When will more Jews not back occupation and oppression?
26 Aug 2010

Many Australian Jews see their role as simply backing anything Israel does. Nuke Gaza? No worries. Those Palestinians clearly deserved it.
Here’s a letter in this week’s Australian Jewish News that perfectly captures the mood. Thanks for mentioning Independent Australian Jewish Voices!

Thank goodness for the unswerving, if not always uncritical, support for Israel by the overwhelming majority of Australian Jews. There is scope for legitimate debate reflecting opinions across the entire political spectrum, and our community organisations reflect and encourage genuine differences.
By contrast, the actions of self-styled “Jewish groups” such as the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) and Independent Australian Jewish Voices reflect only prejudice and bigotry.
Why do we never hear those independent voices raised in defence of the rights of Israeli civilians, or in condemnation of the atrocities perpetrated by our enemies? After years of anti-Israel rhetoric, the AJDS has reached a new low by
publicly supporting Israel boycotts.

Faced with the creeping Islamisation of Europe and the downgrading of support from the Obama Administration, it behoves all who are concerned for Israel’s safety and security to rally to its support.
When Jews like those at the AJDS purport to speak “as concerned Jews”, they are doing far more than expressing a contrary or independent political view.
They are encouraging and emboldening all anti-Semites who cower behind the cloak of anti-Zionism, including those committed to the annihilation of Israel. In so doing, they are endangering the physical safety of Israelis and the well-being of all Jews.

Tom Borsky
St Kilda East, Vic
Glenn Beck is not Martin Luther King Jr.
26 Aug 2010
Reporters should not be embedding
26 Aug 2010

A rather curious position for a journalist to argue, this time by Lindsay Murdoch in Fairfax:

Unless journalists are with the soldiers there will be little independent reporting of the war.
Embedding [Australian] journalists at Tarin Kot would improve the level of respect and trust between Defence and the media, which has deteriorated over years.
Some Australian military officers regard journalists as an enemy. Others just don’t know how to interact with journalists.

Somebody should remind Murdoch that the role of real journalists is to be independent, report critically on wars and not cosy up to the military brass.
Real journalists, anyway.

ABC talks about Afghanistan in a bubble
25 Aug 2010

As news emerges of a key aide of Hamad Karzai being on the CIA payroll – along with the country’s spy service – and Australia suffering another combat loss, ABC radio features a “debate” on the war with three men who share roughly similar views. No anti-war voices and no figures clearly calling for withdrawal (a position shared by the majority of the Australian population). And of course no Afghan voices themselves even get a look in.
That’s ABC “balance”.

Don’t see Turkey with rose-coloured glasses
25 Aug 2010

Turkey has recently received much global support for its strong stance against Israel and backing for the Palestinians. But Ankara’s repression of its Kurdish minority cannot be ignored.
The story of an American journalist recently deported for reporting on these very issues.

Wikileaks shows the CIA understands how the US is seen
25 Aug 2010

The latest Wikileaks revelations are intriguing and indicate a fear within the CIA that America may be seen as an incubator of terrorism (and, perish the thought, even a cause of violence):

The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks. And if that phenomenon were to become a widely held perception, the analysis said, it could damage relations with foreign allies and dampen their willingness to cooperate in “extrajudicial” activities, such as the rendition and interrogation of terrorism suspects.
That is the conclusion of the three-page classified paper produced in February by the CIA’s Red Cell, a think tank set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to provide “out-of-the-box” analyses on “a full range of analytic issues.”
Titled “What If Foreigners See the United States as an ‘Exporter of Terrorism’?,” the paper cites Pakistani American David Headley, among others, to make its case that the nation is a terrorism exporter. Headley pleaded guilty this year to conducting surveillance in support of the 2008 Lashkar-i-Taiba attacks in Mumbai, which killed more than 160 people. The militant group facilitated his movement between the United States, Pakistan and India, the agency paper said.
Such exports are not new, the paper said. In 1994, an American Jewish doctor, Baruch Goldstein, emigrated from New York to Israel, joined the extremist group Kach and killed 29 Palestinians praying at a mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, it said. That helped trigger a wave of bus bombings by the extremist Palestinian group Hamas in 1995, the paper noted.
As WikiLeaks disclosures go, this paper pales in comparison to the organization’s recent releases. Last month the group published 76,000 classified U.S. military records and field reports on the war in Afghanistan. That disclosure prompted criticism that the information put U.S. troops and Afghan informants at risk, along with demands from the Pentagon that the documents be returned. WikiLeaks says it is still planning to release 15,000 more Afghan war records that it has been reviewing to redact names and other information that could cause harm.
CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the significance of the paper: “These sorts of analytic products – clearly identified as coming from the Agency’s ‘Red Cell’ – are designed simply to provoke thought and present different points of view.”
While counterterrorism experts focus on threats to the homeland, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups “may be increasingly looking for Americans to operate overseas,” the paper said.
And if the made-in-America brand becomes well-known, foreign partners may become balky, perhaps even requesting “the rendition of U.S. citizens” they deem to be terrorists. U.S. refusal to hand over its citizens could strain alliances and “in extreme cases . . . might lead some governments to consider secretly extracting U.S. citizens suspected of foreign terrorism from U.S. soil.”

Nokia and their mates in Tehran
25 Aug 2010

In my book The Blogging Revolution I examined the role of Western web multinationals in assisting repressive regimes censoring information.
This latest story should therefore not come as a shock but how many Westerners realise that their mobile phone company is backing a dictatorship?

A jailed Iranian journalist is suing phone company Nokia on the grounds its surveillance technology helped Iranian authorities hunt him down.
Isa Saharkhiz has been in jail for over a year and his family says he has had his ribs broken from being beaten.
Saharkhiz says Nokia knowingly sold the surveillance technology to a regime renowned for its human rights abuses.
But Nokia says Iran is to blame for misusing the technology.
Saharkhiz fell foul of the Iranian regime because of an article he wrote during last year’s opposition protests.
The Islamic authorities accused him of taking part in massive anti-government rallies and set about arresting him.
He fled Tehran, but when he turned his Nokia mobile phone on briefly, he was caught and thrown in jail.
Saharkhiz’s son Mehdi, who lives in New York, says Nokia’s interception technology allowed the authorities to trace his father.
“When he left Tehran he shut off his phone. No-one knew where he was,” Mehdi said.
“He turned on his phone for a short period of time, being able to do an interview, and that’s where they were able to trace him, using that signal. He was arrested while he was talking on the phone.
“They actually traced his location from his cell phone to find where he was, so the technology was sold to trace and find people.”
Saharkhiz has been in jail now for 14 months, charged with trying to overthrow the Iranian government.
But through his son in America, he is suing Nokia in a US court on the grounds he was beaten and mistreated as a result of the Iranian government monitoring his phone calls.
“Nokia sold this technology to Iran knowing that it will be used not in the way that it was meant to be,” Mehdi said.
“We’re talking about a country that all around the world you’re not able to sell airplane spare parts to, but Nokia, for making a few more bucks they’ve risked so many people’s lives.
“We’re hoping to set a precedent so companies like this don’t sell people’s rights to make a few more dollars.”
No-one at Nokia was available to speak to the ABC.
In a recent statement to a European parliamentary committee on human rights, the phone carrier admitted it sold Iran the technology that allows authorities to track mobile phone users.
But the company says it is a standard feature for law enforcement.
It also acknowledges the technology has been used to suppress dissent and agrees that Nokia should have understood the human rights situation in Iran better.
But it says the lawsuit has been brought in the wrong place, against the wrong party, and on the wrong premise.
Nokia says it is the Iranian government that should be sued for misusing the technology.
Mehdi Saharkhiz says at the very least he is hoping the case will bring change.

The super-kosher rail car is coming to a Zionist state near you
25 Aug 2010

Segregation is central to Israeli society so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. An Haaretz editorial calls for sanity:

Maj. Gen. (res. ) Yair Naveh, CEO of the CityPass consortium that operates Jerusalem’s light rail system, has proposed allocating sex-segregated cars for ultra-Orthodox passengers. His proposal is astounding and exceeds his authority as director of a franchisee that provides public transportation services.
“The train was built to serve everyone,” Naveh said in defense of his proposal, adding, “I think it is necessary to create alternatives for everyone.” In his view, “It is not a problem to declare every third or fourth car a mehadrin [super-kosher] car.”
The train is indeed intended for everyone, but the significance of Naveh’s statement is the diametric opposite. Precisely because the light rail is a public service for the whole population, its passengers must not be forced to adapt themselves to the practices of one particular community.
Public transportation systems – trains, subways, elevated trains, buses, trolleys and planes – run all over the world without adapting to special needs (except, of course, the needs of people with disabilities, a matter that still needs considerable improvement in Israel ). Ever since segregation was banned on buses in the southern United States, it has not occurred to anyone in the free world to demand that transportation be segregated by race or religious creed.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn or London, who strictly separate the sexes in their own communities, ride ordinary public transportation. If they are not interested in sitting in mixed company, they arrange this for themselves without imposing on other passengers.
In Israel, the principle of equality in public transportation was breached when the Egged bus company, which is subsidized by the state, chose to provide segregated mehadrin lines for Haredi (ultra-Orthodox ) passengers at a reduced price, despite the protests from many passengers whose convenience was impaired.
The light rail system in Jerusalem is supposed to provide transportation service to both the city’s residents and visiting tourists. Segregated cars will merely reinforce ultra-Orthodox separatism, since the Haredim see segregation as a means of imposing their way of life on society as a whole. And it will further distance the public – local and foreign alike – from the capital city.
Naveh’s proposal should be shelved before it arouses a new wave of ultra-Orthodox demands.


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