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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Email traffic at Addison Rd 'community' Centre: A sorry tale of power, land, secrets, violence?
Topic: local news

Preface: We recently received a bunch of emails off the back of an ARC choo choo train. The folks mentioned below are all influential and/or long time figures at 'the biggest community centre' in Australia based in Marrickville. The string indicates at first a kerfuffle over a volunteer past retired age shown the door.

Then it morphs into an allegation of criminal assault by a bloke who just happens to be the spouse of the general manager on a former president Mamouney who apparently doesn't want to take it any further.

Late last year Mamouney was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as having his longstanding theatre group Sidetrack cut off funding from the Arts Council of Australia. This was big news at ARC given his association and indeed protection of the 4 ha site from developers with a 50 year community lease from the State Govt.

We imagine one topic of tension at the ARC is whether Sidetrack buildings will be vacated or sub leased and kept under Don Mamouney's voting control at the centre.

Declaration: The writer, editor of SAM worked at ARC part time as gardener and website builder from 2003 to 2007.


Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009 3:40 PM
Subject: Elmo Petition
Dear Members,
I have just been presented with a petition from Don Mamouney, signed by some Members, about Elmo Medley and am responding to it.
Elmo volunteered with the our ground crew. He was a paid employee until he resigned in 2006. He returned, as a volunteer at the end of 2007. Last week I told Elmo he would not be able to volunteer here any more. There were increasing numbers of OH&S incidents which could have very serious consequences for Elmo, other staff members and people who use the Centre in general. I did not enjoy having to do this but my priority must be the safe management of the Addison Road Centre. Unfortunately, we do not have any roles that would be suitable for Elmo. If any of you can offer Elmo volunteer work with your organisation, I'll pass the message on to him. I'm sure he would appreciate it.
I am very happy to discuss the matter with you in person if you would like more information.
Yvette Andrews
Manager, ARC




From:DON MAMOUNEY [mailto:dfmam@mac.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 20 January 2009 12:01 AM
To: Yvette Andrews
Cc: ............
Subject: Re: Elmo

Dear Yvette: Re the Bring back Elmo campaign. Thank-you for the response and I will take the opportunity to talk to you about this. I also wish to place on the record that we (the members and management of ARC) have greatly benefitted from the work of volunteers and semi-volunteers. The groundsmen (volunteers and semi-volunteers) have made an extraordinary contribution to ARC for many years doing necessary yet often quite menial tasks. I believe they like many of us have a great love of this place and even enjoy a certain pride in their contribution to it. Elmo may not be the most necessary of them but for a long time he has been part of the team. I started this campaign to have Elmo reinstated because I am hoping that we can get him his position back. I know he felt deeply hurt being suddenly forced to leave. I also know that he has very few other interests in his life. He is a vulnerable old man who for better or for worse has been a part of this place for a long time. We owe it to him and to ourselves to restore his dignity and our own by bringing him back to work. If indeed there is an "OH&S" issue then surely he can do tasks where there is no OH&S threat. One of us could offer him a volunteer position (that would be something) but I think there is a principal here about the way we treat volunteers. Come on give the old guy a break let him work with his mates again. It's not going to cost us anything. In-fact we can only gain from it.


PS: Thanks to all of you who signed the petition

Here is a copy of the petition header for those of you who didn't see it


This old soldier has been a volunteer at ARC for many years. Over the years Elmo has donated thousands of hours free of cost to the centre doing simple but important tasks as part of the ground crew.

On TUESDAY 13th he was sacked. He was told to go for reasons of "?occupational health & safety issues".?

Now exactly why anyone would want to sack one of ARC?s iconic characters is beyond logic. When you take into account that Elmo is a single old age pensioner who is as vulnerable as he is whimsical with few other interests or friends outside his Centre associates his sacking begins to look like a cruel and heartless act.

We the undersigned call on the Board of management to reinstate Elmo immediately and offer him a sincere apology.



# 3

From: Steve Economidis
To: Don Mamouney, Yvette Andrews
Cc: '
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 9:04 AM
Subject: RE: Elmo

Dear Don, Yvette and ARC members,

I?m also of the opinion that Elmo should be reinstated to his position and should be given tasks of low OH&S risk.

As an old member of ARC, I know and appreciate the work done by Elmo and the volunteers generally.

My name was not on the petition, but I would like to be considered as supporting it.

Best regards




# 4

From: Vivi Koutsounadis
To: Yvette Andrews ; Don Mamouney
Cc: ....

Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:16 PM
Subject: Fw: Elmo

Dear Yvette, Don, Stavros and other members of ARC

I agree that Elmo who has been with the centre for many years and is providing his services on a voluntary capacity because like all of us he feels part of the centre and loves this unique centre. The Centre has grown as it is today from the work, commitment, love, of so many hundreds of people who came here to give something of themselves and left their little mark on the centre. People like Elmo who because of various reasons, were not accepted in other places but here in Addisonr Road Community Centre, (it was unfortunate that the Community was dropped from the title of the centre some time ago - because it is a community centre, it does not belong to any individual or organisation here - it belongs to the community) everyone was accepted, given a chance and their contribution no matter how small was valued and honoured.

So many people like Elmo are looking for somewhere where they would be accepted and feel part of and identify with the place to fill a vacuum in their lives and there were many Elmo's who came to the centre and found something to do and be part of the community which is ARC.

The unique aspect of the centre is that it gave an opportunity and chance to all people who came here to belong, to create, to give of themselves and this offering was accepted without any strings attached. We need to be humane and treat people as human beings first and then look at other attributes.

Yvette you say that you dismissed Elmo because of OH&S risks. I agree the centre needs to look at OH&S risks and it is its job to minimise the risks and not dismiss the person whom you feel is a risk. You cannot dismiss a volunteer. A volunteer is a volunteer and it is the role of the organisation to minise and deal with the problems presented in a sympathetic, respectful manner taking action including consulting with the membership of the centre, (one time all the members made decisions about issues such as this, however, unfortunately, this has stopped for many years because of changes to our constitution and management structure, which I am afaid to say has not worked and it has not improved relationships between members rather, it has alienated us all and we hardly know who we are any more, because there are no avenues in the management structure to bring us together to hear about what is happening in the centre, talk to each other, make our suggestions and contributions and bring solidarity and working together spirit for the advancement of the centre) to exhaust all avenues to deal with the problem presented before making a decision to terminate a volunteer's involvement.

I can go on and write more but I do not want to bore you. I strongly agree that we need to re-instate Elmo and give him some jobs which have minimal risk and allow him to be part of this community where its members no matter who they are should be accepted and allowed to make their contribution and the centre will be riches and gain more from this contribution.

Regards to All,

Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis
Executive Director - ECCFCSC




Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 12:15 PM
Subject: Elmo returns
Dear All,
Thank you for your emails. I've spoken to the insurance company and we have agreed on a way for Elmo to do one day a week on appropriate duties, taking into account his age and making sure he is safe and not exploited. When you see him back at the Centre, perhaps offer him some volunteer work at your hut.
I'm on leave for two weeks. I'll see you all when I get back.



# 6

> 2009/1/22 DON MAMOUNEY
>> Dear Members: In struggling to get Elmo back it appears we have run into an even bigger OH&S problem and perhaps even a public liability minefield. If at least until the manager gets back members should call upon the board to put in place an immediate emergency moratorium on any workers, volunteers and general public over the age of 69 entering ARC. In the mean time if members can get written confirmation from their insurance companies that indemnifies ARC from any potential liability it may be possible to ask the board to issue a special entry permit for your aged associates to enter the premises one day per week.
>> Regards
>> Don


# 7

----- Original Message -----

From: "Terry Cutcliffe"

Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 1:53 PM Subject: Re: Elmo returns

> Dear Don
> To my mind there is a bigger OH&S problem to be confronted and that is
> the very real one of the ARC policy on violence. In my view there has
> to be a zero tolerance policy in relation to violence and assault.



# 8

On 22/01/2009, wayne and philip
>> Dear Terry,
>> Like everybody else, I've been following this saga with interest and
>> concern. However, your most recent email has pushed the matter into a whole
>> new and disturbing area. You obviously have access to information
>> unavailable to me. Presumably I'm not alone in this. How do 'violence and
>> assault' relate to the situation with Elmo? Please explain in detail in
>> order that I may, if invited to do so, give an opinion on a fully informed
>> basis and feel assured that everyone else at the Centre also has the
>> complete information about this matter at their disposal. Any information I
>> receive from anybody will be forwarded on to everybody.
>> Yours in anticipation, Wayne Hutchins



# 9

Subject: Re: Elmo returns
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 12:17:12 +1100

Dear All
I am with Wayne on this one .

How can a brief little note about the Elmo situation
explode into not allowing certain people into the centre
and an assault and violence policy. of zero tolerzance ?

I know nothing about the situation with Elmo the original
email gave almost no information but the response seems
massively over the top. Apart from the logistics of having
someone at the entrance checking to see if people are
eligible to enter at the entrance I am opposed to going down
this road of exclusivity.
What next ?? Who else will be excluded? And on whose say
so ?
Remember it is a community centre - and that includes
everybody. Any course of action taken to prevent certain
people from entering would surely run foul of Anti
Discrimination laws as well.

As for the alleged assault and violence I do not believe it
is an OH&S question. The centre does come under normal
Australian Criminal law. And any alleged assault should be
dealt with by the appropriate law. If Don Mamouney decides
not to press charges or bring it to the notice of the
appropriate authorities I think this sends a very strong
message that this behaviour is permissable and acceptable
in the centre. This is the opposite to a policy of a zero
tolerance and can onbly have the opposite effect.

It would help everyone in the centre if there was more
information and transparency on these matters.
Barry Gazzard



# 10

From: "Terry Cutcliffe"
To: "wayne and philip"
Cc: ......

Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 5:41 PM

Subject: Re: Elmo returns
> Dear Wayne
> I was replying to Don's email without realising I was also
> corresponding with what now appears to be the whole of the Addison
> Road email list. I was witness to a vicious assault on Don Mamouney on
> Tuesday of this week in so much that I was in the gallery and heard
> the assault of Don take place including the sound of him hitting the
> floor when he was knocked to the ground by John Blair. Don told me
> that he does not wish to press charges and indeed intended to say
> nothing by way of compaint but of course the whole issue is now one
> for all members at Addison Road as it is a key OH&S issue. I no longer
> feel safe at Addison Road Centre. Don's decision to not take any
> further action is extremely magnanimous but overall I believe that
> there should be a zero tolerance policy relating to violence. As far
> as I know Don did not suffer any serious injuries other than bruising
> to his cocyx and some abrasion and bruising to his arm.
> Terry Cutcliffe




Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 10:08 AM
Subject: ARC
> G'day .....,
> Errata: John Blair is Yvette Andrews partner.
> Its interesting to note that in all my time here at ARC this
> is the first time ....


Posted by editor at 3:54 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 January 2009 8:09 PM EADT
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Local coverage of Gaza scandal: 'It's not over', Barry Bullsh*t, 'pathetic' Israeli Right lobby
Topic: human rights


It's been a time of reflection over the death of our father early Friday 23rd January 2008. All the memories good and not so, his drinking, his religious faith, the 9 children's worth of chaos, our siblings. The truth is we've had 20 years to practise letting go as we learned more about the implications of his addiction. That also gripped his father before him, a conservative war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, confidant of famous PM Robert Menzies. But like every child it's a sad grieving time.

Which is all a way of noting how our personal emotional journey possibly echoes the millions of diaspora Jewry on their own personal journey on this 64th day of the Holocaust memorial (says Fran Kelly back on ABC RN). Grieving dead children, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers. 72 million died in the 2nd World War. Reportedly 6 million were Jewish deliberately targeted for racist reasons. An evil slaughter on historical scale.

It's no different for the Palestinian Arabs today grieving their dead children, mothers, fathers, brothers. Just as it's no different for the Irish diaspora with a degree of race memory of the million dead in the human created Irish 'famine' of mid 19C. George Mitchell appointed by US President Barack Obama as Middle East Envoy will know that story well.

This kind of grieving is not particularly reasonable or rational. Indeed it calls up all kinds of paranoia and neurosis. We saw an example of this with former ALP federal MP Barry Cohen's loyal special pleading for Israel in The Australian yesterday: He actually asserted that starving 1.5 million people suffering collective punishment was because UN sanctioned "food" supplies were used to make "rockets". That's right - bread makes rockets. As if. This kind of irrationality can't be argued with. Cohen makes the same false premise as Colin Rubenstein and other loyal friends of Israel, either as dupes or propagandists: This graph from Israelpolitik.com proves without any decent doubt Hamas suspended all rockets and mortars, in July, August, Sept, October 2008 and notice even here the attempt to hide the successful 4 months amongst the phase in and last 2 months after an Israeli air strike on 4th November 2008:

 http://www.israelpolitik.org/2009/01/07/how-did-the-cease-fire-end/ :

...............................................start of extract


In a sleazy game of statistics the Israel lobby hide the effective 4 month lull burying it in 8 years of statistics and annual figures, not to mention the Israeli airstrike killing 6 on 4th November 2008 as reported by The Guardian in the UK:

Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen | World ... 5 Nov 2008

That's pathetic and deliberately deceptive. It hides the truth of Israel's crippling food blockade for ruthless military purposes.

To quote Mark Regev to RN's Cannane speaking recently for pretend/disposable allegedly corrupt PM Olmert  'the economic sanctions' continued to prevent rocket attacks. There it is again. Bread used in the making of rockets. Milk too. Baby formula. Apples and Oranges perhaps? Toothpaste? Perhaps flour is the secret ingredient of the metal casings?

Cohen also airbrushes the brutal fatal impact of a starvation blockade killing the vulnerable, sick and weak in the 1.5 million population of Gaza. That's real 1st world cruelty on the 3rd and disgrace on the Israel lobby. They comfort themselves that Eqypt should allow access on their border, but that's a Greater Israel gambit, and they know it. Once Eqypt makes the border wide open Palestine effectively loses Gaza as part of the 2 state solution. Indeed Israel's active apartheid laws and house destruction programme in Palestine are a long term agenda for colonial expansion, and they know it. But will never admit it in the western press including Australia.

True some splinter groups sent some ineffective fire crackers with evil intent for mass murder over the same 4 month lull, almost certainly not authorised by the elected Hamas Govt quite well known for saying openly where they stand. Cohen rolls out all the usual postures about Israel's existential risk but his selectivity is grotesque. What about Palestinian existential risk? The 30% of Israelis, according to Haaretz, support Yigal Amir killer of Labour PM Yitzak Rabin who wanted to recognise Palestinian land rights? That's 30% of Israelis who are arguably racist, certainly predators, seeking to expel Palestinians. And these extremists hold hostage majority coalition politics in the Feb 2009 general election in Israel.

Cohen also neatly ignores one Koutsoukis report from the Gaza scandal last Wednesday of alleged war crime mass murders and racist graffiti by IDF, while targeting another piece by the same journo last Monday about blocking UN food supplies. Reports now too of racists within IDF shooting murder of two little Arab girls under a white flag:

Only a diaspora dupe or a propagandist ignores the very real racist underbelly in Israeli society: Just as we in Australia were forced to expose the dog whistling of John Howard and Pauline Hanson as political leaders here. Only in the Middle East the racists are armed and dangerous members of the IDF in Gaza supporting the 500,000 illegal militant squatter (not 'settler') movement and evil nutters like Yigal Amir.

We received yesterday a carefully crafted piece of email propaganda from a lefty written in Spanish for the Palestinian cause which carries with it - like all effective PR - a degree of truth. It is fair to observe Gaza as a symptom of a national 'holocaust loop' for neurotic, paranoid Isrealis. Or as some cynics might also say - a real sensitivity vulnerable to ruthless exploitation by hawkish Israeli and US politicians. On the other hand such graphics are double edged - as emotional violence on the still grieving older generations of Israelis and Jewish diaspora - which ironically just feeds the intensity of the loop and the suffering of victims of the IDF in Gaza or the West Bank. Of victims becoming perpetrators (like 'conventional' child abuse).

The broader political significance including here in Sydney Australia is that via the web this comparison of Germany 1945, and Gaza 2008/9 is being made in the general public. It's not entirely true, but it's not entirely false either. There are 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and great anger about their treatment in the Middle East. Also world wide.

Nor can Koutsoukis or the SMH be dismissed as biased. They ran an important story about Hamas fighters seeking to hijack neutral ambulances. A real balancer to the story about racist IDF murdering familes and children. The overall fact remains the pathetic Israelis Right and their apologists here are running a concentration camp in Gaza and responsible for the civilian body count.  This quality coverage is supplemented by excellent interview with Bob Baer ex CIA, adviser on the Syriana George Clooney movie, with Steve Cannane on ABC RN last Friday - stating Iranian Ahmadinejad is in effect irrelevant and doesn't control the military in Iran.

No wonder we felt the need to re watch the Richard Attenborough film of Gandhi's life winner of 8 Academy Awards: Alas only to get half way through the 3 hour epic late last night. It actually has an intermission just after "the horrific massacre at Armistar, where British opened fire on 15,000 unarmed men, women and children" meeting to discuss a campaign of freedom from colonial occupation. The second half will be Gandhi's genius in resolving the British violence to achieve independence for then 350 million people. Nor was he passive. As secular Jew Naomi Klein argues a similar kind of peaceful confrontation and boycott of the international financial and political structures giving a free pass to Israel's IDF bullying of the Palestinians is probably the way forward.

We have written before of the various phases in the PR here of the expansionist Israeli Right lobby both government and allied groups:  We can expand this list as follows from our extensive media consumption:

1. roll out the Holocaust tragedy historical greivance tub thump as a western guilt trip to encourage self censorship of criticism of Israel's slaughter of women and children in Gaza. Effective tactic in the past because the Holocaust tragedy was and is real. The tactic is losing it's bite as the internet reveals the true ruthless power, and elements of racist, IDF military machine;

2. roll out the anti semitism historical grievance tub thump as a variant on point 1, again to encourage sympathy and self censorship. An effective tactic to the extent critics of Israel do fall prone to gross generalisations and lose perspective;

3. more recently it's been a smear on Arabs generally with old, extremist views of isolated religious types here in Australia or other cultural disjunctions. All designed to indirectly dehumanise or divert attention from the 5000 plus killed and injured in Gaza. This is an ugly corrosion of Australia's wonderful multicultural society. Just as it is wrong to treat Jewish society as a generality, so too it is wrong to stereotype Arabs.

On the weekend we had a surreal moment at Bondi where the water and the weather under a whispy cloud cover was almost perfect. The Stones song from The Departed  'Gimme shelter' boomed out from what used to be called The Swiss Grand. A germanic monstrosity on the Campbell Pde Beachfront. So emblematic. Earlier that day we read about two Rabbis in a violent feud here in Sydney.

Earlier we passed the presser by Police Minister Tony Kelly to a throng of Big Media about the Tuno II mass murder inquiry front of Surrey Hills police bunker. A perfect promo for the Underbelly 2 tv series in 09 here. A day earlier we threw a verbal prod to the star of Underbelly 1 08 looking fit along the lines "so fame hasn't crushed you yet?'. He looked sheepish about the power of the Tube. Emblematic too of South African Jewry fleeing to Sydney's East to avoid the violence over pre Mandela ANC and even afterward, including Waverley Mayor Sally Betts we chatted to on the promenade a week back.

We had spent 2 hours doing our legal tutoring for disabled colleague Carol, a secular local of Hungarian Jewish background whose now dead father was a survivor, Phd in Philosophy, qualified rabbi and rich real estate businessman. A few days earlier we cycled over to repair the bicycle of our buddy Steve another local secular Australian Jew and lefty, same building as the actor. We also chatted to Marc on the sun glasses stall, a trained actuary too, annoyed about the "racist" media coverage against Israel he had noticed: Perhaps not realising the overall pattern actually in favour or silent as the slaughter proceeded over 22 days. All had left and right wing views, hardly monolithic, and thank heavens for our peaceful democracy in that respect.

And of course emblematic of our own bereavement, all in some kind of strangely soothing, intoxicating and potentially dangerous admixture suggesting: Enjoy the art and stay out of the rip.

Posted by editor at 7:04 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 29 January 2009 3:09 PM EADT
Friday, 23 January 2009
Rest in peace Peter McLoughlin, our dad
Topic: local news

Only child, father of 9 including this writer, husband of Inez (nee Ford) committed Catholic, lawyer, drinker, gambler. Born in Sydney, died Melbourne 23 January 2009 from pneumonia after a fall and concussion late 2008. May he rest in peace.


From the Victorian Bar newsletter dated 29 January 2008 personal notices (PDF)

Posted by editor at 7:17 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 30 January 2009 2:06 PM EADT
Yvette Andrews gets a petition at Addison Road Community Centre
Topic: local news

We've written ad nauseam about the local ALP aparatchik Andrews who cleverly inserted herself into the nice little sinecure of the general manager's job without the irritation of a competitive job selection process. That's a $60,000 per annum job, or maybe pro rata (?).

Also of a history of governance irregularities if not outright corruption and breach of directors duties in a legal sense by various board members.

Since then we have learned that the ALP Mayor of Marrickville Sam Iskander is arguably so concerned to keep a lid on the dirty laundry there, not least failure to fix the asbestos roofs with sealant, that he has taken up the council's position on the baord. Usually this would be a political offsider's job. But the stakes are getting higher.

Our last post was via source that Andrews husband has been granted a job at the centre again allegedly without any competitive job selection process. That's another $60,000 job into the home budget.

Now we learn that an old member of the ground staff Elmo has been shoved off for good by Andrews and this has stirred up the political food chain alot. Our source tells us Elmo who has past retiring age and worked as a volunteer unpaid has been issued a letter he is no longer welcome due to "OH&S" reasons. But the way we heard it (unconfirmed) is that Elmo said something rude to Andrews who then took revenge.

Now we understand the ground staff have signed a petition, and heavy weights at the 'largest community centre in Australia' have signed it, like Terry Cutcliffe and Don Mamouney and other ground staff including live in caretakers.

Ironically we tend to think Andrews decision is ostensibly sound, but for different reasons. The individual involved is no friend of ours, too old to safely operate equipment, and a legal risk, and that's after 4 years part time (paid) work by this writer at the ARC till late 2007. But that doesn't stop us enjoying Andrews problems with internal ructions. And we are fascinated by the idea the decision was allegedly motivated by personal revenge without offering any opinion whether the source is correct or not. Did Elmo make some gibe about nepotism for hubby? Or was he sexist which is Andrews cause celebre as a feminist co-author with ex MP Meredith Burgmann? Anything is possible.

We noticed another gum tree cut down at the centre yesterday almost certainly in breach of Marrickville Council Tree Preservation Order. They don't care about little planning laws like that at the ARC.

Posted by editor at 6:44 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 23 January 2009 7:17 AM EADT
Sydney supporters of oppressed Gazans launch into press with powerful advert
Topic: human rights

The VIP endorsements on this advert below running yesterday indicate one clear truth: The world demands that the Israeli cat release the Gaza (and Palestinian) live mouse from it's military claws including outrageous blockade on UN supplies:

The game is up for the PR spin of the Friends of Israel as far as the double game of saying to domestic audiences in the West we have to protect our security and on the other appeasing the influential illegal, militant squatter movement and 30% who are polling in Israel supporting a pardon for Israeli Jewish Yigal Amir assassin of Labour PM Yitzak Rabin. The racism of elements of the IDF against Arabs was reported here 2 days ago.

Increasingly this reality is also cruelling Hilary Clinton's credentials as Secretary of State over in the USA. Her confirmation has been stalled. We noted here recently her nonesense about selectively blaming Hamas violence while literally 1.5 million Gazans are crushed under the heel of a ruthless food and humanitarian aid blockade.

Just like the disciplined Christian Jesuits it seems to escape the thinking of loyal Israel supporters here or the USA that when a people are desperate and defeated the last to maintain any organisation and capacity are the religiously dogmatic. It's a symptom of oppression. As an ABC journalist noted yesterday Gaza in 300 metres is stepping from 1st world Israel to 3rd world Palestine. And after the IDF demolitions it's even worse.

A good summary of both Clinton and the overall situation was provided by Dr Hanan Ashrawi on ABC Radio National yesterday. This is a good contrast with the tendentious and flawed opinion piece by one Albert Dadon, founder, chairman of the "Australia Israel Cultural Exchange", and the ironically titled piece by academic Niv Horesh back on 9 January 2009. Amazing it is how Hamas compliance for 4 months with a ceasefire truce is constantly hidden amongst broad statistics as if to prove black is white, that it never happened.

This is intolerable. Yes there are many terrible abuses on human rights underway in other parts (refugees towed out to sea by Thailand to die a terrible death) but Australians are generally aware of substantial support to Israeli institutions with Australian money and political solidarity. We are very connected culturally and politically here in Sydney. This is a conflict that strong democratic analysis here can play a genuine role. As Gandhi said - knowing your arguments well helps avoid violence.

Posted by editor at 6:22 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 23 January 2009 8:57 AM EADT
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Friends of Israel role out anti semitism guilt trip diversion from $billions in damage, prima facie war crimes
Topic: big media

As observed previously we are in a PR war environment in the big media here. Ten days ago a batch of Holocaust guilt trip stories got a run as the Israeli Defence Force escalated extreme violence against the elected government of Gaza and their 1.5 million in population. The purpose of the history lesson no doubt was to excuse any actions by Israel today via the world's 4th largest army against puny rockets. Rockets that Hamas suspended for 4 months on a promise the food blockade would be lifted by Israel.

Similarly as the reality of the $billions in destruction, and the war crimes involved in some at least of the 5,000 plus injured and killed in Gaza, is now apparent, the next PR tactic of the Friends of Israel emerges: Claims of toxic local anti semitism. It's all about silencing the message from the Arabs affected.

Taken at it's worst regardless of whatever local hate speech gets around, the reality remains that the immediate victims without any doubt are the Gazans at the hands of a ruthless IDF in the name of collective punishment for their Hamas Government. The Friends of Israel (foi), either organised lobby, or The Australian editorial today, or Michael Ronaldson MP opinion piece same newspaper, are either in denial of, or complicit in, the ruthless starvation blockade for 4 months inevitably leading to rocket fire and renewed conflict with Hamas. UN supplies were blocked. Israel launched a fatal airstrike on Nov 4th (the day the USA voted overwhelmingly to elect Barack Obama).

The foi are in denial of, or complicit in, the arming of the 500,000 strong racist illegal squatter movement inevitably found within the ranks of the IDF in Gaza given the fact of complusory military service. The foi are in denial of, or complicit in, the 30% of Israelis who support a pardon for assassin Yigal Amir murderer of Labour PM Yitzak Rabin, and by extrapolation support expulsion of Arabs from Palestine to form a 'Greater Israel'. Such people should never be armed in Gaza or anywhere.

Above is a credible report of war crimes by elements of Israel's IDF in today's Sydney Morning Herald via the London Telegraph which would never be reported let alone acknowledged in an editorial in The Australian, or so it seems. Fact is Israel's nasty little war in Gaza was a variation on George W Bush's WMD folly in Iraq with similar murderous consequences.

The cause of the war was the deliberate intention to topple an enemy government including by malicious provocations with starvation blockade and brutal bombing raids. Israel reserves the right to continue that blockade and renew the slaughter.

The drum beat of world opinion against Israeli aggression and slaughter is loud. The forestalling of a Palestinian state by the ultra right of Israeli politics is quite obvious. The pandering to the ultra right voters come Feb 2009 election is obvious. The significance of the following piece is not so much the opinions but that it has run in the home newspaper of the government town/capital city of Australia. The author Bob Ellis has been associated informally with the Australian Labor Party in power here his long professional life:

Israeli attacks on Gaza are war crimes - Opinion - Editorial ... The Canberra Times 15 Jan 2009

Posted by editor at 11:49 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 January 2009 1:40 PM EADT
Joe Biden is USA President for 5 minutes, courtesy of beautiful music for Obama fans
Topic: world

Something happened earlier today. Our 12 hour reflux pill ran out. But it also meant it was about 3.30am Sydney time and a certain Dude was moving on up.

Sure enough the new US President Elect Dude was on all the free to air channels.

Funny too that Robert Penfold of Network 9 said as the W Bush office ended at 12 noon the new pres would be in power 'with no break for one minute or one second'. Well true in the wrong way. Pre 12 noon Washington time the Vice Pres Joe Biden took his oath, but Barak H Obama was blessed with a 5 minute over run by the Aretha Franklin and 4 piece classical interlude composed by John Williams including delightfully named Yo Yo Ma playing. And after the acceptance rhetoric came ... a poet. And she was good too.

This meant Biden was for a moment in history the 44th President until he was duly shoved aside by the real schedule. That was his chance for a coup.

This president may or may not succeed but there is going to be love in his administration at least as reflected by the power of the arts, harnessing the value of culture. Truly music can articulate where words don't really cut it so the 5 minute over run didn't really bother. This possibly echoed Obama a few days ago 'there will be false starts, there will be mistakes'. He even paused during the oath like 'on your wedding day'.

His wife has just become a widow of sorts. His daughters fatherless.

We noticed some other things in the common feed - for barely a second a relieved GW Bush in the official audience giving up his crushing burden. On 22% approval rating, less than impeached Nixon. Obama's flickering interest in the invocation to 'lead with humility', an echo of his biographer interview on 7.30 last night.

And there it is - time for another zantac. If we had to say there were omens in the ceremony it would be yes there will be slip ups and strong recovery and success, that Biden will play a bigger role than anyone expects, and Hilary Clinton a smaller one having achieved an office beyond her competence, like GW Bush and John Howard here.

Posted by editor at 4:20 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 January 2009 10:10 AM EADT
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Sad, grim dirty old men stories in pre Qld election skirmish?
Topic: aust govt

Who would recall in the rest of Australia that Bill D'Arcy was a former ALP MP in the huge provincial state of Queensland? Or that he he was convicted and gaoled for underage sex back in 2000?

It's a grim story about abuse of power and fall from grace. Now it's being dragged up into the light again in some kind of smear on the rival Liberal National Party here:

LNP to host talk to aid pedophile Bill D'Arcy | The Australian 20 Jan 2009

PM - D'arcy trial could prove tricky for Beattie 21 Jan 2000

This is confusing in itself because the orthodox view might be that it's the ALP who should want this to be buried yet the LNP are associating themselves? Or someone wants us to think so.

Our observation of politics over the years suggests when criminal sexual abuse is proven against senior people in either major party there is a delicate dance by the rivals to both exploit the adverse publicity but also to be careful not to be seen fanning the vigilante flames. This is because big human organisations being what they are they all have shameful skeletons. To a certain extent it's a Mexican standoff. Unless perhaps the politics have become so extreme the rivals have already reached for the nuclear option and fire at will.

This could be what we are now seeing from up north. It's bound to bring the whole of party politics into disrepute. Whether this is a valid and realistic assessment is probably arguable.

We hear on ABC PM show tonight what for all the world looks like even more fire from the ALP on the conservative party by reference to an 82 year old former speech writer for former National Party (now LNP) Premier Bjelke Peterson. Here is the local press:

Queensland libraries forced to ditch unclassified books | The Courier Mail ...19 Jan 2009

Library shelves packed with incest porn in Queensland | The Australian 20 Jan 2009

Seems the old goat likes to write about taboo subjects claiming this is all about free speech and Freudian fantasy, and it's not everyday you hear a serious political interview about censorship in these terms on the daily flagship radio current affairs show. In fact just about never.

Our conclusion: A rough and mean state election in Queensland must be coming up soon.

Posted by editor at 6:28 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 January 2009 6:56 PM EADT
ECAJ's Robert Goot hopeless sophistry in the Sydney Sun Herald on Gaza scandal
Topic: big media

Given the ceasefire postures in all the news last Sunday we only returned to this opinion piece today by the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (from the Sydney SunHerald sister paper to the SMH, in response to Julia Irwin MP the week before).

Just defence despite death toll - Opinion - smh.com.au 18 Jan 2009

Also we note that arguable or even valid claims of anti semitism are being rolled out by the Friends of Israel today in the press as another diversion from the horrific body count and $billions in damage to public infrastructure in Gaza - contained in a sidelplay in The Australian (article and lower section of the opinion page).

We detected this attempted shift in focus before by the F of I promotion of the Holocaust WW2 backgrounder pieces 10 days ago as if to guilt trip any critics of Israel with its reputed 4th biggest army in the world smashing Gaza.

Our quick notes on the selectivity of the Goot piece are instructive of the special pleading and sophistry by the dominant power in this tragedy. Here's a list of omissions by Goot:

1. Omits 4 months food blockade by Israel on the UN supplies to Gazans which can't be confused with Hamas weapon smuggling, with this starvation tactic a prelude and cause of the latest conflict. The SMH front pager yesterday 19 January quoting UN senior representative in Jerusalem (an Australian) Maxwell Gaylard, spikes this excuse for the blockade on Hamas as in reality a collective punishment on Gazans for their election of Hamas. Otherwise why blockade the UN relief supplies also? As the UN has stated 50% of people in Gaza are children and 45% of these are suffering anaemia. The blockade is clearly a constant low level form of torture and violence on the Gazans;

2. Omits the air strike by Israel killing 6 Hamas on November 4th 2008, day of the USA federal election as probably the first breach of the ceasefire, as reported by UK The Guardian;

3. Omits the political reality that 30% of Israeli society today, as reported by Haaretz, support a pardon for Yigal Amir the Israeli Jewish assassin convicted of the cold blooded murder of peace maker Labour Prime Minister of Israel Yitzak Rabin in late 1995. Amir has been sentenced to life in gaol. However Amir has been permitted to marry and visits by his wife and now young son born in 2005. Yigal Amir is a hero of the 500,000 strong illegal squatter movement in Israel who systematically steal Palestinian land and want to expel the Arabs from Gaza in the cause of a theocratic Greater Israel. These voters will be part of majority coalition politics in the Feb 2009 Israeli election.

Earlier today we were asked by a staffer of a big media organisation what was our interest in the media coverage on this topic really. It's a fair question. The answers are:

1. Democratic recognition of the voices of thousands of Australians opposed to Israel's attack in Gaza to be fairly represented as per the rally in Sydney last Sunday;

2. Avoidance of a nuclear arms race that envelops the whole world originating from that region;

3. Professioanal exposure of false media practice including spin and censorship exercised by the dominant power in that region and it's local loyalists;

4. Expose of the sinister illegal squatter movement in Israel;

5. Truth, justice and peace for all parties concerned in the conflict particularly the weakest.

In short all the usual community media objectives that have informed our work for over 15 years in the non government sector on environment and peace issues, inlcuding as an elected representative of the Bondi Ward in Sydney 1995-1999. That's our name there on bronze plaque at Waverley Library 3rd on the list:



Posted by editor at 1:35 PM EADT
ALP appeases contemptuous Sydney electorate over Gaza scandal with alternate shopping mall?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: local news


Back in the day (Feb 2003) the ALP were in the vanguard of an anti war rally and message against the Howard Coalition Government taking Australia into the Iraq war.

Today the federal Rudd Govt are silent on the atrocities in Gaza. Rather Rudd is pictured meeting with outgoing US ambassador to George W Bush in The Australian newspaper today at his Sydney residence in Kirribilli. Very cosy.

The ALP were totally absent from a big energetic rally of many thousands in the heart of Sydney last Sunday 18 January. And they hate being excluded from big serious issues of whatever flavour in the biggest city in the country in 'their' state.

They will know Sydney's multicultural society is seriously disgusted with Israel's warmongering in Gaza. They will know many in Sydney will be seriously disgusted with the ALP and PM Rudd failing to condemn the one sided slaughter of children and civilians generally, apparent targeting of many of the 53 UN facilities suffering direct hits, murder of UN staff, aid workers and ambulance drivers.

Presumably the wheels of local council approval here have been turning for a while but it does look like the ALP are throwing a bone to the constituency in this neatly packaged story below. Notice the Frank Lowy Westfield mention in the story as a major supporter of Israel. It's all in the subtext. Another seems to be don't worry, go shopping.

Who knows maybe the ALP, and even the Sydney Daily Telegraph in NSW feel guilty about their PM Rudd's failure to speak up for the starved and oppressed Palestinians after the front page story in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday. That story revealed a categorical UN report of Israel deliberately blockading and starving the 1.5 million residents of Gaza for months forcing an inevitable conflict with their elected Hamas government. 

Will an alternative to Westfield shopping centres satisfy the local Sydney protesters last Sunday contemptuous of Israel and the Rudd Govt? One doubts it.



Posted by editor at 11:24 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 January 2009 12:27 PM EADT

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