Thursday, October 19, 2017

Like Pulling Teeth

"The Michael Danby disclosure story continues, one comically late update after another.

"Yesterday, Labor's member for Melbourne Ports fleshed out the details of his trip to Israel last year while on sick leave from federal parliament, finally revealing part of his trip had been funded by the Jerusalem-based Gerald M. Steinberg-founded NGO Monitor, which analyses and reports on the output of the international NGO community from a pro-Israel perspective.

"But still nothing on the convalesced Danby's mysterious corporate vehicle, Roosevelt Nominees, formerly known as Daroda Investments, which was created 20 years ago, before Danby entered parliament in 1998. Almost two decades on and it's yet to rate a mention on the register of members' interests. We were told last night that 'fast fingers' Danby was on the case, but the material was still to be processed by the registry office.

"And the paperwork shouldn't end there. Eventually there should be an update on Danby's Melbourne barrister wife Amanda Mendes da Costa's new job as a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, announced last month by Attorney-General George Brandis. The AAT reviews government decisions, with Mendes da Costa to be paid in the order of $305,000 a year for the job... As for the house that Mendes da Costa has in North Fitzroy, Danby tells us her mum lives in it rent-free. Still, there's a mortgage on it to Ian Narev's CBA that Danby perhaps may want to note. All in his own time.

"And what about the Qantas Chairman's Club membership and complementary Foxtel service that Danby has received but not disclosed? 'The electoral office has a Foxtel connection,' Danby told us. 'Like all MPs, I am automatically a member of the Qantas Club and it was not a sought membership.' That's an interesting interpretation of Privileges and Members' Interests committee chairman Ross Vasta's disclosure guidelines. Wonder what he makes of it?" (Danby's trip disclosure near dandy, Will Glasgow & Christine Lacy, The Australian, 19/10/17)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Danby Declines

"... Mr Danby has declined to say who helped fund his travels in September last year in a handwritten update to his parliamentary register of interests that was submitted hastily on Monday after The Australian asked questions about the trip. Nor has the Labor MP listed the dates for his sponsored travel and hospitality in the sparsely worded update that says: 'Economy fare Geneva-Ben Gurion 2 nights accomm'... Bill Shorten has refused to comment about Mr Danby claiming to be too ill to attend parliament and then leaving the country for speaking engagements... " (Danby fails to name donors, Brad Norington, The Australian, 18/10/17)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Zionising Palestinian & Australian History

Here we go again: more Zionisation of Palestinian and Australian history:

"Anticipating a visit to Israel by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for centenary commemorations of the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba on October 31, the Times of Israel has reproduced a re-enactment photograph showing horsemen bearing the Australian and Israeli flags side-by-side. Quite apart from anything else the image is historically inaccurate since no such Israeli flag existed in 1917, nor the State of Israel itself. That would come 31 years later. (Australia's complicated contribution to the State of Israel, Tony Walker, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/10/17)

"Why such an ahistorical embellishment of a sacred event in Australian history should be necessary is a matter for the organisers, but it is difficult to escape a conclusion politics is involved... "

"Sacred"? When (not to mention why) did this event become "sacred."? If it ever did.

And no, it's not at all "difficult" to escape the conclusion that this event has been Zionised. (The word 'politicisation' doesn't even begin to call a spade a spade in this case.)

"It remains a stretch... to suggest that Beersheba was a midwife to Israel's birth."

Merely a "stretch"? Try 'utter bullshit'.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Not So Fine & Danby

"Danby is not a single-issue politician but is a strong supporter of Israel... " (Greg Sheridan, Its response to Danby lays bare ABC's hubris, The Australian, 14/10/17)

Apparently, last September, senior Labor MPs were looking everywhere for the shadow minister for Tel Aviv, scratching their pates and wondering, one to the other, where on earth he could possibly be, only to find he was on a Tel Aviv-related mission. Who'd have thought, they were heard to exclaim on this surprise finding:

"Federal Labor MP Michael Danby took a trip to Israel and pursued some of his favourite causes after allegedly telling his party back home that he was too ill to attend a sitting week of parliament. Mr Danby... made the trip in September last year during a two-week absence. He had supplied a medical certificate that stated he was unfit for parliamentary duties. The second week of Mr Danby's absence coincided with a sitting week of parliament. During that time he was in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, to attend a counter-terrorism conference...

"Senior Labor sources have confirmed Mr Danby's journey... was not sanctioned by the party leadership, and not known in advance. His leave was not related to representing Australia...

"A few days after attending the summit event... Mr Danby spoke at a media conference at the Jerusalem Press Club. The Jerusalem Post reported at the time that he had been invited by the pro-Israel group, NGO Monitor, to Jerusalem to address 'the recent World Vision scandal' which allegedly involved millions of dollars in aid money for Gaza that had been siphoned off to militant Palestinian group Hamas. 'If Australian money was spent on building (Hamas terror) tunnels, that is beyond the pale,' Mr Danby was reported as saying.

"Although some Labor MPs believed Mr Danby was at home in Melbourne and unwell at the time of his international trip, others thought he was on compassionate leave, spending time with his former wife, who had been seriously ill. When concerned senior colleagues called Mr Danby's mobile phone from Canberra during the parliamentary week to ask after his health, they were puzzled to hear 'international pips', they said... After further calls, they learned Mr Danby was in Israel and intended to speak out about World Vision at the Jerusalem Press Club. They attempted to persuade him not to hold the media conference, but failed.

"Senior Labor MPs have wondered how his activities could be described as parliamentary business when the House of Representatives was in session and he would normally be required to attend, if able. Questions have also been raised about whether Mr Danby's stand against World Vision, while consistent with the Israeli government's position, was in line with ALP policy. World Vision officials deny aid funds were wrongly diverted to Hamas. The manager of aid operations for Gaza has been in Israeli custody for 15 months pending a possible prosecution, with World Vision trying to secure his release.

"The Australian asked Mr Danby to comment on how he came to be abroad when he was assumed to be on sick leave during a parliamentary week. Mr Danby was also asked if any of his leave and accommodation costs in September last year were paid by sponsors, and if so, who paid. He was asked for comment on why a number of senior Labor colleagues were not aware of his overseas travel when parliament was sitting - until finding out during his absence. In response, Mr Danby told The Australian last night: 'I received medical advice to take a complete break and get away. I took that advice. Unauthorised release of private medical information is ethically wrong. None of us want our private health details released, especially when they're used to distort circumstances. No taxpayer dollars were involved in the trip.'

"Mr Danby's globetrotting in September last year was spread over three weeks, starting in Israel and including Geneva, where he spoke at a UN-linked NGO Monitor event on September 26... " (Shorten's 'sick' ally took trip to Israel, Brad Norington, The Australian, 16/10/17)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

He's Just Fine & Danby

Breaking: Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan has just come out swinging at the Little Red Book-carrying, green left ABC, in defence of his old mate, Michael Danby, Labor's shadow minister for Israel:

"Melbourne Ports is one of the two federal seats with the highest proportion of Jewish voters. Danby is not a single-issue politician but a strong supporter of Israel who believes the ABC does not report the nation fairly. Frankly no one could seriously contest that proposition." (Its response to Danby lays bare ABC's hubris, The Australian, 14/10/17)

But, Greg, think of it this way: Danby's strolling along the riverbank, right? And he sees Netanyahu and the Dalai Lama struggling in the water, right? We all know who he's going to rescue, right? Frankly, you couldn't seriously contest that proposition, right?

"A former chairman of the parliamentary joint standing committee on foreign affairs, he is an old-style social democratic internationalist with a passionate concern for human rights, free trade unions and the like."

C'mon, Greg, can the crap. He's an uber Zionist with a knee-jerk response to any criticism of Israel, however slight, and zero concern for Palestinian rights. Just like you, actually.

"The ABC is consistently biased against Israel in a similar way to the BBC and for similar reasons. The overwhelming majority of ABC reporters and general broadcast commentators share a fairly narrow spectrum of world view, ranging from the middle left of Labor to the green left."

OFFS, Greg, what planet are you on? I've been blogging away at this subject now for ten long years and, in all that time, I cannot recall a time when Israel's ever taken a hit from the ABC. Just the opposite, in fact!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Melbourne Ports to Monash?

Kate Ashmor, lawyer and chair of the Committee for Monash, argues, in an Australian opinion piece, as follows:

"When a list of the greatest Australians is compiled, names such as Bradman, Freeman, Laver, Buttrose, Mabo and Menzies frequently appear. But one name surpasses them all. It is a name synonymous with inspiring leadership, patriotism and excellence, a name that deserves a permanent place in our commonwealth's democratic institutions. That name is General Sir John Monash [...] After World War I broke out, Monash led the nation in battle, landing at Gallipoli on April 26, 1915. It was his deliberate decision-making that crafted the Anzac identity; he personally led annual commemorations of Anzac Day until his death. [...] His contribution cannot be over-estimated: Monash all but won the war for the Allies, despite the best efforts of prominent public figures at the time to deny him recognition at the highest levels, arguably because of anti-Semitism and his lack of professional military service." (Let's salute Monash, our great leader & patriot, 12/10/17)

Apparently, the Committee for Monash, described in her piece as "an informal grouping," wants this claimed lack of recognition remedied by having the electorate of Melbourne Ports (currently held by Labor's Michael Danby) renamed Monash. Well and good, Ashmor may indeed have a valid case to make here. But questions remain:

Who else makes up the Committee for Monash? Why doesn't Ashmor disclose her chairwomanship of the Liberal Party's Melbourne Ports Electorate Conference? And, most pertinently, why doesn't she tell her readers that Monash was head of the Zionist Federation of Australia and New Zealand from 1927 until his death in 1931?

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Weinstein Saga Takes a Turn for the Worse

With sordid revelation after sordid revelation, could the Harvey (Gimme a massage NOW!) Weinstein saga get any worse?

Of course!

Read on:

"Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein expressed his deep love and appreciation for the Jewish state on Monday, saying, 'I am an Israeli in my heart and mind.' Speaking on the red carpet at The Algemeiner's fourth annual gala in New York City, Weinstein emphasized, 'I love that country, I love what it stands for, I am proud to be Jewish.'... He also spoke of his upcoming movie 'Mila 18,' an adaption of Leon Uris' acclaimed novel on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 'When people see 'Mila 18,' they can subtitle it 'Jews with guns,' because this is not about going into the night quietly,' Weinstein said. 'This is the birth of the modern Israelis, these were the guys in the ghetto who said we are not going to walk into concentration camps and get herded like cattle. They said, we're going to kill some Germans instead.'" (Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein at Algemeiner gala: 'I am Israeli in my heart and mind', algemeiner.com, 20/9/17)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Indigenous Pilgrims' Progress

October 31, 2017, of course, is the centenary of the much hyped charge of the Australian Light Horse at Turkish trenches defending the Palestinian town of Beersheba. The hype is largely due to the event's appropriation by Australia's Israel lobby, part of its ongoing effort to manufacture alleged historical links between Australia and Israel as part of the fiction that a 'unique relationship' exists between the two countries.

Although but one part of an Anglo-Arab thrust aimed at dislodging the Turks from the Levant in World War I, the victory of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba has been opportunistically appropriated by our Israel lobbyists and hyped as an integral component of the Zionist project in Palestine, on a par, almost, with the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917.

Of course, no such explicit linkage was ever made by Zionist spokesmen in the immediate post war years. Burnishing Israel's image in contemporary Australian domestic politics is what this blatant propaganda exercise is all about.

Here, for example, are some of the latest Zionist iterations of the linkage:

"On 31 October 1917 two events happened which shaped future world history. The first was the capture of Beersheba by British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers... The second was the decision by the British war cabinet to endorse the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home - the legal foundation of the future state of Israel." (The History, beersheba2017.com)

"The date of the Beersheba charge generally coincided with the Declaration by the British Government that led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel." (Connections to Indigenous Diggers of World War I, jwire.com.au, 23/2/17)

If we look back at earlier Zionist statements, part of the hype surrounding the construction at Beersheba of a 'Park of the Australian Soldier' by the Pratt Foundation in 2008,* the linkage rhetoric was far more explicit: the park was described as "a memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state"; "the result of the victory was the emergence of a thriving democratic and vibrant nation"; "the Australian victory... set in train... the establishment of the state of Israel"; and "the gallant 800 changed Jewish history, and the history of the Middle East." (See my 1/5/08 post Zionist Myth In-Formation by clicking on the AIF label below.)

Need I remind the informed reader that Allenby's Anglo-Arab campaign against the Turks, let alone its Beersheba component, was a purely military affair related to the stalemate on the Western Front, and not in any way a paving of the way for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, and that the British war cabinet decision to issue a declaration of support for the Zionist movement was made on the same day as the charge at Beersheba which could not, therefore, have influenced the decision one way or the other. (British attempts to enter Palestine had actually been underway since February 1917.) The Balfour Declaration, that is Balfour's infamous letter to Lord Rothschild, which gave voice to the decision, not unnaturally emerged soon after - as it happens, on November 2.

IOW, the timing was pure coincidence. If we bear in mind the Anglo-Zionist machinations which led up to the Balfour Declaration, the British decision to support Zionist aims could have been made as early as July 1917, long before Allenby's campaign. And as for the Ottoman Empire as a whole, the British had had designs on that stretching back at least to the De Bunsen Committee Report of June 1915, which made no mention whatever of Zionist aims.

Having clarified that, I will now move on to the latest, grotesque stage in this cheap Zionist production, already hinted at in the title of the jwire report, the appropriation of descendants of a claimed 100 Aboriginal Lighthorse soldiers, not merely for use as props in the coming centenary celebration in Israel, but to underscore Israel's bogus claim to indigeneity in Arab Palestine.

This was featured recently in Murdoch's Australian, in a front-page article headed, Remembering Beersheba's heroes, the Aborigines willing to die for their country. The article was accompanied by a photograph of Indigenous Australians, Ray Minniecon and Elsie Amamoo, kitted out as Light Horse troopers. Here's the propagandist core of the piece:

"The pilgrimage to Israel [by the descendants of Aboriginal Lighthorse soldiers next week] has been organised by the Rona Tranby Trust, with the support of the Pratt Foundation. Thomas and Eva Rona were Holocaust survivors who found sanctuary in Australia, and their trust specifically supports and preserves indigenous oral history. 'There are so many parallels between the Jewish people and indigenous Australians,' [Trust administrator Jennifer] Symonds says. 'They both understand dispossession from their lands, and the importance of oral histories - This project [the Rona Tranby Australian Light Horse Project] will enable descendants to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors, and when they return, they will record the stories, so the experience of those soldiers is not forgotten'." (Caroline Overington, 7/10/17)

The cynicism of this "pilgrimage to Israel" emerges only if we bear in mind the wider historical context.

Ostensibly, 'The Rona Tranby Australian Light Horse Project' is merely 'enabling' these descendants of Aboriginal victims of British settler-colonialism in Australia to "walk in the footsteps of their ancestors." The reality, however, is that they are being involved in a propaganda exercise designed to cement White Australia's connection with another settler-colonial state, one, moreover, which eschews any genuine reconciliation with its indigenous Palestinian Arab victims, having deluded itself into believing that its European Jewish colons, not the native Palestinians, are in fact the indigenous population of the land they now occupy, their 2,000-year spell in Europe notwithstanding.

Those post pilgrimage stories should indeed make interesting reading. As should the product outlined in the notice appended to Overington's article: "The Weekend Australian will publish a special magazine on October 28 commemorating the centenary of Beersheba."

[*The late Dick Pratt, in addition to being a cardboard tycoon (Visy), was a generous donor to both Israeli 'charities' and Australian mainstream political parties, a convicted price-fixer, and a key supporter of Bill Shorten.]

Monday, October 9, 2017

Zionism Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

"The federal Labor MP Michael Danby has refused to apologise for using taxpayer dollars to fund an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News accusing ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill of being biased in her reporting of Jews and Palestinians. But he has promised not to publish any more ads about McNeill, conceding he had been pulled into line by Labor leader Bill Shorten." (Michael Danby refuses to apologise for ad attacking ABC's Sophie McNeill, Gareth Hutchens, theguardian.com, 8/10/17)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Assange on the Israel Lobby

An interesting piece from Alex Mitchell's Weekly Notebook, News not reported here, cometherevolution.com.au, 5/10/17:

"Julian Assange is an alleged rapist who is wanted in the US to face charges as a 'world terrorist' and spend a lifetime behind bars. On the other hand, to a majority of civilised people across the globe he is a hero whistleblower who has blown open the atrocities of the US military in Iraq and around the world. Now he's done it again with a statement issued from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he lives in self-imposed incarceration. On 22 September 2017 Assange told reporters via telecast:

"'Russian actions on its own doorstep in Eastern Europe do not in fact threaten the United States or any actual vital interest. Nor does Moscow threaten the US through its intervention on behalf of the Syrian Government in the Middle East. That Russia is described incessantly as a threat in those areas is largely a contrivance arranged by the media, the Democratic and Republican National Committees and by the White House.

"'Candidate Donald Trump appeared to recognise that fact before he began listening to Michael Flynn [retired US Army Lieutenant-General Flynn who was sacked as National Security Adviser on February 13, after just 24 days in the job], who has rather a different view. Hopefully the old Trump will prevail. There is, however, another country that has interfered in US elections, has endangered Americans living or working overseas and has corrupted America's legislative and executive branches. It has exploited that corruption to initiate legislation favourable to itself, has promoted unnecessary and unwinnable wars and has stolen American assets and military secrets. Its ready access to the mainstream media to spread its own propaganda provides it with cover for its actions and it accomplishes all that and more through the agency of a powerful and well-funded domestic lobby that oddly is not subject to the accountability afforded by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938 even though it manifestly works on behalf of a foreign government. That government is, of course, Israel."

Mitchell follows this with Buying the US Congress:

"If you think Assange is exaggerating you should be aware that in the past week the US Senate unanimously passed (99 votes to 0) the Anti-Semitism Awareness Bill. The legislation makes Jews and Jewish interests a legally protected class that is immune from criticism. In future, Americans will be able to burn the Stars and Stripes, sell pornography and automatic guns and attack the Christian religion - but they won't be able to criticise Israel as that effectively becomes a 'hate crime'. The legislation was demanded by the Israeli lobby which bribes its way across Capitol Hill to propagandise on behalf of the apartheid-style Zionist regime in Tel Aviv."

Saturday, October 7, 2017

UK Labour's Arbiter of Anti-Semitism

Remember when anti-Semitism used to be a matter of hating, or discriminating against, Jews for no other reason than that they were Jews? Well, times change, and now, apparently, it means something quite different:

"Politicians and media pundits are starting to push the debate about anti-semitism in disturbing new directions... and this process has accelerated since [JeremyCorbyn became leader. This dangerous trend was highlighted in a commentary last week in the midst of the [Labour Party] conference. Jonathan Freedland, a senior columnist at the Guardian newspaper and the Jewish Chronicle, is highly influential among Britain's liberal Zionist community. He is possibly the most prominent arbiter of 'anti-Semitism' on the British left. He used his column to attack three well-known Labour figures closely identified with Corbyn who had each dismissed 'Labour's anti-Semitism plague' as mischief-making. Freedland accused former London mayor Ken Livingstone, award-winning film-maker Ken Loach, and trade union leader Len McCluskey of anti-semitism denial and leading Labour into a 'dark place'.

"In a circular proof of Labour's anti-semitism crisis, Freedland cited calls from some Labour activists - in fact, a handful - to expel the JLM [Jewish Labour Movement, the sister organisation of Israel's own Labour Party] from the party. He avoided mentioning why: that the JLM had been caught redhanded conspiring against the party leader by the Al Jazeera investigation... Freedland, a former winner of Britain's Orwell Prize, then indulged in some trademark Orwellian 'newspeak'. He argued that the three leading Labour lights, as non-Jews, were not in a position to assess whether there was an anti-Semitism crisis in the party. Only Jews could make that call - and, he added, Labour's Jews were adamant that the party had a big problem. Here Freedland effectively backed the draconian and rejected definition of anti-semitism originally proposed by the JLM at the conference. According to both the JLM and Freedland, anti-semitism cannot be adduced through objective criteria, or by applying tradtional methods, such as hateful statements or actions against Jews because they are Jews. Instead, Freedland and the JLM believe that anti-semitism can be defined more broadly. It exists, they say, if it is perceived as such by its victims, even if no tangible evidence can be identified. It is like a mood sensed only by those - Jews - who are attuned to it through their firsthand experience of anti-semitism." (As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting 'Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism, Jonathan Cookmondoweiss.net, 5/10/17)

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Hounding of Sophie McNeill 2

Michael Danby, MP for Tel Aviv, may have bitten off more than he can chew. Here's the latest development in his campaign against the ABC's Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill:

"Top Labor figures believe 'it's time' for outspoken federal MP Michael Danby to retire as anger over his taxpayer-funded attacks on an ABC journalist sparked fresh speculation about his future... [P]arty figures from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten down are deeply unimpressed with Mr Danby's attacks on McNeill. In a heated phone conversation on Wednesday Mt Shorten instructed Mr Danby - his factional ally - to withdraw [the latest of two ads] but it had already been sent on to the printers. The controversy has hardened the resolve of Mr Danby's critics, who want him to end his 20-year hold on the seat of Melbourne Ports and make way for someone better able to fend off the Greens. 'The expectation here is it's time,' one state source said... Federal party sources say they are fed up with Mr Danby using political capital to attack the media rather than the government. But his critics are unwilling to publicly criticise him, fearing it will cause him to dig in and run again." ('It's time': Labor MP Michael Danby under pressure after ABC attack backfires, Adam Gartrell, Broede Carmody, theage.com, 5/10/17)

Typically, the ALP has no problem with Danby's Zionism. It's just that they'd just prefer him to be a zionist rather than a Zionist, know what I mean?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Hounding of Sophie McNeill 1

"Federal Labor MP Michael Danby has paid* for an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News that accuses ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill of being biased in her reporting of Jews and Palestinians. The ABC's director of news, Gaven Morris, is so appalled by the prominent ad... he has written to the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, calling on him to curb the Victorian MP's attack... This is not the first time Danby has taken aim at McNeill... She has been a particular target and the Israel lobby has also openly campaigned for the ABC to cancel her posting. In 2015 former managing director Mark Scott strongly defended McNeill from attacks by Liberal senator Eric Abetz... In July former Middle East correspondent for the Australian John Lyons revealed that pro-Israel advocacy groups in Australia targeted McNeill, fellow ABC correspondent Peter Cave and himself. Lyons said he was subjected to consistent pressure from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council while based in Jerusalem for the Australian for six years. In his Middle East memoir, Balcony Over Jerusalem, Lyons said there was a campaign against McNeill before she set foot in the Middle East." (ABC's Sophie McNeill accused of anti-Israel bias in ad by Labor MP, Amanda Meade, theguardian.com, 4/10/17)

Here's John Lyons' account of that campaign from Balcony Over Jerusalem:

"I came to realise that hardline Jewish groups in Australia commonly targeted journalists. One such campaign led to an extraordinary process inside the ABC.

"The ABC's Sophie McNeill was targeted from the moment her appointment was announced in February 2015. AIJAC published a dossier which amounted to a comprehensive attack on her. It was authored by Ahron Shapiro and posted on AIJAC's website. Headlined 'Should the ABC have given advocacy journalist Sophie McNeill the keys to its Jerusalem bureau?', it went on: 'There are serious questions that must be raised about whether Sophie McNeill, who has recently been appointed the ABC's exclusive Jerusalem-based Middle East correspondent, can comply with the obligations contained in ABC's Code of Practice.'

"The dossier said that McNeill had appeared on a panel where she was 'speaking alongside' two people who had supported Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The case against McNeill included that she once said in an interview: 'One of the saddest things I've seen in my whole life is spending time filming in a children's cancer ward in Gaza.' On this charge, I could also be indicted - one of the saddest things I've ever seen was a baby dying in a children's hospital in Gaza because the hospital could not get through the Israeli checkpoint the medicines required to keep him alive.

"The sourcing of much of AIJAC's material was questionable. It said: 'According to the account of a Palestinian student who summarised from a personal video she made of the event... ' AIJAC said McNeill's 'apparent role at the event was to inspire student activities through her first-hand accounts from Gaza, and she appeared eager to play the part'. Apparent role? It continued, 'according to the Tweet of one attendee, she spurred the audience on.' The Tweet of one attendeee? McNeill's appearance at the conference, AIJAC said, 'was tantamount to joining a protest movement'. Tantamount to? The standard of allegation made in AIJAC's attacks on journalists often did not come anywhere near the standard of sourcing of material that they demanded from the journalists they were attacking.

"The dossier also targeted McNeill for a story she had done looking at Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. 'McNeill promotes the narrative that Israeli Jewry as a society is radicalising in terms of its Jewish character through the demographic growth of the ultra-Orthodox.' The 'implied message', AIJAC said, was that 'Israel is not really the pluralistic Western society it purports to be but is shifting towards religious radicalism'. Implied message? Of all the absurdities in the dossier, to me this was the most bizarre. Israel's own media is full of stories about the rising number - and power - of the ultra-Orthodox. Given their high birth rates - many have seven or eight children - they are increasing as a proportion of the community.

"After publishing the dossier, AIJAC wrote to the board of the ABC, referencing it. The letter set off an extraordinary - perhaps unprecedented - chain of events. The chairman of the board, Jim Spigelman, asked the managing director, Mark Scott, for a response. Scott then instructed the corporation's editorial policies department to prepare a response. Senior managers in the news and current affairs department were also enlisted. Scott believed that the ABC's selection process was thorough, and was unhappy that a lobby group had the power to require the ABC to have to defend an appointment. 'I will not cower to AIJAC,' he told his managers.

"The ABC's managers answered each claim, taking more than three weeks. The process included putting to McNeill each AIJAC accusation against her. The AIJAC attack also said that McNeill had credited British journalist John Pilger as being an influence on her - when she was 15. To her managers, McNeill pleaded guilty to this charge but said his influence was in alerting her to the situation in East Timor when she was 15. In fact, McNeill was critical of Pilger - she said that she believed Pilger's politics had 'blinded him' to the situation in Syria.

"Mark Scott was particularly angered by parts of the dossier which attacked McNeill for who she may have spoken alongside on panels. 'Here is a professional journalist like Sophie McNeill subject to a whole lot of attacks which in my view were trying to taint her by association,' Scott told his managers.

"Scott wrote for the ABC board a 12-page response to AIJAC's letter. In it he said that while AIJAC did not call for McNeill's appointment to be reversed, despite raising a series of critical questions and concerns about her 'past activities' - 'they were letting us know they would be watching'. Scott told the board that he had engaged in dialogue as a media executive for almost two decades. 'In that time, I have seen similar dossiers to the one created on Sophie McNeill on other journalists and around coverage of issues. The AIJAC website contains detailed, negative coverage of many leading Australian journalists who have reported on the Middle East, including Paul McGeough, John Lyons, Ed O'Loughlin and Ruth Pollard, as well as reporters from the BBC and The Guardian.'

"Scott added: 'The article demonstrates to Sophie McNeill and to the ABC that her every word will be watched closely by AIJAC and she starts on the ground with this key interest group sceptical. We are all aware she will be under even closer scrutiny now. As they seek to influence our coverage, this is a pre-emptive "shot across the bows". It should be noted, of course, that fair, impartial, accurate and balanced coverage from McNeill will not guarantee her immunity from ongoing criticism.' Scott told the board: 'The pre-emptive attack on McNeill is similar to the approach employed by lobby groups internationally. The US reporter, Jodi Rudoren, was targeted when she was appointed Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times in 2012 and accused of being biased against Israel and unsuitable for the post ... The New York Times refused to bow to the pressure and Rudoren remained in the position.'

"On 30 March 2015, Scott presented the response to Spigelman. The defence, and AIJAC's attack, went to the April meeting of the board. The board supported Scott. The whole process had taken enormous resources inside the ABC. In my view, no other lobby group in Australia would be able to command that level of response. This is real power. And as a journalist I believe that such efforts can have the effect of making a journalist or organisation self-censor. This would not prove to be the case with McNeill. However, in my opinion such a process certainly puts pressure on a reporter, raising the possibility of what is known in journalism as 'the pre-emptive buckle'." (pp 282-86)

Finally, some high comedy on the matter from today's Sydney Morning Herald: "It is not the first time the MP for Melbourne Ports has criticised McNeill's reporting. In the past, he has called her an 'advocacy journalist' on social media and has claimed she is obsessed with the 'Palestinian narrative'." (Labor MP used taxpayer funds to attack ABC reporter, Adam Gartrell & Broede Carmody)

Of course, Danby is nothing if not a pro-Israel 'advocacy politician', utterly obsessed with ensuring that only the 'Zionist narrative' is heard in public discourse.

[*The Herald account, says that Danby "admitted he had used a 'small amount' from his taxpayer-funded electoral allowance."]

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Failed States of America

"Each new massacre that is not met by drastic changes in gun laws (among other things) is further evidence that the US is a failed state." David Rovics tweet, 3/10/17

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 1 Month to Go

Here's the American historian, Herbert Adams Gibbons (1880-1934), writing on the subject of Britain's odious, ill-fated November 2, 1917, decision to hand Palestine to the Zionist movement in the January 1919 edition of the New York magazine Century:

"The Zionists fall back upon their acceptance of the clause in the Balfour Declaration that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' Zionism, they say, does not mean oppression of or conflict with the other communities. If conflict arises, it will be the fault of others, and help will be asked from Dr Weizmann's 'one just and fairly responsible guardian' [Britain!] to defend the immigrants. But how can the setting up of the Jewish 'national home' in Palestine fail to affect the civil and religious rights of the present inhabitants of the land? What other result can it possibly have than to rob the Palestinian Arabs of their hope to evolve into a modern, self-governing state? The spirit of the twentieth century is unalterably opposed to government by communities constituted on theocratic principles. The evolution of self-governing democracies has been possible only through unification and secularization. Utah is an illustration. Doing away with polygamy was simply the rallying cry in the inevitable conflict with Mormonism. In Zionist congresses delegates have frequently advocated making the United States 'the promised land.' But the answer always was that the ideals of Zionism could not be realized under the American system of civil government. Mr Lloyd George is now an enthusiastic advocate of Zionism - for Palestine. But years ago, when he was lawyer for the [Zionist] organization at the time of the eastern African proposal, he told his clients frankly that they would have to change their scheme of governing Zion if Zion was established in a British colony."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mearsheimer & Walt's 'Israel Lobby' 10 Years On

If Spain had the Inquisition, the United States has the Israel lobby. Such is the fear of 'the lobby' in the United States that the classic book on the subject, Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy (2007) almost failed to appear:

"The two men actually gave up on the article and book years before it was published because doors kept closing... Mearsheimer spoke about the idea first at the American Political Science Association meetings in Boston in 2002; and a friend said the Atlantic wanted to commission an article on that very subject. The Atlantic magazine assigned Walt and Mearsheimer in 2002. Then it got cold feet and killed the piece in early 2005. At that time, Walt said, the two scholars thought no other outlet in the United States would publish it, but they could flesh it out as a 'short book,' so they consulted a 'number' of publishers... We got what you would call polite interest but nothing you could call enthusiasm. At one point we basically decided to drop the project entirely... After that, though, an editor who had a copy of the piece showed it to a scholar at UCLA who reached out to Mearsheimer and said the London Review of Books might be interested. The LRB version was eventually published in March 2006, and 'provoked an immediate firestorm,' Walt said. Ironically, once it provoked that firestorm, suddenly publishers... recognized that there was a product people were interested in and suddenly they were contacting us and offering us book contracts." ('The lobby is still as powerful as ever' - John Mearsheimer, ten years after publishing The Israel Lobby, Philip Weiss, mondoweiss.net, 25/9/17)

The comment by CitizenC in the thread following Weiss's post is a fair assessment of the book:

"The book and article were indeed important landmarks, and brought the issue into the mainstream. But the authors pulled their punches in certain ways. They did not examine the first chapter of the story, the 1940s, when the nascent IL overwhelmed the opposition of the military and diplomatic establishments, and forced support for the partition of Palestine and a Jewish state on the US government. They also claimed that the IL 'is just another lobby, doing its job in US interest group politics.' This was in part defensiveness about the charge of anti-Semitism, which they addressed.

"The IL is not like other lobbies. It has operated at and beyond the margins of the law since its founding. In its early years it moved adroitly thru various legal gambits and incorporations to evade prosecution under foreign agent laws. The Fulbright hearings of the early 1960s forced the founding of AIPAC by existing IL personnel, and were the end of US sovereignty in the foreign agent area, as far as Israel was concerned. Grant Smith has shown all this in an important series of books based on documents unearthed with FOIA. He feels that the USG has essentially lost the ability to enforce the Foreign Agent Registration Act where Israel is concerned.

"Much of Mearsheimer and Walt's defensiveness was due to the refusal of the left, led by Chomsky, to consider the issue, imposing instead the [Israel as] 'strategic asset' dogma. Chomsky wrote some trivial dismissal in response to the article, and ignored the book. The left is unchanged since Mearsheimer and Walt. The IL argument is still viciously attacked as anti-Semitism, notably by Jewish Voice for Peace. Ten years after the article and book appeared, Chomsky's friend Irene Gendzier tried to impose the 'strategic asset' argument on the 40s, in a risibly weak book.

"The IL has also been addressed by diplomats, politicians and academics since the 40s. Paul Findley, George Ball and Michael Cohen are examples. Nonetheless, Mearsheimer and Walt gave the issue renewed prominence, made a major contribution, and paid a price, as Phil says."

I would add to CitizenC's list in the above paragraph - and highly recommend - James Petras' The Power of Israel in the United States (2006).

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Guest of the Lowy Institute

"There was passionate support for foreign news reports at the Lowy Institute's media awards in Sydney on Saturday night at which the New York Times columnist Bret Stephens delivered the keynote address... Stephens referred to the controversy that followed Lowy's invitation for him to speak at the media award ceremony, which was to be named after the late ABC broadcaster Mark Colvin. But Lowy removed Colvin's name after a family disagreement. 'I'm aware of the controversy that has gone with my selection as your speaker,' Stephens said." (Guthrie's content shake-up threatens ABC empires, Amanda Meade, theguardian.com, 29/9/17)

Hmm... The controversy that has gone with my selection as speaker.

It appears that Colvin's wife, in particular, objected to her husband's name being associated with that of Stephens. But why? Could it possibly have had something to do with Stephens' Zionism?

Since this was nowhere explicit in Stephens' LI speech (on dissent), presumably only the brows of the more informed in the audience would have furrowed at the ludicrousness of Natan Sharansky being mentioned in the same breath as Galileo, Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks, and Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the US, being singled out as a victim (of "organized claques of hecklers"/"junior totalitarians" no less!), we really need to look elsewhere for it.

Over at PragerU.com, for example, where Stephens lets it all hang out. Gird your loins for What's holding the Arab world back?:

"In the judo competition of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, an Israeli heavyweight judo fighter named Or Sasson defeated his Egyptian opponent, Islam El Shehaby, in a first-round match. The Egyptian then refused to shake the Israeli's extended hand, earning boos from the crowd.*

"If you want the short answer for why the Arab world is sliding into the abyss, look no further than this little incident. It illustrates how hatred of Israel and Jews corrupts every element of Arab society.

"You won't find this explanation for the Arab world's decline among journalists and academics. They reflexively blame the usual suspects: the legacy of colonialism, unemployed youth, the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide, and every other politically correct excuse they can think of. For them, hatred of Israel is treated like sand in Arabia - just part of the landscape.

"Yet the fact remains that over the past 70 years the Arab world expelled virtually all of its Jews, some 900,000 people, while holding on to its hatred of them. Over time the result proved fatal: a combination of lost human capital, expensive wars against Israel, and an intellectual life perverted by conspiracy theories and a perpetual search for scapegoats. The Arab world's problems are a problem of the Arab mindset, and the name of that problem is anti-Semitism.

"As a historical phenomenon, this is not unique. Historian Paul Johnson has noted that wherever anti-Semitism took hold, social and political decline almost inevitably followed. Just a few examples:

"Spain expelled its Jews in 1492. The effect, Johnson noted, 'was to deprive Spain (and its colonies) of a class already notable for the astute handling of finance.'

"In czarist Russia, the adoption of numerous anti-Semitic laws ultimately weakened and corrupted the entire Russian government. These laws also led to mass Jewish emigration, resulting in a breathtaking loss of intellectual and human capital.

"Germany might well have won the race for an atomic bomb if Hitler hadn't sent Jewish scientists like Albert Einstein and Edward Teller into exile in the US.

"These patterns were replicated in the Arab world. Contrary to myth, the cause was not the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. There were bloody anti-Jewish pogroms in 1929, Iraq in 1941, and Libya in 1945.

"Nor is it accurate to blame Israel for fuelling anti-Semitism by refusing to trade land for peace.

"Among Egyptians, hatred of Israel barely abated after Prime Minister Menachem Begin returned the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. And among Palestinians, anti-Semitism became markedly worse during the years of the Oslo peace process.

"Johnson calls anti-Semitism a 'highly infectious' disease capable of overwhelming intellectuals and simpletons alike. Its potency, he noted, lies in transforming a personal and instinctive irrationalism into a political and systematic one. For the Jew hater, every crime has the same culprit and every problem has the same solution. Anti-Semitism makes the world seem simple. In doing so, it condemns the anti-Semite to a permanent darkness.

"Today there is no great university in the Arab world, no serious scientific research, a stunted literary culture. In 2015, the US Patent Office reported 3,804 patents from Israel, as compared with 30 from Egypt, the largest Arab country. Hatred of Israel and Jews has also deprived the Arab world of both the resources and the example of its neighbour. Israel quietly supplies water to Jordan, helping to ease the burden of Syrian refugees, and quietly provides surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to Egypt to fight ISIS in the Sinai. But this is largely unknown among Arabs, for whom the only permissible image of Israel is an Israeli soldier in riot gear, abusing a Palestinian. Successful nations make a point of trying to learn from their neighbours. The Arab world has been taught over generations only to hate theirs.

"This may be starting to change. Recently, the Arab world has been forced to face up to its own failings in ways it cannot easily blame on Israel. The change can be seen in the budding rapprochement between Jerusalem and Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

"But that's not enough. So long as an Arab athlete can't pay his Israeli opposite the courtesy of a handshake, the disease of the Arab mind and the misfortunes of its world will continue.

"For Israel, this is a pity.

"For the Arabs, it's a calamity."

See what I mean?

[*"I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religion... But for personal reasons, you can't ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this State... " (Islam El Shehaby: 'I've respected the judo rules, lespritdujudo.com)]

Friday, September 29, 2017

Corbyn's Latest Foreign Policy Pronouncements

From Jeremy Corbyn's 2017 Labour conference speech in Brighton:

"[W]e also know that terrorism is thriving in a world our governments have helped to shape, with its failed states, military interventions and occupations where millions are forced to flee conflict or hunger. We have to do better and swap the knee-jerk response of another bombing campaign for long-term help to solve conflicts rather than fuel them. And we must put our values at the heart of our foreign policy. Democracy and human rights are not an optional extra to be deployed selectively.

"So we cannot be silent at the cruel Saudi war in Yemen, while continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, or the crushing of democracy in Egypt or Bahrain, or the tragic loss of life in Congo. And I say to Aung San Suu Kyi - a champion of democracy and human rights - : end the violence now against the Rohingya in Myanmar and allow the UN and international aid agencies in to Rakhine state. The Rohingya have suffered for too long!

"We should stand firm for peaceful solutions to international crises. Let's tone down the rhetoric, and back dialogue and negotiations to wind down the deeply dangerous confrontation over the Korean Peninsula. And I appeal to the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres to use the authority of his office and go to Washington and Pyongyang to kick start that essential process of dialogue.

"And let's give real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people, the 50-year occupation and illegal settlement expansion and move to a genuine two-state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"Britain's voice needs to be heard independently in the world. We must be a candid friend to the United States, now more than ever. The values we share are not served by building walls, banning immigrants on the basis of religion, polluting the planet, or pandering to racism."

A genuine two-state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict???

Meanwhile, back in occupied Palestine, in the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc, to be precise, Netanyahu and 5,000 guests have just celebrated 50 years of Israeli occupation... 'There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel,' [Netanyahu] said to applause." (Israel holds controversial ceremony marking 50 years of settlement, Michael Blum, yahoo.com/news, 28/9/17)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The White Man's Burden Rides Again

Check out the abstract for The case for colonialism by Bruce Gilley, published in Third World Quarterly, 8/9/17. Gilley is an associate professor of political science at Portland State University:

"For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts. The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it. Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places. Colonialism can be recovered by weak and fragile states today in three ways: by reclaiming colonial modes of governance; by recolonising some areas; and by creating new Western colonies from scratch."

So what's next for the TWQ?

Hmm... hey, I've got just the thing: HW Crocker's If you live in freedom, thank the British Empire (PragerU.com):

"Over the last 400 years, what power has done the most to spread the ideals of limited government, an independent judiciary, certain inalienable rights, and free markets. That power would be the British Empire, the largest empire the world has ever known, which made these ideals global aspirations. It was the British Empire, along with America, that defended these ideals in two colossal world wars.

"Freedom was an Englishman's right - and wherever he went, he took that right with him. Whether he was an English colonist in America, governing himself through a locally-elected assembly; or an English adventurer, like Sir Stamford Raffles, creating the free-market city state of Singapore, or an English officer, like T.E. Lawrence, leading Arab tribesmen against the Turks, the British always thought of themselves as liberators, as bringers of freedom. The British believed the final and necessary justification of their empire was a moral one. The British kept the peace; they brought sound, honest administration; and they insisted that basic moral standards were honored.

"The British did not try to nation-build in the way we think of it now. They were under no illusions about making Arabs or Afghans or Zulus into Englishmen. They were more content to leave people alone, to let them be themselves, to govern them with the lightest possible hand.

"In American history, we remember this when we think of the British Empire's so-called 'benign neglect.' We can see it throughout the history of the British Empire. Think about the vast territory of the Sudan - it was governed by 140 British civil-servants. Even Gandhi praised the British Empire, paraphrasing Jefferson, saying that he believed that the best government was the government that governed least, and that he found that the British Empire guaranteed his freedom and governed him least of all.

"In the defense of freedom, the empire drew moral lines. No power did more to abolish slavery and the slave trade in the modern world than did the British Empire. The British treasury spent enormous sums to liberate slaves and compensate slave-owners in the Caribbean. The Royal Navy had, as a primary duty, the eradication of the slave-trade - and, in fact, abolishing the slave trade became a major factor during the expansion of the British Empire. The British enforced a Pax Britannica, putting down pirates, taming headhunters, and keeping the peace between previously warring tribes and religions. While respecting - and often ruling through - local leaders, the British still insisted on certain Judeo-Christian moral standards. They were not, in that respect, multiculturalists. They had a firm sense of right and wrong. When Sir Charles Napier was confronted by the practice of suttee - widow-burning - in India, he told the Brahmin priests involved that he understood it was their custom. But the British had a custom, too: They hanged men who burned women alive, and their goods were confiscated. So, if the Brahmins insisted on continuing their tradition of widow-burning, then he would insist on following his British tradition of hanging the murderers of widows. Widow-burning in India soon ceased.

"But we don't have to dig far into history, into the abolition of slavery and widow-burning, to find the British Empire on the side of moral right and freedom. We can think of events within our own lifetimes or those of our parents and grandparents. When we think of the two deadliest threats to freedom in the twentieth century, we generally think of Communism and Nazism. But how many remember that in 1940, after the Hitler-Stalin pact, and after the fall of France, one power, the British Empire, stood alone in mortal combat against the combined tyrannies of the world.

"Even where the British have merited criticism, as in Ireland, there is more to the imperial story. During negotiations to create the Irish Republic, for instance, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who could speak Welsh, reminded the Irish nationalist and Gaelic extremist Eamon de Valera that the Celts never had a word for 'republic.' It was an idea given to them by the English.

"This is our own history, too. If you love America, you should also love the power that gave us our sense of inalienable rights - rights traceable back to Magna Carta. It all started in America with the British Empire, a great, liberty-loving empire. It is the empire's legacy - the English-speaking world - that remains the great global guardian of freedom today."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Iraqi Kurdish Independence Referendum

Kurdish warlords plot independence course to fill the ISIS vacuum, The Economist/The Australian, 25/9/17:

"As the jihadists of the so-called Islamic State retreat, the Arab and Kurdish forces allied against it in Iraq are turning their arms towards each other.

"Rather than celebrate victory, Masoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, called a referendum on independence for today, not just in his constitutionally recognised autonomous zone but in the vast tracts that his forces seized from Islamic State. Protesting against this threat to Iraq's integrity, Iraq's Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi gathered his commanders at Makhmour, opposite the Kurdish front lines. If the referendum went ahead, Kurdistan 'might disappear', he warned. Hoping to prevent to prevent their allies from sparring, Western mediators have stepped in. But yesterday Barzani remained committed to his referendum.

"Kurdistan is far from ready for statehood. The government is steeped in debt; its coffers are empty. The Peshmerga, its vaunted fighting force, is split among family-led factions.

"Barzani, for his part, has made a mockery of the political system. In 2015 he shut parliament after it tried to limit his powers and questioned how he spends oil revenues. Instead of dealing with the region's ills ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections planned for November, he has used the referendum to distract the public and rouse nationalist fervour. Rallies across Kurdistan feature fireworks and fiery rhetoric. 'Whatever it takes (to gain independence),' says a normally cool-headed official at a rally. A toll of half a million dead, he suggests, could be acceptable.

"Neighbours around the enclave are uniting against the Kurds. Iraqi politicians speak of closing its airspace. Fearing that the referendum will stir separatists sentiments among their own Kurds, Turkey and Iran have mulled closing their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey is conducting military exercises on the frontier. It could turn off the tap of the territory's only pipeline, blocking its oil exports. Western powers are also threatening to withhold aid to Kurdistan if Barzani rejects their proposals.They are offering Barzani and Abadi a room in the US embassy to negotiate a deal under their auspices. Abadi might endorse a process that buys him time. Barzani is still hoping for a path to independence.

"Many Kurds, for now at least, would prefer their leaders focus on improving Kurdistan rather than seceding. Even in the Kurdish capital, Irbil, the referendum has left many nonplussed. As the threat of a siege mounts - Kurdistan imports almost everything - people are stockpiling basics. Flights out of Irbil are packed. But many are feeling squeezed financially. The referendum is 'a luxury only the rich like Barzani can afford,' complains a teacher, who moonlights as a taxi driver because of cuts to salaries. Beyond Barzani's strongholds the campaign for independence has begun belatedly, if at all. In a straw poll in the main market of Sulaymaniyah, in the east, your correspondent could not find one Kurd who said he would vote.

"In the Nineveh Plains, where an earthen wall splits the Arab- and Kurdish-ruled areas, other minorities view the referendum as an impossible loyalty test. 'Each side is forcing us to choose when we should just abstain,' says a priest at St Joseph's, a towering Chaldean church that serves displaced Christians in Irbil. Abadi is planning a conference for Christians to air their grievances at the end of the month. Barzani is urging priests not to go.

"The tensions are also affecting Kurds beyond Kurdistan. Under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad was Iraq's largest Kurdish city. Many Kurds have since drifted north, but hundreds still hold positions in the government and the army. Their loyalty has been questioned and jobs put at risk.

"If violence flares, Kirkuk may be where it starts. The fighting could spread quickly along the region's ethnic faultlines into Syria, where Arab and Kurdish forces are also competing to take land from Islamic State.

"Even if the referendum passes, Barzani is not obliged to declare independence. A deal might better serve his interests. Right now, he risks ignominy if the exuberance of statehood that he has stoked should dissipate, and his people flee a failed and besieged state. With an accord, he could boast of at least bringing evasive Iraqi officials to the table. He might yet win their agreement to restore the old subsidy for the Kurds that was cut when they began selling Kirkuk's plentiful oil independently. And he might add the Peshmerga to the Iraqi government's payroll, as was done for the Shia militias. He would thus alleviate Kurdish fears of being marginalised, having served their purpose in fighting Islamic State.

"Come the election in November, Western powers are likely to turn a blind eye if the ballot is again postponed. If so, Barzani could thus secure his position as Kurdistan's preeminent warlord, and prolong his one-man rule."

Monday, September 25, 2017

That Was Then. This Is Now

Compare and contrast:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine... " Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917

"Over 50 Christian and Muslim sites have been vandalized in Israel and the West Bank since 2009, but only 9 indictments have been filed and only 7 convictions handed down, according to Public Security Ministry data. Moreover, only 8 of the 53 cases are still under investigation, with the other 45 all closed." (53 mosques & churches vandalized in Israel since 2009, Yotan Berger & Nir Hasson, Haaretz, 24/9/17)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Joy of British Imperialism

What a damning indictment of little britain this finding is:

"The British public are generally proud of their country's role in colonialism and the British Empire, according to a new poll. At its height in 1922 the British Empire governed a fifth of the world's population and a quarter of the world's total land area... YouGov found 44% were proud of Britain's history of colonialism while only 21% regretted that it happened. 23% held neither view... The British Empire is not widely taught in detail in British schools, with history lessons tending to focus on other areas." (British people are generally proud of their country's role in colonialism and the British Empire, poll finds, Jon Stone, independent.co.uk, 19/1/16)

Trawling through the 320 comments which follow the report, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of little brits wouldn't even know the Balfour Declaration if it hit them in the face. Staggeringly, only one mentioned Palestine, Britain's worst ever colonial crime, and even then referred to it as 'Israel'.

Some examples of the abysmal ignorance of little brits on the subject of British colonialism in general, and the Middle East in particular, are as follows. The first borders on Trumpian parody:

"British Empire. Fantastic. Winners. Changed the world for the better. And made a fortune while doing it. No sitting idle on benefits for them. Technology, the law, exploration - the Brits were at the forefront. But nice to see so many comments from the heirs of so many losers. Obviously not exterminated. Clearly no genocide. To cap it all, the British were thoroughly nice too, freely handing back countries when the natives had gained some modicum of civility. Best Empire ever." (ScottishDanno)

As for the Middle East:

"The Middle East, to it's (sic) benefit would be seeing the rule of secular law right now rather than the vicious rule of religion." (PGwood)

Simple-minded PGwood is obviously blissfully unaware that his country was single-handedly responsible for transforming unsuspecting multi-sectarian Ottoman Palestine into the viciously mono-sectarian Jewish state of Israel.

The only response to PGwood, from NK, missed the opportunity to point this out, asking merely "Why would you want Britain to meddle in how people run their own countries? If reform is to take place there then let it happen from within. Look at the mess in Iraq and Syria right now because of British and US meddling."

PGwood, clearly oblivious to the fact that the Middle East isn't 'next door' to Britain, replied, apropos of nothing: "If your neighbour is throwing rocks at his wife, do you say something about it. or not?"

Coming closer to Britain's meddling in the Middle East, but nonetheless maddeningly vague, is this effort:

"Those getting all misty-eyed about colonialism would to well to reflect on its enduring legacy. No, not cricket and railway networks but the mess that is now the Middle East and North Africa and the human wave that is only starting to rebound on Europe. Empire is (sic) a very long embrace indeed." (lastflightout)

To which came this blame-it-all-on-the-French, blatantly racist reply:

"It didn't endure. It has no legacy. And actually, the Middle Eastern and African countries with most problems seem to have been French, not British. Regardless, when the civilised Europeans left, the natives returned to their brutal, savage and backward ways." (Brad_Humberside)

Which in turn elicited the following rejoinders: "Saudi Arabia? Israel? Yes? Would you like to have another go at defending British barbarism?" (Kay Parlay); "'civilised Europeans' - yes, so civilised they didn't know to wash their behinds after defecating, or wash their hands after that before eating." (adamcrossphoto)

But back to the "problems" of the Middle East. We've already had Brad_Humberside pointing the finger at the French, now we've got this genius blaming the Ottoman Empire:

"The middle east problems were as much caused by the collapse of Ottoman power (only partially nudged over the line by the British and French) and the ungainly carve up afterwards. Not the Empires finest moment maybe but you can only ever deal with the problems in front of you at the time." (RevCr)

Only partially NUDGED over the line!!!??? But let's focus on "the problems in front of you," shall we?

There was, in fact, no problem for the British and French to deal with in the Middle East during World War I or immediately thereafter. Rather, these two imperialist bovver boys created problems for the people of the Middle East:

Britain, for example, who had promised her Arab allies independence in the 1915 McMahon Treaty, betrayed them by agreeing to divide the Arab world between themselves and the French in the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. It then went on to compound that treachery by supporting, in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, thus creating the Palestine problem where before there had been no such problem.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The One Subject On Which All US Presidents Agree...

... and why.

Remember, as you read the following 'Who'd-have-thought,' that its author, Aaron David Miller (Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center), believes that the presidency, not the Israel lobby, is the decisive force in US Middle East policy. Hence his surprise at the enduring nature of the Trump/Netanyahu bromance:

"A year ago... I predicted that it would only be only a matter of time before US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be annoying the hell out of one another, and that anyone who believed that Trumpland would produce a dramatic improvement in the US-Israeli relationship ought to lie down and wait quietly until the feeling passed... Clearly... I've been dead wrong. As Netanyahu and Trump met Monday at the United Nations General Assembly for the third time in the president's first eight months - a first in the history of US-Israeli relations - even I'm a little stunned by how the relationship has blossomed seemingly without serious disruption and complication. So where did I wander off the highway? And what, if anything, might change in what appears to be not just an extended honeymoon but a pretty happy marriage?" (Mea culpa: I said Trump & Bibi would blow up, foreignpolicy.com, 18/9/17)

Back in the wake of the 2007 publication of Mearsheimer & Walt's groundbreaking study, The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, Miller insisted in an interview that "the two professors attached far to much importance to the influence of the pro-Israeli community [Miller's euphemism for Israel lobby] as a force in America's Middle East policy," that "when presidents lead... lobbies almost always will follow," and that, "in the case of Arab-Israeli peacemaking... lobbies don't carry the day." (Debate over controversial 'Israel Lobby' continues, npr.org, 20/9/07)

In light of his 'Oh-what-a-surprise' Foreign Policy piece, I'd remind Miller's of the following words of Mearsheimer & Walt's (taken from the introduction to the book Miller dismissed, in the above interview, with these words: "I'm not sure I would describe the book as a thoroughly important one."):

"America is about to enter a presidential election year... The candidates will inevitably differ on various domestic issues - health care, abortion, gay marriage, taxes, education, immigration - and spirited debates are certain to erupt on a host of foreign policy questions as well... Yet on one subject, we can be equally confident that the candidates will speak with one voice. In 2008, as in previous election years, serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep personal commitment to one foreign country - Israel - as well as their determination to maintain unyielding US support for the Jewish state. Each candidate will emphasize that he or she fully appreciates the multitude of threats facing Israel and make it clear that, if elected, the United States will remain firmly committed to defending Israel's interests under any and all circumstances. None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the United States ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. Any who do will probably fall by the wayside." (p 3)

And why is this so?:

"The real reason why American politicians are so deferential is the political power of the Israel lobby." (p 5)

So much for presidents leading and lobbies  - Miller can't even bring himself to say 'Israel lobby' - following.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

When Rudd Went Rogue...

Ever dreamt of having the POWER & INFLUENCE to put words into a politician's mouth? Read on:

"Five days later I [John Lyons] was in Cairo, covering a visit by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. At a news conference, he spoke about his desire for Iran to agree the regular international inspections of its nuclear facilities. An Egyptian journalist asked: if Iran and other nations had to agree to inspections, why shouldn't Israel? Rudd remarked that he could not dispute the logic, and agreed that all countries with nuclear weapons should have to submit to regular inspections.

"My ears pricked up. I knew Israel preferred that nobody even referred to their nuclear weapons, let alone talked about inspections...

"So after the news conference I asked Rudd if he could elaborate on his comments. He told me: 'Our view has been consistent for a long period of time, and that is that all States in the region should adhere to the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty], and that includes Israel. And therefore their nuclear facility should be subject to IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspection.'

"Soon afterwards, Rudd was a guest at one of Albert Dadon's banquets at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem... The evening had been going calmly... when the mood in the room suddenly changed. An unwelcome guest had just arrived at the banquet courtesy of the Internet. My interview with Kevin Rudd in which he declared that Israel should not be exempt from international inspections had just been published online. People were standing looking at their phones and reading the story. The anger started bouncing off the walls.

"Sylvie came over to me: 'That man over there is telling people that you've verballed Kevin Rudd in your interview!'

"'That man' was Yuval Rotem, Israel's Ambassador to Australia - who had travelled to Jerusalem for that trip...

"By now it was fair to say I was pretty fired up. So often people instinctively blame the messenger if they don't like what someone has said. And so I went looking for Rotem. 'Ambassador, I hear you are telling people that Kevin Rudd did not make those comments about nuclear inspectors.'

"Rotem seemed uncomfortable that I had challenged him. 'Well, no Australian foreign minister has ever said that before,' he answered. 'Why would Kevin Rudd say it?'

"'Don't you think that's a question for you to ask Kevin Rudd?' I resonded. 'There are two tapes of that interview - I have one and Mr Rudd's staff have one. Would you like a copy? And Mr Rudd is just over there... '

"Just then Rudd's chief of staff, Philip Green, walked past. I beckoned him over. 'Philip, Mr Rotem is saying Foreign Minister Rudd never called for international inspectors for Israel's nuclear facilities.'

"'He did,' replied green. 'We have no problem with your story.'

"I then went looking for [Michael] Danby, who was also telling people in the room he doubted the story, and explained the same thing to him. Danby then switched his anger from me to Rudd. 'I'm going to take this up with Andrea Faulkner,' he said, referring to the Australian Ambassador to Israel...

"Now that it was clear that the quotes were not made up, the gates of fury opened against Kevin Rudd. The next morning I saw huddles in the foyer of the King David Hotel as different groups from Dadon's delegation discussed the issue.

"Dadon told me that while theoretically Israel should be under the same regime of inspections as anyone else, in reality they should be exempt. He was going to talk to Rudd and insist that he say at his upcoming press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Israel had 'unique' security circumstances'.

"At the press conference, Lieberman addressed the nuclear issue. 'What is important is not whether any country is a member of the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] but whether it is responsible,' he said. 'Israel does not regard any inspector as necessary, as it is a responsible country, and we have proved this for many years.'

"Then came Rudd's turn to speak. He concentrated more on Iran's situation, saying Australia was deeply concerned about Iran's nuclear program. Then he mentioned Israel. 'We recognise... Israel's unique security circumstances... but in terms of our fundamental position on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as it applies to this region... all states should be in, including Israel.'

"And so, while he had restated his position, he had added the words that Dadon told me he had wanted him to add.

"Dadon could not come to the press conference but, knowing that I was going along, telephoned me at home that night. He asked: 'Did Kevin use the phrase 'unique security circumstances?'

"'Yes,' I said.

"'Good.'" (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, 2017, pp 268-71)

For the details as reported at the time, see my 20/12/10 post The Kevin Rudd Road Show 2.

Yet again: BUY THIS BOOK!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Rohingya Nakba

"Amnesty International says it has found evidence of an 'orchestrated campaign of systematic burnings' by Myanmar security forces targeting dozens of Rohingya villages over the past three weeks. The human rights group released a new analysis of video, satellite photos, witness accounts and other data that found more than 80 sites were torched in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State... The UN children's agency estimates about 389,000 people have fled to Bangladesh to escape a military offensive that has been described as ethnic cleansing." (Military burning Rohingya out: Amnesty, The Australian, 16/9/17)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Shout It from the Rooftops!

Could this be the first time in Australian history that the following sentiment has been publicly expressed?:

"For more than 20 years, Australians have read and heard pro-Israel positions from journalists, editors, politicians, trade union leaders, academics and students who have returned from the all-expenses-paid Israel-lobby trips. As someone who has both taken one of these trips when I was the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and then many years later lived in Israel for six years, I am in a position to compare what one is exposed to on these trips and the truth. In my opinion no editors, journalists or others should take these trips: they grotesquely distort the reality and are dangerous in the sense that they allow people with a very small amount of knowledge to pollute Australian public opinion. Those on the trips return to Australia thinking they have some sort of grasp of the place, but they have spent more time in Tel Aviv's most expensive restaurants and cafes and in settlements than looking at the real crisis behind trying to continue an occupation against another people. The effect of these trips is to shore up opinion behind the hardline pro-settlement elements of Israel politics. They allow Israel to avoid the public backlash that objective reporting of their settlement activity would bring." (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, John Lyons, 2017, p 288)

If you haven't yet purchased a copy of Lyons' book, please, do it NOW!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rambamming Works Wonders

John Lyons, former Middle East correspondent for The Australian has reported in his new book that:

"Soon after I arrived in Israel, I asked an Israeli military commander, Lieutenant Colonel Eliezer Toledano, the operations officer for the Israeli Army in the West Bank, whether he regarded the West Bank as 'occupied'. He looked puzzled. I explained that for years the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne had insisted to me that the West Bank was not 'occupied'. 'If this is not occupied then the media has missed one of the biggest stories of your time, our withdrawal from the West Bank,' the commander responded, laughing." (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, 2017, p 279)

The aforementioned "pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne" is, of course, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), organisers of the  'Rambam study visit' to Israel in which Anne Aly and several other federal Labor politicians (Meryl Swanson (NSW), Milton Dick (QLD), Julian Hill (VIC), Steve Georganas (SA) and SA senator Alex Gallacher) participated in March this year.*

Just how successful the visit was in Rambamming home AIJAC's 'not occupied' propaganda line is particularly evident in the report-back responses of Rambamees Meryl Swanson, MP (Paterson, NSW) and Milton Dick (Oxley).

Here's Swanson:

"Like a lot of people, I had watched documentaries and read things and thought, these people [Palestinians] are occupied. I've come home feeling that [view] has somewhat shifted, and that my perspectives are far broader now... I'm now thinking about what I can do in my electorate to form [agricultural] linkages with Israel." (Israel trip empowered MPs, The Australian Jewish News, 4/4/17)

And here's Dick:

"I think terms that are often bandied about - like settlements, occupation, apartheid and the wall - these are all easy catchphrases and cliches to use, and often there isn't a counterbalance given to a lot of those arguments." (ibid)

[*For the record, in addition to the above flock of Labor sheep, AIJAC was also shepherding around, at the same time, a flock of their Liberal counterparts: Tony Pasin (SA) ("Sadly... too much of what we read [in newspapers] is written through a villain and victim prism, and not through the prism of peace."), Nicole Flint (SA), Andrew Hastie (WA), Andrew Wallace (QLD) and SA state shadow minister Corey Wingard.]

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kissing Cousins

Australia's first female Muslim MP, Labor's Anne Aly (Cowan, WA), went on a study tour of Israel in March this year. Apparently, so overwhelmed was she that she's only just now gotten around to unburdening herself on the subject at an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) debriefing in Perth:

"When the opportunity came to visit Israel, I was grateful because I needed to have the experience. I needed to go and see for myself... to actually experience what it was like in Israel rather than fit into some kind of position I should take on any of the issues... I really wanted to formulate my own opinion through my own experience, because nothing replaces the experience of actually being somewhere and having that experience of being there." (WA MP talks of her visit to Israel, jwire.com, 14/9/17)

Ah, the politician's lot. That email/phone call. That knock on the door. What could it portend? Well, blow me down if it isn't an opportunity to visit Israel.

And what a wonderful opportunity that is! Just imagine, you not only get to formulate your own opinion of the Palestine/Israel shindig through your own experience, but have attentive Israel lobbyists on hand to decide where you go and who you speak to, and afterwards whisk you off to all the best eateries in the land. You'd be silly to pass it up, eh?

As it happens, Aly, who had arrived in Australia at the tender age of two, recalled the words of her mother:

"Growing up... my mother always called Jewish people our cousins. Always called Israelis our cousins."

Cousins, eh? Not so much a rambamming as a family visit! (After all, isn't MUM the word?) And, hey, doesn't Mrs Aly's homely maternal wisdom put the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 in a whole new light? Mere family tiffs! And all praise to cuz Anwar for kissing and making up with cuz Menachem at the White House in 1979, cuz since then it's been kissing cousins all the way.

The despair over the Palestine/Israel contretemps that had apparently dogged Ms Aly for all of her 49 years disappeared, I'm pleased to hear, in an instant:

"It's really easy to get caught up in the kind of despair of you know 40 or 50 years of no resolution, but what I saw, what I saw was inspiration. What I saw was people who want to live in peace... "

No, nothing even vaguely resembling a brutal OCCUPATION - just smiling, welcoming Israeli cousins, all apparently cooing 'Shalom ilaykum, cuz' at Ms Aly.

Of course, once blinded by anti-Israel propaganda, she could now see that Mum was right all along:

"The only exposure that I really ever had to the whole Palestine-Israel question was with propaganda. We really need to be vigilant against that, and particularly we need to be vigilant against propagandising the situation to be about Muslim versus Jew. It's not about Muslims versus Jews. Muslims and Jews are cousins."

And the proof in the pudding? Her Israeli cousins tenderly ministering to their fallen-on-hard-times Syrian cousins:

"Dr Aly recalled an emotional encounter at the Ziv hospital in Safed, where Israeli doctors treat victims of the Syrian Civil War. Dr Aly talked about how she became a translator for her fellow MPs [Senator Alex Gallacher, Julian Hill, Steve Georganas, Meryl Swanson and Milton Dick*]. She also reflected on her admiration for the doctors and staff who are treating the injured Syrians."

Now that must've been one, like, almighty emotional encounter for the normally phlegmatic Aly, cuz: "When I was going to the White House people were like, 'Wow you must be so excited to meet Obama' and I was like 'meh'." (Why teenage extremism is personal for Anne Aly, Rachel Olding, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/2/16)

[*I'll deal with these rambammed non-relatives in my next post.]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Way Forward

"The human rights and Palestine solidarity organization, BDS South Africa, welcomes the calling-off of the Africa-Israel Summit which was meant to take place in Togo next month. The decision comes following several boycott threats. This is welcomed as good news by human rights organisations and the global BDS movement which has called for the isolation of Israel over its human rights abuses and violations of international law... Last month it was reported that several countries, including South Africa, were planning to boycott the summit. South African Ambassador Sean Benfeldt explained that South Africa will not take part because the summit was viewed as a step by Israel to normalize relations between Africa and an 'occupation state.' In addition, the head of International Relations for South Africa's governing ANC party, Minister Edna Molewa, is quoted as saying on the issue: 'We cannot turn a blind eye to Israeli efforts to galvanise support from Africa and elsewhere, with a view to undermining the Palestinian cause.' BDS South Africa welcomes the decision and commends South Africa and other African states who were to boycott the summit. However, our governments must continue to resist all Israeli attempts to influence, corrupt or weaken our solidarity with the Palestinians - including attempts, in contradiction to our policies, by some within our own Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The Palestinians were a people that supported us during the darkest days of Apartheid, while Isreal, we painfully remember, was supplying arms to the Apartheid government." (BDS South Africa Press Statement: Israel-Africa Summit called off following boycott threats, 11/9/17)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Avnery Takes Us For a Ride

In support of the contention that age doesn't automatically confer wisdom, I offer the following reflection by birthday boy, Uri Avnery:

"The Arabs were here before we arrived... I still believe that the early Zionists made a terrible mistake when they did not try to combine their aspirations with the hopes of the Palestinian population. Realpolitik told them to embrace their Turkish oppressors instead. Sad. The best description of the conflict was given by the historian Isaac Deutscher: a man lives in an upper floor of a house that catches fire. In desperation the man jumps out of the window and lands on a passerby down below, who is grievously injured and becomes an invalid. Between the two, there erupts a deadly conflict. Who is right?" (A confession: Uri Avnery turns 93, antiwar.com, 8/9/17)

The first 3 sentences indicate either that Avnery has no real understanding of the settler-colonial nature of the Zionist movement or, more likely, is merely having a lend of us. Beyond sad.

Given its settler-colonial nature, at no stage in its history could the Zionist movement have given any serious thought to "combining their aspirations with the hopes of the Palestinian population."

Just to drive home the point, let me quote from an early Zionist document which a reader of this blog kindly referred me to recently. The author of Our Program, Menachem Ussishkin, Secretary of the First Zionist Congress (1897) and head of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) from 1923 until 1941, wrote in 1904:

"In order to create... a Jewish state in Palestine, it is above all necessary that the whole soil of Palestine... should be in the possession of Jews... But how is land obtained in any country? Only in one of the following three ways: by force, that is, by depriving the possessor of his property by violent means; by forced sale, that is, by expropriation (the taking of private property for public purposes) by the state; or by voluntary sale. Which of these three means is applicable in Palestine? The first is entirely excluded. For that we are too weak... "

Not excluded, mind you, because it was morally repugnant, but excluded because the Zionist movement had yet to take up arms and ethnically cleanse Palestine. Ussishkin, btw, would go on, in 1936, to advocate that the Palestinian Arabs be transferred to Iraq.

As for Avnery's "best description of the conflict [with the Palestinians]," Deutscher's fable of the falling man, see Christopher Hitchens' demolition job on that, quoted in my 27/2/14 post George Brandis, 'Hitch 22' and Some Burning Questions.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What an Inspiration She Is!

"The Australian government encourages the people of Africa to see us as an open-cut mine for lessons learned, for skills, for innovation and, I would like to think, inspiration." - Julie Bishop quoted in Australians ripping $40b out of Africa, Eryk Bagshaw, The Sun-Herald, 10/9/17)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Innocent Bystander in Tough Neighbourhood...

... just drops in to say hello:

"Israeli jets flew low over the city of Saida in southern Lebanon in southern Lebanon on Sunday causing sonic booms that broke windows and shook buildings... " (Israeli jets break sound barrier in south Lebanon causing damage, reuters.com, 10/9/17)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Phillip Adams: Normalising Zionism

More muddying of the Palestine/Israel waters by the ABC's Philip Adams:

"We are all, each and every one of us, dual citizens... Just as Muslims pray to Mecca, Australia's Roman Catholics are, in a real sense, dual citizens of Australia and Vatican city. Australian Jews, from the Orthodox to the secular, have a form of dual citizenship with Israel. All diaspora cultures are powerfully connected to the cultures that gave them birth... " (Layers of loyalties, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 9/9/17)

Let's get this straight.

Australian Muslims have no designs on Mecca. They merely face it when praying, and, on occasion, visit as pilgrims.

Australia's Roman Catholics acknowledge the Pope as their spiritual leader. For historical reasons, he just happens to reside in the Vatican.

While Israeli Jews resident in Australia may be said to constitute an Israeli diaspora,  Australian Jews, in general (whether born overseas or in Australia), have no diasporic connection whatever with Israel.

Just because political Zionism pushes the fantasy that all Jews, no matter their ethnicity, origin, or current citizenship, constitute a 'people/nation', and that the Zionist entity known as Israel is the 'national home' of this alleged 'people/nation' does not make it so.

And just because successive governments of this entity have sought to con Jews into emigrating there by legislating an apartheid 'Law of Return' (1950), granting anyone who can demonstrate a biological connection with a Jewish woman automatic citizenship rights, does not mean that Australian Jews are bound by it or have to take it seriously.

Suffice it to say that it is precisely the most ardent Zionists in Australia's Jewish community - Colin Rubenstein, Vic Alhadeff, Michael Danby et al - who never take advantage of this "form of dual citizenship," as Adams puts it, and emigrate to Israel.

The only genuine diaspora associated with the usurping Zionist entity is the Palestinian Arab diaspora. But you'll never hear about that from Adams.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Zionists and their fellow-travellers (think here of Turnbull/Shorten, for example) are always banging on about Israel's alleged lack of security. They discourse endlessly about its need for 'secure borders,' 'security fences,' and about 'living in a tough neighbourhood.'

All bullshit, of course, designed to mask a genocidal reality.

The simple fact of the matter is that ever since the predatory, European settler-colonial movement known as Zionism was introduced into historic Palestine by the British after World War I, it has turned the lives of its indigenous Arab population into a living hell of insecurity and fear.

When next you hear a Zionist droning on about Israel's alleged need for security, spare a thought for the utterly defenceless inhabitants of the tiny West Bank village of Umm al-Kheir:

"Spent the last two days at Umm al-Kheir, a Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills, enjoying the wonderful hospitality, generosity, and loving kindness. This was not my first trip there. And as much as I hate to say it, as with most things in Palestine, things are so much worse than my last visit. The illegal colonial settlement of Carmel belonging to the entity called Israel surrounds the village on almost every side. Some of the tents and housing units are less than 20 feet from the 'security fence'. Housing units in the illegal settlement have increased and more are being built, with plans to take more of the land owned by the village to continue expansion.

"The villagers sit day after day waiting for the illegal occupation soldiers to come with their bulldozers to demolish more of their housing. People speak openly about their discouragement for their future but still stand steadfast, [saying] that they will not be moved or defeated. Our tent was one of those closest to the fence and for two nights we sat up most of the night while Zionists threw stones over the fence at the tent or at anything that appeared to move. The village leader says the violence is increasing all the time and fears that one of these nights something much worse than stones will be thrown. Fortunately, no one was hurt (physically) the past two nights but there was little or no sleep for us or any of the men of the village who sat up keeping an open eye and ear to try to spot the thugs doing this. The commotion would wake up many of the villagers and you could hear the crying of many frightened small children throughout the night.

"This is an every night occurrence and everyone is exhausted, all of the time, and can only catch a few hours of sleep after sunrise. Phone calls to the police of the entity called Israel Police as well as the Palestinian Authority Police are a waste of time. No one will respond to the calls for help to make the settler violence stop. Many Internationals, such as ourselves, go for a few nights (when we have the people to do so) to help with a protective presence but it doesn't stop the ever-increasing settler violence. The Bedouin are a very peaceful people and are committed to nonviolence but they are called terrorists by the Zionists and most of the Zionist-supporting governments of the world (such as the United States). More International presence is needed, and more of the world needs to know the truth." (Two nights in Umm al-Kheir: a journal, palsolidarity.org, 5/9/17)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Israeli Pot to North Korean Kettle

You'd think a UN-defiant, nuclear-armed, apartheid state would simply STFU, but nooo:

"Israel condemned on Monday the hydrogen bomb test carried out by North Korea on Sunday, saying the test 'is a continuation of the defiant conduct' of the country. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement that 'North Korea must comply with all of the Security Council resolutions and refrain from testing and developing weapons of mass destruction and the means to launch them." (Israel condemns North Korea's nuclear test, calls for 'decisive international reaction', Barak Ravid, haaretz.com, 4/9/17)