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Thursday 5 May 2011

Small piece

I'm not seeing a lot about the report of Bin Laden's daughter seeing her father captured before being killed. I haven't been scouring the Net a whole lot, though. I'm sure there are multiple reports as Ninemsn is a pretty mainstream media centre (that's where that report was pulled from). Again, I am in no way condoning any of Bin Laden's crimes against humanity, but it is important that the west does not justify the illegality of their actions, against Bin Laden, or anyone else they view as a threat, with a rhetoric which supports the notion that outrageous lawlessness begets and justifies outrageous lawlessness.

This Salon, Glenn Greenwald article points to main media sources in the U.S. repeating White House misinformation, and this one discusses ideas similar to those outlined above.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Legalities and Tactics

"The team methodically cleared the compound moving from room to room in an operation lasting nearly 40 minutes," Carney said.

After media reports quoting officials describing it as a "kill operation," the White House spokesman was pressed hard to explain the apparent contradiction that bin Laden was unarmed but also resisted.

"We were prepared to capture him if that was possible," Carney said, without providing a clear explanation. "We expected a great deal of resistance and were met with a great deal of resistance."

When a journalist insisted: "He wasn't armed," Carney replied: "But there were many other people who were armed in the compound. There was a firefight."

"But not in that room," the journalist pressed.

"It was a highly volatile firefight. I'll point you to the department of defense for more details about it," Carney said.

In addition to the bin Laden family, two other families resided in the compound: one on the first floor of the bin Laden building and another in a second building,

"Of the 22 or so people in the room, 17 or so of them were noncombatants," Carney said.

I'm not saying he was a good guy, he obviously wasn't. It helps Obama's standing in the U.S. if he could bring in Bin Laden, "Dead or Alive" and preferably dead. It doesn't help the world's perception of the U.S. as an arbiter of even-handed justice, which it obviously isn't, but I think it has been more flagrantly apparent over the last 12 years, though it just might be that these are the times I'm living through and therefore I'm paying attention.

If the aim was to escalate tension, then mission accomplished. If it was also to secure another term in office for Obama, then that mission is accomplished too, though I think he could have secured another term in office if he had captured Bin Laden rather than executing him.

He also would have had better international standing and maybe tenets of international law might have been seen to be adhered to, at least. He pledged to capture or kill, apparently, in 2008, and I am glad that 'capture' was in the sentence. The way the media played it, it seemed that the second was his preferred position. Which, as a politician and pragmatist, it probably was.

Oh, hold on, no he was far more clear.
“What I have said is we're going encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our non-military aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants. And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaida. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”
The Second Presidential Debate, October 7, 2008, via PolitFact.

People have to act and react, and the deaths at the world trade centre and in the two aeroplanes that were also hijacked and crash-landed elsewhere are deaths that should not be wished on anyone. The actions of Al Qaeda are not to be condoned. Nothing occurs in a vacuum, though.

The politicians, at least the smart ones, know that. The smart ones know, too, that it's worth their while to not present arguments beyond the last few years, the last few seconds, past the bogeyman hiding under the bed. And as Foucault so rightly supposed, the breeding of fear increases the power of those who are in the position to inflict punishment. In fact, we give them that right and celebrate it in the streets.

International attorney, Geoffrey Robertson QC, the author of Crimes Against Humanity, has had this to say recently:
"It's not justice. It's a perversion of the term. Justice means taking someone to court, finding them guilty upon evidence and sentencing them," he said.
"This man has been subject to summary execution, and what is now appearing after a good deal of disinformation from the White House is it may well have been a cold-blooded assassination."
Mr Robertson says it is an irony that the US has given bin Laden what he craved.
"The last thing he wanted was to be put on trial, to be convicted and to end his life in a prison farm in upstate New York," he said.
"What he wanted was exactly what he got - to be shot in mid-jihad and get a fast track to paradise and the Americans have given him that.
"It's an irony that it's a win-win situation for both Osama and Obama. The latter gets re-elected as president and the former gets his fast track to paradise." [my emphasis]

I am listening to a radio report now which concurs with the point of view that Bin Laden's leadership was dwindling, had dwindled. As this ex-CIA writer states
For Osama bin Laden, violent death must have come as a blessing. It has given him, at least fleetingly, a seeming prominence that in fact had long since ebbed away, not only in the Muslim world, but even within al-Qaeda itself.

The whole summary on, morning magazine, is interesting (May 4th, at about the quarter hour of the first hour if you go in for the restream). The report is also covering how tactically successful, in terms of mounting an operation that resonated with the American people, the U.S. killing of Bin Laden was - but how internationally it has done a great deal to erode Obama's, or his country's, credibility further.

As a killing machine, yes, very efficient. As a country the world should look to for its principles in upholding democracy and implementing humane practice - who believes that any more if they ever believed it? Sure, it's not a tinpot dictatorship, but it certainly, internationally, supports enough of them and employs similar methods to those dictatorships.

The transparency that lets us know that Bin Laden was not armed, and that
"[o]f the 22 or so people in the room, 17 or so of them were noncombatants,"
and that those non-combatants apparently weren't killed, though some injured
"In the room with bin Laden, a woman — bin Laden's wife — rushed the US assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed. Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed"
(she was the apparent 'human shield') is great. Though they've all been whisked away now, and are probably being subjected to the US's "harsh interrogation methods".

The principles of basic human rights and international law were not upheld by Osama Bin Laden, not just in the U.S., but in many countries, including those in the Middle East. In many countries he also symbolised someone who was able to protest against colonialism and imperialism - again, the radio station referred to above, is talking about the hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries since the War on Terror was launched.

The radio programme just asked a nice question - how does a moderate quiet majority go about convincing a greater population that not everyone runs onto the street celebrating death of symbols of "other" when it comes about?

When our media, and to a degree, our governments encourage us to find joy and vindication in such deaths, it seems that ultimately, terror for all, or at least for the quiet moderate majority, is the only winner.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

That's what they're calling torture nowadays

. . . [A] program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in US history.
Torture justified and explained away. No surprise there. A phone call led US to bin Laden doorstep. Not that the method is necessarily effective, but that torture has been sanitised.

Officially sanctioned torture is better than random torture? Bin Laden was caught. Has terrorism, torture, general fear, for people within the U.S. and outside of it stopped as a result? I don't think so.

I think that outlawed methods are now commonplace, and I don't know if the twenty-first century will be a slow encroachment of another dark age or not. In the west, day to day living, is generally nice and easy, and if your country is big enough, there are pockets of population big enough, so that different points of view and lifestyle can exist.

Not so everywhere. And it is not a courtesy that is globally extended, either by the west, by other super powers, by bandits, thieves and rogues. International law stands for nothing. We knew that anyway. But it becomes more apparent day by day.

Ultimately, might is right and the military machine doesn't even need to convince anyone of the validity of its existence. If you don't like it, we've got a secret cell for you in a country, piece of land, far, far away from your home or mine.

Note: May 4, 2011: Glenn Greenwald always says it best:
But beyond the emotional fulfillment that comes from vengeance and retributive justice, there are two points worth considering. The first is the question of what, if anything, is going to change as a result of the two bullets in Osama bin Laden's head? Are we going to fight fewer wars or end the ones we've started? Are we going to see a restoration of some of the civil liberties which have been eroded at the altar of this scary Villain Mastermind? Is the War on Terror over? Are we Safer now?
He goes on to say that they are rhetorical questions and feels that nothing very much is likely to change.

Note, May 5: Glenn Greenwald has more to say on the topic, and very well, as always. From his latest post:
It was striking to note in yesterday's New York Times the obituary of Moshe Landau, the Israeli judge who presided over the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann. It's a reminder that when even the most heinous Nazi war criminals were hunted down by the Israelis, they weren't shot in the head and then dumped into the ocean, but rather were apprehended, tried in a court of law, confronted with the evidence against them for all the world to see, and then punished in accordance with due process. The same was done to leading Nazis found by Allied powers and tried at Nuremberg. It's true that those trials took place after the war was over, but whether Al Qaeda should be treated as active warriors or mere criminals was once one of the few ostensible differences between the two parties on the question of Terrorism.

Sunday 10 April 2011


In the small village of Al Aqaba in the North of Jordan valley, the Israeli authorities demolished two homes and two animal shelters, as well as the tarmac on two roads on 07.04.2011. The village of Al Aaqaba has been targeted for years by the Israeli military, all the structures except 7 homes have demolition order.
Photo by: Keren Manor/

Thursday 10 June 2010

- Pixies rediscover their conscience!

This from a comment on a post on Mondoweiss, from a guy called Jethro:
Jethro June 6, 2010 at 10:59 pmThe list of artists refusing to play Israel is getting longer week by week:

Carlos Santana
Gil Scott Heron
Snoop Dogg
Elvis Costello
The Pixies

We’ll have see what happens with these artists still scheduled to play this summer and fall: Madonna, Elton John, Paul McCartnry, Rod Stewart, Diana Krall.
(My emphasis)
This comment was in relation to a post entitled Israel, your Sun City moment has arrived detailing that the Pixies have decided NOT to play Israel this week on Wednesday.
Mondoweiss links to a JTA article which carries the following information:
Two other groups, Klaxons and the Gorillaz, canceled their scheduled performances in Israel following the deaths of nine activists during clashes with Israeli Navy commandos during the boarding of one of the flotilla's ships early on May 31.

The cancellations come less than a month following the cancellation of British rocker Elvis Costello, who was making a political protest. Costello called the cancellation of his scheduled June 30 and 31 concerts "a matter of instinct and conscience." (My emphasis)
That's a last-minute cancellation on the part of the Pixies, et al. Good. BDS is how the message is going to get across to the world and to the people on the street. I wrote to the Pixies management back when. I know that others did, too. Richard Falk, the Jewish-American United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights called for people to support BDS in a speech heard on Democracy Now (on the radio in my case) in a bid to stop the unnecessary suffering in Gaza, and the other Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The movement seems to be gaining momentum. If popular artists get behind it, then they can circumvent the seemingly official line of the American government, and of the Australian government, of enabling Israel in its human rights abuse, basically. Or at least bring it to the public's attention, something that the media has a lot of trouble doing.

Now I can pull out Doolittle again with a clear conscience.

Oh, that Mondoweiss post also has a video of Roger Waters singing "We Shall Overcome" in support of the Palestinians.

Thursday 3 June 2010

from the mouth of the people, not the mouthpieces of the military

From Harsha Walla on the Mondoweiss blog.
As international outrage spreads at the Israeli elite commando attack on an unarmed humanitarian convey in the middle of the night on international waters, Israel is desperately trying to rebrand the incident as one of self-defence. It is nothing new for Israel, and other aggressing powers, to smear their victims as perpetrators. Afterall, unjustifiable murder is too jarring to stomach.

Yet, Amnesty International released a statement about Israel’s excessive use of force, further stating that Israel’s version of events begs credibility. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaimed the actions of Israel as “completely inexcusable”. According to Craig Murray, specialist on maritime law, “To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal.”

Deported activists tell a horrifying story of the use of electric shock, live ammunition, smoke bombs, gas canisters, beatings, and seizure of all evidence on cameras. Greek activist Michalis Grigoropoulos said, "They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads…There was absolutely nothing we could do." A Turkish woman, with her 1 year old baby, recalls “The ship turned into a lake of blood.”
Read more. (My emphasis).
Do read more. There is far more to know, and the Norman Goldmans, and New York Times of the world will not tell you. Go to Mondoweiss. Go to Jews for Peace. Go to the Israeli papers themselves. Go to Amnesty International. Go to United Nations. Go to Glenn Greenwald. Don't listen to Hilary and the left wing media whitewash it either with excuses or silence. The right wing will of course also just drown out any protests with hyperbole, but what chills me is that the left wing, the traditional school of thought which stands up for the underdog remains absolutely muzzled on this issue. Not everyone, of course, but many of the ones who could influence things a whole lot more remain eerily quiet on this issue. So, who gets informed? Nobody. There are many fine Palestinian sites, too, but go to whichever site or sites you are most comfortable with. There are any number in my blog roll.

The heading of the article from Mondoweiss is: Israel’s spin won’t work this time. But it will. At least in the U.S. and in Australia among the general public. Within America, the popular left-wing radio announcers, such as Norman Goldman are defending Israeli's actions in international waters. Yet the Somali pirates are dennounced for their acts of piracy. I don't know Mr. Goldman's position on the pirates. However, in this case, I don't see how you can defend commandos boarding an unarmed vessel in international waters under the cover of the night. An aid vessel. And shooting 9 people. Dead (an additional six missing).

Within Australia, the news is presenting and buying the same old line that "Israel has the right to defend itself", even when it is not being attacked. I trust Desmond Tutu over Murdoch. I know that the aid flotillas that approach Israeli waters, and which have been boarded in the past are not peopled with terrorists. I know that a former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire were on one of the boats that the Israelis boarded intercepted last year, and I know she was also on another boat that was intercepted very close to, if not during, the outbreak of the war on Gaza (in international waters). I admire these people. I don't view them as liars. Why do they keep trying to break the siege on Gaza if everything is fine within this tiny occupied part of Palestine? And remember to ask yourself, occupied by whom? I wonder why the soldiers did not fire on the boat that the ex U.S. representative was on. Maybe this time, as the boat was Turkish, they felt that international opinion would be in their favour rather than against? Then again, the United States has never got terribly upset when its own people have been hurt by the Israelis as shown by its lack of action, or concern when any of the protesters who have gone to participate in the peaceful demonstrations against the apartheid wall in the West Bank is injured or killed.

Why are these actions called piracy when anyone else in the world does them? Murder, mayhem and so on. Yet, when the Israelis commit them it is all of a sudden self-defense. Hillary Clinton speaks of wanting the Israelis to probe themselves, and everyone knows where that always ends. Not with transparency. Even if the United Nations probed the event, findings would be ignored, and the writers would be vilified, such as happened to the United Nations report written by Richard Goldstone investigating the war on Gaza. He is Jewish, by the way. I think he is a humanist. I don't think he is anti-semitic. He has been branded as such, though.

Why is this group of people, this rogue state, allowed to flaunt the human rights of everyone? Allowed to put the world in a great and grave danger through ongoing aggression and such strong influence on American foreign policy? I am glad that Erdogan is sticking up to them. Of course, he probably will not last long, more is the pity. But the world must be questioning. The punter on the street. No matter how much our politicians whitewash it. No matter how much the media nullifies it. The thinking humanist must be pulling back and saying, "Now, hold on a minute."

For anyone more interested in working towards peace and alleviating suffering, the non-violent Global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement may be the movement for you. Endorsed by Naomi Klein. This is the form of protest that the Palestinians themselves have asked be adopted, and some film-makers, such as Ken Loach, have adhered to the call by pulling his movies out of some film festivals that have had Israeli governmental involvement. Others, such as Naomi Klein, the Church of England and various unions and colleges, have also risen to the occasion. It worked in South Africa. Hopefully it can ultimately work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, because our governments, who support Israel, both diplomatically and with finance, will not do anything until they absolutely feel they have no other choice, as happened in South Africa. And you won't hear about the ongoing human rights abuses in the popular left-wing media, and definitely not in the right.

If you ever had an inkling that things were not quite right, well now might be the time to inform yourselves, because these are our people committing these atrocities, too. The Australians, the Americans who have immigrated to Israel. Why let another country of immigrants do precisely what we did to our own indigenous populations? Maybe because, everything remains exactly the same in the world, and any of the advances that seem to have been made since World War Two are obviously only advances applicable to people from the west, or sympathetic to the west. And even then, a country may be sympathetic to western ideas, or ideas we say we value such as democracy, but it is of no concern to us if it is not prudent to us to honour those ideals. When that happens, we usually support a siege or assassinate the leader and install a dictator. Anyway. We live a very good life, and many people do not, and something can be done about it. Do not believe that it can't.

Monday 31 May 2010

sometimes it gets real-ish

JERUSALEM — The Israeli Navy attacked a flotilla carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and thousands of tons of supplies for Gaza on Monday morning, news agencies reported, killing 10 people and wounding at least 30.

The warships first intercepted the aid flotilla shortly before midnight on Sunday, surprising the boats in international waters, according to activists on one vessel.
The New York Times breaks protocol and reports on some of the atrocities carried out by Israel against Palestine and those who feel that human rights should apply to all. No mention of who bankrolls the attacks, though. Maybe it is just a given that everyone understands what their tax dollars are being used for.

Your activist, my aid-worker, often one and the same. The title description shows that someone shares my point of view. The boats were in international waters. I wonder if Israel's actions are legal under international law. What do you think?

Saturday 24 April 2010


Fisherman shot in the head by Israeli navy while fishing inside the permitted zone.

[ISM] talked to Mr Gora’ani’s brother Nafiz who was anxiously waiting in front of the ICU with a relative and another two fishermen for news about Hazem.

Nafiz was not present when the incident happened and he gave us an account by their brother who was fishing with Hazem and a third fisherman in a small hassaka boat this morning.

They were fishing well inside the Palestinian waters, less than three nautical miles away from the shore with another hassaka, when they were approached by the Israeli speed boat who attempted to kidnap them and take them to Ashkelon.

They panicked and tried to sail towards the coast. In response the Israeli soldiers opened a barrage of fire which critically injured Hazem. A collegue who was present in the hospital told us that there are a number of bullet holes in the hassaka.

A group of Gazan fisherman whom ISM talked with recently told us that Israeli soldiers fire at the fishermen so frequently that incidents are rarely reported if they did not result in serious injury. Only a few weeks ago two hassakas were kidnapped by the Israeli soldiers and destroyed after being taken to Ashkelon, whilst the fishermen were being interrogated and later released.

B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights watchdog group, details restrictions on fishing here. If you Google B'Tselem and fishing there are videos and other information available, also.

Many of us enjoy fishing, have fisher folk as friends, have lost people to the sea. Most of us know that those who like to fish, or who have to fish for a living are usually hardworking, often hard living, individuals, who do not really expect this. Except if you live in Gaza, of course.

Just in case you don't trust a story about kidnapping, B'Tselem, which, I repeat, is an Israeli Human Rights group, has written this at the bottom of their article on fishing rights:
To ensure these rights are not violated, the government of Israel must make public the open-fire regulations relating to the waters off the coast of Gaza, immediately cease the arbitrary detention and abuse of fishermen, and remove the harsh restrictions on fishing. My emphasis.
Any of your family ever have to follow a hobby or make a living under such conditions?


Two years ago Israel’s racial profiling policy made headlines when a member of an American dance troupe with a Muslim-sounding name was forced to dance at the airport to prove he was who he claimed.
This is actually a quote from a news story about two Palestinian brothers who have Israeli citizenship who were subject to Israel's policy of
. . . carry[ing] out its own security checks at [foreign] airports [the countries of which] fail . . . to supervise them [Israel] and prefer. . . to “ignore their discriminatory nature and the human rights violations committed on their own soil”.
The airport in question is JFK in New York.

The brothers were part of a larger group of insurance agents who were "in a party of 17 Israeli insurance agents on a two-week business trip to Canada and New York in 2007." Their Jewish counterparts went through in minutes, but the two brothers were under constant supervision, and chastised and humiliated when they went to the toilet without permission. They are Israeli citizens, and they obviously work in the insurance field within Israel.

They "won 8,000 US dollars in damages from Israel’s national carrier, El Al, after a court found that their treatment by the company’s security staff at a New York airport had been "abusive and unnecessary."

Palestinians make up a fifth of the Israeli population, that is, 20%. In most developed nations in the world, particularly the western ones, the rights of such a large minority group would be fiercely defended by most with liberal leanings, and in most western countries there would be rules in place to protect them. I guess one has to determine whether Israel is a western-leaning democracy with fair rule for all, or not, and also question where its ultimate power comes from.

The article was reproduced in Ma'an News Agency (West Bank based), originally written by Jonathan Cook
a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. A version of this article originally appeared in The National (, published in Abu Dhabi.
I first read this article at the Angry Arab News Service. It is an interesting and short read, particularly regarding the flaunting of immunity offered internationally to many Israeli officials, keeping in mind the recent Mossad assassination of a senior Hamas official on Emirati soil. Foreign passports were forged and used at the time.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

ain't no Sun-City in Israel - Pixies

Pixies are playing Israel.

Here is a Ha'aretz article detailing Israeli human rights groups asking them not to play. I know that Leonard Cohen should have some idea of what goes on in the Occupied Territories. I am hoping that the Pixies do not know, otherwise it is another favourite band struck from the list. I figure that if Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky can know, the Pixies and Haruki Murakami can know. If Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman can know, then surely it's not too hard for other people to get a bit of awareness.

I will include the first few paragraphs of the Ha'aretz article: Israeli rights group to The Pixies: Don't perform in Israel
An Israeli human rights group is urging the American alternative rock band the Pixies to cancel their June 9 concert in Israel.

"As much as some of us are huge fans and would love to hear your show, we won't cross the international picket line that is growing in numbers steadily nowadays to come and see you," the group Boycott! wrote Monday.

The organization urges academics and artists to shun Israeli institutions in protest of the government's policies in the West Bank. "The picket line might not always be visible; yet it is there."

Last month, a group of British academics unsuccessfully called on singer Elton John to cancel his scheduled performance in Israel this June.

I feel that if you stand for human rights for your group, whether it be equal recognition for same sex partners, or due to ethnicity, or just because you feel that all humans should receive fair treatment, then there are times when you need to examine your actions and see if they are not upholding the stifling actions of other. I would love to see the Pixies, too. I think I might have to take references to them down from my other blog. *Sigh* Jews sans Frontieres has this article on Elton John. Worth reading. Ooh, and there is now a facebook page urging him to reconsider playing.

Carlos Santana

However, Carlos Santana made the conscious, conscientious and abiding by his conscience choice to stay away. Cohen and McCartney played. Cohen might need the money, seeing as his manager swindled him out of his life savings, but McCartney? I only hope that ignorance is at the base of their actions.

Artists Against Apartheid have thanked Carlos Santana here:
Artists Against Apartheid and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel would like to extend our thanks to Carlos Santana for honoring the call for the Cultural Boycott of Israel, by electing not to perform in the apartheid state. The call for cultural boycott was successful in creating international accountability for human rights violations in apartheid South Africa, and is now being applied in the case of Israel...

Cultural figures like Roger Waters, Arundhati Roy, Brian Eno, John Berger, and Ken Loach have expanded their advocacy to publicly hold Israel accountable for its human rights violations and war crimes. We hope that Santana, as an advocate of human rights, will join Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others engaged in the nonviolent struggle for equal rights and justice for the Palestinian people in endorsing the cultural boycott of Israel.
Here is a link to the bds movement, boycott, divestments and sanctions. A peaceful way to help end the apartheid, restrictions and human rights abuses that Israel imposes on the people of Palestine

The open letter to the Pixies which is referenced in the Ha'aretz article is available in full here. Will you cross the picket line?

Here is a contact form for 4AD, the Pixies' record label. Why not write them an email, if you feel bds is a viable campaign to peacefully end injustice.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Jewish Voice for Peace, Rachel Corrie's Mother and Mamdouh Habib

According to ISM Palestine, "The Ramallah municipality dedicated a street to Rachel Corrie on 16 March 2010.".

Rachel Corrie

Cindy Corrie

I received the letter below in my inbox from Jewish Voice for Peace and the mother of Rachel Corrie, a former native of Seattle who was runover by a bulldozer, and killed, as it attempted to demolish a Palestinian house. Also, I think it is worth remembering Tom Hurdnall who was actually shot dead by Israeli soldiers as he rescued two Palestinian children who were in the line of their fire (warning shots or something - the soldiers are notorious for firing their rifles for little or no reason). He also died at age 23. Brave people. The big difference in Hurdnall's case, was that, as the website dedicated to him says, ". . .[justice was achieved for]Tom through the unprecedented conviction of [an Israeli] soldier for killing a civilian."

Tom Hurdnall

The letter is as below. The governments of the States and the U.K. it seems have not followed up much on the murders of their citizens. Though there are some interesting questions from Joe Biden here, and this newspaper article in the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, entitled: Corrie’s sister to Haaretz: U.S. encouraged family to sue Israel. In the States a play was made of Rachel Corrie's emails, which are in my sidebar. There were, of course, many protests about the play. The letters are very eloquent, worth reading. Cindy Corrie's letter is as follows:
This month, a civil lawsuit in Israel in the case of our daughter Rachel Corrie will converge with the seven-year anniversary of her killing in Gaza. A human rights observer and activist, Rachel, 23, was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Force (IDF) Caterpillar D9R bulldozer as she tried nonviolently to offer protection for a Palestinian family whose home was threatened with demolition. This lawsuit is one piece of our family's seven-year effort to pursue accountability for Rachel while, also, challenging the Occupation that claimed her life.

On this day, when Rachel's presence is powerful for many of us, we're asking all of our friends to support Rachel's vision of freedom for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip by participating in what we are calling the International Day of Conscience. Please join her struggle by calling the White House today - this link has all the information you need.

Seven years later, Rachel's memory is still vibrant. I'm writing to you from Israel where we are plaintiffs in a civil case against the state of Israel for its responsibility in her death. In addition to seeking accountability through the Israeli court system, we're asking all of our friends to support Rachel's vision of freedom for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip by participating in a national call-in day to the White House.

I hope I can count on you to:

Call the White House at 202-456-1111
Urge Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell to visit Gaza and demand that the United States break the blockade of Gaza by providing immediate humanitarian aid and building materials.
Tell us about your call. Tracking your calls makes a difference.

You can also make the call tomorrow. Please forward this email to help spread the word.

Thank you,

Cindy Corrie

P.S. Click here to view the trial updates page on the Rachel Corrie Foundation website.
I am not in the States, but I urge anyone who is and who believes in human rights to at least think about complying with Cindy Corrie's requests.

In other news, Mamdouh Habib, an Australian resident who was imprisoned in Guantanamo for five years, but never charged,has been granted permission to sue the Australian government, and also won a defamation case against the Daily Telegraph. Habib claims the Australian government were complicit with his arrest and consequential torture. I saw Habib speak in Perth in 2008 and I am glad that he has pushed to speak despite the government trying to silence him. His wife, dressed in the open faced abaya, also spoke and was possibly the more articulate of the two, but both were determined that justice be done. If that link above times-out, please leave me a comment. I have printed the article, and can provide the text.

David Hicks has been too scared to be sent back to Guantanamo, or imprisonment, I guess, and has complied with the order from the U.S. and the Australian government that he not talk about his experience in the prison, even though I think he is now free to. His American military attorney, Lieutenant colonel Michael Mori, is a great man, I feel, and did far more for David Hicks than any Australian government representative ever did.
On November 10, 2006 Mori attended the signing of the Fremantle Declaration by the attorneys-general of the states and territories of Australia. Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock refused to attend. The declaration urges judicial fairness be applied in Hicks' case to protect the legal rights of Australians at home and abroad. Mori said "It's disheartening that federal ministers won't fight for an Australian citizen to have the same rights as an American."[5] (my emphasis).
Let's hope that Habib's attempts continue to come to something so that there might be some transparency and some accountability for the main players, in Australia, at least, during the Bush and Howard years where torture was promoted as a governmental right and a justified practice.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Howard Govt. Rudd Govt. Where's the Difference?

I know that I voted for Rudd because I wanted us to live up to our humanitarian obligations. We are a signatory to the United Nations Declaration that people have a right to seek asylum. I wanted asylum seekers not to be imprisoned, not to be treated as prisoners. I wanted us to stick up for Australian citizens imprisoned by other governments for political reasons, such as David Hicks was. I wanted us not to send back people who had spent all of their lives, bar a few years in Australia, to other countries out of convenience. We claim to be a multi-cultural society. We need to take the good and the bad with that.

Many asylum seekers work very hard to start afresh in a new country, and many are highly educated. We lack skilled workers in Australia, in all fields. Abbott (opposition leader) and others are using asylum seekers and immigration as a political hot potato. Yet, I do not believe that I was alone in voting for Rudd with the idea that he would be less draconian in his policies than Howard. He is an opportunist, but which politician isn't? And some things have changed in policy, but the opposition party claims that the prior governments policy of dealing with asylum seekers (lock em up, deny them legal access, send em back) was working and the would revert to it. Apparently Christmas Island detention centre is almost at capacity, and there is still a boat waiting in Indonesian waters. According to mainstream media surveys, the general public doesn't seem to have much sympathy towards asylum seekers, but neither does the mainstream media.

Why are people who have lived almost their whole lives being locked up, though? It is reminiscent of the Australian citizens (originally from Germany and the Philippines) who were locked up in detention centres and deported, under Howard, despite holding Australian passports.

As an aside, according to the UNCHR site, Iraqis, Afghanis and Somalis top the list of asylum seekers in the industrialized world (Oct 2009). Who, until recently, had troops in Iraq, and who still has them in Afghanistan? If we are going to contribute to destabilising the world, then we need to realise that there will be humanitarian consequences. We are a party to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and have been since 1951, also known as the Geneva Convention. We have global obligations, unless we want to become a rogue state and go alone. There is more information here, but that UNCHR site is the best source.

So the news story below shows that nothing has changed. The scary thing is, that this man has been held in a detention centre for 3 years, yet he has lived in Australia for 27 years and went through the Australian school system and so on. If he had become naturalised, I assume that his civil rights (I know we have no bill of rights in Australia) would be greatly abused by him being kept in detention for so long. The policy is misguided. If he has done wrong, try him by the Australian judicial system, which is the system that he has lived under for the majority of his life, anyway. The other thing, he is not alone. There are another five people in similar situations of prolonged detention - one for seven years. This policy of one rule for us, one rule for them - which I know has always been a policy towards immigrants and asylum seekers, and to a degree, some form of screening is necessary - will ultimately backfire. Whether your point of view be humanitarian, religiously humanitarian, in favour of democracy, or you just ascribe to decency, these policies fail those points of view without a doubt.
Man to be deported after 27 years in Oz

14:59 AEST Wed Mar 10 2010

By Karlis Salna

Authorities are seeking to deport a Cambodian-born man, raised and educated in Australia since arriving as a nine-year-old some 27 years ago.

The unidentified man does not want to return to Cambodia where six of his eight siblings are reported to have been killed.

He says he no longer has any family or other contacts in Cambodia.

A report by the Commonwealth and Immigration Ombudsman, tabled in the federal parliament on Wednesday, reveals his tragic past.

It includes time spent in jail, where he had a history of self-harm that continued after being placed in immigration detention.

In May 2009, a noose was discovered in his room at the Villawood Detention Centre where he has been for almost three years.

"He is recorded as having attempted self-harm a number of times when previously in gaol, including at least one attempt at hanging," according to the Ombudsman's assessment.

While the report concedes the man has not responded well to attempts at rehabilitation, it points out that having been in Australia for the majority of his life, he is basically a member of the community.

"It nevertheless remains relevant that Mr X came to Australia as a child of nine, was raised and educated here, and, despite his poor record as a member of the community, has been part of the Australian community for almost 27 years."

But despite having been here for much of his life, he is considered a non-citizen, and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship wants to "remove Mr X to Cambodia".

The ombudsman has recommended the man be considered for a suitable visa until a decision is made about his long-term immigration status.

He is one of seven individuals the Ombudsman has reported on.

Five of those included in the document have been in detention for more than three years, including one for almost seven years and another for five years and nine months.

Four of the detainees are being held at Villawood while the other three are in community detention.

News alerts: Get breaking news first. Download free ninemsn news alerts now.
© AAP 2010
The news stories often disappear from Ninemsn, hence my duplicating it in full. A link has been provided.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

the little things we can do

What inspires us is everything, especially the things that happen to us back home in Israel — I mean, not the political things,” Monotonix’s singer Ami Shalev said. “… It’s a different culture from here. … So, we got a different vibe, and we try to put it into our shows. That’s what inspires us the most in our shows. Not in the politics or in an angry way about things in Israel; we don’t deal with politics or anything like that. All it is is a vibe about a simple or common people in Israel.” Monotonix, featured in The Badger Herald, February 11, 2009
RTRfm, my favourite radio station, has been featuring this band lately, Israeli duo Monotonix. Here is the Wikipedia report on them. It seems, they have got quite an Indy rep, and I don't know their politics.

I do know, however, that the Palestinian people have requested that BDS be adopted in the hopes that it can eventually end their suffering. The situation in Israel and Palestine is not equal. It is not the Israelis who are being contained behind a huge wall, denied return to their land, denied access to water, who have their lands forcibly settled, who are evicted from their houses and also have their houses demolished. All that one needs to do is to look at the deaths of Palestinians, especially children, compared to the death of Israelis across the years to see that something is seriously wrong. The Israeli human rights site, B'Tselem can easily give you these figures, as can Medicin sans frontieres, or Physicians for Human Rights.

BDS encourages Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It is non-violent in aim and method, and similar methods were very effective and influential in helping stop apartheid in South Africa. Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu have both said that the Palestinians suffer worse apartheid than they ever did. Jimmy Carter also calls the system apartheid. Malcom Fraser encourages dialogue with the democratically elected Hamas, in Gaza, as they have often asked, rather than the Israeli policy of no contact and military action.

Influential Jewish intellectuals such as Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Antony Lowenstein are also shocked by the human rights situation in Palestine (inflicted by Israel) and writers/performers such as Alice Walker, Michael Palin and Haruki Murakami (in a Japanese only essay, I think) have all spoken out against the apartheid that exists there.

Our media in Australia does not cover the injustice that exists in the area. American media doesn't either, so it's not really surprising. Just recently, Stephen Smith, our foreign affairs minister, was saying he would not discuss further development on the use of forged Australian Passport in an Israeli assassination of a senior Hamas member (on foreign soil) as it would interfere with the process. It will get swept under the carpet.

So, the only way that things in that area can change without violence is by the people on the street through support of such movements such as BDS. For example, the Church of England no longer invests in Caterpillar as their bulldozers are used (and some say specifically designed) for demolishing Palestinian houses.

Chomsky has spoken out against BDS. Of course, there are many many many Israelis who are against the human rights abuses that go on in the Occupied Territories, such as ex Knesset member, Uri Avnery, B'Tselem, Active Stills (also on flickr), Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitons and so on. It seems that BDS might also affect those who do not support the occupation as much as those who do. However, the Palestinian people have asked that this method be employed to bring attention to their plight and to hopefully alleviate it, and eventually solve it in a positive way.

Monotonix, according to Wikipedia, left Israel after being banned from venues for their stage show, but they have since returned to sellout shows. I opposed Leonard Cohen playing Israel, too (though, after his collapse, he may not have). It is not like they have made a stand against their state's policies. I know, however, that it is hard to make it in the arts, whatever they be, and it is hard to survive as a community radio station. I appreciate RTRfm for its very existence, and admire both it and Monotonix for striving to get their particular vision out to the world. I am not greatly political, and Monotonix speak for the common people of Israel, but the common people of Israel's way of life is based on the suppression of another people.

RTRfm is a great radio station. It has featured great articles in the past on the injustice in the Occupied Territories, especially on Morning Magazine, though it remained silent on that programme during the incursion into Gaza, or so it seemed (I can't listen to it all the time!). Indy Media, too, features the issue a lot. Morning Magazine has also featured the Israeli point of view; soon after, the Palestinian features seemed to dry up, but that just might be my view of it! I think my favourite Morning Magazine announcer left. To my point of view, though, injustice is injustice, and it doesn't take a degree in rocket science to figure out that basic human rights are seriously being flouted in Palestine, by the Israelis, and in Israel, against the Palestinians, as documented by the United Nations, Amnesty International and other human rights organisations. Though we are lead to believe otherwise, there is not evenhandedness of inflict and conflict in this situation. For example, I am flabbergasted that we supported the demolition of the Berlin Wall, yet are silent on the one snaking its way through the West Bank.

Therefore, why not write a letter to the station, just telling them that you support BDS. Considering the American government provides over 30 billion dollars in foreign aid to Israel, a lot of it in military aid, and that the country has a sophisticated nuclear programme, it is highly unlikely that the western governments will ever seriously address the imbalance that occurs there. You can read through my blog to see the current Australian government's attitude towards it all (and the previous, for that matter).

All we can do are the small things that we can do (except for the extraordinary people, who seem to be able to do so much more). I know this blog is not read by too many, but for the few who do read it, especially Australians, and even more especially, Western Australians, the address is , or the general manager's address is: When I get the studio email address, it is wrong in my contacts, I will try to post it too (* - this address is correct). Not because I feel that the station should not play the music that they wish to play - I have the greatest respect for the station, and it is an integral part of my day (I listen to it over here in Japan, often) - but because I feel that maybe many of the announcers do not know the seriousness of the situation in Palestine. Looking at Banksy's paintings, it isn't the Palestinians holding the guns.

This was Graeme Watson's (RTRfm's general manager) response to my email:
Thanks for the feedback, Israeli garage band Monotonix’s debut album “Where were you when it happened” is our feature album on ‘Drivetime’ this week. Thanks for the feedback, it’s always great to hear what our listeners think of our music selections.

At RTRfm our aim is to play a wide variety of independent music and provide an opportunity for our listeners to hear music that is not usually heard. As far as I’m aware Monotonix are not a political band and the station has a strong policy of non-censorship.

At RTRfm we regularly cover both sides of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict on programs like ‘Morning Magazine’ and ‘Indymedia’ and endeavor to bring insight into conditions in this part of the world to our audience.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

common sense

There are talks, as always, how more exercise and eating well will address the obesity levels in Australia, which might be the highest in the world.

I read a radio report on radio national the other day (I will link it later) about the very successful Life Be in It campaign. It was very popular. Everyone remembers Norm who did all of his exercise from the armchair. It urged the general public to 'Put down the tinnie, switch off the tinne, and go outside for half an hour', or something similar. Again, I'll get the exact quote later. The campaign encouraged everyone to get off their butts for at least half an hour a day and exercise.

The latest reports say that if Australians ate better and exercised more our obesity rates and associated costs would be addressed. Not rocket science.

Apparently there have not been any campaigns like the 'Life Be in It' for a long time. One of the reasons it was so successful was that it was, ironically, on the television, a lot. High rotation, because the government allocated the campaign a large budget. Now a large percentage of the sport and health budget gets channelled into elite sports. It means we have a great swim team and we do very well at the Olympics. This policy came into being after Australia took only one gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Montreal in the seventies. Again, I'll confirm the place later - might not be Montreal. For all of their efforts, we took two gold medals in the Winter Olympics this year. Of course that is an improvement, but is the respect of the world for your international sports team worth sacrificing the general health of your nation? Both could exist, of course, - a public awareness campaign, and the elite sports programme. There is no denying the boost that the prowess of the Australian sports team gives to the Australian psyche, but I wonder about the benefits if our diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease rates are spiralling.

Another thing too, of course, is that I think that GST knocked off a lot of prices of cheap, unhealthy things that you can buy in bulk, and it tended to put cost onto healthy things like vegetables. I might be remiss in that statement, but when I go to the supermarket, it seems cheaper to buy a loaf of sliced whited bread full of nothingness, and a 24 pack of coke where the cans work out to less than fifty Australian cents each. It is tempting. And if you are on a budget, and more so, not that aware of nutrition, even more tempting. There used to be a luxury tax on such things as soft drinks, and there probably still is. Individually, they are very expensive, but in bulk, the supermarkets make them one of the cheapest things on the shelves.

Also, the major chains have a monopoly on the supply of fresh vegetables and the dictate how and what the farmers should grow. Great Irish Potato Famine anyone? Aside from that, the supermarkets therefore control the prices. A lot of people who do not have access to farmers' markets and so on are now growing their own vegetables. We used to have some of the cheapest fruit and vegetables in the world, I felt. Remember, I live in Japan. In the developed world, I will clarify that statement. Now the price of fresh vegetables is ridiculous. Of course, droughts and so on do not help, but if you seek out the smaller markets, the fruit and vegetables supplied are a lot cheaper.

The concern for avoiding litigation, perhaps, if that is what it is, the safety campaigns, I think have also encouraged a lack of interest in exercise. It is great that everyone wears their stack hats when riding their bicycles, but they are also a hassle, especially in our very hot climate, so people, rather than wearing them, just give up riding their bicycles.

Bicycles are not allowed on footpaths and the roads are not that great for them. In Japan, the bicycle riding habits of people can be summed up as dangerous - we ride on the wrong side, on the footpath, down narrow roads - but nearly everyone has a bicycle they can ride, and a lot of people, particularly the elderly and young, use them to get around. Japan is regulating and enforcing its road rules more so now, so I wonder in the future. However, I think that if you make it difficult to exercise, people won't exercise. They'd rather hop in their car to go to the supermarket than take their car (if they live close to a supermarket).

The baby capsules save babies lives in accidents, no doubt. I also wonder, though, about the baby screaming its head off who would benefit from a cuddle from mum or dad, and I wonder whether, especially if a parent is by, generally, herself, she just doesn't bother getting out of the house because of the hassle of strapping the baby into the car then getting her out again. You've seen it in the carparks. It's clumsy, cumbersome and takes forever. So, maybe mum and dad just stay at home rather than going out due to this regulation. I know it is a sensible regulation, but I wonder if the zealousness in which we enforce it damages us ultimately in an oblique way.

In playgrounds nowadays, everything is safe and padded. I cannot remember the last time I saw a see-saw in Australia. The old ones were dangerous, but fun. I remember jumping off and letting my sister crash to the ground, and the same has happened to me. It's not nice. Spinning around on the tractor wheel of the dizzy-wizzy was a blast, but I guess there were maybe too many smashed teeth, and too many suits against the local council. So, play becomes safe, computer play more appealing.

Lessen up on the regulations that are meant to make our lives healthier from a safety point of view, and I believe that our obesity levels would drop due to more people finding it easier to go out and be healthier. It's a spurious claim and can be countered in many ways, I think. But we get so precious with life, sometimes, that we forget to live it, and when our governments and local councils have an investment in this safety at all costs, and at the other end of the spectrum, success at all cost at the high end at the expense of the vast majority in the middle, then I am not surprised that we have become a people akin to a sack of potatoes. Too much monopoly from big business. Too few public awareness campaigns. Too many restrictions, though I do not endorse a complete laissez-faire policy towards general health and associated policies. Life Be In It. Update it. Bring it back. Encourage people to think, and make healthy food affordable.

Saturday 27 February 2010

Did we do anything at the time?

The Australian newspaper said Ali Kazak, a former Palestinian representative to Australia, had warned in 2004 that a Mossad agent in Sydney had obtained 25 false Australian passports.

In March 2004, two suspected Mossad agents were arrested in New Zealand and later convicted for fraudulently trying to obtain passports from the country, prompting diplomatic sanctions.

Highly unlikely.
In full, because these news sites do not keep their articles.

Mossad regularly faked Australian passports: ex-agent
by Talek Harris Fri Feb 26, 9:40 am ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – Israel's Mossad has regularly faked Australian passports for its spies, an ex-agent said on Thursday, as anger grew over the use of foreign travel documents for an alleged assassination.

Former Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky told ABC public radio that the spy agency had used Australian passports for previous operations before last month's hit on a top Hamas commander in Dubai that has been blamed on Israel.

He said agents had little trouble passing themselves off as Australians as few people in the Middle East have much knowledge about the country.

"Consider the fact that Australians speak English and it's an easy cover to take, very few people know very much about Australia," he said.

"You can tell whatever stories you want. It doesn't take much of an accent to be an Australian or New Zealander, or an Englishman for that matter.

"And I know people had been under Australian cover not once (but) quite a few times. So why not use it (again)?"

Australia summoned the Israeli ambassador and warned that the countries' friendly ties were at risk after Dubai police named three Australian passport-holders in a list of new suspects in the murder of Mahmud al-Mabhuh.

Britain, Ireland, France and Germany expressed similar outrage after people holding documents from their countries were also linked to the January 20 killing in a luxury Dubai hotel.

Israel has previously dismissed claims from Ostrovsky, who is now an author and has detailed various accusations against the country in his books.

He said Mossad prefers to use "false flag" passports as Israeli papers frequently invoke suspicion in the Middle East.

"They need passports because you can't go around with an Israeli passport, not even a forged one, and get away or get involved with people from the Arab world," he said.

"So most of these (Mossad) operations are carried out on what's called false flag, which means you pretend to be of another country which is less belligerent to those countries that you're trying to recruit from."

Ostrovsky said Mossad had a "very, very expensive research department" dedicated to manufacturing the fake documents which simulates different types of paper and ink.

"If they create a passport at a top level for use of that nature... I don't think anybody will be able to find the difference," he said, adding there was no chance any of the people named as suspects were Mossad agents.

"Except for James Bond, who actually pronounces or announces his arrival at the scene by saying, 'I'm Bond, James Bond', most people who work in the intelligence field don't present themselves by their real name," he said.

The Australian newspaper said Ali Kazak, a former Palestinian representative to Australia, had warned in 2004 that a Mossad agent in Sydney had obtained 25 false Australian passports.

In March 2004, two suspected Mossad agents were arrested in New Zealand and later convicted for fraudulently trying to obtain passports from the country, prompting diplomatic sanctions.

American website, Tikun Olam has this report on the American-Israeli company which provided the credit cards for the assassins.

Thursday 25 February 2010

very serious

I will try to post more on this later including putting in the full text. Three Australian passports, or stolen passports, identities, have been used in the Israeli murder of a Hamas leader of their militant wing in the United Arab Emirates. I posted about the British and European passports which had also been used by Israel for the same crime, and the fact that they have been doing this for years - picking off Palestinian political figures, left right and centre; disallowing the results of a democratic election. Two different issues, but not unlinked.

On a radio news report today, our prime minister said it is very serious, but I doubt very much that he has the balls to back up the statement. Terrorism is a one-way street in Australia, and there are some people who commit it with very little consequence, and some people who can't. The Israelis will not be affected at all by this. They will just keep doing as they always keep doing, and the rest of the world will pick up the shattered pieces.


Adam Al-Ghawi, 4, after being hit with a stone thrown by a settler occupying his home
From the ISM.

Monday 22 February 2010

Christians with conscience

Donna Mulhearn

I really admire people who stick to the humanitarian beliefs of their religions, such as non-violence and love for their fellow people, enough to go out and try and defend them; both the beliefs and the people.

Naturally enough, I think humanism does not have to have a religious base, and there are enough agnostics and atheists out there who also follow the feelings of their general compassion.

Yet, I really admire those who go to Iraq as human shields, to Gaza as witnesses. There are Muslims, Christians and Jewish groups who are opposing injustice. Some of these might have the hope of converting souls, but more are there because they feel they should abide by the scriptures of their religions which promote peace, love, compassion and are against violence. I think the basis of all religions is actually love. I especially admire them in the face of religious zealotry, which to me, seems to be religion gone wrong or way off the track. If you see Buddha, kill him. Christ is within us. You are the Buddha. Saint Thomas, from what I know, preached belief from inside out rather than the other way around. From the surface understanding of Islam that I have, this seems to have a core principle, even if it might not be adhered to. Know thy own self and act accordingly within the confines of the society you belong to, the world you belong to, seems to me to be the message of religions that somehow gets aborted along the way. I do tend to think that people are more generous than dangerous and mean. I do believe in evolution, and though animals kill one another for survival, I see them live together in harmony when survival is not at stake. I do not think overriding human characteristics are to kill, steal, rape and deprive.

As from the evidence of the existence of Red Crescent and other groups, there are obviously Islamic groups which are also humanitarian in nature, Buddhist, Hindu and so on. Also, groups which are not linked to any religion. Medicin sans Frontieres, Physicians with Borders, Amnesty International to name a few.

Anyway, if you go to Indy-media on this link you can listen to Christian activist, Donna Mulhearn, who has gone to the continuing humanitarian disaster that is Gaza, who has been a human shield in Iraq, who has protested Pine Gap in Australia. She used to work for the Carr government in NSW. She was a political animal for the Australian Labour part at the time. The show is only half an hour, and Mulhearn appears probably in the last five minutes. The whole show is worth listening to, though.

I admire with all of my heart the people who feel that their conscience sends them out to the world to protect other people. I know that faith drives people to destroy other people, too, but I think this is a misinterpretation of faith, or at the least and the most, really, a misinterpretation of the best that human nature can offer and deserves.

Donna Mulhearn is at the Perth Writers' Festival. Good luck to you finding the exact dates! I am crap at navigating sites, but I have to say, a lot of them are not user friendly.

Through Autralian Eyes has this to add about human rights workers. Many of whom work for Christian groups such as Oxfam.

peace lovers

Settlers' tour of the Old City of Hebron, 20.02.2010

An Israeli soldier discusses with an armed settler in the streets of the Old City of Hebron during a settlers' tour on 20.02.2010. Settlers have started to tour the Old City of Hebron every Saturday from last year. They go around the Palestinian Old City with many soldiers. Many of the settlers are armed. They disrupt the lives of Palestinians, often harrassing them on the way. Hundreds of settlers live in Hebron. They make the life of the Palestinians so unbearable that many left the Old City of Hebron. Anne Paq/

Thursday 18 February 2010

Israel is out of control

This isn't the first time they have done this. Mossad agents are procuring foreign passports and assassinating people. The full news article is below under the heading, UK summons Israeli envoy in passport row. In the 90s Mossad agents tried to gain NZ passports using the identity of a tetraplegic man. That news article is fascinating, as is the one from the Sydney Morning Herald linked to below. NZ suspended diplomatic relations with them for a time, but Israel and the U.S. and Australia, and the world politics are so entwined that the diplomatic sanctions did not remain for long (resumed in 2005).

Australian journalist, Paul McGeough tells of the assassination attempt on Hamas leader, Khalid Mishal's,life in Kill Khalid. A Mossad agent, in Jordan, sprayed poison in his ear. Luckily the then king of Jordan was sympathetic towards Khalid and was able to get an antidote from his ally, Israel.

The cue for Kill Khalid is the attempted assassination of the Hamas leader Khalid Mishal in September 1997 by five Israeli agents posing as Canadian tourists. No great drama in that - Israel has been killing, or trying to kill, assorted Palestinian leaders for decades. (My emphasis).
That is a surprisingly honest review by the Sydney Morning Herald. Entertaining, fascinating and sickening, too.

Really, if we, and by we, I mean my government and its strongest allies, just didn't pretend this was all Okay, it might, it just might sit a little better with me. Why condemn one country for wrongdoing while blatantly supporting another? Government is dirty. Not a doubt. But I feel upset when the people who represent me do so with such smarmy hypocrisy. Way of the world, though.

People wondered how the Holocaust could happen. It really isn't that hard to see why. Not because of any religious reasons, but because those in power do not actually care if injustice occurs unless it is in their own backyards, and even then, I am sure there are any number of politicians who would not mind seeing laws put in place to protect civil rights disassembled, in the way that a lot already have been over the last ten years.

The article below is from Ninemsn and is in full as they pull their archives down, but I will provide a link.The picture is from this Times Online Slide show . The picture shows the suspects involved in the assassination. All were travelling on false passports. As was the Hamas man assassinated.

UK summons Israeli envoy in passport row
Thu Feb 18 2010

Britain has invited Israel's ambassador to the Foreign Office to discuss the use of fake British passports by suspected killers of a top Hamas figure in Dubai, a spokesman says.

"Given the links to Israel of a number of the British nationals affected, there will be a meeting between the FCO Permanent Under Secretary and the Israeli ambassador tomorrow," said the spokesman on Wednesday.

Speculation about who was behind the killing of Mahmud al-Mabhuh last month has centred on Israel's Mossad intelligence services, which have used agents with fake foreign passports for such operations in the past.

Dubai's police chief this week released the photos and names of the 11 European passport holders - six from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France - alleged to have been members of the hit squad.

"The defrauding of British passports is a very serious issue. The government will continue to take all the action that is necessary to protect British nationals from identity fraud," said the British government spokesman.

He added that, as well as inviting the Israeli ambassador to discuss the issue, Britain is providing support to its nationals involved, thought to be mostly dual nationals living in Israel.

"The British embassy in Tel Aviv is contacting the affected British Nationals, and stands ready to provide them with the support that they need," he said.

In addition "as the (British) prime minister has said, we need to ensure a full investigation is carried out into the fraudulent use of these passports," he added.

Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency "will lead this investigation, in close co-operation with the Emirati authorities," he said.

Earlier, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged a "full investigation" into how fake British passports were linked to the killers of a Hamas chief, amid calls for Israel to explain its role.

"We are looking at this at this very moment," he told London's LBC radio on Wednesday, a day after Britain said it believed six British passports held by members of an 11-member hit team which killed Mahmud al-Mabhuh were fraudulent.

"We have got to carry out a full investigation into this. The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care," he told London's LBC Radio.

"The evidence has got to be assembled about what has actually happened and how it happened and why it happened and it is necessary for us to accumulate that evidence before we can make statements."

Mossad is facing questions over the killing of Mabhuh, a founder of Hamas's armed wing, as at least seven Israelis of dual nationality said their identities were stolen by the assassins.

Dubai's police chief this week released the photos and names of the 11 European passport holders - six from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France - alleged to have been members of the hit squad.

Menzies Campbell, a member of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, said answers were needed over "speculation" about the involvement of Israel's Mossad secret service in the killing in Dubai last month.

"If the Israeli government was party to behaviour of this kind, it would be a serious violation of trust between nations," said Campbell, a former leader of Britain's third biggest party, the Liberal Democrats.

"If legitimate British passport holders were put at risk it would be a disgrace...

"Given the current speculation, the Israeli government has some explaining to do and the ambassador should be summoned to the Foreign Office to do so in double-quick time."

Another lawmaker, Hugo Swire of the main opposition Conservatives, also demanded a "full investigation".

"These allegations against the Israeli government need to be answered... I have no evidence one way or another. I have read all the allegations and the denials. It is an easy allegation to make," he said.

"This is not something that can just be swept under the carpet because of the bad feeling it is going to create in the Arab world.

"You cannot conduct foreign policy at this extremely sensitive time by this sort of illegal behaviour," he added.

The last line resonates: "You cannot conduct foreign policy at this extremely sensitive time by this sort of illegal behaviour." In less sensitive times it's Okay? And of course they can. They did it before, not once, not twice, countless times, they'll do it again, because there will be no sanctions or punishment ever levelled against Israel as they are levelled against the countries, states and territories which are supposedly, relentlessly, curtailing and impeding its every activity.

If that were the case, then this obviously wouldn't be happening, right? Israel can do whatever they want. They know it, and the world knows it, and why? Mainly because they receive a heap of foreign aid, and have great influence in the media and government of the United States. Other countries are allies of the United States, and are as culpable, even if their foreign aid might not reach the staggering proportions that the States does. Even so, Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries, seem to have policies in place which do not openly commend every action of Israel. It would be nice if there were a bit more balance in the media. Or something in the media.

The British court was pressured into not prosecuting Tzipi Livni when she came to the U.K. Israel was up in arms. The court wanted to try her as a war criminal. The foreign ministry put pressure on the court to withdraw the action. Why should Israel listen to any protests the British government has now? It, as well as most of the other western governments, is basically wrapped around its finger. Long live democracy.

This article from Times Online, Britons had passport details stolen by ‘Mossad death squad’ is far more comprehensive than the above.

Friday 5 February 2010

Tuesday 2 February 2010

the olive branch

A Palestinian walks next to an Israeli jeep with an olive tree on the lands of Jubbet ahd Dhib Theeb as part of a solidarity action to reclaim the lands in danger of confiscation by the settlers, on 01.02.1010. Around 20 Palestinians came to help farmers in a isolated area next to the settlement of Noqedim. 50 olive trees were planned to be planted but ithe [sic] solidarity action was stopped by settlers and Israeli soldiers. As soon as they started to plant, a car of armed settlers came with dogs and threatened the group, declaring that "this is our land". The Israeli army arrived and asked everybody to leave the area within 5 minutes, claiming that the owner should first go to the Civil administration to prove ownership. Journalists were also prevented to document. Palestinians living in this area are very isolated and subjected to constant harassment by the settlers. Photo by: Anne Paq/

A related story on the cutting down of olive trees by settlers.


Further to the story below, there is a woman who is seven months pregnant on that boat. She was four months when the boat first entered Indonesian waters. Apparently the people on the boat are all highly skilled professionals, especially in the medical fields. Lord knows,Australia has a shortage of such individuals. A very good radio interview with one of the advocates can be heard here. It is the first interview of the programme.

Saturday 30 January 2010

these are human beings, they are not live cattle

Two Australian human rights workers recently expelled from Indonesia

Kevin Rudd was elected, I believe, not only because Australians were fed-up with the Howard government's inaction on environmental issues, but also because a sizable portion were disgusted with the Howard government's attitude towards people seeking asylum and the general erosion of human and civil rights masquerading as taking measure against terrorists. Some enhanced security is no doubt necessary, but not at the cost of deleting rights for all.

Well, initially it seemed Rudd was doing pretty well with the closure of processing centres in Narau and the abolishing of mandatory detention for most asylum seekers, and the abolishing of keeping children and women in detention camps. Christmas Island is still going strong, though, and there has been a stand-off with Tamil asylum seekers who refuse to leave a boat in Indonesian waters. The boat was intercepted at the request of the Australian government.

Our media just beats it up as an invasion of the hordes kind of issue. I have put the article in whole below, because, Ninemsn does not keep it's news up forever. As always, I go to the hard-hitting sites, right? Anyway, the last line from one of the refugee advocates really drives home how we should view the issue of asylum seekers, I think:
"These are human beings you know, they are not live cattle," Ms Curr said.

"The RSPCA would intervene if live cattle were being kept in these conditions."
This legendary generosity Australians are meant to have? As long as it's not in our backyard. But, with a less sensationalistic media slant and with a more human touch, the human would be acknowledged and accepted. Our times are probably softer than they were a thousand years ago. Softer in the sense of fairer, and more aware, more interested in human rights as outlined by the United Nations after the Second World War. I feel, however, that in many ways it is a far more intolerant and selfish world than it was say even twenty years ago. Mass media plays a large role in the fostering of such righteous ignorance I feel. After all, how many Australians actually know anything of the slaughter that just recently occurred in Sri Lanka and from which the Tamils were fleeing?

Deported Aussie says Indonesia fed up
17:13 AEST Sat Jan 30 2010
By Adam Gartrell
Two refugee activists deported from Indonesia say the Indonesian government is fed up with Australia's inaction on the asylum seeker standoff at Merak, and will never again intercept a boat at Canberra's request.

Saradha Nathan and Pamela Curr, who touched down in Sydney on Saturday morning, say the Indonesian government deported them as a warning to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to resolve the ethnic Tamils saga.

More than 240 asylum seekers were intercepted by Indonesia at Australia's request in October 2009, and do not want to come ashore because they fear they will be forced to wait years for resettlement.

They are refusing to disembark and have staged a hunger strike and threatened to torch their boat to draw attention to their plight.

Indonesia has asked for Australia's help to resolve the standoff, but Australia insists it is Indonesia's problem.

Refugee advocates including Ms Nathan and Ms Curr believe Australia should offer the asylum seekers a rapid resettlement deal like the one it used to coax 78 Tamils off the Oceanic Viking last year.

Ms Nathan, a Tamil community activist, and Ms Curr were in Indonesia to meet with officials to organise humanitarian aid for the Tamils.

They say they were intimidated, detained and deported for no reason.

They also claim the Indonesian government made false claims against them, including that they had entered a restricted zone around the boat where NGOs and media are no longer allowed.

"They keep changing the story," Ms Nathan told reporters at Sydney Airport on Saturday morning.

"They just wanted (a reason) to say humanitarian workers shouldn't be coming there, that the plight of the Tamils should not be observed."

Ms Nathan said officials from Indonesia's department of foreign affairs told her they did not want to warehouse Australia's refugees and are frustrated that the government hadn't taken responsibility.

"I think Indonesia is trying to give a message to the Australian government by harassing Australian citizens," she said.

Ms Curr said officials went further.

"The senior department of foreign affairs official was quoted in the BBC as saying this is the last time we will do this for Australia - they also said exactly the same thing to us in a private meeting on Friday morning," she said.

The official in question was Foreign Ministry spokesman Sujatmiko, who uses only one name.

The women have called on the Australian government to act immediately before the appalling conditions on the boat worsen.

"These are human beings you know, they are not live cattle," Ms Curr said.

"The RSPCA would intervene if live cattle were being kept in these conditions."

© AAP 2010

Another article on the processing times for asylum seekers on Christmas Island.
this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr