Sunday, July 31, 2016

SMH: Lightweight. Increasingly.

As the Sydney Morning Herald shrinks, almost too light now to even reach one's front lawn, so too does the quality of its editorials. For example:

"Back decades... Labor foreign minister, attorney-general and eventually leader H.V. (Bert) Evatt played a key role in establishing the UN... He helped develop the Universal Declaration of Human Rights* and counted the creation of Israel among his greatest contributions at the UN." (Turnbull makes serious blunder rejecting Rudd, 30/7/16)

IOW, our Bert created Israel.


Here is what actually happened at the time:

In 1947, Evatt was chair of the UN's Ad hoc Committee on Palestine. When, on 25 November 1947, the Committee voted to recommend to the UN General Assembly that Palestine be partitioned into Jewish and Arab states, Australia/Evatt voted for partition. The final Committee vote was 25 for, 13 against with 17 abstentions. That is, of the 55 votes cast only 25 favoured partition.

Some arm-twisting of UN member states (by the US at the behest of the Zionists) had, therefore, to be undertaken in order to line up the required majority of votes for partition before the UNGA met to decide on the matter on 29 November. I have dealt with this thuggery in several posts, accessible under the label 'Palestine partition'. The point I wish to make here, however, is that the Herald's ZIONIST hyping of Evatt's role in the sordid affair of partitioning Palestine over the heads of its people cannot be allowed to stand.

To put Evatt's role in perspective, I offer this summation by one of Australia's leading Zionists of the time, Max Freilich:

"On 18th December the Zionist Federation gave a dinner reception to Dr. Evatt paying tribute to him for the skilful way in which he had conducted the meetings of the Ad hoc Committee on Palestine so that it was made possible for the United Nations Assembly to arrive at the decision for the partitioning of Palestine into Jewish and Arab States." (Zion in Our Time, 1967, p 199)

So much for Evett creating Israel.

Having said that, Evatt still needs a retrospective caning for, in Freilich's words, "conducting the meetings of the Ad hoc Committee on Palestine so that it was possible for the United Nations Assembly to arrive at the decision for the partitioning of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states."

[*There is no mention of Evatt's name in relation to the development of the UDHR in the Wikipedia entry for this subject. More hype?]

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Digital Dementia

Digital dementia has to be the plague of our age, and this is surely its worst symptom:

 "Before the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015, Adel Kermiche was a cheerful, music-loving and devout French teenager. But that terrorist atrocity, and the suspicion-filled aftermath, 'acted like a detonator', his mother said. Soon his greatest wish was to join the so-called Islamic State, which his mother said had 'bewitched' him on social media. '[After Charlie Hebdo] he said we could not practise our religion in peace in France,' Kermiche's mother said. 'He was speaking with words that did not belong to him. He was bewitched, like he was in a cult'." (Normandy church attacker 'bewitched' by IS, Nick Miller, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/7/16)

 A useful guide to the phenomenon (and much else as regards IS) is Abdel Bari Atwan's Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate (2015). Here are the opening paragraphs to chapter 1: Masters of the Digital Universe:

"Islamic State could never have achieved its territorial ambitions, nor could it have recruited such a large army in so short a time, without its mastery of the internet.

"Al-Qa'ida was the first major jihadist network to sense the potential of the worldwide web, using its darker recesses in a covert manner to share ideology, information, plans and correspondence. Its younger operatives also launched early cyber attacks on 'enemy' websites, presaging the emergence of the 'cyber jihad' that is raging today.

"Today, Islamic State and its supporters use the internet and social networking platforms in a brazen, overt way, marketing their 'brand' and disseminating their material in mainstream networks such as Twitter. For those already in the territories of Islamic State, as much as for potential recruits on their laptops in a thousand bedrooms across the globe, concealing identity and location remains a priority. But there are myriad ways this can be done. Advice on the wide range of 'anonymity products' available online is freely available for those who seek it - much of this advice is produced by Islamic State recruiters for the would-be jihadist. Those who fail to ensure their online anonymity are those we see detained and prosecuted. Sadly, this is only a tiny minority." (p 9)

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Aussie Shirtfronter's Guide to History

I doubt failed PM Tony Abbott has ever come across a war he didn't like. (As opposed to actually being in one of course.) And, as a natural-born scrapper and pugilist, it seems to be of crucial importance to him that, in any stoush in which Australia has ever been involved, we land the first punch.

How else to explain this stuff and nonsense from his recent opinion piece published in the incredibly shrinking Sydney Morning Herald, Australians on the Western Front still offer a lesson to us today:

"But Australians didn't just fight at Gallipoli and in France. An Australian battery fired the Empire's first shot in anger to stop a German ship leaving Port Phillip. The Australian Light Horse was the spearhead of the British army that liberated Jerusalem and Damascus." (28/7/16)

Life being too short, I won't burden you with the rest of the paragraph, let alone a discussion of the the entire piece, but that second sentence cannot be allowed to pass as fact. No Australian (or Brit for that matter) ever fought his way into Jerusalem in December 1917 or Damascus in September 1918.

On the 'liberation' of the former, see my 24/4/15 post In the Burning Sands of the Middle East, a response to an earlier attempt by Abbott to peddle this tripe. On the 'liberation' of Damascus, you can read my 13/12/11 post Daley of Damascus.

But just to underline what fantastic bullshit Abbott is feeding us mushrooms here, let me focus again, using a different source this time, and at greater length, on the circumstances in which the 'liberation' of Damascus from Turkish control occurred:

"What a British army, much superior in numbers and arms and enjoying the goodwill of the Arab civil population, did to a Turkish army, much inferior in equipment, ill-fed and ill-clad and moreover operating in a hostile country has been well told in the official history [by Captain Cyril Falls, 1930]. All that is proposed to chronicle here, if only very briefly, is the part played by the Arabs in the victory and the whole campaign. The three Turkish armies in Palestine to the east and west of the River Jordan were supplied by the Hijaz railway running from Damascus to the junction at Dir'a from which one branch fed the forces in the western sector and the other those in the eastern. It was of vital military importance to cut off these connections before the British offensive was launched. The task was entrusted to Faisal [leader of the Arab Revolt]. A mobile column of 5,000 Arabs, who on the 17th and the 18th of September 'emerged like phantoms from the desert', blew up the railway to the north, south and west, shutting off Turkish supplies and cutting off lines of retreat. The few available British aeroplanes struck at Turkish army headquarters, telegraph, telephone, and road junctions. In the words of the historian, [British commander General Edmund] Allenby's victory was thus facilitated by 'two comparatively novel tools - aircraft and Arabs'.

"Once the Turkish lines were pierced to the north of Jaffa the fate of the two [Turkish] armies to the west of the Jordan was sealed. They offered such resistance as was necessary to cover the retreat northwards. The Arabs threw themselves across the line of retreat of the army to the east of the Jordan, hindered its retreat, captured prisoners and inflicted heavy casualties. Thus Allenby's victory was assured long before his forces reached Magiddo, the official name of the battle for Palestine and Syria. Limon von Sanders [the German commander of the Turkish forces], like British official historians of the war, stressed the importance of the aid given to the British forces by the Arab civil population. He cited the specific example of his headquarters at Nazareth, into which the British forces were led by Arab scouts along tracks.

"Confidence in victory was so high that barely 24-hours after the breakthrough [of] the Turkish lines Allenby despatched [T.E.] Lawrence by plane with a message to Faisal in these terms: 'I send Your Highness my greetings and my most cordial congratulations upon the great achievement of your gallant troops at Dir'a, the effect of which has, by throwing the enemy's communications into confusion, had an important bearing upon the success of our operations. Thanks to our combined efforts, the Turkish army is defeated and is everywhere in full retreat.'

"After the capture of Nazareth, von Sander's headquarters, the advance on Damascus was a speedy combined operation: the British army swung north-east inland along the ancient highway that forded the Jordan at Jisr Banat Ya'qub and straight to Qunaitira; the Arabs along, and mostly to the east of, the Hijaz railway. There was no 'fall' or 'surrender' of Damascus in the military sense. Politically the four centuries of Turkish rule came to an end at 2 pm on 30 September when, while the senior Turkish and German commanders were still in the city and offering no resistance, a provisional Arab government was proclaimed and the Arab flag was hoisted on the Town Hall. During the night of 20 September an advance force of the Arab Camel Corps entered the city, apart from many irregulars. Next morning at 7.30 am, Sharif Nasir rode, accompanied by Nuri Sha'lan, into the city to the Town Hall, soon to be followed by Lawrence.

"Here it is relevant to dispose of a myth that the city 'surrendered' to an Australian force and that the Arabs were not the first to take it. An advance guard of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade was ordered to block the road from Damascus to Hims to prevent the Turkish retreat. But on account of the terrain in the Barada Gorge it was necessary to pass through the northern outskirts of the city. This the Brigade did unobtrusively early on the first of October. To magnify this episode and to represent it as evidence that the Arabs were not the first to enter Damascus is absurd. As stated above the city was under an Arab government from the afternoon of the previous day. There was no significance, military or political, in the passing of the Light Horse Brigade even through its centre. Allenby himself put it in the right words in a report to London: 'When my troops [Arab, Australian and British] entered the city an Arab administration was in being and Arab flags were flying from government buildings.' He described his own entry into the city as merely a 'visit'." (Anglo-Arab Relations & the Question of Palestine 1914-1921, A.L. Tibawi, 1977, pp 294-96)

PS: This very evening, while browsing in a bookshop, I happened upon a just-published 'history', The Last Fifty Miles: Australia & the End of the Great War, by Adam Wakeling. I couldn't help but note that Wakeling - *sigh* - peddles the very myth alluded to by Tibawi.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

When Zionists Boycotted Jews in Palestine

You know how it goes whenever the subject of the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel comes up - dark references by the usual suspects to 1930s Germany and Nazi attacks on Jewish shops and businesses. As, for example, in this nonsense from the dopey leader of the NSW Labor Party, Luke Foley:

"The call to boycott Jewish commerce is Europe's oldest political appeal. That call today goes under the name of the BDS campaign. I condemn it." (See my 7/4/12 post Where Luke Foley's Coming From)

The next time you hear this kind of crap you might like to recall the following episode from 1940s Palestine when the Zionists there instituted a boycott of a Jewish newspaper:

"That autumn in Jerusalem, I had an insight into another side of life in Palestine - what is loosely called the freedom of the press. There was of course a strict censorship, both government and military, with a close liaison between the two. Opinion, so far as it did not actually inflame the population, was not censorable. But freedom of the press in Palestine during the war was restricted not so much by censorship as by lack of newsprint. Arab and Hebrew newspapers were given only limited supplies. The Palestine Post*, Jewish-owned and controlled - the only English daily in the country - was no exception. It had to reduce itself to a single sheet.

"At such a time, a plan to start a daily in opposition to the Post seemed unfeasible. After many months of negotiations, however, a second English daily was put on the market. It was owned by a Russian Jew, Khasin, who was already printing a weekly English paper on the Sabbath when no Palestine Post appeared. Khasin, with a totally inadequate supply of newsprint, with only two Intertype machines and one Monotype, a couple of stonehands and two reporters, launched his new daily, the Palestine Illustrated News, amid a storm of opposition from official Jewish bodies who began a campaign against the paper, telling influential Jews in the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv to boycott it and sending roundabout instructions to the Jewish newsboys to refuse to sell it on the streets. Into Khasin's possession there came a copy of a circular letter giving reasons why the paper should be boycotted. It stated that Khasin was not working in liaison with Jewish institutions, that his policy was his own, and that as the paper did not officially represent the Jewish outlook in the country, it was not suitable for a Jew to buy.

"The first copies sold in Zion Square created a minor riot. Khasin had engaged special newsboys and the Palestine Post sellers began a free fight in an effort to drive the Illustrated News off the streets. But despite the underground and open war, the circulation increased. Under immense difficulties, the layout of the News - hampered by the inadequacies of staff and machines, both primitive - was gradually improved. Whereas the Palestine Post played up Zionist achievement, and printed all Jewish news available, Khasin tried to devote equal space to both Jewish and Arab news.

"Difficulties, however, were to increase. Khasin, who flouted Jewish religious practice by printing on the Sabbath, wished to produce his paper on such fasts and holy days as the Palestine Post closed down. He received anonymous threatening letters, stating that time bombs would be laid in his offices and in the machine-room; that the compositors and stonehands working for him would be liable to personal attack if they consented to produce a paper on such days. But Khasin was not to be beaten. Already the Sabbath edition was being set and printed in an Arab workshop. There each Friday noon the Palestine News offices transported themselves - and under the direction of the two reporters, the Arab printers, who could read no English, set the paper by hand. They had learnt the letters of the English alphabet and could recognise them - but in reverse. Despite this, their galley-pulls were often cleaner than those of the European compositors working at their Intertypes. throughout Friday night, when devout Jews had ceased to work, the Arab flatbed presses would be groaning at top speed spewing out copies of Khasin's Illustrated News. Within a few weeks of the launching of the paper the Arab press was also publishing the News on special Holy Days in addition to each Sabbath (though the latter was called simply 'weekend' and undated).

"English people who grew to know the opposition with which the paper had to contend bought it in preference to the Post, although its world news coverage was inadequate and much of its grammar quaint. Military camps placed large orders.

"But the boycott, although it had not stopped the sale of the paper, had achieved something far more important. Only a few Jewish firms dared to advertise in it. The Arabs, of course, unless cinema proprietors or restaurateurs, did not normally advertise in a Jewish-owned paper. Khasin struggled on for many months, trying to defeat the unofficial boycott, but except for government advertisements, police notices and the like, the credit side of his accounts was bare. In the end, it was not lack of capital which closed down the News - but lack of newsprint itself." (Reporting from Palestine 1943-1944, Barbara Board**, 2008, pp 119-122)

[*The Palestine Post (1932-1950) was the predecessor of today's Likudnik Jerusalem Post;**Barbara Board (1916-1986)]

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Plus Ca Change Plus La Meme Chose


The shadow foreign affairs portfolio has now passed from Tanya (Rogue state? What rogue state?) Plibersek to Penny ("I was struck by the challenges of Israel's leaders having to juggle the work of government with managing a constant existential threat"*) Wong.

Penelope, of course, is eminently qualified for the post, having been rambammed in 2014. (Which explains her fluency in Ziospeak.) I for one simply cannot wait for more of her penetrating insights on this and other over-the-hills-and-far-away matters.

[*See my 9/6/14 post Israeli-Occupied Labor.]

Monday, July 25, 2016

Gutless Journalism at the SMH

Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Nick Miller, wrote the following, clearly under duress:

"He was in Gaza for a year, and for 11 months it was 'fairly routine', but the final month was Operation Cast Lead, a three-week conflict between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Israel, which the Palestinians called a massacre. The opening assault was followed by a ground invasion. it ended with more than 1000 Palestinian deaths and a subsequent United Nations mission accused both sides of war crimes." (Buried under the rubble, Nick Miller, 23/7/16)

Fear of the Israel lobby is palpable in every word.

Just to correct the record:

An even stevens conflict?

Really? Why then did the UN's Goldstone Report describe it as "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population..."? (1893)

Only the Palestinians call it a massacre?

Bullshit, only the brass-necked Israelis would call it anything other than a massacre.

More than 1000 Palestinian deaths?

Too bloody right! Add another 400 to that.

UN accused both sides of war crimes?

And also said that it did not "equate the position of Israel as the occupying Power with that of the occupied Palestinian population or entities representing it." (Goldstone Report, 1876)

In the same issue, the Herald's rambammed political editor Peter Hartcher outs himself as a PEP (Progressive Except Palestine).

While he's quite capable of getting Australia right - "British Australia was built on the ruins of Aboriginal Australia, and the modern nation federated on a consensus of racial exclusion." (She's no threat - there's an opportunity, 23/7/16) - don't in a million expect him to write anything like this:

'Israel was built on the ruins of Arab Palestine, and constituted as an exclusively Jewish state.'

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trump This


"Stepping up for a job he's toyed with since the 1980's, New York developer and reality TV star Donald Trump has accepted the Republican Party's presidential nomination with a dark speech that parsed the US and the world as mean, chaotic and dangerous for Americans - whose governments had failed to defend and protect them... He promised to 'defeat the barbarians of ISIS' and to knock into line countries that didn't respect the US - including Iran, China and any country that figured the US would protect it without being paid." (Trump whips up frenzy built on fear, Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/7/16)

Let me get this straight: the United States routinely rampages around the world, intervening in the affairs of others, both overtly and covertly, and showers arms and treasure on assorted authoritarian and apartheid regimes, and those once felicitously described as 'our sons-of-bitches', Trump sums up the resultant mess as 'mean, chaotic and dangerous for Americans', and then promises to continue rampaging around the planet, etc.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

JSIL/ISIL: Nothing New Under the Sun

Barbara Board (1916-86) was a British freelance journalist who reported on developments in British Mandate Palestine during the 1930s and 40s for British and Canadian papers. Here she describes the social makeup of that notorious Zionist terrorist outfit, the Stern Gang* - a sort of Jewish State in the Levant (JSIL) if you will:

"From what sections of the Jewish community in Palestine were the gangsters drawn? Under what guise did they masquerade as a cover to their other activities. My Hadera informants gave me varied answers. Many of the gangsters, they told me, had come from the [Zionist] colonies themselves. They were potential criminal types who had avoided joining the armed forces in 1940 and had managed to resist Zionist pressure to enrol at the recruiting centres set up in the following months. These youths, ironically enough already trained in self-defence, found it an easy matter to work out operations for attack. They formed themselves into self-contained gangs. Then, not as individual members but as units, they allied themselves with Stern. Not all the gangsters however were ex-colonists. A large proportion came from the ranks of the unemployed - pitiful groups of derelict young Jews who between the beginning of the war and the opening of War Department installations in Palestine roamed the streets of Tel Aviv and Haifa, penniless and starving. They had provided ripe material for militant propagandists. Yet other members of the gangs, neither colonists nor unemployed, believed in terrorism as their national creed. They were fascists culled from various sections of the Jewish community - sons of wealthy families, clerks, shop assistants, waiters, factory hands, labourers." (Reporting from Palestine: 1943-1944, 2008, p 34)

I was reminded of Board's description by the words of Australia's national counter-terrorism co-ordinator, Greg Moriarty, writing on the subject of so-called 'lone wolf' terrorism, linked to (or inspired by, however tenuously in same cases) today's Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL):

"For some, the attraction is ideological and absolute. They believe in a narrow and extreme interpretation of Islam where there can be no compromise with the West or with other Muslims who do not accept the righteousness of ISIL's cause and submit to its will. But we also face another challenge from those who are not necessarily deeply committed to and engaged with the Islamist ideology but are nonetheless, due to a range of reasons, including mental health issues, susceptible to being motivated and lured rapidly down a dangerous path by the terrorist narrative. For some of these people, the warped views which ISIL propagates can, to their own distorted way of thinking, justify their anger at society and give meaning to their existence." (Security threat review, David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/7/16)

[*For an account of the Stern Gang's terror campaign in Britain see my 6/7/12 post Anyone Remember the Stern Gang's London Offensive?]

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Whited Sepulchres

Not one, not two, but three Zionist lobbyists in three days in the mainstream press. Top that!

And all pointing the finger at, and pontificating on, the likes of Pauline Hanson, Sonia Kruger and 'Islamism', while of course ignoring the evils of the apartheid state, the defence of which is their real shtick.

Never has Matthew 23:27 seemed more appropriate: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

1) The Executive Council of Australian Jewry's Peter Wertheim:

"Hanson has often denied that her views and her party's policies have anything to do with racism and bigotry, but it is difficult to see how else one can characterise her numerous public pronouncements attributing negative behaviour and traits to groups of people on account of their ethnic or religious background..." (Perils of Pauline far from unique, The Australian, 18/7/16)

You mean like the numerous public pronouncements attributing negative behaviour and traits to Palestinian Arabs regularly heard in Israel?

2) The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's Colin Rubenstein:

"This ideology is best described as Islamism, a violent, totalitarian ideology which argues all political and social problems can be resolved by returning to an imagined version of the Islamic caliphate which existed in the time of the prophet. This ideology is a political belief system - like communism or fascism - and not at all the same as the religion, Islam." (Let's speak clearly on Islamism, Sydney Morning Herald, 20/7/16)

You mean like political Zionism, a violent, totalitarian ideology which argues all political and social problems can be resolved for Jews by returning to an imagined version of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah which existed in the Iron Age?

3) The Australia/ Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's Mark Leibler:

"As a person of the Jewish faith, racism and its consequences are etched into my soul. Racism robs a people of their choices and opportunities, their homes, their livelihoods and their sense of confidence and security." (Lurches to the right reveal racism is the problem, not the solution, The Australian, 20/7/16)*

You mean like Zionist apartheid robs the Palestinian people of their choices and opportunities, their homes, their livelihoods, and indeed their very lives?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How France 'Shaped' Modern Syria

The following understatement is a classic of its kind:

"'We tend to forget that history is still important,' said Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic Studies and International Studies in Washington. 'France is the country that shaped modern Syria... " (France's colonial history puts it in the sights of terrorists, Julian E. Barnes & Matthew Dalton, The Wall Street Journal/ The Australian, 18/7/16)

France "shaped" Syria.

Before France, Syria was without form and void. After France, hey presto, Syria! (Trot out that mocking line: What did the Romans France ever do for us?)

So how did La Belle France "shape" Syria?

As follows:

1) In the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, France (& Britain) decided to chop up Greater Syria (today's Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan) with Syria and Lebanon going to France, and Palestine and Transjordan to Britain. (Of course, the British had already promised, in 1915, that most of Greater Syria would become part of an independent Arab nation.)

2) At the San Remo Conference of 1920, under the pretext of 'accepting' a League of Nations' 'mandate', France declared its intention to take control of Greater Syria (minus the British bits). This was despite the existence of a popular, constitutional Arab monarchy under King Faisal based in Damascus. Syrian resistance was promptly smashed by a vastly superior French force at the Battle of Maysalun, and Faisal was forced to flee. General Gourard, the 'hero' of Maysalun, reportedly kicked the tomb of Saladin in Damascus, and said, Wake up, Saladin. We have returned. My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.

3) Gourard then tore off Mount Lebanon, adding to it the coastal cities of Tyre, Beirut and Tripoli, and the inland Biqa Valley, and proclaimed the new entity Greater Lebanon (Grand Liban).

4) With Palestine and Transjordan already hacked from the bleeding corpse of Greater Syria, and Lebanon likewise, Gourard then set about slicing what was left of it into statelets: the state of Damascus; the government of Aleppo; the autonomous Alawite district; and the autonomous Mountain of the Druzes.

5) A nationalist uprising (1925-26) was brutally quelled, with French forces shelling Damascus twice. Thousands of Syrians died in the process.

6) In 1939, France cut off  the northern Syrian province of Hatay, handing it to the Turks to keep them sweet during World War II.

That, in brief, is how La Belle France "shaped" Syria.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Now I Get It

From the long-suppressed - December 2002 - missing 28 pages of the US Congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before & After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001:

"20. Finding: While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support and assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government. There is information, primarily from FBI sources, that at least two of these individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers. The Joint Inquiry's review confirmed that the Intelligence Community also has information, much of which has yet to be independently verified, indicating that individuals associated with the Saudi Government in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups. The FBI and CIA have informed the Joint Inquiry that, since the September 11 attacks, they are treating the Saudi issue seriously, but both still have only a limited understanding of the Saudi Government's ties to terrorist elements. In their testimony, neither CIA nor FBI witnesses were able to identify definitively the extent of Saudi support for terrorist activity globally or within the United States and the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature. The FBI's Washington Field Office created a squad devoted to... [redaction]. Only recently, and at least in part due to the Joint Inquiry's focus on this issue, did the FBI and CIA establish a working group to address the Saudi issue. In the view of the Joint Inquiry, this gap in US intelligence coverage is unacceptable, given the magnitude and immediacy of the potential risk to US national security."

Oh... so that's why the United States took on Saudi Arabia Iraq in 2003. Now I get it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Thereby Hangs a Tale...

Guardian Australia is featuring a "video explainer" called Why is France targeted so often by terrorists (16/7). Its only reference to that nation's bloody colonial history is as follows:

"France has intervened militarily and economically to defend its interests in Africa and the Middle East."

To expand the old Shakespearean line: thereby hangs a largely overlooked, not to say forgotten, tale - at least by the mainstream media.

Although the warp and woof of this tale has many a tangled strand, I present here just one, involving the intersection between France's (along with Britain's and Israel's) failed stab at regime change in 1956 Egypt and its arrogant refusal to read the writing on the wall in 1960s French occupied/settled Algeria:

"When [British PM Anthony] Eden and [Foreign Secretary Selwyn] Lloyd left Paris [French PM Guy] Mollet was able to reassure his Israeli partner, David Ben-Gurion, that he could depend absolutely on British co-operation in the plan for invading [Egypt's] Sinai and capturing the [Suez] Canal. So confident, in fact, was the mood in Paris after the meeting of October 16 [1956] that Mollet and his Ministers now decided to toughen their Algerian policy. Until this moment they had not been certain enough of ultimate victory over the [Algerian] nationalists to go all out in their efforts to crush the rebellion. But now that [the Egyptian president] Nasser was to be destroyed, the order was given to pull no punches and a plan was promptly hatched to capture the leader of the Algerian rebels, Ahmed Ben Bella, by a singular act of treachery.

"Ben Bella was currently visiting Rabat at the invitation of the Sultan of Morocco, who, with Premier Bourguiba of Tunisia, was seeking to persuade the National Liberation Front of Algeria to agree to peace talks with the French. These efforts at mediation had earlier received active encouragement from Mollet himself, in token of which the French authorities had earlier given a safe-conduct across Algeria for the aeroplane which was to transport Ben Bella from Rabat to Tunis for the talks with Bourguiba. But Mollet was now no longer interested in discussing peace in Algeria. And when the aeroplane reached Algerian air space it was immediately intercepted by French fighters and forced to land at Algiers Airport. Ben Bella and four of his nationalist associates were then arrested and taken off to prison in France, where they were to remain until Algeria finally won her independence six years later.

"By this act of treacherous folly, France not only forfeited the last vestiges of Arab respect in North Africa, but, when her Suez plan failed to destroy Nasser, she served to prolong her own agony in Algeria by isolating the principal spokesman of the nationalists in a Paris prison and thereby denying to the only interlocutor valable the opportunity to negotiate a settlement. From then on it was war to the death in Algeria - and many Frenchmen as well as Algerians were to die in the six bloody years that followed. Egypt increased her assistance to the rebels, and the Moroccans and Tunisians, rebuffed in their efforts to bring about a truce, joined in giving the National Liberation Front all possible aid and protection." (No End of a Lesson: The Story of Suez, Anthony Nutting, 1967, pp 100-01)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Multiple Choice

With respect to understanding the massacre in Nice, choose the most relevant of the following two texts:

a) "Truck terrorist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was an 'unlikely jihadist' who flouted every rule of Islam, his cousin told MailOnline today. The 31-year-old... drank alcohol, ate pork and took drugs. He never prayed or attended a mosque, and hit his wife... and was in the process of getting a divorce. Bouhlel, who had been known to the French police since January, had been on the radar for six months for petty criminality. It is understood he lost his job as a delivery driver when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into four cars and had also been involved in a bar brawl. Walid Hamou, a cousin of Bouhlel's wife Hajer Khalfallah, told MailOnline: 'Bouhlel was not religious. He did not go to the mosque, he did not pray, he did not observe Ramadan. 'He drank alcohol, ate pork and took drugs. This is all forbidden under Islam. 'He was not a Muslim, he was a s***. 'He beat his wife, my cousin, he was a nasty piece of work'." (MailOnline, 16/7/16)

b) "When will the West ever learn? Islamists are at war with the non-Muslim world. All Islamist terrorist attacks invoke Islam, notably by reciting words from the Koran. All Muslims declare nothing deserves worship except God and Mohammed is the messenger of God. And the Koran is revered as the word of God. To fail to obey its word is defined as apostasy punishable by death. Unless this is clearly understood we cannot win the war. Why does, for instance, China have few Islamist terror attacks? Because they deal summarily with terrorists and sympathisers." (Letter in The Australian from Peter Troy, Kingston, Tas., 16/7/16)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why I Read The Australian

Ever notice how well endowed The Australian's opinion page is with, ahem, Middle East experts?

One such is a gentleman by the name of Paul Monk. Here's his bio:

"Paul Monk MA PhD is a polymath and widely known as a public intellectual. After completing his PhD in International Relations, looking at cognitive and policy aspects of US counter-insurgency operations during the Cold War, he worked for a number of years in Australia's Defence Intelligence Organisation on East Asia, with a particular emphasis on the challenge of North Korea, the stagnation of Japan and the rise of China. He was head of China analysis in 1994-95 and has remained a widely consulted commentator on international affairs in the Australian media and may well be unequalled in this country for intellectual breadth and depth, but especially for his ability to rapidly apply that profound resource to challenges in the broad arena of human affairs. He has written four books including Thunder from the Silent Zone: Rethinking China (2005) and The West in a Nutshell: Foundations, Fragilities, Futures (2009)." (Our Team - van Gelder & Monk,

 As you can see, he positively oozes Middle East expertise. And thank God for that too. Did you know, for example, that we had to wait until 2011 to find out that what we'd always assumed to be the Balfour Declaration was not in fact the Balfour Declaration. That's when Monk came along and set us straight.

For example, in the benighted pre-Monk era (November 1917 - April 2011) we used to think that this was the Balfour Declaration:

"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 this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

But, thanks to Monk's scholarly revelation, we now know that this is the real Balfour Declaration:

"1. His Majesty's government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people. 2. His Majesty's government will use its best endeavours to secure the achievement of this object and will discuss the necessary methods and means with the Zionist Organisation."

(You can read all about this epic scholarly feat in my 12/4/11 post Only in The Australian.)

As I discovered, when reading Monk's latest revelation in yesterday's Australian, Like Voltaire, be candid on Islam - to whit, Mohammad was no Mr Nice Guy - Monk's intellectual breadth and depth doesn't end there:

"Karen Armstrong has portrayed Mohammed as 'a prophet for our time'. But the classic Muslim sources (Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Kathir, Waqidi, al-Tabari, going back to the 8th and 9th centuries) make clear that he was a very dubious figure even in his own time."

That's right! A dubious figure in his own time. And still, today! (Why only the other day I saw him...)

It's obvious from the above that Monk has an encyclopedic grasp of all things Middle Eastern. Nothing is beyond him. Ibn Ishaq. Tick. Ibn Kathir. Tick. Waqidi. Tick. al-Tabari. Tick. He's read em all, and in Arabic too. And some fools wonder why I read The Australian!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Breakfast at Joe's

Please spare a thought for 'Diamond' Joe Gutnick in his hour of need:

"Mining magnate 'Diamond' Joe Gutnick was once ranked among the wealthiest men in the country, with a fortune totalling more than $300 million. Now the former Melbourne Football Club president has declared himself bankrupt, with debts totalling more than $275 million, after a deal with one of India's biggest fertiliser groups turned sour." ('Diamond' Joe Gutnick bankrupt owing $275 million, Mark Hawthorne & Sarah Danckert, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/7/16)

What a cruel blow! Now I know what you're thinking: Joe Gutnick is just some rich prick who deserves what he gets. But you'd be wrong. Sure he may have been rich, even filthy rich. But if truth be told, the wretched of the earth were never far from Joe's mind:

"If there is one thing about his political activity in Israel that Joseph is touchy about, it is the perception - especially in the wider Australian community - that he is a political extremist. In his December 1998 interview with Peter Ellingsen, he initially described himself as a 'hardline right-winger'. But he was clearly uneasy with this, and a few days later he called Ellingsen back to say: 'I'm not really a hardliner A lot of people think I'm an extremist, but I'm not. You shouldn't get the idea that I'm a belligerent, non-tolerant person'. Ellingsen took this on board, but with something of a raised eyebrow. He noted that Joseph had answered his question 'How many Palestinians are there in Israel?' with a flip but none too-tolerant: 'Too many!' And when asked about the Gypsies, who, like the Jews, had been the target of Hitler's extermination program in Europe, he replied: 'We have a message for the world. I don't know what message the Gypsies have'." (Diamonds & Demons: The Joseph Gutnick Story, David Bernstein, 2000, pp 109-10)

And as (an extended) family man, Joe is a legend. If even his most distant rellies needed a new settlement house, Joe was always there to help out. So much so that one lot, in Israeli- liberated Hebron, thought it only fair that his name should go up in lights. Hence the Gutnick Center. Vibrant Israel doesn't get much more vibrant than this welcoming 5-Star of David establishment:

"Occasionally I patronised the Gutnick Center, hoping to get into conversation with a few settlers - so unapproachable on the street. 'Diamond Joe' Gutnick, an Australian mining tycoon and enthusiastic funder of settlements, is commemorated by this small cafe-cum-souvenir shop between Shuhada Street and the Street of Prayer. Above the entrance a misleading notice says 'All are Welcome!' On my first visit, at opening time, the dreary cafe was empty. A teenage boy, made girlish-looking by long curly ear-locks, scuttled away to find the 'in-charge', a puny little man who wore a striped apron and had hardly enough hair left to accept his kippa's paper-clips. He was distantly polite, with downcast eyes. From the microwave he served instant coffee and a chocolate pastry, then disappeared into the kitchen until another customer arrived, a tall young man wearing prayer gear and a stern expression. He sat with his back to me, as far as possible from the gentile. An appeal leaflet came with my order - 'Dear Visitor, you have an opportunity to ADOPT A SOLDIER. Buy a coupon in the cafeteria for a Family Size Pizza & Bottle of Drink for just 65 nis and give the coupon to a soldier. On behalf of the soldiers we thank you'." (Between River & Sea: Encounters in Israel & Palestine, Dervla Murphy, 2015, p 284)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance? What Cognitive Dissonance?

? Jennifer Oriel arguing for a women-only space in 2003:

"For many women, expression of diversity is enabled by environments which support women-only space. In these spaces, women may feel freer to share difficult experiences and to create positive plans for a more liberated future with other women who understand and support them... it's a wonderful step forward for women who love women." (On the occasion of the Victorian lesbian festival, 2004 Lesfest, which won the right to exclude anyone other than female-born lesbians from entry, The Age, 12/9/03)

Murdoch columnist Jennifer Oriel arguing against an indigenous-only space in 2016:

"The arguably racist presumption that people who are not indigenous make a space culturally unsafe has gone unchallenged by the activist Left... the modern human rights movement has substituted universal human rights with minority rights." (Leftist line on Hanson is hypocrisy at the highest level, The Australian, 11/7/16)

And to add to the confusion, Oriel supports a Jews-only/first space called Israel in occupied Palestine.

Strewth, how does she manage to get through her day?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Imperial Hubris

Jeez, that Imperial Hubris is a potent brew:

"... one of the documents released with the [Chilcot] report, a letter from Blair to Bush on December 4, 2001, does contain a hint that things could have been even more disastrous. After suggesting military actions to take place in Iraq, the Philippines, Somalia, Yemen, and Indonesia, Blair turns to Syria and Iran. His advice here begins: 'If toppling Saddam is a prime objective, it is far easier to do it with Syria and Iran in favor or acquiescing rather than hitting all three at once." (In political fights over Chilcot report, Iraqi lives don't matter, Robert Mackey,, 7/7/17)

And don't you just love: "If toppling Saddam is a prime objective..."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Drover Dan & His Good Mate, Mike, Ride Again

Now that Labor's shadow minister for Israel, Michael Danby, has been re-elected in his seat of Melbourne Ports, and his brother-in-Zion, Mike Kelly, has won back his old seat of Eden Monaro, can we expect the pair to once again resume their practice of rounding up and "corralling" their Labor colleagues in support of Israel, much as they did in 2009 in the wake of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Ghetto?

(To see what I mean, please re-read my 1/3/09 post Nipping at their Heels.)

If so, one hapless colleague they'll probably be keeping an eye on and/or singling out for special attention is the new Labor member for the south-western Sydney seat of Macarthur, Dr Michael Freelander, profiled in the Australian Jewish News as "a senior pediatrician at Campbelltown and Camden hospitals with more than three decades of medical practice in the region," and described as "a proud Zionist." (Jewish candidates setting their sights on Canberra, 1/7/16)

The extent of the good doctor's "Zionism", of course, remains to be determined, but it's clear he's hardly in the Danby mould, because, as the AJN just had to point out, "he landed himself in hot water earlier in this campaign when he compared the Manus Island detention centre for refugees to a concentration camp. He apologised for offending the Jewish community and said that he was aware that he chose the wrong words." (ibid)

Judging by his apology, Freelander's chances of standing up to a Danby/Kelly damage control exercise following the next, inevitable Israeli outrage aren't looking too good. Still, we live in hope.

Re the election result, I find myself, at least this time around, in full agreement with ECAJ supremo, Peter Wertheim:

"Describing the election of so many Jews as 'a historic first', executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim said, 'Nothing could better illustrate how fortunate we are to live in a society where every office or position, no matter how high, is within the reach of any citizen, regardless of his or her ethnic or religious background." (History made with record number of Jews in Parliament, AJN, 8/7/16)

What a pity though he can't say the same about Israel.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Greg Sheridan: Master Satirist

This is satire, right?:

"Listening to Tony Blair's epic press conference and John Howard's shorter but no less commanding performance, I was struck by just what master politicians these two men were, and how far they tower over all their successors from both sides of politics in either country. Thirteen years after the events, these two giants are still masters of all the detail, picking their way through the fog of war in real time." (Giants show the path to truth in fog of war, The Australian, 8/7/16)

"Blair's memo to Bush that 'we will be with you, whatever' was not a blank cheque to go to war... but a commitment that Britain would work with Washington to solve the problem of Iraq." (ibid)

"Islamic State emerged out of Syria, a collapsed nation in which the West did not intervene at all." (ibid)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Israel's Wilfred Owen

Efforts at normalising Israeli apartheid and aggression come in many forms, including book reviews such as the following:

"There is probably no tougher test of a book than its ability to captivate a teenage boy. I gave this one to my son and it instantly gripped him." (Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier's Story, Matti Friedman, reviewed by Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/16)

The 'teenage boy' test? If a book can grab someone with the attention span of a gnat it must be good. Hm...

"But you don't have to be a male teenager. In Pumpkinflowers, Matti Friedman has created one of the most original and powerful works of fiction I have ever read."

Fiction... right. In the Herald's weekend arts mag, Spectrum, there is always a series of short reviews such as Capp's. These are divided into two columns, fiction and non-fiction. Pumpkinflowers heads the latter column.

"The Israeli military call wounded soldiers 'flowers.' At an army outpost in Lebanon known as the Pumpkin, we meet a group of men virtually straight out of school who have been thrust into the 'lawless netherworld of war'."

In Lebanon, eh?

Shouldn't that be occupied Lebanon? Not for Capp, and, I'll wager, not for Friedman. As for those schoolies "thrust into the 'lawless netherworld of war,' oh puh-lease! These 'babes-in-the-wood' were the indoctrinated tools of an occupying, settler-colonial power which would still be in control of southern Lebanon today if it hadn't been forced out by the Lebanese resistance movement. in 2000. And shouldn't that be thrust into the 'lawless netherworld of occupation'?

"Combining his own experience at the Pumpkin with that of another soldier, Avi, while tracing the little known events that led to Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, Friedman creates a mythic yet intimate work that distils what Wilfred Owen called 'the pity of war' with an unforgettable intensity."

Little known events...? No wonder such things as the 1982-2000 Israeli occupation of south Lebanon are so little known, what with Israel's Wilfred Owens busily spinning distiling 'the pity of war' for us and clueless Fiona Capps lauding them to the heavens!

Now while we're on the subject of just how awfully awfully awful it is for Israeli babes-in-the-wood to be thrust into the 'lawless netherworld of occupation war,' have you heard the one about the Palestinian baby who terrorised another group of adorable Israeli munchkins, leaving them, like, traumatised, like, forever? Here goes:

"There is a story I want to tell you Mr Weisel, for I have carried it inside of me for may years and have only written about it once a very long time ago. I was in a refugee camp in Gaza when an Israeli army unit on foot patrol came upon a small baby perched in the sand sitting just outside the door to its home. Some soldiers approached the baby and surrounded it. Standing close together, the soldiers began shunting the child between them with their feet, mimicking a ball in a game of soccer. The baby began screaming hysterically and its mother rushed out shrieking, trying desperately to extricate her child from the soldiers' legs and feet. After a few more seconds of 'play,' the soldiers stopped and walked away, leaving the terrified child to its distraught mother." (A response to Elie Weisel, Sara Roy*,, 9/9/14)

[*Sara Roy is an academic who works at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University.]

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Mother of All Apologies

Any reference to UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's apology for his party's role in the Iraq war is predictably missing from today's Fairfax and Murdoch papers. Here is its heart: 

"I apologise sincerely on behalf of my party for the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq. That apology is owed first of all to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, and the country is still living with the devastating consequences of the war and the forces it unleashed. They have paid the greatest price for the most serious foreign policy calamity of the last 60 years." (Jeremy Corbyn's Chilcot Report & apology for Iraq War, Full Transcript,

Coming in the wake of the long-awaited Chilcot report into the Blair government's role in the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, Corbyn's words are those of a political and moral giant.

The 60 years refers to the decision by the British, French and Israelis to invade Egypt in 1956, condemned by Britain's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (1954-56), Sir Anthony Nutting, who resigned in protest against it at the time, as "a sordid conspiracy."

Needless to say, the most serious British foreign policy calamity of the last 100 years still awaits its apology. In fact, without it, neither the Suez nor Iraq wars, to name only those for which Britain was directly responsible, would have occurred.

I'm speaking, of course, about the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Britain promised to "facilitate" the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," a decision described by British historian Elizabeth Monroe as "one of the greatest mistakes in our imperial history."

NOW, in the run-up to the Balfour Declaration's centenary, is the time for Britain to offer the MOTHER OF ALL apologies to the dispersed and brutalised people of Palestine - followed, it goes without saying, by the application of sanctions against the apartheid state of Israel.

And who better to do this than a future Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Waiting for Malcolm

"Australia's second-richest person, Anthony Pratt, was still waiting - in the early hours of Sunday morning - for the nation's 29th Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to arrive at what was supposed to be a Liberal victory party at Sydney's Sofitel Wentworth. As you may have heard, things had not exactly followed Turnbull's plan. So what did Pratt - the executive chairman of Visy Industries, a man with a fortune recently valued at $10.4 billion - make of what at that stage looked like the narrowest of victories for Turnbull? 'Well, it's better to almost die than almost survive,' Pratt told us." (Not quite the party the party was expecting, Will Glascow & Christine Lacy, The Australian Business Review, 4/7/16)

Concerning Anthony Pratt, the Financial Review noted pointedly that:

"For the amount of loot the Pratts have raised for the Liberal Party, [Anthony Pratt] probably could've stood on stage with the PM's family if he'd only thought to ask in advance. Remember, the billionaire family have been major sponsors of Shorten's early political career... when he was married to the late Dick Pratt's goddaughter Deborah Beale. Visy must really want that corporate tax cut." (No sign of Middle Australia at Malcolm Turnbull's election party, Joe Aston, 3/7/16)

Of course... and Malcolm's unswerving devotion to all things Israel.