Blair admits to lying (and his nose doesn’t grow longer)
31 Aug 2010

Tony Blair admits, in the context of Northern Ireland peace talks, that politicians were obliged from time to time to “conceal the full truth, to bend it and even distort it” in the interests of bigger strategic goals.


Australian Jewish group warms to BDS step by step
 31 Aug 2010

A statement from the left Zionist group Australian Jewish Democratic Society. Good to see they’re standing firm in the face of Zionist lobby pressure. Shame that they only see the importance of BDS regarding the occupied territories and not much deeper against the infrastructure of occupation (alive and well in Israel proper).
But it’s a start and should be welcomed.

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society considers the Occupation of the West Bank to be a significant obstacle to the achievement of a lasting peace, and the settlements to be one of its worst manifestations.
Its effects are numerous:
*Israel’s youth must risk their lives in policing a hostile aggrieved Palestinian population, and risk becoming brutalised by the experience;
* Jewish settlers and their Palestinian neighbours have an understandably impossible relationship which often results in openly violent and destructive behaviour;
*It breaches international law, the very system that actually made possible the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948;
*Development of Palestinian civil society and its economy, which are the prerequisites of prospects for peace, is stifled.
Many Israelis share this view. The AJDS has decided that it does not wish to give financial support to those who produce and export from the settlements, and wishes to discourage others from doing so. We are taking this stand because we hope that it will encourage people to think about the question of the Occupation, and, at a more fundamental level, because we don’t wish to be supportive of people who breach International law, with or without the approval of the Israeli Government.
This is why we refer to this as a limited Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy.
Our position relates only to the Occupied Territories. We reiterate that we are opposed to a full BDS position which does not distinguish between the two sides of the Green Line. We agree with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria that a full BDS is likely to be counter-productive, however it is not clear whether the JCCV position is an in principle opposition to all boycotts, as the JCCV and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry have supported boycotts and blockades targeted at Iran and Gaza.
The strength of a community is reflected in the range of voices that it encompasses. To exclude ours would suggest that the JCCV does not represent the full community but just those who are to the right of centre mainstream. The JCCV has a right to criticise an affiliate when it considers it appropriate. However, the JCCV did not first discuss its concerns with the AJDS and many of its “accusations” are incorrect.
Our point by point rebuttal of the JCCV accusations is available as the attachment below, but we do suggest that the JCCV now talk with us directly to clarify their misunderstandings. Indeed, an apology would be in order. If it is considered that the AJDS is on the fringe of the Australian Jewish community, could we draw attention to one of the findings of the community survey undertaken last year by Monash University? Using a liberal definition of Zionism it found that 20 per cent of Australian Jewish respondents self-defined as non-Zionists. We suggest that this puts us well and truly within the mainstream. But seemingly some would prefer the JCCV to not represent Melbournians of our persuasion at all, let alone those to our left.
Furthermore, it should be pointed out that one third of the membership of the AJDS lives outside traditional Jewish areas of Melbourne. Our membership of the JCCV brings them into the orbit of the JCCV. Likewise many of our members have no involvement with any other Jewish group. Our affiliation truly puts meaning to “community” in the JCCV’s title. It behoves the community, led by our roof body, to reach out to all Jews, no matter their differences, whether political, religious adherence, geographic, ethnic or of sexual orientation.


Palin needs all the Jews she can round up
 31 Aug 2010

Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin.
Feel the pro-settler, anti-Islam love.


Who knew Iraq could be a bloodbath? Many people
 31 Aug 2010

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald on the mainstream media’s refusal to take responsibility for the carnage in Iraq.


Get ready for the Ahmadinejad Google
 31 Aug 2010

Foreign Policy’s Evgeny Morozov explores the possibility of an Iranian search engine and the “growing politicization of the internet in general and of search space in particular.”


How Lebanon could teach Americans a thing or two about acceptance
 31 Aug 2010

The story of Lebanon’s oldest synagogue restored to its former glory, including with the backing of Hizbollah.


Overland 200
31 Aug 2010

Overland magazine is one of Australia’s finest independent journals. I contributed the lead essay in 2008 about the resource wars.
The publication is progressive and proud.
It has just released its 200th edition and a number of leading leftists were asked to briefly define the “Left” in 2010 and what it means to them.
Here’s my response:

In the 21st century, I comfortably find myself on the Left and not having to belong to a political party or advocacy group. To define the “brand” seems almost futile. A great opportunity was missed after the calamitous global financial crisis, when the failure of uncontrolled capitalism was clear for all to see. Very few prominent leftists, however, appeared to articulate an alternative economic model. That was our moment and we blew it. The GFC will happen again and the same journalists and finance gurus will be shaking their heads wondering why.
One issue that the Left is increasingly embracing is the Israel/Palestine conflict. Whereas in decades past the Left may have embraced “plucky” Israel, these days Israeli apartheid is endangering the world and the Jewish state is justifiably isolated. Its legitimacy is rightly challenged. I’ve discovered that many Jews who call themselves leftists still retain an emotional bond to Israel, a moral blind-spot that can somehow defend the Israeli occupation or Israel’s right to discriminate against Arabs. The true litmus test is therefore this: do you believe in the same equal rights for all, Jew, Arab, Christian, Muslim, Bedouin or atheist? Sadly, too many Jews are still unable to positively answer this question.


$100bn to combat climate change
 31 Aug 2010

As climate change now threatens a 3.5C rise by 2100, perhaps this will knock sense into people (though probably not, until Manhattan begins to suffer):

The world’s most high-profile climate change sceptic is to declare that global warming is “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and “a challenge humanity must confront”, in an apparent U-turn that will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby.
Bjørn Lomborg, the self-styled “sceptical environmentalist” once compared to Adolf Hitler by the UN’s climate chief, is famous for attacking climate scientists, campaigners, the media and others for exaggerating the rate of global warming and its effects on humans, and the costly waste of policies to stop the problem.
But in a new book to be published next month, Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. “Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century,” the book concludes.


How do you spell Palestinian complicity?
 31 Aug 2010

Must we suffer these tiresome articles featuring the supposedly soothing words of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad – in office illegally, by the way – talking about his “vision” for a Palestinian state by 2011?
Good luck with that, with Israeli and American aid behind you.


Finding arms deals in the strangest of places
30 Aug 2010

A fascinating and murky tale of alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout who clearly was the best friend of anybody who paid, not least the US:

Accused of a 15-year run as one of the world’s biggest arms traffickers, Viktor Bout is thought to be a consummate deal maker.
Now his future may hang on whether he can strike one last bargain: trading what American officials believe is his vast insider’s knowledge of global criminal networks in exchange for not spending the rest of his life in a federal prison.
Justice Department officials were relieved on Aug. 20 when a Thai appeals court approved the extradition of Mr. Bout (pronounced boot), a Russian, from Bangkok, where he has been incarcerated since 2008. But they are wary of declaring victory in a long diplomatic wrangle with Russia until Mr. Bout actually arrives to face charges in Manhattan, a development that could be days or weeks away.
Immersed since the early 1990s in the dark side of globalization, Mr. Bout has mastered the trade and the transport that fuel drug cartels, terrorism networks and insurgent movements from Colombia to Afghanistan, according to former officials who tracked him. And he is believed to understand the murky intersection of Russian military, intelligence and organized crime.
“I think Viktor Bout has a great deal of information that this country and other countries would like to have,” said Michael A. Braun, chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration from 2005 to 2008, when the agency was engineering the sting operation that led to Mr. Bout’s arrest in Bangkok two years ago.
“It’s a question of whether he sees his wife and kid again someday, after 10 or 15 or 20 years,” said Mr. Braun, now with Spectre Group International, a private security firm. “I think there’s potential for a deal.”
Mr. Bout, who has lost about 70 pounds while imprisoned in Thailand, has shown no inclination to cooperate with investigators. In interviews, he has portrayed himself as an honest businessman who would transport whatever he was paid to carry, whether disaster relief supplies or attack helicopters. On his Web site he calls himself “a born salesman with undying love for aviation and eternal drive to succeed.”
He has labeled as “ridiculous” American charges that he agreed to sell shoulder-fired missiles to D.E.A. agents posing as members of a Colombian leftist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. “I have never traded in weapons,” he said in a statement released Friday. His wife, Alla, who has visited him in Bangkok with their teenage daughter, Elizabeth, has told reporters he traveled to South America “for tango lessons.”
By the mid-1990s, Mr. Bout’s growing private air force had come to the attention of Western intelligence agencies. By 2000, when Lee S. Wolosky became director for transnational threats at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, Mr. Bout’s web of companies was turning up in country after country, Mr. Wolosky said.
“My colleagues who worked on Africa noticed that he was popping up in each conflict they were trying to resolve: Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola,” said Mr. Wolosky, now a lawyer in New York. “He had a logistics capability that was matched by very few nations.”
Mr. Bout developed ties with such notorious figures Charles Taylor of Liberia, bedded down next to his plane in African war zones and sometimes took payment in diamonds, bringing his own gemologist to assess the stones. His arms escalated the toll of the fighting. “Wars went from machetes and antique rifles to A.K.’s with unlimited ammunition,” Mr. Farah said.
Former American officials say they worked on a plan to grab the arms dealer and deliver him to either Belgium or South Africa to face criminal charges, a procedure known as “rendition to justice.” Before they could act, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Mr. Bout a lower priority.
Mr. Wolosky said he and his colleagues were astonished to learn from later news reports that Mr. Bout’s companies were used as subcontractors by the American military to deliver supplies to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, earning about $60 million, by Mr. Farah’s estimate.
“I read those reports with shock,” Mr. Wolosky said. “Personally, I attributed it to the disorder of the Iraq war effort.”


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