Categorized | Middle East

A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


Maybe America likes to fail in the Middle East

27 Oct 2010

Steve Walt on Washington’s knowing cluelessness when it comes to Middle East “peace-making”.

Yes, bringing on-board more failed “leaders” like Bill Clinton and Jews like Martin Indyk is going to work.

 

Colombo is being watched and we won’t stop

27 Oct 2010

At least some Western countries want to hold Sri Lanka to account. Australia remains silent, gutless as ever:

David Cameron made clear today that given the serious allegations and alleged evidence that continues to surface in relation to war crimes during the closing weeks of the civil war in Sri Lanka an independent investigation was necessary.

The issue was raised with him by Siobhain McDonagh MP during Prime Ministers Questions. Photos which emerged last week are said to show a massacre of Tamils. The Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris, rejected this evidence as fraudulent. Previously a video, apparently showing government troops summarily executing Tamil men, was examined by the UN Special Rapporteur on summary and extra-judicial executions. His analysis found the evidence credible and strongly suggests the video is authentic.

Ms McDonagh MP also raised concerns over the role of the British PR firm Bell Pottinger, who have been employed by the government of Sri Lanka to rehabilitate their image. They are paying Bell Pottinger in the region of £3million per year – this does not sit well with the fact that the British government have provided Sri Lanka with £13.5m over the past 2 years in humanitarian funding. The Prime Minister has previously spoken of the ‘urgent need to shine the light of transparency on lobbying.’

 

Western politicians prefer to ignore Israel’s inherent racism

27 Oct 2010

My following article appears in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Imagine a mainstream Australian politician saying that Aborigines should be banned from leading tourists around Uluru because they might “present anti-Australian positions” to visitors. The outcry would be furious.

But a bill is currently before the Israeli Knesset, led by a parliamentarian from the “moderate” Kadima party, that would bar Arab residents of East Jerusalem from working as tour guides in the city. Knesset member Gideon Ezra said it was essential tourist groups are “accompanied by a tour guide who is an Israeli citizen and has institutional loyalty to the [Jewish] state of Israel”.

It is just the latest sign in an ever-tightening noose around Arabs from the Zionist mainstream in the self-described Jewish nation. 

Journalist Gideon Levy writes in the Israeli daily Haaretz that no politician “has even begun to think of Arabs as being equal to Jews”. The Israeli Jewish public increasingly shares these authoritarian views. In a study published in the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, 36 per cent of Israeli Jews urged the revoking of Arab voting rights and restriction of free speech in “times of political difficulty”.

Israel is not a democracy for all its citizens but an insecure nation demanding obedience to an ideology that deliberately excludes the legitimate rights of its Arab population.

The occupation in the West Bank is deepening daily, after more than 43 years, with colonies expanding at the fastest rate in two years. The illegal siege on Gaza contributes to Palestinian children suffering debilitating malnutrition.

This is the Israel that Western politicians prefer to ignore. When I recently confronted Opposition Leader Tony Abbott over his blind backing for Israeli “democracy”, he muttered something about the Middle East not being “perfect.” But, I countered, what about Jewish-only settler roads in the West Bank? That was “bad”, he acknowledged, before looking away nervously.

Julia Gillard’s Labor Party shares these delusions. It is one of the reasons that the Independent Australian Jewish Voices group published newspaper advertisements nationally this month demanding the Australian government “exert pressure on Israel to conform to international law and humanitarian standards”.

The growing global concern over Israeli values has been crystallised by the Netanyahu cabinet voting to force non-Jews seeking citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”.

The decision was met with furious indignation from a vocal minority in Israel, not least Palestinians who were being asked to negate their historical rights. Leftist Jewish Israelis marched through Tel Aviv chanting, “Fascism and ethnic cleansing are standing proud”.

In the Diaspora there was virtual silence. Blind loyalty came before defending democratic values. The Achilles heel is its deference to Israeli government decisions, a Maoist-like devotion to a country increasingly delegitimised by its own occupying policies.

One of the main reasons the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign is thriving around the world – alongside the one-state solution idea – is that Israel ignores global demands to change its behaviour. Cultural and economic isolation worked against apartheid South Africa.

Just the latest example of a principled stance in reaction to the loyalty oath, was the refusal of the English filmmaker Mike Leigh to participate in a program at a Jerusalem film school. He also cited expanding West Bank settlements and the brutal attack on the Gaza flotilla.

Leigh was praised by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel for highlighting “the fact that collaborating with institutions of a state that practises occupation, colonisation and apartheid, as Israel does, cannot be regarded as a neutral act …”

No other Western state has tried to introduce anything like the loyalty oath. The oath is on an ever-growing list of anti-democratic proposals before the Knesset, including a one-year prison term for “incitement for the negation of the existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”.

Palestinians and leftist Jews are loathed fifth-columns to be smeared and isolated.

No obfuscation about the supposedly devilish plans of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran or al-Qaeda can distract from the reality of Israel’s inherent racism. The world should stop pumping in funds to perpetuate the infrastructure of oppression.

Antony Loewenstein is a freelance journalist and author of My Israel Question.

 

No laws allows Iraqi deaths at the hands of our private firms

26 Oct 2010

Pratap Chatterjee on Democracy Now! talks about the Wild West of military contracting in Iraq:

Custer Battles had a man whose job it was was to buy guns on the black market. And he explained to me how he would go outside, you know, dressed in local clothes, buy black market guns and supply them. We have now discovered that other companies, like Blackwater, have done the same thing. So there were no rules. There was—you bought guns from the militants. You paid them off. And then you used them against civilians. It was chaos, to say the least. And I think the Bush administration has to take a lot of responsibility for what it did. And I would hope that, like Nick Clegg, the Obama administration would start to investigate these clear violations of international law and Iraqi law and US law.

 

Culture of degradation in Iraq

26 Oct 2010

Britain’s Channel 4 Dispatches on the Wikileaks Iraq revelations. Real journalism, not tabloid fodder. Murders that we created. Watch the Najaf cemetery, the biggest in the world, and its heaving bodies:

 

Dancing the BDS Flashdance

26 Oct 2010

The Philly BDS Coalition dances into action in a local grocery store chain to push them to deshelve Sabra and Tribe of Hummus; both brands support Israeli war crimes. This marks the launch of our campaign: www.phillybds.org

 

Nuclear waste should be placed in the backyard of the multinationals

26 Oct 2010

The idea of dumping nuclear waste material on Aboriginal land is being resisted, and rightly so.

The question unanswered in the ABC Radio piece below is which local and foreign companies would financially benefit from this if it moves forward. I’m investigating:

TONY EASTLEY: Plans to build a national nuclear waste facility in a remote part of the Northern Territory have been further delayed.  

A Commonwealth facility is needed to store waste from Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and discarded nuclear medicines used in hospitals around the country.

As well, the Federal Government is under pressure to build the facility in time to receive spent nuclear fuel rods sent from overseas.

But a Federal Court legal challenge by a group of traditional Aboriginal owners of Muckaty Station, north of Tennant Creek, has left the multi-million dollar project in limbo.

Michael Coggan reports from Darwin.

(Kylie Sambo rap starts)

“Let’s begin our story now. Don’t waste the Territory. This land means a lot to me. Been livin’ here for centuries. This place we call Mukaty”

MICHAEL COGGAN: Rap singer Kylie Sambo is part of a group of Aboriginal people from the Tennant Creek region fighting a campaign against the proposed construction of a national nuclear waste facility at Muckaty Station.

(Song continues)

“.. by the dealings. They been hurting my feelings. I’m a Gurramurra (phonetic), and I should have my say”

MICHAEL COGGAN: The campaigners are opposed to a Federal Government proposal to build the nuclear waste dump on a ten-hectare site on the Muckaty Land Trust.

The Land Trust is overseen by the Northern Land Council.

But a large group of Aboriginal traditional owners of the Land Trust say the NLC failed to consult them as part of the agreement to build the waste dump and they’ve launched a Federal Court challenge.

The court case was listed for a mention this week, but all parties have now agreed to go to mediation.

George Newhouse is the lawyer representing the challengers.

GEORGE NEWHOUSE: It looks as though the parties will be mediating and then the result of that mediation will come back to the Court before the 31st of January next year.

MICHAEL COGGAN: The NLC won’t comment on the mediation, but referred the ABC to their submission to the Senate inquiry into the Labor Government’s new Radioactive Waste Management Bill.

The submission said: The Land Council supported the Ngapa Clan traditional owners who overwhelmingly support the nomination of their country for the Commonwealth’s waste facility.

It also said during consultations in 2006 and 2007 the NLC established substantial support for the waste facility from neighbouring Aboriginal groups on Muckaty Station, with only a few individuals in other groups expressing concerns.

But George Newhouse says his clients have been encouraged by the move to mediation.

GEORGE NEWHOUSE: Well I’ve just come back from Tennant Creek and I can tell you that the clients that we spoke to in Tennant Creek were incredibly pleased that the NLC is mediating this matter with them.

Up until this point they had felt disenfranchised and dispossessed by the process and this is a positive step in their minds.

MICHAEL COGGAN: The Federal Government wants to build a facility before 2014 in time to receive spent nuclear fuel rods from Scotland and France containing Australian uranium.

The Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, didn’t want to comment on the case under mediation but in a statement he repeated a commitment to respect the Court’s decision on who the lawful traditional owners of the nominated site are.

 

What Wikileaks coverage should be avoiding

26 Oct 2010

Many in the mainstream media are defensive about their role in focusing on the personal life of Julian Assange of Wikileaks over the countless examples of abuses and crimes in the latest Iraq logs. Go for it, Assange, against Larry King:

 

Serco watch in Western Australia

26 Oct 2010

With the recent news that Serco will be running a major public hospital in Western Australia, this website has been established to monitor the situation and campaign against it.

 

Yes, Israel, America, Britain and Australia all kill civilians

26 Oct 2010

A story that only Gideon Levy in Haaretz would write. Piercing and spot-on:

The voice of joy, the voice of rejoicing is heard in Israel: The Americans and British have also committed for war crimes, not only us. WikiLeaks’ revelations have inflamed all our noisy propagandists: Where is Goldstone, they rejoiced, and what would he have said? They were relieved. If the Americans are allowed to do it, so are we.

Indeed, the Americans are not allowed, and neither are we. When the traffic police stop a driver for speeding, the argument that “others do it” will not help him. When Richard Goldstone exposes war crimes in Gaza, the claim that “everyone does it” will not help us. Not everyone does it, and when they do, they should be excoriated and penalized.

According to the logic of Israeli propagandists, some of whom are disguised as journalists, Israel should now proudly look at the rest of the world: They killed more people there. There is no need to improve prison conditions in Israel – in China the situation is much worse; there is no need to upgrade health services – in America 50 million people have no insurance; no need to reduce the gap between rich and poor – in Mexico it is greater; we can continue to assassinate without trial – the British also do it; human rights are protected here – the Iranians are much worse; Israel has no corruption – look what’s happening in Africa; the United States has the death penalty – let’s have it too; it is even permissible to kill dissident journalists – look at the Russians.

Yes, war is cruel, the world is full of crimes and injustice, but not one of them exonerates Israel, even if Israel’s sins seem pure as snow compared to those of the great United States. Now is the time to sharply censure America, not to forgive Israel.

It is the task of all patriots and people of conscience to express their fury over any such revelations, especially, of course, in their own country. Israelis must aspire to a more just and much more law-abiding country, without reference to what is going on in the world. True, we are not the worst; far from it. The number of civilians killed in Iraq, as was revealed, is a thousand times more horrific than the number killed in Gaza. So what? Even if the world holds us to a harsher standard, our hands do not become any cleaner. The world is more strict with us for various reasons, some justified, and at the same time treats us favorably and turns a blind eye to many other things. And in any case, the determining factor should be what we see in the mirror, if we look at it honestly.

Our rejoicing propagandists have changed their tactics now: no longer “the most moral army in the world,” a contention any reasonable person can see is ridiculous. Now they say: “We are terrible, like all the rest.” That claim does not hold water, especially because Israel is not judged only by one or another of its military operations, but by its decades-long occupation, with no end in sight. Such a lengthy occupation is unparalleled in the modern world and a disgrace to Israel, no matter what America is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks has proven that in the end the truth will out; it is hard to hide anything in this era. Goldstone also showed it, albeit much less dramatically. Some two years after Operation Cast Lead, even the Israel Defense Forces is still dealing with it here and there, investigating and trying officers and soldiers who did what the Goldstone report, which so infuriated Israel, said they did.

Israel should thank Goldstone, and America should thank Julian Assange. Their revelations prove the futility of war and its crimes. Imagine how much hatred America has sown in Iraq, with its thousands of mourning families, and how much hatred Israel has sown in Gaza, with its thousands of mourning families and its ruination.

How futile are all the assassinations and the torture, abuse and false arrests, with Iraq and Gaza looking as they do.

What are we brandishing? More than 100,000 dead in a terrible, useless war, the whim of a democratic leader? True, George W. Bush should now be sent to The Hague. But the fact that others are doing it, as Assange’s revelations show, is the consolation of fools, and theirs alone.

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