Paul Sheehan might think that his regular Monday column can hide behind the recent intensity of the Israeli slaughter in Gaza and unilateral ceasefire to avoid 'raining bombs on children' spoiling Barak Obama's parade.
Trouble is the independent media and fair minded people tend to remember failure to declare a junket/research trip paid for by one of the protagonists in a long running geo political dispute as with Palestine/Israel.
Crikey.com.au's Margaret Simons ran the lead story last week about Sheehan's financial conflict and we phoned a question through to their editorial desk late last week aksing "Will Sheehan will be sacked?" No answer nor did we expect one when we asked it.
Is there an answer in today's column on Obama which does indeed return to the vomit of Israel's Palestine policy? Yes but it is an unsatisfactory answer:
One must traverse the final third of his column, and even then the second last paragraph for the declaration he shamefully makes, with the balancing commentary that should have run on the topic last week. A man of certain standards not only makes a correction, but admits the error. A newspaper of a certain standard takes transparent discipline. So neither Sheehan or SMH employer are in the clear. Just as the Israeli Defence Force at a much more profound level must be investigated for war crimes against UN facilities, and the dignity of humanity in Gaza.
Here are the relevant paragraphs Sheehan shamefully airbrushed in his line of opinion last week:
It is of some concern that he [Obama] has said he will make the Middle East his priority, in particular the Arab-Jewish schism. The Israeli-Palestinian divide has done little to enhance the reputation of Congress or American presidents for the past 60 years.
Here I have found another significant detail about the new president. Last year, in Chicago, Obama spent two hours being briefed by Khaled Abu Toameh. "He listened, he wrote a lot of notes," Toameh told me.
This is telling. For years Toameh has repeatedly antagonised and embarrassed the Israeli Government, and the Fatah and Hamas parties in the Palestinian territories, by exposing lies and brutal acts on all sides.
Toameh is a Palestinian Muslim who lives in East Jerusalem. He works as the Palestinian affairs correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, is an authority on Fatah and Hamas, and is widely sought as a consultant by foreign media. For the past two years he has argued that Israel, the US and the European Union have made a conceptual and tactical blunder by not dealing with the reality in the Palestinian territories. They have, he says, engaged in wishful thinking about the utter corruption of Fatah. They have been deluded about the growing strength and pragmatism of Hamas. They have tolerated a dangerous fantasy that Israel can control how Palestinians will vote.
Everything he predicted has come to pass. It is an insight into Barack Obama that he has gone outside the policy-makers, think-tankers, lobbyists and armchair experts to listen to someone who inhabits the dangerous territory between these sworn enemies.
I had a briefing with Toameh in November, though can claim no credit for finding him. It was part of a study tour for Australian journalists to Israel, sponsored by the Jewish Board of Deputies which was omitted from my column last week. At the time, Toameh described Gaza as "a frightening situation". And that was well before Israel's military offensive.
This is the poisoned chalice president-elect Obama has been passed. He has passed it on to his previous nemesis, Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state. Perhaps it was a sublime Machiavellian manoeuvre, like the political sleights of hand found in almost every episode of The Wire.
The hypocrisy of Sheehan accusing Barak Obama of "political sleights of hand" compounds his failure to admit a financial conflict of interest (he says "omitted") in a piece at the height of the Gaza slaughter by the IDF. It compounds the failure, both then, and today's failure to contextualise his error in the correction today. This is a man who plays dirty when he's cornered by the facts of his own financial conflict of interest.
The Herald itself has somewhat mitigated its sin of avoiding sacking their man by leading with the truth about the Israeli preparations for war in Gaza long before any ostensible breach of the ceasefire by Hamas. Indeed Hamas were demonstrably and egregiously provoked which we suggest was always the plan of Big Israeli/W Bush US style politics.
That expose by Jason Koutsoukas is here:
Israel kept out aid for Gaza Sydney Morning Herald p1 19 Jan 2009
ISRAEL deliberately blocked the United Nations from building up vital food supplies in Gaza that feed a million people daily before the launch of its war against Hamas, according to a senior UN official in Jerusalem.
And Sheehan is in my more trouble on the facts/spin via the Koutsoukas story. Sheehan claims today:
"I had a briefing with Toameh in November ....And that was well before Israel's military offensive.
But it wasn't well before the Gaza offensive which really began from the constructive breach of the Gaza ceasefire as far back as 19 June 2008. Koutsoukis writes:
In a scathing critique of Israeli actions leading up to the conflict, the UN's chief humanitarian co-ordinator in Israel, the former Australian diplomat Maxwell Gaylard, accused Israel of failing to honour its commitments to open its border with Gaza during several months of truce from June 19 last year.
"The Israelis would not let us facilitate a regular and sufficient flow of supplies into the Strip," Mr Gaylard said.
So much for honour in politics in Israel. But Sheehan has either been played for a dupe or knew he was being positioned as an arm of Israeli propaganda in their 6 month preparation for war in Gaza. Not 'travelled to Israel in November well before the Gaza offensive' in fact but deep within the preparatory programme of the Olmert/Livni/Barak Government. Indeed arguably concurrent with Israel's reported breach in early November 2008 as per UK The Guardian:
5 Nov 2008 ... An Israeli air strike then killed five more Hamas fighters. ... It was last updated at 14.32 GMT on Wednesday 5 November 2008. ...
So which it is Paul? Dupe for Israel or propagandist?
As acting PM Olmert fronts his Cabinet decisions over the atrocities in Gaza and makes various claims and assertions including on Australian TV via his spokesperson Mark Regev (eg SBS interview prime time news in Sydney last night) it is sobering to read the right wing Jerusalem Post report below. Especially when combined with the Haaretz 2006-7 reports that 30% of Israeli society support a pardon for the goaled assassin of PM Yitzak Rabin, a criminal by the name of Yigal Amir. In effect endorsing expansion of Greater Israel by expelling Palestinians from their homeland.
In combination one can see a double game underway in Israeli geo politics. On the one hand promote creeping conquest by the 500,000 strong illegal squatter movement and the significant minority votes that brings. On the other hand to the Western countries as a victim country under existential risk acting in self defence. So far this cunning and confusing Israeli Govt PR strategy has been quite successful. Only the internet access to the real democratic debate both within Israel and within the region as well as reports on the ground are exposing the truth. The secrecy, the body count, the pattern of assassination of elected officials.
In our judgement the constant so called accidental and unintentional targeting of UN facilities and anyone else who dares speak up for the Palestinians in the open air prison in Gaza reveals the political reality. It's a murderous gangster type of information control of which the influential diaspora Jewry are either in denial or complicit in their silence:
Some coverage you won't get on Adam Spencer's ABC 702 Breadfast show, or the Deborah Cameron show following on Monday morning 19 Jan 2009 supposedly covering happenings in Sydney. Press in Sydney also looks weak in terms of visuals.
One theme of John Pilger's speech included this quote: "the media have built a wall between the public and the massacres in Gaza"
Sorry to say there were some pictures on posters at the rally that were so graphic that we couldn't bear to photograph them, let alone post them here. The truth is the horror of war is being sanitised by our mass media in a collective conspiracy of silence as to the real actoins of Israel ally of the Australian Govt.
By contrast the millions of Arabic tv viewers are being shown the gruesome truth of Israel's cynical war as it promotes it's blockade and slow strangulation and torture of the Palestinians in Gaza, but also the West Bank, not least by illegal squatter towns, and aparthied land laws.
This story page 1 leading the Sydney Morning Herald :
Israel kept out aid for Gaza - World - smh.com.au p1 19 Jan 2009
As we write we are listening to the regualar local ABC radio 'Party Liners" segment with no mention of the Gaza scandal 10 minutes in with two old major party hacks Stephen ODoherty and John Brown (a severe critic of the Iraq war which is seriously inconsistent).
Picture: A group of girls of similar age to the daughters of Barak Obama, the red flags are the very big Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, with NSW secretary Andrew Ferguson in the crowd. The black yellow red flag in the far distance is the Aboriginal Flag of the Indigenous Australians with representative opening the rally.
We sort of knew this would happen.
Once we signed up for Google Adsense we would get adverts that we had no control over. For instance we have no problem with people wanting to learn Hebrew but next to a string of stories about the atrocities in Gaza by the IDF? That's annoying.
On the flipside we aren't by choice spruikers for Arabic language or becoming the "next 007".
Or what about the solar energy adverts, which are cool, but following a pitch to invest in uranium as the next big stock mover? That's annoying.
The silver lining may be that it indicates readers from the relevant parts of the world. Or maybe it's only that it relates to story content which is not as useful but logical on their part.
There may be a way to block such adverts selectively. We haven't worked that out yet via the Google universe of advertising online.
Suffice to say whatever adverts they choose we won't be changing our news analysis and coverage. That's a promise.
In memory of Lasantha Wikrematunga.
Via Sydney Indy Media, confirmed by source in Sydney big media
Date and Time:
* Stop the war on Gaza
* End the brutal siege, bombing and invasion of Palestine
* End the Rudd government's support for Israel's massacres
* Suspend all Australia-Israel ties until Gaza is free
* Freedom and self-determination for Palestine
Assemble Sydney Town Hall - Sunday 18 January, 2:00PM
* JOHN PILGER, renowned author and documentary film maker
* ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN, author of My Israel Question
* SYLVIA HALE, Greens MLC
* PAUL MCALEER, MUA Sydney Branch Assistant Secretary
Protest initiated by the Gaza defence committee contact Tim Dobson 0430 209 865 or Dr Ghassan Achi 0408 605 437
Aljazeera live Arabic: http://www.aljazeera.net/channel/livestreaming
Aljazeera English: http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/
Sydney Town Hall
The unilateral ceasefire reveals the utter cynicism of Big Israeli politics. To breach the ceasefire in early November 2008 after maintaining a crippling blockade for 4 months despite unprecedented reduction in rocket or mortar fire by a very disciplined Hamas to virtually zero.
Then with the inevitable ineffective rocket fire in retaliation by Hamas, the might of the full IDF slaughtering over 1000, hundred of children and 5000 injured.
Empty words about "not hating" the Palestinian children and blaming Hamas. "You're suffering is unbearable" this incredible hypocrite has just in the presser as we write.
The fact the ceasefire does not even include Hamas as a party shows Israel keeps a free hand and that it also maintains the continued blockade at the Israel border, and to the ocean, from passage to the West Bank or economic activity. Humanitarian supplies can enter via Eqypt no doubt but that also has a subtext.
As the Israeli and Al Jazeera commentators have said the Ultra Right coalitionists in the Israeli election and government seek Palestine and Gaza to be absorbed into Egypt. That is to destroy the two state solution and appease the right wingers in the coalition politics of Israel.
While taking questions Olmert's hypocrisy is underlined by thanking Cond Rice who he crunched by preventing a USA vote a week ago for a ceasefire in the UN Security Council. His empty words 'reaching out' to the people of Gaza "unjustly affected" are shocking from a deposed PM facing corruption allegations forced into an Acting PM role. For instance Haaretz (and Al Jazeera) reports this Israeli tv personality doctor with fluent Hebrew whose 3 daughters and neice were killed during live audio on Israeli television. The Israeli journalist taking the phone call is followed by the camera using his contacts successfully to get an ambulance for the wounded breaching the IDF blockade as an exception.
I want to know why my daughters were harmed. This should haunt (Israeli Ehud Prime Minister) Olmert his entire life," Abu al-Aish said on Israel's Channel 10, speaking through a cell phone in Hebrew as he has throughout the war.
He added that his daughters were "armed only with love."
Gazan officials identified Al-Aish's deceased daughters as 22-year-old Bisan, 15-year-old Mayer and 14-year old Aya. His niece was identified as 14-year-old Nour Abu al-Aish.
At least two other daughters were injured, and are currently being treated at Tel Ha-Shomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.
The press conference at Tel Ha-Shomer became tense at one moment when an Israeli woman and mother of three IDF paratroopers began yelling at Abu al-Aish, demanding that he explain why there was weaponry in the house.
Throughout the war, Abu al-Aish had put a face on the Palestinian suffering, making regular reports by cell phone to Israel's Channel 10. He is a rarity among Palestinians, a Hebrew-speaker who trained in two Israeli hospitals - the Soroka hospital in Beersheba just 18 miles from Gaza, and Tel Aviv's Tel Hashomer hospital.
His tragedy prompted numerous calls of concern to the station, many from
people who know him.
"We all know and love him well at Soroka, and we really hope the situation gets better," Dr. Shaul Sofer, head of the ER at Soroka who taught Abu al-Aish.
He also quotes President Bush and so called 2 state solution which has gone nowhere for the 8 years of the Bush Regime, with no mention of incoming president Obama.
The invisible person at the press conference? Yigal Amir murderer of Israeli prime minister Yitzak Rabin, symbolising the illegal Israeli Squatter movement running in the Feb 2009 election, unlike any Israeli Arabic Parties who have been outlawed only days ago from the so called "liberal democracy":
Thank heavens for local NSW politics. With Gaza such a horror being shot to pieces by IDF gangsters on behalf of sinister illegal squatter movement, one embraces the light relief.
"I won't tackle premier" blares the lower circulation Sydney SunHerald today. Derr Frank.
You don't have a faction, or history in the ALP until poached from Sydney City Council independent politics by then Premier Bob Carr. You won't tackle him because your's is the last man standing desperation platform. There's a clue here Frank: You've got a face only a mother or wife could really love Frank as per the press image here:
I won't tackle Premier Sydney SunHerald 18 Jan 09 Exclusive: Frank Sartor breaks his silence on the plot to unseat NSW Premier, Nathan Rees.
And even further back in the mid 1990ies when you couldn't even get a gig with the successful bid team for the Olympics under the Fahey Coalition Govt? You were the Johnny On His Own even as the independent mayor of the CBD.
You're a bolt on Frank (as well as having a head like one?). Just like Peter Garrett. You will never be given the levers to the machine. Control of the treasury decisions. You might have laid down on the railway tracks for 5 years doing developer dirty work for the Tribe but they see that as their genius leveraging your previous strong cred as an independent to their own sleazy benefit. But truly Frank - it wouldn't matter if you had given your whole body to be burnt. You are not congenitally ALP which is why you ran as a successful independent mayor for Sydney all those years ago. And not for the ALP.
It's an old cliche but when you've been f*cked for your body and not your mind, they don't respect you in the morning Frank. It's been the morning after ever since Carr bailed out mid 2005. Why do you think Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge announced his retirement after Carr's resignation pronto making way for Carmel Tebbutt in his own seat of Marrickville. So you could be premier? Dear fellow, in the words of Daryl Kerrigan, you're dreamin'.
(Just as this writer was too of Starship Troopers pseudo fascists in the form of the IDF last night but that was from watching Al Jazeera coverage of Gaza last evening.)
And there is another reason Frank you won't "tackle the premier". He's younger, brighter, and far more adept at diplomacy than you when he tries, and he's got truck loads of courage to take on his own machine at the pre- selections. You never had to do that as an insert to the ex Premier Carr food chain.
You Frank, are like a whiny dog with his tail between his legs asking for more. In that respect you are doomed to a certain fate like Peter Garrett 'with limited power' serving the beast we all know as the ALP. It's a gilded cage for you Franky, and Peter. That's the price you pay for the strut upon the stage.
Even today's front pager is exploitative by Fairfax to balance last Friday's front pager in the Daily Telegraph. You might think your voters in Rockdale, a large proportion of Mediteranean background, might be just a little distracted with the Middle East at the moment than interested to gird their loins in favour of their local MP?
She can't help you, but she can use you. And she just did with your front pager and 2 page spread signifying just about nothing. Rees will be chuckling in his weeties at the din of empty vessels.
The Rudd Government here in Australia has tried to mitigate their craven silence on the obvious war crimes of Israel in Gaza (by targeting civilians and UN facilities regardless of spin and hollow excuses) by announcing some significant but small compassionate policy decisions on a handful of refugees here in Australia.
But it's too little too late for a PM who likes to think of himself as a courageous Bonhoeffer, ie brave against political orthodoxy on matters of high morality: Rudd has probably destroyed any diplomatic credibility he had with the UN membership for a future career there for his silence literally as UN facilities are being shelled in Gaza, just like Lebanon in 2006, by the Israeli Defence Force using conventional and phosphorous explosives killing civllians and aid workers.
In a way this is Rudd's summer 2005 tsunami tragedy in South East Asia killing several hundred thousand, that in turn killed off Mark Latham's leadership amongst his rivals and critics in his own federal ALP. But actually the moral values of Rudd are under even more intense scrutiny. Latham had the excuse of illness and shock of losing the federal election to cope with late 2004 and cynics in his own party willing him to fail and shove off.
Rudd is in the ascendant as an elected PM, but here is the crucial point: He was elected as a Howard clone in a global and Australian boom. With a nice turn of Mandarin for our biggest future export market China. But he is NOT the right man for the job in a depression after the Global Financial Crisis. He's a free marketeer centre right ideologue unsuited to social welfare issues which will be paramount in the next economic cycle. His colleagues can cover for him but this callous handling of Gaza shows he's insensitive to the real plight of little people. He's just another ruthless clever ambitious rich man climbing over peoples' faces. His ALP federal MP colleagues will take due notice and the loathing will grow.
And his VC ceremony 'stunt' will be seen in time as too clever by half, evidencing John Howard's fatal flaw - the smart arse factor which Australians find repellant in anyone let alone leaders.
As the defeated 'man-o-steel' Howard correctly noted about rival Rudd in the 2007 election contest - Rudd effectively supported the invasion of Iraq as then shadow Foreign Minister in March 2003 with pandering to the Bush regime, undermining then ALP leader Simon Crean for careerist reasons. Contrast Barak Obama who spoke against the Iraq war:
Barack Obama's Iraq Speech - Wikisource 12 Nov 2008 ... Delivered on Wednesday, October 2, 2002 by Barack Obama, Illinois
Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Change We Need | Iraq Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. ... Washington lined up for war, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against the war. ...
No wonder he made the front page of the local Sydney Arabic press in December 2008 before the Gaza scandal:
And no we don't read Arabic and would be interested to know what it says.
There is no equivalent speech or policy view by Rudd not in the press, parliament or wherever. There is by his then party leader Simon Crean but not Rudd. Google can't help no matter how many keyword searches.
Contrast PM Rudd with this press conference "hosted by Google", as well as this direct YouTube via Al Jazeera news network (which is very impressive) at our lead in above:
Jordan's queen's Gaza children plea
Jordan's Queen Rania is questioning whether children in the Gaza Strip have the same rights as others in the world.
The UNICEF activist, whose parents are Palestinian, urged the world to pay more attention to the plight of children in Gaza.
Queen Rania spoke to reporters during a meeting of UN regional chiefs in Amman.
She demanded that there be a humanitarian ceasefire so that wheat, fuel and medicine could reach Palestinians civilians trapped in Gaza.
The queen also called for emergency financial aid to be given to UN agencies.
She says the children of Gaza and their parents are "not acceptable collateral damage" and their lives do matter.
Rudd has deliberately bought into the Howard, and even extreme right winger local cleric George Pell, clash of civilisations agenda of Islam world religion versus the West by parading with a VC winner for heroic/defensive war actions against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It's an analysis replete with convenient selectivity and moronic simplifications which boil down to a free pass for the military industrial complex to screw the social services budget of every western country across the world.
Significantly Rudd also supported Hilary Clinton over Obama.
Rudd will play extremely well amongst the 500,000 strong extremist illegal squatter movement in Israel, but that's no achievement. They also praise Yigal Amir serving a life sentence for the murder of Labour Israeli PM Yitzak Rabin, and 30% of Israeli society want him to be pardoned according to reportage by Haaretz.
These are the extremists that hold the coalition politics of Israel - in an election season - hostage to their ruthless agenda of expulsion of Arabs from so called 'greater Israel'. Many of these criminal sympathisers have their finger on the trigger killing UN and civilians in Gaza at the time of writing - just like Blackwater in Iraq.
To the sly Israeli Squatter movement Gaza is all about fighting dictatorial extremist Islam on the home front in Gaza. Palestinians have no legitimate rights to a nation of their own at any time. For this ideological struggle any number of Palestinian children killed is "a just war".
No wonder the monarch of Jordan was forced to speak for them that their human rights are not indivisible. Her words condemn Rudd as a very small man like John Howard with a walnut for a heart.