The public’s right to know is deflected by cries of mudslinging and by armies of spin merchants.
Government Incumbency Dominance
The benefits of incumbency are making changes in government difficult and leading to hollowing out of the political parties.
Chief Minister Survives Censure: Attacks Coroner Again
ACT Chief Minister Stanhope shows how incumbency helps defend the indefensible.
Downer’s Double Standards On Military Coups
Downer is selective in condemnation of coups.
More DFAT Hypocrisy: Woolcott’s Own Spin
An attack on governments who obscure the truth from one who used to practise it.
Doubts About The Causes Of Global Warming
A contrary view to the increasingly accepted view that global warming is man-made.
We can take precautionary measures to reduce energy consumption which are economically rational.
Bulldozing Progress in Papua-New Guinea
A social, economic and environmental disaster.
The Inverell Forum
Another successful meeting for those interested in something out of the ordinary.
Jewish Split Over Israel And Palestine
The independent Australian Jewish Voices differs from the hard-line Zionist colonists. (in full at end)
An Update From Hebron
The position in hebron is no better, but the activities of Jewish human rights groups gives rise for hope. (in full at end)
Guilt Inducement - Whiteness Studies
A new academic fad to make you feel guilty about your very being.
Spotlight On The Hill
A bumper edition of comment, mostly about things governments prefer not to talk about.
The Chameleon Crown: The Queen and Her Australian Governor by Anne Twomey.
A book review by Sir David Smith that is more like an essay. An essential background account if an incoming Rudd Government starts tinkering with current arrangemenrts.
JEWISH SPLIT OVER ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
Alan Fitzgerald welcomes a new Jewish lobby group – Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV). It marks the first crack in the united pro-Israel front maintained in public by all the other established Jewish lobby groups who are quick to denounce as anti-Semitic any criticism of Israel.
The IAJV comprises academics, lawyers, writers and one NSW ALP and one NSW Greens politician and is politically left of centre. In a statement of principles , the group said that Israel’s right to exist must be recognized and that Palestinians’ right to a homeland must also be acknowledged. It said that in a search for peace in the Middle East opinion should be ‘met by reasoned argument rather than vilification and intimidation’, which was just an attempt to close down debate.
One organizer claimed many Australian Jews were ‘basically brainwashed’ into unthinking support for Israeli Government policy towards Palestine. The new group, although small in number, was immediately attacked by the executive director of the Australian Israel Jewish Affairs Council, Dr Colin Rubenstein, as consisting of ‘all the usual suspects’. He claimed the group was dangerous and unrepresentative. He said that far from there being only one view of Israel and its policy towards Palestine there was a diversity of views and vigorous debate in the Jewish community.
While that may be true for the Jewish community they certainly present a united pro-Israel front when anyone else dares to criticize Israel. The power of the Jewish lobby in manipulating debate about Israel should not be under estimated.You can search the Hansard record of Parliamentary debates in vain for any evidence of vigorous and open discussion about the Jewish State, its illegal occupation of land on the West Bank and its continued construction of Jewish settlements in defiance of UN resolutions.
Whether due to cowardice, disinterest or fear of losing money donated by the Jewish lobby, our Federal politicians show a marked reluctance to say anything negative about Israel and its repressive policies towards Arabs and Palestinians in particular. While on paper Arab citizens of the Jewish state are equal under the law they suffer discrimination in housing, education, employment and even basic rights of movement in Jerusalem. Israel; in effect operates a system of apartheid towards its non-Jewish citizens.
There is only one Jewish member of the House of Representatives, Michael Darby, the ALP Member for Melbourne Ports ‘and Israel’, who has repeatedly opposed any debate about the Jewish State short of a eulogy.
There is about one Jewish lobby group for every 1,000 members of the Australian Jewish community (120,000). These can be mobilized whenever the community feels it is under attack and gives it influence out of proportion to its numerical base. Given Zionist paranoia, the Jewish community is ever vigilant to claim discrimination, harassment and anti-Semitic behaviour. An annual Report of anti-Semitic behaviour tends to reinforce this embattled attitude. No matter how minor, incidents such as graffiti or verbal abuse are recorded and the Holocaust invoked.
The IAJV has called on ‘alternative voices’ to be heard in the media which would make a nice change from the propaganda that operates today. The emergence of IJAV may allow a more mature debate to surface in the Australian community and media at large. And if soit would serve the long term interests of Israel better than the current situation of outright rejection of any criticism. There is not a military solution to Israel's existence.
None of this can excuse Islamic violence, bombings and demands for Israel to be wiped off the map.
AN UPDATE FROM HEBRON
Things have not improved in Hebron, the law is ignored, but help from Jewish groups against the Israeli hard liners is heartening, writes Mary Baxter (update on article in Issue No 10).
There were four occasions, between October and December 2006, when the Israeli army and police helped and encouraged Israeli settlers to trespass on Palestinian land. This is against Israeli law. The aim was probably to help Israeli settlers establish a bridgehead on Palestinian land so that in the future they can insist that they have been using the land. I am referring here to Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank outside Jerusalem. Hebron is no where near the so called ‘security wall’ or the ‘green line’. It is a busy city of 400,000 people in the middle of Palestinian territory and is usually peaceful. There are about 500 Israelis, living in small settlements in the suburb of Tel Rumeida and the old city. They say that Hebron belongs to them. They have little land and attack Palestinians who live near them, in an attempt to frighten the Palestinians into leaving.
On Sunday October 8th, the Israeli army invaded H1, Palestinian administered Hebron. That is, most of Hebron. They forced shops to close. Then the checkpoint for Palestinians was closed. This meant that people could not come home from work or shop for food. After much telephoning, it was opened spasmodically. Israeli settlers arrived at the checkpoint and blocked the way for Palestinians. About thirty soldiers escorted the settlers through the Palestinian only checkpoint and it was closed – until 7pm we were told. This was very bad because in Ramadan Palestinians eat at sunset. They needed to cook their food for a meal at 5.45pm. And workers needed to get home to eat it. There is another way, which is a ten minute taxi ride, which many can’t afford. The reason for the invasion was to take the Israeli settlers into a Palestinian house without permission. They wanted to see the Cave of Otneil Ben-Knaz. This was both trespass and invasion.
On Friday November 17th, about 100 Israeli settlers and their visitors went onto Abu Hekel land right next to their house. They were accompanied by two Israeli policemen, while three soldiers watched from behind a fence. They stayed for ninety minutes saying prayers and having a speaker. The family was naturally very frightened. They have been attacked by settlers on many occasions and also by soldiers. The following Friday this was repeated with forty settlers and police.
On December 17th, Palestinian children were stopped returning home from school. Israeli settlers were on Palestinian land, being protected by soldiers, who said that Palestinians would not be able to pass for 5 hours. This was a particularly serious offense for a number of reasons. Three of the reasons are as follows. Firstly, there has been an Israeli court order that Palestinians must be allowed go to their homes. Secondly, the police (who admitted the first reason) would not come and help. And thirdly because the Israeli army insists that Palestinian families, who live near their base, may not use the road but must pass this way. The trespass on Palestinian land is also an offense. The police when they finally came would not help the children or ask the Israeli settlers to leave. Instead they detained me and took me to the police station.
At this time, both International and Israeli human rights groups were watching what was happening. In one week, I had a visit from International Red Cross and a telephone call from the UN. We were also in contact with B’selem, ACRI, Yesh Din, Children of Abraham, Machsom Watch and Breaking the Silence. Israeli human rights workers were providing legal help for Palestinians and contacting people in authority for us. The young conscripted soldiers who arrived in November were helpful but many of their officers were not. The young soldiers’ attitude was made clear to me by such remarks as ‘you know what I think, but I can’t do anything’. Many of them were really nice kids and we were working well together. I would identify the children who must pass the Tel Rumeida settlement and they would see that they were safe. The police, whose job this was, were rarely available when needed. They took a long time to come and were not always helpful. They had been better earlier in the year.
Recently, Israeli TV has shown film of a settler woman, Yifat Elkobi, attacking 9 year old Sharif Abu Aeshah and his brother and screaming abuse at the family. Yifat attacked Palestinian children on many occasions over several years and, with other Israeli women, attacked Palestinian children, me and Israeli soldiers on November 18th 2006. The family says that since the TV screening, they have not been attacked. It certainly seems that there is reason for some hope if Israeli human rights groups continue to be involved. The recent formation of Independent Australian Jewish Voices and advertisements is also encouraging.