Friday, 26 February 2010

Post#142 "Teach Yourself The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" (Zionism, our response to it and USS Liberty)

I started writing this in 2008 and was prompted to rescue it from draft limbo by the discovery that Australian passports were forged by Mossad and used as cover in the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai.

I noticed the book with the title referred to above on the library shelf and couldn't resist it. It provoked some wry thoughts along the lines of; "Does it come with bomb designs or toy tanks?"

Stewart Ross, the author, appears to me to have made a sincere effort to achieve the balance he promises in the book's introduction but I'm sure he'll attract the fury of many nonetheless. There's nothing that can be said about this topic that doesn't vex somebody. As I was reading it I could see where various statements that seem perfectly reasonable to me would have some of the partisans frothing at the mouth. In fact, the words "Israel" or "Palestine" alone will provoke some to deny that one or the other of those places even exist. "There is no Israel! It is a false state!"; "Palestine is a fiction of history!", and so on.

That reminded me of what I felt when reading the Wikipedia article on the USS Liberty incident. In this episode Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked and severely damaged a US Navy intelligence-gathering vessel in June 1967. This was during the Six Day War and the dispute about it has become a forty-one year war of words. The two combatant factions are those who accept the Israeli claim that the attack was erroneous and that the Liberty was misidentified as an Egyptian ship and those who believe that the attack was deliberate and intended to prevent the US passing intelligence about Israel's deployments to the Egyptians, either deliberately or through falling victim to Soviet intercepts. I had seen some TV documentaries about this matter but didn't take a strong interest until I read James Ennes' book, Assault on the Liberty*. It convinced me that the attack was deliberate and that was good enough for me to settle for. (I don't really buy that the Israelis are as incompetent as they would need to be to make such a mistake.) One day, out of idle interest, I looked at the article on Wikipedia. The version at the time (several months ago) was so frantically pro-Israeli that it offended me. I felt like adding a flashing banner header to the article, saying "Shalom! This article is brought to you by Mossad! Enjoy!" On the talk page I found the edit war in full blast. The Zionists and their nemeses had been slugging it out for quite a while and were expending millions of keystrokes and were (and are) apparently happy to continue until Doomsday with it.

I am in earnest about Mossad skewing the Wikipedia article. It would be the height of naivety to think that the intelligence agencies of the world don't prowl the Internet putting the case for their nation's interests. As the most commonly-accessed research site, Wikipedia is probably a high priority target in the propaganda wars. I don't have a problem in principle with agencies of governments contributing to websites. They probably correct a lot of errors and provide information that would otherwise be omitted. However, they don't confine themselves to defending the truth. Nor even the truth as they perceive it. They tell downright lies. As do their opponents.

This ruthlessness is what exasperates me about the so-called "Middle-East conflict". I've seen the same film footage used to illustrate television documentaries about the subject which have utterly opposing messages. One is pro-Israel, the other anti-Israel. The footage is cut and voiced-over to give a completely different significance to it, according to the purpose of the propagandist. Another manifestation of this is in the letters pages of the newspapers. In The Australian last year I read a letter from a person purporting to be a professor at an Eastern States university. I hadn't read the letter which he was responding to but it apparently had contained an argument against those who refer to the "Holocaust" as a justification of the existence of Irsael. The writer had apparently made the fairly obvious and well-worn argument that two wrongs don't make a right and that the Palestinian Arabs had nowt to do with killing Jews in Europe, etc. The professor set out to show that the Palestinians were complicit in the genocide of Jews in Europe because...the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was a confrere of Hitler and had conspired with the Nazis against the Jews. Now that's the sort of thing that jacks me off. This professor is obviously a Zionist partisan and is using sophistic argument of the most tawdry kind. Here's a perfect comparator for this allegation: I know of a country whose leader admired Hitler and was prepared to make a deal with him. He visited Hitler both in a private and official capacity to build the relationship. He was fully aware of Hitler's anti-Jewish ferocity and obviously found it no obstacle to friendship. Think about that for a few moments. Think hard, then read on...

That country was Australia. Its head of state was King Edward VIII, later abdicated to the Duchy of Windsor. He was also Emperor of all British dominions, including the UK itself. So much for that type of reasoning.

Another example of this Zionist hard-heading is the response to any attempt to point out the fact that there is a Zionist lobby group. The recent publication of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy has provoked the typical attacks on the authors as anti-semites and dupes of terrorists. I'm not going to attempt an analysis of the work; I haven't yet read it and I doubt that I could improve on what's in the Wikipedia article or the discussion page that goes with it. My interest is in the fact that plenty of people who also hadn't read it, or had only apparently skimmed it, pitched in with boots and all to attack the authors. They neither knew nor cared about the facts. The authors weren't wholeheartedly on Israel's side so they were legitimate targets. This is the Zionist pattern: You are with us or you are a Nazi, Jew-hating, anti-semitic, terrorist-loving, etc. If you claim to be a Jew, you must also be a "self-loathing Jew" or not really a Jew at all.

By now, any Zionist reading this will be shouting, "What about the terrorists? Why does this Retarius not care about the terrorists? He's obviously a Nazi, Jew-hating, anti..."

Not that the Zionists will care about my credentials. I'm not with them so they won't give a damn about my motives. For those with remotely open minds I'll specify that I am an Australian of British Isles descent (some of my Irish cousins would take violent exception to that phrase, "British" Isles) . My great-grandparents all arrived in this country in the 1850's. All of my antecedents at that point and a couple of people I know of further back don't include any Jews or Muslims. My religious position is agnostic.

I once accepted the commitment of Australia to the cause of Zionism without a second thought. It was simple; the Israelis were the good guys and whatever they did was right. I'm amazed and ashamed now to remember that, even as a teenager, I had no idea of the circumstances in which Israel was created or the fate of the Arabs who had occupied that land for millennia. Trawling my memory of the early 1970's, I can't remember myself having more than a very simplistic and ill-informed view on the issue. To go back to those terrorists; at that time the PLO and PFLP were emerging into the consciousness of the international community with their various attacks, particularly the 1972 Olympics incident. Palestinian militants were abandoning talk and trying to make the supporters of Israel feel some pain. Talk hadn't gotten them anywhere; terrorism wasn't going to either, but they didn't know that yet. As for many Australians, these gutless murders were my introduction to the fact of the existence of a Palestinian national movement. My first reaction, formed by the ignorance of anything but the terrorism, was that they were thoroughly vicious and deserved whatever they got. It's very hard now, looking back on childish or teenaged perceptions to remember exactly what I did know or think. I don't suppose I thought much about it at all. It's really only in the past twenty years that I've revisited and rethought the matter. A long-held opinion is like a forgotten item in a stored trunk. It can be very surprising to unpack it and look at it. It's like that with old clothes you haven't looked at for a while. You see them with fresh eyes and wonder at how they ever fitted you or that you wore something like that in public. When I looked again at my opinions filed under "Israel" I received a rude shock. I realised that I'd never given the matter any careful adult thought. Like so many others, I'd accepted the necessity of Israel's existence as a response to the "Holocaust". With older, more skeptical eyes, I saw that the acceptance of this belief was a propaganda victory for the most obnoxious kind of Zionist.

I keep putting that word "Holocaust" in those quotation marks for a good reason. That reason is not a disbelief in the genocidal campaigns carried out against Jews during the Second World War. Anyone in this age who thinks that the great pogroms of the Nazis and their collaborators are fictional is either the supreme fool or a lunatic. My dispute with its usage is that it is a melodramatic term which has been conscripted to unethical ends. The history of European animosity towards Semitic peoples is a very long one. I believe that it can be traced to origins in the Punic Wars. It probably didn't escape the attention of the Romans that the sacred language and script of the Jews were identical to the everyday language and script of their ancient foes, the Phoenicians/Carthaginians.

The term "Holocaust" excessively particularises the matter. There is an implication that the persecution of Jews in Europe is a phenomenon of Nazism and its collaborators in occupied countries. This is very convenient for other nations such as Britain and Spain which have deep histories in this field. It obscures the escalation in anti-Judaic activity which occurred throughout Europe in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Australia's official position has been one of relentless sycophancy towards Israel. "Official" in that sentence means the political class, not the citizenry. More and more of us are wearying of the Zionist intransigents. Perhaps even the politicians are beginning to wonder. I have with me the edition of  The Australian for Friday, 26 February, 2010. Above the banner headline "Aussies caught in Israeli spy hit" is a quote from Stephen Smith, Australia's Foreign Minister:

"If ... the abuse of Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend."

This is his response to the discovery that a Mossad hit squad used forged Australian passports as part of their cover for the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai. For the Australian government, in the context of Israel doing a naughty, that's tough talk.

One of the things that delayed my writing this post was that I didn't want to add another dead blowfish of opinion to the massive pile that's been dredged up on this topic over the past 62 years. They usually boil down to "Drive the Jews into the sea!" or "Drive the Arabs into the desert!" These entrenched diametrics are so worn out that you'd have to be mad to bother writing in support of either. I finally came up with an innovative solution. It's about as likely to come to fruition as all the others..not at no harm done in indulging in this flight of fancy.

My plan to solve the Israel-Palestine problem: Wind the place up. The Western countries that supported this lunacy can take the Israelis into their lands. I'll even suspend my support for zero immigration and suggest that Australia could take a few hundred thousand.

Like I said, no chance. However, the fact that the problem will never be solved doesn't mean it won't be
resolved. What the Zionists can't see is that final victory for them will be the removal of the last restraint upon the most fanatical of Palestinians. When all hope is extinguished for them they will  have no reason to refrain from the detonation of  nuclear weapons in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Yes, even Jerusalem. And the rest of us shall sit and watch. In  that regard we shall enjoy the judgement of history that we were consistent if nothing else.

Post#141 One Small Step - Years of the Rocket

There was a time when science fiction ripped out of the pages of paperbacks and melted through the celluloid of moving film and took hold of our waking, banal everydays. That time when great rockets roared skyward and seemed to be the vanguard of a nascent imperium; the interstellar Empire imagined by Asimov taking its first steps to glory.

From the early 1960's the pledge of JFK to land a man on the moon was the spring driving the increasingly regular and efficient launches. Gemini followed Mercury, Apollo followed Gemini. It seemed to be an unstoppable progression. Tragedies and mishaps such as the Apollo 1 fire or the loss of Grissom's capsule after splashdown didn't appear to hinder the advance of the machine.

Then came the triumph of Apollo 11 in July of 1969. A genuinely outstanding moment in history; the first recorded voyage to and landing on another celestial body by human beings. The television broadcast must have set a record for the most-watched programme of the most abysmal visual quality. The headline on the West Australian newspaper was massive: MAN LANDS ON MOON.

The missions that followed were, as is now well-remarked, anticlimactic. But for the near-fatal events of Apollo 13, they would have received even less attention. That's one of the most astounding things about these events; people became blase about them in an eye-blink.

The last Apollo moon-mission was in November of 1972. An Apollo launch system and capsule which could and should have gone to the moon were wasted in the Apollo-Soyuz farce of 1975...a pointless exercise in the name of "detente". The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 showed what that was all worth. Caught between the Kennedy-hate of Nixon and the apathy and skepticism of Congress and the American public, the programme was extinguished. Its remnant equipment was used as "lawn furniture" at NASA establishments. As a Australian I can't damn the American taxpayers for this...they were paying for it and it would have proceeded only if they had really wanted to continue paying for it. Still, it was depressing to see.

The "space-race" provoked the imaginations of humanity, then became a historical landmark which was progressively receding. The expression "We can put a man on the moon..." became part of the treasury of was usually hooked up with "but we can't - " followed by whatever the speaker felt was outlandish for being undoable. This saying is used less often now and I suspect that there are many now who have completely forgotten that it ever happened or never knew. Imagine that...a child who has never heard of it is probably not a rarity today.

From Perth, Western Australia, my home town, the Moon is now the only celestial body which is easily observable at night. Light pollution has progressed to the point where even the most prominent stars and planets are feeble in the clearest viewing conditions (except for Venus, goddess of UFO's). The stars of "our radiant Southern Cross" are winking out. No one seems to even think it's worth a comment. As for the moon, I feel that Stephen Baxter put it best in his short story "Moon Six"; it has become "just a light in the sky that no one cares about".

The initiative in lunar colonisation has passed from the democracies and is now being pursued by China.( I covered that in Post#22, way back when.) It's difficult to see how the withering away of will can ever be reversed. Perhaps the simple answer is that it won't. There's always going to be a Proxmire, a world recession or some damned thing to soak up government money. In the West private enterprise is the best hope for progress...if a profit can be demonstrated in the venture. Not much chance then.

The rockets are dormant now. Fizzled out. Snuffed out. By economic necessity; by failure of imagination. Those of us who lived in the years of the rocket had a great historical privilege. We heard those words:

"This is Tranquility base...the Eagle has landed"

For a moment we had a glimpse.