Blind western backing for Israel only leads to more terrorism
Posted: 25 May 2010

The following article by Ian Munro appears in today’s Melbourne Age:

Australia’s 12,000-strong Israeli community is deeply divided over the government’s deportation of an Israeli diplomat, with many angry that Israel risked good relations with a strong friend, former security analyst Ran Porat said.
Mr Porat, a journalist who is undertaking postgraduate research into the expatriate community, said Israelis in the past would have opposed utterly any diplomatic action against their country.
”Nowadays they are more sober and most of them understand the need of Australia to do something. They know Australia can’t stand aside and see its official documents violated,” said Mr Porat.
Others within the Jewish community were also supportive of Australia’s action. Les Rosenblatt, spokesman for the liberal Australian Jewish Democratic Society, said Israel needed to show its friends the same respect it demanded for itself.
”If there’s any truth to the accusations about the forging of Australian passports with the authorisation of the Israeli government, then that deserves a fairly strong rebuff by a good friend,” Mr Rosenblatt said.
He said the expulsion was justified to re-establish a trusting and respectful relationship.
While there has been no confirmation of Israel’s involvement with forged Australian passports used in the January assassination of Hamas activist Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, journalist and author Antony Loewenstein said the use by Mossad agents of forged travel documents was ”normal behaviour”.
”In a way the question is why this time it has generated the outrage that it has,” Mr Loewenstein said.
He said claims that Israel’s actions be excused because it was fighting terrorism misunderstood the long-term effect.
”This kind of action [the assassination] gives a short-term satisfaction that one is dealing with terrorism … but there’s a direct connection between a lawless and criminal assassination which has no basis in international law to increased hatred of both Israel and the Western states that support Israel,” Mr Loewenstein said.
Prominent members of the Jewish community are critical of Australia’s action. The Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council maintains the Australian action in deporting an Israeli official is excessive.
And the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which claims to be the most representative Jewish community organisation, said there was nothing to suggest the Australian passport holders were the victims of anything other than theft.
”Little good can come from taking punitive action in relation to this matter against Israel, which is the Middle East’s only stable democracy and the only Middle Eastern country that can be relied on to act resolutely against international terrorism,” council president Robert Goot said.
Despite the criticism of Israel’s apparent forgery of Australian documents, few believe there will be a lasting rift between the two countries.
Mr Loewenstein said that while Foreign Minister Stephen Smith spoke of a cooling of the relationship, history showed the ties remained strong.
Mr Goot also said the mutual friendship and co-operation would endure.
Mr Porat said almost equal numbers within the Israeli community would view the expulsion as an overreaction. But relations would be resumed. ”Once that official process is complete, you can move on,” he said.

Why the Zionist lobby has fewer friends by the day (and the old don’t realise)
Posted: 25 May 2010

Discussion of Australia’s Zionist lobby is far and few between though yesterday’s Crikey was a notable exception.
Does the Israel lobby seriously believe that by backing every single Zionist position they’re doing Israel a favour? Death by a thousand cuts and oddly satisfying to watch:

It’s one thing for the Israel lobby to jack up over the Government expelling an Israeli diplomat for Mossad’s blatant identity theft in its assassination campaign against Hamas. It’s another for Julie Bishop, who if you’ve forgotten is the Coalition’s foreign affairs shadow, to go beyond that and conjure up an Arab plot.
“The government is keen to curry favour within the Arab community,” said Bishop yesterday. “The Arab community have made it quite clear to Mr Rudd in writing that unless the Australian government showed a more negative attitude towards Israel they would not be able to count on their vote for Mr Rudd’s quest for a seat on the Security Council.”
There you go. Those crafty Arabs. One wonders what they had over Gordon Brown when he expelled a Mossad officer over the same business. Although I liked Bishop’s “in writing” reference. Getting things “in writing” is very important for the Liberals now.
Those who think turfing out a diplomat is somehow an “overreaction” should explain exactly what the best way is to convey to Israel how seriously Australia regards this matter. The alternative course, presumably, is to let Israel get away with identity fraud and undermining the integrity of Australia’s passport system. Or, better yet, cooperate in Israel’s program of extra-judicial killing. Three Australian citizens were targeted by and used by an arm of the Israeli Government. What sort of government doesn’t stand up for its people when they’re arbitrarily targeted by a foreign government?
You can bet if the Iranians or the North Koreans pulled the same stunt the media outcry and demands for action would still be echoing.
The contempt of the Israeli Government for Australia and the other countries targeted in this identity fraud operation is demonstrated by the fact that they didn’t dare use American passports for this assassination, for fear of offending their most powerful ally. But they were happy to use passports from the UK, Ireland, Europe and Australia.
The reflexive reaction of the local Israel lobby was predictable, especially from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. I’ve long assumed Colin Rubinstein isn’t actually a living, breathing AIJAC executive, merely a piece of software that channels the Tel Aviv line on every issue. That’s why we heard nothing from him back when the story broke in February — and certainly not any suggestion that Israel had acted in any way inappropriately. And yesterday, AIJAC actually attacked Abu Dhabi for having the temerity to investigate the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
All this –Israel’s persistence in refusing to admit it has erred, the criticism of any Government that dares to respond to its transgressions — encapsulates exactly why Israel and the Israel lobby make it so hard for those of us inclined to support it. For those of us who accept Israel’s right to defend itself, and accept that as a democracy surrounded by brutal dictatorships it has a special call on Western support, and recognise that much of the criticism directed at it is motivated by a blatant double standard, usually from the Western liberals, it’s infuriating to watch Rubenstein and his cronies, and their cheerleaders in politics and the media, treat us like mugs.
Their insistence that Israel has done nothing wrong, or should be allowed to get away with what it has done, is patronising in the extreme and exactly the sort of double standard they complain of when they’re on the receiving end.
Worse yet is Julie Bishop’s willingness to engage in some pretty crass Islamophobia by insisting it’s all an Arab plot — part of an emerging pattern of Islamophobia from this Opposition.
If the Israel lobby wants to treat us like fools, it shouldn’t complain about Western double standards about Israel or the lack of sufficiently vigorous support from the West. They’ll get exactly what they’ve earnt, which is nothing.

Suffice to say, the Arab press haven’t exactly covered the story in depth.

How’s that Washington, Middle East continuity coming along?
Posted: 25 May 2010

American foreign policy, under Barack Obama, that’s called terrorism if carried out by any other state:

The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.
The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.
While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.
In broadening its secret activities, the United States military has also sought in recent years to break its dependence on the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies for information in countries without a significant American troop presence.
General Petraeus’s order is meant for small teams of American troops to fill intelligence gaps about terror organizations and other threats in the Middle East and beyond, especially emerging groups plotting attacks against the United States.

How did Australia find the Israeli rats?
Posted: 25 May 2010

The role of Mossad in Australia is largely ignored by our media elites. Who are they and what do they do? A rare ray of sunshine appeared in today’s Australian:

The idea of Mossad operating in Dubai or other Middle East areas would not surprise most people, but Australians may be surprised at Mossad agents in Canberra.
Since the killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai in January, Mossad has been held up to unprecedented scrutiny.
Among the information that has emerged is the revelation that Mossad has an officer based in the Israeli embassy in Canberra.
Confirmation of Mossad’s Australian presence has emerged by Canberra’s insistence on “the London model” — code for Mossad’s Australian bureau chief being expelled rather than a Foreign Ministry official.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday he was asking for an Israeli diplomat to be withdrawn from Canberra because there was “no doubt” Israel was responsible for counterfeiting four Australian passports. Israel refuses to confirm or deny Mossad’s involvement in the killing.
In private talks between Australian and Israeli officials, Australia has used the term “London model”, meaning they want to do what Britain did in March and insist a Mossad agent be expelled rather than a diplomat.
The Israeli embassy in Canberra has six Foreign Ministry officials and a commercial attache. On top of that is the Mossad agent, whose name Israel declares.
Countries deemed to be “friendly” to Australia, such as Israel and the US, declare their intelligence officers. Much of their job is liaising with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.
A reciprocal arrangement operates — Australia declares to governments such as the US and Indonesia the names of an agreed number of intelligence officers operating in its embassies.
Jakarta has the largest number of ASIS officers, believed to be about 10, because of the threat of groups such as Jemaah Islamiah which have targeted Australians.
Some of the ASIS officers are attached to the embassy and others avoid any contact with the embassy to give them a greater chance of operating out of sight of the host country.
Their job is to cultivate contacts in the government and military who may give information to help detect in advance anything that may harm Australians. Such contacts are usually paid.
Given the relationship between Israel and Australia, it is unlikely Mossad would try to pay Australian officials. Rather, Mossad would be interested in anyone in Australia who might pose a threat to Israel.
In recent years, some Australians have had their passports cancelled, on ASIO’s recommendation, to stop them going overseas. Often the major concern has been that the individuals might be planning to travel to the Middle East to engage in an act of terrorism against Israel.
Israel wants to find out about such individuals in the source country rather than allowing them to enter Israel.
The Mossad officer in Australia can engage in his own investigations but the majority of his work would be trying to find out what Australian authorities are learning about Islamist groups.
Much of the information gathered by ASIO and ASIS is not accessible to Mossad — Australian intelligence officers are not permitted to share information branded AUSTEO, or Australian Eyes Only — but an effective Mossad officer would develop relationships with ASIO and ASIS officials and learn as much as possible about groups of concern.
Mossad is not the only Middle East intelligence service working in Australia — it is known in intelligence circles in Australia that informants from Syria, Lebanon and Iran operate around Lakemba in western Sydney.

One wonders, though, what this figure really could find out, considering the lack of transparency in the Jewish state:

The head of Australia’s Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO ), David Irvine, paid a secret visit to Israel earlier this month as part of an investigation into the use of forged Australian passports. Irvine’s conclusions swayed the government in Canberra to decide that Israel was behind the passport forgery, and yesterday Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament that the Mossad liaison officer in Australia would be asked to leave the country.

End the mad siege on Gaza, says Haaretz
Posted: 24 May 2010

An editorial in Haaretz that highlights the ways in which both Israel and the Zionist Diaspora manages the conflict, through spin and PR, rather than actually addressing real suffering of the Palestinians:

We will soon mark five years since Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, but Gaza refuses to disengage from Israel. Border incidents continue, Gilad Shalit is still in captivity, and the 1.5 million Palestinians who live beyond the border fence remain under blockade.
Neither Hamas nor Israel is interested in escalating the military conflict, which remains limited to sporadic rocket fire met by air force strikes. The other two issues, Shalit and the blockade, are being dealt with on the level of propaganda and public relations.
Negotiations over a prisoner exchange for Shalit remain stalled. Instead of restarting them with an eye toward reaching a compromise that would bring the abducted soldier home, the Netanyahu government is merely seeking to burnish its image while keeping public pressure to return him in check.
On Sunday, the cabinet decided to support a bill that would toughen prison conditions for Hamas prisoners incarcerated in Israel. The bill addresses the anger felt by many Israelis over the fact that Shalit is held in isolation and kept from receiving visitors, while Hamas inmates can watch television and pursue university studies.
Yet the bill is little more than a distraction from the main issue. It is very doubtful that Hamas – which has made no concessions on Shalit despite the closure, the air strikes and Israel’s offensive in Gaza last year – will give up now just so that its people can watch comedy shows and Al Jazeera. A Haaretz report found that most of the bill’s provisions are immaterial in any case: Prisoners from Gaza have been prevented from receiving family visits for the last three years, and the new law would not change their condition one bit.
The government is handling the blockade the same way: using it as a means of exerting pressure on the Hamas regime and presenting it to the Israeli public as a reasonable response to Shalit’s ongoing captivity. But the closure has resulted in humanitarian distress for much of the population and must be ended. Limiting the import of fruits, vegetables and cement to Gaza does not provide succor to Shalit, and the Hamas regime remains strong.
Yet Jerusalem continues to view the siege simply as a public-relations problem, and is currently readying to intercept the aid fleet of pro-Palestinian activists that is now on its way to protest the closure. Instead of allowing Gazans to rebuild, Israel is setting up a televised confrontation between the navy and unarmed civilians.
Shalit deserves serious negotiations that lead to his release. Residents of Gaza deserve to have their plight eased. Gaza will not disappear, despite the disengagement and the closure. And it warrants more serious treatment from Israel’s government.

How many false Aussie passports have we used, daddy?
Posted: 24 May 2010

Nobody said that Western states aren’t inherently hypocritical but this supposed revelation opens a can of worms. Australia has used faked passports to carry out assassinations? Do tell (and even if they do, that means that we should simply accept it and allow, say Israel, to get away with murder?)
And I note the increasingly common use in our media of the terms “Jewish lobby”, a positive development. More Australians are recognising that there are prominent Jewish spokespeople whose sole job is to defend every Israeli action. This is what Zionism has done to my people:

Deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop says Australia’s security agencies engage in passport forgery – the very practice that prompted the Rudd Government to expel an Israeli diplomat.
Ms Bishop became embroiled in the fake passports scandal after calling yesterday’s expulsion “an over-reaction”.
She told Fairfax Media: “It would be naive to think that Israel is the only country in the world that has used forged passports, including Australian passports, for security operations.”
When asked directly if Australian intelligence agencies forge passports, Ms Bishop – a former cabinet minister in the Howard government – replied “yes”.
The fake passports controversy erupted after the January murder of top Hamas arms dealer Mahmoud Al-Mabouh in a Dubai hotel room.
Four of the suspects in the assassination travelled on Australian passports in the names of four dual Australian-Israeli citizens.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith ordered a diplomat at the Israeli embassy to leave after concluding that Israel was responsible for the forgeries.
Mr Smith said the decision to blame Israel and expel the diplomat was “based on a considered judgement shared by Australian security agencies.”
In Parliament, Mr Smith revealed that ASIO and the Australian Federal Police briefed the deputy opposition leader on the issue prior to yesterday’s announcement.
“The deputy leader of the opposition has shown she is not fit to occupy a position of trust in the national security environment,” Mr Smith told Parliament.
Ms Bishop said “there is no actual proof that the Israeli government forged the Australian passports.”
She denies the opposition has chosen to attack the diplomat’s expulsion in an effort to stir support for the Jewish lobby in Australia.

Murdoch gives space in Australia to defend Israeli terrorism
Posted: 24 May 2010

Just in case readers of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian broadsheet were unclear whether the Jewish state should be able to murder with impunity, the following two pieces appear today. One truly wonders how much more desperate these Zionists can become. Tel Aviv nukes Gaza and the apologists will be lining up to find excuses.
How is the Zionist lobby looking to the wider community today?
Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan:

The Rudd Government has overreacted and made a bad mistake in expelling an Israeli diplomat over the Dubai passports affair.
Its action has already dismayed and divided the government’s supporters. Michael Danby, the Labor member for Melbourne Ports, and the chairman of the parliamentary sub-committee on foreign affairs, immediately condemned the expulsion.
“I do not agree with the decision,” Mr Danby said.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith cited Britain, France, Germany and Ireland in justifying his overreaction.
Yet of these only the British have expelled an Israeli diplomat and that was the action of a dying government desperately casting around for minority support.
Surely the Rudd government is more mature and worldly than the most desperate days of the dying Gordon Brown interregnum?
Australia should not ape its former masters in London in this but embrace some of the sophistication of Berlin or Paris, neither of which is regarded as a hive of unreasonable pro-Israel bias.
This is a very poor, very feeble decision by the government and it will probably pay a political price.
Last night the government was desperately trying to reassure friends of Israel in Australia, but this gratuitous and needless action will license a new round of anti-Israel activism and outrage throughout Australia.
The government has also opened a clear partisan divide on this issue. In an interview with The Australian some weeks ago, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott called on the government not to expel an Israeli diplomat.
It is now crystal clear that the Abbott opposition has a deeper level of support for the Israel relationship than the Rudd government.
The government was under no obligation to take this action. It had already condemned the apparent misuse of Australian passports in the strongest possible terms. It had switched its vote not to oppose a resolution at the United Nations based on the wildly anti-Israel Goldstone report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
It had used extravagant language to condemn Israeli home unit construction in East Jerusalem. It could easily have issued a further condemnation yesterday without deliberately choosing the most extreme action available to it.
Australians ought to ask themselves about double standards here. China imprisons an Australian citizen and there is no suggestion of expelling a Chinese diplomat. The Iranians defy countless binding rulings on nuclear proliferation and there is no question of the expulsion of an Iranian diplomat. But the Israelis are accused of misusing Australian passports and the maximum diplomatic action is taken.
The hypocrisy exists at other levels as well.
Well-informed sources tell me that Australian agencies have used foreign passports.
The truth is that in the grey world of espionage many things happen which good friends do not use to embarrass each other.
The tone and content of Mr Smith’s statement yesterday are also perplexing. For some reason he refers to the killing of the Hamas terrorist as murder, as though that were the end of the moral equation.
Hamas is committed to murderous terrorism directed at killing Israeli civilians. It is a proscribed terrorist organisation.
Australian troops in Afghanistan have targeted al-Qa’ida leaders personally and directly in missions to kill these leaders. In Mr Smith’s terms, the Diggers must also be guilty of murder.
The government has mishandled this matter from the start, and the Keystone Kops escapades of the Australian Federal Police in Israel on their fact-finding mission were not the worst of it.
Whether this bad decision was the sign of government weakness in the face of the bureaucracy, or yet another move in the pathetic effort to court Arab votes for our meaningless bid for a UN Security Council seat, or just a bad misjudgment by Mr Smith which Kevin Rudd ratified, it is a poor and misjudged move against a close friend which made a mistakein exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Author Alan Gold:

The expulsion of a diplomat from Israel’s Canberra embassy is a significant over-reaction to Mossad’s alleged involvement in the January assassination of a Hamas terrorist. What happened is well known: Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, an arms purchaser and fixer for the terrorist organisation Hamas, was executed in a Dubai hotel by a large group of assassins using forged passports from several countries. Dubai authorities have pointed the finger at Israel’s intelligence agency.
The issue that caused Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to order the expulsion wasn’t the assassination but the forgery of four Australian passports, which government agencies investigating the affair claim was almost certainly carried out by Israel.
Australia is following Britain, which expelled an Israeli diplomat in March. Yet Smith has already called in Yuval Rotem, Israel’s ambassador, for a dressing down, as well as changing the way Australia traditionally votes concerning Israel in the UN.
The expulsion of a diplomat is one of the most serious moves a nation can take against another nation. So why did Smith need to go so far, having already made his displeasure known in Jerusalem?
The US has targeted Osama bin Laden and other terrorists in pre-emptive action and Israel, like any nation, has the inalienable right to defend itself from those determined to do it harm.
While nobody can condone the abuse of a nation’s passports, it is surely rank hypocrisy on Australia’s part to take such overt action against a diplomat because his country is doing what virtually every other country does. Britain has an entire unit under the control of MI6 whose job it is to forge passports for its security operatives. The US and most European nations have the same. Can Smith put his hand on his heart and claim that no Australian spy has used a forged passport?
Israel and Australia have a long and close relationship. Smith was obviously hurt when he believed that a friendly nation abused our passport security. But Israel faces threats to its existence every day. If Israel was behind the assassination of al-Mabhouh, its failure was being identified, but its success was ridding the world of a terrorist. A diplomatic slap on the wrist was called for. The expulsion of a diplomat is an over-reaction that will do neither country any good.

Why Beijing is the new ruler of the brutalised world
Posted: 24 May 2010

Sri Lanka one year after the end of armed hostilities remains a hostile place. Peace is but a distant dream, especially for the Tamils, investigative journalists or anybody else who dares seriously challenge Colombo’s rule.
And how did Sri Lanka win the war?
One answer: China.

Please block Palestinian freedom of movement, it’s a really good look
Posted: 24 May 2010

Those “shared values” the West enjoys with Israel:

Israel’s defense establishment is not permitting residents of the Palestinian village of Sheikh Sa’ad, southeast of Jerusalem, to leave the town in their cars. There are even restrictions on walking out of the village, a privilege reserved for residents with Israeli identity cards.
To its west, Sheikh Sa’ad is walled off by the separation fence, while to the east, north and south it is surrounded by the Kidron Valley. The 3,000 residents of Sheikh Sa’ad are isolated from all other towns now that the West Bank separation fence has cut off Sheikh Sa’ad from Jabal Mukkaber, which falls under the municipal jurisdiction of Jerusalem.
The 1,800 residents who possess Israeli identity cards are denied road access to Jerusalem despite the fact that they are considered residents of the city. The remaining 1,200 villagers, who carry Palestinian identity papers, have no way to leave the area save a descend into the valley, from which they then need to climb a steep incline. During the winter, this can be done only when the valley is not inundated with rainwater. Palestinians need to traverse several kilometers just to reach the nearest village of Sawahra al-Sharkiya.

Australia and Israel have “shared values” (such as backing never-ending occupation)
Posted: 24 May 2010

Israel’s deputy prime minister Dan Meridor:

There is a very strong relationship with Australia. The same thing goes for the relationship with Britain. I think that the relationship will be and continue to be strong and maybe even stronger, because we are facing the same threat, the same problems, we share the same values in many ways.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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