A mutual love for destruction
Posted: 27 May 2010

Yet more interesting questions about Israel’s relationship with apartheid South Africa and the testing of nuclear weapons, a love both countries shared:

On 22 September 1979 at about 1 a.m. GMT, a US Vela satellite passing over the South Atlantic detected a double flash of light in the vicinity of Prince Edward Island. The satellite had been launched in 1969 in order to detect atmospheric nuclear tests.
 When a nuclear weapon explodes in the atmosphere, the heat of the fireball strips the electrons off the atoms and molecules of the surrounding air. For a fraction of a second the ionised air is opaque, until the blast blows it away. The resulting double flash is the signature of a nuclear explosion.

Don’t wear tight pants and be a good Muslim
Posted: 27 May 2010

Last year I visited the Indonesian province of Aceh and discovered a Muslim area though one with surprisingly liberal attitudes (in some parts, anyway).
So this news, under the headline, “Tight Pants Ban Takes Effect in Indonesia’s Aceh“, is a little sad:

Authorities in a devoutly Islamic district of Indonesia’s Aceh province have distributed 20,000 long skirts and prohibited shops from selling tight dresses as a regulation banning Muslim women from wearing revealing clothing took effect Thursday.
The long skirts are to be given to Muslim women caught violating the dress code during a two-month campaign to enforce the regulation, said Ramli Mansur, head of West Aceh district.
Islamic police will determine whether a woman’s clothing violates the dress code, he said.
During raids Thursday, Islamic police caught 18 women traveling on motorbikes who were wearing traditional headscarves but were also dressed in jeans. Each woman was given a long skirt and her pants were confiscated. They were released from police custody after giving their identities and receiving advice from Islamic preachers.
”I am not wearing sexy outfits, but they caught me like a terrorist only because of my jeans,” said Imma, a 40-year-old housewife who uses only one name. She argued that wearing jeans is more comfortable when she travels by motorbike.
Motorbikes are commonly used by both men and women in Indonesia.
”The rule applies only to Muslim residents in West Aceh,” Mansur told The Associated Press. ”We don’t enforce it for non-Muslims, but are asking them to respect us.”
He said any shopkeepers caught violating restrictions on selling short skirts and jeans would face a revocation of their business licenses.
No merchants have been seen displaying jeans or tight clothing in stores in West Aceh district in recent weeks.
The regulation is the latest effort to promote strict moral values in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, where most of the roughly 200 million Muslims practice a moderate form of the faith.
It does not set out a specific punishment for violators, but says ”moral sanctions” will be imposed by local leaders.
Mansur said women caught violating the ban more than three times could face two weeks in detention.
Rights groups say the regulation violates international treaties and the Indonesian constitution.

The concerned Australian legal liberal who wants Israel to act humanely
Posted: 27 May 2010

Leading Australian legal academic Ben Saul wrote back in March that Israel should no longer be a protected species in the international arena.
He’s back with an equally strong statement. And note the growing number of public figures who no longer accept Zionist exceptionalism:

Britain’s expulsion of an Israeli diplomat is a lesson for Australia to stop handling Israel with kid gloves.
Israel has made clear that it does not respond to gentle persuasion or constructive criticism from its friends, nor does it listen to the quiet language of international law. Israel is willing to abuse the trust of its friends by defrauding their passports, assassinating people on foreign territory, and approving new settlements on Palestinian land on the eve of peace talks.
Strangely, Australian politicians from both major parties have often fallen over themselves to defend Israel. In doing so, Australia has often been indifferent to shocking violations of international law by Israel.
Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, as elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, violate the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and amount to war crimes under international law, yet Australia has seldom protested. The colonial plunder of Palestinian resources by Israeli settlers is forbidden by the law of war, yet Australia does not prohibit the import of settler products to Australia.
When a credible, impartial investigation by an eminent international judge, Richard Goldstone, uncovered possible Israeli war crimes in the Gaza conflict last year, Australia howled that the report was biased and unfair. Australia provided few reasons, preferring instead to smear a complex and lengthy report and to allow Israel to blame Hamas and to evade accountability for its own crimes.
If proved, the summary execution of a Hamas suspect in Dubai would be a serious violation of international human rights law and the United Nations Charter. Australia has objected only that our passports were misused.
There was not a peep of protest by Australia when the assassination itself occurred, as if document fraud matters more than one of our supposed ‘friends’ assassinating a civilian in a peaceful foreign country.
One Liberal Senator, Julian McGauran, even announced support for extrajudicial killings, by claiming that “The tracking down of terrorist leaders is an acceptable act in the context of the war on terror”.
That, indeed, is the policy of groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, who show little concern for human rights are all too ready to execute their opponents.
Australia bowed to unreasonable Israeli pressure to boycott the United Nations’ Durban II anti-racism conference last year, on the basis of crystal-ball gazing about possible anti-semitism, instead of engaging in a crucial multilateral diplomatic process to combat racism.
Israel’s security barrier on Palestinian lands, which has impoverished Palestinian communities, was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice some years ago, yet Australia actively opposed the case from even being argued before that Court.
Australian policy towards Israel has served neither the interests of Australia nor Israel, and has been singularly unhelpful in securing the rights of Palestinians. For Australia, being a best friend and ally to Israel has too often meant remaining silent while Israel does what it wants, including thwarting the peace process or violating international law.
Australia’s often unqualified support for Israel panders to the worst, rather than the best, side of Israeli politics. Lack of criticism from its friends has encouraged Israeli lawlessness, since Israel knows that its allies will seldom complain and if they do, few consequences will follow.
The puzzling thing about Australian policy towards Israel is that it is usually contrary to Australia’s own strategic interests. It alienates Australia from large blocs of countries, including the Arab, Islamic, African and non-aligned movements, at a time when Australia is seeking a seat on the UN Security Council.
It fuels radicalisation against the west, at a time when Australia is struggling to defuse terrorist threats against it.
If Australia’s stance were rooted in deep conviction and high moral principle, the price might be worth it. But there is nothing principled about turning a blind eye to serious and often criminal violations of international law by any country, let alone by one’s ‘friends’.
Australian policy is rightly founded on a commitment to Israeli democracy and security, amidst a cruel sea of despotic Arab States. Yet, it is perfectly possible for Australia to support those interests while insisting that Israel complies with international law.
Doing so would align our friendship with Israel with our broader foreign policy goals of building an international community based on the rule of law and human rights.
It cannot be taken for granted that Israel knows what’s best for its own security. Decades of hawkish, militant Israel governments have not brought Israelis closer to peace. Israeli domestic policy has often been warped by extreme politics and a lack of respect for Palestinian rights, and many Israelis are exhausted by the pointless violence of occupation.
If Australia was serious about peace in the Middle East, serious about international law, and serious about its friendship with Israel, it would stop handling Israel with kid gloves. It is increasingly clear that the only language Israel responds to is the language of force.
It is time that Australia stopped whispering sweet nothings in Israel’s ear, and instead staked out more principled and vocal opposition to Israeli transgressions, including in the United Nations. Australia must stop fiddling with its votes on peripheral aspects of UN resolutions and instead draw lines in the sand about what we expect from our friends.

What you didn’t know about Hitler and his merry men
Posted: 27 May 2010

Just in case you weren’t sure about Hitler’s real behaviour and hatreds:

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer states that Adolf Hitler was gay and surrounded himself with gay soldiers because straight soldiers refused to be brutal and savage enough.


Is Canberra happy to help Israel in its “war on terror”?
Posted: 27 May 2010

In this Fairfax story today, the elephant in the room is Israel. Some key questions: has Australia ever provided our passports to Israeli agents? If so, when and for what actions?

Australian security agencies use false passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs to allow covert operatives to function overseas, intelligence sources have admitted.
Following the admission by the Deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishop, about Australian use of fake passports, sources confirmed Australia has a long-standing tradition of providing passports to overseas intelligence agencies. These countries are within the ”Western intelligence club” – specifically Britain, the United States, New Zealand and Canada, sources confirm.
While the government has leapt upon Ms Bishop’s comments, accusing her of a grievous breach of national security, sources within the intelligence community have confirmed she merely made public an inconvenient truth.
Security agencies, including the international spy agency, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, as well as ASIO and the federal police, use false passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs to allow covert operatives to function overseas.
Australia does not use the identities of its citizens or forge existing passports. Rather, it creates a passport of a fictitious person and provides it to an intelligence operative.
It is a practice similar to that used by state police when they create fake identities for undercover police officers.
In the grey world of espionage the necessity for covert activity can be great, and from time to time – in Australia perhaps as seldom as once a year – the Department of Foreign Affairs will create a passport at the request of an agency. The only caveat is that the intelligence service keep Foreign Affairs informed of the movement of the agent through national borders.
The Australian government would also be extremely judicious in its use of such passports, particularly so when providing them to other countries.
There is a big difference between creating fake passports and using real passports, as in the Mossad assassination of arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh that led Australia to expel an Israeli diplomat this week.
What Israel did was to forge the passports of actual foreign nationals – including four Australians – to use for their agents.
Ms Bishop – a cabinet minister in the Howard government – was pounced upon by Labor after her comments to the Herald on Tuesday. ”It wasn’t what you would call kosher,” one intelligence source said.

Obama caves towards Israel because of the green dollar
Posted: 27 May 2010

One of the main reasons that many of us are so skeptical of Washington ever seriously pressuring Israel to end its occupation is Jewish money. It’s (mostly) about money.
And now the Israeli press seems to confirm the inevitable:

Information that was received by Israeli sources would seem to indicate that the principal reason for the change in approach to Israel is pressure from Democrat lawmakers who are running for election and are finding themselves hard put to enlist Jewish donors to their campaigns.
There is a great deal of anger at Obama within the Jewish community and disappointment over his policy toward Israel. Officials in the Democratic Party are afraid that the Jews will take revenge in the midterm elections, which is the reason for the vigorous courting of Israel. In other words, the fear is that the Jewish vote will gravitate away from Democratic candidates to Republicans.

PressTV interview on Australia’s expulsion of Israeli diplomat
Posted: 27 May 2010

Here’s my interview on PressTV this week about Australia’s decision to kick out an Israeli diplomat.

Australia likes human rights in forums and debates but does little in reality
Posted: 27 May 2010

As Amnesty releases its annual report and highlights the “politicisation of international justice” – Israel and Sri Lanka are on their hit list -these issues have direct connection to Australia and the Labor government’s refusal to legally manage refugees from countries at war:

RACHAEL BROWN: Last month Australia’s Immigration Minister Chris Evans announced the situation in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan had improved such that people no longer needed to seek protection elsewhere.
Amnesty International called the decision “an appalling political move”. In London Amnesty’s interim secretary general Claudio Cordone has called on Australia to resume processing asylum claims.
CLAUDIO CORDONE: Sri Lanka is still a situation where you have Tamils being abused in displaced camps and so on and nothing has been done to redress the abuses that took place a year ago but even going further back.
I mean there have been the disappearances. There have been all kind of abuses for which no-one has been held to account.
In Afghanistan actually we’re seeing an increase in fighting, in violence by the Taliban but also you know abuses by the government forces and by other armed groups. So you know there’s no way that one can say that the situation in Afghanistan is one in general that is conducive to returning people who have serious fears of persecution.
RACHAEL BROWN: Sri Lankan doctor Kasippillai Manoharan says his son was murdered in 2006 by security forces.
He fled the country because of death threats he received after being one of the few brave enough to testify at the inquest of the five murdered Tamil students.
I asked Dr Manoharan how he feels about the Australian Government’s belief the climate in his country has improved.
KASIPPILLAI MANOHARAN: No any safety for Tamils in Sri Lanka, impossible! Still the war is going on in Sri Lanka. Every day, every day.
Very recently one student – I think that he is 19 years or something – died (inaudible) killed by some other weapons group.
After that the magistrate want to open, make an open warrant for that murdering man. He is make threat for that same magistrate.
RACHAEL BROWN: Wazhma Frough left Afghanistan after threatening phone calls after her report on violence against women and marital rape.
She says she stopped believing in Australia’s democracy after its claims processing freeze.
WAZHMA FROUGH: And I think it is an international discrimination that… I was very much hoping that at least from the UN Human Rights Council and other human rights organisations we would hear protest about it.
Why are Afghans… Afghans anyways they have huge problems in terms of immigration in any country of the world.
RACHAEL BROWN: Amnesty’s Claudio Cordone says the claims processing freeze might have more to do with Australia’s strategic and business interests with the Sri Lankan Government and Australia’s commitment to the US led occupation of Afghanistan.
CLAUDIO CORDONE: The debate on asylum or just also like on migration is often very much driven by politics. And this may be another example of how – you know politics trump justice.
It’s not just Australia. It’s other countries. We’ve seen it in Europe and so on.
Again the key principles here remain the same from when the convention on refugees was adopted. That is individuals must have the right to apply for asylum and their cases must be analysed and adjudicated individually.
RACHAEL BROWN: The Brussels think tank has said that Australia tacitly backed the Government’s war against the LTTE and that the Rudd Government with its refugee freeze continues in that complicity.
Would you agree with that statement?
CLAUDIO CORDONE: I think the best evidence of commitment by Australia with regard to the situation in Sri Lanka is to back our call and the call from the International Crisis Group and others to have an independent inquiry into what happened during the war between the Tamil Tigers and the government.
There has been increasing evidence despite all the attempts by the Sri Lankan Government to deny it or to dismiss it that war crimes and other serious abuses have taken place.
The Sri Lankan Government is in no position to set up a credible national investigation. They promised the UN that they would take steps. And we’re calling on the UN and on other countries to make sure that there is an international inquiry and we would look forward to the Australian Government to back that call.
RACHAEL BROWN: Does it worry you that not much spotlight has been put on Sri Lanka? You know, we’re seeing civilian deaths of about 30,000 I believe compared to only 2,000 in Gaza which has received much more world-wide media attention.
CLAUDIO CORDONE: I think partly it’s a result of the fact that powerful governments are not interested in seeing Sri Lanka being held to account. And that’s why we’re insisting for international commission of inquiry.
And it is important that regardless of the numbers, the fact that if you don’t have a proper commission of inquiry you’ll never get to the truth. And this is one of the preconditions for actually protracting the conflict.
Today the Tigers may have been defeated. But unless you address the situation, discrimination and so on of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka this conflict can erupt in different ways and continue.
ELEANOR HALL: That’s Amnesty’s interim secretary general Claudio Cordone ending that report by Rachael Brown.

Netanyahu and Mubarak see Arabs in a very similar way
Posted: 27 May 2010

What a region of democracy and freedom:

Both Obama and Netanyahu understand that Israel’s most important ally in the Middle East is Egypt, and they are doing everything possible to keep it that way.
Of all the world’s statesmen, the one closest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Iran has the right to be independent, says Chomsky
Posted: 26 May 2010

Where are the mainstream commentators, hacks and journalists who actually challenge American foreign policy towards Iran? It clearly requires an 80 year old to show sense:

Prominent American scholar Noam Chomsky says Washington cannot apply its policy of oppression to Tehran, saying it is not in Iran’s nature to follow orders.
Speaking in Beirut after Israel denied him entry into the occupied West Bank, Chomsky said the US is not concerned about what government is in power, adding that it solely wants administrations “to follow orders.”
The world-renowned political analyst, however, went on to caution the US in the case of Tehran, saying that “Iran does not follow orders. It is trying to pursue its sovereignty. “
In his speech, which marked the withdrawal of Israeli forces from south Lebanon ten years ago, Chomsky drew parallels between Israel and South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Pointing to the fact that during the apartheid era, the whites in South Africa cared for the black natives and supported them, Chomsky said that Israel does not even take responsibility for the Palestinians.
“Israel does not need the Palestinians. It doesn’t want them. If they wither away like the leaves of autumn the way that the native Americans did, that is fine. They go somewhere else that is fine. But, they don’t take any responsibility for them and they don’t need them. So it’s much worse than apartheid,” he said.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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