Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Being a Liberal American Jew in Britain Really Sucks

Poor Hadley Freeman. Her problem? It really sucks "to be a liberal American Jew in Britain."

You see:

"When I was growing up in New York, it was a given that one supported Israel. Israel, like America, was a country made from desperate immigrants. It was where my great-grandmother lived after seeing two of her sons go to the concentration camps, and where the memorial for my great-uncle Jakob, who was murdered in Auschwitz, was erected. Israel was the Holocaust's happy ending, and you only have to look at Hollywood to know how much America loves simple happy endings. Israel=good, Israel's enemies=evil antisemites." (Please don't tell me what I should think about Israel,, 9/8/14)

In Britain (where she scribbles for The Guardian), Hadley's pissed that "America's devoted support for Israel is... regarded by Europe with the same kind of disgusted bafflement with which it views the US relationship with guns," and that "not having a negative opinion of Israel is tantamount to not having a conscience."

And she's super pissed that a London theatre has baulked at hosting "the Jewish Film Festival... if [it] accepted financing... from the Israeli embassy."

In fact, she reckons that in Britain, "anti-Israel [sentiment] in Britain slips all too quickly into antisemitism."

Meanwhile, Israel ("the Holocaust's happy ending") has only just left off murdering and maiming thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Ghetto, reducing much of it to a smoking ruin. In OCCUPIED East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israeli fascists - whether in or out of uniform - are offing Palestinians on a near daily basis. And on OCCUPIED Palestinian land, Jews-only settlements rise like mushrooms after rain.

But heaven forbid that any Brit should state the bleeding obvious - that Israel is a racist, apartheid state - within earshot of Hadley! Why, that'd be anti-Semitism!

But, and here's the wonder, when it comes to recognising racism in the good old US of A, the proverbial penny has no trouble whatsoever in dropping (even if it did take until 30 December, 2014). Here's Hadley, writing in her latest column:

"Sure most Britons knew before that the US had, shall we say, some racial issues. But 2014 was the year when it became an unavoidable truth that parts of the US are really, really, really messed up when it comes to race, and, unfortunately, many of the parts seem to involve law enforcement officials." (The main lesson I learned from 2014? Innocence is definitely dead now, 30/12/14)

Will there ever, I wonder, be a year for Ms Freeman when it becomes an unavoidable truth that Israel is really, really, really messed up when it comes to race?

Don't hold your breath, folks.

Now here's a great read: Forget those shredded children, Hadley Freeman is the real victim,, 8/8/14. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Exodus Master Narrative 2

Getting to the bottom of the narrative:

"The Exodus is arguably the most famous of all of the Biblical tales, yet there is no real evidence that it ever actually happened. At least, not the way that the Bible says it did. This is not to say that archaeologists have not looked. Many have tried to find some evidence, any evidence to grab onto. Nothing tangible has ever been found. At the very least, one would expect that a large group of people wandering around the desert for 40 years would have left some kind of material evidence. If they did, we haven't found it.

"In contrast, archaeologists have discovered ephemeral hunter-gatherer sites in the Sinai from the Neolithic period. One could expect that signs of the wandering Israelites would be found as well, if there were any. So if the Exodus that Jews tell every year on Passover didn't happen, at least as told, where did this story come from? One possibility is that it's a fable made up by ancient scribes and priests to give hope to a conquered and exiled people, scattered and thrown to the winds by the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Another is that there really are kernels of truth hidden deep in the tale.

"Some suggest that there are clues to actual historical narratives in these texts. Regarding the birth of Moses, for instance, one possibility is that the Israelite storytellers adopted the traditional tale of King Sargon the Great of Mesopotamia, whose reign dates back to the 22nd and 23rd centuries BCE. It is said that he was laid in a basket and set in the river as a baby...

"The most logical possibility is that the Exodus tale is actually an ancient memory of the Egyptians overthrowing and expelling the ancient Semitic rulers of the Nile Delta - known as the Hyksos. This theory was initially proposed by Egyptologist Prof. Donald Redford in a 1987 paper entitled 'An Egyptian Perspective on the Exodus narrative.' This theory makes sense to anyone following the more than 40-year old excavations at Tel El Dab'a by Prof. Manfred Bietak. The wealth of knowledge obtained from that site has been incredible. Most importantly it uncovered an enormous amount of physical evidence of a Semitic people called the Hyksos, or 'Rulers of Foreign Lands', by the Egyptians. Though their origin remains mysterious, it is known that the Hyksos arrived in Egypt from Canaan and lived among the Egyptians for some time, at least from the 12th Dynasty, before their ultimate rise to power. They reigned over Lower Egypt from the 15th to the 17th Dynasty (1630-1523 BCE). The Hyksos' connection to Canaan or the Levant is proven by a wealth of archaeological, textual and artistic remains found throughout Egypt, most notably in the ancient city of Avaris, known to archaeologists as Tel El Dab'a. These people left a strong mark on the Egyptians, most readily seen in the adoption of a Levantine goddess who was absorbed into the goddess Hathor. The Hyksos were defeated and expelled from Egypt by the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Ahmose... It is unlikely that all the Hyksos were physically kicked out of Egypt. It makes more sense that some remained and were subjugated, possibly becoming a lower class and that a memory of that event would have been passed down in oral tradition." (From The Exodus: Jewish history, or ancient Semitic memory? Julia Fridman, Haaretz, 10/4/14)

Not that the above will mean anything to the punters flocking to Hollywood's latest Old Testament promotion. They'll most likely come away with Lipski's Israel-affirming 'Exodus master story', already lodged deep in their grey matter, reinforced.

As one Israeli commentator has speculated: maybe Director Ridley Scott had Moses say, "on the other side of the Red Sea... headed toward Canaan 'we will be perceived as invaders when we get to Canaan'" because he didn't want to be seen "as if I'm a hundred percent pro-Israeli in my film." (Ridley Scott trades out God for nature's fury in scientific 'Exodus', Jordan Hoffman,, 9/12/14)

Now that's what I call letting the cat out of the bag.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Exodus Master Narrative 1

Egypt has reportedly banned the latest sword-and-sandal extravaganza Exodus: Gods & Kings because "it asserts historical falsehoods and spreads a 'Zionist view'." (Egypt bans 'Exodus: Gods & Kings' movie, Rick Gladstone, New York Times/Sydney Morning Herald, 27/12/14)

News of same will, I imagine, be greeted by smirks on the part of those who see Hollywood productions as nothing more than entertainment.

They, of course, will have no idea that the biblical Exodus (with its fable of liberation from slavery in Egypt, 40-year wandering in the Sinai desert, and final entry into the 'Promised Land') is an integral part of the Zionist master-narrative drummed into the heads of every Jewish-Israeli schoolchild (and promoted as well in Jewish, and, I suspect, Christian, schools around the world). As Israeli scholar and educationist Nurit Peled-Elhanan points out:

"The Zionist narrative inculcated in Israeli schools relates a continuous struggle of the Jews against non-Jewish conquerors, usurpers of the land and persecutors. In their recent history school book, Naveh et al. 2009 reproduce this narrative of continuity as follows: 'The holidays and memorial days of Israel were molded as a continuous struggle of the Jewish people for its very existence, according to the familiar pattern of the Jews as few and good, struggling against the Goyim (non-Jews) who are numerous and bad. In Hanuka - the Makabbim against the ancient Greek, on Adar 11th - Trumpeldor and the defenders of Tel-Hai (1904) [sic: 1920] against a gang of Arab 'plunderers', in Purim - The Jew Mordechai and his niece - Queen Esther - against wicked Haman, in Passover - Moses and the children of Israel are struggling to free themselves from slavery against Pharoe and the Egyptians, on Holocaust Day - the rebels of the Warsaw Ghetto against the Nazi Germans, on memorial day and Independence Day - the combatants of 1948 against the armies of the Arab states in their masses, and on 33 Ba'Omer - the [ancient] Jewish fundamentalists against the Romans. All these contexts are mixed together to create an artificial defining narrative, which construes the collective memory of the Jewish citizens of Israel'." (Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology & Propaganda in Education, 2012, p 7)

In fact, so seriously do Israel firsters take the historicity of the biblical Exodus narrative (a matter to which I shall return to in my next post) that we even have Australian Zionist and Pratt Foundation CEO Sam Lipski arguing that the "Exodus master story" (his words) be given precedence over what he calls the "Holocaust master story" (his words) in Australia's national curriculum. (See my 12/4/10 post Sam Lipski's National Curriculum.)

To be continued...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Zionism: The Devil in the Detail

"Under pressure to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, the Israeli government continues to expand settlements deeper into occupied territory, today announcing 380 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem." (Israel approves 380 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem, Jason Ditz,, 24/12/14)

 "It was dark when we drove out to Shari Zwi, a communal settlement for orthodox Jews, fifteen minutes out in the wilds, right down by the Jordan. The road was a track, and after some miles we bumped and stuck in the mud... We were rescued by a police truck, which bumped us for three-quarters of an hour and then dumped us outside a stockade. Suddenly strange men with beards crowded round us. It was the orthodox Jews greeting us in Hebrew, and I soon realized this was to be the sole language. Through thick mud and past simple shacks we were taken to the dining-room where a delicious meal stood ready. But immediately we had to listen to a two-hour explanation in Hebrew of the graphs and charts all round the wall, showing ten years' progress of Shari Zwi. The fields are interlaced with Arab fields, and land acquisition is the great aim. I was assured that the Arabs were delighted to sell their land, and that the only way to stop Arab nationalism was to abolish restriction on the sale of land.

"These were very good religious people, mostly from Germany, but also from Poland, Rumania, and eleven other countries; a community of some 300 living by the Talmud, and very critical of the secular Zionists who run the Agency. But as far as I could see this made absolutely no difference to their politics.

"After supper I proposed a discussion on Arab-Jewish relations, and the whole community crowded into the dining-hall and stood round while the executive and I debated, sitting at the table. They stood motionless and tense for three hours' discussion. I described to them the Arab village I had seen that morning a hundred yards from a superb Jewish settlement, and said that I thought that illustrated the central problem. Then they were off. And what they gave me was the simple propaganda line about the Jewish right to every foot of Palestine, and how the Arabs had benefited. They seemed to assume that the Jews had the right to the country and that the Arabs were inferior people whom the Jews, when they got their state, would tolerate and permit to exist as a minority. I think they enjoyed the discussion a lot, and when it ended the bearded mukhtar shook my hand and said: 'We deeply appreciate it that a member of the Committee* thought us important enough to come and teach us about Arabs and Jews'!" (Palestine Mission, Richard Crossman, 1946, pp 159-60)

"[T]he success of Zionism did not derive exclusively from its bold outlining of a future state, or from its ability to see the natives for the negligible quantities they were or might become. Rather, I think, Zionism's effectiveness in making its way against Arab Palestinian resistance lay in its being a policy of detail, not simply a general colonial vision. Thus Palestine was not only the Promised Land, a concept as elusive and as abstract as any that one could encounter. It was a specific territory with specific characteristics, that was surveyed down to the last millimeter, settled on, planned for, built on, and so forth, in detail. From the beginning of the Zionist colonization this was something the Arabs had no answer to, no equally detailed counterproposal. They assumed, perhaps rightly, that since they lived on the land and legally owned it, it was therefore theirs. They did not understand that what they were encountering was a discipline of detail - indeed a very culture of disciple by detail - by which a hitherto imaginary realm could be constructed on Palestine, inch by inch and step by step, 'another acre, another goat,' so Weizmann once said. The Palestinian Arabs always opposed a general policy on general principles: Zionism, they said, was foreign colonialism (which strictly speaking it was, as the early Zionists admitted), it was unfair to the natives (as some early Zionists, like Ahad Ha'am, also admitted), and it was doomed to die of its various theoretical weaknesses. Even to this day the Palestinian political position generally clusters around these negatives, and still does not sufficiently try to meet the detail of Zionist enterprise; today [1978] there are, for example, 77 'illegal' Zionist colonies on the West Bank and Israel has confiscated about 27% of the West Bank's Arab-owned land, yet the Palestinians seem virtually powerless physically to stop the growth or 'thickening' of this new Israeli colonization. The Palestinians have not understood that Zionism has been much more than an unfair colonialist master against whom one could appeal to all sorts of higher courts, without any avail. They have not understood the Zionist challenge as a policy of detail, of institutions, of organization, by which people (to this day) enter territory illegally, build houses on it, settle there, and call the land their own - with the whole world condemning them." (The Question of Palestine, Edward Said, 1978 pp 94-5)

[*See my 8/12/14 post Children of a Lesser God 1.]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bethlehem, Christmas 1967

Bethlehem's first Christmas Eve under Israeli-occupation, 1967:

"Bethlehem looked yesterday like a painted mask, frozen and expressionless. Christians may have felt the spirit of Christmas in their hearts but no one showed it openly. Most of them celebrated the feast at home. These few, very few, who were out in the streets looked closed within themselves, and were restrained in their reactions. Truly, it was a sad Christmas. The hundreds of policemen mobilized for the occasion just stood there with nothing to do. The bus and car traffic which was expected but never came reminded me of the common saying, 'The mountain delivered a mouse.' Of the Christians living in Israel only a few attended and those from the West Bank could be counted on one's fingers.

"In Ramallah, the area where there is the biggest concentration of Christians, the atmosphere was much more miserable than in Bethlehem. As one of Bethlehem's merchants told me, 'Would you pray at the Wailing Wall if a Jordanian Arab flag flew over it?'

"Even the great attraction of the evening - the closed TV circuit especially constructed in Bethlehem in order to enable those who had no chance to get into the Church of the Nativity because of the expected crowds, even this had attracted only a few and mainly Israeli citizens, soldiers and policemen.

"All the security men (police and soldiers) were armed with machine-guns. Such a concentration of arms was never seen on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem's history. Mr E. Bandak, the Mayor of Bethlehem, told us that 'all was traditional, like every year.' When we asked why the people seem so disinterested and the streets so deserted and gloomy he answered that 'happiness is something in the heart.'

"This same evening paper on December 24, gave its editorial the following heading: 'This is our test. For the first time in history, Christmas is to be celebrated under the Israeli flag'." (Frozen mass in Bethlehem but not because of the weather, Zvi Lavi, Ma'ariv, 25/12/67)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Let Us Pray for Sussan Ley

The msm can always be relied upon to foreground trivia and ignore matters of substance. Here, for example, is the introduction to an article on Australia's new health minister Sussan Ley:

"But who is Sussan Ley, the rising star of Australian politics many voters may have never heard of? As a high school student in Canberra in the 1970s, Ley walked around with no shoes, black lipstick, spiky purple hair, a dog collar and a nose piercing connected to the razor blade in her ear. Over 30 years later, she still describes herself as a 'recovering punk rocker from a time when it really mattered'." (Sussan Ley: from punk rocker to health minister, Gareth Hutchens, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/12/14)

In a federal parliament swarming with Zionist apologists and dupes, trust a journalist to home in on Ley's punk rocker past.

No, what really distinguishes her from most of her colleagues is that she's neither Zionist apologist nor Zionist dupe. More than that, Sussan Ley actually gets it.

For example, in 2008, the MP for Farrer (in the context of a bizarre bilateral parliamentary celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary) spoke as follows in parliament:

"Israel has many friends in this country and in this Parliament. The Palestinians, by comparison, have few. Theirs is not a popular cause. But it is one I support, in part out of knowledge that the victors of World War II, including Australia, wrote a 'homeland' cheque to cover the sins of the holocaust and centuries of anti-Semitism in Europe, but it was the Palestinians who had to cash it." (Quoted in Blinkers off for the other side of story, Alan Ramsey, Sydney Morning Herald, 15/3/08) (See my 20/3/08 post The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 5.)

And in 2012, back from a trip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, she had this to say in parliament:

"The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem told us the government had cancelled his residency permit in spite of family connections dating back to the British Mandate. I met my World Vision foster child in the village of Nahalin, surrounded by encroaching settlements, and stood in the treeless playground amongst the falling-down classrooms and tired soccer balls, looking just across the gully at the settlement school with its modern buildings and latest equipment. Visiting the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, as I did high on a hill near Jerusalem, inside the West Bank on Palestinian land, the outlook is serene. The Jewish residents travel on Israeli-only roads straight to Tel Aviv and cannot even see the second road network or the villages hidden in the valley below. It is as if the Palestinians have been airbrushed out of existence." (A say for Palestine,, 23/9/12)

In fact, Sussan Ley, got it early in life:

"She is the daughter of a British colonial police officer who served in British-mandated Palestine in the 1930s..." (Ramsey)

Nothing like a first-hand account!

The question is, will she now come under pressure to eat her words, and end up, like Labor's Tanya Plibersek, ignominiously recanting and kissing the ring?

Watch this space...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Operation Save Israel's Arse

A Conference of High Contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention held in Switzerland earlier this month issued a declaration on 17 December. Just to give you some idea of its content, is paragraph 4 of 10:

"The participating High Contracting Parties emphasize the continued applicability and relevance of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which all High Contracting Parties have undertaken to respect and to ensure respect for in all circumstances. As such, they call on the Occupying Power to fully and effectively respect the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They also remind the Occupying Power of its obligation to administer the Occupied Palestinian territory in a way which fully takes into account the needs of the civilian population while safeguarding its own security, and notably preserve its demographic characteristics."

Nothing to frighten the horses, you'd think.

And yet, Australia (along with the US and Canada), one of 196 High Contracting Parties to the Convention, boycotted the conference.

And not only that, before the boycott: "Israeli and Swiss diplomats said the United States, Canada and Australia were helping Israel and exerting pressure on Switzerland and other states to thwart the conference." (Israel, US attempting to prevent Geneva Convention summit on Palestinians, Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 27/11/14)


Damn silly question... to save Israel's arse, of course.

Question: How many diplomatic resources and taxpayer dollars were squandered on this unseemly endeavour this time around?

Notice I said this time around?

That's because we've done it before: See my 20/4/09 post Australia Dumps on Durban

Monday, December 22, 2014

Remember 'More Jakarta, Less Geneva'?

"The last thing we want to do is hide anything from the Australian people." Tony Abbott, 9/8/13

On 21 May 2014, Military Court Watch* (which monitors the treatment of children in Israeli military courts) wrote the following letter to Australia's diplomatic representative in Ramallah, Tom Wilson:

We are writing to you to confirm the Australian Government's position regarding the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention (the Convention) to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Although there is near universal acceptance and authoritative statements that the Convention applies in full, we seek clarification following recent media reports which have created some uncertainty regarding Australia's position, most notably:

1. In an interview with Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, published in the Times of Israel (Australia FM: Don't call settlements illegal under international law, 15 January 2014), the Minister is quoted as saying 'I would like to see which international law has declared them [settlements] illegal.'

2. Haaretz recently reported that Australia's Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, met with the Israeli housing minister in East Jerusalem on 14 May 2014 (PA complains to Australia after envoy meets Israeli official in East Jerusalem, 15 May 2014). The report quotes a letter of protest issued by the Palestinian Authority which states that: 'Australia is under a clear obligation to respect and ensure respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and that a State which knowingly assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act bears responsibility for the violation.'

We seek clarification as to the Australian Government's position regarding the application of the Convention to the OPT as its applicability is directly related to the work of Military Court Watch in the following respects:

1. The jurisdictional basis relied upon by the Israeli military authorities for the establishment of the military courts in the West Bank is Article 66 of the Convention. If the Australian Government's position is that the Convention no longer applies, could you please clarify whether or not you now consider these courts to be operating without legal foundation?

2. According to data released by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) in April 2014, 51% of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military were held inside Israel. The transfer and detention of protected persons out of occupied territory is prohibited under Article 76 of the Convention. In this regard we refer you to a letter from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (20 July 2012) which clearly states the UK's position on this issue as follows: 'The Government agrees that Israel has legal obligations as an Occupying Power with respect to Occupied Palestinian Territories under applicable international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. [...] We agree with you that Israel's policy of detaining Palestinians within Israel is contrary to Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and that domestic law cannot be used as a justification for violations of international law' (Copy attached).

If the Australian Government's position is that the Convention no longer applies in full, could you please clarify whether or not Australia now considers it legal to transfer and detain protected persons, including children, out of occupied territory?

As we are sure you appreciate the recent statements and actions by senior Australian officials raise serious questions as to the Government's commitment to the Geneva Conventions which in turn, has far reaching legal consequences beyond the region. Your urgent clarification on these issues would be greatly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
Raja Shehadeh, Lawyer,
Gerard Horton, Lawyer

Here's the Abbott government's gobsmacking response (not BTW to MCW, but in response to a question on notice in the Senate asking whether it is "the Government's view that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem":

"The issue raised by this question has been the subject of legal advice provided by the Department to the Government. That advice is subject to legal professional privilege and is therefore confidential."

Who could possibly have imagined back then, in those far-off, halcyon days before Australia became the brute and bloody reality we know today as Abbottoir, that when Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg (now Assistant Treasurer!) declared, just before the September 7 2013 election, that the foreign policy "catchcry" of an Abbott government would be "More Jakarta, less Geneva,"** what he really meant was less Geneva Conventions?

[*; **See my 1/9/13 post Heaps More Tel Aviv... An Occasional Jakarta.]

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Conflating the Unconflatable 4

OMG, what fools we Australians are! Why can't we see what those who really know Islam see?

Why, O why, can't we see all Muslims, Arabs, a certain Iranian-Australian psycho, whatever, for the undifferentiated existential threat that they so clearly are?

If only, like Gerard Henderson, we could see them through Israeli eyes:

"I followed the Sydney siege from Jerusalem, the capitol of a nation that does not distinguish much between lone wolf and other acts of terrorism. To most Israelis, Hamas rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza at Israel's cities and the murder of worshippers and/or light rail travellers are manifestations of the same thing." (If it looks, smells & feels like terrorism... The Australian, 20/12/13)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Conflating the Unconflatable 3

'The Sewer' Mike Carlton calls it. Murdoch's Australian never misses an opportunity to slander the Palestinians:

"The same perversions [yes, this is from an editorial ostensibly about Man Haron Monis] have driven the unspeakable atrocities that have devastated the citizens of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. To peace-loving westerners, the bloodthirstiness of the Pakistani Taliban murdering 141 children and teachers is beyond comprehension. So is the capture, torture and sexual enslavement of Yazidi and Christian women in northern Iraq. The cruelty of Hamas terrorists using ordinary Palestinians as human shields, storing rockets and ammunition beneath homes, mosques and schools in the most built up areas of Gaza is another prime example." (Liberal-Left still in denial despite terror in Sydney: Like most jihad footsoldiers, Monis was a dysfunctional fool, 19/12/14)

It says everything about The Sewer that even The Australian Jewish News, wasn't going there - this time around:

"... one thing is clear - this was a man doing no one's bidding but his own. A rogue, demented operator at odds with the world and his religion, who exacted his terrible rage on innocents with devastating results. He was to face court on 40 sexual assault charges and stand trial for being an accessory to the murder of his wife. He was unhinged." (The lone wolf, editorial, 19/12/14)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Paying the Price?


"Iran's police chief has said his country had demanded the extradition of Man Haron Monis, the Sydney hostage taker, 14 years ago over charges of fraud, but the request was rejected by the Australian authorities... In 1996, Monis established a travel agency, but took his clients' money and fled, Iran's police chief, General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, told the country's official IRNA news agency on Tuesday. Australia accepted him as a refugee around that time. The police chief said Iran tried to have Monis extradited from Australia in 2000, but that it did not happen because Tehran and Canberra did not have an extradition agreement." (Iran: Extradition of Sydney attacker refused,, 17/12/14)

Given that Iran has been under one form or another of USraeli-initiated sanction since the Islamic Revolution of 1979...

Given Australia's traditional practice of subcontracting our Middle East policy to USrael...

Given that Iran's extradition request came on John (Jerusalem Prize) Howard's watch (PM:1996-2007)...


Given that then immigration minister Philip Ruddock (IM: 1996-2003) so loved Israel that he agreed to take in 200 members of its rollicking puppet South Lebanon Army (SLA) in 2000/01...*

It beggars belief that the mere absence of an agreement with the Iranians was the sole reason for not extraditing Monis, especially in light of Ruddock's own words: "The only exception [to deporting a recognised refugee] would be if it were proved that the refugee status had been obtained by fraud." (Philip Ruddock: Psychological problems part of humanitarian refugee intake, David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/12/14)

The question arises, then: Was Man Haron Monis the price we had to pay for keeping Iran at arm's length to better please our USraeli mates?

[*See my 30/5/13 post Israel Gets What Israel Wants.]

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Conflating the Unconflatable 2

The following piece by Irris Makler, prompted by the Lindt Cafe outrage, blithely conflates Monday's violence in Sydney with that in Jerusalem. (Makler is described at as an "Australia-born Israeli journalist and author"):

"I love leaving Jerusalem, where I'm based as a foreign correspondent, and coming home to Sydney for the summer... On Monday 15th December, I felt I was finally on holiday. It was bright, warm and sunny... I was trying to decide between the beach and the gym when I heard the news. A hostage-taking in Martin Place. A chocolate shop. A black flag with Arabic writing held up by hostages... This simply doesn't happen in Sydney, and certainly not in the lead-up to Christmas... I felt a flash of anger that this easy, lovely time was being polluted by something familiar to me from the Middle East - political violence... [T]here's been a significant upsurge in violence in Jerusalem over the past few months. The increase in tension started with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in May this year. It was followed by the 50 day Gaza war, and then a campaign by Jewish extremist groups to be allowed to pray in [sic] the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. During October and November, Palestinian attacks were occurring in Jerusalem, one following another... Over the past 6 months, Israeli authorities saw that an angry man could grab a kitchen knife, and run out and attack civilians. He could grab a meat cleaver, and kill people at prayer. He could throw acid over someone... He could use his family car... to run people over... You would need a huge amount of pent-up fury to carry out any of these attacks..." (Returning home to a place I left behind,, 15/12/14)

That the Israeli occupation and colonisation of Arab East Jerusalem are directly responsible for that "pent-up fury" is nowhere mentioned.

Here is Makler's one feeble attempt to differentiate between the two cases:

"In Australia, there is no festering political wound, like there is between Israelis and Palestinians, which fuels violence on both sides."

But Makler's an amateur in the business of conflating the unconflatable. Here's her PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, offering his condolences to "Dear Tony":

"Israel and Australia face the same scourge of ruthless Islamist terrorism which knows no geographic bounds and targets innocent civilians indiscriminately." (, 16/12/14)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oh My Allah!

One thing to emerge from the reporting of Sydney's Lindt Cafe murders is the remarkable degree of agreement on the part of both branches of the Australian mainstream press that there is no such thing as The Deity.

There are only deities.

Here's Fairfax:

"Even as hostages held their captor's flag to the window - 'There is no god but Allah,' it said - a sense of unreality enveloped a city whose citizens persisted with shopping according to a tradition linked to the Christian God." ('Is it for real?' Shoppers faced frightening truth, Rick Feneley, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/12/14)

Got that? There's "Allah"... and there's "the Christian God."

Chalk and cheese.

Ditto for Murdoch:

"The solid black background represents one of the banners used by the Prophet Muhammed during battles and the text is the Shahada - the testament of the Islamic faith: 'There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of God'." (Generic flag raises questions, Mark Schliebs, The Australian, 16/12/14)

Allah's strictly for Muslims, OK?

By the same logic, the French don't worship God. They worship Dieu.

The Spanish worship Dios.

The Italians, Dio.

The Germans, Gott.

The Russians...

Got the idea?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Conflating the Unconflatable 1

In 2012, whilst rambamming in Israel, twitter-happy NSW MLC and Zionist dupe Peter Phelps let fly with this:

"Just peered into Gaza - now I know how Frodo felt when he gazed first upon Mordor." (See my 20/8/12 post Frodos Gaze Upon Mordor.)

He's now excelled himself with this:

"You'd think that they'd be going after Max Brenner instead of Lindt... "

I'm wondering, could Phelp's be merely the first in a barrage of mephitic emissions conflating the unconflatable?

Let's wait and see just who among the usual suspects can't resist the urge, shall we?

Watch this space...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Amnesty International Misrepresents Palestine-Israel

Whenever you Google Palestine-related words these days you're bound to come across the following ad, placed at the time of Israel's last (July-August) orgy of destruction in Gaza:

Gaza: What's Happening?,
Let Amnesty Explain The Situation in Gaza & Find Out How to Help

It may also look like this:

Gaza: 2 Minute Summary
Why Do Israel & Palestine Fight? Let Amnesty Help You Understand

Curious, I clicked. What a bummer!

Here is what you get, courtesy of Amnesty's 'crisis campaigner', Michael Hayworth:

"Israel-Palestine - it's complicated, right? Like you wouldn't believe. In fact, we can't help to cover every detail and the history here so we'll try to make it quick. Although the conflict has origins going back to the early 1900s, when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire, we're going to look at what happened during the mid-20th century."

Wrong, Palestine-Israel is really quite simple. It's an unresolved settler-colonial issue, as in colonisers vs colonised. Hayworth wimps out on this most fundamental point. All he had to do was say that 'Imperial Britain took Palestine from the Turks during World War 1 and gave it to a European settler-colonial movement known as Zionism, without consulting its people, 90% of whom were indigenous Arabs, both Muslim and Christian.'

"In 1948, back when Palestine was a British territory, the United Nations (UN) declared it would be divided into two independent countries: Israel and Palestine."

It wasn't 1948. It was 1947. Nor did the UN declare anything. It merely recommended that Palestine be partitioned, without consulting its inhabitants, two-thirds of whom were Arab Muslims and Christians, the rest recently arrived European Jewish immigrants.

"To cut a very long and complicated story short, the Arab leaders of Palestine rejected the divide and attempted to maintain a unified, independent Palestine. This led to fighting, the upshot of which was that Israel ended up controlling more land than the UN had originally granted to it and over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were displaced."

Over 700,000 Palestinians were displaced? Note how Hayworth uses the passive voice to avoid what actually happened - the ethnic cleansing of the native population. He should have written something like this: 'The partition of their ancestral homeland was opposed by the Palestinian Arab majority as a violation of their right to self-determination. Zionist forces then launched a military offensive, expelling some 750,000 Palestinians from 78% of Palestine. Israel has to this day refused their right of return. The only parts of Palestine to remain in Arab hands were the West Bank (under Jordanian control) and the Gaza Strip (under Egyptian control).'

"In 1967, growing tensions between Israel and Palestine ended in 6 days of hostilities from 5 to 11 June [sic: 10 June]. During that time, Israel seized Gaza and pushed Jordanian forces out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to the UN, another 500,000 Palestinians were displaced."

This should read 'growing tensions between Israel and the Arab states'. There was, and still is, no Palestinian state. Nor does Hayworth mention that the 1967 war began with an Israeli attack on Egypt. Yet again, he employs the passive voice to mask the fact of further Israeli ethnic cleansing from the territories occupied by Israel.

"Although Israel withdrew its occupying troops from Gaza in 2005, it maintains a full blockade of the territory. The West Bank still remains under Israeli occupation."

Not a word about Israel's rampant colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem! Not a word about its illegal West Bank wall!

"In the years since occupation began, Israel and the Palestinian territories have been stuck in an unending cycle of violence and retribution. Whilst there are individuals and groups on both sides who are guilty of perpetuating the conflict, and Israelis live under the threat of missiles and rockets from Hamas, Palestinian civilians still bear the brunt of the conflict."

Anyone reading this rubbish would get no sense whatever that what we have today in Palestine/Israel is typical of settler-colonial scenarios throughout history: a ferocious occupying power seeking to hold on to its ill-gotten gains in the face of acts of resistance, some armed, most nonviolent, by a besieged and brutalised indigenous population.

Hayworth then goes on to sketch the Israeli massacres of July/August this year, saying "[p]otential war crimes are being committed by both sides." This is followed by the gloss that, while Israel's actions have only "the potential to be a war crime," Hamas has "clearly violated international law."

He goes on, under the heading What will stop the violence? to say that "Israel must lift its crippling blockade of Gaza which violates international law and Israel's obligations as the occupying power. It is a key element of the context of the current hostilities."

Note, it is not the key element, merely a key element.

Oh, and there's a photo of grieving Palestinian civilians balanced by one of grieving Israeli troops.

Say no more.

It is sanitised, so-called balanced (mis)representations like this that help perpetuate the interminable suffering of the Palestinian people. What a bloody shame!

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Side of Israel the World Too Rarely Acknowledges

Now here's a surprise. Not:

"Reports by UN observers in the Golan Heights over the past 18 months reveal the type and extent of cooperation between Israel and Syrian opposition figures... [I]n March 2013... Israel started admitting injured Syrians for medical treatment in Safed and Nahariya hospitals. The Syrian ambassador to the UN complained of widespread cooperation between Israel and Syrian rebels, not only treatment of the wounded but also other aid. Israel at first asserted the injured were civilians reaching the border of their own initiative and without prior coordination because they could not obtain suitable treatment in Syria. Later, as the numbers increased, Israel said it was coordinating with civilians but not opposition groups. However, the reports reveal direct contact between the IDF and armed opposition members... Observers remarked in the report distributed on June 10 [2013] that they identified IDF soldiers on the Israeli side handing over two boxes to armed Syrian opposition members on the Syrian side." (UN reveals Israeli links with Syrian rebels, Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 7/12/14)

Now I've already raised the question (in my 3/9/13 post Our Man in Tel Aviv 2) of why Australia's ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, was peddling Israeli propaganda in Murdoch's Australian last year. Just to remind you:

"About 72 Syrian patients have been admitted to Ziv Medical Centre [in Safed] since February [2013]... They have harrowing stories and horrific injuries. Suffering from shrapnel and bullet wounds, burns and crush injuries, they have somehow managed to limp to the border with Israel, from where they are then transferred to Ziv Medical Centre... On the day I visited, I saw how doctors had managed to save the leg of an 8-year-old girl from amputation by use of some of the most advanced surgical techniques and injury treatment protocols... Ziv hospital is a profound example of humanity and decency at its most compelling. It is Israel at its very best, and a side of Israel that the world too rarely acknowledges." (Origin no bar to Israeli lifesavers, Dave Sharma, 31/8/13 - See my 3/9/13 post Our Man in Tel Aviv 2 for the Full Monty.)

That question, still unanswered, takes on a whole new urgency, it seems to me, in light of the Israeli support for anti-Asad (pro-?) forces reported by UN observers (not to mention our latest intervention in Iraq extending at some stage to include Syria). Surely, the Australian public is entitled to know whether these UN observer reports were available to DFAT, and hence to Sharma and his staff last year?

If so, then the question arises of Australia's knowing participation in an Israeli cover-up:

Haaretz: "Israel at first asserted the injured were civilians reaching the border of their own initiative and without prior coordination..."

Sharma: "... they have somehow managed to limp to the border with Israel... "

If not (ie, assuming that they have only just become available, didn't anyone - DFAT, Sharma, Sharma's staff - smell a rat? I mean, can they really be that clueless?

Oh yes, and why hasn't the above UN/Haaretz revelation been reported in the Australian mainstream media? After all, to borrow Sharma's words: "It is... a side of Israel that the world too rarely acknowledges."

How true!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Israel's Final Solution of the Palestinian Problem

Seeing the last 3 posts are all on the fate of the Palestinian refugees of 1948, it'd be remiss of me if I didn't draw your attention to the following words. They deserve to be better known:

"Ben-Gurion opposed any Israeli involvement in efforts to resolve [the problem of the Palestinian refugees]. He was convinced, along with [foreign minister] Moshe Sharett and other Israeli leaders, that the problem would disappear with time. The following evaluation prepared by the Near East Department of the Foreign Ministry is instructive: 'The [Palestinian] refugees will find their place in the diaspora. Those who can resist will live thanks to natural selection, the others will simply crumble. Some of them will persist, but the majority will become a human heap, the scum of the earth and will sink into the lowest levels of the Arab world'." (New Light on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Amnon Kapeliouk, Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring, 1987, pp 20-1)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Children of a Lesser God 3

The Spectator correspondence which followed the publication of Tweedy's 1949 essay on the plight of the Palestinian refugees is also of great interest.

Here, for example, is the usual slick Zionist propaganda, all bedside manner and sweet reason - until, that is, you reach the final paragraph, which is chilling in its implications:

"Mr Owen Tweedy's eloquent plea on behalf of Arab refugees in their terrible plight performs a valued service at this time when both parties are at last seated around the same table to discuss their common destiny. It was probably not his intention to do so, but he does leave an impression of Israeli intractability on this issue, as if the Jews had callously washed their hands of this vast human tragedy in order the better to solve their own. This is not strictly in accordance with the facts.

"Jewish leaders have not denied that the problem of Arab refugees could be included in the final peace settlement, and in this connection your readers may be interested in the following extract from the New York Times of January 17th, 1949: 'The attitude of Israel towards the Arab refugees who fled the territory occupied by Israel was discussed yesterday by Foreign Minister Shertok. He expressed the view that Israel should compensate the refugees for their property on condition that the money be used constructively to settle them in new homes and not 'frittered away' in temporary relief measures... In declaring that the refugees should receive compensation for property they left behind, Mr Shertok was careful to make clear that he was stating his own view. Official policy on the subject has not yet been decided, he said. Obviously, however, the question is up for consideration as Arabs and Israelis sit down to negotiate for the first time in the history of the long conflict over Palestine... We are prepared to do our share in resettlement of the refugees. It has become an international problem and we are ready to help solve it, not only in planning but in contributing funds for the relocating of these people.'  

"Would it be unreasonable to suggest a solution on the basis of an exchange of population? All the Arab States contain Jewish populations whose existence must be a cause at present of mutual discomfort, and here perhaps would be an opportunity for constructive U.N. leadership in an area where that authority has not proved an invariable failure." Barnet Litvinoff, 11/3/49

Would it be unreasonable? Would it what!

 Litvinoff's letter drew the following devastating riposte:

"Your correspondent, Mr Litvinoff, is clearly more accustomed to living in a house rather than a home. Presumably he would not mind being expelled from that house, and being told to go and live in, say, Australia, where there is plenty of room. In the same way he expects Arabs, who have been expelled from their homes, to go elsewhere. But Dr Gruber has reminded us lately that we are dealing with human beings, not pawns on a chessboard. Mr Litvinoff naively quotes the report in an American newspaper of Mr Shertok's intentions. He would do better to read Mr Shertok's own words in Count Bernadotte's last report, published by H.M. Stationery Office.* It would satisfy even Hitler that might is right, and its brutality is staggering." Elinor Moore, 18/3/49

[*Moore was reacting to such words as: "[T]he return during the truce of thousands of displaced Arabs to the State of Israel... would most seriously handicap the war effort and war-readiness of Israel by bringing into its territory a politically explosive and economically destitute element and by saddling its Government with responsibility for all the ensuing complications." Shertok also spins the expulsion as "a mass exodus, mostly spontaneous." (Annex II)]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Children of a Lesser God 2

Owen Tweedy continued:

"How and why has all this happened? I have talked to political Israelis about these Arab displaced persons. Four months ago the official view is that Israel would not have them back. 'Arabs attacked Jewish settlements,' one man said to me. 'Jews attacked Arab villages. The Jews stuck it out. The Arabs ran away,' and he shrugged his shoulders. 'Anyhow, war is war, just as omelettes are broken eggs; and it was the Arab League which attacked us first.' This is, of course, good Israeli politics and good Israeli propaganda.

"But it is cold comfort to the 800,000 destitute Arab refugees. They want two things only - to get their homes back and to have some security for themselves and their children. They did panic, and they know it; but as one parent in a Transjordan camp recently said to a British welfare worker, 'Would you have stayed yourself? Our villages weren't barbed-wired, trenched and sand-bagged like the Jewish settlements, every one of which also had an official arsenal for defence. We hadn't any arms and were defenceless. And the massacre at Deir Yasin village near Jerusalem had taught us what those brutal Jewish terrorists could do. Would you have left your wife and children to their tender mercies?' But there are many other refugees who were expelled from their homes by Israeli storm-troops. An Arab village would be captured, its inhabitants lined up, men, women and children, and without being given even 5 minutes grace to collect bare personal necessities from their houses, they would be told to make their own way as best they could to the Arab lines. They went, and their villages were taken over by Israeli immigrants newly arrived from Europe. Lebensraum.

"History will eventually give its verdict on all this. Some blame must lie at the door of Israeli shock politicians and soldiers with their slogan that the means justify the end. Some is equally due to Arab political leaders who, when the time came, either could not or would not lead the people they had boasted they would save. And the Powers of the U.N.O. are far from being clear of blame. They have jostled Palestine from political pillar to political post - often for unworthy purposes of local manoeuvre and advantage. We in Britain are not guiltless. Nor is America or the Soviet Union. The curse of Palestine since the day when the Balfour Declaration started the Arab-Jewish problem, which had never existed before, has been politics and propaganda. Its victims today are those displaced Arabs in their hopeless camps. And the paradox is that their plight is largely the result of finding homes in Palestine for those Jewish refugees whose terrible fate in Germany was moving all the world to compassion and action only ten years ago.

"This is no time for talk about pro-Arabs and pro-Israelis. To show sympathy with this newly dispossessed Arab population is not to be anti-Semite. Their tragedy is a human tragedy, and deep in the hearts of many of us - Moslems, Christians and, yes, Jews - who have homes and the security of a home-life far from the tension of want and fear, there is an uneasiness, a guilty sense that something has happened to these luckless victims of circumstance beyond their control or comprehension for which we and our politics are responsible. The immediate problem is to save life. Time is passing, and the urgency of the problem brooks no further administrative delays in U.N.O. What is needed is powerful leadership and generous and humane sympathy.

"The ultimate solution will come slowly and will be hard to achieve. But Dr Weizmann, the President of the new Israeli State, has declared his wish for an understanding with the Arabs, and no understanding can be complete which ignores the problem of the future of these Arab refugees. In its solution Israel can play an intimate and crucial role. But before that can happen bridges must be built. At the moment no gesture would be more eloquent of the sincerity of Dr Weizmann's wish for understanding than an immediate non-political expression of Israeli sympathy with the refugees, backed by an unqualified offer of Israeli help in cash and kind. It would be the hand of real friendship; for throughout the centuries no people in the world have had a more bitter experience of the hopelessness of refugee existence than the Jews themselves."

The emptying of Palestine of its indigenous inhabitants, described by Tweedy, took place 66 years ago. To date, the Israelis have adamantly refused the return of these refugees to their homes and land. Worse, they created hundreds of thousands more when they stormed into the West Bank in 1967.

To be continued...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Children of a Lesser God 1

Richard Crossman was a British Labor MP and socialist intellectual. In 1946, he was appointed a member of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry - a body charged with finding a solution to Britain's most astonishing own-goal, the Palestine PROBLEM. In his book on the committee's work and findings, Palestine Mission (1946), he wrote as follows:

"I found... that my mind had been made up during our weeks in Palestine, on the conflicting claims of Jews and Arabs. I accepted Dr Weizmann's analysis. The choice was between two injustices, and we had to decide which injustice was the lesser. Looking at the position of the Palestinian Arab, I had to admit that no western colonist in any other country had done so little harm, or disturbed so little the life of the indigenous people. Arab patriotism and Arab self-respect had been deeply affronted and would continue to be affronted by the development of the [Jewish] national home; but if I believed in social progress I had to admit that the Jews had set going revolutionary forces in the Middle East which, in the long run, would benefit the Arabs. It was by reacting to the Zionist invader that the Arab was learning to fend for himself in an industrial world. He had been cheated and duped and imposed on by the west, and he would remain violently resentful for some time to come; but I was convinced that all this was a lesser injustice which must be accepted for the sake of the building of a Jewish Commonwealth. Of course, the injustice must be reduced to a minimum and I rejected for that reason the demand of the Zionists to include in a Jewish state the wholly Arab mountain areas. [MERC: He means today's West Bank.*] I do not think I would have reached this conclusion if the national home had merely been a national home. In Palestine I had come to realize that it was something more - a socialist commonwealth, intensely democratic, intensely collectivist, and strong enough to fend for itself." (pp 176-77)

In keeping with the Eurocentric, colonial mentality which characterised Labor leftists of his ilk, Crossman was obviously so overawed by the collective effort and material progress evident in the immigrant Zionist movement's showcase colonies as to overlook the simple fact that the indigenous Palestinian Arab majority was being prevented from exercising its fundamental right of national self-determination.

His facile assumption that the Palestinian Arabs would somehow "benefit" from Zionist colonisation, a staple of the Zionist propaganda of the day, would not, of course, stand the test of time. Within three years of Crossman penning the above words, the bulk of Palestine's indigenous Arab majority would be expelled from its ancestral homeland by armed Zionist terror gangs. Whether Crossman had anything to say about that after the event I simply do not know.

I leave it to another observer, the British journalist and civil servant, Owen Tweedy, writing in February 1949, to describe the aftermath:

"Meanwhile well over 100,000 Israeli immigrants from Europe have already arrived [in Israel]. Many have been drafted into the fighting forces, and homes for some 40,000 others have been found in vacated Arab towns, villages and farms. The official scale of further arrivals has been announced at the rate of 100,000 a year until the total of the newcomers reaches at least the million mark; and all will require Lebensraum. As a result of all these processes and plans, the old Palestine of the last 30 years is, I am told, being - as it were - rapidly rubbed clean off the slate.. Buoyant Israel has spread over at least two-thirds of the tiny country, and the remaining third... has lost all geographic identity and is now little more than the last refuge in Palestine for some 320,000 Arab refugees from the evacuated Arab towns and villages now in Israeli occupation. A further 480,000 are herded in hundreds of thousands in the Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan and Iraq.

"The last estimate of the Arab population in Palestine was in the neighbourhood of 1,250,000 persons. Today 800,000 of them have lost their Palestinian homes. Thus in the fruitful nine months since the British Mandate ended last May the State of Israel has been born and, on the other side of the account, the problem of a displaced Palestinian Arab population has been created on a scale reminiscent of the worst of wartime in Europe. This outcome invites a sad reference to the Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917. 'His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish People and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of that object, it being understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' The Declaration was endorsed by the League of Nations and by America. Today, 32 years later, about two-thirds of these non-Jewish (i.e. Arab) communities are homeless and adrift and, to all effect and purpose, stateless.

"Their plight is grim. None of the neighbouring Arab countries where they are camped had the resources or facilities to cater for such a sudden increase of population. Transjordan, for instance, with a population of its own of only 300,000, was called on to feed and house 100,000 refugees. A majority of these derelicts are women and children unaccompanied by men. They come mostly from the ranks of the very poor. They have now lost even the very little they ever had and are helpless and hopeless. Most of their camps, thanks to a timely gift from the British Government, are now tented; but this February is exceptionally severe in the Middle East, and existence in a tent in the bleak highlands of Judaea, Samaria and Transjordan against driving snow must be a terrible ordeal. To relieve day-to-day distress some financial help to buy stores and food has come from the British Government, from funds of the Secretariat of U.N.O. and from charitable organisations here and in the Middle East. The distribution of relief is now undertaken on the spot by the International Red Cross, the American Friends' Service Committee and the League of Red Cross Societies. They are helped magnificently by local volunteer workers - most of them Arab reinforced by British and others. And much has been done. But constructive relief is handicapped by delay - delay in voting Governmental grants from the West; delay in U.N.O. decisions, and local transport delays. The outcome is a woeful shortage - on the one hand of essential supervisory staff; on the other of food itself, and of medical stores, clothing and camp equipment - and disease and illness are taking a heavy toll of life." (The Arab expulsion, Owen Tweedy, The Spectator, 25/2/49)

[*Here's Crossman writing in his Diaries of a Cabinet Minister (1976), June 5, 1967: "Back from the Chamber in my room I was delighted to have a visit from Remez, the Israeli Ambassador... He gave me a very full and accurate briefing on how hostilities started. I asked him about Israeli intentions towards Jordan and he replied that they intended to occupy the hills of Samaria but gave me an assurance that they would not occupy the whole West Bank because they want King Hussein of Jordan to survive... 'Do you really mean that about the West Bank?' 'Yes,' he said, 'we don't want to get 600,000 Arabs inside Israel. All we need is the triangle and the Samaria hills'." A footnote at the bottom of the page (365, Volume 2) reads: "By the end of the week the Jews had occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem."]

To be continued...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tony Abbott's Secret Weapon

Hm... rumblings of discontent at Murdoch's mouthpiece, The Australian:

"Tony Abbott's transition from opposition leader to Prime Minister has failed (Cruising in opposition, adrift in government)," declared political editor Dennis Shanahan in yesterday's emission.

But only to be overruled by foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan:

"The conservative critique of the Abbott government is becoming excessive and a little unhinged... The Prime Minister has made some mistakes, so has his government. That's in the nature of politics. Indeed it's in the nature of the human race, to which so many politicians belong." (Keep calm & don't carry on)

Greg & Tone, of course, are besties from way back. For example:

"No doubt the silliest thing we did at the [Australian Union of Students] conference [at Monash University in 1977] was to attend a Palestinian film night. Because AUS was spending our money, we wanted to assert, non-violently, our right to be there. So we heckled the film a bit. Although we were outnumbered 10 to 1... the film was stopped and we were told we had to leave. We were making the point that we shouldn't have to leave because the evening was being funded by our compulsorily collected student union dues. One woman from the far Left came up behind Abbott, took off her wooden clog and whacked him hard over the back of the head. I'll never forget Abbott's response. He turned round, paused and said: 'Madam, if you were not a lady, I'd be tempted to strike you back. Then we left." (See my 13/9/12 post Greg & Tony Do Monash 1.)

Now you'll notice here a feature of Tone's life that seems to have escaped most commentators (but not of course his bestie!): women seem to bring out the best in him.

In the above case, for example, a good whack over the head - by a woman -  worked wonders; no more heckling, no more lip, no biff, just iron self-control and an orderly retreat. But there's more:

"There is one episode in Abbott's life I witnessed but don't often recount because my own role was so utterly unheroic. In 1977, Abbott and I were lying on the sand at a surf beach some distance out of Melbourne. The surf was way too rough for either of us to go in. Suddenly a woman came up to us screaming. Her son had been pulled out by a rip and was in bad trouble. I was a weak swimmer and had I dived in someone would very soon have had to rescue me. Abbott was a strong swimmer and pretty much without hesitation jumped in, swam out to the kid, took hold of him, dragged him down the coastline a bit to get past the rip, and brought him safely to shore. He was not a bit interested in the mother's thanks, rather a bit disgusted the kid had gone out in such treacherous surf." (A contest between constructed man and unreconstructed man, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 17/8/13)

Another woman! But for her we'd have had no idea what an absolute bloody hero the man is.

It must surely have been the above feminine (angelic?) interventions that inspired Greg to come up with the only possible solution to Tone's current predicament: 

"Finally, while no one appreciates good foreign policy more than I do, Abbott has had too much of his time eaten up by foreign issues. He needs to be out and about among the electorate, preferably with his wife, Margie, who, through her poise, dignity and manifest niceness, softens and humanises Abbott, and reminds people that Abbott himself is an exceptionally good bloke who is very easy to relate to." (Keep calm...)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sheridan Sheds Tears for Middle East Christians 2

Just to finish off:

"The Syrian civil war has been a catastrophe for Syria's Christians. Many have been killed. Many have fled."

And who, O Suppository of All Wisdom, do you suppose is killing Syria's Christians (and other non-Christian minorities)?

Sectarian gangs, armed and trained by that pinnacle of 'Western civilisation', the US (and its camp followers).

"It must drolly and with some bitter irony be recalled, too, that Christians fared a little better in Iraq under Saddam Hussein than during the past 10 years."

Now there's an admission for you! But how grudging is: "fared a little better"?

Do I have to wheel in an Iraqi Christian here? So be it:

"Rana stepped out of church in Baghdad December 2006 to find an envelope wedged against her car windshield. Inside was a bullet - a message that she and her family were next on an assassin's list. They fled the city the next day, leaving behind a business, a home - everything. 'I don't like Saddam Hussein, but he didn't bother the Christians,' said Rana, 29, after a church service in London. 'He was a dictator. When he went, the gangs came from everywhere'," ('People turned on Christians': persecuted Iraqi minorities reflect on life after Saddam, Andrew Testa,, 19/3/13)

And who unleashed those sectarian gangs?

Correct, 'Western civilisation'.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sheridan Sheds Tears for Middle East Christians 1

Uncharacteristically, the Australian's foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, hasn't uttered a word in defence of Israel for almost 6 months now, which must be some kind of record for him. Until now that is. His latest thumbs-up for Jewish State in the Levant (JSIL) comes in the guise of a lament for the plight of the Middle East's Christians:

"Pope Francis was in Istanbul this week to draw attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The Pope leads 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. With Bartholomew, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox, who leads 300 million Orthodox Christians, the Pope said: 'We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians who have professed the name of Jesus there for 2000 years.' You would think the world might take notice of this. If so, you would be wrong. This week the Catholic Church has dedicated itself to making society aware of the dire straits in which their co-religionists suffer in the Middle East. Yet there has been no interest in Australia." (We can but mourn for the voiceless Christians of the Middle East, 4/12/14)

So who's to blame here? Why, Edward Said, of course! But let Sheridan explain:

"The nonsensical Edward Said popularised the idea that the West dehumanises the 'other' by making it exotic. Thus we are warned in every part of our culture not to demonise the other. That is quite right, so far as it goes. But this translates into a weird reflex in which any group at war with the West is presumed to be, at least in part, virtuously the 'other'. We demonise ourselves, and we especially demonise anything which smacks of Western civilisation in any part of the world which was once colonised. Middle East Christians suffer from this prejudice in the West. Israel does, too. As part of Western civilisation, it earns whole layers of extra hostility. Hating Israel is part of hating Western civilisation, the default position of the inheritors of the detritus of Marxism in successor ideologies like the Greens."

OK, so if I've got him right, the Catholic Church, Middle Eastern Christians and Israel, are all representatives or extensions of what he calls "Western civilisation" vis-a-vis Said's Muslim 'other'. Now let's, for the sake of argument, assume he's right, OK? Wouldn't that make them all, so to speak, family then? One big, happy Judeo-Christian family?

Since Sheridan's introduced the subject of Israel, let's explore the above idea in relation to Palestinian Christians.

As the representatives of 'Western civilisation' already in Palestine when those exemplary agents of 'Western civilisation', the Zionists, first arrived, wouldn't you have expected them to put out the welcome  mat?

Well, guess what? The buggers failed dismally to stick to Sheridan's script:

"On behalf of my brethren, the Christian heads of the different Arab Christian Communities, I speak in the name of the Arab Christian Churches in Palestine. I am an Arab and my connections with the Byzantine Church do not deprive me of being an Arab with Arab blood running in my veins - just as an Englishman is English whether he is Roman Catholic or Anglican. We have confined our statement to three main points: 1. The Christian Arabs in Palestine have everything in common with their Moslem brethren. Religious beliefs do not in any way make them two peoples. They cherish the same hopes and fears and they strive for one goal - freedom and independence. 2. Zionism is a menace to the Christian as well as to the Moslem population in Palestine. A Jewish state in Palestine would result in a gradual decrease in the Arab population and as a consequence the holy places will become lifeless skeletons of stones guarded by monks and devoid of believers. 3. Lastly, the claim of the Zionists to Palestine is based on Biblical promises in the Old Testament. These promises were abrogated by the New Testament; and all promises given to the people of Israel in the Old Testament have been annulled by the advent of Christ." (The Melkite Archbishop of Galilee quoted in the Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry, Palestine, 1946)

And once the new Judeo-Christian dispensation known as Israel was established in Palestine in May, 1948, wouldn't you have expected church bells to begin ringing throughout the land? Jews and Christians dancing together in the streets? Inter-faith celebrations lasting well into the night?

Alas, only if, like Tony Abbott, Sheridan's your 'Suppository of All Wisdom':

"Yaacov [Herzog, head of the department of Christian Communities in the Ministry of Religious Affairs] had to devote much of his time to an unpleasant problem that arose during the War of Independence - namely, the desecration of churches and monasteries by IDF soldiers, the looting of their properties, and offensive misuse of their premises. Such abuse had occurred in many places throughout the [1948] war..." (Yaacov Herzog: A Biography, Michael Bar-Zohar, 2003, p 90)

"The neighborhoods of West Jerusalem that were once predominantly Christian - including the German Colony, Talbiya, and Qatamon - were seized by Israel in the war in 1948. The families that fled the fighting were never permitted to return. After the armistice agreement, their homes were seized by Israel's 'Custodian of Absentee Property,' and the Jewish Agency turned them over to new Jewish immigrants." (The Body & the Blood: The Middle East's Vanishing Christians & the Possibility for Peace, Charles M. Sennott, 2001, p 24)

"During the Arab-Israeli war last June [1967] there was much concern about the fate of the holy places in the Old City of Jerusalem. In fact, apart from the church of St Anne, damage to Christian shrines was slight. This was not, however, the case with other Christian property in the Israeli-occupied sector of Jerusalem, belonging to the three major sects, the Latins, Greeks and Armenians. The annexation of the Old City to west Jerusalem, and the return of buildings and cemeteries belonging to them on Mount Sion after a lapse of 20 years, has revealed that these have been extensively desecrated by the occupying forces, and have fared far worse than anything in the Old City during the war. These Christian properties are on the summit of Mount Sion, just outside the city walls to the south. From 1948 until 1967 they were technically in Israel, but the general public was forbidden access to them, and they were under the direct control of the Israeli army.

"Amongst the buildings is the Armenian church of St Saviour, by tradition built on the house of Caiaphas; it is a 15th-century structure... It belongs to the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which is also located on Mount Sion, but within the walls of Jerusalem. Since 1948 the prelates of the Armenian church have been unable to visit St Saviour's either from Jordan or Israel. Some years ago a UN truce supervisor was asked about the church, but was unable to get inside it. At the time, he expressed the private opinion that it was being used as an advanced Israeli machine-gun post. "The evidence of recent photographs and reports has proved this conjecture to be correct. The monastery buildings around the church were fortified by the Israelis, and the walls between individual cells demolished to make a continuous passage; the windows were filled with sandbags, and wooden gun emplacements. It is clear that they attached considerable importance to the site, as it commanded the south-west angle of the Old City.

"Less comprehensible was the behaviour of the Israeli soldiers during 20 years of occupation of the buildings. The courtyard of the church of St Saviour is the traditional burying-place of the Patriarchs of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem, and at least 14 of the venerable tombs were smashed open, and their contents desecrated. Two were demolished and excavated to a depth of 6 feet below the ground. "The interior of the church of St Saviour is a scene of total devastation. The carved and gilded altar has been wrecked, and an altar painting lies destroyed on the floor below. The oil paintings that decorated the upper part of the north and south walls have been torn out of their frames leaving only tattered shreds of canvas. Many of the Kutahya tiles, brought specially from Turkey by Armenian pilgrims in the early 18th century, have been ripped from the walls; those that have not been stolen lie smashed on the ground, along with a tangled mass of broken church furniture. The valuable collection of old church vestments has completely disappeared. "So has the well-known Byzantine mosaic, which was in the basement of the monastery. Pere Vincent, the distinguished French scholar, once described it as 'une tres belle mosaique... du IV/V siecle'. It has been expertly lifted and removed. It is common knowledge that the Israeli Minister of Defence, General dayan, has an amateur interest in antiquities; some of his troops would seem to have emulated him.

"Adjacent to the Armenian church is the Greek Orthodox cemetery on Mount Sion, which to judge from the photographs now resembles a film set for the Resurrection. Practically every tomb in the cemetery is smashed. Fragments of marble crosses, angels' wings, and inscriptions lie inextricably mixed with human bones, blackened tree stumps, and the remains of rockets and shells. In contrast to the sack of the Armenian church, the damage could conceivably have been the result of the two wars, in 1948 and 1967, rather than systematic pillage. However, there is no doubt that the cemetery was also occupied by Israeli soldiers; there are well-beaten paths between the tombs, and one of the outhouses is labelled NIGHT CLUB. More graffiti, in Hebrew and English, must have been added by other soldiers to while away their time.

"The state of the third cemetery on Mount Sion, belonging to the Latin church, has been described in a recent issue of the Catholic journal, La Terre Sainte, by the Very Reverend Father Andres. Procureur-General in the Holy Land since 1962, he speaks with authority as he has had the task of supervising the repairs to the damaged cemetery. He begins by deploring the overthrowing of Jewish tombstones by the Arabs of the Mount of Olives - the subject of a recent Israeli White Paper - but observes that they did not, as far as is known, actually drag the corpses out of the tombs, as happened with so many Christian graves. He published several macabre photographs, showing smashed tombs in the Catholic cemetery, with the remains of coffins and the deceased strewn all around. In conclusion he rightly asks why these acts of profanation by the Israelis were not also mentioned in the White Paper.

"As the non-Arab Christian communities are by no means involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, one wonders what possible reason there can have been for the desecration of their cemeteries and churches. It is clear that the pillage and destruction was carried out over a period of years, suggesting that the soldiers' misconduct was condoned by successive generations of Israeli officers. Since the war the Israelis have made it quite clear that whilst some of the recently occupied territories might possibly be negotiable, the Old City is excluded from any bargaining and that they intend to stay. This must give pause for thought to the three major Christian sects in Jerusalem, in light of what has happened to their property during 20 years of occupation; they must surely view the future with apprehension, however much the Israeli government may attempt to reassure them of its benevolence." (The Desecration of Christian Cemeteries & Church property in Israel, Basic Documents Series No. 5, The Institute for Palestine Studies, 1968)

To be continued...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Crazy As...

A salutary 'I told you so' from an extremely ex-Israeli:

Israel has always been crazy by Avigail Abarbanel*

"It's not a big claim to fame, but I've been saying for years that Israeli society is crazy. I escaped from Israel for that reason.Phil Weiss's analysis (Psst! Is Israel going crazy?) is correct except for one point, and that is that the sentiments he describes have always been there. It's not something new that emerged only recently.

"I grew up with this craziness all around me. I recognise the language. I was brought up (I was born in 1964) to believe that the 'Arabs' (the word 'Palestinian' was generally not used in my childhood) could not be trusted, that 'they' are not like 'us', and that they are treacherous and would stab me in the back if I relaxed and trusted them. We were always kept apart from the Palestinian citizens of Israel, let alone the Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza. Gaza in fact was a symbol for a cursed place. When someone annoyed you said, 'Go to Gaza', the equivalent of 'Go to Hell'. That was normal, day-to-day Hebrew in my youth. The first time I met a Palestinian as an equal was in Australia in my early thirties.

"Without knowing it, I grew up with classical colonial rhetoric. Colonisers motivated by fear, and possibly guilt, have always demonised the people they have hurt. For some people it is easier to inflict suffering if if they don't see the other as a fellow human being. Dehumanisation helps to reduce empathy and shut down the conscience. It happens everywhere there is injustice and abuse.

"The difference now is that these generally informal but widespread social attitudes to the colonised are now in power. Drunk with their new-found freedom, out of the shadows with no need to hide themselves any longer, free from worry about 'world public opinion', they're now celebrating and feasting. Politicians are outdoing one another, acting out and giving life to their most depraved and murderous fantasies. And they are out of control. But please don't make the mistake of thinking that these feelings and urges are confined to a lunatic fringe. They are not. They are supported by the majority of Israeli Jews, and, as Phil says, they are led from the front by top politicians who are changing the legal system in order to create an environment that better caters to these attitudes so that they can be unleashed legally and thrive.

"Israel has always been mad and bad. How can it not be when it is based on a fearful, traumatised, paranoid, settler-colonialist culture with a sense of eternal entitlement, and built on the ruins of an indigenous culture it has worked so hard to eliminate? Israel has always done bad things, terrible things. Ask the Palestinians, the asylum seekers, the poor, women. But previously things were done in secret. When Israel was young and poor and needed the world, it was keen to project an image of legality, reason, refinement, intellect and democracy to fit in with the Western world it so wanted to be part of. What was always just underneath that thin veneer, but which every Israeli Jew knew and supported, is now out in the open. Israel and its culture is simply heading toward its logical conclusion. What is happening now was inevitable, the logical next step. It is impossible to sustain the split reality of a civilised, law-abiding, educated, cultured, refined, enlightened society while colonialism, with its injustices and atrocities, continues to rage. Enlightenment can only truly exist on a foundation of justice and freedom. Anything else is self-serving and short-lived nonsense. Most Israeli academics not only support their regime, they benefit from it. Watch as the majority of them say nothing about these new developments.

"As ugly and as dangerous as these developments are, it is a good thing that the truth is finally out. Israel should never have been supported in the first place, but it'll be increasingly hard for anyone to continue to support a country that is following the path Israel is on. Like all sick societies Israel is its own worst enemy. It feels invincible and justified and simply doesn't care what others think about it. This is a lethal cocktail.

"I never trusted that country. I was always terrified of it becoming truly and openly fascist. As a woman I never liked the way religion played a central role in Israeli society, and was always worried that it would eventually take over. I always felt oppressed by the atmosphere of suspicion and harshness and the obsession with 'security' and control, which has tragically infected the entire Western world. I was afraid of it 23 years ago when I left, and thought it'd come sooner than it has, but it is finally happening. Fascism cannot take hold unless the sentiments that feed it are widespread. Watch how many secular Jews with dual citizenship will start leaving, and then it's time to really start worrying about the Palestinians. It's quite possible that we'll begin to see a trickle of Jewish refugees from Israel, members of more enlightened groups who've begun to be persecuted and hunted. It would be a chilling irony for Jews to be seeking asylum from a 'Jewish' state.

"And to think that once upon a time I was worried that I was too extreme or unreasonable with some of my predictions about Israel. It's all in its psychology and it has always been there. I told you so." (, 2/12/14)

*Avigail Abarbanel was born and raised in Israel. She moved to Australia in 1991 and now lives in Scotland. She works as a psychotherapist in private practice and is an activist for Palestinian rights. She is the editor of Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists (2012).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rambamming Pays Off in Victoria

You know what cynical voters say: Whoever you vote for, a politician always gets in. In the wake of the Victorian state election, maybe that should be amended to read: Whoever you vote for, a Zionist always gets in:

"The Victorian Labor Party under Daniel Andrews will form a new state government. It is particularly noteworthy that they have a distinguished track record of friendship and support for the Victorian Jewish community; and the state of Israel. Long before it was clear that he had strong prospects of election, Premier-elect Daniel Andrews is [sic] one of many Victorian Labor MPs who visited Israel in 2013*... on Dan Andrews' return, the then-Opposition Leader expressed admiration for Israel's innovation, calling it 'a place built on endeavour and courage'..." (New government for Victoria, Michael Danby,, 2/12/14)

[*James Merlino, Martin Foley, Marsha Thomson, Frank McGuire, Telmo Languiller, Judith Graley, Xavier Williams & Janice Munt.]

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pressure Cooker Palestine

"Mohamed Abu Jamal has barely slept in the past 10 days. Every time he closes his eyes he is overwhelmed by the struggle to understand his son's violent actions and to survive the Israeli government's decision to punish his family for those actions... His son's actions came out of nowhere, he says... My son was not religious, he did not go to the mosque to pray - I couldn't believe my child would do such a thing,' Mr Abu Jamal says. But after days of agonising over how someone so loved could commit such an act, he says this: 'When an external force exerts such pressure on a person and makes it impossible for him to live, to earn his daily bread, when you increase the psychological pressure on people, when you add the Gaza war and all those who we saw die, you can feel such despair. All of this combined with his financial difficulties led to this moment... they forced him into a corner, he was suffocating.' 'They' is the Netanyahu government, which Mr Abu Jamal says intentionally pushed Palestinians to the edge with increased land grabs, settlement construction and overwhelming military force. 'Even now they are still pushing, they have yet to return the bodies of my son or his cousin. They cannot commit a crime when they are already dead, so why is the government choosing to punish us?' he asks, crying quietly, his hand covering his face. 'I believe in peace, I believe in a two-state solution but I also believe in dignity for my people, and there is no dignity here'." (Home demolitions wreak vengeance on offenders' families, Ruth Pollard, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/11/14)

No comment needed.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


There was a child went forth everyday,
And the first object she looked upon, that object she became,
And that object became part of her for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and red morning-glories and the song of the phoebe-bird...
And the apple-trees covered with blossoms and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that passed on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that passed, and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheeked girls,
And all the changes of city and country wherever she went...
Her own parents; he that had fathered her and she that had conceived her in her womb and birthed her, They gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave her afterward every day, they became part of her. 

(From There Was a Child Who Went Forth by Walt Whitman

The streets of Gaza were flooded the day we returned. Axle-deep water was playing havoc with traffic - trapping cars in the middle of the road...

This is Gaza, on the cusp of winter - wet, cold and dirty.

In roadside garages groups of Palestinians were huddled around fires burning in drums or simply on the concrete floor. Outside, spirited smiling children wade through the knee-deep water in bare feet. The scars of war in Gaza are still obvious - many destroyed buildings are left in ruins...

Almost 4 months on, I have been drawn back to Gaza by the face of a seven-year-old girl. Her name is Aseel Al-Bakri.

The last time I saw her was on August 4. She was lying in a morgue at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, a few hours after an Israeli airstrike had killed her.

That day, the ABC crew in Gaza had arrived at her house, just minutes after it had been crushed from above. The concrete structure was a crumpled mess of twisted metal and the destroyed remnants of a family's life. We watched and filmed as the girl's tiny body was rushed out on a stretcher, and thousands of Palestinians swarmed around the rubble in the summer heat.

Ever since, I have wondered why Aseel Al-Bakri's home was targeted by an Israeli bomb. So I have come back to Gaza to find out.

After several detours around the floodwater, we arrive at Martyrs Square street in the ash-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. I immediately recognise the house... still a mass of rubble lying untouched.

Over the road we meet Aseel's father, Mohammed Al-Bakri, and his 4 surviving children.

It turns out, his daughter, Aseel was not the only death that day. His wife, infant daughter, brother and nephew were also killed in the same air strike.

Now the family lives in 3 small rooms across the street. The children bear the scars of the lethal attack.

Ten-year-old Haneen has burns on her face and wears a brace on one arm. 'I can't bend my elbow properly,' she said. 'I had to have a skin transplant onto my face, and you can see the burns on my forehead.'

On the morning of August 4 Haneen and her little sister Aseel had just returned from buying falafel. Their mother Ibtisam was baking bread and the family was preparing to eat breakfast. That is the last thing the children remember. Their next recollection is waking up in a Gaza hospital and being told their mother and two sisters were dead.

Mr Al-Bakri is a religious man. He stoically insists that his wife and two children are now in a better place. 'It was very sad for me to discover what happened,' he said. 'But we believe in God and we wish that they are all now in heaven.' When pressed, he opens up a little more about the family's trauma. 'I can't explain what I'm feeling right now. I can't hide my sadness. I feel stressed and depressed,' he said.

His eldest daughter Yasmeen, 12, sits listening as her father speaks. Later she too talks about the death of her mothers and sisters. 'I remember the nice times we used to have going with my mother to visit our grandparents. I miss playing with Aseel and talking to her,' she said.

Ever since the air strike, the Al-Bakri family has been moving from place to place, living where they can. They cannot afford to rebuild. Everything was destroyed and the family only has two grainy photographs of Aseel. In one, the 7-year-old is smiling at the camera as she holds her 8-momth-old sister Asma, who was also killed... "

(From Gaza conflict: Family of child killed in Israeli air strike relives attack, Hayden Cooper,, 30/11/14)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Palestine Problem Simply & Directly Explained

The two blackest dates in the Palestinian calender fall in November.

The first is November 2, the day in 1917 when the British government - in the infamous Balfour Declaration - promised Palestine to the Zionist movement.

On that day, Britain paved the way for the coming eviction of the Palestinian people from its ancestral homeland.

The second is today, November 29, the day in 1947 when the UN General Assembly, in the infamous Resolution 181, proposed the partition of Palestine into 'Jewish' and Arab states.

On that day, the UN gave its blessing to the eviction of the Palestinian people from its ancestral homeland.

When the next smug Zionist propagandist reminds you, as he surely will, that but for their intransigence, the Palestinians could have had their own state in 1947, remember these words:

"I recall a visit to our house by Dr Ralph Bunche [1903-1974], then deputy chairman of the UN Special Committee on Palestine. He had arrived as member of a commission and I said to him, 'Would you permit me to explain the problem simply and directly? I do not wish to enter into the political intricacies nor to review the history and consequences of the problem. All I want to say is this: 'I own this house and cannot understand why I should renounce or surrender it; nor can I be convinced that any law in the world or any international resolution can make me me consent to hand it over to foreigners, even if they have no house. I do not understand my responsibility in this regard. This is my house, I am here, and I do not wish anyone to share it with me.' With a pained expression Bunche answered, 'Believe me, dear lady, this simple statement of yours is more convincing to me than the great pile of documents stacked on my desk'." (Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist: The Life & Activism of Anbara Salam Khalidi, 1978/2013, pp 144-45)

In 1977, the United Nations (in belated recognition of its role in evicting the Palestinian people from its homeland 30 years earlier?) designated November 29 the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Friday, November 28, 2014


International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People







Thursday, November 27, 2014

Religion or Race?

In arguing against the tendency of Islamophobes to claim that because Islam is a religion they can't, therefore, be considered racists, Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, unfortunately puts his foot in it with this:

"The distinction between race and religion is a complex one... the two can overlap. For example, we consider anti-Semitism to involve a form of racism, even though Jewishness involves a religious identity. This is because Jewishness also has an ethnic character; Jews consider themselves to be a people."  (Distinction between religion and race should not make bigotry respectable, Sydney Morning Herald, 21/11/14)

Jewishness has an ethnic character?

Says who?  

Jews consider themselves to be a people.

Which Jews?

The truth is that anti-Semites invariably consider Jews to be 'a people', as do political Zionists. To the extent that both believe in biology as the key determinant of a person's identity, and discriminate against others on that basis, both exhibit racism.

As Shlomo Sand explains:

"The State of Israel defines me as a Jew, not because I express myself in a Jewish language, hum Jewish songs, eat Jewish food, write Jewish books or carry out any Jewish activity. I am classified as a Jew because this state, after having researched my origins, has decided that I was born of a Jewish mother, herself Jewish because my grandmother was likewise, thanks to (or because of) my great-grandmother, and so on through the chain of generations until the dawn of time. If chance should have had it that only my father was considered a Jew, while in the eyes of Israeli law my mother was 'non-Jewish', I would have been registered as an Austrian..." (How I Stopped Being a Jew, 2014, p 2)

And where does this biological determinist nonsense lead? Shlomo Sand again:

"There is a close link between the identification of Jews as an ethnos or eternal race-people, and the politics of Israel towards those of its citizens who are viewed as non-Jews, as well as towards immigrant workers from distant lands and, clearly, towards its neighbours, deprived of rights and subject for nearly 50 years to a regime of occupation. It is hard to deny a glaring reality: the development of an essentialist, non-religious identity encourages the perpetuation of ethnocentric, racist or quasi-racist positions, both in Israel and abroad." (p 7)

As for Islamophobes, scratch one and you'll invariably find an Arabophobe underneath.