Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why Does Melbourne Ports Keep Voting for Michael Danby?

What kind of electorate is Melbourne Ports?

In election after election after election (1998 on), the voters there have voted again and again and again, either directly or through preferences (Hello, Greens), for a politician whose sole interest, if one is to judge by the frequency and nature of his comments in the Australian press, is deflecting criticism of Israel.

Here he is again, butting in on the proposal by some in NSW Labor to ban Israel lobby-sponsored trips to Israel at February's NSW Labor annual conference:

"The federal Labor MP for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, asked why Israel was being singled out. 'If a Labor person takes a trip to the United States, do they have to spend the same time in Russia?" (Shorten leaves Israel up to MPs, Mark Coultan, The Australian, 29/1/16)

Why is Israel being singled out?

It's the OCCUPATION, stupid.

As a former Israeli attorney-general (1993-96), Michael Ben-Yair, once wrote:

"The Six-Day War was forced upon us [A zombie myth, but we'll let it go for now]; however, the war's seventh day, which began on June 12, 1967 and has continued to this day [He was speaking here in 2002!] is the product of our choice. We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one - progressive, liberal - in Israel; and the other - cruel, injurious - in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That regime exists to this day."

The question on everyone's lips should not be 'Why is Israel being singled out?' but 'Why does Melbourne Ports keep voting for Michael Danby?'

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Some of Our Best Friends Are Palestinian...

"NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff stressed the broad nature of the visits to the region his group coordinates. 'All our programs include the West Bank, where participants are briefed by senior Palestinian officials,' he said. 'This gives Australian delegations an opportunity to see the situation first-hand and form their own conclusions." (Bishop calls for Shorten to stop ALP ban on Israel visits, Christian Kerr/Tessa Ackerman, The Australian, 28/1/16)

Hm... senior Palestinian officials?

Vic means these guys:

"The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority works closely with the Israeli occupation. Earlier this month, for instance, Israeli officials praised the PA for 'cracking down' on opposition and resistance to Israel's occupation in the West Bank. The PA's leader, Mahmoud Abbass, has previously called this so-called security coordination a 'sacred' duty... The PA's intelligence chief Majid Faraj boasted to Defense News recently that his forces had arrested 100 Palestinians in recent months and were working closely with Israeli occupation forces to prevent the unpopular PA from collapsing. 'We, together with our counterparts in the Israeli security establishment, with the Americans and others, are all trying to prevent that collapse,' Faraj said." (Infographic: 7 ways the Palestinian Authority helps Israeli occupation, Ali Abunimah,, 26/1/16)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Duty Calls

OK, we know that Zionism is Labor's CORE value.

Now we know that rambamming is a Labor DUTY.

With regard to a proposal to ban sponsored trips to Israel coming up at February's NSW Labor conference, "A spokesman for Mr Shorten said: 'Mr Shorten does not agree with any attempt to remove the flexibility of members of parliament in the conduct of their duties while overseas.'" (Bishop calls for Shorten to stop ALP ban on Israel visits, Christian Kerr/Tessa Akerman, The Australian, 28/1/16)

Thursday, January 28, 2016


FYI, it appears that Blogger is now removing non-Google Account profiles from its blogs, so you'll need to switch over to a Google Account if you wish to remain/become a follower of this blog.

The Twilight Zone

The next time you hear any pious chatter about a two-state solution from the usual suspects consider this:

"Under current circumstances, advancing down the road of a virtual Palestinian state may actually end up benefitting Israeli policies. It suits Israelis to have a Palestinian Authority able to effectively manage (and international community willing to pay for) the occupation on its behalf. But most of all, obtaining purely symbolic acknowledgments of Palestinian statehood aspirations keeps alive the idea of a two-state solution without actually bringing it closer to fruition, thereby helping reinforce a reality that is beneficial to Israel. Israel's silent annexation of large swathes of Palestinian territory can only be sustained so long as the vision of two states remains alive. Maintaining even a wafer thin belief in such an outcome (based on a non-peace process) is a holding strategy that allows Israel to deflect the bulk of international pressure even as it prolongs and deepens a largely cost-free occupation. This legal 'twilight zone' between temporary occupation and full-blown annexation allows Israel to control those parts of the West Bank on which the bulk of Israeli settlers are located, without having to shoulder any financial, legal or moral responsibilities. Removing this illusion would reveal the current one-state reality that already exists. Namely, a system that has created two distinct legal regimes for those living under Israeli jurisdiction in the occupied territories and effectively disenfranchises millions of non-Jewish residents from having a say in a government that is the ultimate arbiter of their fate." (Excerpt from The Ramallah paradox, Hugh Lovatt,, 26/1/16)

Hugh Lovatt is the Israel/Palestine Project Coordinator for the Middle East & North Africa Programme of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Aussies Do It Better...

"In Camp Taji in Iraq regimental sergeant majors are commonly known for shouting and putting the fear of God into young soldiers." (Slow but steady progress as diggers prepare Iraqi troops, David Rowe,* Sydney Morning Herald, 19/1/16)

Ah, but not our warm & fuzzy Warrant Officer Class One Mark Retallick:

"When one soldier puts five rounds from his newly-issued M-16 into the bullseye... Warrant Officer Retallick grabs him in a bear hug. 'We'll be calling you Carlos Hathcock,' he says, referring to the legendary US Marine sniper of the Vietnam War."

Heart-warming, eh? But why didn't Wroe report the Iraqi soldier's response? Like, for example:

'Cool, man, ever since ah was a kid ah used to dream about being Carlos Hathcock! Shreddin' Gooks in 'Nam, HOT DAMN!'

See how culturally sensitive WO Retallick is?

I mean, he could've said:

'We'll be calling you Chris Kyle'** (referring to the legendary US Navy SEAL sniper of the Iraq war who killed 255 Iraqis).

Aussies do it better, eh?

[*Rambammed: 2014; **American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History (2012)]

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Invasion Day: 26 January, 2016

A fitting time to recall what the Zionist hero, Winston Churchill, speaking before British Mandate Palestine's 1937 Peel Commission, had to say about Indigenous Palestinians & Australians:

"I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

First Julia Irwin, Now Melissa Parke

"One of the Australian Labor Party's most outspoken opponents of offshore detention, mass surveillance and live animal exports will not contest the next federal election. Melissa Parke, who has represented the West Australian seat of Freemantle since 2007, said she would not seek a fourth term... In the statement on her future, Parke said the role of an informed and engaged backbencher was 'undervalued in the Australian political system, which increasingly favours the executive over the parliament' [and that] 'It has been a pleasure to work with parliamentary colleagues, academics, scientists, experts, industry, unions and community groups on issues such as the abolition of the death penalty, justice for refugees, nuclear disarmament, marine sanctuaries, climate change, press freedom, fair trade, closing the gap, war powers reform, Australian aid, early childhood education, public health, rare diseases, medicinal cannabis, dying with dignity, support for veterans, whistleblower protection, an independent office of animal welfare, an end to gene patenting, and long-overdue justice for the Palestinian, Tibetan, West Papuan and Rohingya peoples'."(Labor MP Melissa Parke, fierce critic of offshore detention, won't recontest seat, Daniel Hurst,, 22/1/16)

Such a shame! I wonder what she was doing in the ALP in the first place, and I wonder which of the myriad issues taken up and listed by her here gave her the most grief as an ALP backbencher. So hard, that one.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tanya Plibersek Channels Mark Regev

One of the only truly independent voices - as in willing to speak up for Palestine - in the Australian Labor Party was retired Labor MP Julia Irwin.

Irwin once observed that:

"There is certainly a belief [in the Party] that support for Palestine will swiftly end any prospect of a front bench position. Even a hint of offence can result in an immediate, unconditional apology... Labor members will talk about human rights abuse in every corner of the world, but not in Palestine." (See my 11/8/10 post Julia Irwin Spills the Beans.)

The absolute beyond classic case of this bizarre phenomenon today is surely Australia's shadow foreign minister Tanya (Once was Warrior) Plibersek, who, as a mere MP back in 2002, condemned Israel as "a rogue state... led by a war criminal."

Of course, that was long ago, and the various stages of her transformation from one who once spoke up for Palestine into someone who now speaks up for Israel have been, for those interested, documented by this blogger.

Her opinion piece in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, however, is the first time where I've actually felt she's become a mouthpiece for Israel:

"The Iranian nuclear deal... is significant [but] we need to maintain a healthy degree of scepticism in our dealings with Iran... Australia must continue to steadfastly oppose Iran's human rights abuses, its inciting language towards the United States and Israel, its support of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and its sponsorship of terrorism." (Clear grounds for Australia to remain cautious with Iran despite nuclear deal, 21/1/16)

As for healthy scepticism in our dealings with Israel, steadfast opposition to Israel's human rights abuses, its threats to nuke Iran, its support for creepy crawlies in Syria and its actual, routine terrorism in Occupied Palestine and elsewhere... forget it!

"When Iran tests ballistic missiles... we should speak up."

But of Israel's tried and tested nuclear arsenal, we shall say nothing.

"We must continue to stand up for our values."

Whose values, Tanya???

[*See my 17/10/13 post A Heretic Recants.]

Thursday, January 21, 2016

About Bloody Time!

"Divisions within the ALP over Middle East policy are set to flare at next month's NSW conference over a push to ban Labor MPs, officials and Young Labor members from accepting subsidised trips to Israel. The proposal has been put forward by the group Labor Friends of Palestine. The motion states that while Benjamin Netanyahu's government 'continues settlements, refuses a Palestinian state [and] brutally mistreats Arab residents of the West Bank,' that no ALP officer, MP or Young Labor member 'accept a paid trip from the Israel Lobby'." (Push to ban Labor officials from lobby trips to Israel, Sean Nicholls, Sydney Morning Herald, 20/1/16)

While any step in this direction is welcome, it speaks volumes about the ALP that its ranks are filled with those so ignorant and unprincipled that a motion such as the above has to be moved in the first place.

"The push is in response to a perception of an increase in approaches to Labor MPs and officials to take the trips following the passage of resolutions at ALP conferences."

How interesting! So far no one has breathed a word on who said what to whom. One day perhaps? 

It'll be fascinating to see how the recently rambammed (12/14) Kaila Murnain, now NSW Labor's general-secretary, will vote on this one. One-to-watch!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hoot of the Week

"With Islamic terrorism on the march in the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia and now Africa, it may not be the third world war yet, but it certainly feels like it." George Fishman, Vaucluse, NSW (The Australian, 19/1/16)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Thus Spake M'Lord Turnbull

"Malcolm Turnbull will declare that Muslim armies must lead the fight against Islamic State as he commits Australia to a long fight to destroy the group's power base..." (Muslim armies must lead ISIS fight: PM, David Crowe, The Australian, 19/1/16)


AUSTRALIA, the US, Britain etc, egged on by Ziocon chickenhawks whose notion of foreign policy is that "every ten years or so the US needs to pick up some small, crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business,"* do just that with Iraq in 2003, releasing the genie of sectarianism there and turning Iraq into a playpen for first AQI, and now IS... and then along comes M'Lord Turnbull, declaring that Muslims must get down on their hands and knees and clean up the bloody mess...

Oh, and:

"Mr Turnbull will also acknowledge the link between the terrorists and Islam..."

... but not the link between the sectarian terrorists and US foreign policy forged by Ronald Reagan and Bushama in Afghanistan and Iraq/Syria respectively.

[*The 'Ledeen Doctrine']

Not Happy, Kaila!

"NSW Labor is embarking on one of the most ambitious affirmative action programs in its history, with new rules to massively boost the number of women in key roles at the grassroots of the party with the aim of transforming the organisation from the ground up... From July 1, at least 40% of those elected must be women, increasing to 45% in 2022 and 50% in 2027... Acting NSW general-secretary Kaila Murnain said NSW Labor was 'leading the way in encouraging diversity of representation in Parliament, and our historic reforms will ensure our party is more representative at the grassroots level'... Ms Murnain is likely to be elected as general-secretary at the February 13-14 state conference." (50-50 vision: Labor's plan to promote women, Sean Nichols, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/1/16)

Excuse me, comrade, this proposal is simply not good enough as it stands. It needs to reflect Labor's CORE value. So I'm moving the following amendment to remedy this unforgivable deficiency. It can be tacked on the end of your motion:

'And that from July 1, at least 40% of those rambammed must be women, increasing to 45% in 2022 and 50% in 2027.' 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Reviewing the Review

Nicely nailed by reviewer Richard King:

"The first thing you find when you open Anti-Semitism is an errata slip informing you that its author, Frederic Raphael, has mistaken D.H. Lawrence for T.E. Lawrence, Arthur Koestler for Arthur Schnitzler and the figure of 16,000 for 1600 (the number of Jews killed in Jedwabne, Poland, in 1941). This is not a great start; one is entitled to expect a little more care, especially given the gravity of the subject and the brevity with which it is treated here. But none of these confusions, or all of them together, is a patch on the central confusion of this book, which is the equation of determined criticism of Israel with historical anti-Semitism." (The flawed equation at the heart of a timely analysis, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/1/16)


"For while it is undoubtedly true that the miasma of anti-Semitism surrounds much dark talk about the Israel 'lobby', and true too that many liberals and left-wingers are apt to downplay the anti-Semitism extant within the Muslim community..."

So, Richard, some talk about the "Israel 'lobby'" is OK, but not other? Can you give me examples? And why is the word 'lobby' in inverted commas?  What's that about?

May I suggest that maybe, if you'd taken the time and trouble to read Mearsheimer & Walt's The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, as every informed person should, I really don't think you'd have used inverted commas in this context.

As for slandering Liberals, Left and Muslims in one fell swoop, I could ask you for chapter & verse on this, but, to take another tack: are you aware that, when all is said and done, for a Zionist, you yourself are actually an anti-Semite? As Chaim Weizmann, who should know a thing or two about Zionism, once declared: "Anti-Semitism... is a bacillus which every Gentile carries with him, wherever he goes and however often he denies it." (Richard Crossman, A Nation Reborn: The Israel of Weizmann, Bevin & Ben-Gurion, 1960, p 21)

"Disproportionate our emphasis on Israel may be..."

Hello? "Our emphasis on Israel"?

What with Zionists blowing their own trumpets on every conceivable occasion when they're not crying anti-Semitism; and the media taking extra-special care not to tread on Israel's toes for fear of coming under Israel lobby pressure (Look, Ma, no inverted commas!) or being smeared as anti-Semitic; and our politicians and journalists, so-called, streaming over to the apartheid state for pro-Israel programming; and Israel routinely testing state-of-the-art weaponry on Palestinian guinea-pigs before exporting it to every conceivable trouble spot around the world; and Israeli-PMs twirling US presidents around their little fingers; and... we're placing a disproportionate emphasis on Israel?!

"Though Raphael is right to say that anti-Semitism and 'anti-Zionism' cannot always be neatly separated..."

No, he's not. He's dead wrong.

Look, it's really not that hard, Richard. If you support the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine, you're a Zionist. If you don't, you're an anti-Zionist.  You are either someone who believes that it is right and proper to have a sectarian, ethnocratic state in Palestine, or you aren't.

Richard King btw is the author of a book titled On Offence. I haven't read it, but let me say that if those who make a show of being offended are his subject, and he hasn't got a chapter or two or three on the mob who have made a career out of taking offence at anyone who looks sideways at Israel, aka the Israel lobby, then he needs to do his homework and put out a revised version NOW.

Be that as it may, I'll forgive him for that great intro. above.

As for Frederic Raphael, who, on investigation, turns out to be a novelist and screenwriter, I thought I'd listen to Phillip Adams' interview with the guy (Anti-Semitism then & now, Late Night Live, 26/11/15)


I heard him [Raphael] say that "Israel has behaved badly," which is based on the incredible assumption that a colonial-settler state which has taken someone else's land, sent its people packing, and refuses them re-entry because it'd mess with the preferred demographic, has the capacity to behave in any other way than badly.

And - *...* - I heard him refer to the "so-called occupied territories."

Without Phillip Adams, who just had to slip in at one point that he was a "philo-Semite," pulling the bugger up, FFS!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Go Girl!

Hm... so Jamie Clements, the General-Secretary of NSW Labor, has grown too sexy for his shirt and "his likely replacement" will be Kaila Murnain..." (Love's Labor's loss, Sean Nicholls, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/1/16)

I should bloody well hope so!

After all, as a graduate of the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue's December 2014 Rambam,* Kaila is eminently qualified for this very important position.

[See my 4/1/15 post Recently Rambammed.]

Friday, January 15, 2016

Canterbury Cathedral as 'Contested Shrine'

How would Anglicans feel about Muslims wanting to pray (as Muslims) in Canterbury Cathedral?

How about actual visits to pray there?

How about stepped-up visits?

What if the Western media took to describing Anglican concern/resistance to stepped-up Muslim visits to Canterbury Cathedral as Anglican agitation?

Better still, what if the Western media began referring to Canterbury Cathedral merely as a contested Canterbury shrine?

There'd be an uprising, right?

Muslim blood in the streets?

Fleet Street a smoking ruin?

So how do you think Palestinians feel when they read shit like this:

"... a surge of Palestinian street attacks... fuelled in part by Muslim agitation at stepped-up Jewish visits to a contested Jerusalem shrine..." (Israel slams Swedish minister over inquiry call, Dan Williams, Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald, 15/1/16)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Great Moments in BDS

Ah, religion...

Put to one side for now what it preaches, all that pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die stuff. Let's just focus on the behaviour of believers instead, in this case the Uniting Church:

"Proposal 66 calls upon the assembly [of the Uniting Church] to 'establish an awareness-raising campaign throughout the church on the plight of Palestinian Christians and the Palestinian people, including promotion of the boycott of goods from the illegal settlements in the West Bank as part of the campaign.' However, it stops short of endorsing the formal Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, with the church's Reverend Dr Mathew Wilson telling the AJN, 'We do know that there are significant anti-Semitic problems with the full BDS movement'." (Talks to continue with Uniting Church despite boycott motion, The Australian Jewish News, 8/1/16)

Sweet Jeeesus, will you take a look at that motion?!!

- "the plight of Palestinian Christians and the Palestinian people":

FFS, 'Palestinian Christians' and 'Palestinian people' are separate entities? Seriously?

- Israeli criminality is confined to "illegal settlements in the West Bank"? Really?

Look, ever since Herzl & Co, over a century ago, began coveting Palestine as a 'Jewish state' and turning a blind eye to the people who actually lived there, 90% of whom were non-Jews (not to mention the fact that most of the Jewish 10% at the time were not Jewish-staters), criminality in every sense of the word has been core Zionist praxis. But all the UC can see is "illegal settlements in the West Bank"! What a feat of selective vision is this?

- "We do know that there are significant anti-Semitic problems with the full BDS movement." OFFS!!!!

What a colossal slander is this?! Please, Rev. Dr, thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache: do be my enemy for friendship's sake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tweet of the Day

Iranian protesters burned the Saudi embassy in Tehran & 5 Arab countries severed their ties with Iran. The IDF have burned Gaza over and over again, yet Arab countries maintain and expand their peaceful relations with Israel. Go figure. (Expanded tweet of Abo Maryam)

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Tissue of Lies

When the whole of your politics is based on a lie - that Palestine is 'Israel' and belongs to every single Jew on the planet, but not its indigenous Palestinian Arab owners, and that 'truth' is a matter of saying whatever it takes to advance your goal of Jews IN, Palestinians OUT - then spats like the following take on their proper proportion:

"Former US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk lied twice about a supposed conversation he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the funeral of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, a Prime minister's Office official said this week. The spat involving Indyk began following the airing of a PBS 'Frontline' program about Netanyahu on Jan. 5. In an interview for the program, Indyk referred to a conversation he claimed he had with Netanyahu at Rabin's funeral... At the time, Indyk was the US ambassador to Israel and Netanyahu was the Likud party leader as well as head of the Israeli opposition. Indyk told PBS... I remember Netanyahu saying to me: 'Look, look at this. He's a hero now, but if he had not been assassinated, I would have beaten him in the elections, and then he would have gone into history as a failed politician.' In response to that comment, the Prime Minister's Office issued a blanket denial on Wednesday, saying the conversation described by Indyk 'never happened'." (Prime Minister's office: Martin Indyk fabricated conversation with Netanyahu,, 8/1/16

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Blogging the Zionist Bookshelf

First the good news. A new (2013) and youthful (1982) federal Labor MP (Gellibrand), Tim Watts, not only reads books but blogs about them on a website called Blogging the Bookshelf. In fact, all the books he's read from 2013 -2015. He's even got a handy rating system for you: BUY, BORROW, TOSS

But how does Tim choose the books he reads? Does he just walk into a bookshop (or St Vinnies?) and pick them up at random? Does he just read books others have passed on to him or recommended? Does he gravitate towards some subjects rather than others?

He doesn't say. His lists seem pretty much random. Some clarity here would be welcome.

Now for the bad news. Of all the books Tim could have read to gain some idea - which after all is the point of reading books, right? - about WTF is going on in Palestine/Israel he's chosen Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor & Saul Singer* and My Promised Land by Ari Shavit.

The first is about how enforcing an occupation produces budding entrepreneurs. Tim gives it a BORROW rating.

So if I were to write a book suggesting that maybe Australia should introduce conscription and invade, occupy and police PNG because this will turn us into a start-up nation, Tim would rate it BORROW as opposed to TOSS?

The second is about how wonderful Israelis are, and how they created "something unique and quite endearing" in a tough (Arab) neighborhood. Tim gives it a BUY rating.

So if I were to write a self-congratulatory book called My Promised Land about how wonderful Australians are, and how we created 'something unique and quite endearing' in a tough (Aboriginal) neighborhood, Tim would rate it BUY as opposed to TOSS?

Can we detect a pattern here then? An unfortunate predilection for Zionist potboilers?

Why so? Well, this is the Labor Party, and if you want to get ahead there...

And, significantly, he's been rambammed - 2014:

"Watts said he was impressed by the objectivity of the Rambam program, which he said exposed him to a diverse range of views and the space to develop his own views on Israel without intrusion or interference." (See my 9/6/14 post Israeli-Occupied Labor.)


But I'm curious: where did these two books come from? Michael Danby? AIJAC? Israel's Foreign Ministry?

And I'm also curious as to how a bloke who's declared in parliament that "multiculturalism is important to me" can give the thumbs-up to sales brochures for an ethnocratic, apartheid state.

[*See my 23/4/10 post Creative Destruction.]

PS: Check out his reading list for 2001: Wall-to-wall Leon Uris, including EXODUS. So that's when the Ziobug first bit. It's like the herpes virus, once it's in your system it's there forever!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Just Another Day in Occupied Palestine

I was driving from Nablus to Ramallah. Light rain was falling as I approached the Israeli checkpoint at Huwwara. Another car was in front of me, moving slowly, trying to keep its distance from an Israeli military vehicle about 50m ahead. No sense in provoking them. On the grassy verge beside the road a young boy was walking in the same direction as the cars. The Israeli military vehicle braked suddenly, an order barking from it. The boy put his hands up. The car in front of me began to drive around the Israeli vehicle. I followed suit. I could see the boy with his hands up as I passed. I looked for the boy in my rear view mirror. He was on the ground. It happened so fast. One minute he's standing there with his arms up. The next he's on the ground, dead. I stopped the car, as did the driver in front of me. We had both just witnessed an execution. Not long after, Israeli state media announced that their military had killed 15-year-old Abdullah Hussein Nasasra from Beit Furik near Nablus. The military said that he had 'charged the armed forces while armed with a knife.' I saw no knife. Nor did I see him charge them. They had guns trained on him. Why would he try to attack them with a knife? (Adapted by MERC from Checkpoint violence: blood and occupation, Vijay Prashad,, 29/12/15)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tom Switzer Channels Oded Yinon in the Herald

Whatever happened to progress? One hundred years ago we had Britain Sir Mark Sykes and France's Georges Picot, smack bang in the middle of World War I, drawing lines on a map of the Middle East and coming up with the Sykes-Picot Agreement: You take those bits and we'll have these, old chap.

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

Well, they haven't, because now we've got Australia's Tom Switzer and America's John Bolton having another go at drawing lines on a map of the Middle East. Here's Switzer (research associate at the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre and host of Radio National's Between the Lines):

"The problem boils down to this: Iraq and Syria as we know them are gone. Iraq is not one people, but rather three peoples: Kurds, (minority) Sunnis, and (majority) Shiites. Syria is also three peoples: Kurds, (majority) Sunnis, and (minority) Alawites/Shiites, who protect the Christians and other religious minorities. None of this should surprise a student of modern history. Both Iraq and Syria are artificial states and ethnically divided societies created out of the ruins of the the Ottoman Empire a century ago. What the US-led invasion in 2003 and the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 did was unleash age-old sectarian animosities that are eroding political structures and borders that have more or less prevailed since the end of World War I. What to do? John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN and senior fellow at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, has a good idea: create independent states for the Kurds and Sunnis after the defeat of IS. A 'Sunni-stan', he argues, could be a bulwark against the Iran-backed regimes in Damascus and Baghdad." (Redrawing the map is the best solution, Sydney Morning Herald, 5/1/16)

No, the problem really boils down to this - the Switzers and Boltons of this world.

Just a reminder: John Bolton is an American neoconservative, one of the rum crew, including Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith & Abrams, that formed PNAC (Project for a New American Century) back in the 1990s. At the time the PNAC neocons/Ziocons urged Clinton to blitz Iraq - to no avail. Unfortunately for them, they had to wait for Bush Jr, 9/11 and a few plum posts in the Bush administration before they could realise their dream - today's Iraq (and Libya and Syria).

Bolton became US Undersecretary of State and duly went off to confer with USraeli leader Ariel Sharon in February 2003. Needless to say, there was - LOL - a meeting of minds:

Sharon said "that Iran, Libya and Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after Iraq. 'These are irresponsible states which must be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve'."

And Bolton replied "that he had no doubt America would attack Iraq, and that it would be necessary thereafter to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea."*

Good old John. As the late Republican Senator (and friend of Jesus) Jesse Helms said in endorsement: "John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armaggedon, if it should be my lot to be on hand for what is forecast to be the final battle between good and evil in this world."

Actually, it's not Sir Mark Sykes that Tom Switzer and John Bolton are channeling here. It's Israel's Oded Yinon and his 1982 Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties:

"Iraq... is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us... and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines... is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north."

But hang on, wasn't Oded Switzer telling us only a matter of weeks ago that "The smartest strategy is for the West to slowly but steadily disengage militarily from the Middle East and allow the people in that region to settle their own differences"?**

Now here he is, hanging with John (Regime Change) Bolton, who wants to create Kurdistan, Sunnistan, Shiastan (and, for all we know, Yazidistan as well). (Hey, maybe they could be called Cheneystan, Rumsfeldistan, Perlestan and so on.)

What ever happened to consistency? Oh, wait, I can guarantee that Oded Switzer will never, ever, want to play around with Israel's borders - wherever they happen to be.

And just remember: Oded Switzer doesn't peddle his dubious wares in the Murdoch press, but in Fairfax and on ABC radio.

Have a nice day!

[*Sharon says US should also disarm Iran, Libya & Syria, Aluf Benn, Haaretz, 18/2/03; **The West should let the Middle East settle its own differences, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/11/15]

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why is Ruth Pollard Leaving Fairfax?

Sadly, it looks as though Fairfax Media's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard is bowing out. I haven't always been kind to her as some of my earlier posts on her reporting attest but I have to say that the quality of her reporting has only improved with time. Suffice it to say that when the AIJAC crowd start yapping about her 'negativity' towards Israel and her lack of 'balance'* you know she's doing something right.

In fact, one tweet I've read has even suggested that Fairfax will be closing its Jerusalem bureau - which could only mean that Fairfax papers from now on will carry only craportage on the Middle East from the likes of the New York Times and Washington Post. This, of course, would constitute yet another huge milestone in Fairfax's decline into irrelevance.

Given earlier ructions over the reporting of Ed O'Loughlin, Fairfax's ME correspondent until 2008, and the Sydney Morning Herald's treatment of its star columnist Mike Carlton following pressure from Israel lobbyists, one cannot help but wonder about the real reasons for Pollard's leaving her post.

I sincerely hope that Ruth finds the time to write a memoir of some kind, one which frankly tackles the subject of Israel lobby pressure on Fairfax Media in general, and the craven crew at the helm of the Herald in particular, and details what must have been for her an incredibly steep learning-curve in occupied Palestine.

[* The truth about the Gaza war (hint: it's not what Ruth Pollard tells you,, 5/9/15]

Monday, January 4, 2016

Anti-Shia Sectarianism: Pillar of the Saudi State

"Saudi officials denied that sectarianism had played any role in the [47 Saudi] executions." (Embassy attack inflames tensions, Ben Hubbard, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/1/16)

The mind-boggling question arises: did the Saudis execute 43 alleged Sunni jihadis simply so that they could claim that their execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr an-Nimr and 3 other Shia political prisoners had nothing to do with sectarianism?

The simple fact of the matter is that anti-Shia sectarianism is part of the Saudi/Wahhabi DNA.

The following text, part of a fatwa issued in 1927 to King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud (1876-1953), the founder of Saudi Arabia (1925-), by the Wahhabi Ikhwan of Nejd, the tribal army that brought him to power, illustrates the kind of Wahhabi sectarianism that the Shia population of Saudi Arabia,* concentrated in Eastern Province, has had to contend with from the very foundation of the Saudi state in 1925:

"As to the Shi'a, we have told the Imam that our ruling is that they must be asked to surrender to true Moslems, and should not be allowed to perform their misguided religious rites in public. We ask that the Imam should order his Viceroy in Hasa to summon the Shi'a to Sheikh Ibn Bishr, before whom they should undertake to follow the religion of God and His Prophet, to cease all prayers to the saintly members of the Prophet's house or others, to cease their heretical innovations such as the commemoration rites performed on the anniversaries of the deaths of members of the House of the Prophet and all other such rites performed in error, and that they should cease to visit the so-called sacred cities such as Karbala and Najaf. They must also attend compulsorily at the Five Prayers in the Mosques, along with the rest of the congregation, and Sunni Imams and muezzins, each with an assistant, should be appointed to instruct them. Shi'as must also be forced to study Sheikh Ibn Abdul Wahhab's Three Principles.

"Any places specially erected for the practice of their rites must be destroyed, and these practices forbidden in mosques or anywhere else.

"Any Shi'a who refuses to keep to these rules must be exiled from Moslem territory.

"With regard to the Shi'as of Qatif, the Imam... should compel the Sheikh Ibn Bishr to go and see personally that our requirements are carried out. We have advised the Imam to send missionaries and teachers to certain districts and villages which have now come under the rule of true Moslems, and to order his viceroys, emirs and other officials to co-operate with these missionaries in bringing these people back to Islam and forbidding sin and lawfulness." (Arabian Days, Sheikh Hafiz Wahba, 1964, pp 135-36)

[*Around 30% of the population of Eastern Province.]

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Circumlocution Time

"The Israeli military has been accused of reaching an accommodation to keep the peace with Syrian rebel groups, including al-Qa'ida offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as al-Nusra Front, under which injured fighters have been transferred to Israeli hospitals..." (War knocking on Israel's door, Jamie Walker, The Australian, 2/1/16)

(Accused of) reaching an accommodation? Hello? Run that past me again. To keep the peace with al-Qaida Israel takes in its wounded fighters and gives them free state-of-the-art medical care?

Right... so Israel has no choice in the matter? Al-Qaida's like, look after us or else?

Or is the Australian's Middle East correspondent simply afraid to say straight out that the Israeli military have been collaborating with al-Qaida in Syria?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Israel's 'Direct Line to Number 10'

It seems that the UK's Labour Friends of Israel has fallen on hard times:

"Under [Labour leader Jeremy] Corbyn, [Rebecca Simon, vice chair of LFI] said, 'Israel has fundamentally been delegitimised.' She added, 'When I started working at LFI, we had a direct line to number 10 and the Foreign Office. Our relationship was strong. Under Jeremy [Corbyn], we are going to have to find new ways of operating.' The fact Israel currently had a 'right wing government' did not help. 'It is very hard when the current government plays into the narrative of those who are blindly against it'."  (Don't abandon the Labour Party over Corbyn, pleads activist, Rosa Doherty,, 30/12/15)

We had a direct line to number 10 & the Foreign Office.

How revealing. Reminds me of that line in Bob Carr's equally revealing Diary of a Foreign Minister:

"... it's an appalling position if Australia allows a group of businessmen in Melbourne to veto policy on the Middle East." (p 188)

We are going to have to find new ways of operating.

Just imagine:

Knock on door. Opens door to find two smiling Anglo-Israeli operatives, who say: Mind if we storm in and interrogate you about Israel?

Bring it on, Rebecca! Bring-it-on!