A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC

ABC News24 on killing Afghan civilians, Assad and ignoring indigenous lessons

Posted: 01 Apr 2011

Last night I was a guest on ABC TV News24′s The Drum to discuss issues of the day (video here). 
Foreign issues were front and centre.
America’s Kill Team in Afghanistan – US troops murdering civilians for fun – is just the latest example of occupiers in inhospitable lands treating those they’re supposed to protect with contempt. It happened in Vietnam – calling Vietnamese gooks – and today in the Muslim world they’re named towelheads. Indeed, as I said, there are countless examples of American soldiers since 9/11 explaining – especially during the largely ignored Winter Soldier hearings in 2008 – what they did to Iraqis and Afghans; often dehumanising and smearing them.
Liberation, indeed.
In Syria, President Assad has tried to appease pro-democracy protesters by offering to “reform”. But Damascus isn’t a US client state so therefore far less able to be pressured by Washington. Furthermore, Israel would much rather Assad remain in power (Zionism always needs a bogeyman). I argued that anybody predicting the Middle East at the moment was a fool but it was clear real democracy in Syria would be most welcome. Of course, the West would create the Islamist monster to scare us all.
Finally, Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called for a welfare to work plan that would force those on the lowest incomes to earn their keep. The issue here isn’t just that this is the easiest, tabloid-friendly policy – look, get those dole-bludgers to work! – but that it comes after similar plans were tried and failed in the Northern Territory intervention, a policy opposed by most indigenous leaders. I said that the best way to raise far more money by the state was to tax the rich on a much higher rate. They can afford it.

Serco’s trick; reward failure with a pay rise

Posted: 01 Apr 2011 12:50 AM PDT

Australia’s immigration detention centres, woefully mismanaged by Serco and the Federal government, is in chaos
But not to worry. Serco head honcho clearly deserves more money for causing misery to countless thousands:

Serco Group Plc (SRP), a U.K. outsourcing company that derived about half its revenue from public-sector contracts last year, raised the pay of Chris Hyman, its chief executive officer, by 18 percent, to 1.86 million pounds ($2.97 million), and that of Finance Director Andrew Jenner by 7 percent, to 948,300 pounds, the Financial Times reported, citing the company’s annual report.
Those figures exclude pensions and long-term incentives, for which comparable figures weren’t immediately available, the newspaper said.
In addition to his basic salary and annual bonus, Hyman exercised share options worth 1.6 million pounds during the year, the FT said.
Mark Serwotka, who heads the Public and Commercial Services union, said it “ought to be a national scandal” that such executives are “making vast sums” when their profits depend largely on the taxpayer, the newspaper said.
Serco said the pay levels were justified as the business “performed strongly in highly competitive markets,” the FT added.

Time in Australia to pile onto anybody who speaks out against Israel

Posted: 01 Apr 2011 12:45 AM PDT


While Andrew Robb describes Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s criticisms of the Greens as ‘contrived’, he accuses the Greens of anti-semitism.
It is NSW Greens policy to support a boycott of the state of Israel.
Senator elect Leigh Rhiannon told online opinion site New Matilda that the Greens could have campaigned better around the NSW Greens policy.
“Collectively we didn’t do enough to amplify support for [a boycott] and show that this is part of an international movement,” she is quoted as saying.
“This creeping anti-semitism I think is something we don’t need in Australia,” says Andrew Robb.
“The boycott is driven, in my view, strong ant-Israel views that are starting to emerge in parts of the community,” he says.
“The fact that the Greens, not only this one Senator, but the fact that the NSW state conference of the Greens has adopted a resolution calling on a boycott – it’s a very extremist position,” says Andrew Robb.


Newly elected NSW Government member Chris Hartcher has reiterated his intention to hold Marrickville Council to account over its support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Earlier this month, then shadow minister for inter governmental relations told The AJN he was “putting Marrickville Council on notice”.
“I don’t intend to allow councillors to waste ratepayers’ money on this sort of thing if the NSW Coalition is elected to form government next month,” he said at the time.
When contacted by The AJN this week, Hartcher reiterated that if he is appointed as minister, he “will move quickly on the issue of Marrickville Council”.
Under Section 434 of the Local Government Act, a minister can ask councils to account for particular practices.

Speaking of Murdoch thuggery over Israel/Palestine

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 09:50 PM PDT

Another small step in the glorious path of Rupert Murdoch’s legacy. How can I hate Palestinians this week, my minions? 
Here’s Australian Murdoch editor David Penberthy writing today about the Greens and racism (this coming from a man whorecently suggested backing BDS against Israel was akin to Kristalnacht under the Nazis.).

I wrote a piece a few weeks ago describing this planned identification of businesses with links to the Jewish state as “a polite modern rendering of Kristalnacht”.
Some Greens were deeply offended by this. Their indignation at protecting the memory of the Holocaust can be easily dismissed as confected.
If they regard this period of history as something we should learn from, surely they would baulk at the idea of creating a blacklist of businesses with links to the Jewish state.
Jewish Labor MP Michael Danby was perfectly happy to place this proposal in its proper historical context, saying that Marrickville Council could just start painting the Star of David on offending businesses.
If every council in the world adopted this policy, the Israeli state would be destroyed economically. It would cease to exist.
The Greens clearly believe they were damaged by sinister coverage of the policy. They weren’t. They were damaged because the policy is sinister. The paring back of the Greens’ primary vote from what had been forecast in the polls suggested two things.
It suggested their policies are out of step with the mainstream, and that the mainstream may also be uneasy with the way the Greens have been behaving in coalition with the Federal Government.
Neither of those messages has sunk in with the Greens, as evidenced by an interesting interview that Jamie Parker gave this week to the Left-oriented opinion website New Matilda.
The piece was written by the independent journalist Antony Lowenstein [sic], a strident critic of the Jewish state and the author of My Israel Question.
Lowenstein asked Parker about the reaction of Jewish people in the inner-west to the coverage of the Israel boycott. He also spoke to Parker about the fact that his car had been vandalised and that he had received death threats and letters calling him a Nazi and a Jew-hater.
Parker was quoted as saying the following:
“These Jews provide cover for extreme actions if they occur. If there’s a sniff of you being critical of Israel, such Jews will attack you and cut you loose. Lefty Jews told me that you can’t be surprised if extreme people do extreme things but they wouldn’t come out in public and condemn it.”
Parker’s choice of language in this interview has now been picked up by people in the Jewish community, some of them with links to ALP, as further evidence that the Greens have got a few issues they need to resolve here.
“These Jews” now believe Parker went close to claiming the Greens had been a victim of some kind of Jewish conspiracy.
As Pauline Hanson might say, Jamie, please explain.

Here’s some advice for Penberthy and his cuddly mates; read something about what’s happening in Palestine instead of receiving your information from the Zionist lobby. You’re embarrassing yourself with this ignorance, like defending apartheid South Africa during its darkest days.
One day you’ll realise this. You’re on the wrong side of history (but of course, your charming boss has backed every US-led war in the Middle East for the last decades).

The ugly little Australian coalition against Palestinian rights (that will fail)

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 09:10 PM PDT

So this is how it works when advocating for Palestinian human rights. You’ll be smeared, accused of anti-Semitism and told you hate Jews. Anything to avoid discussion about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians; apartheid. 
I wrote an article this week for New Matilda detailing the New South Wales Greens and its policy of backing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. A number of key figures were interviewed about the NSW election campaign, what went right and what went wrong.
Today’s Murdoch Australian leads with this laughable front page non “story”, essentially finding countless corporate politicians and Zionist lobby hacks to smear the NSW Greens Federal Senate member Lee Rhiannon for daring to support the “radical” BDS:

Greens leader Bob Brown is under mounting political and diplomatic pressure to pull his hard-left senator-elect Lee Rhiannon into line as she intensifies her support for a radical boycott of Israel.
Ms Rhiannon, who will take her Senate spot on July 1 when the Greens take the balance of power in the upper house, yesterday drew condemnation from Labor and the Coalition after expressing regret that the NSW Greens did not campaign harder for a boycott of Israeli goods and services at last weekend’s state election.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson said last night the policy was disgusting and he feared it represented an extremism that would make its way to Canberra.
Dr Emerson told The Australian: “Confirmation by senator-elect Rhiannon of this disgusting policy is reprehensible.”
He applauded voters in the inner-western Sydney seat of Marrickville, who returned erstwhile Labor deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt to parliament over Greens candidate Fiona Byrne, a supporter of an Israeli boycott.
“Good on the people of Marrickville for rejecting this Greens extremism, and I am confident that the rest of Australia will too.”
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the Gillard government did not condone nor support any boycotts or sanctions against the Jewish state.
Senator Brown’s office said an Israeli boycott was not Greens national policy, but Coalition figures said they were concerned Ms Rhiannon would influence the party’s platform when she arrived in Canberra.
Ms Rhiannon was quoted on the online news site New Matilda as saying, in the wake of the Coalition’s landslide victory in NSW, that the Greens should have spent more time building support for the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, particularly among academics, Arab communities and social justice groups.
“Months before the election we needed to explain why the Greens backed BDS and we needed to work closer with our allies on BDS – academics, the Arab community and social justice movements in Sydney and Melbourne,” Ms Rhiannon was quoted as saying.
“Collectively we didn’t do enough to amplify support for BDS and show that this is part of an international movement.”
An Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce spokesman warned yesterday that boycotts on Israeli goods could prevent access to potentially groundbreaking water-saving technology and telecommunications switches that may be picked up by the National Broadband Network.
Ms Rhiannon refused to return The Australian’s calls yesterday, as did all federal Greens MPs.
Tony Abbott denounced her position, calling on Julia Gillard to distance Labor from Ms Rhiannon’s views. “The Coalition completely rejects any campaign designed to weaken Israel and can’t understand why a supposed environmental party are involved in this nonsense,” the Opposition Leader told The Australian.
“Given the Greens are Labor’s political bedfellows, I call on the Prime Minister to pull her alliance partner into line.”
Other Liberal MPs expressed concern that Ms Rhiannon’s position would infect the federal Greens platform and contaminate government policy.
“I am particularly concerned that Lee Rhiannon, who is going to become a member of the governing Labor/Greens alliance federally, is going to bring those views into this alliance,” Liberal senator Mitch Fifield told The Australian.
But Senator Fifield also dismissed Dr Emerson’s attack on the Greens in light of the deal signed by Ms Gillard with Senator Brown last September to secure minority government. “The fact that Labor is prepared to be in a governing alliance with the Greens makes their denunciation of the (NSW) Greens’ Israel boycott ring a little hollow,” he said.
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said Ms Rhiannon’s comments were “extreme”, “highly prejudicial” and “deeply troubling”.
She said that, in light of Ms Rhiannon’s views, the Prime Minister needed to guarantee the Greens would not influence her government’s foreign policy.
“Given that the Greens do not support our alliance with the US either, the Prime Minister must guarantee the Greens will not influence Labor’s foreign policy in the same way as they have influenced Labor’s policy on a carbon tax,” Ms Bishop said.
A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said last night: “Australia is firmly committed to Israel’s security and fully recognises the significant security challenges Israel faces.
“The Australian government has consistently supported a negotiated two-state solution to the Middle East peace process where Israel and a future Palestinian state live side by side in peace and security.”
Ms Rhiannon, who entered the NSW Legislative Council in March 1999 and is a former member of the Socialist Party of Australia, is one of four new Greens senators who will travel to Canberra in July.
They will take the number of Greens in the upper house to nine, securing the party the balance of power and greater influence over Labor’s legislative agenda.
It is official Greens policy to “support the rights of the Palestinian peoples to statehood through the creation of a viable state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, based on the pre-1967 borders and the right of all peoples in the region to peace”.
In December, however, delegates from local NSW Greens groups unanimously endorsed a series of military, trade and services boycotts of Israel and the international BDS movement as a way of supporting Palestinian self-determination.
The proposal passed by the NSW Greens state council and, in a December 7 media release, called upon all Australians and “the Australian government to boycott Israeli goods, trading and military arrangements, and sporting, cultural and academic events as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territory”.
At the time, Ms Rhiannon said the Greens were hopeful their “backing of the BDS movement will win more Australian support for this important cause”.
An Israeli embassy spokeswoman urged the Greens to engage in dialogue rather than support boycotts, suggesting such a path would embolden radicals.
“Those who are behind the policy of singling out Israel through a boycott are clearly showing their true colours,” she said. “The whole boycott program strengthens the radicals in a lot of ways.
“A lot of people who support the boycotts have never read the BDS charter which states Israel should be just a one-state country.
“It does not support negotiations at all.”
Jeremy Jones, the director of international affairs with the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council, said the more Ms Rhiannon publicised her views on the BDS, the more it would harm the Greens.
“It is an extreme policy and it goes against any purported interest in reconciliation, peace or justice,” Mr Jones said. “The only possible impact (of a BDS) is to strengthen the hand of extremists on all sides of the equation.”
Mr Jones said he did not believe the federal Greens would accept a BDS as federal policy and suggested the policy had sparked a very strong negative reaction among the public in inner-city seats such as Marrickville.

This is “journalism”, Murdoch style. Find some opportunistic people to talk about anything except what Israel is doing in Palestine. It hasn’t worked globally and it won’t work here but this won’t stop lazy reporters making a story out of nothing. Of course, the fact that the paper didn’t mention that the New Matilda article from which they quote was written by me is simply the ethics-free zone in operation globally in the Murdoch empire.
Unfortunately, Greens leader Bob Brown has criticised Rhiannon, the sign of a leader who doesn’t really understand the Israel/Palestine conflict and is afraid to take on the Zionist lobby:

Greens leader Bob Brown has carpeted future Senate colleague Lee Rhiannon for her anti-Israel stance, telling her the policy was a mistake that cost the party votes in the NSW state election.
He has also accused Julia Gillard of insulting Australians by suggesting Greens voters do not have a love of family or their nation.
Senator Brown said the Israel boycott proposal was against his advice and had alienated NSW voters when the party should have been focusing on bread-and-butter issues.
He had conveyed his views to Greens senator-elect Ms Rhiannon in a “robust” phone call this morning.
Senator Brown said the federal Greens in no way endorsed the policy.
“The NSW Greens have taken to having their own shade of foreign policy,” Senator Brown said.
“It was a mistake. I differ from Lee on that, and so do the other components of the NSW Greens, who handled so badly that part of the campaign against my advice.
“I reiterate that the policy she and the NSW Greens had in the run to the NSW election was wrong emphasis.
“NSW voters wanted to hear about issues affecting them day-to-day, it’s one that has been rejected by the Australian Greens.”

The Victorian Greens also show themselves to be gutless in the face of Zionist pressure:

The Victorian Greens distanced themselves from their NSW counterparts’ controversial Israel boycott proposal today as a prominent Jewish federal MP attacked the policy as “absolutely extreme”.
Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said the party’s state branch did not support the NSW branch’s BDS policy, which advocates a boycott, divestment and sanctions targeting Israel.
“We never have (considered it), it’s never even been put to any forum in Victoria as far as I am aware,’ he said of the policy, championed by NSW Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon.
Mr Barber said he was too far removed to say whether the BDS policy had hurt the party’s bid for the Sydney inner-city seats of Marrickville and Balmain.
“I’m just a state MP trying to get the trains running,” he said.
Labor’s Mark Dreyfus, the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, said he was concerned at Ms Rhiannon’s views and their potential to damage Australian-Israeli relations.
“I’m concerned that we’ve got a senator coming in on the 1st of July who seems to have absolutely extreme views on Israel, that I’m confident that the vast majority of Australians don’t share,” he told ABC radio in Melbourne.
“She’s actually calling, as are her state Greens party colleagues in NSW, for a boycott of the state of Israel, when we have a warm, longstanding friendship with the state of Israel.
“We have trade relations with Israel and we have very fruitful academic exchanges with the state of Israel.
“Australia would be the poorer if we were, for no reason at all, to cut off relations with the state of Israel – which is ridiculously what Lee Rhiannon is calling for.”

Finally – and all courtesy of the Australian, that bastion of corporate “journalism” – another Israeli spokesman says the boycott is problematic:

Israeli trade commissioner Ehud Gonen has warned that the Greens-dominated Marrickville Council’s policy of boycotting Israeli goods could contravene international trade rules that Australia has signed up to.
Mr Gonen told The Australian Online that, under the World Trade Organisation charter, Australia was forbidden from discriminating against goods imported from another member.
Marrickville Council in Sydney’s inner west passed a motion in December pledging to effectively sever all commercial, sporting, cultural, academic and government links with Israel.
The council undertook to identify links with any organisations or companies that “support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine”, and then sever them.
But Mr Gonen said today that Australia and Israel were both members of the WTO and signatories to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
“It’s not permitted within the WTO/GATT charter for elected bodies, including local governments, to do any boycott,” he said.
“Of course we know that Australia will respect its obligation. We think this boycott is illegal and it’s not going to happen.
“I personally take this, from a symbolic point of view, as very negative. But practically it makes no sense.”

So what does all this really mean? That the establishment is scared. Worried that BDS will take off in Australia like it has globally. Concerned that people will start looking more closely at a Zionist state that happily occupies Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. And where are the progressive Jews, unions and backers of Palestine speaking out in support of BDS? They need to raise their voices. Now.
Bottom line? This smear job will fail. And Israel will become increasingly internationally isolated. As it deserves. When you occupy another people for decades, you must pay a price. BDS is one answer.
These bullying tactics are even turning off many young Jews, something I hear all the time. For example, here’s Manny Waks, Zionist Australian, writing yesterday on J Wire:

Young Jews are regrettably alienated by prevailing approaches to the advocacy of Israel. I am unequivocally supportive of Israel—my birthplace and spiritual homeland—and at the age of 18 I travelled to Israel to serve in the Golani Brigade. I have also published widely in support of Israel and accept its centrality in the Jewish consciousness. However, and tragically, many young Jews are at best indifferent, and at worst antagonistic towards Israel.
In his 2010 article, The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment, Peter Beinart notes that, ‘In recent years, several studies have revealed, in the words of Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College and Ari Kelman of the University of California at Davis, that “non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders,” with many professing “a near-total absence of positive feelings.”’ Inevitably, many within the younger demographic are alienated by the uncritical alignment with Israel of our structured communal roof bodies. National and State communal roof bodies should focus largely on matters that concern the local Jewish community. Advocacy of Israel should instead be the province of those organisations who unambiguously have this mandate. This would, to some extent, prevent the alienation of those Jews who do not have a favourable view of Israel.

We’ll be helping those splits grow even wider.

Scared of BDS, Zionists? Lingerie won’t save your nightmare

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 07:51 PM PDT

Almost comical (but actually tragic): 

“Like sexy panties?”
The Birthright Israel Alumni Community, an initiative of the Jewish Enrichment Center, wants you to oppose boycotts of Israel because that’s where Victoria’s Secret lingerie is manufactured.
Except that it’s not. After receiving fabric from Israel, the undergarments are actually made by Palestinian women and foreign workers in Jordan who toil under brutal, intolerable conditions and then sew “Made in Israel” tags onto their work. The underwear is then returned to Israel, which exports it to the U.S. Yay, exploited labor masquerading as economic cooperation!

Of course Australian establishment worried that true face of Israel is revealed

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 07:46 PM PDT

It’s ugly and racist
Long-time Australian human rights activist Pip Hinman writes in today’s ABC Unleashed of the stakes:

A vicious smear campaign against the Greens candidate for Marrickville Fiona Byrne in the NSW state election reveals just how worried the powers-that-be are about the prospect of the NSW Greens winning a lower house seat.
This smear campaign focussed almost exclusively on the Greens pro-Palestine stand, in particular its support (along with ALP councillors) for Marrickville council’s decision to sign on to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
In the context of an election rout of Labor, and a shoe-in for the Coalition, the Greens had a real chance in two lower house seats.
Labor opted to conduct the scare campaign over the Marrickville Council BDS motion (that the Greens and Labour councillors had all supported). It was game on. The Greens were unprepared, and the result is history.
There was a de facto anti-Green alliance of both major parties, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and the Australian Jewish New, a powerful alliance that ran a slanderous campaign asserting that the Greens are anti-Israel (or anti-Semitic) because they support BDS and Palestinian rights.
The anti-BDS and anti-Greens campaign in Marrickville – which reached fever pitch in the last two weeks of the election campaign – included the outrageous accusation that the Greens are “fascists” and “Nazis”. Greens billboards in the Marrickville electorate were plastered with swastikas, as well as racist and sexist abuse.
The attempt to slur those who criticise Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as fascists – or supporters of the Nazi’s attempts to wipe out the Jewish population in Eastern and Central Europe during the World War II – is a crude and desperate attempt to silence critics.
While some anti-BDS campaigners would disagree with this sort of slanderous tactic, they nevertheless equate criticism of Israel’s policies with a form of anti-Semitism.

The March 28 Sydney Morning Herald editorial said: “They [the Greens] may have paid a price for their Marrickville candidate’s indulgence in childish gesture politics as a local councillor. Fiona Byrne’s support for an absurd ban on firms with links to Israel from doing business with Marrickville Council only cast doubt on her and her party’s commonsense.”
An anti-BDS commentator to the online Green Left Weekly put it a little more crudely: “Singling out Israel [sic] for boycotts and ignoring all the human rights violation in the Muslim world is anti Semitic, no matter if ur [sic] Jewish or not …”

Palestinian engineer Dirar Abu Sisi kidnapped by Israel

Posted: 31 Mar 2011 07:07 PM PDT

Blogger Richard Silverstein is right, after watching Prime Minister Netanyahu speak: 

Can you imagine the leader of a democratic nation proclaiming before not just a national, but international audience, thata prisoner who hasn’t even yet been charged with a crime is guilty of being a member of a banned organization?

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