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Thursday, 30 April 2009

lynch-pin or lynch-mob?

Remember, it is Jewish Voice for Peace who has posted the information this post is drawing on, and the quotes further on come from their MuzzleWatch site. The events that went on at Durban II, and the general co-ordinated campaign to both stifle voices concerned with human rights issues, and the promotion of sensationalistic scaremongering stereotypes of Muslims and countries which are predominantly Muslim is frightening. If a reporter in Iraq was imprisoned by the western-backed judiciary system for throwing shoes at then President George Bush II, then shouldn't those who donned clown wigs and attempted to throw red noses (yes, it sounds ludicrous, and that is the point) at President Ahmadinejad also face some form of punishment? Different countries, I know, but again, if one is punished for speaking out against an inflicter of crimes against humanity, then shouldn't the principle be blanket, or at least the recognition of the actions of the leaders, and the consequences of those actions? Personally, I think neither of the protesters should be punished, except for a possible fine and removal, and revocation of accreditation (in the case of the group at Geneva), keeping within the United Nation's Durban policy rules (particularly as Palestinian groups were totally denied a voice) as initially (in the case of revocation) occurred. But, what was the real motivation of the clowns?

If I were American, and particularly if I were any minority group in America that was not Jewish, I would be angry, frustrated and scared that my voice was being taken away from me by actions such as from the group above and from the kinds of actions detailed in the quotes at the end of this paragraph. Likewise, in Australia, Tom Calma, who is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and acting Race Discrimination Commissioner, was criticised for going to the Durban anti-racism conference because it was claimed he would upset the local Jewish community, which is not necessarily true, as I have outlined in previous posts. Note, the paper that article is pulled from is a Murdoch rag, and it makes no mention at all of Calma's ethnicity,and why it might be very much within his role and interests to attend a conference that was all about dealing with racism.

From Muzzlewatch (my emphasis):
The head of an official NGO alliance at the UN told me groups have an agreement not to protest inside of the United Nations, and that if they do, it is standard practice to revoke the group’s accreditation. When the UN tried to do just that to the European Union of Jewish Students, which disrupted the conference at various moments, the chair boasted that one threat to send out a press statement made all the difference:

Another student group, the European Union of Jewish Students, had learned April 21 that its accreditation was pulled after some members had yelled insults at Ahmadinejad from the gallery.

But the EUJS, which also has formal, permanent accreditation to the United Nations, protested that the entire group shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a few. EUJS Chairman Jonas Karpantschof said he told U.N. officials he would issue a news release if the accreditation weren’t reinstated, and it soon was.

“It would have looked really bad,” he said, “for the U.N. to take away badges from Jewish students on Yom Hashoah at an anti-racism conference.”

Jordan himself feeds the dynamic in the same article, called “Malcolm X’s daughter: ‘Zionist agitators’ bothered at Durban II. The article comes complete with an angry looking photo of Malaak Shabazz, who complained about ““Zionist agitators” at one event who were ” juvenile, nasty and aggressive.” In fact, friends from Canada’s Independent Jewish Voices were in the room when the students were acting in threatening ways and stuck a camera right in Shabazz’s face. One can only assume that as Malcolm X’s daughter, an “angry black Muslim woman”, she was right out of central casting for a depiction of the scary, anti-Semitic, mean Durban Review delegates.

I went to an Israel rally where the audience was exhorted to yell, “I am a Zionist” half a dozen times. But Shabazz, who was literally right when she called these young students “Zionist agitators”, is now part of the massive anti-Jewish hate-fest because she used the phrase
From the JTA article which MuzzleWatch references is this quote from Shabazz. The first sentence is important.
"People confuse Zionism with Judaism, and that's completely unfortunate," she said.

“The Zionists here are making people hate Jews,” Shabazz said. “I was unfamiliar with the tactics of Zionists. But I got a crash course on it here.”
For some of those tactics, there are further posts here, here, here and here from MuzzleWatch.

When I review history, I think the era of McCarthyism was one of the scariest in the U.S. It's not too hard to imagine McCarthyism, or anything similar, devolving into a new Cultural Revolution. One of my Chinese students told me that his grandfather had to go to jail every day, and then return home, during the Cultural Revolution, and from my readings on the frequent humiliations and abuses of the time, he got off lightly. Australia had similar policies to McCarthyism when our then prime minister, Robert Menzies, tried to outlaw communism .

Democracy really is about freedom of speech. It seems to be promoted as one of its lynch-pins. Within the academic circles, at least, within the U.S., it seems few can voice a criticism of Israel without being branded anti-Semitic (commentary here), and it seems that the same climate exists at some institutions in Australia. Something I was very surprised about, especially considering what a small, though vibrant, Jewish population we have. In fact, our Muslim population is far larger. Desmond Tutu was not allowed to speak at a university in St. Cloud, Minnesota, due to pressure from lobby groups (and the woman who organised for him to speak was fired). And as stated before, he is now being branded as racist for his views on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Very worrying times.

Note: 1st May: Some interesting commentary on the endorsement of torture from some quarters.

Note: May 1st, from Counter Punch . The Cases of Margo Ramlal Nankoe, William Robinson, Nagesh Rao and Loretta Capeheart. The McCarthyism That Horowitz Built Dana L. Cloud, 30 April 2009.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

little bits and shirking your democratic principles

Yaay. I read this before, or maybe saw some photos. I will track it and them down tomorrow. For the time being, via Antony Loewenstein and via Ma'an news agency comes this bit of good news:
Palestinian and international demonstrators managed to convince Israeli settlers to re-route a road around a West Bank village on Sunday, a house from demolition.

By nonviolently blocking construction vehicles on their way to build a road in the village of Umm Al-Kheir, the protesters forced Israelis from the settlement of Karmel to change the route of the planned road, according to fieldworkers with the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).
Antony also adds: Relying on US influence to shift this outrage is probably a fool’s game.

It's all those little bits again, though if their sum total was more than the little bits and pieces that Palestinians unfortunately find their lives, pride and day to day life in, then we'd be getting somewhere.


Added May 1st.
Israeli riot policemen violently arrest Feminist activists out side “Ha Yarkon” police station in center Tel Aviv on the 30/4/2009.
50 activists protested the investigation of “new profile” a feminist organization that is active against the militarism in the Israeli society.
Last week, Israeli police raided the house of 7 activists from “new profile”, confiscating computers and arresting the activists for investigation in the suspicion of “promoting draft-dodging”.
Protestors said the investigation is and attack on freedom of speech and against all the radical organizations.
Photo by: Meni Berman/
The harassment and arrest of peace workers in Israel is quite worrying, though. Though not really a new development, though maybe it has stepped up under the new government. Uri Avnery has this post: Witchhunt against peace seekers
"The police assault on activists of 'New Profile' and 'The Center for the Defence of the Individual', the detention of activists, among them grandmothers, and confiscation of computers constitutes a severe attack on the Freedom of Speech in Israel" warns Uri Avnery of the Gush Shalom movement. "The activity of New Profile – an organization which opposes the militarism of Israeli society and gives counseling to Conscientious Objectors – is considered by the police to be 'incitng to shirking' - a severe legal charge.
and Mondoweiss also reported on it yesterday.

This is from a speech Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield made at a pro-Israel rally on the 4th of January, smack bang in the middle of the Gaza slaughter, which he justified.
Israel is a beacon of hope and liberty in the Middle East. It is a great and robust democracy. The people of Israel are free and always will be. And Australia will stand by them.
Free all except the ones who aren't free (let's not even get started on the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails, and then all those fortunate free Palestinians jailed in open air prison Gaza, and living with severe restrictions on movement in the rest of the occupied territories, and even within Israel itself).

They aren't watchtowers, they're beacons.

And Australia will...? *sigh*

Being a patriotic Australian, I guess Fifield is aware of this World War 1 connection of the ANZACs to Palestine. I will blog about it at some point.

Monday, 27 April 2009

the radio plays all australian electronic music to commemorate ANZAC day

During the war that culled the male population of the gold mining town where everyone comes from sooner or later, my grandfather went to Papua New Guinea. Slicing through foliage, vines of wait-a-while thick across his feet, the ground wet and crawling with insects, birds whooping in the trees, he came across skulls hanging in the rain forest. A windchime of skulls clanging in the monsoon.

Japanese they were, though how he could tell I'll never know. Maybe their uniforms were nearby. Maybe one wore a tattered Imperial Army cap that a passing, or slaying, Australian had tipped at a rakish angle. Could be that they weren't really bone yet.

Take them down and bury them, they have mothers too, Nan told me Pop said to his men. A skull has a mother, but in far off Japan would she think of her son as part-skeleton, bleached white, hanging from rattan? In her mind her son is intact. Only in Pop's mind was she the mother of skulls.


Saturday was ANZAC day in Australia (also in New Zealand,Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga). It seems that each year further from the senseless WW1 suicide mission in Gallipoli, the more patriotic the marches get, and the more people join them. We aren't a particularly religious nation. Maybe that is part of it. An adhering to a form of identity.

Poor old Cec', my grandmother's and great aunt, Mag's, brother, died in the mud at Flanders. An old man's name (to me), but a young man's demise. The mud always got a mention. I think anyone reading Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon can imagine it well enough, but I don't know that those poems resonate around the RSL now. I could be wrong. One of their other brothers, Jack, went to fight, under-age. I didn't know Jack. My mother had a lot of time for him, but said that they said that the war had changed him, as it would. He was the most cynical of the brothers, with the darkest sense of humour. They. The ghostly family that hovers around the fringes of the older generation's experience.

On a weekday instead of class, the grade sixes and sevens gathered in the library. My sister is only 18 months older than me, so she was in the year above. We were learning Where have all the flowers gone?, a pretty enough song, but as it came out of our Sing, Sing, Sing book, I always put it up there with Little Boxes, and Windmills of our Mind, which seemed to be important songs a decade before, though they were probably a lot more current than my eleven year old mind gave them credit for. I didn't particularly like the tune. It didn't strike me in the way that this did (couldn't find the Peter, Paul & Mary version. Ironic, cos' they sang the flowers number, too!). And, hey, it was the era of the Sex Pistols, not that I knew too much about that, except that they didn't like the Queen too much and used rude words (bollocks).

My sister started to cry. I guess she listened to the words. No-one knew why she was crying, though I thought it was pretty obvious. My father was called, and he stated he didn't want us to participate in any ANZAC day concerts, memorials, call them what you will, as he viewed them as warmongering. We were pulled out and had to sit in the library on the day of the presentation, this time by ourselves, as the rest of the school either paid respects, or glorified war, depending upon your point of view. I think there was one other boy in there, rifling the Secret Seven and the Famous Five with us, but I am not too sure. Maybe his religious views stopped him from participating, or his folks had the same kind of principles as mine. It was a small school, but in a RAAF area, so students were always coming and going. It was easy to forget someone.

The following year as ANZAC day approached, I wrote an anti-war poem, I guess, in that earnest way twelve year olds have. Maybe it went something along the lines of War. Hnnh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again! . . . In all seriousness (and other such trite phrases) it was a kind of nice balance to the Soldier, by Rupert Brooke, which follows:

The Soldier
Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Lord! Who was our teacher? One year the hippy trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, the next year the fallen Australians and New Zealanders should be ecstatic that school children in the Antipodes were thinking of England whenever they remembered their deceased fathers, brothers, sisters, grandfathers and so on. No wonder Owen was calling out 'Gas, Gas'... we all thought it was a panicked warning, but it was actually a plea. However, maybe it was an ironic (2nd use) selection, because Australian and New Zealand soldiers were most definitely sacrificed at Gallipoli for England's sake.

Digression. The above means that my poem probably went along the lines of War is bad/ It makes me sad/ When someone dies/ I always cry... though who knows, maybe I really was the idiot savant they all claimed me to be, and it was up there with the best of anything that Blake had to offer. When my mum saw the Brooke poem, she told me not to let dad see it or I wouldn't be able to go (to read my poem). Ironic (number 3), really, that 'Where have all the flowers gone?' probably expressed the sentiments he had about war, yet he didn't let us participate in the year it was sung, whereas the year when I was going to be reading, the poem selected was as jingoistic as they come. And not even about our own country.

I was always fascinated with Blackboy Hill. Blackboys are now called Xanthorrhoeas, which is their botanical name, or Grass Trees. I don't think the hill has been renamed, though. It fascinated me because I grew up in a suburb that sprang up in the 60s, yet there were older areas nearby. Greenmount, Helena Valley, Darlington. D. H. Lawrence spent some time getting spooked by the Australian bush in Darlington. See, even when I lived there, no-one lived there, so I could not imagine that there were all of these soldiers in WWI and I suppose WWII who trained up on Blackboy Hill. I can't imagine there was much of Darlington to see when Lawrence popped in. Swan View, just behind Blackboy Hill and Greenmount, was mostly made up of wineries and paddocks. It's all housing nowadays. The Aboriginal history of the land stretches long, and is mostly unknown, and local predominantly white history is almost as unknown. I didn't even know there was a memorial up there, just behind the school, in bushland I sometimes cut through (which has all been divided up now, for houses and St Anthony's church and school). That was probably part of my wonder, too. Despite being surrounded by beautiful areas and some historical points of interest, my parents seemed to mostly live in a cocoon of the house, though we did go to the museum in the city and art galleries and so on. Maybe they had just uprooted and set themselves down in the wrong place. As I said before, the suburb was state housing too; surrounded by areas that weren't. When I turned 13 I was amazed to find that I could leave the fights and broken glass just by walking five minutes up the track. And so the world grows larger.

Blackboy hill is, unsuprisingly, surrounded by Xanthorrhoeas, or it used to be. The mostly young men, boys, heading off, must have been excited and shit-scared. Considering the location, a lot of them must have come from the outlying country towns. A very different Australia existed then, I think, but how can we ever really know what existed?

The following day at school, one of the teachers pulled me aside and said that as my father had been so opposed to my sister and me participating in the ANZAC day proceedings the year before, the school had taken it upon themselves to pull me out of them this year. Oh, I said. Oh, I wanted to read my poem, I thought. Maybe it was actually the poem that did it, though the year before it would have been a perfect match. Maybe we'd had a change of headmaster and he was steering us into more conservative waters. Anyway, the library was not so bad, though I really did want to walk over to Greenmount and check out that area where people trained as far back as the 1940s, and ye gads, even the 1900s. I don't think Johnny Rotten would have understood, but neither would have Rupert Brookes.

One of our teachers taught us how to debate, and I remember pestering him, for weeks on end, to let us debate as to why there should not be uranium mining. I wonder who my opponents were? Another time I was on a team which debated why Western Australia being 150 years old was not such a great thing (it was at the RSL club, against the girls from St. Bridget's). We had lunch there. Some broiled of all flavour kind of corn beef thing with mush vegetables. Either before or after we ate (I'm guessing before) we had to stand up and face a portrait of the queen as the old codgers (but I am sure, distinguished soldiers) sang to God to save Her (Regina). I didn't know the words. My parents' heritage is Irish. I even think that Australia might have adopted a new national anthem (Advance Australia Fair) the year before, though that might have still been in the works.

Anyway, we lost. Our scrappy state school. Our teacher was pretty cool. I remember we didn't wear uniforms, though we looked nice enough (I hated the way I looked, but that was a general state of affairs). St. Bridget's wasn't really up there either on the socio-economic scale, but it was a private school, and they did wear uniforms. My argument against the celebration of 150 years of white rule in Western Australia was that it wasn't really all that wonderful that we had poisoned flour left out for Aboriginal people, and that after killing Aboriginal leader, Yagan (who had also killed a number of white people - he is regarded as a resistance fighter by his people) we sent his head off to England as an "anthropological curiosity", among other atrocities. (I think my Dad might have helped me. When I was ten, I was probably the only girl who knew what plutonium was - that was Mum's doing - radioactive for 500,000 years)

The St. Bridie's girls had the stronger argument, though. Skylab had fortuitously chosen to fall on Western Australia, and we had hosted Miss Universe (replete with stage collapse), and couldn't we see this string? No? That's because it was as full of holes as... You get the picture. They won. By the way, I just found this out about Skylab from Wikipedia:
The Shire of Esperance fined the United States $400 for littering, a fine which remained unpaid for 30 years. The fine was paid in April 2009, when radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio raised the funds from his morning show listeners, and paid the fine on behalf of NASA.
Considering the money individuals and other promoters made from the debris, I guess that's fair enough. Maybe they should have chased up those St. Bridie's gals, who shamelessly used Skylab to further their own cause, and got them to cough up the money (there's a story in there).

My pop, who was in WW2, my mother's father, refused to attend any ANZAC day service for as long as he was alive (however, now that he's dead...). A lot of the returned service men were like him. So, when I think about the stories and the memorials where the names of all the fallen are listed, in town halls and on monuments in the middle of small country towns, it is not the glory, but the loss that strikes home. And what is probably forgotten, between remembrance of loss, and maybe recognition of glory and bravery, is the waste. Nearly every family suffered a death, and many more were affected when soldiers who had been wounded, affected by gas and psychologically scarred returned home. Life wasn't a picnic for the returnees, either.

Same with any war, I guess. Once the war had finished, many people still reeling from the after-effects came from the United Kingdom, and tried to clear swathes of land in the south west in the soldier settler programmes. Ill-equipped, and also often ill (mustard gas'll do that to you), it was a very hard life and many did not succeed. Many did go on to do extraordinary things, though, realising all too well that they only had one life and they should live it as best they could while they had it.

So I think of my sister who found truth in the sentiment of the song, and how she felt so terribly alive that she could cry for those who weren't. And for Yagan, and for the way there seems to be great never-ending waves of destruction and misery throughout history pushing further misery and destruction. Not widespread, or I wouldn't be writing this now and today. But a pocket here, and here, and here. A century here, and here, and here. Spores of war spiralling on the wind, landing where it will, spreading as it may, drawing nourishment and sustenance any way it can.

People become stories and stories become understanding will have some interesting stories and photos on Flanders in the upcoming days, I think. I'll let you explore her blog, if you like. It is beautiful, and will be well worth the visit.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

hand in hand

Uri Avnery's latest column after a few jumps. Here is Ahmadinejad's speech, and here, here, here and here is some commentary on it, and also some commentary on some of his prior comments, (some commentary here on some of Hamas' previous statements, too). Considering Iran has just jailed some bloggers and sentenced them to lashes, and has also jailed an Iranian-American reporter on dubious charges, and these are some of the milder punishments it can and has meted out, he obviously is not the best person to be accusing others.

But, if at Davos, Peres can say None of the crossings between Gaza and Israel, vital crossings, were ever closed, if he can say There was never a day of starvation in Gaza, if he can puzzle over why rockets might be fired, and can deny that Palestinians live in an open air prison, and much more, just 10 days after the all-out carnage that the Israeli war on Gaza wrought, all to rapturous applause, and all to the members of nation states (apart from the Turkish Prime Minister) remaining firmly in their seats, then why was Ahmadinejad's speech so offensive? Particularly as he had, perhaps as a result of an appeal by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon...[cut "The most poisonous phrases"]...of his speech - [read the article] at the last minute.

I don't think we should sit there if Idi Amin were telling us about the wonderful things his government had done for his people and the world either, all the while lecturing us on our wrongdoing, but if we sit there straight-faced listening to, and even applauding Peres' lies, then what the hell is the difference? Deny one group's suffering, such as the international community did at Davos, we may as well deny them all.

I think one has to keep in mind, too, at least according to Baer (I really need to read more), that Iran has rebuilt areas that Israel has destroyed, such as in Lebanon. To many people in the region, Israel has not done much to improve their quality of life, in fact, quite the opposite. I can't say that Iran promises to either, in the long run, nor that their actions are purely philanthropic, but they don't seem to be holding pre-emptive wars or wars of deterrence on the surrounding countries, ripping up infrastructure and building great walls, though I have no doubt that they have plenty of influence in those countries in many ways.

In addition if Israeli forces do the following:

AIC [alternative information center - and Israeli-Palestinian organistation] staff member Mohammad Abu Humus was taken from his home at 3am today by masked members of the Israeli security forces, who stormed and searched his home with drawn weapons. Abu Humus was subsequently brought before a judge, who acquiesced to the police request and extended his detention for 11 days. All of the material and evidence concerning Abu Humus is classified. Abu Humus is accused of involvement in unruly protests against Israeli military actions in Gaza, which he categorically denies, and the classified nature of the evidence for such a minor accusation calls into question the true motives of the Israeli authorities in the detention and interrogation of Abu Humus.

Abu Humus, 43 years old and a resident of the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya, is a long-time political and social activist in East Jerusalem. He is married to Wafa and has four small children, two daughters: Irfat (11) and Shahd (10) and two sons: Anas (8) and Majd (3). He has worked with the AIC since 2006

Attending the court hearing today were Abu Humus’ wife Wafa, members of the Alternative Information Center and additional residents of Issawiya, who came in support and solidarity with Abu Humus.

Wafa noted that “our children were terrified by the masked men with drawn weapons. I asked them how they expect us to live with them in love and respect, when they act like this? They don’t leave us any room for love,” added Wafa sadly.

The detention of Abu Humus is part of Israel’s wider campaign to repress the legitimate right of Palestinian residents and citizens of Israel to protest Israeli actions in Gaza and exercise their right to freedom of expression. Since the beginning of Israel’s military attacks on Gaza, more than 300 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been detained, arrested and taken for interrogation by the Israeli security services. For the past several days, Israeli forces have entered Issawiya every night, detaining prominent political activists.
how is it any different from any other police state?

Not to say that Hamas forces and Fatah forces do not do the same or worse to their own people or each other's organisations - but one needs to look at cause and effect, and the west does not regard them as representatives of a democracy, yet, it claims that Israel is one.

Additionally, Avnery states that [n]ow [Ahmadinejad] wants to penetrate the Sunni Arab world in order to turn Iran into the dominant regional power. Baer (ex CIA and fluent in Arabic) does not deny these intentions, but seems to think that people should actually be looking at who wields more power, and claims that people should be looking more towards the words and actions of the Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i than Ahmadinejad. Incidentally, Baer sees Israel and Iran working together quite well in the region, and sees them as natural allies, particularly as Iran seems to be as pragmatic as it is brutal. Israel still seems to be feeling its way on that score (at least on the pragmatism scale). Anyway, I do not really know that much about Iran, so I am just reporting Baer's sentiments as a prelude to Averny's column. It is as always pretty good. Have a read:

Can Two Walk Together?


I AM not saying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an agent of the Mossad.

Absolutely not. I don’t want to be sued for libel.

I am only saying that were he an agent of the Mossad, he would not behave any differently.

And also: If he did not exist, the Mossad would have had to invent him.

Either way, the assistance he is giving to the government of Israel is invaluable.

LET’S LOOK at last week’s scandal.

Years ago, a conference against racism was convened by the UN in Durban, South Africa. It was natural that such a forum would denounce, among others, the Israeli government for its policy towards the Palestinians – the occupation, the settlements, the wall.

But the conference was not content with this. It turned into a platform for wild incitement against the State of Israel – and only against it. No other state in the world was denounced for violating human rights – and among the denouncers were some of the most obnoxious tyrants in the world.

When preparations were made for a second “Durban Conference”, this time in Geneva, the Israeli government did everything in its power to convince at least the countries of North America and Europe to boycott it. That was not so easy. Well before the start of the conference, the US succeeded in eliminating the reference to Israel in the draft of its final document (leaving only a reference to the resolutions of the first conference), and in the end it decided to boycott the conference anyway. But the European countries agreed to attend.

The Israeli government was anticipating the conference with great apprehension. The atrocities of the Gaza War have turned public opinion in many countries against Israel. The conference could become an outlet for these emotions. The brightest minds in Jerusalem were trying to find ways to prevent this.

And then along came Ahmadinejad. Since he was the only head of state to attend, the organizers could not prevent him from speaking first. He delivered a provocative speech – not being satisfied with criticizing Israel, his words dripped with unbridled hatred. That was a welcome pretext for the European representatives to get up and walk out in an impressive pro-Israeli demonstration. The conference became ridiculous.

If the “Elders of Zion” had planned the conference, it could not have ended better as far as the Israeli government is concerned.

ALL THIS happened on Holocaust Day, when Jews in Israel and all over the world commemorate the millions of victims of the genocide.

The memory of the Holocaust unites all the Jews in the world. Every Jew knows that if the Nazis had reached him, he, too, would have gone to the death camps. We, who were then living in Palestine, knew that if the German general Erwin Rommel had broken through the British lines at El Alamein, our fate would have been that of the Warsaw Ghetto.

All Jews feel that it is their moral duty to keep the memory of the victims alive. To this profound feeling there is added a political consideration: the memory of the Holocaust causes most Jews everywhere to support the State of Israel, which defines itself as the “State of the Shoa Survivors”.

But time passes and memories fade. There is a recurrent need for a present, actual enemy, a “Second Hitler”, who arouses all the latent fears lurking in the Jewish soul. Once it was Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, the “Egyptian Tyrant”. Then Yasser Arafat played this role. Nowadays there is Hamas, but that is hardly sufficient. No way to convince anyone that Hamas could possibly annihilate Israel.

Ahmadinejad is the ideal candidate. He is a consistent Holocaust denier. He declares that the “Zionist entity” must disappear from the map. He is working on the production of a nuclear bomb. This is serious – a few nuclear bombs on Israeli population centers can indeed wipe out Israel.

So we have a “Second Hitler”, who is planning a ”Second Holocaust”. Against him, all the Jews of the world can unite. What would we do without him?

THE PUTATIVE Iranian nuclear bomb fulfills another very important role. It is serving now as an instrument for the obliteration of the Palestinian problem.

Next month Netanyahu will present himself at the White House. That might turn out to be a fateful meeting. President Barack Obama may demand a clear commitment to start a peace process that will lead towards the creation of the Palestinian state. Netanyahu will make a desperate effort to avoid this, since peace would mean the evacuation of the settlements. If he agreed to this, his coalition would fall apart.

What to do? Thank God for the Iranian bomb! It constitutes an existential threat against Israel. It is self-evident that the Israeli Prime Minister should not be bothered with bagatelles like peace with the Palestinians when the Iranian nuclear sword is dangling above his head!

Netanyahu’s predecessors also used this ploy. Whenever somebody raises the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demands that our government start real negotiations, freeze the settlements, dismantle the outposts, release prisoners, end the blockade on the population of the Gaza Strip, remove the roadblocks – the Iranian bomb appears ex machina. No time to think about anything else. The bomb heads our agenda. The bomb is our agenda.

There is a lot of irony in this. Iran has never been the least bit interested in the plight of the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad, too, doesn’t give a damn. Like all other Middle East governments he uses the Palestinian cause to further his own interests. Now he wants to penetrate the Sunni Arab world in order to turn Iran into the dominant regional power. For this purpose, he raises the banner of the Palestinian resistance. But for the time being, he has only succeeded in pushing the Sunni Arab regimes into the arms of Israel.

AHMADINEJAD’S MOST enthusiastic fans sit in the Ministry of Defense in Tel-Aviv. What would they do without him?

Every year, the struggle over the defense budget breaks out anew. This year, with the economic crisis, the debate will be even more acrimonious. Little Israel maintains one of the largest and most expensive military establishments in the world. Relative to the GNP (gross national product), we easily trump the United States, not to mention Europe.

Must one ask why? Israel is surrounded by enemies who are plotting to destroy us! True, Egypt is now the most loyal collaborator of Israel, Iraq has quit the game for the time being, Syria has long since ceased to be a threat. Jordan is humble, the Palestinian Authority dances to our tune. It is hard to justify a giant defense budget for fighting little Hizbullah and tiny Hamas.

But there is Iran, thank God. And there is the fearsome Iranian bomb. Here you have an honest to God existential danger. Our Air Force declares that it is ready to take off any day – no, any minute - and eradicate all the many Iranian nuclear installations.

For that they need money, lots of money. They need the most advanced airplanes in the world, each of which costs many, many millions. They need suitable equipment for reaching the targets and fulfilling the task. That is more important than education, health or welfare. After all, the Iranian bomb will kill all of us – including the children, the sick and the underprivileged. (The tycoons may perhaps succeed in getting out in time.)

The budget will be approved, but the flyers will not fly. It is not clear whether such an attack is at all feasible. Neither is it clear if it would significantly postpone the production of the bomb. But it is clear that such an attack is not possible politically: it cannot be executed without the express confirmation of the US, and there is no chance that this will be forthcoming. The attack would almost automatically cause the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which all the Gulf oil is shipped. That would be catastrophic, especially during a world-wide economic crisis, when a huge rise in the price of oil can cripple the already weakened economies. No, our valiant pilots will have to content themselves with bombing residential neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.

IT COULD be argued: if Ahmadinejad behaves like a Mossad agent, Avigdor Lieberman behaves like an agent of Iranian intelligence.

I don’t say so, God forbid. I really don’t want to be sued for libel.

But Lieberman’s behavior is indeed – how to put it – slightly bizarre.

True, for a moment he looked like a winner. After he sent Hosny Mubarak to hell, the Israeli media reported that the most important Egyptian minister had met with him, shaken his hand and invited him to Egypt. Perhaps he wanted to show him around the Aswan dam, which Lieberman once wanted to bomb. But the next day a furious Mubarak reacted by denying the story and declaring that Lieberman will not be allowed to set foot on Egyptian soil.

In the meantime, an important newspaper in Russia published an interview with Lieberman, in which he asserted that “the US will accept all our decisions.” Meaning: we rule America, Obama will do as we tell him.

Such talk will not increase Israel’s popularity in the White House, to say the least. Especially just now, after it was disclosed that the Israeli Lobby, AIPAC, has asked a congresswoman to intervene in favor of two American Jews indicted for spying for Israel. In return, AIPAC promised to get the Congresswoman appointed as chairwoman of a very important committee. How? Simple: AIPAC will tell the majority leader of the House that if she does not comply. a Jewish billionaire will stop contributing to her election fund. Not a very savory disclosure.

In brief, the Iranian Ahmadinejad and the Israeli Lieberman are Siamese twins. The one needs the other. Lieberman rides on the Iranian bomb, Ahmadinejad rides on Israeli threats.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” asked the prophet Amos (3:3). The answer is: Yes, indeed. These two can very well walk hand in hand without agreeing on anything.

it's a shame these slugs ain't real

On the left photo, taken on the 25/7/2008, Bassam Ibrahim Abu Rahme is seen during a protest in Bilin, flying his kite between two sections of the apartheid fence.
On the right photo, taken on the 24/4/2008, Mohamed Khatib flies the kite of Bassen after he was killed one week before, in front of the apartheid fence in Bilin.
Bassen was murdered by Israeli soliders on the 17/4/2009, during the weekly protest in Bilin.
Photo by: Oren Ziv/
I wrote about Bassem here and here and here. I'm fairly sure Mohamed Khatib was the man trying to negotiate with the Israeli soldiers to stop shooting in the video in this post after Bassem had been critically wounded by a teargas canister shot directly at him from a distance of 30 metres. As for the caption above, it is a bit confusing. I think the 'after he was killed one week before' should maybe be omitted. Visit the active stills photo stream. There are some quite amazing photos such as the ones below. All of the protests against the wall in Bilin that active stills documents are non-violent.

Demonstrators run avoid tear gas shot by the Israeli army, during a protest against the apartheid wall in the west Bank village of Bilin, on the 24/4/2009.
Hundreds of Palestinian, Israelis and internationals protested the murder of Bassam Ibrahim Abu Rahme, which was shot by an Israeli solider on the Friday demonstration last week in Bilin.
Photo by: Oren Ziv/
Demonstrators hold shields to protect themselves from tear gas canisters and rubber coated bullets shot by the Israeli army, during a protest against the apartheid wall in the west Bank village of Bilin, on the 24/4/2009.
Hundreds of Palestinian, Israelis and internationals protested the murder of Bassam Ibrahim Abu Rahme, which was shot by an Israeli solider on the Friday demonstration last week in Bilin.
Photo by: Oren Ziv/
It's nothing to worry about, really. I know that the Australian and western governments use similar techniques to disperse all those people who protest against the Iraq war

Iraq War protest, Los Angeles, 2007

Wait, no tear gas or rubber bullets (remember to check out the size of those tear gas canisters) how about here?
Policeman stands over a white student (an onlooker or protest supporter), while tear gas hangs in the air during the Afro-American Society takeover of Duke University 's Allen Administration Building.[Durham, North Carolina] (photograph by Harold Moore, courtesy of the Herald-Sun).

1976, Soweto Uprising, South Africa

That's more like it. We support this type of suppression of protest in the West, don't we? We have never condemned it, have never supported civil rights, or thought that apartheid was wrong?

I know so much of it is about media coverage. Without media coverage, the hearts of the general populous cannot be won. So I was pleased to see that the following got blanket reportage:

Fourth Bil’in International Conference on Popular Nonviolent Resistance, Bilin, Palestine, 22/4/2009.
A member of “Anarchist against the wall” speaks during the opening of the Fourth Bil’in International Conference on Popular Nonviolent Resistance, on the 22/4/2009.Photo by: Oren Ziv/
Here a member of Anarchists against the wall speaks out at the Fourth Bil'in International Conference on Popular Nonviolent Resistance. Read that word, Nonviolent. I've written it a few times so that it doesn't get lost in the typeset. As said before, I'm glad that it got blanket coverage in the mainstream presses, because nonviolent protest is what it's all about.
Oh, it didn't. . ?
. . . the speaker is a terrorist, or oppressed. That must be the reason. She looks pretty threatening, I must admit. She is probably Israeli, too. There are plenty of Israelis who join in the nonviolent protests. But we all know about that, too, don't we?

And who said Palestinians didn't have a sense of humour?

Fourth Bil’in International Conference on Popular Nonviolent Resistance, Bilin, Palestine, 22/4/2009.

Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad (center), holds an art work made from rubber coated bullets, shot by the Israeli army towards protestors against the wall in the west bank village of Bilin.
The gift was given to him by the people of the village of Bilin, during the opening of the Fourth Bilin International Conference on Popular Nonviolent Resistance, on the 22/4/2009.
Photo by: Oren Ziv/


Hey! I'm back to normal (for today, anyway). It's been a long time coming (try ten years) . . . I will relentlessly blog (but probably not about this, but maybe) after I return from swimming (maybe) for the few who wander by (who am I kidding? for myself - all right, all right already. I'm not denying it). I knew that post 'is your ass covered?' would bring the less salubrious searches by (though, 'one shot, two kills' is no less non-salubrious in its content). Just a kilometre today. Have been sluggish with a dry, but phlegmy (when something comes up!) cough. Have pity on those in the pool after me.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

hey turnbull! pick on someone your own size

NOT my photo
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the frying pan.
It was just going to be a bit of whimsy, however, another refugee boat has been intercepted off the coast of Australia. The mainstream media, and the leader of the opposition, is beating it up as deluge. An interview on rtrfm the other day with Lawyer and Board Member of the Refugee Council of Australia Liz Biok, stated that the number of boatpeople coming to Australia had not greatly increased, though worldwide there was an increase. The cause of this is the incredible hardships now in Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other troublespots, the trouble often exacerbated, or caused by many of the policies that we support (the last is my opinion, Biok did not state this). Not entirely, but this should be considered when we decide if we should accept or reject people. Likewise, we should consider that if our purpose in participating in overseas wars is to bring some form of what we perceive to be a better life to those regions, then we need to accept those who do not have a better life due to the very people, ideas, or belief systems it seems we are officially fighting against. Otherwise we are just hypocrites, and no-one could accuse an Australian of being that, could they?

Biok pointed out that, compared to Europe which is far closer to Africa, the Middle East, and Sri Lanka, the asylum seekers who make it to Australia are a smidgen compared to those in Europe. She states that Rudd's decision to dismantle the Pacific Solution has not had any effect on the numbers, though worldwide, they appear to have risen. She said deteriorating conditions is what is pushing people to leave their countries or an intermediary countries. Many from Afghanistan go through to Pakistan, but anyone who has being paying attention to the media, knows that Pakistan is a terribly dangerous place to be at the moment. Opposition backbencher, Judy Moylan (see below) agrees with her.

Again, in my opinion, considering our close allies, the United States, and their close ally, Saudi Arabia, were the ones to first arm the Taliban, or those who became the Taliban, and other dissident groups when Russia was in Afghanistan, and that the United State's close ally, Saudi Arabia, pours money into fundamentalist madrasa in Pakistan (and not all madrasa are fundamentalist) whose members then go into Afghanistan and of course Pakistan, to implement their beliefs, then we need to be somewhat responsible for the chaos we have helped create. We cannot be such close allies without taking some form of responsibility for the actions, and the ultimate consequences of those actions, of our allies, and our allies' allies (which we presumably support). [See Robert Baer, the Devil we Know, and Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman, the Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif for reports on this].(1 May,2009: also here).

Likewise, some of our close allies, or friends of our close allies have provided Sri Lanka with its weapons, so we need to take some form of responsibility for the people who are displaced by and fleeing from the use of such weapons, or fleeing from the policies that such weapons enforce. Of course, weapons are just another item on the free market, but if we deal in them, and operate on the free market as well, then we need to accept some of the fallout, such as deaths, wounding, destruction, mayhem and people fleeing from the same.

Returning to the interview, many countries are not signatories to the Geneva refugee convention. Within Australia's general region, none of the countries on the path are signatories. Australia is a signatory. Malaysia refuses to recognise any rights of or obligations to refugees, though Indonesia is moving towards it. However, Indonesia has its own problems, too, with internally displaced people, and is fragile politically and ethnically, and is also quite corrupt, Biok states. Due to this, refugees there can be vulnerable. Refugees are always vulnerable. Biok also said that refugees generally speaking don't have the ability, resources or knowledge to know the current Australian policies pertaining to asylum seekers, though the people smugglers might. The opposition disagrees with this point of view, and says that the dismantling of the Pacific Solution is why they are now arriving. Even the sound of that, Pacific Solution, is ominous.

The interview stated that asylum seekers want to go somewhere where human rights are recognised, and most Australians are surely thankful that human rights are generally recognised in Australia. All applicants are screened by ASIO, so, if we trust our security services, then those people who are a threat to the country are not being allowed in. Most people are found to be genuine.

Burns victims from the refugee boat reach Royal Darwin Hospital
There were reports that some of the men on the boat which caught fire last week were some of a number of Afghani refugees who attempted to flee to Australia in 2001. (The fire left 4 dead, and it should be noted that some of the burns of those who survived were reported to be as bad as those of the unfortunate victims of the Bali bombings). In 2001, when the Howard government was in power, the navy turned around a boat of asylum seekers, and took them back to Lombok, where many have been going through applications to come to Australia for 8 years. There is a story here from the United Nations of a man who finally arrived here in 2008 (Iraqi, though, not Afghani). Within Indonesia, safety has deteriorated according to Biok as Indonesians feel resentful and aggressive towards the refugees. The previous article does not support that, but this 2008 article does.

This article from the Australian of a man who has been waiting eight years to arrive in Australia, going through the process, states that none of the refugees were from Lombok. No-one really knows as yet.

But anyone stuck there, after fleeing from their countries, and then finding themselves somewhere where they are not permitted to work legally (according to the Iraqi asylum seeker, though not the report from the West Australian), would feel despair. Biok feels that politicians should not be trying to make capital out of the asylum seekers' tragedy. Of course, the politicians do not focus on the tragedy part of the story. This was reported about Ihsan Abdulrassoul Hassoun, the Iraqui refugee, of his time in Lombok after the Howard government had turned their boat around.

Then followed seven years of limbo, during which Ishan learned to speak Bahasa Indonesia, but could not work legally or settle down in the local community. "During the past seven years I felt sad when I thought about my future life, even though the people around me were very nice," he said.
Another aspect that is not focused on is that many asylum seekers arrive by plane, and are not given the attention by the media that the boats are. I guess the progress of boats can be seen, and when there are the shocking injuries that people sustained after their boat exploded the other day, the story is more sensational, and obviously tragic.

Clearing security in Jakarta's airport, refugee Ihsan Abdulrassoul Hassoun is finally on his way to Australia, the country he had dreamed of for so long. © UNHCR/A.Restu
As stated before, the Rudd government dismantled the Pacific Solution which was the Howard government's policy of processing people on islands miles away from Australia's shores. There was mandatory detention for women, men and children. I wrote about it here. Asylum seekers are still being processed at Christmas Island, which is not terribly close to the Australian mainland either, but no children are being held in detention, now, and temporary protection visas have been abolished, which is good news, as they can and do cause terrible mental anguish. Do unto others... it seems the Golden Rule has been lost on a lot of us, and also the fact that we have signed the Geneva refugee convention.

Biok states that the Pacific solution propped up the Nauru government, cost Australia a massive amount of money, considering that most of the refugees were eventually placed in either Australia or New Zealand, and as said before, caused mental anguish, separated families, and didn't really treat people as humans. Certain backbenchers, such as Judy Moylan in the Liberal government did not support it either. As a matter of fact, the wonderful Ms. Moylan (on this issue) has had this reported about her in relation to the media's current concerns about 'boat people'(not in the popular presses):
A Liberal backbencher who strongly opposed parts of the Howard government's asylum seeker stance has backed the Government's claim that global issues are responsible for a recent spike in unauthorised arrivals and not domestic policy.

Her comments come as Opposition Leader Malcom Turnbull has called on the Government to change its asylum seeker policies, saying they are not working.

Western Australian MP Judi Moylan was part of a group of four dissident MPs who was opposed to the Pacific Solution and the mandatory detention of women and children.

The Member for Pearce says she is happy with the Government's current policies and does not believe they are responsible for the rise
Biok asks that politicians, Mr. Turnbull, Ms. Bishop, stop trying to make political capital out of the situation, and instead look towards their obligations internationally and as human beings.

it's life, bibi, but not as we know it

"If Israelis can’t build homes in the West Bank

then Palestinians shouldn’t be allowed to either."

Let's try paraphrasing that:

"If Americans can't build homes in Canada,

then Canadians shouldn't be allowed to either."

Israel's Prime Minister, Netanyahu. And people wonder why the peace process is stalled. Actually, the peace process is all about stalling, and Israel and the United States (and other western powers) know it well enough.

Nice commentary on Ben White's blog.

is your ass covered?

I pulled this the other day, but Jon Stewart says it better than I ever could, and with more humour, so here it is again, with Mr. Stewart added. Thanks to Antony Loewenstein posting the clip, which was where I first saw it. The rest of the writing and quoting is mine, kinda (in that the quotes aren't mine, but I'm sure you get what I mean).

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
A Brief History of Torture
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Glenn Greenwald, again. I really admire his writing, dedication and thoroughness. This is on President Obama's announcement last week
that he opposes prosecutions of CIA officials who tortured detainees in reliance on OLC [Offiice of Legal Counsel] memos purporting to legalize that conduct (a decision which is not Obama's to make),
'realisation' of which seems to be why he has changed his tune on the situation. Greenwald says
the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, announced that Obama's policy of immunizing CIA torturers violates international law and, specifically, the clear obligations of the U.S. under the Convention Against Torture (signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988)

This morning, I conducted a 20-minute interview with Nowak . . . regarding the specific legal obligations of the U.S. to provide accountability for crimes of torture; how Obama's invocation of the "state secrets privilege" to block torture victims from having a day in court independently violates the Convention; and the detrimental impact that will result for the U.N.'s ability to hold torturers around the world accountable (which is Nowak's prime mandate) if the U.S. announces to the world that its own political leaders who systematically ordered torture will be shielded from all accountability.
The above and final two paragraphs quoted in this post below, from the article, is true. The United Nations is definitely being undermined as seen by Jewish peace group, MuzzleWatch's reporting on the Durban II conference, and once we are without the Geneva Convention, without the United Nations, what do we have? I am not convinced that it is 'Islamic extremists' (though they do exist, along with a whole bevy of other extremists) who are steering us into another dark age. I don't know if the crimes carried out by the west will ever come home to roost in the constant and terrifying way in which we often seem to inflict them (not to say we are responsible for all the crime and terror around the world), but if torture is condoned (and not holding those who have committed torture, and even more so ordered its implementation, responsible is a form of condoning) then the very idea of being compassionate and democratic nations, with equal rights for all, is false. No big surprise there, really, though.

Greenwald cites International law professor, Kevin John Heller who provides an example of a
set of prosecutions by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, as part of The Ministries Case, in which German officials were prosecuted for doing nothing other than stating, when asked, that they had no objection to the deportation of 5,000 Jews from France. Those officials, who were convicted at Nuremberg, did not order the deportation or carry it out; rather, they merely failed, when asked, to object to the policy on the ground that it violated international law.
In harsh war times, when people are under draconian governments and military systems, and when they fear for their lives if they do not follow an order, I do not hold that they should automatically be held responsible for crimes that they have committed, particularly when the case is comply or yourself be subject to harsh punishment, or loss of life, by your own government or institution, but, though the destruction of the twin towers was and is a frightening act of terror, as were the other acts committed on that day, was the U.S. living under a similar, daily, constant cloud of actual violence all throughout Bush's two terms? Likewise, if a CIA official refused his or her orders to torture, would they themselves be subject to great punishment? I know a paper trail was being left (though I'm not sure if it was by the CIA, rather, maybe is was the FBI), as some were very uncomfortable with the acts they were being asked to carry out, and who knows in which ways the government and the CIA really interact?

According to an interview conducted in the 2005 PBS Torture Question documentary with anti-torture author Mark Danner on this actual paper trail, Colin Powell thought it was a
". . .mistake to withhold Geneva Conventions protection; [as it would] put American soldiers at risk." And it [would] also -- and he said this very prophetically -- lead to the degradation of good order and discipline within the American military. He wrote this; he said it. And you see the attitude coming back in the other memos from Alberto Gonzales, from the Department of Justice, essentially saying, "Look, this isn't what we're worried about right now; what we're worried about is getting rapid interrogations." They don't precisely say that, but fighting a new kind of war, a "new paradigm," as Gonzales said. ...
Later, the interviewer states So they become sort of cover-your-ass memos, and Danner concurs:
I think so. Well, there's something more than what might be called cover-your-ass memos. They're also developing a kind of legal justification that permeates throughout the government. You see, for example, in the torture memo, August 2002, huge chunks of that memo were incorporated in the working group on interrogation the following spring that Secretary of Defense [Donald] Rumsfeld organized within the Department of Defense ... so that you have the legal theory being developed and then being incorporated into the military's planning documents.

It's in some ways the miracle of the word processor. You see these things, and there they are, the same paragraphs. So they raced around the government, and you can find them in very many places, not just in the Department of Justice.
Whether these are the same memos or not, they definitely deal with the same moral concept, and with the legalisation of human rights abuses. The type of legal justification referred to above is what is being called on as a defense by the OLC lawyers as referred to by Greenwald below.
Obviously, with the most powerful military in the world, the U.S. has the power to declare itself exempt from international law and to refuse to adhere to its own treaty obligations. We have the power (as distinct from the right) to ignore what the U.N. says about what we do and to refuse to abide by the standards we impose on others. Indeed, that the U.S. can legalize the very same methods that we have long condemned as "torture" when used by other countries was exactly the core argument made by OLC lawyers to justify what they were doing.

But those who spent the last eight years criticizing the Bush administration for ignoring international conventions and legal obligations -- yet who now want to refrain from investigating Bush crimes -- should at least try to reconcile those past criticisms with their current unilateralist, exceptionalism-based arguments against holding our own criminals accountable (
it's different when we do it). And if this is the mentality we're going to adopt -- that we're not bound by our own treaty obligations and need not pay any heed to U.N. positions -- then we probably shouldn't expect that we'll be taken very seriously when we point to international obligations and U.N. pronouncements as a means for claiming that other countries are acting wrongfully.
One has to say about the United States, though, and hopefully Australia, and many other western countries, too, that this information does become available, and that people may have their careers ruined writing about it, or may have their careers enhanced, but, by and large, they do not face the same degree of suppression that human rights activists in many countries in the world do. This, I think, is to be admired. And allowing other countries and people to choose their own governments, and to live their own lives, and to encourage freedom of speech and lifestyle choice and religious choice, is really the view I would prefer the rest of the world have of my country, rather than as it being a supporter of torture, and an actor and upholder in the denial of rights to others. And I know Australia is not the U.S., yet David Hicks was a long time in coming home, and Mamdouh Habib has said that ASIO were implicit in his arrest, detention and torture. Additionally, Rudd's relationship with the U.S. is little changed from Howard's. The greater world is far more aware of the west as influencing global events, than the general populous of the west is aware of how its governments affect the lives of others.

All of the links in the Greenwald quotes are in the original document.

Here is a link to the Office of Legal Counsel memos.

where was man?

A great piece brought to me by MuzzleWatch.
. . . A few years ago in a CNN broadcast dedicated to one of the periodic holocausts in Africa, a Baptist American priest stood before the camera holding a dead baby’s carrier. He said, “People ask where was God during Auschwitz and I want to know where was man.” And I want to know that this man, the man who possesses sufficient compassion to see the horror of others and know they are just like him, that this man is still among us. Perhaps.Read more

Still snow on the mountains

Still dust on the floors

Still the garden yields

an imperceptible score

(c) lizardrinking, 2009.

australia - not one of the 182 states

Last post for the night and for Durban 2. Smith, Rudd, Obama, Clinton (I guess), I hope you are reading this somewhere, but in all actuality, I'm sure that you know all this, anyway, but it is much more fun to have games with smoke and mirrors. I guess that we are proud not to be one of the 182 states who came to a consensus on racism or anti-racism, and adopted it. Must be true what they say about white people, not really ever wanting to share anything with anyone (sorry Obama). It's a shame, because I am white, and I do not feel that way. From the final press statement of Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
If people actually read the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, they would have realized that it includes a paragraph which says that “the Holocaust should never be forgotten”. It includes two paragraphs that denounce “anti-Semitism and Islamophobia”, and one paragraph which mentions the suffering of the Palestinians, their right of self-determination and the security of all States, including Israel, and two paragraphs calling for peace. That’s all there is on the Middle East. And I could not get these corrections published in some important newspapers, particularly in the US, who used the word hate fest without checking these paragraphs.

The final document of this conference – the Conference product, if you like – also says the Holocaust must never be forgotten and deplores anti-Semitism along with Islamophobia and all forms of racism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and related intolerance. But already the propaganda machine is starting to wind up to term this conference a failure, a “hate fest and all the rest of it.” This is extraordinary. Yet no one has really written up the true story of this Conference – a strange rough and tumble affair full of smoke and mirrors, I must admit, yet very definitely a success story, with plenty of good will as well as plenty of bad will of the type I have described just now.


But because of this campaign that was so determined to kill the conference, some countries decided to boycott it, although a few days earlier, they had actually agreed on what is now the final text. I consider this bizarre. You agree the text on Friday evening, and walk out on Sunday. I think, it was unfortunate that a few states disengaged from the process. Although almost all of them had agreed this text, they are not part of the consensus that adopted it. I do hope they will come back into the process now. They can still add their names to the list of 182 states that have adopted the outcome document. And by the way, Iran is part of that consensus. When the final call came, Iran did not oppose the text.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Hillary! Gaza and Hamas are not the same thing!

Hillary obviously hasn't been reading these reports on the banking up of aid not allowed through the borders, fairly recent reports. Nor this report from the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights on the number of Gazans who have died or suffer due to not being allowed to leave the strip to seek medical treatment, and not being able to receive it in the strip due to the blockade. Of course the number seeking medical assistance has increased since the war on Gaza late last year, early this year. The following are D.C. dispatches between Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, from April 22nd.
CLINTON: Congressman, the crossings are no longer completely closed there are many items that are being transported through the crossings there are, as you know, some items that the Israeli government does not permit to cross. We have urged the Israeli government on several occasions to open the crossings as much as they are able commensurate with their legitimate security needs, which you recognized. The best way for us to help the people of Gaza is for Hamas to cease its rocket firing on Israel, to abide by the quartet principles, and the same principles that were adopted by the Arab peace initiative, which I have reiterated several times here today.

ELLISON: Yes you have Madame Secretary and I appreciate you reiterating that but you know 750,000 of the people who live in Gaza are under 18 years old. Gaza and Hamas are not the same thing. There are a lot of people who have nothing to do with Hamas in Gaza and wish Hamas would go away. But, they are living under this, under the same, under these closed crossings and just to point out to you Madam Secretary you know there’s a very tight definition of what constitutes humanitarian aid. I mean, I’ve been there and I’ve seen it’s essentially sugar, flour, cooking oil. Even things like macaroni, lentils and tomato paste and fruit juice were barred. So I’d ask for you to respond to that.
( Read more).
and kudos to Ellison. Also, Hamas kept its ceasefire for almost the full allocated six months before Israel broke it last year, and Hamas also sought to renew it. The ceasefire was contingent on Israel easing the entry and exit of goods into and out of Gaza. Israel never kept their side of the bargain, which is nothing new, and the continued siege prompted human rights groups to warn about an impending humanitarian crisis, which really, is actual, not impending. So, Hils. . . even if Hamas do all you say . . .Israel does not abide by those same principles, as Carter and many Israeli writers have noted, Hamas have offered to negotiate many times, but as Carter has said, the "problem" [is] not his [any] decision to meet with the Islamist group, but rather the refusal of Israel and the U.S. to do the same.

Hillary is happy to let a people live and die under these conditions for the sake of her political career. Because if Hamas were not in power, someone else would be, and you can bet your bottom dollar that she would be trotting out the same rhetoric as above no matter the conduct of the Palestinian people. Whether they violently or peacefully resist, they are shot and live under miserable conditions all the same, and a large reason for that is the support western powers have for imposing and sustaining such conditions, as evidenced above.

"To be honest, most of this aid will never make it to Gaza," a local government official [concerned with the Rafah border] told IPS on condition of anonymity. "A lot of the food here will have to be thrown away."
Human rights organisations have recently said that not only Israel but Egypt, the EU and the U.S. could be in violation of international law for failing to adhere to the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, and consequently violating the basic human rights of Gaza's 1.5 million people - particularly in the post-war period.

Update: 25th April: Just read this article from the Nation.

I am eight months pregnant

Being pregnant, I couldn’t run fast. After about one hundred meters, the settlers caught me. One of them hit me in my right arm and left leg with his stick. The other settler threw a stone at me, which hit me in the left leg. Then one of them pushed me, and I fell onto some thorns. My arm and leg hurt a lot. When I fell, the two settlers left me and ran toward the farmers and other shepherds. I remained there, crying. I was in terrible pain.

After a few minutes, Amneh and Khadrah ran over to me and helped me get up. They lifted me up with the help of the children and laid me on the donkey that we had brought with us, and returned me to the village. I was in such great pain that I thought my arm has been broken. I was still crying when we reached the village. An Israeli ambulance came and the medical team gave me first-aid. Then the Israeli police and two army jeeps of the Civil Administration arrived. I told them what happened. Around 11:00 A.M., a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance came and took me to ‘Aliyah Government Hospital, in Hebron.

At the hospital, they examined me and X-rayed me. They found that my arm was not broken. I was very lucky, and the fetus was not harmed. I remained in the hospital for two or three hours, and then went home. My arm swelled up and I am still in pain, a week after the incident.
A Palestinian policeman at the hospital took my complaint. I did not go to the Israeli police because I don’t feel well enough, and because I need somebody to accompany me to Kiryat Arba to do that
.(Continue reading)

that's all, nothing more

durban 2 - again

From the Jewish Voice for Peace group, MuzzleWatch, in Durban, talking with Palestinian lawyer, Usama Halabi:
"The Palestinian delegation made a big sacrifice for this conference. They omitted every single reference to our case, because other countries were opposed to that. There’s no language accusing anybody of anything. So me, I don’t understood what’s going on."
And pro-occupation Israelis and Americans absolutely did not boycott Durban except in an official sense, and their voice is being heard very loudly, which is what Halabi is referring to. Who made a mockery of this conference, and whose intention was it to make it a mockery? Of course, the outcome of this is that not only is the Palestinian voice not heard, but neither are any of the voices of the other 193(?) countries in the world.

The reporter also has a later post which is interesting. The last paragraph, reflecting her views, says:
Me, I am scared for Israel. For so many reasons. Sometimes I’m terrified- which is why I think the only way to be pro-Israel (and yes, we work with so many phenomenal Israeli justice activists who love their country and work against every last shred of discrimination, repression or inequality both in and outside of its boundaries)…the only way to be pro-Israel is to be anti-occupation. Israel simply must end this occupation now. That of course is the terrible heartbreak about what I’m seeing here today: The American Jewish Congress, Eye on the UN and other groups are not just fueling anti-Semitism by overplaying their hand, they are helping push Israel down a path from which it may never return.

Right now, that concerns me much more than the singling out of Israel in the UN. If Anne Bayefsky, UN Watch et al want to stop the phenomenon, they might try using their resources to pressure Israel to end their occupation
this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr