20 January 2017

PRESTON MARKET, DAREBIN COUNCIL, DEVELOPERS






This seems to be a good place to start.

Preston Market has been on the developers' cards for many years. Plans have been submitted to Darebin Council and some, lately, seem to have been ready to be approved with some modifications.

However, as the article below indicates, Council is now considering allowing three high rise buildings to be built in the Market precinct and it seems there is no consideration or understanding of the infrastructure problems concerning the proposed development.

We have examined the plans at Darebin Council's planning department and they reveal horror upon horror of disasters awaiting the whole area at and around the Market.

The Council has erected a sign outside its buildings at the corner of High Street and Gower Street, Preston, and we are now trying to work out what the Council loves about the Market if they are now even prepared to consider the plans submitted to them by the developer who owns so much of the area on which the Market stands.



The following article is from the Preston Leader:




Three apartment towers on Murray Rd revealed as part of Preston Market revamp plans

1 December 2016
Preston Market concept shots — the residential buildings.


THIS is the new face of Murray Rd if a planning proposal by the owners of Preston Market goes ahead.
The artist impressions, provided to the Leader, have also been shown to market visitors over the past couple of weeks as part of the owner’s push to allay community concerns over the future of the popular site.

MARKET BUILDINGS SAFE UNDER $4M REVAMP
 
It shows three separate apartment towers, each of different design, which will have prime access to the market and retail outlets underneath.

The existing footprint of the fresh food market will not be impacted, although Aldi would be demolished to make more room for parking and moved to the new retail space. The Hood building would also be demolished to make way for parking.

TRADERS FACE BOOT AT PRESTON MARKET
 
An amended proposal was submitted to Darebin Council on Friday, which the owners said was to meet the State Government’s new design standards on providing more natural light. Salta Properties managing director Sam Tarascio said the proposal set “a new standard” for development in Darebin.

“It has been designed by leading architects, Breathe Architecture, who delivered The Commons in Brunswick, and NH Architecture, and will be well connected to the market,” Mr Tarascio said.

The mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments would be larger than many others in the area to appeal to owner occupiers, he said. Communal gardens and a basketball court feature in the proposed design.

The owners could not confirm exact parking numbers, but said it would be an increase on what is available now. Parking for market shoppers and residents will be separate.

However, not all apartments will be sold with a car space, because of the proximity to a variety of public transport options.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the plans as part of normal planning processes.

This article in the Preston Leader of 17 JANUARY 2017 continues the story and advises when objections must be submitted to Council:

" ......., objectors to the 14-storey development planned for above Preston Market have until 25 JANUARY to lodge their disapproval.

The planning permit application for the 170-dwelling development is on display at Darebin Council's statutory planning unit, on the first floor at 274 Gower Street, Preston from 8.45am to 4.45pm. Monday to Friday.

People objecting must send a submission to Darebin Council, including the reasons for their objections." 

And people will assuredly object to not only the 14-storey development, but the two 10-storey developments as well!

17 January 2017

CONCENTRATION CAMPS - AUSTRALIA LEARNS FROM ITS BRITISH TEACHERS

Australia's apprenticeship on concentration camps ended some time ago, even before the establishment of the infamous pair Manus and Nauru.

Those on Christmas Island and on the Australian mainland were already emulating the best in the world - the British ones in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, the German ones during World War II, and, from 1948 onwards, the Israeli ones in Gaza and the Occupied Territories of the Palestinian West Bank which the zionists have always claimed as zionist homeland territory after falsifying history in the best traditions of colonial and occupying powers over the ages, not forgetting one of the other more infamous ones of the modern era such as the USA one called Guantanamo on occupied Cuban land.

One of the best ways of ridding oneself of unwanted refugees, asylum seekers, "foreigners" of various origins - is to lock them up in concentration camps and help them to die off while in imprisonment and then blame them themselves for their deaths.

Manus has been a particularly fruitful camp for asylum deaths in custody - people who have committed no crimes but who have fled from their countries of origin because of illegal wars perpetrated on their countries by such imperial powers as Australia, UK, USA, France and many others too numerous to mention - the African continent bears the brunt of so much these days.

The 20th century has seen endless crimes committed by countries spending untold amounts of money on arms and war equipment, and killing millions of innocent people on an ongoing basis - the Israeli government is a "good" example of this ongoing tragedy, and Australia has willingly joined its masters around the globe in these exercises in order to gain resources, territories, markets, and all the other spoils of war.

The one "spoils of war" issue that none of them wants is the influx of millions of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world, and what do we do? We lock them up and wait for them to die!

13 January 2017

RESOLUTIONS ADVOCATING A BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL


Resolutions Advocating a Boycott of Israel




Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0
I’m at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in Philadelphia.  The MLA Delegate Assembly voted today on two resolutions, for and against, of an academic boycott of Israel.  The resolution against the boycott was carried narrowly, the resolution in favor of the boycott was defeated by a wider margin.

There were several forums which addressed the pros and cons of the boycott at this meeting.
Speaking as someone who cut his political teeth as part of the group coordinating the boycott of apartheid South Africa at my UK university in the late 1960s and early 70s, the arguments and observations made by the anti-boycotters here were uncannily similar, indeed eerily so, to those I encountered from apartheid supporters and sympathizers decades ago.

Hence, it was said here that the boycott of Israel would hurt Palestinians more than Israelis, in exactly the way that apartheid supporters said the same on behalf of nameless and countless black South Africans.

Palestinian civil society launched the boycott movement (BDS) and called for international support, in just the way that the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa called for an international boycott of their country.

Both Palestinians and South African blacks said they were willing to make the concomitant sacrifices.  Who are we to deny their request, unless we happen to be Zionists now or supporters of South African apartheid then?

The old canard of “academic freedom”, and the alleged violation thereof by BDS, was trotted out.
Er, what about the across-the-board violation of the academic freedom of Palestinian teachers, scholars, and students?

Palestinian schools and universities are routinely raided and vandalized during “security searches” (and bombed to smithereens when Israel decides to “mow the lawn” periodically), the curriculum is routinely suspended by arbitrary curfews, the commute to school invariably requires negotiation of army checkpoints that can delay students and teachers for hours on end, volleys of tear gas fired onto campuses disrupt classes, Palestinian professors are not free to travel to conferences and seminars, distinguished foreign academics such as Noam Chomsky are prevented from lecturing at Palestinian universities, “incitement” laws restrict meaningful discussion of Israeli policy, power shortages created by the Israeli government require classes to be held in candlelight, and so on.

Whose “academic freedom” should we be talking about at this convention?

It was also alleged that BDS is a futile and self-aggrandizing gesture on the part of privileged western academics.  The same was said about the South African boycott, though it was of course successful in the end, especially when it came to severing sporting ties– sporting prowess being a matter of immense national pride for white South Africans.

The academics against BDS, alas for their argument, are my equally privileged colleagues at US universities!

So: what about their privilege, especially since many are invited to give lucrative lectures at Israeli universities, most likely as a token of gratitude for their stance against BDS?

No impoverished Palestinian university can afford to pay someone like me and likeminded BDS colleagues tuppence to give a lecture there.  We’d go for free if asked, though given our support for BDS, acquiring the requisite Israeli entry visa may be a fraught undertaking.

Also heard were heartfelt (or so they sounded) pleas that as an academic organization the MLA should not involve itself in dubious political grandstanding, but should instead advocate for “real issues”, such as “promoting its associated disciplines” (invariably part of the boilerplate mission statements of all academic organizations), championing adjunct faculty on paltry “gig” contracts, as well as alleviating the burdens of severely indebted graduate students, etc.

Several adjuncts and grad students spoke in favor of BDS, and pretty much blew this argument out of the water.

As put-upon, indeed exploited, academic proletarians their natural affinity was with underprivileged Palestinian academics and students, and not the holders of handsomely-paid distinguished chairs and other sinecures at American universities who pay no price for supporting the Zionist cause and being anti-BDS.

Moreover, the “promoting its associated disciplines” argument is an absolute evasion.   There is no obvious way to “promote” a discipline.  Even throwing huge sums of money at it only works in some instances.

So how about turning the question round and asking “how do we remove impediments to studying a discipline (philosophy, history, literature, etc.) in X or Y (where X happens to be Palestine)?”.

The response in anti-BDS quarters made here that an American organization should only concern itself with what goes on in the US (“we are not experts in Middle East politics” is typically said by such people) is thoroughly bogus.

Academia is many things, but one of the things it is, is an age-old patronage system, and today academia is globalized, so this American patronage system is willy-nilly global in its reach.

Therefore, the most productive answer to the “we should only be in the business of promoting our own disciplines in this country” refrain is simple:  in principle, all global impediments to education in its broadest sense of the term will be detrimental, whether in the longer or shorter term, to the overall promotion of an academic field.

And this is occurring in Israel-Palestine on a massive scale.

Allied to the “pointless political grandstanding” argument made by the anti-boycotters was the proposal that the MLA should instead underwrite practical ground-level measures providing “real relief” for Palestinians.

This proposal came from Cary Nelson, who CounterPunch readers will remember as one of the main protagonists in the disgraceful “unhiring” of the Palestinian-American Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne.

Nelson has a reputation for being a wily customer, known to operate from behind the scenes (the “unhiring” of Salaita comes immediately to mind), and his proposal was rightly viewed as a window-dressing evasion.

Numerous major international organizations have been involved for decades in providing substantive relief for the Palestinians– WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, Doctors without Borders, Red Crescent/Red Cross– and have had their efforts diluted and wrecked by successive Israeli governments.

The idea that the MLA can somehow prevail, by mere advocacy on the part of Cary Nelson of largely cosmetic measures, when these ostensibly powerful international organizations have not been consistently successful in aiding the Palestinians, is a painfully feeble joke.

Moreover, it was pointed out to Nelson that he was posing his proposal as an alternative to BDS, when BDS is perfectly compatible with any such practical relief efforts!

The good professor had no response, since his transparent aim is to derail BDS, window-dressing sympathy for the Palestinian cause notwithstanding.

The “Why pick on Israel, when there is also North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and so forth?” plaint was also heard at this conference, and for me this resonated very closely with the similar complaint made by South African apartheid sympathizers: “Why pick on South Africa?  What about those African cruel dictators– Mobutu, Idi Amin, the “Emperor” Bokassa—who treat their people as excrement?”.

The answer to this objection is fourfold:

1/ No African despot ever pretended to uphold “western values” (whatever these may be) in the way Israel does, and white South Africa did, at least symbolically.

2/ If the African tyrants were asked whether they respected “democracy”, their deep resounding laughter would have answered this question. Israel on the other hand….

3/ Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid, nearly all of which is used to subjugate the Palestinians. If the US turned off this tap, Israel would probably soon be motivated to mend some of its ways.  So would Saudi Arabia, effectively an Israeli/US proxy in the Arab world along with Egypt.  No such tap exists where North Korea is concerned.  The simple lesson is that we fight battles where we can be effective.

4/ The logic of this argument is faulty. Consider the following analogy:

You own a house and the land it’s on.  Some people come to your house, citing some holy book if it suits them, and they take it over by force of arms, perhaps invoking the holy book.  You are told that from now on you must live in the tiny tool shed at the back of the property.

You protest, saying “but this is my house and land!”.  “Tough”, they say, “from now on this is ours”.
The law (as international law does for the Palestinians), however, allows you to use all legal means, including justifiable force, to resist them and get them to end their seizure of your house and land.

As you are about to do this, someone comes along and says at the Philadelphia MLA conference: “No, you can’t take measures to get them to leave.  In this town, there are several other houses that have been taken over by lawbreakers, who also tortured their owners, kidnapped their children, and so on.  So, you can’t evict the illegal occupiers of your own house, until you go out and protest against these other illegalities, initiate boycotts of their perpetrators, and so on”.

The appropriate response: “If the law is on my side, I can resist the home invaders, so you can go *@#$ yourself”.

The weakest of the arguments made at this conference by the anti-boycotters was that “the BDS resolution will do irreparable harm to the MLA”.  Hence it was said that if the BDS resolution was adopted, membership would decline, the MLA would lose prestige and become a laughing stock, it would show itself to be little more than a partisan pressure group, etc.

The current and past presidents of three academic associations which adopted BDS resolutions recently formed a panel at this conference discussing the impact of these resolutions on their organizations.  One, the president of the American Studies Association, pointed out that its membership had in fact grown after its adoption of a BDS resolution.

Moreover, those of us who have been around for a while will recall that the MLA suffered no short-term decline in membership when it passed a BDS resolution against apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.  In fact, MLA membership grew significantly in the 1990s, though it has since declined.
Nor was this issue raised when the MLA passed, a short time ago, a resolution condemning the ongoing victimization of Turkish academics who speak out against the repressive policies of the Erdogan government.

The face-palm moment here in the town hall on the BDS resolution was provided by an American anti-boycotter, who said that as a visiting professor in Israel she held classes in which Arab women were taught alongside men.  She said this was a liberating experience compared to the gender-segregated patriarchy they would encounter if they attended Palestinian universities.  BDS would end her challenge to Palestinian-Arab patriarchy!

In response, a Jewish-American professor in favor of BDS got up and threw his hands in the air, saying: “OK, you talk about Arab women and the misogynist men they have to deal with– but what about religiously ultra-orthodox Jewish women, and the patriarchy they confront?”.

Indeed, these ultra-orthodox Jewish women can only use beaches reserved for them one day a week.  They must be covered from head to toe, and are harassed by “modesty patrols” if they do otherwise.

 These Jewish women must also sit at the back of the bus and avoid public dancing.  They can’t initiate divorce proceedings (only a man can do this), can’t take jobs involving interactions with men, can’t pray alongside men, can’t have their photos published, can’t have their voices broadcast on radio, and so on.

So much for being against BDS in toto because one American visiting academic gives a few Arab women in Israel the opportunity to escape their version of patriarchy by sitting in a co-ed class!
In addition to the two votes on the resolutions for and against BDS, the Delegate Assembly had two other resolutions before it.

One– condemning Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for their violations of Palestinian academic freedom with no mention of Israel’s transgressions! — was clearly the work of the Zionists who proposed the initial resolution against BDS.

As my friend, Salah Hassan, a delegate, pointed out when the Zionists asked for it to be tabled indefinitely after their resolution against BDS was carried, this was a despicable ploy on their part to have a fallback resolution, allowing them the chance of a minor victory, in case their anti-BDS resolution failed.  Now that their anti-BDS resolution succeeded, they wanted to make a hollow “conciliatory” gesture by tabling their fallback resolution.

It got tabled, but not before a handful of people stood up and said that a resolution which failed to mention Israel’s massive violations of Palestinian academic freedom while blaming Hamas and the PA, was a vicious distortion of fact and amounted to racism of the most bare-faced kind.

But what else can we expect from supporters of the Zionist apartheid system?

The soon to be ex-US Secretary of State, John Kerry, was careful to avoid the word “apartheid” in his recent speech condemning Israel’s long and flagrant flouting of international law where the Palestinians are concerned.  To all intents and purposes “Israeli apartheid” is what he meant.

Kerry has known for years that endless illegal settlement expansion is Israel’s agenda.  Like Obama, the wretched fellow bit his tongue until his last days in office, in the hope he could somehow facilitate the illusory two-state solution.

Anti-BDS academics know this as well, though like Kerry until he finally loosened his tongue, they pretend otherwise.  All the meeting rooms in this convention, where Israel-Palestine was discussed by the anti-boycotters, reeked palpably of this pretense.

It is high time American academic organizations mean what Kerry (at last) meant when he was on his way out, and acted accordingly.

The time for pretense is over.

The supporters of Zionism in American academia are prevailing for now, with the tacit collusion of fence-sitters of the usual high-minded intellectual variety, with their platitudes about “the value of dialogue and discussion” with scholars in Israeli universities, and so forth.

The struggle continues.

The Delegate Assembly then passed an “emergency” resolution proposed by Michael Bérubé, an ex-MLA president who was one of the opponents of the BDS resolution. Bérubé’s resolution denounced the incoming Trump administration and its expected threats to academic freedom.

This resolution was a catalogue of boilerplate flummery regarding various “freedoms” (speech, political and religious belief, etc.) of concern to academics, all couched in the most anodyne terms, the kind of stuff one expects in a low-gear civics class.

The speeches lauding this resolution came in the main from the self-same Zionists who earlier had opposed a resolution in support of Palestinian academic freedom!

By this time, I had enough of their puke-inducing hypocrisy, and left the hall before the vote was taken.
Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

12 January 2017

AUSTRALIAN POLITICIANS - ROBBING THE POOR TO SUPPORT THE RICH

Australian politicians are a national and international disgrace.

What they are busy doing at the moment is attacking pensioners through Centrelink and, as usual, blaming certain people for rorting the system.

Have you seen what politicians have been found to be doing -yet again - with immersing their disgusting snouts in some very deep troughs?

When are the voters going to have enough sense and guts and foresight to chuck these disgusting people out and ensure that new ones elected are people with some integrity?

The latest scandal coming to light after the Sussan Ley debacle is Julie Bishop - you know - holier than thou!!!!! Her behaviour reminds us of another Bishop of recent memory, by name Bronwyn Bishop.

How many more of these revolting parliamentary scandals will emerge before the federal parliament does something to stop them all.

How much more will it take for the sub-prime minister to take action?

The latest robbery occurred today, courtesy Kevin Rudd and the subsequent parliamentary horrors sitting in the house on the hill, and I have been shaken to the core by the petttiness of the government and carried out by its front organisation called Centrelink.

This is some of the story:

On 1 July 2009 Kevin Rudd, then prime miniature, passed legislation in the federal parliament, giving "equal rights" to the so-called glbtiq etc. members of our communities. About 87 pieces of legislation were revised to give gl etceteras equal rights with hetero members of our communities.

As we South Africans knew from the apartheid years of the 20th century and from Dr Verwoerd, the then prime dictator, we had given to us the Bantustans - separate but equal, now carried out to a new level of refinement by the Israelis against the Palestinians.

So, we were now separate, but equal, except of course we were not equal.

We had to declare our de facto relationships to Centrelink if we were on commonwealth benefits and our single pensions became "couple" pensions.

This had so many ramifications that it would take a week to record them all here, so I will just try and deal with the bare bones of it.

My partner and I were at that stage in a same-sex relationship of 15 years and we had been on single pensions each. After the declaration to Centrelink, they combined out pensions to the same amount each where before, because I had some superannuation pensions and my partner didn't I had been getting a smaller Centrelink pension than my partner. Now we became equalised.

The next part of this story is mind-boggling, not forgetting the above items about politicians.

Because Centrelink has access to the superannuation pensions (indexed, by the way) information, when these pensions are indexed and my super pensions increase, Centrelink reduces my age pension accordingly.

Now that we are "married" by Kevin Rudd, we are treated equally by Centrelink so that when the indexed pensions go up, we are Centrelink age pension reduced.

This is what happened this week.

My one superannuation pension - indexed as I said - increased by 82 cents per fortnight.

Today my partner and I each received a letter from Centrelink advising us of our latest fortnightly age pensions.

We found in the letter that our latest pensions had been reduced by 21 cents per fortnight each, that is 42 cents reduction per fortnight in our incomes!

10 January 2017

KERRY, NETANYAHU AND THE SETTLEMENTS


Kerry, Netanyahu and the Settlements


Following the recent double-whammy against Israel, the first being the United Nations resolution condemning and demanding a stop to all settlement activity, and the second being United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech slamming Israeli policy, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu seems beside himself in fury.  Mr. Kerry, he lamented shortly after the secretary’s speech, “obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. He then made this incredible statement: “No one wants peace more than the people of Israel”. Well, there you are.

Has it really come to this? Has reality really disappeared from the international radar? The leader of a wealthy, prominent nation, one that receives more foreign aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined, actually spouts such nonsense, and is not be laughed off the international stage. Well, since Donald Trump is president-elect of the U.S., this writer supposes he has answered his own questions.
Mr. Netanyahu also said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to condemning what he called Palestinian terrorism, and accused the secretary of “attacking the only democracy in the Middle East”.

The speech contained other pearls of twisted wisdom, but time and space prevent a thorough study of each of them. But let’s do our own fact-checking on the few mentioned herein, and see what we might be able to learn.

+ “No one want peace more than the people of Israel”.  Let’s see now. Israelis evict Palestinians from their homes for a variety of reasons: to live in them themselves; to destroy them to make room for Israeli-only ‘communities’ (a new word being bandied about to sanitize illegal settlements); to create roads that non-Israelis can’t even cross over, let alone drive on; to extend the apartheid wall. Israeli settlers commit crimes, including murder, against Palestinians, with nearly complete impunity, often protected by Israeli soldiers, who themselves commit unspeakable crimes against Palestinians, again with nearly complete impunity.

Israelis are free to carry deadly weapons with them wherever they go; non-Israelis are not.
Somehow, this does not sound to this writer to be the actions of people who want peace as badly as the Prime Murderer would have us all believe.

+ Netanyahu said that Mr. Kerry only paid ‘lip service’ to Palestinian terrorism. The fact that the secretary said anything about so-called ‘terrorism’ committed by the Palestinians was just an appeasement to Israel. Mr. Kerry should know that, under international law, an occupied people have the right to resist the occupation in any way possible. He should also know that the so-called ‘rockets’ that Hamas occasionally fires into Gaza are, in the words of scholar Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel, nothing more than enhanced fireworks. These ‘rockets’ hardly compare to the deadly weapons the U.S. provides Israel to kill Palestinian men, women and children. And let’s be reminded that, in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more and far more deadly rockets into the Gaza Strip than Hamas had fired into Israel in the previous 14 years.

Mr. Netanyahu seems to have a very unusual definition of terrorism. One wonders if he would consider it terrorism if Palestinian soldiers routinely broke into the homes of Israelis in the middle of the night, ransacked the homes and arrested all the males in them over the age of 10. This writer feels that he would. Yet Israeli soldiers commit these crimes on a daily basis against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Would the Israeli Prime Murderer think it an act of terrorism, if Palestinians drove bulldozers up to the home of an Israeli family, and advised them to leave immediately, because their house was going to be demolished? Israel does this to Palestinians hundreds of times a year.

If Palestinians went to Israeli reservoirs, on which Israeli families relied for drinking water, and contaminated them with dead chickens and human feces, would the Prime Murderer feel that was an act of terrorism? Would he feel so if Palestinians simply destroyed those reservoirs? Israelis do this to Palestinians on a regular basis.

If Palestinians, in specially-equipped trucks, drove to a neighborhood elementary school, and sprayed sewage all over the school, adjacent residential buildings, and any people who couldn’t run out of the way quickly enough, would he object to that as terrorism? Palestinians suffer under this treatment from Israelis.

So, perhaps, in the twisted little mind of Mr. Netanyahu, it is only Israelis who can be victimized; after all, he will readily tell you, remember the Holocaust! Never again! Oh, that means ‘never again’ to Israelis; such crimes against others are just fine.

+ Kerry, according to the Prime Murderer, attacked “the only democracy in the Middle East”. One key element of democracy is this: “Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.” We have already mentioned roads that only Israelis can drive on. Also, non-Israelis in the judicial system have a separate set of rules. For people living under occupation, this includes arrest without charge; indefinite detention; no access to lawyers or family; lack of medical treatment, among others. Israelis, of course, cannot be arrested without charge, or held indefinitely.

They have immediate and unfettered access to lawyers and family, and any medical needs they may have are fulfilled.

Another key element is freedom of speech and press. Israel glories in this freedom, as long as no one says anything critical of the state.

Democracy, indeed!

We have, perhaps, saved the best for last. Mr. Netanyahu said that Mr, Kerry:
+ “Obsessively dealt with settlements and barely touched upon the root of the conflict”. The Prime Murderer sounds like the bratty child in the school yard who, when asked why he struck another child, says “because he hit me back”. Palestine, with no army, navy or air force is occupied and oppressed by one of the most powerful nations in the world, back by the most powerful. Mr. Netanyahu says that Palestine refuses to recognize the Jewish state of Israel (how that concept squares with the idea of democracy has never been adequately explained to this writer), and that is key to the conflict. Yet Israel is slowly, although with increasing speed, annexing all of Palestine, with the ultimate goal of annihilating it, wiping it from existence, and replacing it with Israel.

With the election of the clown-like Mr. Trump as president of the U.S., there will no longer be any pretense that the U.S. is a neutral peace broker in the Middle East. Mr. Trump has said that Israel can build all the settlements it wants, and his political appointees are all in favor of destroying Palestine, as demanded by the wealthy and generous Israeli lobbies, AIPAC (Apartheid Israeli Political Affairs Committee) chief among them. Yet the recent vote in the U.N. Security Council shows international support for Palestine. Perhaps, just perhaps, with Mr. Trump as president, the rest of the world will recognize that it must act for the Palestinian people. Mr. Trump’s election, although an overall disaster for the world, may have a silver lining, if it motivates the global community to act for justice in Palestine.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

30 December 2016

NETANYAHU LOSES THE PLOT - YET AGAIN!



  • December 28 2016  Sydney Morning Herald

Israel warned New Zealand that UN resolution was 'declaration of war': report

·         Henry Cooke
  •  
Wellington: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally phoned New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully to warn him a UN resolution co-sponsored by the country was a "declaration of war",  according to a leading Israeli newspaper.
The UN Security Council resolution called for Israel to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, declaring the settlements "illegal".
null

Netanyahu labels UN vote 'shameful'



null

Kerry pleas for two-state solution in ...



null

Kerry warns Middle East peace in jeopardy


Less than a month before leaving office, Secretary of State John Kerry issues a warning to Israel over the waning chances at peace with Palestine.
It was picked up and sponsored by New Zealand and three other countries after US President-elect Donald Trump reportedly pressured Egypt into dropping it.
It was passed on Saturday after the US abstained instead of vetoing, as they historically have done on votes concerning Israel.
In the aftermath, Israel has withdrawn its ambassador to New Zealand and barred New Zealand's ambassador to Israel.
Netanyahu lashed out at other Security Council countries by curbing diplomatic contacts, recalling envoys, cutting off aid and summoning the US ambassador for a scolding. Netanyahu has publicly called it a "shameful anti-Israel resolution".
The Israeli daily Haaretzciting unnamed Western diplomats, reported that a "harsh" phone call took place between Netanyahu and McCully on the day of the vote.
"This is a scandalous decision. I'm asking that you not support it and not promote it," Netanyahu reportedly told McCully.


Lashed out: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: AP
"If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences."
McCully reportedly refused to back down, according to Haaretz, telling Netanyahu the resolution was consistent with New Zealand policy on the dispute.
Stood firm: NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Photo: Getty Images
McCully's office have confirmed to Fairfax Media that a phone call between the minister and Netanyahu took place just before the vote. They refused to publicly comment on the content of the conversation.
Israel's ambassador to New Zealand Itzhak Gerberg will meet with Netanyahu on Thursday to discuss whether further sanctions against New Zealand are appropriate. Israel's embassy said that "until further notice" no more sanctions would be imposed.
US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, centre, raises her hand to abstain during the UN Security Council vote on Friday. Photo: AP
Earlier this week McCully publicly said that Israel shouldn't be surprised by New Zealand's position.
"We have been very open about our view that the [Security Council] should be doing more to support the Middle East peace process and the position we adopted today is totally in line with our long established policy on the Palestinian question," he said.
New Zealand has used its time on the Security Council to consistently call for a halt to settlements.
Its two-year term as a non-permanent member ends this month.
New Zealand was the only Western nation to co-sponsor the resolution, joining Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela.
The Security Council passed the resolution 14-0, with the United States abstaining.
Stuff.co.nz

28 December 2016

THE GUARDIAN, ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN AND "THE ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST, ISRAEL"


I personally don't think I can add much to what Tony Greenstein has laid out below, but let's go back to the old days when this "august" newspaper was known as the Manchester Guardian. Back then I believe the newspaper was known for its generally left-wing views on the political issues of the day - after WWII from 1950 onwards.

In its later manifestation it had gained so much readership from elsewhere in the UK south of Manchester that it changed its name to "The Guardian.

When one of South Africa's remaining anti-apartheid newspapers was busy collapsing due to the ramifications of the apartheid government - the South African one, not the Israeli one -  the Guardian  more or stepped in and provided an alternative newspaper voice and the paper in South Africa to this day is called the Mail and Guardian.

The Guardian along the way has spread its wings until these days, in the 2000s, it is as right wing as they come. 

What a shame and what a disgrace is their behaviour towards Antony Loewenstein and others who have other political views to the developing right-wing approach being pushed by the Guardian.

What a let-down to everybody in this reactionary political climate around the world to have what was one of the remaining newspapers with a little proper journalism still left, losing the plot altogether and supporting apartheid Israel at a time when Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are beginning to show their effect on apartheid Israel.

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Saturday, 24 December 2016 - from Tony Greenstein blog

Guardian Cowardice as it abandons Antony Loewenstein to Israel's Ministry of Information

Antony Loewenstein's profile on Guardian website which lists over a 100 articles he has written

The article below by Jonathan Cook, a freelance journalist who used to work for The Guardian is self-explanatory.  A journalist, Antony Loewenstein, who has contributed 90 articles to the Guardian over the past 3 years as a freelance journalist, had the temerity to ask a difficult question of Israel’s uber-racist politician Yair Lapid, the head of Yesh Atid.  Lapid masquerades as a Zionist centrist but he is virtually indistinguishable from Netanyahu. 
Antony Loewenstein - his crime was asking an uncomfortable question of Israeli MK and leader of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, a notorious racist opposed to 'mixed-race' i.e. Jewish-Arab liaisons
Loewenstein dared ask whether Israel’s treatment of the millions of Palestinians under military rule merited the accolade of it being an Apartheid state.   Nothing makes the defenders of ‘Israeli democracy’ bristle more than the word ‘Apartheid’ though quite how you describe a situation where 4 million Palestinians are held under military rule for nigh on 50 years at the very same time as Jewish settlers are subject to normal civil law, defies me.  Jimmy Carter, the former US President, was given similar treatment when he made this obvious comparison too.
HonestReporting is one of the many Israeli funded groups which dedicated themselves to combating unsympathetic coverage of Israeli and Zionist repression and racism
Either way a nasty little campaign has arisen, during which it has been falsely claimed that Loewenstein claimed to work for the Guardian as a permanent correspondent.  Loewenstein has been made the target of the so-called HonestReporting group, one of these Israeli funded groups whose main purpose in life is to intimidate journalists who are not singing from Israel’s hymn sheet.  When they contacted the Guardian to ask whether in fact Loewenstein works for them, rather than being told he is a freelance journalist who contributes copy, the Guardian distanced themselves from him. 
A cursory visit to Lowenstein’s profile on the Guardian website shows just how many articles he’s contributed in the past few.  The total is about 105. For the Guardian to now distance himself from the Israeli government and its Zionist chorus who wish to expel inconvenient journalists is despicable.

Tony Greenstein
Guardian newspaper fails to support colleague facing deportation threat from Israeli government
23 December 2016
Mondoweiss – 23 December 2016
Harriet Sherwood, former Guardian Israel correspondent, now their religious affairs correspondent.  Perhaps appropriate since her behaviour towards Loewenstein resembleds that of Judas towards Jesus
Israel is reported to be ready to expel an award-winning Australian journalist and writer, Antony Loewenstein, after he asked a too-probing question of an Israeli politician at a media event last week. Government officials have said they are investigating how they can deny him his work visa when it comes up for renewal in March.

It is unsurprising to learn that Israel has no serious regard for press freedom. But more depressing has been the lack of solidarity shown by journalistic colleagues, most especially the Guardian newspaper, for which he has regularly worked as a freelancer since 2013. Not only has the paper failed to offer him any support, but its management and staff reporters have hurried to distance themselves from him.
Sherwood on Twitter demonstrating that when it comes to solidarity with journalists under attack, the Guardian's journalists retreat by example
A deferential foreign press

Loewenstein has been under fire since he attended the event in Jerusalem, hosted by the Foreign Press Association (FPA), on December 12. According to the Israeli media, he asked former government minister Yair Lapid: “Is there not a deluded idea here that many Israeli politicians, including yourself, continue to believe that one can talk to the world about democracy, freedom and human rights while denying that to millions of Palestinians, and will there not come a time soon, in a year, five years, 10 years, when you and other politicians will be treated like South African politicians during Apartheid?”
Peter Beaumont - Guardian's Jerusalem correspondent in the normal act of solidarity one expects of Guardian journalists denied all knowledge of Loewenstein 
Israeli politicians are not used to hearing such difficult questions from members of the FPA, a professional association for journalists working in Israel. The reason for their deference to Israeli officials was explained to me a few years ago by an FPA insider. He revealed that not only are most of these correspondents Jewish – as Loewenstein himself is – but, unlike Loewenstein, they deeply identify with Israel. They live in Israel, not the occupied territories, they speak Hebrew, send their children to Israeli schools and expect them to serve in the Israeli army. Some of the reporters have served in the army themselves.

Perhaps most famously, former New York Times bureau chief Ethan Bronner was embarrassed in 2010 by the disclosure that he and the NYT had not divulged that his son was serving in the Israeli army while Bronner reported from the region. There was nothing exceptional about Bronner’s professional conflict of interest. My confidant told me: “I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

He added: “The degree to which Bronner’s personal life, like that of most lead journalists here, is integrated into Israeli society, makes him an excellent candidate to cover Israeli political life, cultural shifts and intellectual life. The problem is that Bronner is also expected to be his paper’s lead voice on Palestinian political life, cultural shifts and intellectual life, all in a society he has almost no connection to, deep knowledge of or even the ability to directly communicate with.”

Most publications appear to believe that the benefits of employing openly partisan reporters – and all of them partisan towards the same party in the conflict – outweighs any potential damage to claims that they are neutral and impartial. The outlets hope their partisanship will offer them an advantage: gaining unfettered access to the corridors of power, whether in the Israeli government or army.
With this background in mind, it is possible to understand why Loewenstein described the tenor of the FPA event in the following terms: “With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of journalists in attendance were deferential to Lapid and asked him bland questions.”

No support from the FPA
Loewenstein’s failure to follow the standard FPA rules of politesse when addressing an Israeli politician triggered a campaign against him by Honest Reporting. The group is one of several US-based media lobby organizations whose job is to intimidate foreign media organizations on behalf of the Israeli government. In this way, they have been successful in limiting critical coverage of Israel even further. Staff reporters tend to self-censor, while freelance journalists are pressured to leave the region.

In a transparent maneuver, Honest Reporting sought to paint Loewenstein as politically extreme for his past support for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), and as an activist rather than a journalist. That is no easy task. In addition to the Guardian, he has written for many leading publications in Europe, Australia and the US, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, the Nation, Le Monde diplomatique, the Huffington Post, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and many more.

He has also written several books covering a diverse range of topics, including his best-seller My Israel Question, in which he considers his own Jewish identity and relates it to issues of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. (Full disclosure: I contributed a chapter to a 2012 volume, After Zionism, he edited with Ahmed Moor.) He is currently working on a documentary based on his book Disaster Capitalism.

In other words, Loewenstein is not only a journalist; he is the gold-standard for serious independent, critical-thinking journalists. Which, of course, is precisely the reason Israel would want him gone.
Ignoring the deep, but entirely acceptable partisanship of the vast majority of reporters in Jerusalem, Honest Reporting has accused Loewenstein of partiality: “Loewenstein is clearly incapable of reporting on Israel in a fair and objective manner. Yet Honest Reporting has learned that he happens to be a paid up associate member of Israel’s Foreign Press Association.”

It is the traditional and self-defined responsibility of journalists to hold power to account, yet, sadly, the FPA has failed to come to Loewenstein’s defense. In response to Honest Reporting, it said it had accepted him as a non-voting associate member “based on his career as a freelance journalist”. But then added only: “While we do not endorse his views, we also do not screen our members for their opinions.”

So no words of support from the FPA for Loewenstein as he faces being stripped of the right to report from the region (and not just from Israel, as Honest Reporting dishonestly claims, but also from the occupied territories, since Israel controls all access to Palestinian areas). Not a word of condemnation of Israel from the FPA for crushing press freedom. Just a shrug of the shoulders.

Loewenstein should not be surprised. The FPA has barely bothered to raise its voice in solidarity with journalistic colleagues in the region whose rights are being trampled on a systematic basis. 
Palestinian journalists have been regularly killed, wounded, beaten up or jailed, earning Israel a ranking of 101 out of 180 countries this year in the Reporters without Borders index. That places it below Liberia, Bhutan, East Timor and Gabon, and a nudge ahead of Uganda, Kuwait, and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Honest Reporting saw its chance to set a trap for Loewenstein to get him out of the region. More than a decade ago, Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) introduced new rules that tightly controlled coverage in its favor. In a non-transparent procedure, independent journalists have to persuade the GPO that they deserve to be issued with a work visa.

In February, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ executive director, Robert Mahoney, criticised Israel for this patronage system. “It is virtually impossible to work as a reporter in Israel and the occupied territories without a press card,” he said. “The threat of withdrawing accreditation is a heavy handed approach at stifling unwelcome coverage.”

The Guardian distances itself
Honest Reporting has created a phony controversy about how Loewenstein received his work visa in a bid to discredit him. In fact, Loewenstein should easily meet the formal requirements for a freelance visa, as he has written far more than seven articles for major publications in the last year. But Honest Reporting is seeking to confect a row to justify the GPO refusing to renew his visa in March.
It did so by questioning the Guardian about his connection to the paper, hoping that it could get the paper to dissociate itself from him. Without a shred of evidence, it suggested that Loewenstein might have lied to the GPO, claiming he was a Guardian accredited journalist, to get his visa.

How did the Guardian respond? According to Honest Reporting, its head of international news, Jamie Wilson, told them that “Loewenstein was contracted to write comment pieces for Guardian Australia and remains an occasional comment contributor but he ‘is not a news correspondent for the Guardian in Israel’. It was also relayed to us that Loewenstein has now been told to in future make sure he does not reference The Guardian at press conferences unless he is working on a direct commission."

Further, their Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont emailed the group to deny any knowledge of Loewenstein. And its former Jerusalem correspondent and now religious affairs reporter Harriet Sherwood entered the fray on Facebook: “Why is this guy claiming to be a Guardian writer when all I can find in our archive is occasional opinion pieces and nothing since August?” For the record, Loewenstein has written more than 90 articles for the Guardian since 2013.

One might wonder how it is that neither Beaumont nor Sherwood appear to have heard of Loewenstein when he has written several books on Israel and Palestine, and writes for their own paper and other leading publications on a range of issues, including Israel and Palestine. But then I suspect they may have a rather narrow range of reference points for their coverage – most of them doubtless FPA regulars.

But what is more significant is that none of the relevant actors at the Guardian has shown an ounce of solidarity with Loewenstein, as the Israeli lobby seeks to get him kicked out of the country for doing proper journalism. They have also inadvertently conspired with Honesty Reporting in misrepresenting him.

Despite Honest Reporting’s accusations, Loewenstein says he stated clearly in his GPO application that he was a freelance journalist. And it is simply inconceivable that he could have professed to be a Guardian reporter to the GPO without being found out. The GPO knows precisely who represents all the big media outlets in Jerusalem.

Further, according to a source at the FPA event, Loewenstein was clear about his status when he addressed Lapid. He said he was freelance journalist who had contributed to various publications including the Guardian.

Predictably, Honest Reporting’s managing editor, Simon Plosker, was delighted by the Guardian’s response: “The Guardian’s distancing itself from Loewenstein is a welcome development.”
So far the Guardian appears to have issued no criticism of Honest Reporting for its deceptions in this matter, or retracted its own misguided comments.

The Guardian — far from the fearless watchdog

Loewenstein may have hoped that the Guardian would stand by him. But my own early experiences in Israel with the paper suggest this is part of a pattern of cowardly behavior when it is under attack from Israeli officials or the Israel lobby.

I had an established relationship with the Guardian when I arrived in Israel as a freelancer early in the second intifada, in September 2001. I had previously worked on staff in its foreign department in London for several years. I used those contacts to begin pitching stories, and a few of the less controversial ones were commissioned by the paper.

It is standard journalistic practice when writing articles to give parties that come in for criticism a chance to respond. Therefore, in a piece on the Israeli army, I called the army spokesperson’s office for a comment. As is also standard practice, I introduced myself and cited where the piece would be published.

Less than an hour after the conversation, I was surprised to receive a furious phone call from the Guardian foreign desk in London. The Israeli army spokesperson had called the paper’s then-correspondent, Suzanne Goldenberg, to ask who I was and why I was writing for the paper. Goldenberg called the desk and threw a tantrum about my referring to the Guardian.

Then I had the most bizarre exchange in my journalistic career – and I have had a few. The foreign desk banned me from mentioning the Guardian in calls to any Israeli officials.

“But if I am commissioned by the Guardian to write a piece, like this one, and an official asks me who I am writing for, what am I supposed to say?” I asked incredulous.

I was told: “We don’t care – just don’t mention the Guardian. Things are difficult for us and Suzanne right now, and we don’t need you making more trouble for us.”

It was a revealing moment. Far from the fearless watchdog of popular imagination, the Guardian showed its true colors. It was petrified of actually doing its self-professed job of monitoring the centers of power. And the Guardian is one of the most critical publications on Israel. Imagine how much more feeble the rest are, if Guardian staff are so fearful of incurring the wrath of Israeli officials.

Time for the Guardian to step up

The Guardian now needs to make amends to Loewenstein, rather than allowing itself to be implicated in Israel’s ugly McCarthyism. It could stand in journalistic solidarity with him. It would not take much, just a simple act of journalistic courage and refusal to allow Israel to control who gets to report on the region.

The Guardian could do it by giving Loewenstein official accreditation. That would remove the GPO’s pretext for expelling him. It would not mean he was the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent. It would simply be a declaration by the paper that it believes in a free press and does not wants to see him silenced. Or is that too much to expect from the Guardian? 

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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm

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