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Jon Stewart on what journalists should be asking

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

And it’s not pissing off the US military and missing “access”:

Reporters must back war, demands Murdoch man

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

Some journalists, especially in the Murdoch press, see themselves as backers of wars that are invariably “noble”, “important”, “vital” and “about freedom”.

So here’s Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera hammering Michael Hastings after his article on Stanley McChrystal:

While guesting on The O’Reilly Factor tonight, Geraldo Rivera compared writer Michael Hastings (whose article in Rolling Stone published this week effectively brought down General Stanley McChrystal) with al Qaeda terrorists who killed US ally Sheik Massoud two days before the attacks of 9/11, who set back anti-Taliban efforts in Afghanistan.

Paying compensation to all Afghans

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

Democracy Now! interviews three US soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and now returned to be campaigning vigorously against them. The interview takes place at the US Social Forum, an event that received very little mainstream coverage:

VICTOR AGOSTO: Well, I think General Petraeus will be less critical of the Obama administration’s plan than General McChrystal was. And I think this shows that there are strong divisions within the administration as to how to proceed. But in reality, there is no good way to conduct this occupation. What needs to happen is an immediate withdrawal of all American troops. The United States needs to pay for the damages, and the Afghan people have to be allowed to determine their own fate.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did you return—refuse to deploy to Afghanistan?

VICTOR AGOSTO: Because the war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with making the American people safer. It’s really about projecting American power in Southwest Asia. And I didn’t want to be part of that.

VICTOR AGOSTO: It just didn’t make sense to me why we were there, why—why these contractors were making, you know, all this money. And eventually, I started making the connections between that and just the idea of empire. And I realized that what I was doing there was just that, just being a soldier for empire, basically, not to make America or Afghanistan a better place, I mean. So I read some books. I read some Chomsky. I realized that there’s absolutely no American moral superiority. There’s no—we were no one to impose anything on the people of Iraq or Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you get a Noam Chomsky book in Iraq?

VICTOR AGOSTO: I ordered it on

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting. Peter Pace was asked on Meet the Press about a former prime minister—I think it was Jaafari—that he said Chomsky was his favorite author, and Pace said, “I hope he has some other books on his bookstand.” So, you came back. You said no.

Just in case we were worried about Tel Aviv and Washington sharing straws

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

This headline in Foreign Policy’s The Cable says it all:

U.S.-Israel mend fences amid threat of looming U.N. action

Julia Gillard will serve our agendas fine, say Washington and Tel Aviv interests

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

The elevation of Julia Gillard to position of Australia’s new Prime Minister has been welcomed, indeed blessed, by both the Zionist and American lobbies. Gillard can certainly be relied upon to follow her predecessor’s attitude towards the Jewish state and Washington, namely that independent thought is frowned upon and obedience is the necessary Australian way.

Here’s the Australian’s Greg Sheridan:

ANYONE who expects foreign policy to move to the left under Julia Gillard will be disappointed.

In her first interaction with the public as Labor leader, she made a point of saying thank you to the armed forces. “We are a grateful nation,” she said. She acknowledged the sacrifice of our troops and thanked them for keeping us safe, keeping the peace and honouring the US alliance.

You can’t get much clearer than that. It is all part of a well-considered national security persona she has carefully crafted over the past three years.

Gillard is the first figure notionally from the left of the Labor Party to lead the party in government and become prime minister.

The reason there was an informal bar on someone from the Left becoming leader for so many decades was that the Labor Left was tainted by anti-Americanism and, before that, during the Cold War, by an ambivalent attitude to communists in the union movement and a sense of unreliability generally on national security.

Gillard has moved to create her own positive national security identity bang in the middle of the mainstream.

For several years she has been attending the Australian American Leadership Dialogue.

I heard her speak at the State Department in Washington in July 2008 and she was clear and declarative about her attachment to the US alliance, not only for its contribution to Australian security, but – as John Curtin put it – for its contribution to civilisation and civilised values.

Similarly, a year ago Gillard attended the first Australia Israel Leadership Forum in Israel despite a vigorous left-wing campaign to talk her out of attending. As deputy prime minister, she was the most senior figure in the life of the Rudd government to visit Israel. While critical of elements of its settlement policy in the West Bank, she was forthright, strong and effusive about Australia’s friendship with Israel.

Challenged about deployment in Afghanistan during a radio interview, she completely supported Australia’s involvement there.

None of this is to suggest she is a hawk or that foreign affairs have been a central part of her persona.

Her message in foreign affairs and national security is one of continuity and reassurance.

The lady’s not for lurching.

And the Zionist lobby can sleep well:

Jewish leaders welcomed the appointment of Australia’s first female prime minister, who has been supportive of Israel.

Julia Gillard was elected unopposed in a Labor Party caucus meeting Thursday after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd agreed to a leadership ballot triggered by a slump in the polls.

Gillard, from Labor’s left faction, was widely considered an unknown quantity on Israel when she was elected deputy leader in 2006.

But she “stood like a rock during the Gaza incursion [in 2009], reiterating again and again that Hamas began the conflict by rocketing Israel,” said Michael Danby, a Jewish lawmaker in the Labor government.

Dr. Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, agreed.

“Having been to Sderot, unlike so many of Israel’s critics, she understood and defended Israel’s right and need to defend its civilian population against repeated and indiscriminate missile attacks from Gaza,” Rubenstein said.

In a congratulatory letter issued Thursday, Executive Council of Australian Jewry President Robert Goot praised Gillard’s “principled stands” and “close understanding” of Jewish issues.

Gillard, who first visited Israel in 2005, led the Australian delegation in June 2009 to the inaugural Australia Israel Leadership Forum, a high-profile bilateral conference organized by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange. She met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem, and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah.

Rudd, a staunch supporter of Israel, recently had come under fire from Jewish leaders for expelling an official from the Israeli Embassy in Canberra over the Dubai passports affair. Gillard stayed largely silent on the controversial affair.

An election is likely later this year.

British unions at the forefront of moves to isolate Israel

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

The recent news that Britain’s largest union, Unite, agreed to boycott Israeli companies was clearly the beginning of something far bigger:

One of Britain’s largest trade unions passed a motion at its annual conference in Bournemouth last week accusing Israel of lying over the Gaza flotilla incident and has called for a complete boycott of Israel and for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, it was confirmed on Thursday.

Don’t bow to the military men

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

This week’s firing of American commander Stanley McChrystal from Afghanistan was treated by most of the media in the US as the removal of a brave man to be replaced by another brave man, Gen. David Petraeus. Fawning and far too embedded in the mindset of military jargon. After all, what would a simple reporter know about war and conflict?

Some digging would help. Who exactly was McChrystal (we have to rely on London’s Independent to provide the history)?:

They called it the “Death Star” because according to one source who worked inside it, “you could just reach out with a finger and eliminate” somebody. On the walls were banks of television screens, known by the special forces boys as “Kill TV”, where footage from image-intensifier cameras of the enemy being blown up by air strikes, or being gunned down by undercover hit teams was shown.

This place was “the Machine”, a state-of-the-art military command centre hidden away in an airbase in Balad, a desolate stretch of land north of Baghdad. It was created by Major General Stanley McChrystal, the chief of US Special Forces, the most secretive force in the American military. Here, in the permanently darkened communications cockpit, dozens of US and British (SAS) personnel would gather around as nightly raids took place against al-Qa’ida and their insurgent allies.

Sometimes McChrystal would lead the raids himself, his squad of elite undercover combat troops, known as Delta Force, being told at the last minute that the commander was coming along for the ride. No one was quite sure what the Pentagon policy was on two star generals going on such dangerous missions, but then very few people in the US Department of Defence, and even fewer outside it in Washington, were even aware of these shadowy operations going on in Iraq.

Little faith in Gaza of business as usual

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

Israel’s supposed partial lifting of the Gaza siege is treated inside Gaza as the farce it is:

Manal Hassan plucks a date biscuit from an industrial tray, breaks it in half to inspect the filling, and discards it with a shrug of despair. “You see, they allow in dates, but not date paste,” she says, referring to Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Alawda, the factory for which she is purchasing manager, has been forced to find an alternative source for the ingredients for its biscuits, wafers and ice-cream, which it has manufactured in dramatically reduced quantities since the siege of Gaza was intensified three years ago. Most of its raw materials are now illegally imported through the tunnels to Egypt which have become Gaza’s lifeline.

Hopes that Israel‘s announcement last weekend of a relaxation of its blockade might lead to a recovery of Gaza’s shrivelled economy are rapidly evaporating among local businessmen and women – if, indeed, they ever rose.

The practical consequences of the new policy are still opaque, but few in Gaza realistically expect even a trickle of the raw materials essential to revitalise factories like Alawda, let alone a resumption of anything approaching normal import-export trade.

As Hassan tours her half-idle factory in Dair El Balah, she recites a list of banned materials, among them cocoa powder, food chemicals, milk powder, packaging materials and spare parts for machines. “They don’t give any explanation. Can cocoa powder be used to make weapons or rockets?” she asks.

How Murdoch preaches a menu of restraint and compassion

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

A handy reminder of the strong ethical bonds inside the American Murdoch empire.

Obama is an anti-Semitic, Jew-hating, Israel loathing man

Posted: 26 Jun 2010

This is something to savour. An open letter from actor and Republican Jon Voight (father of Angelina Jolie) in the Washington Times:

June 22, 2010

President Obama:

You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only Democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies. You have done just the opposite. You have propagandized Israel, until they look like they are everyone’s enemy — and it has resonated throughout the world. You are putting Israel in harm’s way, and you have promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world.

You have brought this to a people who have given the world the Ten Commandments and most laws we live by today. The Jewish people have given the world our greatest scientists and philosophers, and the cures for many diseases, and now you play a very dangerous game so you can look like a true martyr to what you see and say are the underdogs. But the underdogs you defend are murderers and criminals who want Israel eradicated.

You have brought to Arizona a civil war, once again defending the criminals and illegals, creating a meltdown for good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Your destruction of this country may never be remedied, and we may never recover. I pray to God you stop, and I hope the people in this great country realize your agenda is not for the betterment of mankind, but for the betterment of your politics.

With heartfelt and deep concern for America and Israel,

Jon Voight


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