25 May 2010


Israeli diplomat expelled over fake passport affair

Controversial: several fake Australian passports were used in the assassination in Dubai

* Related Story: UK ups ante in Israeli assassination row
* Related Story: No action till passport probe ends: Smith
* Related Story: Mossad 'factory' churned out fake Australian passports
* Related Story: Pressure mounts on Israel over Hamas killing
* Related Story: Aussies in shock over Dubai assassination link
* Related Story: Dubai assassination suspects had Australian passports
* Related Link: The Drum: Mark Willacy on Israel's assassins

The Federal Government is expelling an Israeli diplomat after it found Israel faked Australian passports which were used in a hit on a top Hamas commander in Dubai.

Making a statement to Parliament, Foreign Minister Stephen says investigations by Australian agencies show Israel fabricated the passports.

"These investigations and advice have left the Australian Government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports," he said.

In February, several forged Australian passports were used in the hit on Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Nicole McCabe, Joshua Bruce, Adam Korman and Joshua Krycer have been named as the Australians whose passports were forged. All four live in Israel.

An Australian Federal Police (AFP) team travelled to Israel to investigate the matter.

Dubai authorities had said they were almost 100 per cent certain the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, was responsible for the hit and claimed the assassins also used Irish, French and German passports to travel through the state.

Israel has maintained there is no proof it was behind the assassination.

Earlier this year, Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat after an investigation by its Serious Organised Crime Agency found that 12 forged British passports used in the assassination were copied from real documents.

It said the copies were made after the passports were handed over for inspection "to individuals linked to Israel".

24 May 2010



A range of comments on the banning of Chomsky's entry into occupied Palestine. The outcome was that Chomsky delivered his lecture via video link and this was televised live not only to the intended audience in Bir Zeit but via Al Jazeera to the whole Arab world!

This is the desperation of an oppressive regime under attack. While these attacks on democracy and freedom of speech by Israel are disturbing, we should also feel encouraged by the growing impotence of the colonialist regime which they signify.


May 19th, 2010 | by TheOnlyDemocracy | Add a Comment

From Right To Enter:

At this point, you could have quite the dinner party with the folks Israel leaves out! How do I get on that guest list?

UPDATE: Eitan Bronner has an article on the dustup inside Israel over whether it was such a great idea to ban Noam Chomsky, after doing likewise to Jewish American journalist Jared Maslin, Falk, and Goldstone as well as my personal favorite, Spain’s most famous clown Ivan Prado. Maybe if Israel didn’t need to hide what it was doing to Palestinians, Elvis Costello wouldn’t need to stay away as well!

The decision Sunday to bar [Chomsky]from entering the West Bank to speak at Birzeit, a Palestinian university, ‘is a foolish act in a frequent series of recent follies,’ remarked Boaz Okun, the legal commentator of the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, in his Monday column. ‘Put together, they may mark the end of Israel as a law-abiding and freedom-loving state, or at least place a large question mark over this notion.’”


Declaring war on the intellect - Israel and Noam Chomsky

In barring a renowned academic from Israel and the West Bank, the government's outrageous treatment of its critics has reached new heights.

Haaretz Editorial

By stopping the illustrious American scholar Prof. Noam Chomsky at the Allenby Bridge and barring his entry into Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the government's outrageous treatment of those with the audacity to criticize its policies has reached new heights. Israel looks like a bully who has been insulted by a superior intellect and is now trying to fight it, arrest it and expel it.

Chomsky is a controversial and bold intellectual. His linguistic research has brought him unquestionable respect, but his political writings and speeches, in which he bluntly and acerbically attacks any government that he thinks deserves it, have made him unpopular both inside and outside the United States.

Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine any country that would not feel honored to be visited by Chomsky, apart from Israel, which has its own accounts to settle with him. As a Jew who lived here for a brief period in the 1950s and is fluent in Hebrew, Chomsky takes a great interest in events here. In many articles, petitions and open letters, he has been sharply critical of Israel's actions and policies.

Like many other members of the intellectual left in the U.S., Chomsky has roundly condemned the occupation and displayed sympathy for the Palestinian struggle against it. In recent years, he has often been quoted as calling Israel an apartheid state. But despite this, he has firmly opposed any blanket boycott of Israel. He says it is the settlements that should be boycotted, as well as the bodies that support them, both in Israel and abroad (including in the U.S. ), but that it makes no sense to boycott the Israeli public in general or its academic institutions.

Israel, however, has lost its last remnants of tolerance for anyone who does not join its shrinking chorus of supporters. On the right, but not only there, Chomsky is seen as a deserter, a traitor and an enemy of the people. The details of the incident, as reported by Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass, sound as if they were taken from the theater of the absurd or from some political satire on places and times that have gone down in infamy. The questions that were posed to Chomsky by a border inspector, on orders from his superiors, have to be read and reread to be believed.

"Israel," Chomsky was informed, "doesn't like what you say." Is this a reasonable pretext for a democratic state to detain someone for questioning or hold him up at the border? And who is this "Israel" that doesn't like what Chomsky says? The general public? The Interior Ministry? The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories? The government?

One does not have to be an ardent supporter of Chomsky in order to agree with his view that Israel is behaving like South Africa in the 1960s, when it understood that it was an outcast, but thought it could solve the problem with the help of a better public relations campaign.

Now that the affair has come to light, Interior Ministry sources are claiming it was COGAT that should have handled Chomsky, and that his detention was the result of a misunderstanding, whereas COGAT is claiming that it did not know of the scholar's arrival. This, at best, is blatant disingenuousness.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should apologize to Chomsky and make sure that he is allowed to move freely around Israel and throughout the West Bank, including Bir Zeit University. It is not yet too late to repair some of the damage caused by this harmful folly.

Banned by Israel, Chomsky gives W.Bank lecture by video

(AFP) – 1 day ago

BIR ZEIT, West Bank — Renowned Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky, who was barred from the West Bank by Israel earlier this week, on Tuesday delivered a lecture to Palestinian students by video link from Jordan.

Around 100 students packed into a room at Bir Zeit University near the West Bank city of Ramallah to watch the lecture, delivered by live-link from the Jordanian capital, Amman.

Chomsky had been due to give the lecture in person on Monday, but was stopped from entering the West Bank at the Israeli-controlled crossing from Jordan.

After hours of questioning by border officials, Chomsky's passport was stamped with "Denied Entry" and he was sent away.

Israel's interior ministry insisted the incident was a "misunderstanding" and said the 81-year-old professor had not been blacklisted, while a senior government source described the situation as "a total cockup".

Although Israeli officials insisted he would be permitted to cross the border, Chomsky discovered on Monday there was no "official" guarantee he would be allowed in, so he decided to give the lecture by video link, the Haaretz daily reported.

Speaking to the paper about his lengthy interrogation at the border, Chomsky said he was told: "Israel does not like what you say."

Preventing him from entering the West Bank was "tantamount to boycotting Bir Zeit University," said Chomsky, who opposes a general boycott on Israel.

He told the paper that Israel's behaviour reminded him of that of South Africa in the 1960s, when it realised it was already considered a pariah, but thought it would resolve the problem with better public relations.

Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent critic of US foreign policy. He has also frequently spoken out against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved. More »


Chomsky to Deliver Bir Zeit Lecture on Al Jazeera

by Zemanta
In: Tikun Olam
May 18, 2010

Well, maybe this will teach the petty bureaucrats at the Israeli Interior Ministry a lesson. After lecturing him for four hours on the errors of his ways in criticizing Israel and telling him what he could or should do to be allowed admittance, they sent Prof. Noam Chomsky packing back to Amman. Later, Israeli PR flacks attempted to backtrack by lying and claiming it was all a clerical error by a desk jockey the Allenby Bridge. Still later, they offered to allow him back into the West Bank (which isn’t Israel last I checked, even by Israel’s standards, so why should they even be determining who enters Palestinian territory?). When Chomsky inquired about whether this was a bona fide official guarantee of entry he discovered it wasn’t. Israel is just playing games.

But Chomsky, not to be played the fool, has delightfully one-upped them all. He’s going to deliver his Bir Zeit lecture via video conference from Amman and it will be telecast live on Al Jazeera. That way it will reach an audience thousands of times larger than the original lecture would have. Since Al Jazeera is available in Israel, perhaps even Israeli citizens will be able to watch him take apart the hypocrisy and brustishness of Israeli policy and Occupation.

This is the problem with Israeli policy and with all authoritarian regimes (which the Occupation certainly is). It thinks of the short term benefit, not the long term. It thinks of tactics instead of strategies. It puts a finger in the dyke but does nothing to preserve the ecosystem itself.

On a related note, Haaretz columnist Brad Burston has written a typically eloquent, soul-searching cri de coeur about the ugly rise of fascism inside Israel. Lest my right-wing readers jump on Burston as a typically left-wing commentator, this is simply untrue. Burston made aliyah decades ago and joined Kibbutz Gezer, where I myself visited when I studied in Israel. He has impeccable credentials as a liberal Zionist. So for him to be writing so openly using such strong language should tell us that the canary is singing in the coal mine that is Israeli “democracy.” Israel is a nation under threat. Even perhaps a nation beginning to implode under our very eyes from the heap of self-contradictions under which it labors.


Noam Chomsky Was Not Prevented From Entering Israel

By Sam Husseini

May 18, 2010

Many reported that Noam Chomsky was recently stopped from entering Israel. This is false. Totally false. He was prevented from going to the Palestinian city of Ramallah by Israeli forces. This important distinction highlights among other things that Israel controls the borders into occupied Palestinian areas, a large part of the problem.

AP stated: "An Israeli official says academic and polemicist Noam Chomsky, who is a fierce critic of Israel, has been denied entry to the country". Al Jazeera English had Chomsky on and introduced the segment by saying he was "stopped from entering Israel". ABC News ran the headline "Noam Chomsky Denied Entry to Israel". Matthew Rothschild wrote: "On Sunday, the Israeli government denied Noam Chomsky entry into the country".

Some got the facts right, noting that Chomsky was denied entry into the West Bank by Israel -- but didn't highlight why or how that might be. The typical reader is likely unaware that Israel controls access to Palestinian areas, among many other aspects of everyday life that most people take for granted.

Israel regularly prevents people from entering occupied Palestinian areas. It's turned Gaza into a virtual prison camp. Goods cannot go to Palestinians without Israel's say so. People cannot go to Palestinian towns without Israel's say so. I've had relatives who are U.S. citizens marry Palestinians in the West Bank -- they had to leave every three months because that was the duration of the visa Israel gives them. I've seen Israeli forces take little girls into a room to be strip searched at the border from Jordan into the occupied West Bank. Israel in many respects is trying to make life for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza difficult so they will simply leave.

Bob Naiman -- who like Chomsky is Jewish -- notes on my facebook page: "I would like to go to Ramallah too, but the last time I tried to enter the West Bank, I was blocked at the Sheikh Jarrah bridge, and my passport was stamped 'no entry' just like uncle Noam. That was in 1996. Then, a few months ago, the Egyptians stopped me from going to Gaza..." Bob's last sentence refers to the Gaza Freedom March, when over 1,300 people (including myself) from over 40 countries tried to get into Gaza from Egypt, but the Mubarak regime stopped us, doing Israel's dirty work and beating many of us up, to the silence of most major media.

Even Amira Hass, a noted Israeli journalist, wrote "Professor Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and left-wing activist, was denied entry into Israel and the West Bank on Sunday".

This too is wrong -- Chomsky didn't request to enter Israel, so such a request couldn't be denied. Actually, if you listen to Chomsky's interview carefully on Democracy Now, he indicates that if he had tried to enter Israel, he would likely have been able to enter the West Bank -- exactly the opposite of what so many are claiming:

"I have spoken in Bir Zeit [University, near Ramallah] a number of times. ... The one difference in this case is that, on those occasions, I was visiting Israel and giving talks at Israeli universities and meetings and so on, and went to Bir Zeit on a side trip, and in this case, I was going to Bir Zeit and not speaking at Israeli universities. And in fact, the [Israeli] interrogator, who was reading questions that were coming from the [Interior] Ministry, repeatedly asked, "Well, why aren’t you also going to give talks in Israel?""

As Ali Abunimah observes: "It demonstrates that there is in fact one authority and it is not the 'Palestinian Authority.' It also shows that Israel is in fact effectively operating a political boycott while complaining about BDS!" [Referring to the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement activists like Abunimah are organizing against Israel, modeled on the similar movement against apartheid South Africa.]

Ironically, Noam Chomsky has been critical of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, listen to this debate earlier this year with him on KPFA.

I have had some qualms with the divestment sanctions movement myself, going back to South Africa. I don't want change to come by the economic power of people in the U.S. -- I want positive change to come because many people are better able to tell the truth or because people are better able to act in solidarity. But maybe we don't live in that world and the best we can expect is that one type of evil -- U.S. economic might -- can be used in part to fight Israeli colonialism (Lord knows U.S. economic might frequently helps Israeli colonialism.)

Perhaps the last irony is that the "Interior Ministry" of Israel is calling the shots. Chomsky -- and thousands, actually millions of others -- wants to go from Jordan to Ramallah and Nablus and Hebron and Bethlehem and Gaza and elsewhere. What does Israel have to do with it? Palestinians should be allowed to control their own borders.

- Sam Husseini is the founder of VotePact.org. Visit: http://husseini.posterous.com.

21 May 2010


Homophobia - in the same week as IDAHO - INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA - Jason Akermanis - an AFL player who thinks he is some sort of a god makes some comments similar to what Ian Roberts suggests in his article in the newspaper of 21 May 2010: "Look, it's OK to be gay, if you really must be, but keep it to yourself if you're an AFL player. You'll only make your life hell if you come out".

What Akermanis is actually saying is: "I hate poofters and the sooner we can get rid of the lot, the happier we will all be!!!"

It has been quite a week of homophobia in Australia over this IDAHO period, and a series of newspaper articles and letters will give some idea of what the ongoing story is in Rudd's and Abbott's Australia.

While on the topic of newspapers and their contents, it should be pointed out that The Age's coverage of the rally for same-sex marriage and IDAHO from Saturday 15 May 2010 onwards is an absolute disgrace. We all know how homophobic our media are, but this non-coverage takes their homophobia to new depths!

Many years ago the Melbourne comedian Rod Quantock had a programme on ABC television called "AUSTRALIA - YOU'RE STANDING IN IT!". Bigotry, hate speech, homophobia, hypocrisy - one runs out of words to describe the horrors and the outcomes. Depression, suicide, hate crimes of the worst sorts, murders - all because people like Akermanis are an example to young people of how to deal with poofters and dykes and trannies around them.

Passion gets political as gays voice choice for marriage

May 16, 2010 - Sunday Age

THE pashing was political at the State Library yesterday. The esteemed actor Sir Ian McKellen spoke to hundreds who had gathered for a gay marriage ''kiss-in'', saying: ''Gay people are all born unique, but we are all born equal with the rest of the population and the law simply must not discriminate.''

He arrived in a plume of jasmine fragrance and croaked a bit from starring in Waiting for Godot, which is on at the Comedy Theatre until May 22.

The British Lord of the Rings star justified his right to speak, saying: ''It is a matter of principle here and it is a principle that foreigners can have a say in.''

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young did not pucker up for the kiss-in. She said her staff had warned her they would not be smooching. But Senator Hanson-Young did vow to reintroduce a gay marriage bill to Parliament after the federal election. ''Once Parliament resumes, it will be the first bill that I table,'' she said, after slamming federal politicians for treating gay marriage as an ''icky issue''.

The gay marriage bill was defeated in the Senate in February, but the senator said she hoped it would have a better chance after the election.

Gay activists presented the senator with a petition calling for gay marriage. The petition carried more than 100,000 signatures and was wrapped in spangled, glittery ribbons.

State member for Melbourne Bronwyn Pike, who also addressed the rally, told The Sunday Age: ''The state government has gone as far as it can within our jurisdiction to recognise same-sex relationships. The federal government does need to go that one step further and amend the Marriage Act.''

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has previously said: ''Marriage is between a man and a woman.''

A spokesman for Mr Rudd, Sean Kelly, said yesterday that the Prime Minister stood by that view.

One member of the crowd, Nathan O'Neill, 32, said if Centrelink would give him only half an unemployment benefit because of his male partner's income, ''Why can't we have gay marriage?''


AFL welcome is not about 'coming out'

May 17, 2010 The Age

When AFL players recently lent their voice to a campaign promoting tolerance and diversity in the lead-up to today's International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), the response from the community was overwhelmingly positive.

Here at the AFL Players' Association, we received great feedback from members of the general public, and gay and lesbian groups alike, welcoming players' efforts to send a message that the footy was a welcome place for anyone, gay or straight.

Former swimmer Daniel Kowalski said the AFLPA contribution to the campaign - in which our board members and delegates were photographed holding signs with messages of social inclusion - was a significant factor in him deciding to talk about his homosexuality for the first time (in The Sunday Age 18/4).

While most people applauded Daniel for his bravery, it also touched on the obsession with ''coming out'' that was once again highlighted in the aftermath of the publication of the player photos.

''Does this mean a player is about to come out?'' some asked. ''Will the AFLPA be urging players to come out?''

To which I would say: You've totally missed the point. Or, to put it another way: Why should they?

I accept that people will always be interested in sexuality, because we will always be interested in sex, so the question of whether someone is straight, gay or otherwise will never go away.

Real progress will come when we do not shrug our shoulders and pretend homosexuality is an issue of no relevance, but neither do we vigorously coerce people to ''out'' themselves.

For Daniel, the decision was deeply personal, and the right one for him. It didn't come after coercion from others, or offers of money from media organisations.

But the assumption that there are gay footballers who are yet to lift the curtain and expose their sexuality to the world - and the corresponding belief that this will be the moment that true enlightenment arrives - is misplaced. Dangerous, even.

You could argue that it's actually based on a narrow view of what is an ''acceptable'' identity. This view has meant that anything other than what is considered mainstream normal has had to be declared and exposed.

While there may be enormous relief and psychological benefit for the individual in being able to live more authentically when their sexuality is known, the push for someone to ''come out'' also has the undeniable connotation of branding that person as the ''other'' - someone who is not like us.

The beauty of the AFL players' small contribution to IDAHO was that it does not place pressure on a player - or anyone - to come out.

The focus is very deliberately not on the ''other'' but on the playing group as a whole standing together and making a statement that football welcomes all kinds of people, with all kinds of stories.

I can't help but think of the oft-cited example of former Australian Rugby League player Ian Roberts who is still, 15 years later, the only player of any Australian football code to come out.

Most people remember him now, simply as ''that gay league player''. Few people remember how good a player he was.

He won the Australian Sports Medal and, in 2005, was named one of the best 25 New South Wales rugby league players of all time.

Fewer still remember how tough and uncompromising he was on the field, partly because it does not fit the stereotype of a gay man.

And then there is the tragic story of English soccer player Justin Fashanu. Like Roberts he stands alone as the only professional player in the history of his sport to talk publicly about his homosexuality. In 1998 he committed suicide.

Both Roberts and Fashanu are now defined in the public consciousness almost exclusively through the prism of their act in coming out. Their respective decisions totally robbed them, both in life and death, of the right to be viewed as whole, complex, multi-faceted people.

The goal of the AFL players who participated in the campaign is to show that the AFL is a welcoming space; the kind of environment that almost certainly did not exist for Fashanu and Roberts.

If that is a factor that eventually leads to a player coming out, I can only hope that we all see it as simply another person in the community telling their unique story.

Dr Pippa Grange is general manager, culture and leadership, for the AFL Players Association.


Difference the key

- letter 180510

FOR all Pippa Grange's arguments that the AFL's anti-homophobia campaign is not about urging players to come out (Comment, 17/5), she has missed the point about the need to foster the coming out of AFL players and others in high-profile positions.

The only reason Ian Roberts is remembered for coming out more than for his stellar rugby league career is because he is the only player to come out - because it is seen as different.

Homophobia will truly recede in all its ugliness when it is no longer different to be gay; when every gay man or woman, be they your A-grade celebrity, professional sportswoman or local plumber, does not need to hide their sexuality.

The day that there are 30 or 40 out AFL players may still, unfortunately, be a long time away. But if it ever happens, and across the board in society, we will truly move away from one of the many discomforts about those we see as different from us to accepting them for who they are.

Paul Bugeja, Caulfield North

Why coming out is still a big deal

- letter - 190510

THE fact that Pippa Grange (Comment, 17/5) diminishes the importance of coming out as an ''obsession'' highlights the gap in understanding in the sporting community.

I am pleased that organised sport has made steps to recognise difference in marginalised communities. However, I would save the back-patting for a time when sports media and celebrities no longer mock gay and transgender people on television and there are at least more than a few token examples of gay men and women in sport.

Take reporting of the Equal Love rally (''Passion gets political as gays voice choice for marriage'', theage.com.au, 16/5). The rally was a success, with large numbers turning out. The online report threw in a few clangers about political pashing and ''spangled, glittery ribbons'' that seemed to patronise the protesters and diminish the cause. Until such innuendo is stamped out in all forms of media, including skits on footy shows and the like, the importance of sports celebrities ''coming out'' as role models will remain.

Anthony Benedyka, North Melbourne

AFL distances itself from gay claim

May 21, 2010 The Age article

Aker's coach rejects anti-gay slur

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade rejects Jason Akermanis' claim that gay footballers should stay in the closet.

FOOTY changing rooms would be a safe and accepting place for an ''out and proud'' AFL footballer, coaches and the league said yesterday - rejecting claims to the contrary by Jason Akermanis.

The row fired up on the day a new report revealed the extent of homophobia in team sport in Australia.

In a Herald Sun column, Akermanis said the AFL was not ready for homosexual players and that they should ''forget about'' coming out. ''I believe it would cause discomfort in that environment should someone declare himself gay,'' he said.

Akermanis defended his remarks, telling Channel Nine that he was not homophobic but it would be unsafe for a player to come out in the AFL.

He said he had no problem with gay footballers, saying he knew a gay player in Queensland who was ''a terrific guy'' and ''tough and courageous''. ''I'm ready. I'm fine with it all.''
Bohdan Abrat has suffered discrimination when playing sport.

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade denied that homosexual players would be unsafe if they were to come out, and the club distanced itself from Akermanis's comments.

''[The comments were] certainly not reflective of what we think as a club,'' Eade said.

Sydney coach Paul Roos described Akermanis's comments as ''reasonably irresponsible''. ''If it had have been written in 1943 or something like that, you could have been forgiven. But in 2010, to hear something like that is just bizarre.''

No AFL player, past or present, has publicly stated he is homosexual.

The AFL said the game was open to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation. ''Jason Akermanis is entitled to express his opinion, but I don't believe it reflects the views of clubs, players and officials involved in the AFL and the broader football community,'' AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said.

AFL Players Association general manager of culture and leadership Pippa Grange helped organise the association's campaign against homophobia. Dr Grange, a psychologist, said she did not like what was published, but ''at least people are talking about it''.

Former NRL star Ian Roberts, Australia's first top-level rugby league player to declare his homosexuality, expressed dismay. Writing today in The Age sport section, Roberts says the argument by Akermanis that ''straight players should be nervous about gay players in the showers is just plain embarrassing - for him''.

Olympic swimmer Daniel Kowalski, who has outed himself as gay, told Triple M: ''I'm disappointed, I'm mad, I'm angry, I'm sad.'' He also spoke at the launch of a Victoria University report into homophobia in sport.

The report, which surveyed 307 gay men and women, found they were reluctant to out themselves to teammates because there was an ''unsafe, unpredictable, isolating and intimidating'' culture. Nearly half were not out as gay to anyone and 42 per cent had experienced homophobic abuse in sport. .

Bohdan Abrat, 34, welcomed the report, saying he had experienced discrimination in school and beyond when playing sport. ''I've tended to not participate in team sports because of the pressure that's put on you to conform to being a straight male.

''I used to find it extremely difficult at high school to fit into the cricket team even though I absolutely loved cricket because I was told I threw like a girl. He plays netball now, which he finds more inclusive.

With AAP
The Age editorial no.2 210510

In the locker room, still in the closet

May 21, 2010

(Akermanis: 'Stay in the closet'

Western Bulldogs star Jason Akermanis courts controversy with comments on homosexual footballers.)

HOMOSEXUALITY and sport are still mostly seen as incompatible concepts, at least in the same sentence. As closet doors have swung open in most sectors of Australian society, and as people who declare their sexual preferences are acknowledged and made welcome, locker rooms remain a bastion of heterosexuality as far as players in mainstream sports are concerned. As the Western Bulldogs' Jason Akermanis wrote in yesterday's Herald Sun, the world of AFL football, with its entrenched masculine culture, is not yet ready for players to come out. Akermanis did not say this crudely or unkindly, but from a realistic perspective: change will happen, he says, but only over time, as prejudices evolve into acceptance.

Two developments this week provide encouraging indications that such changes are under way, if gradually. On Monday, the International Day Against Homophobia attracted positive reactions from the sporting world, particularly the AFL players who sent a message promoting tolerance and diversity. This was followed yesterday by the release of a report into the experiences in sport of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender people in Victoria.

The report, Come Out to Play, is funded by Victoria University, VicHealth and the Asia Pacific Outgames Legacy Fund. Its findings are hardly surprising: despite extensive shifts in wider social attitudes to minority sexual groups, the ''existence, experiences and needs of [these people] within sport have largely been ignored''; because of what the report calls implicit and explicit discrimination, such people are ''isolated and effectively silenced''. It recommends creating, at club level, more inclusive environments, encouraging early sporting development through physical education and school sport, and the provision of wider data to allow for more accurate assessment and statistics for future reports.
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As necessary, timely and informative as this report is, it can only go a certain distance: it identifies a systemic problem - what one could call the silent minority - within all sport, but does not, and cannot, go further than saying why or how this has to change. It is not simply enough for players to declare their sexuality. As Pippa Grange, the AFL's general manager, culture and leadership, wrote in The Age on Monday, coming out could still stigmatise a player as ''someone who is not like us'', at the expense of that person's actual playing ability. Real progress comes with the shifting of a collective mindset.


Live an honest life

letter 210510

ANOTHER day, another person associated with the AFL demonstrating that homophobia is alive and well in sport regardless of campaigns pushing for acceptance: Jason Akermanis's comments that somebody coming out in the AFL would not be safe or healthy for the club and that such an admission ''could break the fabric of a club''.

What about breaking the fabric of a society that needs to recognise difference? It is time to start fostering a real environment of support by singling out homophobic behaviour in clubs rather than leaving players to live in fear of living an honest life.

Anthony Benedyka, North Melbourne

Stay in your cave Aker, we're happier out of the closet

- article in The Age
May 21, 2010

(Gay swimmer: My biggest regret

Former Olympic swimmer Daniel Kowalski says he should have come out while he was still an elite athlete.

Pressuring teammates to hide their sexuality is downright dangerous.)

THE AFL's Jason Akermanis doesn't just want gays to stay in the closet. He wants them to barricade every door, throw away the key and quietly retreat into the inky darkness.

Well here's some news I hope reaches your cave, Jason: pretending it's not there does not make it go away.

The AFL is the only major sports code in the world that has never had any player - current or past - come out as gay. The fact is, and surely this comes as no surprise, there are gays in the AFL. "There are a couple in particular that I've known quite well," Eddie McGuire told DNA Magazine in March. "They've nodded to me and I've winked to them."

And then there's Jason Akermanis. The perennially peroxided Western Bulldogs player yesterday wrote in the Herald Sun that gays should not be seen or heard in his sport.

"I believe the world of AFL footy is not ready for it," he said. His reasons? The potential media coverage, his discomfort in the locker room and, well, his discomfort in the locker room.

It's 2010 everywhere but the AFL. Forcing people to hide their sexuality is mentally unhealthy, psychologically damaging and downright dangerous.

Stop clenching your towel, Jason, and think how difficult it must be for the teammates you're pressuring to hide their real sexuality, lead double lives and pretend to be something they're not. All because you think it "could break the fabric of a club". Surely the constant worrying, second-guessing and forced lies of closeted players would affect the fabric of a club more. And it's clearly not a very strong fabric if one player's honesty could tear it all down.

What would it mean if a high-profile AFL player came out as gay? To some, it's the difference between a comfortable and uncomfortable shower. But to a questioning gay teen, it could be the difference between life and death. Ask the Ian Robertses and Matthew Mitchams of this world, and they will show you drawers full of letters of the lives their coming-out stories have helped to save.

Having an openly gay player will not affect the quality of his game, or the strength of a team. The real elephant on the field is a not-so-thinly disguised layer of homophobia.

Perhaps Jason could jump into the closet and see what the view's like from there: hide away your partner, don't mention life off the field, concoct and remember the lies. It's super fun, huh? Now try to play to your full potential, and try to tell me having a closet full of skeletons is good for the game.

But what about the gay players in all of this? The ones reading Jason's comments and going deeper into denial, fear and loneliness. These are the heroes who just want to play a sport they love but are being punished by ignorance from within their own ranks.

And that's all that Jason's comments yesterday were: homophobic, fuelled by fear and hideously self-obsessed. If they're principles the AFL stands for, let's start on its coffin.

Taking Jason's argument to the next illogical conclusion, gays shouldn't be allowed to come out in any masculine environment. Why not make it any sport with a change room? The army? Schools? All of a sudden, his cave is looking very inviting.

It doesn't have to be this way. Take Welsh rugby union legend Gareth Thomas, who came out last year. In an arguably more masculine environment than the AFL, when Gareth told his Cardiff Blues teammates, they patted him on the back and said they didn't care. But Gareth had to battle depression and suicidal thoughts to get there. "I became a master of disguise and could play the straight man down to a tee, sometimes over-compensating by getting into fights or being overly aggressive because I didn't want the real me to be found out," he told Britain's Daily Mail.

"It's been really tough for me, hiding who I really am, and I don't want it to be like that for the next young person who wants to play rugby, or some frightened young kid."

This is not about Jason Akermanis and his Neanderthal stance. This is about the AFL players quivering at the thought of coming out due to unnecessary fear and pressure from inside the football bubble.

To whoever the AFL players are who will one day find the inner peace to smash through Jason's shut door, let me be the first to salute you.

Tim Duggan is the co-founder of the gay and lesbian website SameSame.com.au


Coming out is not hell, it's being honest to oneself and teammates

May 21, 2010 The Age

WHAT was Jason Akermanis thinking? The thing that frustrates me about his comments regarding gays is what he says is of no benefit to anyone. His opinion - on something he knows nothing about - is a waste of time.

I don't know what motivated him to say what he said. Maybe he is just plain stupid, or perhaps he was just making a grab at some more notoriety for himself. He's coming up to retirement, he's got a regular gig on radio, so he may just be looking at getting more gigs for the future.

But heaven help us if he succeeds this way. What he appears to be saying is: ''Look, it's OK to be gay, if you really must be, but keep it to yourself if you're an AFL player. You'll only make your life hell if you come out.'' And that is just plain madness.

First of all, Akermanis, if one of your teammates is gay - and at least one will be - think about the message you have sent him. If he was thinking about being honest about the person he is, that would be a compliment to his teammates, but you've just hammered home every doubt that was holding him back.

What you're saying, Akermanis, is: ''Keep that stress and anxiety, because where you are now is better than if you open up. If you open up, it'll be a million times worse.''

That is just plain ignorant; pure knuckle-headed stuff. He doesn't give his teammates - and the vast majority of AFL players, I'm sure - the credit they deserve. I would be surprised if any of them want to stand next to him and support what he has said. Even if any of them did think the same, they would surely realise it would be the wrong thing to say, and keep quiet. Akermanis should have realised that. He has shown his lack of sensitivity and understanding. He has shown us a lot more about himself than he would like, if he thought about it.

His suggestion that straight players should be nervous about gay players in the showers is just plain embarrassing - for him. Does he honestly think players come off the field after a hard game and want to get it on in the showers? That is such a gratuitous comment. When I came out, in the mid-1990s, it was the worst-kept secret in the game anyway. But I was already well accepted, and coming out didn't change much.

Imagine if Akermanis had made comments equally insensitive about Aborigines, or about a particular religion. He would have been run out of town by now. The fact some people still tolerate others making fun of, or being ignorant of, gay people is annoying, but hopefully we'll get there.

If Jason Akermanis thinks he is a spokesperson on homosexuality for AFL players, or society in general, he is sadly mistaken. My suggestion to him is this: Start making sense.

Ian Roberts played rugby league for Manly, Rabbitohs, North Queensland, NSW and Australia in the 1980s and '90s. He was the first NRL player to announce that he was gay


Tackle homophobia

- letter 220510

RECENT comments by Jason Akermanis suggesting that sport is not yet a safe place for players to come out are backed up by a report by Victoria University's Caroline Symons, which found that 42 per cent of respondents had experienced verbal homophobia and that more than a quarter of men said there were sports they would like to play but didn't because they feared discrimination.

It is clearly time for governments, sporting bodies and the community to once and for all challenge homophobia in sports in a lasting way.

Do we need sports players coming out? Not unless and until it is safe for them to do so. For that to occur, we need to make sure the whole community lessens the burden.

Akermanis's message and Symons's research should sheet home to the government and community that much more needs to be done to make sport safe, and this means committing the necessary funding and resources to permanently tackle homophobia.

Until then, none of us should even think about parking our butts on the interchange bench, until men's culture in sport, and masculinity in general, is challenged and changed.

Greg Adkins, Anti Violence Project of Victoria, Melbourne


15 May 2010



Try this in you search engine:


and see what comes up - you will probably have Google Australia

This is filtering out content that Conroy doesn't like!

And this is probably only just the beginning!!

11 May 2010

Voting In Britain For War. Take Your Pick

The following article by John Pilger appeared in "Information Clearing House" and is reproduced here in full:

Voting In Britain For War. Take Your Pick

By John Pilger

May 06, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Staring at the vast military history section in the airport shop, I had a choice: the derring-do of psychopaths or scholarly tomes with their illicit devotion to the cult of organised killing. There was nothing I recognised from reporting war. Nothing on the spectacle of children’s limbs hanging in trees and nothing on the burden of shit in your trousers. War is a good read. War is fun. More war please.

The day before I flew out of Australia, 25 April, I sat in a bar beneath the great sails of the Sydney Opera House. It was Anzac Day, the 95th anniversary of the invasion of Ottoman Turkey by Australian and New Zealand troops at the behest of British imperialism. The landing was an incompetent stunt of blood sacrifice conjured by Winston Churchill; yet it is celebrated in Australia as an unofficial national day. The ABC evening news always comes live from the sacred shore at Gallipoli, in Turkey, where this year some 8000 flag-wrapped Antipodeans listened, dewy-eyed, to the Australian governor-general Quentin Bryce, who is the Queen’s viceroy, describe the point of pointless mass killing. It was, she said, all about a “love of nation, of service, of family, the love we give and the love we receive and the love we allow ourselves to receive. [It is a love that] rejoices in the truth, it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And it never fails”.

Of all the attempts at justifying state murder I can recall, this drivel of DIY therapy, clearly aimed at the young, takes the blue riband. Not once did Bryce honour the fallen with the two words that the survivors of 1915 brought home with them: “Never again”. Not once did she refer to a truly heroic anti-conscription campaign, led by women, that stemmed the flow of Australian blood in the first world war, the product not of a gormlessness that “believes all things” but of anger in defence of life.

The next item on the TV news was an Australian government minister, John Faulkner, with the troops in Afghanistan. Bathed in the light of a perfect sunrise, he made the Anzac connection to the illegal invasion of Afghanistan in which, on 13 February last year, Australian soldiers killed five children. No mention was made of them. On cue, this was followed by an item that a war memorial in Sydney had been “defaced by men of Middle Eastern appearance”. More war please.

In the Opera House bar a young man wore campaign medals which were not his. That is the fashion now. Smashing his beer glass on the floor, he stepped over the mess which was cleaned up another young man whom the TV newsreader would say was of Middle Eastern appearance. Once again, war is a fashionable extremism for those suckered by the Edwardian notion that a man needs to prove himself “under fire” in a country whose people he derides as “gooks” or “rag-heads” or simply “scum”. (The current public inquiry in London into the torture and murder of an Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, by British troops has heard that “the attitude held” was that “all Iraqis were scum”).

There is a hitch. In the ninth year of the thoroughly Edwardian invasion of Afghanistan, more than two thirds of the home populations of the invaders want their troops to get out of where they have no right to be. This is true of Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada and Germany. What this says is that, behind the media façade of politicised ritual – such as the parade of military coffins through the English town of Wootton Bassett -- millions of people are trusting their own critical and moral intelligence and ignoring propaganda that has militarised contemporary history, journalism and parliamentary politics – Australia’s Labor prime minister, Kevin Rudd, for instance, describes the military as his country’s “highest calling”.

Here in Britain, the war criminal Tony Blair is anointed by the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee as “the perfect emblem for his people’s own contradictory whims”. No, he was the perfect emblem for a liberal intelligentsia prepared cynically to indulge his crime. That is the unsaid of the British election campaign, along with the fact that 77 per cent of the British people want the troops home. In Iraq, duly forgotten, what has been done is a holocaust. More than a million people are dead and four million have been driven from their homes. Not a single mention has been made of them in the entire campaign. Rather, the news is that Blair is Labour’s “secret weapon”.

All three party leaders are warmongers. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats leader and darling of former Blair lovers, says that as prime minister he will “participate” in another invasion of a “failed state” provided there is “the right equipment, the right resources”. His one condition is the standard genuflection towards a military now scandalised by a colonial cruelty of which the Baha Mousa case is but one of many.

For Clegg, as for Gordon Brown and David Cameron, the horrific weapons used by British forces, such as clusters, depleted uranium and the Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of its victims’ lungs, do not exist. The limbs of children in trees do not exist. This year alone Britain will spend £4 billion on the war in Afghanistan, and that is what Brown and Cameron almost certainly intend to cut from the National Health Service.

Edward S Herman explained this genteel extremism in his essay, The Banality of Evil. There is a strict division of labour, ranging from the scientists working in the laboratories of the weapons industry, to the intelligence and “national security” personnel who supply the paranoia and “strategies”, to the politicians who approve them. As for journalists, our task is to censor by omission and make the crime seem normal for you, the public. For it is your understanding and your awakening that are feared, above all.


05 May 2010



On Wednesday 5 May 2010 the following announcement appeared at the end of the letters page - underneath a letter of complaint about Catherine Deveny:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Catherine Deveny's column will no longer appear in The Age.Ms Deveny's comments on other media are not in keeping with the standards we set at this newspaper.

This is an absolute disgrace. Has the editor been approached by the rabid right-wing reactionary religious bigoted establishments to deny Catherine a voice in The Age?

What are the comment on other media to which the editor has taken exception?

We won't get an explanation, but we will be censored because Catherine dares to mock our society and in the process to give us something to think about and to have a laugh.

The Age has became a pathetic shadow of its former self - editors like Michael Gawenda and Andrew Jaspan haven't help lift the standard of what was once a great newspaper.

How art the mighty fallen??

Time to get rid of the current editor and try to restore some balance to this pathetic rag - now only one degree better than the other daily rag, but plumbing the depths of that one by publishing - or not - what it thinks its delicate readers ought to read.

Newspapers are rapidly sinking below the horizon, and it is easy to see why, after this effort to silence one of its better journalists who is not afraid to open her mouth. Pity all those others who have to shut up because their livelihoods depend on working for these disgusting people who control the media.


--------and all this in response to a letter by Nicholas Yallop - who? I hear you ask? Oh, yes, Nicholas's father had some involvement with The Age some time ago. Here is Nicholas's letter:

Calculated to raise a profile - and offend

FOR someone of her experience in the media industry, Catherine Deveny seems quite naive to the power and reach of her insensitive Twitter comments.

The Age may employ her for her controversial and allegedly funny commentary, but I think many readers see her as an intellectual imposter doing nothing more than indulging her warped view of the world.

While she occasionally makes valuable points, Deveny seems intent on making them in the most vulgar manner. Just as with her disgusting attacks on Anzac Day, Deveny's comments regarding Rove McManus and Bindi Irwin were crude, thoughtless and merely said to provoke a reaction.

In her defence, she described Twitter as some form of intimate social networking platform, akin to ''passing notes in class''.

That is rubbish. Politicians and celebrities are using it to shape their brand and Deveny appears to be no different. Every tweet seems to be a calculated attempt to promote her shock-making ways, which are often nothing more than offensive.

Nicholas Yallop, Surrey Hills


It is an interesting observation that Kevin Rudd does not seem able to comprehend that gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS (GLTH)members of the community are citizens of this country in the same way he and his family are - or maybe they aren't??

He does not utter these words, and his health minister, Nicola Roxon is the same, both not being able to understand or comprehend or unwilling to because of their homophobic disease that GLTH people are human beings and should benefit from the same human rights extended to most - not all people living in this country.

Rudd and Reagan - and Roxon - remember Reagan uttered the word AIDS for the first time 7 years into the epidemic when fellow actor Rock Hudson died of the disease.

Rudd and Roxon suffer from the disease of homophobia but it will not kill them. However it will kill those in our communities who are amongst the most vulnerable in our societies - the elderly, frail, disabled, disadvantaged, the poor, the homosexuals, the Aborigines, the Asylum Seekers.

There will be an election later this year, and neither of the two major parties have shown any willingness to treat GLTH people as voters. Punish them all by voting for those who DO support us, and let there be huge swings away from a two-party ruling system in this country.

Our health, mental and otherwise, doesn't matter to them, but we are alive, we vote and we will remember!


Article in The Melbourne Times dated 5 May 2010:

LGBT community finds health system lacking for its needs

By Rosemary Bolger

Homosexual or bisexual people are more likely to be smokers and four times more likely to commit suicide or become homeless than heterosexuals, new statistics reveal.

An analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data by the National LGBT Health Alliance also showed homosexual or bisexual people were twice as likely to be estranged from family and have a high level of psychological distress. The alarming figures have strengthened the alliance’s case for government funding.

President Paul Martin said the national health reforms failed to address the needs of the LGBT community.

Mr Martin believed the first step would be establishing a body to work with the federal government. He said most other special interest groups such as disabled people, women or seniors, had a devoted (sic) minister or parliamentary secretary, and one or more funded non-government organisations.

“We’re probably about 10 or 20 years behind, so there’s a degree of invisibility.”

The alliance is seeking just under $400,000 a year to pay for an office and a few staff.

Money from the alliance’s founding members including Gay and Lesbian Health at La Trobe University, will run out at the end of yhis year forcing it to close without government funding.

Mr Martin said the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender community’s health needs were not met.

“Most people don’t receive outright hostility, it’s just the service assumes everyone’s heterosexual. It’s the assumption that everyone’s the same so the service isn’t targeted to meet our particular needs.”

Health Minister Nicola Roxon’s office did not return TMT’s calls.

GLBT health refused federal funding

Written by Brendan Bolger | 03 May 2010 SX - Sydney

Funding requests have been rejected and an invite to work with the recently formed LGBT Health Alliance has been ignored by the federal government at a conference convened to help the health sector deal better with sexuality and gender diverse people.

At the launch of the 7th Health in Difference conference on Thursday, LGBT Health Alliance chair Paul Martin told more than 200 delegates that many other equity groups are acknowledged by the government, except sexuality and gender diverse people.

The federal response to other equity groups he said had resulted in the creation of specific ministerial portfolios, departments and ministerial advisory groups addressing numerous other equity issues.

He said without federal funds future Health in Difference conferences could be placed in doubt, calling on the government to fund the LGBT Health Alliance as it does other non-government organisations.

“The time for not acting is well and truly over,” Martin told conference delegates, adding that the Commonwealth mental health plan to 2014 has “not a single mention” of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people.

“[We] stand ready to work with the government, if only we were funded to do so,” he said.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mark Butler opened the conference on behalf of federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon, following Martin’s speech, and from the outset said he had “been asked” to address “health reform in a general sense”.

The federal government has been intensely negotiating health reforms with state governments for the past few weeks and had also been “coming under pressure from a range of directions” such as ageing and chronic diseases, he said.

During his speech, Butler made only one reference to “LGBTI” which drew a pause from him, when a muffled “thanks” was given from one delegate who said it was the only reference the government had made to the conference itself.

The health and well-being of LGBTI people is not on the radar of the federal government, Health Alliance executive director Gabi Rosenstreich said before the conference.

“Hundreds of thousands of LGBTI people live throughout Australia but their health needs are not being adequately met by our health system due to a lack of understanding of LGBTI people and issues and a lack of engagement with the LGBTI community sector,” she said.

Recent approaches for funding had been rejected by the federal government, Rosenstreich said, despite overtures that LGBTI health is an area of its concern.

The conference held every couple of years was presented this year for the first time by the Health Alliance, a peak body of organisations that provide health services, programs and research that targets sexuality and gender diverse people.

The health and well being of indigenous Australians and transgender and intersex people, the impact of social inclusion and exclusion, political activism and the changing nature of diverse communities in a health context were just some of the many issues covered.

Health issues discussed at the conference which ended on Saturday included mental health, ageing, alcohol and drug use, violence, parenting, identity documentation, health service access and health promotion strategies.


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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