Wednesday, June 28, 2017

To Hell & Back

Please bear with me here and read At 15 I was tortured in Assad's prisons. I escaped but thousands still suffer (Anonymous, theguardian.com) from beginning to end:

"For the 10 months I spent as a detainee in the prisons of Bashar al-Assad, I only saw my family in my dreams. At night, the screams would stop for an hour or two, and I could close my eyes and remember what it was like to be human. When I slept, I would return to my life. Today is the UN's International Day for Support of Victims of Torture. Unfortunately in Syria, there is no shortage of victims of torture. Tens of thousands of us have been thrown in Assad's prisons and tortured beyond what our bodies and minds can take. Many of us die there. Those of us who have survived will spend the rest of our lives being reminded of just how evil humanity is capable of being.

"I was only 15 when I was arrested and subjected to months of physical and psychological torture. I am lucky to have survived. There were times I wished for death. As happy as I am to return to life again, I am equally gripped by sadness and pain knowing more than 200,000 prisoners are still there. My freedom feels incomplete as long as my Syrian brothers and sisters suffer behind those high walls. I am a hostage of my memory. Aleppo is my home. I was forced to leave there in 2013 to try to escape the barrel bombs and besiegement of the city by Assad and his allies. My mother, siblings and I fled to Lebanon. At the age of 14, I had to leave school and begin working to try to sustain our family. At the end of 2014, we were forced to return to Syria because we could not afford Lebanese residence and working permits. On the way home, I was arrested by members of a political security branch in Damascus. They accused me of taking part in the peaceful demonstrations at the beginning of the popular Syrian revolution against Assad.

"This is a regime known for its oppression, its tyranny, and its corruption. But it is also a regime that stands against humanity. It is a regime that could arrest a 15-year-old, a kid, and subject him to months of torture and starvation and psychological trauma. And I am not by any means a unique story in Syria. When I was first arrested, I was taken to security branch headquarters near Damascus, where I was tortured during sessions of interrogation for 58 days straight. After 58 days of this treatment, I had no choice but to sign false confessions that the interrogator himself wrote. I put my name to offences I had never committed, and confessions about people I had never met. I was even forced to sign a document that accused my brother of being an armed rebel.

"I was held in that branch for four-and-a-half months, then moved to the political security administration in Fayha' in Damascus. Here I was tortured in even more ways. I was given electric shocks on sensitive parts of my body; suspended from the ceiling; tortured using brutal methods known as 'wind carpet', 'the wheel' and 'the bed'. This went on for another 3 months. This is when I was transferred to Saydnaya military prison. The Living Persons' Graveyard. The Human Slaughterhouse. These are names that describe Saydnaya. I spent a month there. The mornings for detainees in this place starts with death. Before sunrise, the guards would yell with hate and scorn to wake us up, and we were ripped out of our dreams where we sought sweet refuge. 'You bastards of the cell, who has a corpse?' they would yell. And we would fetch the corpses of our brothers who had left our living hell.

"We survived on scraps of rubbish for food. We became so starved that our bodies stopped looking human. We were whipped, beaten, starved, given electric shocks. We saw people taken to be hanged en masse. There are stories of guards forcing prisoners to kill their own friends and family, or be tortured or executed. Saydnaya is hell on Earth. Every day, we waited for punishment. You don't know anything, and you don't know when you're going to be tortured or killed. Saydnaya is not where you go to be tortured for information. Saydnaya is where you go to die.

"After a month of that living hell, I was transferred to Tishreen military hospital. Don't be fooled by the word 'hospital'. It was not a place of healing and care. There is a reason detainees in Saydnaya do not ask to see the doctor, and refuse to answer when nurses ask who has injuries. While in my months as a detainee I was tortured physically, the psychological torture at the military hospital was unparalleled. I was only there for two days, but that was long enough to witness the worst of humanity. I wasn't fed for 2 days. I was put in a tiny room just 3m by 3m, where dead bodies were piled over one another; one was rotting. My room had 3 tuberculosis patients. We had to carry corpses around. I saw many executions. A guard held his foot on the neck of a detainee to suffocate him to death. Another was given an 'air injection' of poison. The smell of death surrounds you.

"I then returned to Saydnaya, where I stayed for one final, brutal month. One day I was beaten so harshly I passed out - simply because I happened to be born on a street under opposition control. In October 2015, after 10 months of detention, I won my freedom. But my mind will never be free. I am free, but I've been taken hostage by the cries of my fellow prisoners, the groans of their wounds, the screams of their torture, their secret prayers, their emaciated bodies and their deaths once they could bear life no more. My story is like hundreds of thousands of other stories, but I ask you to look past the numbers and think: what if this happened to you? Or to your brother, or sister, or father, or mother, or child, or friend? Would you support the continued leadership in Syria of the man responsible? I have escaped the prisons, and escaped Syria's borders, but I have no future. I have no signs of hope. Assad has ruined the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people. If our children and our children's children have any hope in Syria, Assad cannot remain. As long as he is in power, his forces will continue to crush the spirit of anyone who dares to want freedom." (27/6/17)

***

Now this sounded familiar.

Where had I heard it before? Then it all came flooding back to me, down the years; four men, Yorkshire men to be precise, in dinner suits, sitting round a table, sharing a drop of the finest... and a few - ahem - memories:

Ahh... Very passable, this, very passable.

Nothing like a good glass of Chateau de Chassilier, eh Josiah?

You're right there, Obadiah.

Who'd a thought 30 years ago we'd all be sittin' here drinking Chateau de Chassilier?

Aye. In them days, we'd a' been glad to have the price of a cup o' tea.

A cup o' COLD tea.

Without milk or sugar.

OR tea!

In a cracked cup, and all.

We never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.

The best WE could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.

But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.

Aye. BECAUSE we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, 'Money doesn't buy you happiness.'

'E was right. I was happier then and I had NOTHIN'. We used to live in this tiny old house, with greaaaaat big holes in the roof.

House? You were lucky to have a HOUSE! We used to live in one room, all 26 of us, no furniture. Half the floor was missing and we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of FALLING!

You were lucky to have a ROOM! We used to have to live in a CORRIDOR!

Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin' in a corridor! Woulda' been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House!? Hmph.

Well when I say 'house' it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpolin, but it was a house to US.

We were evicted from our hole in the ground; we had to go and live in a lake!

You were lucky to have a LAKE! There were 150 of us living in a shoe box in the middle of the road.

Cardboard box?

Aye.

You were lucky. We lived for 3 months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at 6 in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for 14 hours a day, week in week out, for sixpence a week. When we got home, Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

LUXURY! We used to have to get out of the lake at 6 o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, work 20 hours a day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and our Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle - if we were Lucky!

Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoe box at 12 o'clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half 2 bits of cold gravel, worked 24 hours a day at mill for sixpence every 4 years, and when we got home, Our Dad would slice us in 2 with a bread knife.

Right. I had to get up in the morning at 10 o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work 29 hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad AND our Mum would kill us and dance about on our graves singing, Hallelujah'.

And you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'.

They won't.

***

Well, you live and you learn, as they say. I had absolutely no idea that the lads from Monty Python had done Syria! Thanks, Guardian.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why Do I Get the Feeling?

OMFG, Jonathan Freedland's Guardian is so bloody depressing.

I've just taken a peek, God help me, at the 1,000+ torrent of (overwhelmingly) garbage and bile, aka comment, on its website following Gabrielle Chan's article, Bob Brown endorses action against Lee Rhiannon as Greens turmoil deepens (26/6/17).

What vile, stagnant swamp, I wonder, breeds these sadsacks and mental defectives? Is it any wonder we've got swamp monsters like Abbott, Trumble, Shorten, Dutton, Hanson and the like plaguing us?

In over a thousand 'comments' only one got why the admirable Senator Lee Rhiannon has come under fire from the know-nothings (di Natale) and has-beens (Brown) in her party:

"Why do I get the feeling that Lee's strong stand on the atrocities happening to the Palestinians is behind the hostility to Lee? The Greens may not accept corporate donations, but that does not mean that there are not forces behind the scene pulling strings."

Whoever you are, you have that feeling because you know what's going on.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Rogue State, Rogue President

Seymour Hersh on the chemical attack that wasn't:

"On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the US intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

"The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all US, allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

"Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence. 'None of this makes any sense,' one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. 'We KNOW that there was no chemical attack... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.'

"Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world's media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition. The provenance of the photos was not clear and no international observers have yet inspected the site, but the immediate popular assumption worldwide was that this was a deliberate use of the nerve agent sarin, authorized by President Bashar Assad of Syria. Trump endorsed that assumption by issuing a statement within hours of the attack, describing Assad's 'heinous actions' as being a consequence of the Obama administration's 'weakness and irresolution' in addressing what he said was Syria's past use of chemical weapons." (Syria: Trump's red line,welt.de, 25/6/17)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Israel Can't Fool All of the People All of the Time...

Even in Trumpland:

"An unprecedented [IRmep] poll reveals the gaping void between American identification with Israel and the official position taken by both major political parties. A majority of American adults - 70.3% - do not consider themselves Zionists when defined as 'A Zionist is a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. Only 24.9% say, 'I consider myself a Zionist' while 4.8% provided other responses." (Poll: Most Americans aren't Zionists, Grant Smith, antiwar.com, 20/6/17)

Some other interesting excerpts from the above:

"... 80 million Christian evangelicals provide a nationwide multiplier at the voting booth, the result of decades of intense Israel lobby cultivation. This critical to the Israel lobby since according to Pew research, 82% of Jewish Americans do not belong to Jewish organizations, 70% are only somewhat or 'not at all' attached to Israel, while 44% think settlement building is a bad idea. This suggests that Jewish supporters involved in the Israel lobby number only around 774,000..."

"Many prospective candidates for national office must present position papers on Israel to regional AIPAC officials before being allowed to tap a national network of single issue issue pro-Israel donors for the seed-funding necessary to launch political campaigns. Any subsequent divergence from an essentially Zionist narrative or voting record can result in loss of this financial support, primary challenges and ousting from office."

"It is a testament to the lobby's harmful propaganda campaigns that in 2014, as it battled the Iran nuclear deal, most Americans believed Iran already possessed nuclear weapons. A plurality of Americans - in contrast to much of the world - believe Palestinians occupy Israeli land and not the reverse."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Next One

While any advance...

"The South Australian Parliament today passed a landmark motion calling on the Australian Government to recognise the State of Palestine just as it recognises the State of Israel." (Motion to recognise Palestine passed in South Australian Parliament, Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA)' Press Release, 22/6/17)

... is always better than no advance, may the next AFOPA media release read:

The Australian Government today passed a landmark motion calling on Israel to end its criminal occupation of the West Bank and blockade on Gaza, repeal all apartheid legislation denying full equality between Israel's Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens, and welcome the return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their Palestinian homeland.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Meet Israel's South Syrian Army

Remember Israel's late, unlamented South Lebanon Army (SLA)? They were a proxy sectarian militia led by General Antoine Lahad and strutted their stuff  - which included a notorious torture centre in the Lebanese town of Khiam - in an Israeli-declared 'security zone' north of the Israeli-Lebanese border in the 1980s and 90s. Well, as the Lebanese (particularly Hezbollah) resistance to Israel's occupation of south Lebanon grew in the 1990s, Israel's 'security zone' became its 'insecurity zone' and it was finally forced to withdraw in 2000.

And its SLA proxy? So sad:

"... there were mass arrests of collaborators with Israel who, after interrogation by Hizbullah's security apparatus, were turned over to the Lebanese authorities. More than 1,250 militiamen with their families crossed into Israel before the Israeli pullout was completed on May 27, 2000. The refugees, who were being housed in a camp near Lake Tiberias, complained about the squalid living conditions and expressed their anger at Israel. 'Israel betrayed us... We could have continued to fight Hizbullah for ten years without the Israeli army, but they handed them victory,' said Etian Sakhr, known by Lebanese as 'Abu Arz,' the leader of the Lebanese Cedar Party." (In the Path of Hizbullah, Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh, 2004, p 95)

Well, meet the South Lebanon Army's contemporary Syrian counterparts, the South Syrian Army:

"Israel has been providing Syrian rebels near its [!?] border in the Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds, medical supplies and humanitarian assistance, with one group receiving roughly $5,000 per month, according to rebel fighters quoted in a newspaper report. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing interviews with half a dozen rebel leaders and three persons familiar with Israel's undeclared policy, that the Jewish State is helping these forces, which are opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian, Lebanese and Russian allies, in an effort to help set up a buffer zone on its [!?] border with forces friendly to Israel. According to the report, Israel set up a special military unit in 2016 to oversee and coordinate the transfer of the aid, which helps the groups pay salaries and buy weapons and ammunition... Israel has dubbed this operation in the Golan Heights the 'Good Neighborhood' policy... 'Israel stood by our side in a heroic way, a spokesman for the rebel group Fursan al-Joulan, or Knights of the Golan, Moatasem al-Golani, told the Journal. 'We wouldn't have survived without Israel's assistance'." (Israel provides steady flow of cash, aid to Syrian rebels, says WSJ report, timesofisrael.com, 19/6/17)

I sure hope there's still some room left in that squalid 'refugee' camp near Lake Tiberias for Israel's Knights of the Golan...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Coming Russo-American War?

"US, Russian, and Iranian military forces have all been involved in the Syrian War for some time now, and all with differing agendas. As they all increase their involvement, those fights have become less separated, and particularly in the case of the US and Russia, the threat of direct clashes is growing. After several incidents in which US warplanes attacked Syrian pro-government targets, the US yesterday had its biggest attack, shooting down a Syrian Su-22 bomber inside Syrian airspace. The US insisted the attack was 'collective self defense' meant to protect the Syrian Kurds. Russia has responded to the US attack by announcing they're going to start treating US warplanes operating in much of Syria as potential targets for their advanced air defense systems. This comes as Iran increases its own involvement in Syria, firing missiles at ISIS targets." (US, Russia, and Iran edging closer to all-out war in Syria, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 19/6/17)

So downing a Syrian plane - in Syria of all places - is just Uncle Sam defending himself...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Wahhabi Campaign to Close the Muslim Mind

The following reflection by Nabil Echchaibi (Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Colorado-Boulder) rings true:

"My aim here is not to disparage a civilization, but to diagnose its current malaise, one that inflicts Muslims today and prevents them from thinking themselves into the world, not because they are incapable of doing it, but because of a coordinated campaign to deny them the right to do it. Like many Muslims, I feel the weight of this tension every day because the distance between our religious leaders and the world in which we live is a gaping hole.

"The biggest orchestrator of this campaign is not Isis. That is only one of its sad manifestations. It is Saudi Arabia and its rampant Wahhabi religiosity which cripples everything Muslim today. Its literalist theology is suffocating and has no place in the modern world.

"How can we tolerate a religious system which still flogs its people in public squares, denies its women basic rights like driving and looking out windows and criminalizes any form of dissent? Weighty words fit for a colossal peril that is Saudi Arabia. I do not mince my words because this tragedy has gone on for too long and it robs Muslims around the world of their ability to think their religion anew.

"In fact, I agree with Algerian author Kamel Daoud who made a subtle distinction between a 'black Isis' and a 'white Isis.' Black Isis, he says, beheads, pillages, kills indiscriminately, and destroys the cultural heritage of humanity, whereas white Isis - Saudi Arabia - is better dressed and cleaner, but does more or less the same thing." (Muslims today face a deep malaise. We must confront it, theguardian.com, 18/6/17)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Netanyahu's Wet Dream

"US forces have opened fire on Iranian-backed forces in Syria three times in the past month, amid mounting tensions that observers and former officials worry could easily turn into an unplanned, spiralling conflict. The three recent incidents took place at al-Tanf, a remote desert outpost near the point where the Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian borders meet. There a 150-strong force of US soldiers who are training local fighters to take on the Islamic State was approached by convoys of militias fighting for the Assad regime. They responded with air strikes... The string of incidents has illustrated has illustrated how the eastern Syrian desert is becoming an arena for confrontation between the US and Iran... Trump has portrayed Iranian influence as a global threat on a par with with Isis and al-Qaida." ('The war after Isis': has Trump opened the door to conflict with Iran?Julian Borger, theguardian.com, 18/6/17)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mahmoud Vidkun Abbas

Try getting your head around this. I can't:

"Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' effort to cut electricity to the Gaza Strip as a means of 'pressuring' Hamas to hand over control of the region to him is finally getting support from Israel's security cabinet, which today signed off on a plan to cut exports to the Gaza Strip by 40%, meaning about 45 minutes less of electricity per day in a strip that already is in a state of blackout more than three-quarters of the time.

"Abbas had originally sought a 100% cut in Gaza's electricity, but Israel refused, citing humanitarian concerns. Even with this smaller cut, Israeli military advisers are warning a mounting humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip will likely escalate the level of violence along the Israeli border.

"Most in Israel's current far-right government are quite comfortable with that, as wars against the Gaza Strip are pretty popular among their parties, and it has been awhile since they got to spend a few weeks battering the civilian population in the name of national security." (Israel cuts Gaza electricity at Abbas' request, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 12/6/17)

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Greg Sheridan Update

Just to update you on the health of Australia's greatest intellectual, foremost foreign policy analyst, and egregious gentile Zionist (not to mention former MP Tony Abbott's trusty 'suppository of wisdom') Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan...

The thing is, contrary to my last report on the subject, it seems he still hasn't fully recovered from his recent attack of that current curse of the scribbling class, Corbynitis. For example:

Trump "has turned out to be not quite as bad as I had feared," but Corbyn (who's still on the UK parliament's opposition benches!) "is 100 times worse than Trump and in every possible sense completely unfit to be prime minister."

And this is apparently because he's "a longtime supporter of terrorists and dictators, a friend of the most extreme forces within British society," and, the fact that he "came so close," "shows how nearly deranged elements of Western politics are." (A revolution that could still end in a riot, The Australian,15/6/17)

Let me run that past you again, at least in part:

Corbyn is 100 times worse than Trump! 

100 TIMES WORSE THAN TRUMP!!

You can see the great man's still got a way to go here. But rest assured, he is fighting back. Hope, as they say, springs eternal:

"So how come France is so different? Macron comes across as a bit prissy and has developed some annoying celebrity tics. But he is a mainstream and credible person [who] leads an apparently blameless life." (ibid)

So frenchy so chic so... mainstream...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don't Mention the Grovel

Morning Report, Radio New Zealand, 14/6/17. Transcript:

Susie Ferguson: New Zealand and Israel have agreed to restore ties, ending a 6-month crisis between the two countries. Israel recalled their ambassador in December after New Zealand co-signed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's continued settlements. Well, last half-hour on Morning Report we spoke to Gil Hoffman from the Jerusalem Post, and he said that PM Bill English wrote a letter saying he regretted the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand proposing resolution 2334 at the [UN] Security Council. With us now is the foreign minister, Gerry Brownlee.

Ferguson: Are you able to confirm that that was indeed what the letter said?
Brownlee: What the letter indicated was that New Zealand wanted to resume diplomatic relations with Israel and regretted there'd been fallout from the co-sponsorship of the resolution.
Ferguson: So an apology was required to the Israelis?
Brownlee: I think it was a clarification of the fact that we remain good friends of Israel, have been for a very long time, and we respect the fact that they are a democratically-elected government which is not all that usual in the Middle East.
Ferguson: An apology regretting the damage done to the relations between the two countries. Does New Zealand regret the resolution itself?
Brownlee: Well, the resolution is one that's been passed by the UN and that exists. What's important is that the relationship between New Zealand and Israel is on a good footing and so we are able to discuss as friendly nations issues that affect both of us.
Ferguson: That's not exactly what I was asking though, minister. As for this resolution, is that something New Zealand and the New Zealand government regrets?
Brownlee: As I said, and all I'm going to say, is that we regret the fallout that came from that. I think the important thing is that the re-establishment of those diplomatic relations and the discussions we can now have as nations that remain after many, many years of friendship.
Ferguson: Is that a way of saying you do still back the resolution's intent but you still want to be friends with Israel?
Brownlee: It's a way of saying exactly what I've said so far.
Ferguson: So, as for all the work that was done on this by [former NZ foreign minister] Murray McCully, is this essentially all being thrown under the bus?
Brownlee: Look, what is important, and I'm going to keep on saying this no matter how many times you ask me, and different ways you ask it, is that the relationship between two countries that have been friends for a very long time is back on the right foot and that enables a level of discussion you can't have if you're at loggerheads.
Ferguson: Is this a pandering to Israel from New Zealand?
Brownlee: No.
Ferguson: How not?
Brownlee: It's a mark of respect for a country that's a unique democracy in the Middle East.
Ferguson: So was carrying that resolution and taking that forward disrespectful then?
Brownlee: Well, I just told you it didn't matter how many ways you asked me the question I wouldn't be deviating from my response.
Ferguson: But it is an interview, Mr Brownlee, which is where I get to ask questions and, hopefully, you get to answer them.
Brownlee: Where you get to ask questions and I give you the answers that I'm able to give you, and that's what I've been doing despite the fact that what you would desire as an answer from different questions.
Ferguson: So was New Zealand then used as a pawn by the US under President Obama in this territory?
Brownlee: That's a very interesting question. I don't know where you got the idea that New Zealand has allowed itself to be used as a pawn by anyone.
Ferguson: Well, essentially it came up in the interview with Gil Hoffman from the Jerusalem Post on Morning Report. That's why I thought it was something worth putting to you. So is that the case?
Brownlee (inaudible): The problem... Morning Report...
Ferguson: So [US Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson was here recently. Was this something that was discussed during his visit to Wellington?
Brownlee: No.
Ferguson: So there was no request from the US for New Zealand to make this apology?
Brownlee: No, we had a very good discussion with Tillerson. I think we were able to confirm that we're on the same page of a whole range of issues and we were also able to put our disappointment with the US position on climate change and the TPP but that is a perfect example of how two countries that are very close friends... can have differences without getting too fraught about it.
Ferguson: Just to clarify: what is New Zealand's view of the settlements that Israel has made on Palestinian land? Do you view them as illegal?
Brownlee: What we've said is that the settlement issue is one that the parties that are in dispute need to sort out among themselves, and we'll do what we can to assist in that process. In the end it's something for them to determine.

Shifty as...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Odd One Out

"It is a curious notion that Indians and supporters of Israel can rally for a visiting PM but a similar turnout from the Chinese shows sinister forces at work. [Chris] Uhlmann didn't produce one example of that vast Chinese diaspora lobbying MPs on Chinese foreign policy. Not one, although other migrant communities do it routinely on behalf of former homelands." (From Bob Carr's letter to The Australian re "Four Corners-Fairfax investigation [5/6] headlines about Chinese money," 13/6/17)

Just to clarify here. While most Indian and Chinese Australians share a direct connection with India and China respectively, Carr's aforementioned "supporters of Israel" share NO SUCH CONNECTION with the area of the Middle East formerly known as Palestine. The group referred to is overwhelmingly made up of Jews originating in one or other European country (or South Africa), and/or their progeny, who long ago made Australia their home.

Israel is not their "former homeland." 

Which begs the question: why are they rallying (and, frankly, while Netanyahu was in Australia earlier this year, I wasn't aware of any such rally) for Netanyahu?

And also the question: does Carr really believe in the Zionist dogma that Israel is the homeland of all Jews?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Breaking News: Greg Sheridan Has Recovered

Praise Jesus, Mary & Joseph, I see Greg Sheridan's finally recovered from his near catatonic state, triggered by Jeremy Corbyn's electoral surge in the recent UK general election.

I can report that his very first post-recovery word was: "Yikes!" (Populism wins in this volatile new world, The Australian, 10/6/17)

Seemingly, back to his former self, he's spluttering in today's Australian over the sheer yuckiness of UK PM Theresa May's new-found political allies, Ulster's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Calling them "the gargoyle party of Northern Island," he writes that "Few people have any idea just how bad the DUP have been and are." (May has bound her future to the gargoyles of Ulster)

The DUP serves, he declares, "as a kind of exotic museum piece in British politics," and "has rightly been described as the political wing of the 18th century."

And then, in darker tones:

"The party's true heritage is of shocking sectarian bigotry, violence, connivance in extra-judicial killing and official discrimination."

Frankly, I can't see what his problem is with the DUP. After all, isn't he the greatest fan in Australian journalism of Israel, the closest thing to Ulster in the Middle East?

If the DUP are 18th century, surely they're positively modern compared to Israel, which has a leader who believes he's the direct descendant of Binyamin, the son of Jacob, who roamed the 'Judean' hills with his daddy 4,000 years ago.

And if "shocking sectarian bigotry," "violence," "extra-judicial killing," "official discrimination," and much, much more, aren't the defining characteristics of the apartheid state Israel, I don't know what are.

And come to think of it, didn't at least one British colonial official once muse, back in the 1920s, that the anti-Palestinian Arab, British-backed project of a 'Jewish national home in Palestine' (as it was coyly described in the Balfour Declaration of 1917) would "form for England a little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism"?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Deathbed Visions

Deathbed visions in general:

"In 1926, deathbed visions crossed from superstition to science with a book by British physicist William Barrett. He collected stories such as this one from a nurse who wrote about a woman suffering an aggressive and painful cancer. 'Suddenly her sufferings appeared to cease,' she said. 'The expression on her face, which a moment before had been distorted by pain, changed to one of radiant joy. Gazing upwards, with a glad light in her eyes, she raised her hands and exclaimed, 'Oh mother dear, you have come to take me home. I am so glad!' And in another moment, her physical life ceased.' Deathbed visions, as described by Sir William and others who came after him... are a comforting vision, often of friends or relatives, reassuring the patient that they will not be alone, and need not be afraid." (The very last thing we see before we die, Jordan Baker, Sunday Telegraph, 4/6/17)

Deathbed visions in OCCUPIED Palestine:

"That night, Jamal said his wife [dying of cancer] suddenly stirred and spoke to him. She seemed frightened and confused. She asked her husband why her grandchildren had come to the Israeli checkpoint alone. Of course, they had not, this was just a dream or a delusion. The grandchildren were toddlers. They were at home. 'I was surprised by this,' Jamal said. 'I didn't imagine this would be on her mind. But she kept going on about the checkpoint, the checkpoint, over and over.' Jamal said his wife, at her last moments, was not seeing angels but Israeli soldiers." (Mid East ironies, William Booth and Sufian Taha, Washington Post/ Australian Financial Review, 2/6/17)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What Makes Corbyn Shine?

So what is it about British Labour's Jeremy Corbyn that makes him shine - despite an unremittingly hostile mainstream media, the constant undermining of Blairats-in-the-ranks, and a smear campaign by the Israel lobby?

If Corbyn can elicit a letter from the Labour Friends of Israel head, Joan Ryan MP (Enfield North), to her constituents that opens thus:

"Dear Resident, I know from speaking to people around here that many who have previously voted Labour are thinking hard this time because, they tell me, they have more confidence in Theresa May as PM than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn" (2/6/17)...

Or if he can prompt a post-election confession such as this from the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland:

"I opposed Jeremy Corbyn when he first stood for the Labour leadership in 2015, and thereafter, and I did so on two grounds. First on principle: I was troubled by his foreign policy worldview, with its indulgence of assorted authoritarian regimes, and by what I perceived as his willingness to look past antisemitism on the left... " (Jeremy Corbyn didn't win - but he has rewritten all the rules, 10/6/17)...

(The Zionist Freedland really means here Corbyn's willingness to criticise Israel.)

... then we have reason to conclude that he passes Kishore Mahbubani's infallible litmus test for intellectual and moral courage, namely, speaking truth to power on the Middle East in general, and on Palestine/Israel in particular.

And all intelligent, right-thinking people respect those qualities in a leader.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

And on the Sixth Day...

Today is the 50th anniversary of the last day of the June/ Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel seized control of Syria's Golan Heights, since ANNEXED. This would be Israel's last great LAND GRAB until its OCCUPATION of southern Lebanon in the early 80s.

While its propaganda apparatus hyped a non-existent 'existential threat', the reality was more mundane. Israel's aging brass still fondly remembered its glory days in 1948 when, by fire and sword, they'd GRABBED 78% of Palestine from its native people, whom they'd sent packing. Not to mention the great Sinai LAND GRAB of 1956. They were bored and itching for a bit more biff, snatch and grab.

As Israeli historian Tom Segev put it: "The generals were in their forties, family men, but they clung to the Israeli culture of youth; they were like adolescent boys or bulls in rut. They believed in force and they wanted war. War was their destiny. Almost 20 years had passed since the army had won glory in the War of Independence, and 10 years since the victory in the Sinai. They had a limited range of vision and they believed that war was what Israel needed at that moment, not because they felt the country's existence was in danger, as they wailed in an almost 'Diaspora' tone, but because they believed it was an opportunity to break the Egyptian army." (1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 296)

But too much war is never enough for military brass and their political dupes. Why not go for broke on the northern front as well?

"The main pressure to seize [Syria's] Golan [Heights] came from General David Elazar of the Northern Command... In the two years preceding the war he had broached the matter not only with his superiors in the military, but also with {PM] Eshkol and a few ministers, including Allon, with whom he even discussed the possibility of occupying Damascus." (ibid, p 388)

"According to [Defence Minister] Dayan, he had found out early on Friday morning that the Syrian forces were crumbling and would be easy to defeat, although Syria was about to stop fighting, as Egypt had already done... 'Last night I did not think Egypt and Syria... would collapse like this and abandon the rest of the battle,' wrote Dayan to Elazar, 'but if this is the situation, it should be fully exploited'." (ibid, pp 390-91)

"Eshkol went on a tour of the north and met with Dayan. His impression was that the IDF was having great difficulty gaining control of the key town of Kuneitra. At this point, the Golan was a race against time. [Foreign Minister] Eban telephoned Eshkol's house to inform him that the UN Security Council had issued a cease-fire resolution, and so the fighting had to stop immediately. Since Eshkol was in the north, his wife took the call. Later Eshkol phoned her, full of enthusiasm about the view from the Golan, the water, the greenery. She gave him Eban's message and Eshkol shouted, 'Hello? Hello? I can't hear you. There's something wrong with the line, I can't hear you...' He repeated this over and over, until she understood that he did not want to 'hear'. A few hours later Kuneitra fell." (Ibid, p 397)

"Ben-Gurion, who had opposed the incursion into the Golan, now had a change of heart. Following a visit with General Elazar, he described the Golan Heights as critical to [Israel's] security." (Ibid, p 428)

As they say, 'Boys will be boys... and so will a lot of middle-aged men.'

Friday, June 9, 2017

Breaking News: Greg Sheridan Found in Foetal Position

Yesterday, Australia's greatest intellectual and foremost foreign affairs analyst was at the height of his powers:

"Corbyn is several hundred standard deviations worse a candidate for national leadership than ever Donald Trump was... He is surrounded by self-declared Marxists, long-time supporters of terrorist groups, and recently recruited former communists. His rise is the most startling indictment of mainstream political culture anywhere... Britain's destiny, and a huge part of the world's fortune, rests on tonight's outcome." (World needs Britons to vote Conservative, The Australian, 8/6/17)

Tonight, alas, he was found, curled up in a foetal position, a copy of yesterday's Australian over his head, clutching his treasured 2007 Jerusalem Prize as though it were a teddy bear, and whimpering pathetically for his long-deceased Auntie Poppy. The best efforts of Australian medical personnel to bring him around have so far failed. His dear, distraught friend, Benjamin Netanyahu, is reported to have sent a crack Israeli medical team to Sydney to administer shots of Israeli pheromones, known in the past to have had the great man up and dancing to Hava Nagila.  His boss, Rupert Murdoch, has even despatched Jerry Hall to give him the kiss of life, swearing that if Jerry's smacker is what keeps him going, it can do the same for Greg.

Refugees? What Refugees?

Today is the 50th anniversary of the fifth day of the June/Six-Day War of 1967.

So Israel's grabbed the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but what to do with all those Palestinian refugees the apartheid state invariably generates whenever it goes to war?

Simple: Deny they're refugees. Say they just decided to go walkabout. Admittedly in large numbers, and all at the same time, but hey, Bedouin genes, what can I say? Oh, and play the Holocaust card. Always works a treat:

"The plight of the refugees was a photogenic subject. Israeli ambassadors overseas wrote to Jerusalem that television broadcasts from the bridges [over the Jordan] and the tent camps set up by the UN on the eastern side of the river were damning. They reported on pictures of Israeli soldiers firing shots in the air to hurry the refugees over the bridges. Correspondents estimated that the new tent camps housed some 80,000 refugees from Gaza and the West Bank. Winter was coming, threatening to make their conditions intolerable 'The most terrible impression is made by scenes of fathers with children in their arms, begging our guards to let them go back to their wives and children still on our side,' wrote Israel's ambassador to Germany. He added, 'We cannot stand up, here or in other countries, to the wave of protest, which we believe will also have political implications.' He asked that Israel at least permit family reunifications. The ambassadors were right: the ugly images in the media led too many governments, including the United States, to demand that Israel allow the refugees to return...  [PM] Eshkol gave orders to explain to British prime minister Harold Wilson that the reporters were misconstruing the scenes: the people they were photographing had left their homes willingly. As was the usual custom, he also cited the Holocaust. 'No people,' he told the vice president of the International Red Cross, 'that, like ours, six million of its old and young butchered and burnt by the Nazis less than a generation ago, could be unresponsive to any humanitarian interest'." (Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, pp 540-41)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The 50-Year Rape

Today is the 50th anniversary of the fourth day of the June/Six-Day war of 1967, which of course led directly to the now 50-year old OCCUPATION of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Syria's Golan Heights.

Today, 50 years ago, Israel completed what it had failed to do in 1948 - seize control of, and OCCUPY, the remaining 22% of historic Palestine, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Today, 50 years ago, Israel RAPED the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Is 'raped' too harsh a word for you? Don't blame me, I'm just echoing the words of then Israeli 'defence' minister, Moshe Dayan:

"The situation between us is like the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and the young girl he has taken against her wishes,' Dayan told the Palestinian poet Fadwa Tukan. 'But when their children are born, they will see the man as their father and the woman as their mother. The initial act will mean nothing to them. You, the Palestinians, as a nation, do not want us today, but we will change your attitude by imposing our presence upon you'." (Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, The War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 478)

Typically, this Israeli rapist cannot be honest about his crime. See how he projects it onto his victim?

If truth be told, the rape of the West Bank has been going on for the past 50 years.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Israeli Euphemism is Born

Today is the 50th anniversary of the third day of the June/Six Day War of 1967, the day Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem was OCCUPIED by the Israelis.

The urge to ANNEX NOW, of course, was overwhelming, but, with the rest of the world looking on, Israel's slavering ANNEXATIONISTS felt the need to disguise their naked, criminal intent with yet another in a long line of Zionist euphemisms.

Here's how they went about it:

"Begin proposed camouflaging the annexation [of East Jerusalem] within a law that would apply to the entire West Bank. The ministers wondered whether it might be possible to proceed without legislation, but Minister of Justice Shapira insisted on Knesset approval. The least dramatic method they came up with was to hide the legislation in three amendments to existing laws. These would be phrased in legalese, implying that they merely addressed administrative issues that applied to the entire country. The word 'annexation' did not appear, nor was the legislation listed as a proposed bill on the Knesset agenda. Rather, it was introduced for a first reading immediately before deliberation on it began. [Prime Minister] Eshkol was intentionally absent. The legislation was passed on to the appropriate committees and sent back for second and third readings and then for a vote, all in the same evening. There was 'no commotion and no rejoicing,' as Minister Gvati wrote. Almost all the Knesset members voted in favor, including Uri Avneri; only the Communists objected.

"The Foreign Ministry instructed its representatives to 'minimize' the political and historical significance of East Jerusalem's annexation, depicting the legislation as an administrative step necessary to facilitate water and power supplies, public transportation, and health and education services. Inspired by Begin, the ministry told its staff to use the phrase 'municipal integration' and avoid the term 'annexation' wherever possible." (Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 434)

Is anyone out there working on a dictionary of Israeli euphemisms? I wonder.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 1967: Zionists Lay Siege to President Johnson

Today is the 50th anniversary of the second day of the June/Six Day War of 1967, so here's another extract from Tom Segev's 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East (2007) on what the usual suspects were up to in the United States at the time:

"[President Lyndon] Johnson himself was troubled by an announcement issued by the State Department on the first day of the war, saying that the US was taking a neutral position 'in thought, word, and deed. ' The announcement provoked a storm of protest because it read as if the United States had abandoned Israel to its fate, and [Secretary of State Dean] Rusk was forced to clarify it... It marked the beginning of a wave of public pressure to stand by Israel. At no other time could Johnson have been more certain that when it came to Israel, there was no distinction between foreign and domestic policy. For no sooner had the State Department spokesman finished his neutrality announcement than Johnson received a piece of legal advice from a friend: David Ginsburg called to direct his attention to the fact that invocation of the Neutrality Act would bar Israel from raising money for its war effort in the United States. The president's advisers quickly contacted some of his Jewish supporters.

"John Roche, a Boston professor described as Johnson's intellectual in residence, sent him a firm letter that opened with a quote from the Book of Isaiah: 'If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely.' The neutrality declaration had proven to Roche that State Department officials wanted to 'kiss some Arab backsides.' He found this to be 'worse than unprincipled - it is stupid. The Arabs have to hate us - and the rougher the Israelis are on them, the more they will hate us NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. They must create the myth that the United States, not Israel single-handed, clobbered them.' The Americans' 'sweet-talking' of the Arabs would only make them view the United States with contempt and alienate American Jews.

"Johnson hated being pressured in this way, according to Roche. The White House log documents the president's response to a commentary he overheard on a special CBS broadcast, in which the analyst took a pro-Israel position. 'It's easy to tell that he has some sort of Jewish background,' Johnson observed. Levinson and Wattenberg, two Jewish assistants who advised the press to issue an announcement of support for Israel, got an earful from him in the hallway. 'You Zionist dupes!' he yelled at them and raised his fist. 'You're Zionist dupes in the White House.' By the evening of that day, he had received 17,445 letters and telegrams from citizens responding to the war. Ninety-eight percent of them supported Israel, approximately two percent warned him against intervening in the war, and only a handful expressed support for the Arabs." (pp 364-65)

Monday, June 5, 2017

By Way of Deception: 5 June 1967

Today is the 50th anniversary of the start of the June/Six-Day War of 1967, which began with Israel attacking and destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground. Of course, in the eyes of world public opinion, Israel could not afford to be seen as the instigator of such a blatant act of aggression against Egypt, and so its propaganda apparatus pulled all stops out to portray it as a war of self-defence.

For the back-story of Israel's dilemma, here are some extracts from Israeli historian Tom Segev's must-read, 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East (2007):

1) "[Religious affairs minister] Warhaftig asked [defence minister] Dayan how they could present an Israeli first strike as a response, and wondered whether they could stage something. We need an alibi', said [Housing] Minister Bentov. 'I haven't got any tricks other than taking action. If someone has some other trick, I'll buy it,' replied Dayan... [Labour minister] Allon thought that the prime minister could announce to the world's heads of state that the Egyptians had attacked, and minutes later Israel would respond. The prime minister would risk a lie, but only historians would know the truth. 'I don't think the Americans will dig around to check up on what exactly happened,' Allon said. Eshkol pointed out that their action would be judged by history. The resolution that evolved asserted that Israel was acting against 'the ring of aggression tightening around it'." (p 336)

2) "The night before the attack on Egypt, Dayan had ordered the censor to maintain 'a fog of war' until the evening. 'For the first 24 hours we have to be the victims,' he said. As long as the world thought Israel was defending itself and fighting for its life, there would be no pressure from the outside to stop the attack." (p 342)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Palestinians are Suffering, But...

I've seen examples of clueless mainstream journalists taking evasive action when writing about the BRUTAL, OCCUPYING (50 years), APARTHEID (50 years) state of Israel, but what follows is not so much evasive action as BENDING OVER BACKWARDS AND THEN SOME:

"Israel has faced rockets and three wars with the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza, whose members deny Israel's right to exist. Israelis endured two Palestinian uprisings, the second marked by suicide-bomb attacks against civilians. More recently there was a wave of knife and vehicular assaults. Thousands of Israelis have died in Palestinian attacks. That is why Israelis say they need walls and permits." (Mid East ironies, William Booth/ Sufian Taha, Washington Post/ Australian Financial Review, 2/6/17)

Mr Booth, if some THUG with a GOD COMPLEX had been standing on YOUR NECK, and worse, for the past 50 years, how would YOU have reacted?

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 5 Months to Go

Here is the 3rd in my series of posts, appearing on the 2nd of each month, in the lead-up to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration on November 2. What follows is an extract from The Holy Land: The Moslem-Christian Case against Zionist Aggression, the official statement of the first Palestinian Arab delegation to visit Britain in 1921:

"This Declaration, when news of it first came during the war through the Turks, was utterly disbelieved; later, when it was found to be true, it fell like a thunderbolt from the blue on the Arab population of Palestine, who saw in it death to their political and economic existence. Besides, it was in direct contradiction to previous British declarations and to what they were led to believe was the object of the Allies in the war, namely, the assistance of weaker nations to freedom and self-determination.

"With these solemn pledges of Great Britain in their mind the Arabs of Palestine were stunned and horrified on reading two years later that another promise had been made by the British Government to the Zionists in the form of the Balfour Declaration. They felt they had been betrayed by the power which they had hitherto believed in and trusted.

"From every part of the country protests against this declaration were made: not only to the British Administrators in Palestine but also to the British and Allied Governments, to the Pope and the United States, and latterly to the League of Nations, and from that day to this Arabs have not ceased to protest on every occasion."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Emails are IN! 4

Further to my posts on Fairfax journalist Tony Walker's excellent opinion piece on the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the coming 50th anniversary of same...

You'll recall his anticipation of criticism on the letters page from the usual suspects, and the clueless/gutless SMH letters editor publishing two of these (Danny Samuels and Michael Jacku).

Both gentlemen, of course, despite their spin, obfuscation and denialism on the subject of Israel's 1967 military aggression, were models of decorum, as one would expect on the letters page of a newspaper.

Go to the online comments which followed Walker's piece, however, and you'll see the usual suspects in a more direct, less disciplined mode. One of these - Joel (Canberra, May 30) - went even further, however, tossing his mask aside, and exposing Zionism's true face:

"Ross - you misunderstand. It would not only have been normal, but expected, to wipe the Palestinians out not all that long ago. The fact Israel hasn't annihilated them shows how restrained they are. If the loser uses violence, the victor can use their overwhelming force to crush them until they accept defeat - up to and including complete displacement and relocation."

No carefully crafted spin, obfuscation or denialism here, just the ravening, genocidal, Zionist beast.

Now you know what the Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza have had to endure for the past 50 bloody years.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Yes, Virginia, Refugees are Just Like Us

"Levi West, director of terrorism studies at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, said it was 'patently false' to suggest refugee status was a contributing factor to extremism. He said most refugees 'just become taxpayers and mortgage holders and send their kids to school'." (Experts back spy chief on refugee terror denial, Michael Koziol, Sydney Morning Herald, 31/5/17)

Dear Mr West: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends (such as Pauline, who says they have horns) say refugees are not like us. Please tell me the truth; are they just like us?

VIRGINIA, your little friends (particularly Pauline) are wrong. Yes, VIRGINIA, refugees are just like us.

The Emails are IN! 3

Anybody else notice that, despite Fairfax journalist Tony Walker flinging down the gauntlet on Monday - "What a smashing victory in 1967 did not entitle Israel to was to be a permanent occupier of territory and its people and settlers of land seized in defiance of international law" - The Age has published NO angry/obfuscatory letters from pro-Israel mob, either yesterday or today?

After all, the Sydney Morning Herald published two yesterday, one of which came from... Melbourne.

Is this a first?

Is this a case of The Age, at least, finally standing up to THE LOBBY?

Is THE LOBBY, which has always relied on the oxygen given to it by an ignorant and spineless press, finally losing its clout?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Emails are IN! 2

And here they are, right on time!

A big hand, folks, for Danny Samuels and Michael Jaku!

And a big hand for the Herald's letter editor (but not The Age's!), who saw fit to cast aside the letters of folks with real concerns so that these TWO Zionist propagandists could spin and obfuscate to their heart's content on the Herald's letters page.

It's all there: aggression redefined as defence; Israelis eternally trying to divest themselves of other peoples' lands (but using loopholes in UN resolutions to justify hanging on to them); Arabs who can only say no; Palestinians who are always walking away; selective facts; eternally generous Israeli offers; and mindless Palestinian terrorism.

Enjoy:

Danny Samuels, Malvern (Vic):

"Tony Walker writes that Israel's defensive war in 1967 didn't entitle it to permanently occupy the territory captured. In fact, Israel immediately offered to return most of the territory in return for peace, but the Arab League responded with its infamous 'three no's' - no recognition, no negotiation, no peace. UN Security Council 242 required Israel to withdraw from 'territories occupied', not all the territories occupied, in exchange for peace.

"When Egypt agreed to peace, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai, more land than the rest of israel and the territories combined. Sadly, the Palestinians walked away from what was generally regarded as generous deals in 2000/1 (followed by mass terrorism) and in 2008, and when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, it received thousands of rockets for its trouble.

"If the Palestinians genuinely accept Israel's right to exist, all other issues, including the settlements (which, as even the Palestinians admit, take up less than 2% of the West Bank) can be resolved.

Michael Jacku, Double Bay:

"Tony Walker asserts that Israel trebled the size of its territory after the 1967 war. Nowhere does he mention the not insignificant fact that Israel subsequently returned the Sinai Desert and Gaza Strip which together formed, overwhelmingly, the greatest part of the captured territory, and it did so at its own peril."

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Emails are IN!

Palestine/Israel is surely the only topic UNDER THE SUN about which a journalist feels he/she has to think twice before presenting the facts.

Here's Fairfax's Tony Walker, for example, writing an opinion piece about the Arab-Israeli war of June 1967, which, of course, is coming up for its 50th anniversary next month:

"On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against surrounding Arab states in retaliation for an Egyptian blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba." (Six-Day War has lasted 50 years and hostilities continue, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/5/17)

Such a statement, of course, is nothing if not unassailably factual, right?

 But, hey, since when have pro-Israel propagandists ever allowed unassailable facts to get in their way?

Which is why Walker goes to the trouble of adding:

"Anticipating criticism in the letters pages, let's assert that Israel was a victim of aggression by the Arabs led by Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, that it had every right to defend itself to the best of its ability and, in the process, make use of territory gained in the conflict to negotiate a just peace."

Well, if that isn't playing the Israeli devil's advocate and then some... But here's the thing, the bottom line, if you will, as Walker so clearly points out:

"What a smashing victory in 1967 did not entitle Israel to was to be a permanent occupier of territory and its people and settlers of land seized in defiance of international law."

No matter, our defenders of the indefensible, our 1967 denialists, have already fired off their editorial vollies to the SMH and The Age, and you'll see their concoctions on the letters pages tomorrow. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Scourge of Saudi-Wahhabism

Secular Syrian, Bassem@BBassem, tweets (28/5) on the sectarian terrorist attack against Egyptian Copts in Minya:

*Yesterday, [the] Egyptian president blamed [the] attack on the militants that left Aleppo 5 months ago. Keep our terrorists out of this, u have ur own.

*Saudi-Wahhabism has graduated monsters that can spray children with bullets and not even think twice about it.

*ISIS claimed credit for this attack but it carries the Muslim Brotherhood signature. Muslim Brotherhood smarter than claiming credit for this.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Classic British Blowback

You reap what you sow:

"[Anti-Gaddafi] rebels living in England have claimed the UK Government waived travel bans to let them fight Colonel Gaddafi in Libya as investigators probe the Manchester bomber's visits to Tripoli. Fighters which included Libyan exiles and British-Libyan residents have described how MI5 operated an open door policy for those willing to travel to North Africa to topple the dictator.

"It comes as Home Secretary Amber Rudd admitted Salman Abedi, who killed 22 and injured at least 119 people when he blew himself up at Manchester Arena, was known to counter-terror authorities. Those who travelled to Libya to fight alongside Islamic rebel groups have described how, even though they were subject to counter-terror orders banning them from leaving their homes because they posed a security threat, they were allowed to travel to the hostile warzone.

"When they returned to the UK, having spent months alongside groups thought by British intelligence to have links with Al-Qaeda, rebels were said to have been allowed back into the country without hesitation. Libyan officials have backed up the claims, saying the British government were 'fully aware' of young men being sent to fight, turning the North African country into an 'exporter of terror'." (Rebels 'went to Libya with MI5 blessing' amid Abedi probe, Gareth Davies, dailymail.co.uk, 25/5/17)

But who could possibly have known this at the time?

Well, Gaddafi, actually.

As he warned Tony Blair in February 2011:

"It's a jihad situation. They have arms and are terrorising people in the streets.They are armed gangs... [There are] no foreign correspondents here. We have asked all [the] world's reporters to come and see the truth... [You] can't reason with them. They keep saying Muhammed is the prophet, similar to Bin Laden. They are paving the way for him in North Africa... They want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe. [You] need to explain to the international community. Reporters can come to make sure that this is the truth. They are welcome." (Colonel Gaddafi warned Tony Blair of Islamist attacks in Europe, phone conversations reveal, Robert Mendick, telegraph.co.uk, 7/1/16)

But what would he know?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Abedi's Accomplices

Well said:

"Here's what the media and politicians don't want you to know about the Manchester, UK, suicide attack: Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old who killed nearly two dozen concert-goers in Manchester, was the product of the US and UK overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and 'regime change' policy in Syria. He was a radicalised Libyan whose family fled Gaddafi's secular Libya, and later he trained to be an armed 'rebel' in Syria, fighting for the US and UK 'regime change' policy toward the secular Assad government. The suicide attacker was the direct product of US and UK interventions in the greater Middle East.

"According to the London Telegraph, Abedi, a son of Libyan immigrants living in a radicalized Muslim neighbourhood in Manchester, had returned to Libya several times after the overthrow of Muamar Gaddafi, most recently just weeks ago. After the US/UK and allied 'liberation' of Libya, all manner of previously outlawed and fiercely suppressed radical jihadist groups suddenly found they had free rein to operate in Libya. This is the Libya that Abedi returned to and where he likely prepared for his suicide attack on pop concert attendees. Before the US-led attack on Libya in 2011, there was no al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other related terrorist organization operating (at least with impunity) on Libyan soil.

"Gaddafi himself warned Europe in January 2011 that if they overthrew his government the result would be radical Islamist attacks on Europe, but European governments paid no heed to the warnings. Post-Gaddafi Libya became an incubator of Islamist terrorists and terrorism, including prime recruiting ground for extremists to fight jihad in Syria against the also-secular Bashar Assad.

"In Salman Abedi we have the convergence of both these disastrous US/UK and allied interventions, however: it turns out that not only did Abedi make trips to Libya to radicalize and train for terror, but he also traveled to Syria to become one of the 'Syria rebels' fighting on the same side as the US and UK to overthrow the Assad government. Was he perhaps even trained in a CIA program? We don't know, but it certainly is possible.

"While the mainstream media and opportunistic politicians will argue that the only solution is more western intervention in the Middle East, the plain truth is that at least partial responsibility for this attack lies at the feet of those who pushed and pursued western intervention in Libya and Syria, There would have been no jihadist training camps in Libya had Gaddafi not been overthrown by the US/UK and allies. There would have been no explosion of ISIS or al-Qaeda in Syria had it not been for the US/UK and allied policy of 'regime change' in that country. When thinking about Abedi's guilt for this heinous act of murder, do not forget those interventionists who lit the fuse that started the conflagration. the guilt rests squarely on their shoulders as well." (Manchester bomber was product of West's Libya/Syria intervention, Daniel McAdams, antiwar.com, 24/5/17)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Zionist Dreaming

The 1982 Yinon Plan (A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties):

"Lebanon's total dissolution into 5 provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world, including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula, and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi'ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes, who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today."

The Yinon Plan in action today:

"If Assad wins,' one IDF official in the Golan Heights told me, 'we will have Hezbollah not on two borders but one.'

"Yavne, the brigadier general, similarly described the Iranian influence as significantly more worrisome than ISIS or other Sunni Muslim terror groups: 'If I can be frank, the radical axis headed by Iran is more risky than the global jihad one,' said Yavne. 'It is much more knowledgeable, stronger, with a bigger arsenal.'

"As far as these Israeli officers are concerned, the ideal strategy is to sit back and let both typres of groups duke it out - and work to contain the conflict rather than trying to end it with military forces. As the IDF intelligence officer put it, 'the battle for deterrence is easier than the battle for influence.'

"But does that mean that the United States and its allies should simply allow ISIS to retain its so-called caliphate in parts of eastern Syria and eastern Iraq? 'Why not?' the officer shot back. 'When they asked the late [Israeli] Prime Minister Menachem Begin in the Iran-Iraq War in the 8os, who does Israel stand for, Iraq or Iran, he said, 'I wish luck to both parties. They can go at it, killing each other.' The same thing is here. You have ISIS killing Al Qaeda by the thousands, Al Qaeda killing ISIS by the thousands. And they are both killing Hezbollah and Assad." (Israeli officers: You're doing ISIS wrong, Bryan Bender, politico.com, 22/5/17)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nobody Does it Better

Nobody, not even Trump, does repulsiveness quite like Netanyahu:

"If the Manchester attacker was Palestinian and the victims Israelis, the terrorist's family would receive a stipend from Mahmoud Abbas." (Netanyahu tweet, 23/5/17)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap

Trump comes to the apartheid state to do a 'deal.'

Israel responds by dealing with Palestinian protesters:

"Israeli troops shot and wounded at least 11 Palestinians over the course of [a] crackdown, and many more were hurt when Israeli police arrived and fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrations. Among those shot and wounded was a member of Human Rights Watch, wearing a vest that identified him as press." (Israeli troops shoot & wound 11 Palestinian protesters amid Trump visit, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 22/5/17)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Unpacking Trump's Saudi Speech

* Wahhabi Saudi Arabia is to become HQ for combatting the spread of... Wahhabism:

"Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology - located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership..." (Trump's speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit, Riyadh, 21/5/17)

* Ignoring the fact that Wahhabist Saudi Arabia spawned 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, Trump cites...  "the atrocities of September 11th":

"With God's help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed... But this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it. Few nations have been spared its violent reach. America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks - from the atrocities of September 11th..."

(After, of course, once blaming 9/11 on the Saudis.)

* Trump, borrowing from Netanyahu's script, illegitimately conflates national resistance movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas with globalist Islamist movements:

"The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams."

* The leader of the country that has done the most to promote sectarianism in the Middle East tells assembled Arab leaders that:

"This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, different civilizations."

(And this as the Saudi army is engaged in a military assault on the Saudi Shiite town of Awamia.)

* Trump takes square aim at the very forces - Iran, Syria and Hezbollah - who are fighting to roll back the Wahhabi/jihadi/takfiri terrorist gangs in Iraq and Syria:

"From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. Among Iran's most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes..."

***

Saddam Hussein presciently told his CIA interrogators following his capture in December 2003 that:

"Wahhabism is going to spread in the Arab nation and probably faster than anyone expects. And the reason why is that people will view Wahhabism as an idea and a struggle... Iraq will be a battlefield for anyone who wants to carry arms against America. And now there is an actual battlefield for a face-to-face confrontation." (Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein, John Nixon, 2016, p 4)

His prophecy of an Arab world turned Wahhabi battlefield has, of course, stood the test of time.

The process began, of course, with Bush's war on Iraq in 2003, which saw the emergence, first of al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI), and then Islamic State (IS), both of whom have since spread into Syria.  But even someone as experienced as Saddam could hardly have imagined the US, post 9/11, both backing ('moderate') and battling ('extremist') Wahhabi gangs in Syria.*

Moreover, Trump's $US460 billion (110bn upfront/350bn over 10 years) sale of WMD to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia will not only enable it to further fuel existing Wahhabi fires in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, but light new ones in Iran and Lebanon.

And then there's Zionist Israel, now a de facto ally of the Saudi Wahhabis, and with an even greater stockpile of American WMD...

Stop the world, I want to get off.

[*FYI: "This chapter [12. Washington, terrorism & ISIS: the evidence] has presented sufficient evidence for us to safely draw these conclusions. First, Washington planned a bloody wave of regime change in its favour in the Middle East, getting allies such as the Saudis to use sectarian forces in the process of 'creative destruction'. Second, the US directly financed and armed a range of so-called 'moderate' terrorist groups against the sovereign state of Syria while its key allies the Saudis, Qatar, Israel and Turkey financed, armed and supported with arms and medical treatment every anti-Syrian armed group, whether 'moderate' or extreme. Third, 'jihadists' for Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS were actively recruited in many countries, indicating that the rise of those groups was not due to a simple anti-western 'Sunni' reaction within the region. Fourth, NATO member Turkey functioned as a 'free transit zone' for every type of terrorist group passing into Syria. Fifth, there is testimony from a significant number of senior Iraqi officials that US arms have been delivered directly to ISIS. Sixth, the ineffective, or at best selective, US 'war' against ISIS tends to corroborate the Iraqi and Syrian views that there is a controlling relationship. In sum we can conclude that the US has built a command relationship with all of the anti-Syrian terrorist groups, including al Nusra [and] ISIS, either directly or through its close regional allies, the Saudis, Qatar, Israel and Turkey. Washington has attempted to play a 'double game' in Syria and Iraq, using its old doctrine of 'plausible deniability' to maintain the fiction of a 'war on terrorism' for as long as is possible." (The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change & Resistance, Tim Anderson, 2016, pp 251-52)]

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fancy Meeting You Here

My God, how does one keep up with the antics of these rejects?

No sooner had former Australian PM Julia Gillard finished kissing the ring at one Israeli university, than another former Australian PM, Tony Abbott (2013-15), was doing likewise at another Israeli university:

"Last night I was privileged to receive an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University. We may not be Israel's most important friend, but we should always strive to be one of its most reliable. Something that both sides of politics should always agree on. Congratulations to Julia Gillard for receiving a doctorate from Ben Gurion University too." - Abbott FB post, 19/5/17

Now just in case I need to remind you how reliable a friend of Israel Abbott was/is, here he is bowing and scraping at Sydney's Central Synagogue in March, 2012:

"In so many ways, [Israel] is a country so much like Australia, a liberal, pluralist democracy... A beacon of freedom and hope in a part of the world which has so little freedom and hope.'. [Abbott] added that Australians 'can hardly begin to comprehend the existential threat Israelis live under. 'It is so easy for us in Australia to get moral qualms, if you like, when we read about Israeli actions in - on the West Bank for instance - or Israeli involvement in Lebanon. And yet, we are not threatened in the way Israel was and is, and if we were threatened in the way Israel was and is, I am sure that we would take actions just as strong in our own defence. When Israel is fighting for its very life, well, as far as I'm concerned, Australians are Israelis. We are all Israelis in those circumstances'." (See my 18/3/12 post Abbott: We Are All Israelis.)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Gillard's Guru

On May 16, former Australian PM Julia Gillard (2010-13) received an honorary doctorate from Israel's Ben-Gurion University, an institution named after Israel's Ethnic Cleanser-in-Chief and first PM, David Ben-Gurion.

It was obvious from her acceptance speech, titled Reflections on a Life of Purpose, that Gillard had found in Ben-Gurion a real source of inspiration:

"I could think of no more fitting tribute to David Ben-Gurion than to have this place of learning and research bear his name," she cooed, noting that he "had one overriding attribute that defined him, his sense of purpose." (Former Aus PMs honoured in Israel, jewishnews.net.au, 18/5/17)

And she's right there, Ben-Gurion was nothing if not a man with a "sense of purpose."

Whether before the Nakba:

"We must expel Arabs and take their place." BG letter to his son, Amos, 5/10/37

During the Nakba:

"The war will give us the land. The concept 'ours' and 'not ours' are only concepts for peacetime, and during the war they lose all their meaning." BG quoted in Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of 'Transfer' in Zionist Political Thought 1882-1948, Nur Masalha, p 180

Or after the Nakba:

"The best solution for the [Palestinian] Arabs in Israel is to go and live in the Arab states - in the framework of a peace treaty or transfer." BG quoted in The Birth of Israel: Myths & Realities, Simha Flapan, p 99

... all this paragon of purpose, this demon of determination, could think of was how to grab as much of Palestine as possible, while getting rid of as many of its indigenous Arab inhabitants as possible.

A most interesting choice of guru this.

(For these and other quotes in the same vein by this most single-minded of men, go to Salman Abu Sitta's indispensable website, Palestine Remembered, and click on 'Famous Zionist Quotes/David Ben-Gurion'.)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Corbyn Blinked

The UK is gearing up for a general election on June 8. In the lead-up to such things, it's usual for parties to formulate new, or tweak old, policies. One might legitimately have expected, therefore, in the case of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, a new, world's-best-practice, policy on Palestine/Israel. Needless to say, expectations, often as not, end up dashed.

We'll come to UK Labour's final policy on Palestine/Israel in a minute. For now here's its first draft:

"Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution - that means a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine. The expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank is not only wrong and illegal, but represents a threat to the very viability of the hopes of securing a successful outcome of the peace process. We cannot accept the continued humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and we will support Palestinian recognition at the UN."

Keep in mind that this is 2017, 100 years after imperial Britain created the Palestine problem by flooding the country with European Jewish settlers, bent on turning an Arab land into a Jewish state ASAP (in the words of the then leader of the Zionist movement, Chaim Weizmann, making Palestine "as Jewish as England is English"), despite the wholesale opposition of Palestine's Arab majority of over 90%.

Injustices don't come much bigger than this. But, of course, it didn't end there; every year since 1917 the injustice done by Britain to the people of Palestine has only grown - to the monstrous proportions we see today.

Keep in mind too that the British Labour Party supported this misbegotten settler-colonial project from its inception in 1917.

So, here it is, 100 years on from Britain's infamous Balfour Declaration, which declared Britain's support for a Jewish national home, aka a Jewish state, in Arab Palestine, and this is the best policy on Palestine/Israel Labour - under Corbyn, mind you, not Blair - can come up with: support for an illusory two-state solution - without, note, reference to Israel's 1967 borders - and without reference to the rights of the bulk of the Palestinian population, exiled from its homeland now for over 69 years. No wonder the phrase 'peace with JUSTICE' is conspicuous by its absence in the text.

But even this pathetic sop to the Palestinians was too much for Labour's Zionist fifth column, aka the Jewish Labour Movement, in its current iteration, who deemed it - you guessed - unbalanced.

So these charmless champions of the apartheid state went to work on the draft, ensuring not only that Israel escaped all censure ("wrong & illegal"), but that the victims of Israeli apartheid and genocide, actually got some fucking stick!

Hence the deplorable result, UK Labour's final Palestine/Israel policy:

"Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution - a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine. There can be no military solution to this conflict and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. That means both an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution. A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine."

FYI: See Israel lobby claims 'win' over Labour manifesto changes, Asa Winstanley, electronicintifada.net, 17/5/17.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lifting the Lid on the Zionist Daleks of 1948

Let us recall Salman Abu Sitta's words to Uri Avnery about the Palestinian Nakba of 1948:

"Some would say of them [Holocaust survivors] that, if they were brave and not cowards, they would have fought the Nazis who pulled them out of their homes and killed them, not attack, at battalion-strength, a small village in faraway Palestine... and then butcher and expel its people. If they were brave and had a conscience, they would not call ethnic cleansing a 'war' of anything, let alone 'independence'." (See my 16/5/17 post You Can Run, But You Can't Hide 3)

Of course, nothing about this genocidal war against the Palestinian people ever makes its way into the Australian msm, even though Palestinians, both in exile and under occupation, mark it annually. It goes without saying that Nakba rallies in Melbourne and Sydney this year were scrupulously ignored by the msm.

Most curiously, however, the Sydney Morning Herald just happened to feature the year 1948 on its Timelines/Obituary page -  and, lo and behold, one of the three selections turned out to be, you guessed it, as follows:

"The Birth of Israel: The birth of the Jewish State of Israel had been proclaimed in a 'solemn assembly' of the Jewish National Council in Tel Aviv. 'The State would be open to all Jewish immigrants. It would develop the country for all inhabitants and would operate on the basis of precepts of liberty, justice and peace. it would uphold full social and political equality without distinction... and safeguard religious places of all religions." (1948: In the Herald, Brian Yatman, 16/5/17, p 31)

Perhaps Mr Yatman could explain the who, the what and the reason why.

Quite coincidentally, The Weekend Australian of 13-14 May referenced one of the Holocaust survivors alluded to by Abu Sitta above, although the context had nothing whatever to do with the Nakba. It appeared in an opinion piece on the anti-Semitism of the 19th century German composer Richard Wagner, written by the CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadaff, and read as follows:

"About to perform an encore in 1981, Zubin Mehta invited those who wish to do so to leave the hall and conducted an extract from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Holocaust survivor Ben-Zion Leitner, who had fought in Israel's wars, strode to the front, exposed his battle scars and shouted 'Play Wagner over my body!" (Wagner's chorus of racial hatred)

And thereby hangs our tale, because, in the person of Mr Leitner, we have an example of the kind of individual (apart, of course, from Uri Avnery himself) that Abu Sitta had in mind when he penned his words.

To begin with, was Leitner a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp? Apparently not. His obituary at the Israeli Arutz Sheva website tells us that he was "a native of Odessa [who] fought with the partisans against Germany in World War II." (25/3/12)

As to to his military exploits in 1948 Palestine, Wikipedia informs us that he received Israel's "highest military decoration, the Hero of Israel citation for heroism during the War of Independence," specifically for leading "an assault that resulted in the blowing up of a bunker at a police position in [the Palestinian village of] Iraq Suweidan which resulted in half of his face becoming paralyzed."

At last, with the mention of the now obliterated Palestinian village of Iraq Suweidan (located in the Gaza district of southern Palestine), we draw closer to Leitner (and Avnery's) dark side, the substance of Abu Sitta's paragraph above, and a matter Alhadeff, as we have seen, nimbly glosses over.

The strategically important, British-built bunker/police station referred to had been heroically held by Egyptian troops against increasingly fierce Zionist attacks until their eventual surrender following the most sustained Zionist artillery barrage of the 1948 war. As for the village of Iraq Suweidan, which is estimated to have had a population of 766 at the time, we know almost nothing about the fate of its inhabitants. Obviously Ben-Zion Leitner's "battle scars" are more photogenic.

In his list of 6 causes for the "abandonment" of Palestinian villages in 1948, Israeli historian Benny Morris, in his 2004 book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, places Iraq Suweidan in category M - 'Military assault on settlement'.

To appreciate what this meant for the ethnically-cleansed villagers of Iraq Suweidan (and other Palestinian villagers in the area and throughout Palestine in 1948), and to ascertain more precisely what our "Hero of Israel" and his comrades got up to at the time, consider this passage from Morris' book:

"Giv'ati [Brigade] OC Shimon Avidan clearly intended to precipitate the flight of the Arab population of the area, bounded by Qazaza, Jilya, Idnibba and Mughallis in the east, Masmiya al Kabira and Qastina in the west, and Hatta and Beit 'Affa in the south. A preparatory order for the conquest of Masmiya al Kabira, Masmiya al Saghira, al-Tina, Qastina and Tal al Turmus was produced by Giv'ati's 51st Battalion during the First Truce, on 29 June. It spoke of the 'liquidation' (hisul) of the two Masmiya villages and conquering and 'cleansing' (bi'ur) the rest. On 5 July the brigade HQ discussed and outlined its plans for the 'Ten Days' [9-18 July] and two days later Avidan issued operational instructions. The order was to expedite 'the liquidation (hisul) of Arab villages in this area'. The 51st Battalion was ordered to take the large village of Tel as Safi and 'to destroy the enemy's fighting force and... to destroy, to kill and to expel (lehashmid, laharog u'legaresh) refugees encamped in the area, in order to prevent enemy infiltration from the east to this important position'. The nature of the written order and, presumably, the accompanying oral explanations, probably left little doubt in the battalion OC's minds that Avidan wanted the area cleared of inhabitants.

"Operation An-Far was unleashed on the night of 8-9 July, hours after the Egyptians broke the First Truce.  The area covered by Avidan's order was overrun during 8-11 July, with most of the population fleeing before the IDF columns reached each village. Tel as Safi was captured in the early morning hours of 9 July. Laying down a barrage of mortar and machine-gun fire, the 51st Battalion approached from the north and west. After taking the tel itself, the IDF fired on the houses down the slope 'increasing the mass flight, which was accompanied by screams of fear... ' According to the official IDF historian, the fall of this key village caused the mass flight of more than 10,000 Arabs from the area who saw themselves cut off... 'from Egyptian and irregular Arab forces to the east and south.' Beit 'Affa, 'Ibdis, Tall al Turmus and the village of Iraq Suwaydan all fell on 8-9 July, the villagers fleeing as IDF troops approached or attacked; local rumour had it that the Israeli troops had dealt with the inhabitants of Beit 'Affa 'as they had dealt with Deir Yassin'. The village of Karatiya was harassed by machine-gun fire and abandoned by its inhabitants. During 12-15 July, Giv'ati units raided and harassed a number of other villages, including 'Ajjur, Deir al Dubban, and Summeil, and conquered Bi'lin and Barqusya, which were both found empty. The last two were put to the torch, 'to the extent possible'. Reporting on these operations, the brigade's 'Combat Page', penned by the vengeful poet Abba Kovner, a former anti-Nazi partisan and Hashomer Hatza'ir stalwart, declared: 'Suddenly the ground was soft [under the wheels of the jeeps of Samson's Foxes', Giv'ati's commando unit] - bodies! Tens of bodies under their wheels. The driver was put off: human beings under his wheels! [But] wait a minute. He remembered [Kibbutz] Negba [and] Beit Daras [in both Arab troops had killed Jews] - and he ran them over! Do not be deterred, sons: murderous dogs - their punishment is blood! And the more you run over bloody dogs, the more you will love the beautiful, the good, and liberty'." (pp 436-37)

Avnery, I should point out, was a squadron commander in the Giv'ati Brigade, and later, in the Samson's Foxes commando unit.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide 4

No reply from Uri. A renewed note from Salman to Uri, 27/1/17:

Dear Uri,

Reading your weekly article has become a ritual for me. It is full of knowledge and appreciation of facts and understanding of the lessons of history. In all matters and about all countries. Except Palestine.

You did not respond to my last letter. Perhaps you thought it too strong and harsh. But it was true. Sometimes truth cannot be answered.

You did not read my book or did not wish to comment. That is not a problem.

Europeans of Jewish faith gave Europe a lot of culture, philosophy, science and ideals of liberation. That was not because they read the Torah daily, but because they were the product of European 'civilisation'. Einstein, Lenin, and Marx did that, and the world should be grateful to them as decent human beings.

Those Europeans, Ashkenazim, aka Israelis, when they descended on Palestine, acted against every humanitarian principle they espoused when they were in Europe. They smashed children's brains out (Dawayima), bayoneted pregnant women's stomachs (Dayr Yassin), burnt old men alive (Lajjun), shot farmers in ditches they were forced to dig as graves (Tantoura), threw them in a well (Sa'sa and Ayn Zeitoun), set a village ablaze and threw hand grenades at people inside their homes (Bureir).

Above all, they depopulated 600 Palestinian localities, the worst event in Palestine's 5000-year history.

They were terrorists of the worst kind. Those who should have known better did these awful things.

You belonged to the Irgun, the 'worst' terrorist group, if grading can be made.

I know that you have spent years calling for 'peace'. But your peace means that the killer should be forgiven, the thief should get away with the stolen goods, and those expelled from their homes should be thrown a few pieces of silver to shut up.

No remorse, no repentance, no justice, no remedy. Just empty words.

How could those settlers live with this double life, liberty in Europe and crime in Palestine?

The answer is schizophrenia. The European Jews, aka Israelis, live in a bubble of denial. A fake world. They shut the world of crime out of their minds and the minds of the adoring West. And preach peace, democracy, science and art instead.

No Nakba. Perish the thought. No word 'Palestinian'. No flag. Oh yes. There are no refugees. Just Arabs who drifted from Arabia Deserta into the land of milk and honey, created by European settlers who came to this empty desert land and made it a paradise.

They are cowards. I say this again.

Some years ago, my nephew, now a professor in Berlin, visited my birthplace, al- Ma'in, with his uncle, showing him the places he knew. My nephew told me this story. While they were walking around, an older settler with a little girl came by in a car and asked: 'Where are you from?' The uncle said: 'From here', and pointed to the land. The settler said: 'Then you are Abu Sitta?'

His teenage daughter, or granddaughter, was curious, leaned over, looked at them, and asked her grandfather: 'Who are they?'

He pushed her away and drove off fast. The little girl must have discovered the fraud in the old man's tale. He did not have the courage to explain. He hid in his bubble.

How long will this last? The bubble will burst one day.

Will the European Jews ever mend their ways? Was their preaching in the Age of the Enlightenment just a big hoax?

Time will tell. At a price.

Salman

No reply from Uri again. From Salman to Uri, 18/2/17:

Dear Uri,

I realise you do not want to reply to my letters. They are either too painful or cannot be rebutted. Certainly, they are not irrelevant.

I keep writing to you since we met in Paris over a decade ago because I think you have unique characteristics.

You have been a terrorist. You witnessed the Nakba, so you cannot deny it. You tried to forge peace with Palestinians, but only on Zionist terms. You have a grasp of all the facts, so you cannot claim that you did not know.

So why are you still in a denial bubble?

So it, loud and clear: the Nakba was the near-complete ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Israel is a colonial project, and its umbilical cord is the colonial powers. God-given, or empty, uninhabited, Palestine is hogwash.

Say it. Say it as a last minute CONFESSION. It purifies the soul, and perfumes the memory.

I am waiting. Because I have hope in human redemption.

Salman

From Uri to Salman, 18/2/17:

Alas, the story is much more complicated.

All the best,

Uri