraulein Byrne:

"Embassy spokeswoman Einat Weiss, who has helped to promote the singer's tour in Australia, was not so diplomatic and criticised Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne... 'I would say to Fiona Byrne you have misrepresented and misjudged the people of Israel', Ms Weiss said." (ibid)

Talk about cheap Zionist thrills.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Straight for the Jugular

They may come from different stages in the history of Zionist genocide and theft in Palestine, but the following vignettes serve as an eternal warning that while the lips may be whispering sweet nothings, the hand is invariably reaching for the knife:


"His Excellency opens the Egyptian Medical congress and we give a tea party for them in afternoon. Hardly any of the Palestinian Arabs invited turn up. Weizmann and Arlosoroff to dinner in the evening. I sit next to Mrs Weizmann and have a long talk to Weizmann himself. Most interesting. He is very charming, a magnetic personality, tho' I don't feel it as much as some: intensely clever, seemingly very reasonable. But it is his charm, and his reasonableness that make him so dangerous, for at heart he is as uncompromising as any of them. He says that as Arabs must realize that they can't drive the Jews into the sea, so the Jews must realize they can't drive the Arabs into the desert. The onus is on the Jews to prove that they do not want to do this. That is what he says and it sounds very well. But does he mean it? I am sure not." (CG Eastwood, Private Secretary to General Sir Arthur Wauchope, Diary entry, 4/4/33, quoted in Mandate Days: British Lives in Palestine 1918-1948, AJ Sherman, 1997, p 88)


"That same evening (June 3) [1967] Moshe Dayan's first press conference statement as newly appointed Israeli Minister of Defense came over the ticker at the newspaper office. When the night editor had read and subheaded the copy, he turned it over to me for reading. Dayan's words were remarkably mild; he talked about waiting for international diplomatic efforts and admitted to an Israeli loss of military initiative. 'The government - before I became a member of it - embarked on diplomacy; we must give it a chance', Dayan said.

"The Israeli Defense Minister had also sent several thousand Israeli soldiers on 'leave'; they were photographed for the press as they relaxed on the beaches of Tel Aviv during the weekend. These final touches by Dayan reinforced the overall feeling among foreign correspondents (already aware of throbbing diplomatic lines of contact between Cairo and Washington and the paper 'blockade' at Tiran) that the crisis was about to ebb.

"But in Arab Jerusalem that Saturday evening Dayan sounded too much like Ben-Gurion offering to go to Cairo for direct peace talks with Abdul Nasser at the very moment that Israeli troops were moving out to begin the 1956 Suez War.

"We laughed at the idea of running the Dayan story under the headline: 'Israelis About to Attack'. It was part of a running, bitter private joke of ours: how the Arab nationalist always threatened blood, thunder, and ruin and then did nothing while the Israelis talked softly, spoke of peace and reconciliation, and struck straight for the jugular. That evening the night editor put to bed the last issue of The Palestine News." (The Fall of Jerusalem, Abdullah Schleifer, 1972, pp 154-155)


"'We shouldn't believe anything that is said. We should just monitor what happens on the ground', said Dror Etkes, an expert on settlement construction who works for the Israeli pressure group Peace Now. 'There is no connection between what is said by the Government and what happens on the ground'." (Israel ploughs on with huge settlement, Ed O'Loughlin, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/8/04)

Deja Vu All Over Again

You would think, would you not, that the Syrian army, infamous for its large-scale 'renovation' of the rebellious city of Hama in 1982, would have little need of assistance from Iranian or Hezbollah forces to put down a mass protest? But no, such nefarious elements have indeed been spotted - or so it is claimed:

SBS's World News last night had Al-Jazeera's Anita McNaught reporting that "[Syrian refugee] accounts [of Syrian army massacres in Jisr ash-Shugour] bolster numerous reports of both army mutinies and Iranian involvement in the Syrian crackdown." (Witnesses recount destruction in Syria hotbed)

This was followed by footage of a young man, described as a "former Syrian soldier," saying, "I saw Iranians and Hezbollah members giving us orders to shoot. Those who did not obey were shot immediately in the back. All the soldiers who were killed were hit in the back of the neck. We used to try to fire in the air so as not to kill protesters. Five of my colleagues refused to shoot. They were shot in the back and killed."

It would seem here that, in the words of Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again, because weren't Hezbollah and Hamas alleged to have been helping Iran's Revolutionary Guards put down street protests in Tehran in 2009? (See my 23/6/09 post Hezbikies Ho!)

How could it be that the Iranians, now allegedly helping the Syrian army do its dirty work, were back then in need of outside help themselves?

The latest such claim has correctly elicited the following response from the Angry Arab:

"Clearly, Saudi media are following an Israeli propaganda script. Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi state media are now repeating a story that members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Hizbullah are involved in shooting at protesters in Syria. Why? Why would the Syrian army need help from Iran? I mean, is there a shortage of people in the Syrian security services willing to shoot people? What would a handful of Iranians or Hizbullah fighters, trained to fight Israel, bring to the festival of repression in Syria? This is very much a typical Mossad lie. Have you forgotten that Mossad liars claimed in 2006 that they found the bodies of 3 Iranian revolutionary guards but then failed to produce them? We are used to Israeli lies. The Syrian Muslim Brothers are a tool not just of Saudi Arabia, but of Israel too. Make no mistake about it." (13/6/11)

But this kind of propaganda trope - where national resistance forces allegedly pop up with guns blazing, or worse, far from their home turf, and, ever so conveniently, blacken their own names in the process - was doing the rounds long before 2006, as this extract from a 1980 essay, Iran & the US Press, by Edward Said in Columbia Journalism Review makes clear:

"Another method [to incriminate 'Islam'] was to suggest invisible lines connecting various other Middle Eastern things to Iranian Islam, then to damn them together, implicitly or explicitly, depending on the case... Much of the flamboyant use of suggestion originated in a small front-page item by Daniel B Drooz in The Atlantic Constitution on November 8 [1979], in which it was alleged that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was behind the [US] embassy takeover. His sources were authorities in 'diplomatic and European intelligence'. (Coming in a close second was his November 22 discovery that 'Where there are Shi'ites, there is trouble'.) A month later Goerge Ball stated gnomically in The Washington Post that 'there is some basis to believe that the whole operation is being orchestrated by well-trained Marxists'. Not to be outdone, CBS introduced its Evening News on December 12 with Martin Kalb from the State Department quoting (equally unnamed) 'diplomatic and intelligence experts' as affirming that Palestinian guerillas, Iranian extremists, and Islamic fundamentalists had cooperated at the embassy. The PLO men were the ones who had mined the compound, Kalb said; they were known to be inside, he went on sagely, by virtue of 'the sounds of Arabic' being heard from the embassy. (A brief report of Kalb's 'story' was carried the next day in the Los Angeles Times.) It remained for no less a personage than Hudson Institute expert Constantine Menges to argue exactly the same thesis first in The New Republic of December 15, then twice more on The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. No more evidence was given; it sufficed to conjure up the diabolism of communism in natural alliance with the devilish PLO and satanic Moslems."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Standup Congressman

"A US congressman visiting Baghdad Friday suggested that Iraq pay back the United States for the money it has spent in the 8 years since the US-led invasion in 2003. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher spoke during a one-day visit by a group of 6 US congressmen. The California Republican said he raised the suggestion during a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that some day when Iraq is a 'prosperous' nation it pay back the US for everything it has done here." (US congressman wants Iraq to repay US for war cost, AP, 10/6/11)

"Looking for a solution to global warming? Maybe start clear-cutting many of the world's forests, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs oversight subcommittee made it clear during a Wednesday hearing that he doesn't believe in man-made global warming. But if it were true... Rohrabacher said he's hit on an answer by tackling the 80-90% of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions 'generated by nature herself'. Namely, yank down old trees and get rid of the rotting wood in rainforests. 'Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rainforests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?' the California Republican asked Todd Stern, the top US climate diplomat and lead witness at the hearing. 'Or would people be supportive of cutting down older trees in order to plant younger trees as a means to prevent this disaster from happening?'" (Do trees cause global warming? Darren Samuelsohn,, 25/5/11)

"The hate-filled radicals that launched missiles into Israel - Hamas triggermen, not Israeli pilots - are the ones who are really responsible for the horrible mayhem we are witnessing in Gaza. The radical Islamists ruthlessly and without any remorse did what they knew would bring retaliation and result in the slaughter of their own people. The hatred of Israel in the hearts of these Hamas radicals clearly outweighs their commitment to the safety and wellbeing of their own people. That's a hard fact. And that after shooting rockets into Israel, they hide among and behind non-combatants - women, and children - makes their actions even more despicable." (Hamas is to blame for most recent conflict in Gaza, The Honorable Dana Rohrabacher of California in the US House of Representatives,, 8/1/09)

Friday, June 10, 2011

What Christopher Pyne Heard

Just to soften you up:

"We were getting to the root of BW's problem. He was under the impression that the PM ought to know what is happening. The basic rule for the safe handling of Foreign Affairs is that it is simply too dangerous to let politicians get involved with diplomacy. Diplomacy is about surviving till the next century - politics is about surviving till Friday afternoon. There are 157 independent countries in the world. The Foreign Office has dealt with them for years. There's hardly an MP who knows anything about any of them. Show MPs a map of the world, and many of them would have difficulty finding the Isle of Wight. Bernard was prepared to argue that MPs cannot be so ignorant. So Dick gave him a short quiz:

1. Where is Upper Volta?
2. What is the capital of Chad?
3. What language do they speak in Mali?
4. Who is the President of Peru?
5. What is the national religion of Cameroun?

Bernard scored 0%. Dick suggested that he stand for parliament." (Yes Prime Minister: The Diaries of the Hon. James Hacker, Volume 1, Edited by Jonathan Lynn & Antony Jay, 1986, pp 175-176)

Now to business. We all know that politicians, like kids, say the darndest things, but where do they get them from? What is the genesis of the tomfoolery that emerges whenever they open their mouths, which, in the case of Shadow Minister for Education Christopher Pyne, is all too often. Did I/we really hear this wannabe education minister on Q&A last Monday express the concern that BDS might "break down the harmony between Israeli and Palestinian citizens."

We sure did. And here's the sound-byte to prove it:

"The second thing I'd like to comment on with the BDS campaign... is that one of its key elements is to break down the harmony between Israeli and Palestinian citizens. So where Israelis and Palestinians are doing business together, involved in academic activities together at Al Quds University and other places, the AFL Palestinian-Jewish team that comes to Australia, came two years ago and is coming again this year, they're the kind of things that build relationships between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis to try and bring peace to the region, and yet the BDS campaign says those things must stop. So rather than adding to the peacefulness of the situation they are actually trying to make it worse. I assume to get some kind of blow up or some kind of revolution."

Now how this imaginary "harmony" gets elevated above the 63-year-old Middle East conflict, Palestinian refugees, Israeli occupation and all too frequent Israeli wildings is best known to Mr Pyne and his shrink. But where, if I may select just one strand of the above, did Pyne get his talking point about Al-Quds University? I mean, the jury's out on whether he even reads books, let alone books on the Palestine/Israel conflict.

Well, in this precise instance, I'm pretty sure I know just where Pyne has picked up his patter, directly or indirectly: ABC Radio National's The Science Show, much given these days to spruiking for Israel (See my 12/12/10 post The ABC of Zionist Propaganda. And here's the offending item, Students excel at Al-Quds (16/4/11):

Robyn Williams: Scientific research could also be a force for peace, even in the Middle East. This is Palestinian Professor Ziad Abdeen at the Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

Ziad Abdeen: I'm amazed by the number of students I come across who are eager to go for higher degrees and who are eager to excel in the field of research... I think it's gratifying to be contributing to knowledge rather than becoming a teacher where you churn the knowledge. There is a difference there. And I truly believe our university is giving high priority to research this has given the motive and the drive for the youngsters to go forward in that area...

Robyn Williams: That will come as a surprise to many people from, say, Australia who would regard this area as almost a war zone and the last place you'd want to be thinking about a scientific career and scientific ideas.

Ziad Abdeen: It's all a matter of perception, isn't it?

Zounds! These terrorists do science! Who would have thought?

Poor Professor Abdeen. Little does he know that he has been involved in a production designed to burnish Israel's tarnished image for an Australian audience. But then that's all you get from our token Palestinian, because the rest of the item is pure hasbara:

Robyn Williams: Professor Ziad Abdeen is at the Al-Quds University on the West Bank...

Oh really - not in illegally occupied, then illegally annexed, Arab East Jerusalem?

... where Palestinian students work in tandem with Jewish students.

Palestinian students working in tandem with Jewish students! How wonderful!

... This is Dr Abdeen's colleague, Professor Mark Spigelman.

Mark Spigelman: You know, when they come to work with us, we don't notice a difference. They are students, some good, some bad. Mostly, the Palestinians are good because they are selected already...

Passed the security test, did they?

... For the last 2 years we have worked together on a German National Science Foundation grant looking at ancient DNA and several students are working on this grant. And all I can say is we work well together. We don't have any problems. We don't distinguish Israeli[s from] Palestinians and I'm pleased to say that our young students from Israel and the young students from the Palestinian Authority work together without any friction and they produce good results.

Young students from Israel and the PA working together, eh? Is Al-Quds University then a functioning joint Israeli-Jewish/PA-Arab campus? Some kind of utopian haven of Israeli-Palestinian peaceful coexistence? And whether it is or isn't, isn't this the vibe Pyne's picked up?

But before you all let that warm inner glow completely overpower your critical faculties, ask yourself this question: Are poor but worthy West Bank Palestinian students, bravely competing for places in one of the few tertiary institutions available to them, finding their way blocked because anywhere up to half of all places at Al-Quds are reserved for Jewish Israelis already well-served by superior DNA and a plethora of Israeli universities? Or this: Which language are lectures delivered in? Or this: Why has this good (if indeed that's what it is) news been kept from us until now? Or this, the biggie: If we have a joint Israeli-Palestinian university, why not a binational Israeli-Palestinian state for everyone who lives between the river and the sea? But I digress...

OK, seeing this is the The Science Show, you'll forgive me a little healthy scepticism and a desire for some, like, evidence for the suggestion that Al-Quds is a haven of Israeli-Palestinian peace and understanding. And guess what, google as I might, I could find none. That doesn't mean, of course, that I didn't come across some interesting bits and pieces along the way:

"The Shin Bet is reportedly trying to entice Palestinian medical students to join the Israeli intelligence service by promising entry to al-Quds (Jerusalem). The spying agency allegedly tried to blackmail two fifth-year medical students at al-Quds University who are pursuing internships in Palestinian university hospitals in the city, Israel's English-language Haaretz newspaper said on its website on Wednesday. A 'Captain Biran', who introduced himself as the Shin Bet agent responsible for monitoring the university, told the two to report on other students and their activities as a condition for renewing their entry permits, Haaretz reported." (Shin Bet blackmails al-Quds students,, 12/5/10)

"The project, kicking off this year between Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and the West Bank's al-Quds University, seeks to improve relations between Americans and Palestinians while boosting education in the Palestinian territories, said Bard College president Leon Botstein... The degree from Bard will be a huge benefit for Palestinian students because Israel does not currently recognize degrees from al-Quds, said al-Quds executive vice-president Hasan Dweik." (American & Palestinian colleges form partnership, Ben Hubbard, AP/, 12/3/09)

"One group of such Israeli mathematics professors love to work with its Arab counterparts at Al-Quds University, a cooperation about which Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh said, 'We hope this effort will prove to be a step in showing how the universal language of mathematics can be translated into a shared language of political and moral values'. Nusseibeh, you see, is a Palestinian terrorist, who provided intelligence to Saddam Hussein's forces when he was shooting SCUD missiles at Israel. Nusseibeh spent time in Israeli prison as a terrorist, and then was allowed to leave Israel for 3 years under a plea agreement." (When it does not add up: anti-Israel mathematicians at Israeli universities, Lee Kaplan,

You know, I'm particularly worried about those Jewish students at Al-Quds University, what with their own government not recognising their degrees and all. And yet they're going there nonetheless, so stuck on Israeli-Palestinian togetherness are they. Oh well, maybe the Shin Bet'll employ them even if their degrees are worthless. And that terrorist at the top of the Al-Quds University tree, twirling his moustache - will these idealistic Jewish students be safe do you think?

Ah, but I've disrupted Mark Spigelman's platitudes long enough. Now what was it he was saying? Oh yes:

... It is a step. And so the work is good and if only the politicians would see what happens between young people I think we would have less problems and more peace.

Robyn Williams: Is the reality of the situation that you have most of the population on both sides wanting, as you said, peace, and a minority, which unfortunately includes the politicians, going in the other direction?

Mark Spigelman: Yes. If you really ask the people 'do you want your child to carry a gun or a pen?' 80% would say, 'I'd rather a pen'.

Well, duh, Mark, what else are they going to say if you put it to them like that?

... And the reality is that we are being led by a minority of the population that prevents peace.

Name names, Mark! Do you mean the dreaded Hamas?

... I don't know when peace will come. We are two people living together, we are going to live together. Sooner or later we are going to have peace.

Robyn Williams: Well, mostly, in a democracy, which it is on both sides, if there is a constituency, in other words a majority of the population wanting something, eventually it happens. Why isn't it happening here?

Mark Spieglman: That's a good question. If I knew the answer I'd probably get the Nobel Peace Prize. It isn't happening here, but it will. I'm optimistic. And maybe not in my lifetime, but I'm getting on a bit. There will be peace between the two people and they will coexist and will live togther and will do great things together.

Robin Williams: Amid the turmoil, the scientists and the students get on with it. Professor Mark Spieglman from Sydney, working now in Jerusalem.

Surely that's the source of Pyne's propaganda. And here's how it comes to lodge in his grey matter: Williams is sent by the ABC - at taxpayers' expense - to record some 'good news' about Israel, which, as it happens, needs all it can get right now, returns with all sorts of highly dubious factoids and propaganda snippets, packages them nicely for an unsuspecting ABC audience, including our pro-Israel pollies, who then regurgitate the nonsense on ABC television in an effort to shield Israel from the burgeoning BDS campaign. Damn if Israel isn't getting its money's worth here!

Nothing New Under the Sun

Remember the Mossad assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last year? Remember the stolen passports scandal? (See my 27/2/10 post Israel: The Ultimate Identity Fraud)

Could this be yet another case of Mossad identity fraud and disinformation?:

"The alarming story of a Syrian-American lesbian blogger, who was reportedly kidnapped by armed gunmen in Damascus, sent the world's media into a frenzy - but now her very existence is being questioned. Reporters have been unable to find anyone who has met Amina Arraf in person, while a woman living in Britain said photographs circulating on the internet were of her, not the blogger. Arraf, known for frank posts about her sexuality and open criticism of President Bashar al-Assad's autocratic rule in her blog, A Gay Girl in Damascus, has also admitted to writing fictional accounts in previous blogs." (Does she even exist? The mystery of the Gay Girl in Damascus, Asher Moses, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/6/11)

After all, our Gay Girl in Damascus does seem to have a rather interesting career in mind:

"Many have written to me about the case. It is clear that there is a fabrication here... Somebody is playing with readers' minds, most likely for political reasons. 'Friends' of her wrote me yesterday and said they'd all exchanged notes and found no one had ever seen her. Her closest friend once tried to skype with her, but she told her there's no skyping in Syria (a lie)... Politically, 'she' recently posted a pro-Palestinian message, but back in May 'she' expressed the hope that she'd one day serve as an ambassador for Syria in Israel. That in itself tells me that it is no Syrian person at all. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this were Abraham Foxman posing as a 'gay girl in Damascus'." (On the 'Gay Girl in Damascus',, 9/6/11)

And what to make of this?:

"If you're looking for the Israeli aspect of the deadly riots in Syria, you may find it in material handed over to members of the Syrian opposition by Israeli Knesset representatives last week... Knesset Member Ayoob Kara (Likud), the deputy minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee, has been in close contact with Syrian opposition members for a long time. In one of their conversations with Kara, the Syrians expressed their enthusiasm over the song Zenga Zenga, which was created by Israeli musician Noy Alooshe and became the unofficial anthem of the Libyan rebels. The MK promised them similar Israeli aid. He turned to singer Amir Benayoun, who the Syrian opposition members were familiar with, and inquired whether he would be willing to send protest songs to Israel's northern neighbours in their own language in order to encourage the revolutionaries. Benayoun accepted the offer and began composing songs based on the book of Ecclesiastes. He added his own music and recorded the songs for the Syrian rebels... MK Kara last week took dozens of CDs with him to Turkey, where he met with representatives of 15 Syrian opposition organisations. He handed them the collection of protest songs they ordered, which they told him they would try to turn into revolution hits." (Israeli singer vs Syrian president, Tzvika Brot,, 12/5/11)

Fifteen Syrian opposition representatives in need of Israeli inspiration for their revolution? The mind boggles.

What was that Ecclesiastes once said?: "What has been done [by Mossad] will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

PS, 15/6/11: "The admission by Tom MacMaster that he was the man behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog should not end the conversation... This story is bothersome on so many levels, but I was even more upset when I read MacMaster's remarks to the Guardian in which he criticizes Western media coverage of the Middle East and even took a shot at Orientalism. MacMaster should know that he is worse than a classical orientalist (and clearly does not possess the knowledge, erudition, and rigor of the classical orientalist.) This man is both delusional and racist: he took it upon himself to fabricate the identity of a native 'girl' (I mean, is there anything more orientalist than the White Man of the West posing as a Damascene girl and writing on her behalf? Is there anything more racist, sexist, patronizing and offensive?) MacMaster is ignorant of what he's done and has the chutzpah to write this: 'While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground'. What does he mean by that? He's basically saying, If I now pose as the racist White Man in the West for a minute, and I take that license as one who posed for a long time as a lesbian 'girl', and even exposed and communicated with many in the gay and lesbian community in Syria and the Arab world, while I fabricated and lied, my fabrications and lies are still true and accurate. He really sounds delusional and divorced from reality. It is the White Man's privilege to claim that, while he has fabricated and lied, his fabrications and lies are not inaccurate. The mentality behind the fabrication of this identity is the same as that in colonial times. The natives can't speak for themselves: they have to be represented by the White Man who can best explain them to the West. Beyond that, MacMaster has damaged the efforts of well-meaning and sincere Syrian dissidents (I'm not talking about the lousy Ikhwan or Khaddam or Ma'mun Humsi or Rif'at Assad or other pro-Saudi tools) in that it has helped the propaganda of the Syrian regime. MacMaster should not only apologize to the readers of his blog, but also to the people of the Middle East, the gays and lesbians of the region, and even to Middle East studies. He is a smug, arrogant and delusional White Man. I bet he even hears voices in his head, including that of Lord Cromer." (When the White Man poses as the Native Girl,, 13/6/11)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Palestinian Bullet Magnets

The fast fraying thread that once tethered The Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons to some semblance of reality (I'm being generous here) finally snapped on Tuesday, June 11.

The evidence is all there on page 10 under the banner WORLD NEWS.

A photograph of Palestinian and Syrian refugees fleeing under a hail of tear gas (I don't even want to know what's in the new 'improved' variety) carries the caption: Demonstrators flee from teargas fired from Israel at the Syrian border yesterday. The Palestinians say they were protesting against 44 years of 'occupation'.

That's right, occupation in inverted commas. The definitive verdict of international law - that Syria's Golan Heights, just like the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is under military occupation - matters not a whit to Lyons or his editor. And notice too the Palestinians say. Never take the Palestinians at their word. At News Limited, only the Israelis are accorded that privilege. Nor do the words Syrian border have any basis in reality, the real Syrian border with Israel being on the other side of the Golan Heights. Every inch of land here is nothing if not Syrian, Israel's illegal-under-international-law annexation notwithstanding.

Beneath the thoroughly dishonest caption comes a headline: Palestinians' deadly strategy is doomed to fail.

Reality is of course inverted, and fantastically, the problem has become not deadly Israeli bullets, but deadly Palestinian strategy!

Now to the nitty gritty - Lyons' quote/unquote "analysis," so dense with spin it requires a near line-by-line deconstruction:

"The new strategy of Palestinian refugees in Syria to try to break through the border with Israel is deadly and doomed to fail."

Again, this so-called 'border' is no border with Israel, merely a border with that part of Syria occupied by Israel in 1967. And again, note that it's the so-called Palestinian strategy that's deadly, not the Israeli gunfire, resulting in up to 20 deaths.

"What is meant to draw attention to the plight of Palestinian refugees in fact allows Israel to argue that it cannot agree to a Palestinian state while it has so much instability on its borders."

It's borders! There he goes again! And that all-purpose instability - if even so much as a blade of grass raised its head within 50 km of Israel's advancing borders, there'd be instability. But that's a mere bagatelle! The real whopper here is the risible notion that Israel is agreeable to a Palestinian state. That's a given with the likes of Lyons. But there's more. Notice how, whatever the Palestinians do, the klutzes always manage somehow to spike Israel's alleged agreeableness to a Palestinian state.

And now some gratuitous advice from our expert analyst: "For Palestinians looking for a resolution to their 63-year-old conflict with Israel, the best course they could take is to follow the non-violent nation-building strategy of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyed: argue and show that they are ready to be a Palestinian state rather than confront Israeli bullets, as they did again at the weekend."

Here we go again. Suspend your disbelief, reality's doing a headstand: unarmed Palestinian refugees (or maybe Syrian Golani refugees), despite appearances, aren't really being cut down by Israeli bullets.

No, they're confronting Israeli bullets. There's a world of difference here. You see, the Israeli army has never been known to actually shoot Palestinians. What is really going on is that these unbelievably bone-headed Palestinians position themselves provocatively in front of Israeli guns, which just happen to be pointing at them, and by some mysterious process unknown to science, somehow induce reluctant, peace-seeking Israeli bullets to emerge from even more reluctant, peace-seeking Israeli gun barrels and penetrate their heads, chests, stomachs, arms, and legs. And you know what the really amazing thing is? No Israeli soldier actually pulls a trigger - ever. I mean Rupert Murdoch may be a chick magnet - check out Wendy! - but these Palestinians are surefire bullet magnets, know what I mean?

But there's more! There's Salam Fayyad's hot-to-trot non-violent nation-building strategy, the very last word in how to reclaim your occupied homeland. (Or should I have said 'occupied' homeland?)

I mean, look at the progress so far:

In 2009 Fayyad said, "The horizon [for peace] continues to recede."*

Then in 2010 our non-violent nation-builder "forecast a 'moment of reckoning' in the coming weeks when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is forced to explain what kind of state he has in mind for the Palestinians."**

And back in March this year he said, "It is time for the international community to ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: does he accept the establishment of a Palestinian state on all the lands occupied in 1967 - yes or no?"***

After which, on 22 May, the great man suffered a heart attack. The good (?) news is that Bibi wished him a "speedy recovery," but the bad is that he told the AIPAC conference 2 days later that "Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 borders," which must have done Fayyad a power of good!

"The crash-through-or-crash approach is also undercutting a rising mood in Israel that the lack of a Palestinian state is against Israel's interests."

Ah yes, a rising mood in Israel. And so easily spoilt by a bunch of Palestinian bullet magnets. When are these Palestinians ever going to learn that the best strategy is to have no strategy - except for a reliance on Israeli mood swings?

"The next few months are vital. Israel can handle threats to its borders but what it is finding more difficult is the looming vote in the UN in September, when as many as 130 countries are set to vote in favour of a Palestinian state. The vote will not be binding but it will put pressure on Israel."

Seems the only vote in the UN that Israel didn't find difficult (after the US twisted a few arms to help out) was Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947 which partitioned Palestine and handed the larger chunk to the Jewish colon minority. And which, BTW, isn't binding. But, hey, how touching is Lyons' concern?

[* Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says time is running out for peace, James Hider,, 25/8/09;
** Fayyad: Netanyahu must explain his definition of 'Palestinian state', Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz, 30/8/10;
*** Fayyad to Israel PM: Define a Palestinian state, blade,, 10/3/11]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Well-Rounded Indoctrination

NSW's Department of Education & Training (DET) has a policy statement on "the management of controversial issues in schools, whether by the use of teaching-learning material or views expressed by teachers or visiting speakers." (Controversial Issues in Schools,

The first objective of the statement reads as follows: "Schools are neutral grounds for rational discourse and objective study. They are not arenas for opposing political views or ideologies." According to the statement this applies to "all schools."

I take it that that includes our Jewish schools. But just how Jewish are our Jewish schools?

Now by way of clarification, since Zionists have this terrible habit of conflating Judaism and Zionism, it's perhaps useful at this point to remind ourselves of the elementary distinction between the two before proceeding further.

As Israeli activist and scholar Uri Davis puts it, "Judaism is not Zionism. Judaism, as a confessional preference, should be strictly an individual matter, and, generally speaking, like other individual preferences (such as musical, culinary or sexual preferences) should not be the concern of the law. Zionism as a political programme [however] is a matter of public debate... The political Zionist school of thought and practice is committed to the normative statement that it is a good idea to establish and consolidate in the country of Palestine a sovereign state, a Jewish state, that attempts to guarantee in law and in practice a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes in the territories under its control. Such individuals and bodies as are, for instance, committed to the values of open society, democracy and the separation of religion from the state; who, therefore, disagree with the political aims of this particular political programme; and who regard this programme to be a negative political programme, are anti-Zionist in the same sense that those who for many decades opposed the political programme of apartheid in South Africa (which ended in 1994) were, and it is to be hoped remain, anti-apartheid." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, 2003, pp 11-12)

So, in light of NSW DET policy, and the clear distinction between Judaism, the religion, and Zionism, the political ideology/programme, what is one to make of the following?:

"Zionist youth movement Netzer [the youth arm of the progressive Jewish movement] has launched a petition against Moriah College claiming the school is 'discriminating' against the group, by barring them from canvassing on campus and participating in school events... But Moriah president Roger Kaye defended the school's position. 'Moriah College has always operated within its modern-Orthodox Zionist ethos. It is the longstanding policy of Moriah College not to allow Netzer... to promote its activities on our campus because their religious platform is in conflict with Moriah's ethos', he told the AJN. 'This is not the case with the other 4 Zionist youth movements [Habonim Dror, Betar, Bnei Akiva and Hashomer Hatzair]... which do not have a religious platform or have a religious platform that is aligned with Moriah's." (Discrimination accusation levelled at Moriah College, The Australian Jewish News, 20/5/11)

Or the fact that, in the same issue there's an entire page given over to photographs of primary school children at a "combined schools assembly", all decked out in blue and white, and waving Israeli flags in celebration of Israel's so-called Independence Day?

Back in 2008, in a satirical post, Zionist Indoctrination Exposed! (11/10/08), I dealt with this very same subject. That post was, as it happens, inspired by the following quote from a former Moriah College graduate: "Despite [sic] having Israeli history rammed down our throats for most of our adolescent lives, our basic understanding of the Middle Eastern conflict essentially boils down to this: Israel - good, Arabs - bad."

If last month's AJN is anything to go by, nothing seems to have changed.

And that departmental policy statement? What policy statement?