Topic: human rights
The Daily Telegraph is an interesting and wicked beast.
We haven't properly read the Alex Mitchell story in the crikey ezine yesterday lambasting the idea of a Rees leadership challenge yet. Mitchell is a long time thenFairfax colleague in the press gallery to one Simon Benson of rival News Corporation/Sydney Daily Telegraph.
But judging from the ezine headline Mitchell was rubbishing Simon Benson's claims about newbie Premier Rees. [Having read the Mitchell story now actually Mitchell is not rubbishing Benson so much as other former colleagues at The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald, and giving credence to Benson's speculation today by identifying Frank Sartor (new family, babe in arms etc) as the Right's potential candidate.]
Now the front page blowtorch by Benson wit serves several purposes regardless of merit or truth:
- it undermines the Left of the Labor Party, probably gratuitiously as the traditional enemy of the right wing Tele
- it implicitly sledges Alex Mitchell as a traditional rival, when at Fairfax SunHerald, but even more so now that he is at crikey.com.au ezine. Crikey was founded by 'a traitor' to the conservative cause in Stephen Mayne ex News Corp himself who dared to attack conservative Premier Kennett (another ex employer) and set up a rival arguably still 'minor' media outlet to the Big Media dinosaurs (particular Telegraph's sister paper Herald Sun in Melbourne).
- it draws the public's attention away from their colleagues and allies in the Friends of Israel/pro Iraq war/anti Muslim lobby who are looking shocking and reprehensible, as the reality in Gaza emerges: For instance a constructive breach by Israel of the Gaza cease fire as well as humanitarian law by maintaining the starvation blockade, concurrent with Hamas strong compliance with the truce from July to October 2008. An Israeli airforce strike arguably under provocation for a tunnel by Hamas killed 5 Hamas members in early November 2008. It was all down hill from there.
- it could even be a backhander to the ALP in toto for Julia Irwin federal ALP MP and lefty in western Sydney daring to so categorically attack Israel in Big Media print in the SunHerald last Sunday here in Sydney. A warning to their federal counterparts in the Rudd machine?
Really any of the above explanations could suffice, alone or in combination.
- Foreign Minister Livni (13/01/2009 - Israel to show no restraint) and biased Jerusualem Post editor Elliot Jager (AM ABC this morning) forced (?) to front Australian camera and microphone lately a sign the Israel war machine is moving to mitigating lost PR offensive after
- widespread coverage of slaughter in Gaza;
- role of quality analysis on the internet over the Big Media break, or maybe
- that the professional big media are returning from their break and doing their job better as well.
- the sophistry of the 'pathetic' Jerusalem Post editor is fairly easy to rebut because it is right wing rhetoric posing as usual a false dichotomy between (a) Israel being loved or (b) surviving. This from a country with reportedly 130 nuclear warheads according to the Federation of American Scientists (Nuclear Weapons - Israel). An existential risk that seems to grow Israel every year with increasing land grabs by "settlers". This false rhetoric is like outgoing W Bush 'you are either for us or against us'. Truth is no one on this planet survives without love, from the inception of Israel post WW2 with the blessing of the Allies, to a mothers love for her newborn, to the respect and trust of one's neighbours or cars driving in the street stopping for pedestrians. Only a right wing fantasist thinks in such terms - with apparently a healthy neurosis of readership in Israel. A local Bondi Jewish colleague who freely admitted to this writer "I am probably biased, my relatives live in the range of the rocket fire" then referred me for more information to the Jerusalem Post for background!
- As per additions to crikey strings yesterday by this writer the rocket and mortar fire from Gaza in July, August, Sept, October 2008 were minimal or as close to zero as anyone could hope for as per Israel Politik web site and graph. The graphs are posted below and when one integrates the real politik of the early Nov 08 conflict over the first 4 months of the effective truce (where Hamas is eminently reliable in halting rockets and mortars) it becomes clear the averaging over the lull is a bogus measure. Just as Princeton legal professor Falk working for the UN as advised.
The graphs are sourced to http://www.israelpolitik.org/2009/01/07/how-did-the-cease-fire-end/
...............................................start of extractmortar-graph
....................................end of extract
The significance of this Hamas discipline up to early November 08 is massive. They have always been known to do what they say unlike Fatah. The real issue should be who or what broke the truce. Hamas says the 4 month blockade of humanitarian food and medical supplies (in an already desperately starved population of 1.5 million, 50% children, 45% of children being anaemic) and in the absence of rocket or mortar fire was a constructive breach by Israel. The recommencement of hostilities in early November 09 reportedly saw rocket fire back to old levels.
- By November Hamas reacted to the pressure with a tunnel into Israel, IDF fatal airstrike blowback kills 5 and the rocket/mortar fire recommenced killing the ceasefire and food and medical supply blockade on Israeli border continuing uninterrupted. This led by official end of the truce in late December to a massive air attack by Israel having their pretext and feeding into other geo political (W Bush as a hawk, final watch), close down influence of Iran, complete what the coup failed to do in 2007, pursue $4B in Gaza offshore gas supplies for Israel, and their own domestic election in Feb 2009 pandering to the 30% of voters who support Greater Israel expulsion of Palestinians (needed in a majority coalition govt).
Yesterday we wrote in a comment string in crikey:Tom McLoughlinWednesday, 14 January 2009 6:18:21 PMI take it ......you concede the truce worked for 4 months. That it broke down in November. I know the causes of that break in the truce are controversial. Let me be so presumptuous as to suggest how it happened:
The tunnels to Egypt were working as fast as they could but never fast enough to supply 1.5 million Gazans. The Israelis showed no real interest in lifting the "economic sanctions" via their crippling blockade via the Israeli border. They mitgated any sympathy with the 'knowledge' their enemy was importing missiles via the Egypt/Philedelphi border of 9 km or so. Besides they weren't going to give their sworn enemy Hamas a break, that had survived the US/Israel backed coup a year previous because free flow of food and and supplies would set Hamas up as a successful govt that delivers on it's election.
So they starve Hamas, and 1.5 million Gazans half of them children. Hamas gets desperate. 45% of the children in Gaza are anaemic and with that life threatening illnesses. Others have no hope of timely medical services. Eqypt won't help because they have their own diplomacy to juggle with the US and Israel - the toughest players in the region.
So Hamas lets a tactical tunnel go thru to the Israeli side. They need extra leverage to bargain with to lift the starvation blockade and bolster their government credentials. They are thinking of kidnapping another Israeli soldier like Gilad Shilat - by the way Google to Xinhua (Chinese?) News agency suggests the tactic is ongoing 12 Jan 09:
Israel springs the tunnel and responds with maximum air force killing 5 Hamas members. Up until this time there has been 4 months of near to complete break in shelling of rockets and mortars. But this exchange effectively brings the ceasefire to an early conclusion. Hamas rockets recommence at the previous intensity pre June 08.
Only this time the southern Israelis have enjoyed the peace alot and they vote ...Tom McLoughlinWednesday, 14 January 2009 6:49:45 PM
- And this report of a $4B dollar gas supply in Gaza waters which can potentially supply 10% of Israel's energy budget is also worrying, that there are seriously mixed motives as in economic motives:
"BG Group at centre of $4bn deal to supply Gaza gas to Israel ..."
dated 23 May 2007.
So Gaza does have something Israel can use after all. Like a smaller version of Iraq oil in play? And who benefits from the income of that? Certain sleazy politicians running for office, maybe getting a few donations?
Also one assumes it never occurred to Israel that they could simultaneously open the Israeli side of the border to full throttle food medical and other genuine supplies and at the same time bomb the Philadelphi tunnels with a bit of warning to protect civillian lives?
How complicated can it be? Stock standard carrot and stick. But there is no carrot under a Right wing USA and Israeli administrations. These people are failed politicians and failed individuals with a capital F.
- Big media here have been self censoring the figures regarding the real restraint of rockets/mortar fire for 4 months by Hamas.
- There is a notable absence of any spokespeople on the air waves for the Lowy Institute high quality academics on matters geo politik and/or defence, funded by Australian Jewish billionaire Westfield's Frank Lowy. The Lowy family are close to the Govt Party here the ALP (eg ex PM Paul Keating helped build a shopping centre) and presumably E Barak's Labour in Israel. Possibly Lowy Institute have nothing good to say about Israel based on the above rocket statistics and therefore saying nothing?
This older paper at the bottom of their front page is actually very relevant:
Zealous democrats: Islamism and democracy in Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey
The question is often asked 'What will Islamists do to democracy?' But it seems equally valid to ask 'What might democracy do to Islamists?' In this new Lowy Institute Paper Anthony Bubalo, Greg Fealy and Whit Mason examine how three different Islamist movements, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Prosperous Justice Party in Indonesia and the Justice and Development Party have sought to adapt to democratic politics and how in turn electoral or democratic participation has shaped the evolution of their ideology, policies and activism.
And now we notice their web log:
The Interpreter - Australia in the World Blog of the Lowy Institute for International Policy,
With this tedious post Can technology solve Israel's Hamas problem?
- a quite dated 7.30 Report feature of Lowy son's maintenance of historic air squadron of planes takes on a more sinister overtone given the role of Israel's air strikes killing and wounding 5,000 mostly civillians. Their report is here:
Temora hosts world-class warbird collection, Australian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast: 29/05/2007, Reporter: Paul Lockyer
Can the Lowys assure us no Israeli airforce trainees have using the rich man's 'toy collection' in order to train up for brutal strikes against civillians in Gaza? If they have would it be reasonable to boycott Westfield as called for by Naomi Klein (by looks and words a left wing Jewish North American surely) in the last few days?
Naomi Klein: Enough. It's time for a boycott of Israel | Comment ... 10 Jan 2009 ... Naomi Klein: The best way to end the bloody occupation is to target Israel with the kind of movement that ended apartheid in South Africa.
- New Matilda locally produced ezine yesterday carries story of 325 standard shipping containers of ammunition sent by specially chartered merchant ship from the USA bound for Israel, just like arms supplies during the 2006 Lebanon war:
Israel/palestine 14 Jan 2009 The End Of Palestinian Resistance? Mustafa Qadri
- SAM's editor telephoned through a question to the editorial desk of the SMH over Marg Simons crikey expose' of opinion writer Paul Sheehan's failure to declare conflict of interest in funding by Israel of his trip to there:
He quotes from that junket in his opnion piece in the middle of the Gaza slaughter last Monday:
It's too easy just to blame Jews - Opinion - smh.com.au It's too easy just to blame Jews. Email ? Printer friendly version; Normal font; Large font. Paul Sheehan January 12, 2009.
Question for the Herald is: Will the Herald sack him for failure to declare his financial conflict of interest? It's ironic because the Herald have carried some very strong balance in the last week including today generating tears with this one about this disgusting slaughter:
'Why are they killing us and nobody moves?' Sydney Morning Herald via Los Angeles Times 15 January 2009, with this devastating extract from a fatally wounded 14 year old girl:
Her grandfather was killed. No one told her right away. They waited two hours.
"Why did they kill him?" she said, starting to cry again. "Why are they are killing us and nobody moves? If we were cats in Europe and America they would have cared for us."
The wounds on Alaa's face were treated - but whatever else was wrong with her was not detected.
Doctors hurried to care for dozens of others who were carried, bleeding, through the halls.
Alaa died in her bed.
After sunset, when the fighting calmed and the Israeli troops retracted, the ambulance driver, Mr Abu Reida, left the house he was hiding in.
He went to the street where he had been headed hours earlier. He saw the body of a woman named Ruheia. She had been shot in the head.
He drove home.
Los Angeles Times
Our source was at the local job agency and suggested we catch up over a cuppa. The conversation turned to his various jobs over the last little while as a roadie of sorts.
The Paris Hilton event at a Sydney Kings Cross nightclub for instance - a Roman Orgy amongst the plebs apparently for NYE, sex in public, the whole works. She threw a tantrum about losing her handbag and hardly did her share as "host" A few days ago we noticed the tatty NYE Paris Hilton street posters in conservative 'Greek' established end of the Marrickville suburb. That's Marrickville Public School for primary age (to about 10 years) in the background. And we don't know what a bongo virus is either:
Mmm we wonder if this is really that kind of swinging suburb behind closed doors? And a spin off story not relating to Le Hot One:
And she aint so dumb with that satirical presidential advert compared to GW Bush here:
YouTube - PARIS HILTON FOR PRESIDENT! (This is FUNNY) Paris Hilton has the same intelligence and communication abilities as our president.
And the 'real' Paris satire via YouTube and CNN is here:
Today there is another poster on the same street pole which is very witty "PropaGandhi" (picture pending) which surely suits the times in Palestine and Israel PR and real war with an editor of the Jerusalem Post running mindless right wing fantasies on our local AM show today (more soon).
And speaking of things Roman, the Roman Catholic Church under Cardinal George Pell pulled off a frightening funding and co sponsorship deal with News Corporation attracting the faithful including weird holy bones of a young saint.
But our source mentioned the waste. Saw it all, he reckons. Lots of A grade camping equipment, from Paddy Pallin and the like ripped off by contractors down at Barangaroo, East Darling Harbour event 17th July 2008 for the poor and homeless. Lots of food wastage too - meals that should have gone in to the well established welfare system of the Catholic Church.
Then out at Randwick apparently the contractors had a field day. One quote: "This will all be illegal tomorrow so go for your lives." This apparenlty was a reference to a the golf buggies used to get around the huge site at Randwick Race Course. As the job came to an end the contractors were riding them like dodgem cars deliberately smashing into eachother. And one was driven directly into a wall.
Also butane gas burner heaters you often see outside cafes were disappearing into the backs of contractors white vans. These add to the comments unconfirmed on Crikey recently that a quite functional and presentable toilet had a $60,000 upgrade at Richmond airbase in case the Pope needed to take a tinkle on arrival. Our source commented quite cutely that the Queen similarly only gets to smell fresh paint wherever she goes.
All of this came to mind when we clipped this latest silly, as in valid but stupid people, season story:
Stole in one: golf buggy heist charges - National - smh.com.au 9 Jan 2009 THREE youths broke into the equipment room of an eastern suburbs golf course, stole three golf buggies and then drove 'erratically' across the 17th and 18th ...
Only the WYD implications are not very silly. First of all we quietly suspect the teenagers got the idea for some golf buggy derby from somewhere local and not so long ago, do yer think? Also irritating given it reminds that the original WYD huge public subsidy to an institution neurotic about gender roles and infamous for child abuse. Indeed that scandal just keeps rolling on a few months after the Pope had thankfully moved on:
Here are the costings as per the Catholic Church home news service cross referencing the Sydney Morning Herald:
WYD public cost $139 million - CathNews 4 Jun 2008
Mind you we like this Pope's attitude to the environment:
At least he's got that right. And the suffering of the people of Gaza too apparently via one of Vatican lieutenants:
We started our day backpacking into Town Hall Square in the Sydney CBD which was a gathering point for a march to Hyde Park.
We laid out a cloth and displayed various peace related T-shirts and badges like Globalize Love and other idealistic slogans. These were produced by a long time environmentalist Peter Schnelbogl based in Lismore. As the numbers in the square swelled it became clear this was a melting pot of Sydney's multicultural people of all races, colours and creeds..
Mothers and families shopped at our display and in less than an hour the stall was sold out, especially as our prices were nice and low. Then we packed up for the march to travel a few city blocks. The feeling against an Iraq war against the UN weapons inspection advice, and contrary to known causes of the attack on the World Trade Centre, was very obvious.
The march was too big to conceptualise from within. Later on it was estimated at possibly 250,000 or even 500,000 in size. We are indebted to SydneyIndyMedia for several archival photographs appearing in this article. (Not so easy to access as they added the ".au" to their links since 2003, so we added it to the original URL cross references - from yet another community site - and voila. The 360 degree panorma above is exceptional, most likely by Peter Murphy, local photographer.)
What we know is that we spotted an information stall allocated in the park to apolitical green groups. I was a little sceptical of how this related to a peace rally but it was such a big event it made sense to have some alternative flavours in the content to keep the interest of the crowd. A witty greenie had constructed a banner for the stall "The Bush worth saving" meaning our Australian native forests always at risk of logging for woodchips for paper production. A war literally on the environment.
Picture: As reported by News Corporation here in Sydney around November 16 2006 this car was burnt out before forensics could take evidence, the suspicion being that a Howard press conference about a NSW Police operation tipped off the alleged terrorists, currently facing court.
It was perhaps about 2 hours into staffing the stall that I became aware of the true immensity of the crowd against PM Howard in his own home city. Having done stalls of various kinds since 1992 for big and small events I soon realised this was something different. The crowed swelled and grew and available space shrunk and shrunk in this central Sydney Park. There was only standing and breathing room and the sense of solidarity was tangible. Like a storm flood meeting a king tide the people filled the air from ground to 6 feet or so high. We no longer had a stall as you would conventionally understand it.
The usual division between public and staff over a table top had evaporated. People who might be facing me browsing at stickers, petitions and what-not were now standing next to me facing toward the sound of the speakers 200 metres away. Mind you it was impossible to hear the speech, or see the stage. At one point I edged amongst the throng and climbed a fat squat Sydney Fig Tree. Still it was impossible to get a line of sight of the speakers. And trying to move through the crowd was out of the question.
Later that day we saw the tv footage of outrageously graphic life size puppet figures of John Howard like a poodle kissing Goerge W Bush's backside. This was a big favourite with the crowd.
At this stage Simon Crean was still (somewhat interim) leader of the ALP Opposition after Kim Beazley's latest election loss to "man-o-steel" John Howard surfing a global lurch to the Right after the WTC attack. Crean was seen as struggling too. But he did take one profoundly significant decision which possibly preserved his future ministerial career today, and provide a seriously important plank for eventual election of Kevin Rudd over Howard in November 2007. Crean went after ascendant PM Howard for deciding to go to war in Iraq 'in secret' by mid to late 2002. Howard denied it. Crean said the ALP were against the war as it contradicted UN weapons inspection processes.
Howard, Downer, Hill and range of others in the Govt didn't give a fig about the UN. They hardly cared about a huge peace rally. (Though we suspect Howard held a grudge even as recently as the APEC event in Sept 2007 hoping for a 2nd round with the protesters.) A month later March 2003 Australia under Howard joined the COW - Coalition of the Willing - along with the conservative Spanish Govt in the bombing invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam.
Saddam possibly sealed his fate by promising from memory US$25,000 payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers against Israel. Certainly a very nasty piece of work, but then it was his population that would bear the brunt of the attack based on Howard and Bush's sophistry about WMD.
It was still a year or two before we learned that the traditional agri industry supporters of the Howard Coalition Government were paying $300M bribes to Saddam's henchmen literally as the loyal Australian soldiers were preparing the invasion. Also another year or two before the USA President Bush and PM Howard admitted there was no WMD to find ... just as Hans Blix and the others as UN weapon inspectors had advised in early 2003.
Howard's fate as PM was sealed by the no WMD report. Going to war on false intelligence. Causing perhaps a million deaths in Iraq. Debasing the US Medal of Freedom awarded today by George W Bush 5 days before he hands over to President Obama.
Here is the text of that brave speech by Simon Crean then leader of the ALP Opposition who without doubt boosted Kevin Rudd's election prospects on a change of foreign policy platform, similar to Obama in 2008:
Text of address by Simon Crean to parliament on Iraq
February 5 2003
This is the prepared text of Opposition Leader Simon Crean's speech on Labor's position on Iraq to parliament.
The statement by the prime minister is his argument for war, not a plan for peace.
It only took the prime minister until only the second page of his statement to conclude that the only possible outcome is war.
There are several things on which we agree.
Our total support for the brave men women of the Australian Defence Forces and their families.
Non proliferation is a critical security issue.
Saddam Hussein must disarm.
The issue of Iraq cannot be seen in isolation from the broader security issues that confront the Middle East, particularly the need for peace in Israel and Palestine.
The Authority of the UN must be upheld.
But this statement is a justification for war, not a plan to secure the peace, and it is on this point that the prime minister and I fundamentally disagree.
And this explains the prime minister's actions to date.
Two weeks ago, prime minister, you committed Australia's young men and women to a war not yet declared, knowing all along that you couldn't pull them out.
You committed them without the mandate of the Australian people, the Australian parliament or the United Nations.
You committed them solely on the say so of George W Bush.
You committed them to a command structure you can't withdraw from if George Bush decides to go it alone and pursue a military solution regardless of the UN.
You have done all of this but you haven't told the Australian people.
You haven't had the courage or conviction to tell them what you have done.
Here we are finally with the chance to debate the troop commitment in parliament, and you still haven't told them.
You go to media conferences and tell them you want peace but you have committed the troops to war.
Not with any UN mandate but through a US request.
And now you are going to the US.
The pity is, prime minister, that you won't be here to answer questions in this parliament.
My question for you - and the question the Australian people want answered is this: when you go to Washington will you tell George Bush that no Australian troops will be involved in the war in Iraq without a UN mandate?
You must insist in your discussions with George Bush that no troops should be sent to war without a UN mandate.
I will keep asking my question because it's the question the Australian people want answered.
It's your obligation as the prime minister to do the right thing by the troops you've committed to war.
You say that the US alliance requires you to respond to all requests from the US.
It does not.
The very first clause of the ANZUS treaty makes it clear that all alliance decisions must be in conformity with the United Nations.
This clause commits all presidents and prime ministers, but you haven't fulfilled it.
This alliance has stood the test of time and it should be honoured fully.
There is no graver decision that a prime minister can take than sending men and women to a war.
And there is no greater breach of trust than committing them to war without telling them the full extent of your commitment.
You have breached the trust that exists between a nation and its leader.
You claim that you have committed our troops to bring the maximum pressure to bear on Iraq to dispose of its weapons of mass destruction.
You claim that if there is no UN mandate for military action, you can bring the troops back, even if the US decides to go it alone.
You've said that you would withdraw Australian forces if there was a possibility that nuclear weapons could be used.
But where's the guarantee? How do you propose to achieve this? What assurances have you personally sought from the Bush administration?
You had the chance today, perhaps your last chance, to tell the Australian people the truth.
But you chose not to.
I believe - and the Australian people believe - that you've already made the commitment to war.
You have no credibility with the Australian people on this issue.
Members of your own party know it. Members of your backbench know it.
We believe that Australian troops should not have been sent in advance of a UN mandate.
We believe the weapons inspectors are still doing their job and should be given the chance to finish it.
We believe in the authority of the United Nations Security Council to deal with issue of disarming Iraq.
And we have repeated this since April last year.
You haven't consulted the Australian people.
You haven't consulted your party.
But you have consulted President Bush.
You said you were sending these troops because it was in the national interest.
I want to know, prime minister, which nation?
Let's not understate the size of the con that's being played on the Australian people.
We are sending more than 2,000 troops.
For a nation with a military the size of ours it's an awesome commitment.
It's twice what we committed to Afghanistan.
And three times what we committed to the Gulf in 1991.
This is the largest single commitment of combat troops since Vietnam.
Such a decision should only be established once a just cause has been established.
That has not yet happened.
No link has yet been made between Iraq and al-Qaeda, although we are waiting for Secretary of State Colin Powell's report to the Security Council later this week.
The weapons inspectors have not been given the chance to complete their job.
It has not been authorised by the United Nations.
You said yesterday that you are going to Washington to inform George Bush of the views of the Australian people.
Well let me tell you what those views are.
The Australian people don't want peace at any cost, but they don't your war at any price.
The majority want to see Iraq disarmed, but they want it done under the mandate of the United Nations and with the authority of international law.
That's the position that Labor has been consistently arguing since last April.
You're not going to the US to tell President Bush what the views of the Australian people are. You're going to get your riding instructions. Everybody knows it.
Let's look at the government's flip-flopping on war on Iraq.
Last year, when Labor released its detailed policy statement on Iraq, the foreign minister and the treasurer said we were "appeasers" and we were "talking like Saddam Hussein" because we wanted the issue to go back to the UN Security Council.
The prime minister spent half the year constantly saying that if he received a request from the US to participate in a war against Iraq, he would consider it.
No mention was ever made of the United Nations.
No attempt was made to convince the Americans to take the issue back to the Security Council.
But in September when George Bush decided to address the General Assembly the prime minister changed his tune.
Suddenly the prime minister was saying the UN should be the vehicle to disarm Iraq - six months after Labor first articulated that exact position.
Even then, the prime minister refused to be honest with the Australian people because he continued to say that he had not yet made a commitment to war because it was hypothetical.
But behind the scenes he was actively planning to deploy Australian troops.
The government's rhetoric has now finally come around to what Labor has been saying since April. But not it's real intentions.
The people know that you don't mean what you say.
They can sense it in the mealy mouthed way you claim that our military commitment is really a peace mission.
They can sense it in the way you avoid answering the question: if the UN doesn't back the war, will you bring the troops home?
You are treating the Australian people like mugs. And they don't like it.
The prime minister is playing on the fear of Australians - the fear of the threat of terrorism.
By threatening war alongside George Bush he isn't addressing the fear, he's adding to it. He is heightening the risk.
He is increasing our vulnerability.
He is adding to the instability in our region - an area his intelligence shows us is increasingly vulnerable to that threat.
This premature action taken by Australia comes at the expense of our more immediate and critical concerns about terrorism in the region.
Only three weeks ago the Singaporean government released a paper showing the extent of terrorist networks across the region - they are much greater than previously thought.
But we hear nothing from this government about dealing with these more immediate threats.
Our strongest defence against regional terrorism has always been the joint commitment we hold with countries in the region to pursuing common goals and cooperative outcomes.
The best way to combat terrorism is to work closely with the police and security agencies of neighbouring countries. But the prime minister hasn't done that.
The prime minister should do more than offer his thanks to President Megawati, he should discussing with her how to strengthen the fight against terrorism in our region.
Several months ago I called for a regional summit of leaders to tackle terrorism. I urge the prime minister to convene such a summit.
But the prime minister undermines this with his talk of pre-emptive strikes and his support for action outside the authority of the UN.
The path to security is not unlilateralism but multilateralism.
It's a complex issue that no one country can solve alone.
The issue of Iraq, perhaps unlike any issue of recent times, defines the differences between the two major political parties in this country.
This difference comes from a fundamental divergence of principle.
Labor has always supported the role of the United Nations and the rule of international law.
We helped create the UN out of the rubble of the Second World War. That attempt to settle international disputes through peaceful means was the great tribute our nation paid to the men and women who died in World War Two.
It's one of the proudest pieces of our history that a Labor foreign minister, Dr Evatt, was the founding president of the General Assembly.
But while we always support the role of the UN, the Liberals always support their "great and powerful friends".
The parallels between Howard and Menzies are there to see: cow-towing to London and Washington, the constant sojourns at the Savoy, the nod and wink in support of military action - even if it doesn't have legitimacy.
That is the Liberal's political tradition.
The Liberal Party has never had the courage to state an independent foreign policy that is in Australia's interests.
It's only ever asked: what's in the interests of the US?
Labor supports the US alliance, but we want a mature one, not a toadying one.
The US alliance has endured for over 50 years.
It has always had bipartisan support.
But it does not mean that we have to agree with every policy position of every US administration.
We have had our differences in the past but the alliance will endure, because Australians and Americans believe in the same things - democracy, freedom and respect for the rule of law.
Why is the UN so important?
If the US flaunts the decisions of the UN, it sends a signal to other nations not to be bound by its decisions.
It is in the interests of nations the size of Australia for the rule of international law to be strong.
A strong UN can ensure that nations disarm and can stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction to our region.
The prime minister says that his main reason for deploying Australian troops to Iraq was to stop the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
But what has his government done in seven years to strengthen UN arms control?
He has remained silent on the Canberra Commission Report.
The Canberra Commission said it clearly - "The possession of nuclear weapons by any state is a constant stimulus to other states to acquire them".
Where is John Howard's brave new initiative to push forward on nuclear arms control?
Labor has called for the Canberra Commission to be re-convened, with a new mandate to decide what steps are needed to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles.
The prime minister has been unable to convince the US government to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - which Foreign Minister Downer has called "a major milestone" and said "will bring the nuclear arms race to a definite end".
The prime minister said nothing when last year the US government walked away from negotiations towards a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention which would have provided transparency and confidence that all countries were working towards eliminating these terrible weapons.
The prime minister says he's been told that nothing in US preparations for war with Iraq include the possible use of nuclear weapons.
But the White House spokesman admitted that 'all options were on the table'.
And the Bush administration has made it clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force - including through the use of nuclear weapons.
The prime minister has made a great mistake in committing our troops ahead of the UN.
Labor does not support that decision.
We do not support the deployment of Australian troops in advance of any UN authority.
I took my case directly to the troops themselves on the HMAS Kanimbla.
I had a difficult decision to make about what to say to them. But I knew what the right thing was to do.
I was truthful with them in a way the prime minister was not.
I believe that political leaders should always tell the truth. This is especially so when committing troops to war.
The prime minister failed that test.
He treated the Australian people like mugs and he continues to do so.
And what of our security now?
The prime minister has taken his eye off the ball in the fight against terrorism in our region.
He has failed to adequately prepare our defences against terrorism and neglected regional security measures. He is instead sending our forces overseas.
He has divided our people, alienated our friends, sent our best anti-terrorism troops ten thousand miles away.
He expects those of us left behind to defend ourselves with a fridge magnet.
The prime minister must stop treating the Australian people like mugs.
Only Labor governments have been prepared to tell our allies no when it's been in our national interests.
Apparently 10 young Israeli Jews have declined compulsory military service as per this interview on ABC Radio National yesterday:
Israeli forces are reported to be calling up more reservists to fight in the Gaza conflict.
Some of them are already in action on the ground, but the Israeli defence force has denied they are escalating the war to a 'third phase' -- an all-out push on Gaza City.
Like many countries around the world, Israel has compulsory military service. Once you leave high school you are technically required to serve in the army. For men that can be up for three years, for women it's closer to 18 months.
However, since the 1970s some people have resisted their military service They are known as shministim, which is Hebrew for '12th graders'.
Maya Wind is due to report for military service on Wednesday and is expecting to be sent to jail for refusing to serve.
This has been lifted from crikey.com.au ezine published earlier today, in the public interest, which we feel they will overlook as a breach of their copyright given it documents the shedding of the blood of so many children in Gaza:
Stephen Keim SC writes:
United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, has presented a stinging report concerning Israeli behaviour to the Special Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations headed by South African lawyer, Navi Pillay.
Falk is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Princeton University and a former Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Professor Falk made headlines in mid-December last year when he was denied entry to Israel and detained for 15 hours in a holding cell at Ben Gurion Airport. Professor Falk had been attempting travel to Gaza to compile a report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza for a regular meeting of the Human Rights Council scheduled for March this year.
In the Statement presented to the special meeting last Friday, Professor Falk criticised Israel for denying foreign journalists access to report on Gaza. He contrasted this with Israel?s encouragement of international journalists to view any harmful effects of rocket attacks on civilians in Israel.
Professor Falk also criticises claims of Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He stated that Israeli claims that they had allowed some shipments of food and medicine to cross the border must be weighed against the information from UN Officials on the ground that such shipments can have no impact on alleviating hunger and nutritional difficulties unless distribution is possible. The effect of the blockade prior to the latest outbreak of hostilities was that 45% of children in Gaza suffered from acute anaemia, said Professor Falk.
Professor Falk said that Israeli claims that the current military campaign is reasonable and necessary because of rocket attacks must be evaluated within the context of its occurrence. This context included the ceasefire by Hamas since June 2008.
It had been fully expected when that ceasefire went into effect, said Professor Falk, that Israel would lift its blockade of the Territory which had caused severe hardships on the entire population especially through restraints on the supply of food, medicine, medical equipment and fuel. Israel had failed to lift the blockade.
Professor Falk said that the blockade, which has persisted for more than 18 months, was a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention by Israel as occupying power of the Territory. Professor Falk noted that Hamas had been willing, in the event that the blockade was lifted, to extend the ceasefire by as much as 10 years.
Professor Falk noted the disproportionate nature of casualties in the dispute: over 800 killed and more than 3000 wounded with civilian casualties at 25%, of whom at least one third are children. He also criticised attacks on targets such as mosques, Islamic University, schools, medical facilities and ambulances as being in breach of international humanitarian law.
Professor Falk criticised, on the same grounds, use of weapons involving phosphorous gas (that burn flesh to the bone); dense inert metal explosives (which cut victims to pieces); and depleted uranium containing bunker busters.
Professor Falk called for the Human Rights Council to seek a General Assembly Resolution regarding the investigation of war crimes.
Professor Falk has been criticised in the past by United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, and Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Yitzhak Levanon, for lack of objectivity. At the time, he was defended by the National Lawyers? Guild, a progressive Bar Association in the United States.
It remains to be seen whether the receipt of this report and the discussion in the Special Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations will have any impact on the western reporting of the context in which the present Israeli offensive takes place.
Australian actor Peter Finch won an Oscar from memory in the thrilling 1976 film called Network: A study of the television industry's impact on news reportage and inherent power as a medium.
Tracy Spicer digs into Network 9 in an opinion piece today in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and you can count on the vanity of the media for it to be well read. Mark Ferguson as news reader has been "boned" like the Finch character on the same 6pm news slot as aging washed up Howard Beale. According to the script something wild and outrageous happens on the way to the sacking whereby he becomes a top rating hit again and the 6 pm news becomes a circus act with Sybil the Soothsayer, Matahari gossip corner and so on.
Ned Beatty puts in a stirling performance as the Corporate God, re inventing his screen persona after indignity of the 1971 classic Deliverance where he is the object of desire of a mountain man in all the wrong ways. A few pig squeals later and Ned is at great risk of being typecast.
Of course the real Mark Ferguson is alot younger and probably better looking than Howard Beale and ought not take such a rash course, nor is there reason for him to suffer such a nervous breakdown on screen even if it would get a 50 rating and bailout the 9 Network finances. But it would be great reality tv if it did happen.
Once the conceptual comparison of Ch9 to the famous Network movie is made, one thing is certain. The reptiles in the rest of the television and Big Media industry will pick up the thread. Sorry Mark. So let's just finish with ....good night and good luck.
As if to echo our story yesterday on the real nature of Israeli society with 30% fanatical expansionists and apologist for assassination of PM Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the broadsheet News Corporation press runs splitting stories about the Arabic people.
The Daily Telegraph has another subliminal effort with an example of harsh treatment of Australian Arabs in Kuwait airport on page 3.
The more serious broadsheet The Australian carries various more directly relevant stories about:
They even run a splitting story about outgoing VP Cheney on torture advice to new Obama Presidency:
But what really matters in the Gaza "endgame" has been 3 major developments in geopolitics
1. Obama has said he will launch an organised expert policy team on the Palestinian massacre by Israel (our words) on day one 20th January 09 which doesn't sound like a blank cheque to Israel from here;
2. Following on from 1, serious talks with Iran as sponsors of Hamas: Barack Obama signals that door is open to talks with Iran | The ... 13 Jan 2009
3. Livni as Israeli candidate in the Feb elections and Foreign Minister announcing justifications for annexing the border between Eqypt and Gaza and (as we understand it) foreshadowing possibly thousands of homes destroyed in a 1 mile plus wide tunnel exclusion zone over some 9 km in the Philadelphi area.
This always complex and fraught regional political power struggle suggests some things to this writer:
A. Israel is running out of time to pursue unaccountable blockade and seige of Gaza and is loading up its bargaining chips for the poker game with Obama's negotiating team on day one 20th January;
B. The Friends of Israel and Livni as minister proper are running out of propaganda excuses for the expansionist aggression based on traditional reliance on western Holocaust guilt, or rose tinted moral superiority of their domestic population (given the real phenomenon of Yigal Amir, Rabin's assassin and his 30% approval rating there).
C. The real forces driving the massacre of innocent civillians by the IDF, given the 4 months of real truce with no Hamas rockets July to October 2008, is
(i) the very real fear and loathing within Israel over capacity for greater weaponry to be smuggled from Iran into Gaza seeking revenge for the displacement of 4.5 million Palestinian refugees, grown from some 700,000 since 1948, 1967 Arab wars with Israel;
(ii) electoral politics up to Feb 09 vote in Israel pandering to the 30% supporters of a Greater Israel annexing Gaza and the West Bank for 'The Chosen', based on a massive religious conceit. The truth is many Peoples have suffered great suffering not just the Jews and in comparable numbers. The 30 year Occupation and at times crippling blockade is an essential but insufficient condition for such ambitious annexation.
Of course Hamas could capitulate to Israel's demands under severe military pressure and 5000 civillian deaths and injuries, that is for renewed Occupation like the captured Fatah Govt in the West Bank. This would mean suffering all the indignities and corrosions of sovereignty that an effective occupation/blockade by Israel involves there - given suspension of civilised legal system with objective Constitution - via powermongering by the IDF and land grabs by illegal squatter towns, medical and food shortages causing premature deaths. But then that would just be in the eyes of Hamas a return to the slow suicide of the previous 30 year Israeli Occupation. And they were elected to break free of that Israeli oppression by the 1.5 million Gazan population, if they can.
We presume Israel will seek to finish it's military campaign by 20 January but that anything could happen before then though nothing good for the innocent civillians of Gaza.
Picture: Caption via New York Post 31 October 2008 "In this file photo dated Nov. 1, 2007, Yigal Amir, the convicted assassin of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, is seen during a court hearing in Tel Aviv, Israel. Amir, in his first interviews since the 1995 killing, said he shot the Israeli prime minister because Ariel Sharon and other hawkish ex-generals warned Rabin's land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians would bring disaster. Amir fatally shot Rabin at the end of a peace rally in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4, 1995. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)"
As published Saturday last here on SAM the Jewish Israeli assassin of PM Yitzhak Rabin in late 1995 appears to be working it's evil through a large minority faction of the IDF and Israeli Society. Not so surprising when Haaretz reports that 30% of Israeli Jews support a pardon for the murderous criminal. Presumably some of that 30% supported the act of assassination too.
Yigal Amir, like the infamous Amrosi in this region of the world, is known as the smiling assassin - totally unrepentant. And he has lots of support in Israel.
Australian and USA readers of this micro news service might be surprised to know that the assassin courtesy of the famous Israeli 'democracy' - if one puts aside the aparthied land law and lack of written constitution - has allowed Yigal Amir to marry and enjoy conjugal rights around 2004 and he is now a proud father. Presumably his son can grow up to kill Israeli leaders who talk peace in the future too:
It seems the local Israeli loyalists here in Sydney are in denial about this evil strand of criminal warmongering in their own society as per this Haaretz report. Contrary to the local reportage of 1,500 Jewish worthies here in Sydney who call for 'peace in the Middle East and for Israel's right to defend herself' with a free pass to kill as many children as "necessary" one can logically conclude that 30% of the IDF are not moral in their support for Yigal Amir. The implications of that reality are great. This rabid sector do not seek peace with their Palestinian neighbours. Rather they support Greater Israel and expansion according to their aparthied land law system as per the last 30 years occupation.
(We take special note of that land law legal reality having a high distinction in the subject at Australian National University regarding the Australian land title system. Good laws bring stability. Bad laws don't. Just like agreed fences.)
Perhaps our local worthies ought to catch up with this Washington Post story of 1st November 2008:
By Samuel Sockol ,Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, November 1, 2008; Page A16
JERUSALEM, Oct. 31 -- The assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has said in telephone interviews from prison that he was influenced by Israeli military leaders who had criticized Rabin's land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians.
Two Israeli commercial networks aired portions of the interviews with Yigal Amir on Thursday but canceled plans to air longer versions Friday evening after a public uproar. Amir, a Jewish Israeli activist, shot Rabin at close range at a rally in 1995.
In one interview, Amir spoke about how he formed his plan to kill the prime minister. Amir said he attended a wedding at which Rabin was also a guest and realized that the prime minister was protected by only one bodyguard. "I wandered around with a pistol. I was just next to him. I saw that it was so easy -- if I were to shake his hand, I could have easily shot him," Amir said.
He said he was moved to kill Rabin by "all those who understand the military," naming Ariel Sharon, who would later become prime minister; Rafael Eitan, a former Israel Defense Forces chief; and Rehavam Zeevi, a former general who advocated the removal of Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied territories. Zeevi was killed by Palestinian assassins in 2001.
"All the military experts said that the Oslo accords were a disaster," Amir said, referring to the 1993 deal between Israel and the Palestinians that was signed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Rabin on the White House lawn.
Amir enjoys the support of a small group of Israeli hard-liners and has succeeded in improving his prison conditions by petitioning the courts. In 2003, he was moved to a prison whose location is more convenient for his family. He has won the removal of the cameras used to monitor him in his cell and was allowed to marry Larissa Trembovler. The two were granted a conjugal visit, and last year she gave birth to their son, who was circumcised in prison on Nov. 4, 2007, the anniversary of the assassination.
Prison Authority spokesman Yaron Zamir said such privileges are not accorded to Palestinian security prisoners. "All these rights have been given to him through the courts, and we have opposed them," Zamir said.
Amir also succeeded in a legal battle to have the right to speak over the phone. He conducted the interviews by calling his wife, who handed her phone to a journalist.
As punishment for the unauthorized interview, Amir was transferred Thursday night to another high-security prison in southern Israel, which houses hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Zamir said the authority had revoked until further notice Amir's phone privileges and his right to have visitors.
Again perhaps our local worthies might like to inform themselves of the criminal radicals in their own society according to their own intelligence services as per this November 2008 story in USA Today:
Israel spy chief fears Jewish extremist plot, [2 November 2008] 11/02/2008 09:11 AM By Matti Friedman, Associated Press Writer
The head of Israel's internal security service said Sunday he is "very concerned" that Jewish extremists could assassinate an Israeli leader in an attempt to foil peace moves with the Palestinians.
Similarly Richard Carlton (RIP) then of Australian 60 Minutes aptly caught on camera an Israeli squatter/settler child confidently stating: 'the Arabs will leave. It will take a long time but they will leave'. A child is a faithful witness to the parent. The transcript is off their website but was probably here in 2002.
And our local peace loving, good Australian worthies are quoted saying 'only Israel is condemned for the death of innocent child civillians when acting in self defence' and the like. What planet have they been living on? Their bias is easily demonstrated by reference to huge rallies against GW Bush's Iraq war. Australian condemnation of Indonesia in East Timor in 1999 and previous. Condemnation of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Of widespread horror at the regime in Zimbabwe. Obviously the worthies really think Israel's IDF should have a free pass to kill Palestinian civillians. Actually they should be prosecuted, as should Hamas, where evidence is available before the International Criminal Court. The problem for the worthies is the comparative body count of innocents.
The Friends of Israel as we refer collectively might say Julie Irwin MP - a strong supporter for Palestinians - is one eyed in yesterday's Fairfax SunHerald:
Getting away with murder - Opinion - smh.com.au Julia Irwin is Federal MP for the NSW seat of Fowler and a member of the ... The Sun-Herald 2009-01-11
But they ought to take note that she was "By invitation" for a reason. The public are disgusted with Israel's carnage in Gaza and they don't buy the excuses, and the editor knows it.
Interesting to note the right wing screamers at the Sydney Daily Telegraph, notably pseudo National Party Afrikaaner Piers Akerman, has written of the evils of Hamas, the elected government in Gaza. But when it comes to the very worthy and constructive Right to Know Coalition involving owner company News Corporation not a word from SDT or Akerman.
Seems the Right to Know freedom of information agenda stops at the door of the IDF and their censorship at the Gaza boarder. Contrary to an Israeli Supreme Court order no less. No wonder all the Arabic audiences are being shown pictures of evicerated children from Gaza as compensation for the censorship in the West. They have a right to know but we don't obviously.