jewin' the fat

Older and/or Wiser

First things first – Happy New Year y’all. Here’s hoping that resolutions were made and broken, champagne glasses emptied and dignity lost in the fun and fury. It’s 2010, and we are officially living in a sci-fi novel – Brave New World indeed.

Secondly, an apology – I have let life, love and living get in the way of blogging. Especially because, if you weren’t aware, I’ve been Mid-East side for the past month or so. And in among all the crazy, I have let slide this little venture. … Mostly because I didn’t want to spill Jameson on my lap top. And despite being in the thick of it, with a million and one things to write reams and reams about, to put it simply, I’m on holiday, and cbf. So Sorry.

But then again, it has been a fairly decent while in cyber-terms, so here’s my resolution. I will make a concerted effort to not be a lazy ass, and get back on the blogging-bandwagon. Starting now.

2009 was a memorable year. It taught us the value of money, once we lost it, and the stupidity of trusting financial institutions. It also taught us that hiding $1 million in a mattress can backfire. It began with a bang that shook Gaza, and is still shaking the world, and ended with a silence on Darfur that is deafening.

 2009 was brought to you by the colour Green, and Twitter became (and still is) the protest medium of choice for thousands of young Iranians. 2009 was the year Australian politics got (mildly) interesting – and the first year an Abbott and a Bishop ruled the Liberal Party. It was also the year that his Honour, the Honorable Honorary Jew himself, Malcolm Turnbull, found himself out on his ass (but still with that amazing BRW Richest 200 fortune to fall back on), Nathan Rees locked us out of parliament, and the year Kristina Keneally found the spare set of keys.

Melbourne trains got an overhaul, Brendan Fevola got pissed and lost his shit at the Brownlows, and Nate Myles got pissed and actually took a shit in a hotel corridor. The British Supreme Court ruling against the Jewish Free School told us how to be Jewish, and John Safran’s Race Relations showed us how to be crude – ish.

Settlements, Satire, Sexting and Sagging – we remember 2009. Another year older, but not necessarily wiser. Except for Ron Weiser. That guy is a champion.


Dying breath of Democracy
August 26, 2009, 9:24 AM
Filed under: Comment, Israel, media | Tags: , , , , , ,

(In mid August, 24 people died in a bloody gun battle between Hamas and the Jund Ansar Allah (“Soldiers of the Followers of God”) group in a Rafah mosque. The group’s leader, Abdul-Latif Moussa, reportedly killed himself using a suicide belt and more than 100 people were injured over the course of the battle. Hamas said that it launched the crackdown on the group after Moussa announced an “Islamic emirate” in Gaza, directly challenging the elected government’s rule. Hamas accused the US-backed Fatah and Arab states of being behind the militants, supporting them as part of an attempt to destabilise the Strip. Ismail Haniyeh was quoted as saying:

“These declarations [of an Islamic emirate] are aimed towards incitement against the Gaza Strip and an attempt at recruiting an international alliance against the Gaza Strip.

“And we warn those who are behind these Israeli Zionist declarations: the Gaza Strip only contains its people.”

Anthony Loewenstein jumped on the story, reporting for newmatilda on the sectarian violence, coming to the ‘logical’ conclusion that Muslim-on-Muslim fighting must be the fault of Israel, because why would Muslims fight each other, if not in defiant protest of the occupation of Palestine?

As Loewenstein says:

“The clash was hardly surprising. I heard during my time in Gaza that a growing number of Islamists were frustrated with attempts by Hamas to discuss engagement with the international community. For them, resistance means no compromise in the face of ongoing Israeli attacks. BBC journalist Shahdi Alkashif told me that he regularly spoke to Islamic extremists in Gaza and they were thriving under the siege … Such militants ask Gazans, why even bother trying to negotiate with Israel and Washington when resistance could achieve far more?”

“In order to present a coherent unified, and credible face as a negotiating partner, Hamas has imposed a tight grip on the Strip and doesn’t tolerate challenges to its authority from groups like these.” (My emphasis).

A few questions Loewey –

Does this “tight grip” include dictating what women can wear in schools or beaches or in the privacy of their own homes? Beating men in the streets?

Does this “tight grip” necessitate the murder and/or torture of political opponents, or tolerating men who murder their daughters for using mobile phones – the tenth such ‘honor killing’ in the Palestinian territories, according to human rights groups?

Does this “tight grip” pass the democratic test of the assurances of an individual’s rights to stand on a soap box in Gaza City and curse the names of the elected representatives?

Sure, blaming Israel for this lawlessness may “present a coherent, unified and credible face” for some, but not to the constituents, Hamas’ own people who have been killed, mutilated or humiliated by their elected representatives, all in the name of what you describe as “unity”. Sounds like totalitarianism to me. So much for the democratic process everyone keeps talking about.

Shame on you, Anthony, for belittling the very people you purport to represent.

Actions speak louder than words
July 16, 2009, 3:46 PM
Filed under: Comment, Israel, media | Tags: , , , , ,

 “Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again… and that must mean that we’re up here at Gobbler’s Knob waiting for the forecast from the world’s most famous groundhog weatherman, Punxsutawney Phil, who’s just about to tell us how much more winter we can expect.” 
* * *
Fool me once ... The Conduct of IDF soldiers is once again being called into question
Fool me once … The Conduct of IDF soldiers is once again being called into question

‘Breaking the Silence’, a human rights group came out yesterday with a report into the Israeli Defence Forces conduct in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead. Using the anonymous testimony of a group of  soldiers, the report condemns the IDF as indiscriminately brutal, and refutes the high morals of the IDF, referring to a systematic “shoot to kill” policy that testimonies describe as enforced across the board.

But haven’t we heard this all before?

* * *

“You want a prediction about the weather … I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

* * *

That’s right, not even two months ago, the IDF Rabin Pre-Military Academy was embroiled in a similar scandal that shot around the world. The IDF investigated the claims internally, and found the testimony quoted in an internal document, leaked to the media, was a mixture of heresay and rumour, and the author of the document, and head of the academy Danny Zamir made a public statement saying, “From an internal discussion … the international media turned the IDF into war criminals.”

Why is the international media prepared to fight tooth and nail to validate sources, and thus ensure the credibility of a story, but when it comes to a report, based on the unattributed, unsubstantiated testimony of unknown IDF ‘soldiers’, they are more than willing to drop all journalistic standards of inquiry and investigation?

As IDF spokesperson Avital Leibovich says, none of the accounts can be proven or investigated because of their anonymous nature. “I don’t know who they are. I have no idea in which way they were questioned. When you have a report with no fact whatsoever, we cannot do anything with it,” she said.

In fact, the media have done nothing more than print heresay and conjecture of a report whose authors have a very clear agenda, and the willingness of the international press to run the story without proper proof of the claims is slanderous and unethical.

The IDF has released a statement calling on ‘Breaking the Silence’ to “urge those who made these claims to really ‘break their silence,’ and to present specific complaints to the IDF, and not hide behind general and anonymous statements.”

The report was not even presented to the IDF for verification, as the Rabin Academy accusations were. Instead, intrepid reporters from the English daily The Jerusalem Post, who received the report from ‘Breaking the Silence’ decided to verify it for themselves, as Amir Mizroch reports.

It was as they suspected. Most of the testimonies were anonymous and lacked in any identifying details that would allow the IDF to investigate, confirm, or refute them. Whether the organisation really intends for a credible and thorough investigation regarding the claims to be carried out, as is the norm after accusations of war crimes, is doubtful.

But then again, is the purpose of such reports ever really that black and white? The report’s intention is to punish the IDF by smear ing the reputation of the entire Defence Forces, rather than actually have the offenders brought to account. As Michael Dickson of StandWithUs comments “There is no silence to break. Israel is an open and democratic society that regularly criticizes its own actions but this one-sided and shoddy report fails to stress the context of the war … But this vital context is missing from their account.” Metaphors of bad apples are clearly not applicable (so they say), because this is the second such report to come out.

It would appear the media have forgotten that old adage: Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me.

Israel is stuck again in a twisted Groundhog Day. Nothing they say or do will stop the onslaught of people and organisations prepared to take a tar brush to Israel’s institutions with anonymous and highly defamatory reports, while people like Col. Richard Kemp, has the honour of his name behind his statements to the contrary. Meanwhile, when it comes to the ridiculous and the despairing, all we hear are crickets.

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” 

And just as Ralph answers Phil, That about sums it up for me.