23 December 2011


The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), with much trumpeting of its "progressive" views, informed Victorian Jews that it had established a gay, lesbian, transgender (etc.) "Reference Group" to identify discrimination and vilification of GLTH Jews and with particular research into suicidal tendencies of young people in this community.

FIVE submissions were received by the JCCV when it asked people to make submissions to address the problems, and a report was issued by the JCCV.

There were no consultations, no discussions with any of the stake-holders to find out what problems there were, how to address the problems and who else to consult with.

Now here is the interesting outcome of this wasted exercise.

Firstly, members of this so-called "reference group" demanded anonymity before the report was issued. What were they afraid of???

The report was published on the JCCV web site with much fanfare in the gay media and elsewhere, and guess what??

There is NO TRACE of any GLTH issue on the JCCV web site.

This is homophobia writ large and one has to wonder what the committee of the JCCV was thinking when it established this "hole-in-the-corner" "reference group" and what was supposed to be some outcomes for the GLTH communities in Victoria.

One thing is certain - the Jewish Community Council of Victoria has established its homophobia firmly, once and for all.

How pathetic!!

18 December 2011


Hypocrisy is the name of the game where The Age newspaper is concerned!

On 8 December 2011 The Age newspaper published an article - no writer's name below the article - under the heading Netherlands - Euthanasia in the home. No author, no accreditation, no information about the article - until one does a search and discovers that the article is taken almost word for word from an article in a British newspaper. Plagiarise comes to mind!

A week later, on 15 December 2011, The Age newspaper publishes an "exclusive" article under the sensational headline "..........turned plagiarist".

Now this is fairly breathtaking under the circumstances - is this the proverbial pot calling the proverbial kettle black??

07 December 2011


By Gordon Rayner Daily Telgraph 070611

Millionaire hotelier Peter Smedley named as man whose Dignitas assisted suicide was filmed by BBC

A few days after Peter Smedley’s death last December, his close friends found individually-written letters from him in their post, telling each one how much they had meant to him.

Image 1 of 4
Peter Smedley pictured with his wife

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter
07 Jun 2011

Mr Smedley, a millionaire hotelier and scion of the Smedley’s tinned food empire, had been such an intensely private man that none of the recipients had known in advance that he had planned his own assisted suicide and travelled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his life.

But the greater surprise was still to come, when Mr Smedley’s friends were joined at his memorial service by a BBC crew who had filmed the 71-year-old’s final moments for a controversial new documentary by Sir Terry Pratchett, the author and campaigner.

“We didn’t know until after the event that he had gone to Dignitas, and we didn’t know about the film until we went to the memorial service and the film crew was there,” one of his closest friends said last night.

Mr Smedley, who was suffering from motor neurone disease, is referred to only as “Peter” in the BBC2 film, Choosing to Die, which will be broadcast on Monday.
Until now, his full identity has remained a secret, but his friends have told The Daily Telegraph of his determination to help change the law on assisted suicide and paid tribute to his courage.

Related Articles
• Assisted suicide: Courage on the hardest road of all
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• Sir Terry Pratchett defends BBC assisted suicide film
14 Jun 2011
• BBC flooded with complaints over Choosing to Die documentary
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• BBC to show man's death on television
26 Apr 2011
• BBC 'trying to influence assisted suicide debate'
23 Jan 2009
• BBC accused of 'incredibly zealous' campaign to promote assisted suicide
22 Feb 2010

“Peter was an extremely private man and not someone that would want to share most things,” said a close friend, who asked not to be named. “But clearly he wanted to change the law.

“I think he was very keen for people in that predicament to be able to make a decision on when to end their lives, and you can’t do that in England because your wife or spouse isn’t allowed to help, and it’s a terrible thing to have to go to Switzerland.

“He would have wanted to die in his own bedroom or his own sitting room.”
Unknown to all but his closest family, Mr Smedley invited Sir Terry to accompany him and his wife Christine, 60, to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, where he drank poison and died on Dec 10 last year.

His death will be the first assisted suicide to be screened on terrestrial television in the UK.

Sir Terry, who has campaigned for the legalisation of assisted suicide since he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, said in an interview this week that he was sure Mr Smedley would still be alive if he had been able to kill himself in his own home, rather than having to go to Switzerland while he was still fit enough to travel.

“I’m sure that’s true,” said his friend. “I’m sure both he and his wife would have preferred it if he could have made the decision to die here.”
Mr Smedley grew up on his family’s farms in East Anglia, where he would help pick the peas that Smedley’s were famous for before the brand eventually became part of Premier Foods.

As a young man he moved to South Africa, where he became a pilot and flew a single-engined aircraft across the continent, before moving back to England and establishing a property empire.

After marrying Christine in 1977, with whom he later had a daughter, now aged 20, the couple bought Ston Easton Park in Somerset from William Rees-Mogg, the former editor of the Times, and converted it into a luxury hotel.

Within a year of it opening in 1982 it was named Hotel of the Year by the food critic Egon Ronay, and they later established it as a major venue for horse trials.
The couple retired to Guernsey in 2000, where Mr Smedley was diagnosed with motor neurone disease two years ago.

“A lot of his friends didn’t know he had been diagnosed with it to begin with,” said his friend. “He didn’t want people to feel sorry for him.

“He did a lot of research into motor neurone disease and knew there was no cure and that it leads to a horrible death and a ghastly future to face. He would have ended up suffocating and that’s obviously what he wanted to avoid.”

In an interview in this week’s Radio Times, Sir Terry said of Mr and Mrs Smedley: “They are of a class and type that gets on with things and deals with difficulties with a quiet determination.”

Moments before Mr Smedley died, said Sir Terry: “I shook hands with Peter and he said to me ‘Have a good life’, and he added ‘I know I have’.”

When a Dignitas worker asked him if he was ready to drink the poison that would end his life, Mr Smedley said “Yes” and added: “I’d like to thank you all.”

Sir Terry said that as he was doing this, Mr Smedley became embarrassed because he could not remember the name of the sound man.

“And that’s what puts your mind in a spin,” he added. “Here is a courteous man thanking the people who have come with him to be there and he’s now embarrassed, at the point of death, because he can’t remember the soundman’s name.

“This is so English…it also seemed to me with his wife that there was a certain feeling of keeping up appearances.”

After Mr Smedley died, said Sir Terry: “I was spinning not because anything bad had happened but something was saying, ‘A man is dead... that’s a bad thing,’ but somehow the second part of the clause chimes in with, ‘but he had an incurable disease that was dragging him down, so he’s decided of his own free will to leave before he was dragged.’ So it’s not a bad thing.”

Days later, Mr Smedley’s friends received their letters.

“He wrote about how much we meant to him, and it was a very gentlemanly, very sweet and dignified thing to do, typical of him really,” said his friend.

“I think it was amazingly brave of Peter and Christine to do what they did.”
On Monday the BBC, which has been accused of becoming a “cheerleader” for assisted suicide, defended its decision to show Mr Smedley’s death in the film.

Sir Terry hopes it will persuade the government to think again about the law on assisted suicide, and advocates a system of doctors being able to prescribe take-home suicide kits to enable terminally-ill people to choose the right moment to end their lives.

Christine Smedley said last night she did not want to discuss her husband’s death.


BBC flooded with complaints over Choosing to Die documentary

The BBC has been flooded with complaints after it screened Choosing to Die, a documentary showing a British motor neurone disease sufferer taking his own life at a Swiss clinic.

12:17PM BST 14 Jun 2011

The corporation said 898 people had registered their disapproval of the documentary presented by the author Sir Terry Pratchett, with 162 fresh complaints since it aired on Monday night.

A spokesman added that it had also received 82 “appreciations” of the programme about Peter Smedley, a British motor neurone disease sufferer, who allowed the film crew to capture his dying moments at the Dignitas clinic.

Here are some of the comments in condemnation and support of the film, which has reignited the debate on Britain’s assisted suicide laws:

Related Articles
• Police investigate Dignitas suicide
18 Jun 2011
• Damian Thompson: why is the BBC so keen on people dying?
14 Jun 2011
• Millionaire whose suicide will be shown on BBC
07 Jun 2011
• Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die, BBC Two, review
13 Jun 2011
• Father demands change in assisted suicide law
14 Jun 2011
• Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die is important TV, not a tasteless polemic
13 Jun 2011

Sir Terry Pratchett:

“I was appalled at the current situation. I know that assisted dying is practised in at least three places in Europe and also in the United States.

"The Government here has always turned its back on it and I was ashamed that British people had to drag themselves to Switzerland, at considerable cost, in order to get the services that they were hoping for."

Alistair Thompson, a spokesman for the Care Not Killing Alliance pressure group:
"This is pro-assisted suicide propaganda loosely dressed up as a documentary. The evidence is that the more you portray this, the more suicides you will have."
Charlie Russell, who directed the documentary:

"As a film-maker I felt that it was the truth of the matter. Unfortunately we do all die. It's not necessarily very nice but that is what happens to us all so I think it is quite important to see it."

Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester:

"I think an opportunity had been bypassed of having a balanced programme – the thousands of people who use the hospice movement and who have a good and peaceful death, there was very little about them.

"This was really propaganda on one side. Life is a gift and it has infinite value and we are not competent to take it, we do not have the right to take it, except perhaps in the most extreme circumstances of protecting the weak.”

Dignity in Dying, the pressure group:

"People who did not want to watch it did not have to watch and were not confronted with something they did not want to see.

"It certainly shows that Dignitas is not an ideal option for people and we would rather people had the choice of dying at home at a time and in a manner of their choosing."

Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director for the Care Not Killing Alliance:

"We felt the programme was very unbalanced and one-sided and did not put the counter-arguments. Our biggest concern was that it really breached just about all the international and national guidelines on portrayal of suicide by the media.

"We are very worried about the danger of copycat suicide or suicide contagion. We have written to the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Culture to ask them to carry out an urgent investigation into the way that assisted suicide has been covered by the BBC and its link to English suicide rates."

Debbie Purdy, a multiple sclerosis sufferer and assisted suicide campaigner:

"Lawyers and judges have been the only people who have been prepared to defend my rights and my right to life and the quality of my life is the most important thing to me.”

Liz Carr, a disability campaigner:

“I, and many other disabled older and terminally ill people, are quite fearful of what legalising assisted suicide would do and mean and those arguments aren't being debated, teased out, the safeguards aren't being looked at.

"Until we have a programme that does that, then I won't be happy to move onto this wider debate."

Emma Swain, the BBC’s Head of Knowledge Commissioning:

“The film does show some other perspectives but it is not critical that every film we make is completely impartial and balanced.”

Nola Leach, chief executive of CARE:

“I rather thought that we had moved on from the days when people gathered in crowds to watch other people die.

“That the BBC should facilitate this is deeply disturbing. One wonders whether the BBC has any interest in treating this subject impartially.”

BBC viewer, writing on the corporation’s Points of View message board:

"What a brilliantly paced, thoughtful, informative and fascinating programme that was. The contributors' accounts were very moving and strangely uplifting. Uplifting in that it was THEIR decision to die.”

Damian Thompson, Editor of Telegraph Blogs:

“As for the BBC, I wonder what the moral status is of exploiting a writer with a degenerative brain disease to nudge us towards a creepy change in the law – at our expense, of course.

“I would threaten to withhold my licence fee in protest, but the Beeb is utterly relentless in tracking down evaders and the last thing I want is to wake up in a Swiss clinic with a syringe staring me in the face.”

BBC viewer, writing on the corporation’s Points of View message board:
“I’ve watched it and applaud Terry Pratchett for allowing us to debate this important issue. I hope we will look back upon this era in a few years time and wonder how we could have allowed people to die without dignity.”

03 December 2011

A documentary guide to ‘Brand Israel’ and the art of pinkwashing

A documentary guide to ‘Brand Israel’ and the art of pinkwashing

30 NOVEMBER 2011

From Mondoweiss by email:

By Sarah Schulman on November 30, 2011

(Image: prettyqueer)

On Wednesday, November 23, 2011 I published an op-ed in the NY Times, (Israel and ‘Pinkwashing’). This 900 word piece attempted to contextualize Pinkwashing. Here is a more detailed documentary history of Brand Israel, Israel’s campaign to re-brand itself in the minds of the world, as well as the development of pinkwashing as a funded, explicit and deliberate marketing project within Brand Israel.


According to the Jewish Daily Forward, in 2005 The Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry concluded three years of consultation with American marketing executives and launched “Brand Israel,” a campaign to “re-brand” the country’s image to appear “relevant and modern” instead of militaristic and religious.

“Americans don’t see Israel as being like the US,” explained David Sable, CEA and vice president of Wunderman, a division of Young and Rubicam that conducted extensive and costly branding research for Israel at no charge. His conclusion was that while Israel, as a brand, is strong in America, it is “better known than liked, and constrained by lack of relevance.” Sable elaborated, Americans “find Israel to be totally irrelevant to their lives and they are tuning out…particularly 18-34 year old males, the most significant target.”

Brand Israel intended to change this by selecting aspects of Israeli society to highlight and bringing Americans directly to them. They started off with a free trip for architectural writers, and then another for food and wine writers. The goal of these “and numerous other efforts” was to convey an image of Israel “as a productive, vibrant and cutting-edge culture.”

In July 2005, The Brand Israel Group (BIG) presented their findings to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.


In 2006, they conducted a study of Israelis’ own perceptions.


Collaboration between the Consulate General of Israel
and Maxim Magazine. (Image: Reaching the Public)

In 2007, The Foreign Ministry organized a Brand Israel Conference in Tel Aviv, which marked the official adaptation of the campaign. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, appointed Ido Aharoni to head Israel’s first brand management office and awarded him a 4 million dollar budget, in addition to the already established 3 million in annual spending on Hasbara (Hebrew for “explanation” or propaganda) and 11 million for the Israeli Tourism Ministry in North America.

In 2007 Israel began its wooing of young males by first niche marketing to heterosexual men. David Saranga, of the Consulate General of Israel initiated a project with Maxim Magazine, a photo shoot entitled “Women of the Israeli Defense Forces” which shows model-like Israeli women who had served in the army, in swimsuits. Saranga said,
“Approaching Maxim allowed us to gear our message to the younger generation, especially males, and towards a demographic that did not see Israel as relevant or identify particularly with Israel.”

Follow up study revealed that Maxim’s readers’ perceptions of Israel had improved as a result of the piece. Saranga was pleased but knew he had a lot of work ahead of him.
“Rebranding a country can take 20 years or more. It involves more than just generating more positive stories about Israel. The process has to be internalized and integrated, too. Israelis must share in and believe in what we promote.”

In 2007, The Electronic Intifada reported that Saatchi and Saatchi was also working for Israel, free of charge. David Saranga told PR Week that the two groups Israel was targeting were “liberals,” and people aged 16 to 30. Gideon Meir of Israel’s Foreign Ministry told Haaretz that he would “rather have a Style section item on Israel than a front page story.”


In 2008 Aharoni’s office hired TNS, a market research firm, to test new brand concepts for Israel in 13 different countries. They also funded a pilot program called “Israel: Innovation for Life” in Toronto.

Aharoni predicted
“The execution of a program that will support the brand identity. This might include initiating press missions to Israel, or missions of community influentials; it could include organizing film festivals, or food and wine festivals featuring Israel-made products.”

This of course resulted in the “Spotlight Tel Aviv” program at the Toronto International Film Festival that caught the attention of John Greyson and Naomi Klein:

the film Greyson removed from the festival in protest.

In 2008, PACBI published a sample contract that Israeli artists signed with their government when the artist was “invited” to an international event, the kind of “invitation” that every Israeli artist craves and must have in order to establish a broad reputation.

The contract text reveals, interestingly, that this is not an “invitation” at all, but rather that it is the Israeli government that is inviting itself to international events. The artist is paid with a plane ticket, shipping fees, hotel and expenses by his/her own government. The contract does not assume any funding from the “host” country. In return, the template states:

“The service provider is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the state of Israel via culture and art including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel.”


“The service provider will not present himself as an agent, emissary and/or representative of the Ministry.”


The challenge facing Brand Israel was huge. In the 2009 EastWest Global Nation Brand Perception Index, Israel was 192 out of 200, behind North Korea, Cuba and Yemen and just before Sudan.

That year the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association announced an October Conference in Tel Aviv with the goal of promoting Israel as a “world gay destination.” Helem, a Lebanese LGBTQ organization, responded with a call for a Boycott.

“For some time now, Israeli officials and organizations such as the Aguda, who are cooperating closely with IGLTA, have been promoting LGBT tourism to Israel through false representations of visiting Tel Aviv as not taking sides, or as being on the “LGBT” side, as if LGBT lives were the only ones that mattered. It is implied that it’s okay to visit Israel as long as you “believe in peace,” as if what is taking place in Palestine/Israel is merely a conflict between equals, rather than an oppressive power relationship. Consistent with globalization’s tendency to distance the “final product” from the moral implications of the manufacturing process, LGBT tourists are encouraged to forget about politics and just have fun in a so-called gay-friendly city…

Even more importantly, Tel-Aviv’s flashy coffee shops and shopping malls, in contrast with the nearby deprived Palestinian villages and towns, serve as evidence that the Israeli society, just as the Israeli state itself, has built walls, blockades and systems of racist segregations to hide from the Palestinians it oppresses. The intersection of physical and societal separations and barriers have justly earned the term apartheid, referring to an historically parallel racist regime in South Africa against the indigenous Black population of that country. Leisure tourism to apartheid Israel supports this regime. It is not neutral, and it certainly is not a step toward real peace, which can only be based on justice.”

The four-hour symposium took place despite opposition. In their newsletter the Travel Association acknowledged and dismissed the protest. Using Palestinians, from the beginning to whitewash Israeli violations of their rights.

“It has been fascinating to us that Tel Aviv has an Arab community living in peace here with the Jewish community,” said IGLTA President/CEOJohn Tanzella, who spoke about the 1,400-member association. “We are meeting gay business professionals from all religions and backgrounds within the Middle East.”

Protests at the event focused on Israeli occupation of Gaza. “They were using our gathering as a means to make their concerns public with all the radio and TV that came to meet us,” Tanzella said. “We certainly welcome freedom of speech, but it should be noted that our focus is to support LGBT businesses around the world, wherever they might be located.
That same year, the Zionist organization Stand With Us told The Jerusalem Post, that they were undertaking a campaign “to improve Israel’s image through the gay community in Israel.”

The Foreign Ministry told Ynet that they would be sponsoring a Gay Olympics delegation “to help show to the world Israel’s liberal and diverse face.”


January Conference

The January Conference of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, The Lauder School of Government Diplomacy and Strategy and the Institute for Policy and Strategy brought together representatives of the Foreign Affairs Minstry, Haifa University, The Prime Minister’s Office, Reut Institute, and private communications companies to discuss: WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE NARRATIVE, reaffirming the need for re-branding.

The Conference had some very interesting findings:

– That many criticisms of Israel will stop when policy towards Palestinians is changed.

– Israel correlates with the terms “daring and independent” but not “fun and creative.

– 50% of people in western countries are disengaged and do not have an opinion on Israel, and can therefore be won over by marketing.

– “Narratives of victimhood and survival adapted by Israel over the years are no longer relevant for its diplomatic efforts and dialogue with the West. Nowadays Israel’s opponents capitalize on using the same narratives to achieve and mobilize support.”

– “People respond well when addressed in a familiar language that uses well-known terms and are susceptible to simple, repetitive, consistent messages.”

– “In order to succeed online, one has to detach one’s self from strictly official messages and to develop an online personality.”

By 2010, the Israeli Globe reported that The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had allocated 100 million Shekel (over $26,260,000) to branding.

“The Globe found that the activity will focus on the internet, especially on social networks. This is following research performed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which it found that surfers will show sympathy and identity with content that interests them, regardless of the identity of the political affiliation of the publisher.”

Also in 2010, Scott Piro, a gay Jewish Public Relations/Social Media professional, announced in a press release on his letterhead that Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, The Tel Aviv Tourism Board and Israel’s largest LGBT organization, The Agudah, were joining together to launch TEL AVIV GAY VIBE, an online tourism campaign to promote Tel Aviv as a travel destination for European LGBTS.

“Campaign Branding Tel Aviv Gay Destination Underway”

July 21, 2010 Ynetnews.com

By Danny Sadeh

With an investment of NIS 340 million (about $88.1 million), an International marketing campaign is being launched to brand Tel Aviv as an international gay vacation destination. The campaign will be run in England and Germany, two locations with considerable gay and lesbian Communities.

The campaign will include ads on gay community websites and magazines and will display everything the city has to offer by way of gay tourism.

Designated Facebook and Twitter pages will be created to support the effort and promote Tel Aviv as a new gay capital.

A new website has also been built, Gay Tel Aviv. It starts off like with with a sentence encapsulating the very essence of the campaign: “Rising from the golden shores of the Mediterranean, stands one of the most intriguing and exciting new gay capitals of the world.”

The decision to brand Tel Aviv as an international gay destination was supported by an international study conducted by Outnow, a leading company for Consulting, branding and marketing to the gay community. The company was responsible for branding Berlin as the gay capital of Europe, a move that significantly increased tourism to the city.

Etti Gargir, director of the VisitTLV organization, said that the Tourism Ministry and Tel Aviv Municipality invested NIS 170 million (about $44 million) each in the project.

“The increased discount flight capacity from England and Germany increases the capability of Tel Aviv to compete with other cities in Europe. This is in addition to the Outnow study that found Tel Aviv to be an attractive city to those who like culture, restaurants, nightlife and shopping.

“The study also showed that the city is good for any budget. In other words, there is a range of entertainment and accommodation options at prices that anyone can afford,” said Gargir.
About a month ago, Tel Aviv Municipality submitted an official application to host the International Gay Pride Parade in 2012.

The Tourism Ministry reported that it supports targeted marketing campaigns likely to increase tourism to Israel.

The article was appended with the following comments from readers (verbatim):

1. Surely nothing to be proud of. Shameful

2. Haredim!!!!

3. Gay avek also cute slogan (Yiddish for go away)

4. Thanks for warning now I know not

5. Yes by all means bring hordes of aids

6. Inviting destruction full speed


By 2010, “Pinkwashing” was already in general use by Queer anti-Occupation activists. The phrase was coined in 1985 by Breast Cancer Action to identify companies that claimed to support women with breast cancer while actually profiting from their illness. In April, 2010 QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) in the Bay Area, used the phrase “Pinkwashing” as a twist on “Greenwashing” where companies claim to be eco-friendly in order to make profit. Dunya Alwan attributes the term to Ali Abunimah, editor of Electronic Intifada at a meeting in 2010 saying “We won’t put up with Israel Whitewashing, Greenwashing or Pinkwashing.”

In April 2010, Brand Israel launched Israeli Pride Month in San Francisco. Not a grassroots expression by Israeli queers living in San Francisco, but an event instigated, funded and administered by the Israeli government. QUIT – an actual queer organization- used “Pinkwashing” in their campaign to counter the cynical use by the Israeli government, through its “Brand Israel” re-marketing project to use the presence of LGBT society in Israel as “proof” of its commitment to human rights.


By March 2011, Ynet reported that for the first time, The Israeli stand at the International Tourism Fair in Berlin, encourages gay tourists to visit Tel Aviv. According to Tel Aviv Council Member Yaniv Weizman, $94 million of Israeli government money was invested in 2010 in promoting gay tourism to Tel Aviv. The money came from the Tel Aviv Municipality and Tourism Ministry.

According to Weizman:

“The gay tourist likes urban vacations, he forms attachments with the community in the cities he visits, enjoys partying and usually returns to places he had a good time in. This is established tourism which draws in young tourism and sets trends which other sectors of the population adopt.”

The Tel Aviv Tourist Association filed a formal request with the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association to host World Pride in 2012.

In July, The Anti-Defamation League hosted StandWithUS’s Yossi Herzog speaking on gay rights in Israel and gay presence in the Israeli Defense Force.

In August, the Jerusalem Post reported that :

The Foreign Ministry is promoting Gay Israel as part of its campaigns to break apart negative stereotypes many liberal Americans and Europeans have of Israel. The initiative flies in the face of the swelling protests set against Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade set for November 10. But even as its organizers are receiving anonymous threats of holy war against them, gay activist Michael Hamel is traveling in Europe and North America working on publicizing Gay Israel. A portion of his work, he told the Jerusalem Post by phone as he sat drinking coffee in a California airport, has the support of the Foreign Ministry. “We are working very closely with them,” said Hamel, who heads the AGUDAH, Israel’s LGBT organization…

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Foreign Ministry official told the Jerusalem Post this week that efforts to let European and American liberals know about the gay community in Israel were an important part of its work to highlight this country’s support of human rights and to underscore its diversity in a population that tends to judge Israel harshly, solely on its treatment of Palestinians. Still, it is a topic that is so touchy he did not want his name used.

But David Saranga, who works in the New York consulate, was more open about the need to promote Gay Israel as part of showing liberal America that Israel is more than the place where Jesus once walked. The gay culture is an entryway to the liberal culture, he said, because in New York it is that culture that is creating “a buzz.”

Israel needs to show this community that it is relevant to them by promoting gay tourism, gay artists and films. Showing young, liberal Americans that Israel also has a gay culture goes a long (way) towards informing them that Israel is a place that respects human rights, as well, said Saranga.

In Sum

Pinkwashing is the cynical use of queer people’s hard-won gains by the Israeli government in an attempt to re-brand themselves as progressive, while continuing to violate international law and the human rights of Palestinians.

1. Is Israel pro-Gay? LGBT people are included in obligatory military service in Israel. To the American eye, this could look “progressive.” The state supports events like the Tel Aviv LGBT Film Festival. There are enclaves of Tel Aviv where being out in your complete and daily life is possible, and some people are able to do this. However, overall, Israel is a profoundly homophobic society. The dominance of religious fundamentalists, the sexism and the proximity to family and family oppression makes like very difficult for most people on the LGBT spectrum in Israel.

According to Aeyal Gross, Professor of Law at Tel-Aviv University, “Gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool” while “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.”

2. How Homophobic is Palestine? The Occupied Palestinian Territories are homophobic, sexist arenas. The goal of Pinkwashing is to justify Israel’s policies of Occupation and Separation by promoting the image of a lone oasis of progress surrounded by violent, homophobic Arabs- thereby denying the existence of a Queer Palestinian movements, or of secular, feminist, intellectual and queer Palestinians. By ignoring the multi-dimensionality of Palestinian society, the Israeli government is trying to claim racial supremacy that in their minds justifies the Occupation. Yet, nothing justifies the occupation. “While Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem, and the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza constitute one community,” says Haneen Maikay, director of alQaws: For Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society. “Our different legal statuses and the different realities of each of these locations – including, for example, restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza – severely constrain our ability to meet as a community.”

Why Queers Are Susceptible to Pink Washing

What makes LGBT people and their allies so susceptible to Homonationalism and Pinkwashing is the emotional legacy of homophobia. The vast majority of Queers have had profound oppression experiences, often in the searing realm of Family, reflected by the lack of legal rights, and reinforced by distorted representations in Arts and Entertainment. The relative civil equality of white gays in The Netherlands and Germany has only been achieved within a generation, and still does not erase the pain of familial and cultural exclusion. As a consequence, many people have come to mistakenly assess how advanced a country is by how it responds to homosexuality.

Yet, in a selective democracy like Israel, the inclusion of LGBT Jews in the military, or the relative openness of Tel Aviv are not accurate measures of broad human rights. By deliberately Pinkwashing, the Israeli government ends up exploiting both the Israeli and Palestinian LGBT communities to cynically claim broad personal freedom that the on-going Occupation insistently belies.

A version of this post originally appeared at prettyqueer.com.

About Sarah Schulman

Sarah Schulman is the author of 17 books, most recently THE GENTRIFICATION OF THE MIND : Witness to a Lost Imagination (U of Cal Press), TIES THAT BIND: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (The New Press) and the novel, THE MERE FUTURE (Arsenal Pulp Press.) She is co-founder, with Jim Hubbard of his film UNITED IN ANGER: A History of ACT UP, and the ACT UP Oral History Project (ww.actuporalhistory.org) Sarah is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island.

29 November 2011



Ian was visiting Melbourne and came to Preston for dinner - circa 2007.

In 1996 Ian interviewed Mannie De Saxe and Ken Lovett for an article in the Sydney Star Observer. Here is the link to Ian's article:


The Editor of ART MONTHLY AUSTRALIA, Deborah Clark, and the author of the article on Brian Finemore in ART MONTHLY AUSTRALIA September 2005 No.183, Ian MacNeill, have both given permission for the article to be reproduced in full here on our web pages:


Ian entertaining friends to lunch at his flat in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney - 2006.

Ian in his flat which he so proudly bought after living for so many years in rented accommodation. It was small but he made it as comfortable as possible and he was able to entertain a few friends at a time. This photo was taken in 2006.

Ian was very closely associated with Laurin McKinnon and Gary Dunne at gay-ebooks and for many years before that with writing and publishing. Here is a tribute to Ian on the gay -ebooks web site:

Ian MacNeill Remembered

Ian's very close friend Gavin Harris was requested by Ian to speak at his wake - but for only two minutes!! - very Ian indeed! and here is Gavin's obituary as published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 December 2011:


26 November 2011


Cutting Centrelink cash won't stop indigenous truancy

Article in The Age newspaper

Pat Turner

November 25, 2011

The federal Labor government has decided that the last resort for getting Northern Territory Aboriginal children to attend school is to cut their parents' Centrelink payments.

The poorest people, those Australians who are totally reliant on Centrelink, will be subject to suspended legal income support. How will the children be fed if there is no money in the home?

Legislation to put this into effect was introduced into Parliament yesterday. As a former, long-serving senior public servant, I see this as the last straw in Aboriginal affairs policy. I am absolutely opposed to it. This is bad public policy, it is morally objectionable, and it will not work.

It's time for all ALP politicians to oppose this proposed legislation. How can any true Labor member support such an illogical policy? Surely such punitive measures are not supported in Labor heartland. I cannot believe that Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating or even Kevin Rudd, especially after his national apology to us, would have allowed such ill-founded policy to even get out of Jenny Macklin's and Peter Garrett's offices, let alone be endorsed by cabinet.

The independents and the Greens also need to stand up against this proposed legislation.

Where is the evidence-based policy to support this legislation? This legislation is based on a pilot scheme being run in schools at Ntaria (also known as Hermannsburg), Wadeye, Tiwi Islands, Katherine and its town camps, and Wallace Rockhole. The pilot scheme has all but failed. School attendance has not changed markedly. There are no indisputable positive results. Evidence-based policy has disappeared into thin air. One rarely hears any MP citing it when talking about Aboriginal affairs these days. And that's because there isn't any. Evidence-based policy is what we as Aboriginal people were promised emphatically by the ALP government. As ever, we are still waiting.

In my long experience, exceeding 40 years working in Aboriginal affairs at the local, regional and national levels, I have never known Aboriginal children to have access to fully resourced and fully staffed schools in the remote communities in the Northern Territory.

It would be much more effective to spend the multiple millions of dollars on fully staffing remote schools with experienced teachers who have already worked with Aboriginal people, rather than employing fly-in, fly-out truancy officers. It should be compulsory for teachers assigned to work in a remote Aboriginal community to undertake a thorough background briefing on the history of the community and its present composition and profile. Every teacher should receive accredited cross-cultural training before even moving to the community. The government has long recognised the need to provide better incentives for doctors to work in regional and remote areas, so why not for teachers too?

A concerted effort is needed to train local Aboriginal people to be fully qualified teachers in their own right. This is the only way to stabilise the teaching workforce in remote areas, making school attractive for the children. The government is clearly focused on employment/workforce participation for all Australians. Jobs for qualified Aboriginal people resident in remote communities should be a high priority. Where are the intensive training programs for our own people to become fully qualified teachers? In our remote Aboriginal communities our cultures are resilient and our languages are still in everyday use.

The abolition of bilingual education has been a shame. It should be a choice available to communities. Service delivery in remote areas is costly. So, too, has been the loss of our languages and culture, so entwined with our land. Surely Aboriginal people have lost so much already that a decent education for all our children is not too much to ask.

This legislation must be withdrawn. Ministers Macklin and Garrett should go back to the drawing board to find evidence-based policy to show you what will work. Let's not waste any more taxpayers' money on using yet another stick to penalise the poorest people in our own land.

Pat Turner, an Arrernte/Gudanji woman living in Alice Springs, is former deputy secretary of the Commonwealth Departments of Aboriginal Affairs and Prime Minister and Cabinet. She is also a former CEO of ATSIC and former deputy CEO of Centrelink.

25 November 2011


Iraq Veterans Against the War: Support Our Work: Donate Now

Make an end-of-year gift to IVAW.
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Dear Mannie,

We wanted to express our deep gratitude for all of the support you have shown us. Your donations, letters, emails, and phone calls have made possible all of our accomplishments this year.

Here are some of the ways you've made a difference:

We launched our Operation Recovery campaign, which enabled us to support soldier, Jeff Hanks, to refuse deployment back into combat until he received treatment for his PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury from previous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to your phone calls, emails, and donations, today Jeff Hanks is getting the treatment he needs for his war wounds.
Ten thousand of you signed the Operation Recovery pledge of support, and your donations have sustained a team of organizers down at Fort Hood, Texas who have already surveyed close to 400 soldiers' about their experiences of war trauma. Your emails and postcards are helping to pressure Fort Hood Commander, General Don Campbell, to stop violating service members' right to heal and end the deployment of traumatized troops back into combat.
Donations from some key supporters brought together our first women veterans' retreat out of which the first issue of Ain't I a Veteran?, our zine for and by women soldiers and vets was published at the start of the year. If you are one of them, we thank you.
You stood with us when we told Wisconsin Governor Walker not to deploy the National Guard against citizens protesting his attacks on the rights of public sector workers. Together with labor and community groups, we helped link the fight against economic cutbacks to the fight to end war spending, and we led a large march and rally in Madison on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
Your support made possible a landmark peace mission to Afghanistan by two members of our Afghanistan Veterans Against the War committee. Brock and Jacob met with Afghan peace groups who also are using nonviolent organizing to bring about peace in their country.
To mark the occasion of the ten years of U.S. occupation in Afghanistan, we helped organize the forum, War Voices, which featured testimonies and cultural performances by veterans, Afghans, and military families about the effects of ten years of war. Your support allowed us to livestream this event to a national audience.
Finally, your abiding support has allowed IVAW members around the country to participate in their local Occupy Wall Street movements. And when IVAW member, Scott Olsen, was shot in the head by a police projectile in Oakland, you sprung into action to condemn Mayor Jean Quan and raise an unprecedented amount of money for a healthcare fund (over $30,000!) for Scott. We and Scott thank you very much.

Whether Thanksgiving for you is a day of family celebration, or a time for reflection on our nation's colonial past, we ask that you remember our IVAW active duty sisters and brothers away from their families on bases across the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. We are holding them in our thoughts and hearts.

Thank you,

Iraq Veterans Against the War national staff

Aaron, Amadee, Andrew, Bryan, Chantelle, Jose, Maggie, and Selena

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University of the Witwatersrand opposes South African government's censorship attempts - Statement on the "Secrecy Bill"

23 November 2011

"The University of the Witwatersrand notes with concern the decision by Parliament and the ruling African National Congress to pass the "Secrecy Bill", which we believe stands as a deep threat to the fundamental principles enshrined in our Constitution.

The Protection of State Information Bill may be a necessary replacement for apartheid-era legislation, but in its current form would obstruct the access to information citizens need to ensure transparent and accountable governance. The Bill entrusts the power of classification, and the avenue of appeals against classification, to those who might benefit from the obscurity provided by classification. The Bill allows for ‘national interest’ to be invoked in justification of classification, but provides sufficient latitude of interpretation of what constitutes the ‘national interest’ to allow unscrupulous use of this measure. It remains silent on the 'public interest'. The current formulation of this Bill and the heavy penalties it mandates would impede both the right of the public to legitimate freedom of information and the intellectual enquiry that is the essence of academic work.

The proposal for a Media Appeals Tribunal, currently under consideration by the ANC, might enable direct State suppression of the freedom of expression. Accountable to Parliament, which is constituted overwhelmingly by the ruling party, the Tribunal could undermine the media’s necessary role in informing society. The ruling party’s antagonistic attitude to the print media has been illustrated by the recent public eviction of a journalist from a media conference and – very disturbingly – by the arrest and detention of a journalist at the order of a politician. Even in the absence of such provocation the proposed tribunal would represent an unacceptable intrusion into media freedom.

Taken together, the two initiatives attack key principles that underpin a democracy – access to information and freedom of speech – and threaten this country’s widely admired constitutional order. The University expresses its deep concern at the implications of these measures for civil liberties and the pursuit of intellectual enquiry, and insists that, in their current form, they be abandoned."

Read Wits' 2010 statement on the Protection of Information Bill and the Media Tribunal Process

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, together with the Wits School of Law, has been engaged in processes of dialogue around the Protection of State Information Bill since its first emergence as a draft piece of legislation in 2008. Read an analysis of the Bill’s remaining flaws –

Summary Version


Full Version


22 November 2011


ANC 'taking SA beyond apartheid'


(This article is from the South African "Times and Sunday Times" on-line)

Nadine Gordimer was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1991 for being "of very great benefit to humanity" Picture: MAX BERG (Photo to follow)

Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer has accused the ANC of taking South Africa beyond apartheid with its Protection of Information Bill.

ANC in rush to sell contested secrecy bill

Gordimer, speaking in Johannesburg at an 88th birthday celebration yesterday, said the bill goes "totally against all ideas of freedom".

"People have fought and died to gain the opportunity for a better life, which is ruined and dirtied by corruption.

"The corrupt practices and nepotism that they [politicians] allow themselves is exposed if we have freedom of expression. When we all voted together, which was a great moment in my life, [we thought] everything would be alright. That was a childish idea."

Her comments were made as protests about the Protection of Information Bill intensify. It is expected to be voted on tomorrow in the National Assembly.

Dene Smuts, the DA's spokesman for justice and constitutional development, said there was "quite a long way to go" before the bill was enacted.

Following tomorrow's vote, the bill will have to be voted on in the National Council of Provinces, which could refer it back to the National Assembly.

Smuts said she would petition President Jacob Zuma to refer the bill to the Constitutional Court to determine its constitutionality.

Yusuf Abramjee, chairman of the National Press Club, yesterday confirmed that the club had lodged a complaint about the Info Bill with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Abramjee said Madonsela's office had "a good track record of looking at things independently".

Abramjee said the club's major objection to the bill was its exclusion of a public interest defence and the harsh penalties journalists and whistle-blowers would face.

The club launched a renewed Black Wednesday campaign - evoking the events of October 19 1977, when the apartheid government banned two newspapers - and has asked that people wear black on Wednesday as a sign of their opposition to the bill.

The office of ANC chief whip Mathole Motshegka yesterday slammed the campaign, saying comparing a "purely democratic and open process to one of the darkest days of apartheid" was "gravely senseless".

In a statement late last night, Motshekga's office said people should not "campaign in a manner that trivialises the deep pain and suffering experienced by the majority of our people" under apartheid.

The statement repeated previous statements made by the chief whip that the bill was in line with international standards and said there would still be further opportunities for discussion around it when it was sent to the NCOP.

"This government will never and has no intention to ban, torture or murder journalists," it read.

Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils yesterday said an attack on him by ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu was "patently very ill-considered, highly abusive and intemperate".

Mthembu accused Kasrils of wanting to rule the intelligence services "from the grave" after he criticised State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

"As someone who fought in the struggle . I am appalled. I want to raise my voice for the principles the ANC stood for and that is exactly what I've been doing, though it's akin to talking into a toy telephone," Kasrils said.

Concerns about the Info Bill are mounting against the backdrop of Mac Maharaj, Zuma's spin doctor, laying criminal charges on Saturday against two Mail & Guardian journalists for allegedly obtaining information illegally.

The newspaper featured a picture of Maharaj with the words: "Censored. We cannot bring you this story in full due to a threat of criminal prosecution."

Yesterday, Maharaj criticised M&G editor Nic Dawes, accusing him of playing "political games" by trying to garner support for his campaign against the bill.

In response, Dawes said he was "unembarrassed" about being an advocate for press freedom and Maharaj was wrong about him pushing a hidden agenda.

"If Maharaj believes we are reporting this to make some kind of elaborate performance around press freedom, he is a fantasist."

Dawes said Maharaj had brought the charges to "use state resources" to try to uncover his journalists' sources.

"Maharaj will answer any question except the question about him lying under oath to the Scorpions about the large sums of money that he received from a company that was awarded a tender under his department."

According to yesterday's Sunday Times, secret payments totalling 1.2-million French francs (about R3.2-million at the time) were deposited into the offshore bank accounts of Maharaj's wife, Zarina, shortly before the Department of Transport awarded French arms company Thales a R265-million tender. Maharaj was transport minister at the time.

21 November 2011


The following article was received on 20 November 2011 from Mondoweiss:
Pinkwashing Lieberman, whitewashing fascism

Nov 19, 2011

Scott Long


The Out in Israel Month website

It’s November in Boston. Leaves carpet the streets and a chill sharpens the air; we prepare to give thanks that smallpox killed the Indians and left us their land; and it’s Out in Israel Month. This is a “campaign of education and celebration. We aim to educate about the status of civil rights for LGBT Israeli citizens, hard-fought for throughout the years, and celebrate the LGBT community and culture in Israel. Israel is a multi-faceted society with many faces and just as many narratives.” The Jerusalem Post tells me,

The program was an initiative of Israel’s consul-general to New England, Shai Bazak, and will feature performances by gay heartthrob Assi Azar. Azar, a popular TV host in Israel, will screen his made-for-television coming-out film Mom, Dad, I Have Something to Tell You to audiences around the Boston area, followed by panel discussions about life as an openly gay man in Tel Aviv. The event makes Israel the only country in the world to run a campaign promoting its LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) population.

Bazak’s job as consul-general is obviously to promote Israel, and promoting its protection of LGBT rights is a task he embraces eagerly. At a campus speaking engagement recently, he made the de rigueur comparison to the rest of the region:

“It is clear from what we have seen that large masses of people in the Middle East want democracy, and civil rights, and liberty and freedom … Democracy is the right to speak up. Democracy supports the rights of women and gays and minorities in society who are oppressed. However … this is a problem in the Middle East because even though many people want democracy, they don’t want it for everyone. This is a source of much conflict and much harm and is at the root of many of our problems.”

Now, Bazak knows exactly what it means to want democracy for some but not for others. In his past life — before serving as Binyamin Netanyahu’s press secretary during his first Prime Ministerial term — he was spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the major settlers’ organization. As such, he defended the idea that settlers had rights and deserved political representation, while Palestinians who owned the land would get neither.

Bazak “lost Netanyahu’s affection over the years,” according to one press report, but gained another patron: Yisrael Beiteinu party chief and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman originally wanted to put Bazak in the prestige post of consul-general in New York. Netanyahu vetoed that, but approved Boston as a consolation prize.

Diplomatic sources deflected criticism that Bazak, with his strong Likud credentials, is not the right man to send to Boston, the site of numerous universities and one of America’s most liberal cities, saying that he has proven his ability to represent the country’s policies faithfully and well.

Clearly Bazak has hit on the gay angle as a way to sell Israel to “one of America’s most liberal cities.” His official biography on the consular website, meanwhile, omits his service to the extremist settlers, saying only that “Mr. Bazak has held many positions in Israeli government and the private sector.”

This is “pinkwashing” to the max: using rights protections for one group to conceal rights abuses against another. But the intriguing thing –suggested by Bazak’s own record — is the specific role of the Israeli right. After all, the two ministries most involved in marketing Israel’s gay record are both under the control of Yisrael Beiteinu: not only Lieberman’s Foreign Ministry, but the Ministry of Tourism under Stas Misezhnikov.

Yisrael Beiteinu has been widely called a fascist party. Its stab-in-the-back, racist rhetoric against Israeli Arabs fits part of that bill: “no loyalty, no citizenship” was its election slogan (think “even though many people want democracy, they don’t want it for everyone”). And its promotion of a heroic leader cult and a macho-mythologized Israeli identity fits another. Here, Haaretz describes its junior wing at a party conference:

The youths, ages 16-18, many of them good friends from school, had stood for a long time before the event began at the intersection near the hotel, waving Israeli flags and shouting “Death to the Arabs” and “No loyalty, no citizenship” at passing cars. …

On the bus back to the center of Upper Nazareth, one of the youths offers this explanation for his excitement about the party: “This country has needed a dictatorship for a long time already. But I’m not talking about an extreme dictatorship. We need someone who can put things in order. Lieberman is the only one who speaks the truth.” Adds Edan Ivanov, an 18 year old who describes himself as being “up on current events”:

“We’ve had enough here with the ‘leftist democracy’ – and I put that term in quotes, don’t get me wrong. People have put the dictator label on Lieberman because of the things he says. But the truth is that in Israel there can’t be a full democracy when there are Arabs here who oppose it.

“All Lieberman’s really saying is that anyone who isn’t prepared to sign an oath of loyalty to the state, because of his personal views, cannot receive equal rights; he can’t vote for the executive authority. People here are gradually coming to understand what needs to be done concerning a person who is not loyal.”

The party’s core appeal is to the xenophobia of Israel’s million-plus immigrants from the former Soviet Union. However, it’s not just nationalism that wins their loyalties. Many, encouraged to make aliyah to Israel by a demographically desperate state, found that the Law of Return welcomed then but Jewish law didn’t. Up to half a million Russian Jewish immigrants don’t qualify as halakhic Jews in the eyes of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

In part this is because of the celebrated “grandchild clause” in the Law of Return, which allows people with one Jewish grandparent to immigrate (on the argument that since this was the Nazi standard for extermination, it should be Israel’s standard for citizenship). Orthodox parties have long campaigned to scrap this provision and bring the law into line with halakhic definitions – which would only deepen Israel’s demographic crisis. In the meantime, though, the incongruity between the state’s and the rabbinate’s definitions casts significant numbers of self-identified Russian Jews as outsiders in the land. Yisrael Beiteinu gives them psychological consolation by offering an Israeli-hood defined by loyalty and the exclusion (if not execution) of Arabs. It also promises material consolations: it’s a proudly secular party that presses to institute civil unions. This secularism in a state steadily more dominated by the Orthodox gives the party a peculiar appeal to gays as well.

So the semi-fascist party’s flirtation with gay rights has a logic to it. One self-described gay leftist writes:

It’s very tempting to just say “no” and resist any ties with Lieberman, whose MKs [members of the Knesset] are responsible for proposing a bunch of ugly new bills all meant to restrict freedom of expression.
But there’s more to it than that. I’m as Israeli as the next guy. I am a proud, left-wing patriot. As a gay activist, my first mission is to promote and normalize LGBT life in Israel.

The Russian immigrants who form the base of Lieberman’s constituency are in general the most homophobic part of Israeli society, even more than Shas’s ultra-Orthodox Jews.

So having Lieberman’s followers embrace the gay community is a very positive development, even if their motivations aren’t pure.
The fact is, there’s no way back for them.

After Lieberman embraces the gay community, he will never be able to speak or vote against gay laws in the Knesset. Next year, when we try again to get equal rights in adoption and surrogacy, his party will have to support those measures.

Mazel tov.

There’s a lot to be argued about in this dilemma. I’m sure somebody will invoke the figure of the little gay kid growing up in a Russian Jewish family, who will take untold comfort from the fact that his father’s favorite political party is no longer homophobic. And wouldn’t it be nice if President Mitt Romney in the US launched a campaign to attract gay tourists, to a country which by that time will be so broke and devastated that any travelling French homo would be welcomed as a savior along with his Euros francs! Wouldn’t that strike a blow for internal acceptance too? And so on … But there’s a larger cost to the whole political community when an authoritarian thug like Lieberman gets to paint himself as a defender of somebody’s, anybody’s, rights. “Pinkwashing” corrupts the idea and practice of human rights, by throwing out the promise of universality and turning them into instruments of division and exclusion. What this story suggests is that it’s not just deception for external consumption: it also corrupts the polity from within. Lieberman pinkwashes himself. By expropriating the language of diversity and tolerance, he makes himself look like a decent participant in politics, and burnishes his own racism and violence with a secular and progressive sheen. The writer above isn’t going to vote for Lieberman, but he’s willing to accept Lieberman’s votes for his own causes. Isn’t that just about as bad?

In the way that absolute power corrupts, occupation — the exercise of absolute control over a population — has corrupted Israel’s politics. Lieberman’s ascent to respectability marks a further descent into corruption. That a foreign ministry under his leadership can talk with a straight face about “a multi-faceted society with many faces and just as many narratives” means the narrative has become a fantastic fairy tale. Among the many faces of tolerance, Lieberman’s is the portrait of Dorian Gray.

18 November 2011


In the year 2011, Mark Liebler, who is Jewish, zionist and part of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, has an article published in The Age newspaper on Thursday 17 November 2011, in which he is still bleating about the idea of a two-state solution to solve the intractable Israel/Palestine problem.

If Liebler doesn't know that the founding fathers of Israel never intended allowing a Palestinian state to exist side-by-side with a Jewish state then he is living in cloud-cuckoo land!

With the Israeli state building settlements on Palestine at a rate which occupies most of the occupied territories other than the Gaza strip, Liebler is certainly aware that no such possibility exists on the ground for a separate state.

Israel and Palestine have one solution for a permanent peaceful middle east state and that is a democratic secular Israel/Palestine state.

Then and only then will peace come to the middle east. By then, the United States of America will have stopped supporting Israel, because it will no longer be able to afford the luxury, and the whole complexion of middle east politics will have changed because the peoples of the region are seeing through their dictatorial leaders and are demanding some form of democratic processes in their countries.

Israelis themselves will one day rise up in protest when the reality sinks in that the religious right and the ultra-right reactionary forces of Israeli-US politics together with those of their current allies will be able to be collapsed with pressure from the people themselves.

That day can't come fast enough for all the Palestinians and many of their supporters from around the world!

17 November 2011


Subject: Article by Moeletsi Mbeki (Thabo Mbeki's brother) - South Africa: Only a matter of time before the bomb explodes

South Africa: Only a matter of time before the bomb explodes

7 November 2011

by Moeletsi Mbeki: Author, political commentator and entrepreneur.

I can predict when SA's "Tunisia Day" will arrive. Tunisia Day is when the masses rise against the powers that be, as happened recently in Tunisia. The year will be 2020, give or take a couple of years. The year 2020 is when China estimates that its current minerals-intensive industrialisation phase will be concluded.

For SA, this will mean the African National Congress (ANC) government will have to cut back on social grants, which it uses to placate the black poor and to get their votes. China's current industrialisation phase has forced up the prices of SA's minerals, which has enabled the government to finance social welfare programmes. The ANC is currently making SA a welfare state and tends to 'forget' that there is only a minority that pay all the taxes.

They are often quick to say that if people (read whites) are not happy they should leave. The more people that leave, the more their tax base shrinks.

Yes, they will fill the positions with BEE candidates (read blacks), but if they are not capable of doing the job then the company will eventually fold as well as their 'new' tax base. When there is no more money available for handouts they will then have a problem because they are breeding a culture of handouts instead of creating jobs so people can gain an idea of the value of money. If you keep getting things for free then you lose the sense of its value. The current trend of saying if the west won't help then China will is going to bite them. China will want payment - ie land for their people and will result in an influx of Chinese (there is no such thing as a free lunch!)

The ANC inherited a flawed, complex society it barely understood; its tinkerings with it are turning it into an explosive cocktail. The ANC leaders are like a group of children playing with a hand grenade. One day one of them will figure out how to pull out the pin and everyone will be killed. .and 20 years on they still blame apartheid but have not done much to rectify things - changing names etc only costs money that could have been spent elsewhere.

A famous African liberation movement, the National Liberation Front of Algeria, after tinkering for 30 years, pulled the grenade pin by cancelling an election in 1991 that was won by the opposition Islamic Salvation Front.

In the civil war that ensued, 200,000 people were killed. The 'new' leaders are forgetting the 'struggle' heroes and the reasons for it - their agenda is now power and money and it suits them for the masses to be ignorant - same as Mugabe did in Zim. If you do not agree with the leaders then the followers intimidate you.

The former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, once commented that whoever thought that the ANC could rule SA was living in Cloud Cuckoo Land .
Why was Thatcher right? In the 16 years of ANC rule, all the symptoms of a government out of its depth have grown worse.

* Life expectancy has declined from 65 years to 53 years since the
ANC came to power; - a leader who did not believe that HIV causes AIDS
(Mbeki) and another who believes having a shower after unprotected sex is the answer and has 5 wives and recently a child out of wedlock (Zuma).
Great leaders for the masses to emulate!!- not!!

* In 2007, SA became a net food importer for the first time in its
history; Yet they want to carry on with their struggle song 'kill the boer(farmer)' and stopping farm killings does not seem to be a priority.
They do not seem to realise where food actually comes from.

* The elimination of agricultural subsidies by the government led to
the loss of 600000 farm workers' jobs and the eviction from the commercial farming sector of about 2,4-million people between 1997 and 2007; and - yet they want to create jobs and cause even more job losses - very
short-sighted thinking.

* The ANC stopped controlling the borders, leading to a flood of poor
people into SA, which has led to conflicts between SA's poor and foreign African migrants. Not much thought was given to this - their attitude was to help fellow Africans by allowing them 'refuge' in SA. Not thinking that illegals cannot legally get jobs but they need to eat to live. I believe that most of our crime is by non-South Africans from north of the borders.
They need to do something to survive! Remove the illegal problem and you
solve most of the crime problem.

.but is it in their interest to solve crime?

There are whole industries built on crime - each burglary, car hijacking etc results in more sales of product and contribute to GDP. What would sales be if crime was down? I do not believe that anyone has worked out how much electricity is consumed a day because of electric fencing and security lights at night. Reduce the need for this (crime) and Eksdom (Eskom) would probably have a power surplus. - or if they charged our African neighbours the correct rates at least make a decent profit to build more power stations.

What should the ANC have done, or be doing?

The answer is quite straightforward. When they took control of the government in 1994, ANC leaders should have: identified what SA's strengths were; identified what SA's weaknesses were; and decided how to use the strengths to minimise and/or rectify the weaknesses. Standard business principle - but they too busy enriching themselves. People who were in prison or were non-entities 20 years ago are now billionaires - how? BEE??

A wise government would have persuaded the skilled white and Indian population to devote some of their time - even an hour a week - to train the black and coloured population to raise their skill levels. This done by lots of NGO's but should have been more constructively done by the ruling party.

What the ANC did instead when it came to power was to identify what its leaders and supporters wanted. It then used SA's strengths to satisfy the short-term consumption demands of its supporters. In essence, this is what is called black economic empowerment (BEE). .and put people in positions they could not cope with making them look stupid where if they had the necessary grounding could have been good in the position at the right time.

You cannot 'create' a company CEO in a couple of years. It takes years of work starting at the bottom of the ladder - not in the middle. Only some things can be learnt in books - experience is the most important factor and this is not found in text books or university corridors.

BEE promotes a number of extremely negative socioeconomic trends in our country. It promotes a class of politicians dependent on big business and therefore promotes big business's interests in the upper echelons of government. Second, BEE promotes an anti-entrepreneurial culture among the black middle class by legitimising an environment of entitlement. Third, affirmative action, a subset of BEE, promotes incompetence (what I said above)and corruption in the public sector by using ruling party allegiance and connections as the criteria for entry and promotion in the public service, instead of having tough public service entry examinations. Nepotism is rife - jobs for friends and families who are nowhere near qualified - and then hire consultants to actually get the work done - at additional cost of course!

Let's see where BEE, as we know it today, actually comes from. I first came across the concept of BEE from a company, which no longer exists, called Sankor. Sankor was the industrial division of Sanlam and it invented the concept of BEE.

The first purpose of BEE was to create a buffer group among the black political class that would become an ally of big business in SA. This buffer group would use its newfound power as controllers of the government to protect the assets of big business.

The buffer group would also protect the modus operandi of big business and thereby maintain the status quo in which South African business operates.
That was the design of the big conglomerates.

Sanlam was soon followed by Anglo American. Sanlam established BEE vehicle Nail; Anglo established Real Africa, Johnnic and so forth. The conglomerates took their marginal assets, and gave them to politically influential black people, with the purpose, in my view, not to transform the economy but to create a black political class that is in alliance with the conglomerates and therefore wants to maintain the status quo of our economy and the way in which it operates.

But what is wrong with protecting SA's conglomerates?

Well, there are many things wrong with how conglomerates operate and how they have structured our economy.

* The economy has a strong built-in dependence on cheap labour; with
tight labour legislation they are preventing people from getting jobs. For some industries minimum wages are too high resulting in less people being employed. Because it is almost impossible to get rid of an incompetent employee without it costing lots of money in severance people rather do not employ - run on minimum with no incentive to grow the business - or alternatively automate. Result - more unemployment and employment of
illegals at more affordable wages.

* It has a strong built-in dependence on the exploitation of primary

* It is strongly unfavourable to the development of skills in our
general population; Gone are the days of the artisan - no more structured learning to be artisans over a period of time. Try to fast track everything resulting in little on the job experience to be able to do the job. That is why Eksdom has sub stations blowing up and catching fire - lack of skill and maintenance. A friend told me about 5 years that this would start happening after Tshwane (Pretoria) started qualifying
electrical engineers who were not up to standard.

* It has a strong bias towards importing technology and economic
solutions; and - at a higher cost

* It promotes inequality between citizens by creating a large,
marginalised underclass. Who depend on handouts that cannot be maintained into perpetuity.

Conglomerates are a vehicle, not for creating development in SA but for exploiting natural resources without creating in-depth, inclusive social and economic development, which is what SA needs. That is what is wrong with protecting conglomerates.

The second problem with the formula of BEE is that it does not create entrepreneurs. People do not develop necessary skills when being fast-tracked into a position and being given a free ride. You are taking political leaders and politically connected people and giving them assets which, in the first instance, they don't know how to manage. So you are not adding value. You are faced with the threat of undermining value by taking assets from people who were managing them and giving them to people who cannot manage them (what I said earlier above) BEE thus creates a class of idle rich ANC politicos.

My quarrel with BEE is that what the conglomerates are doing is developing a new culture in SA - not a culture of entrepreneurship, but an entitlement culture, whereby black people who want to go into business think that they should acquire assets free, and that somebody is there to make them rich, rather than that they should build enterprises from the ground. Agree!

But we cannot build black companies if what black entrepreneurs look forward to is the distribution of already existing assets from the conglomerates in return for becoming lobbyists for the conglomerates. All companies start from the bottom - when they are 'given' these businesses they are usually run into the ground because of inexperience. And when they are given loans to buy business the loans invariable are not repaid and the businesses go bankrupt.

The third worrying trend is that the ANC-controlled state has now internalised the BEE model. We are now seeing the state trying to implement the same model that the conglomerates developed.

What is the state distributing? It is distributing jobs to party faithful and social welfare to the poor (what I said in different words) This is a recipe for incompetence and corruption, both of which are endemic in SA.
This is what explains the service delivery upheavals that are becoming a normal part of our environment.

So what is the correct road SA should be travelling?

We all accept that a socialist model, along the lines of the Soviet Union, is not workable for SA today. The creation of a state-owned economy is not a formula that is an option for SA or for many parts of the world. Therefore, if we want to develop SA instead of shuffling pre-existing wealth, we have to create new entrepreneurs, and we need to support existing entrepreneurs to diversify into new economic sectors.

Make people work for their 'handouts' even if it means they must sweep the streets or clean a park - just do something instead of getting all for nothing. Guaranteed there will then be less queuing for handouts because they would then be working and in most instances they do not want to work - they want everything for nothing.

And in my opinion the ANC created this culture before the first election in
1994 when they promised the masses housing, electricity etc - they just neglected to tell them that they would have to pay for them. That is why the masses constantly do not want to pay for water, electricity, rates on their properties - they think the government must pay this - after all they were told by the ANC that they will be given these things - they just do not want to understand that the money to pay for this comes from somewhere and if you don't pay you will eventually not have these services.

And then when the tax base has left they can grow their mielies in front of their shack and stretch out their open palms to the UN for food handouts an live a day to day existence that seems to be what they want - sit on their arse and do nothing.

Mbeki is the author of Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing. This article forms part of a series on transformation supplied by the Centre for Development and Enterprise.


The following article comes from Mondoweiss and is reproduced here because,as one of the other bloggers has reported, none of the local Australian media have bothered to report the story. They are so disgusting, their censorship of news on a daily basis so appalling, the lack of substance to what is left of any journalism is so disgraceful, that it is not surprising that more and more people are turning to the internet for their news from around the world.

The Freedom Riders of Bus 148

Nov 15, 2011 11:33 pm | Mariam Al-Barghouti and Deema Al-Saafin

The Palestinian Freedom Rides movement was inspired by the Civil Rights Act of 1961, when African Americans and Americans alike boarded buses and road throughout the south in order to break segregation marked by Jim Crow laws. This act branded them the name “Freedom Riders”. Segregation of the 1960’s revolved around a direct schism between “blacks” and “whites” in every aspect of life imaginable; education, public eating, public transportation, and housing provinces. This began the Freedom Riders movement where Americans, “blacks” and “whites” alike, rode segregated buses.

. Inspired by such a movement, six Palestinian activists decided to do the same regarding segregated Israeli buses, in which they would be non-violently defying illegal Israeli settlements, and Israeli segregation.

Earlier Tuesday November 15th, 6 Palestinian activists as well as people of the press headed to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kohav Yakov, where they attempted to board segregated Israeli buses headed to Jerusalem in defiance of Israeli apartheid and segregation. The first bus passes the activists however, the driver keeps driving on. The second bus, and the third pass, to no avail.

Five buses passed the activists without stopping to allow them to get in as passengers; instead they completely ignored their existence. Whilst they were waiting for a bus to stop, an IOF military jeep came to the location of the Freedom Riders. It wasn't until the sixth bus, bus number 148 that the Palestinian Freedom Rides activists were able to board. Illegal Israeli settlers boarded the bus with the Freedom Riders. At this point, history had already been made, as Palestinians had physically got onto segregation buses headed to Jerusalem. Aboard the bus, the Palestinian flag was flown.

During the first and second Intifada, the waving of the Palestinian flag was an action enough to land a person in jail. During the weekly demonstrations in villages such as Nabi Saleh, Bil'in, Ni'leen and Walaja, waving the Palestinian flag can bring a person an arrest, or worse as in the case of Ashraf Abu Rahmah, administrative detention.

A settler aboard attempted to grab and confiscate the Palestinian flag, but his attempt was defied.

Bus 148 began its move to its perceived destination: Jerusalem. The driver of the bus was following an Israeli police vehicle, while the bus was accompanied by Israeli Occupying Forces from behind. The bus was led to Hizmah checkpoint, which is one of 522 checkpoints that are spread throughout the West Bank. Upon arrival to Hizmah checkpoint, Israeli Border Police as well as Israeli soldiers boarded bus 148 which carried the six Palestinian Freedom Rides activists: Nadeem Al-Sharbate, Huwaida Arraf, Dr.Mazin Qumsieyeh, Fadi Qura'an, Basel Al-Araj, and Badee' Dwaik, as well as several journalists documenting the event. The Police asked all the settlers on board and the driver to leave the bus, to which they obeyed but not before remarking to the activists still on board that "this is our land."

The settlers were able to board another bus heading to Jerusalem without any harassment from the Border Police. However the activists were asked for their ID's, and confiscated them in an attempt to get the Freedom Riders to exit the bus. "I will show them my Palestinian ID card and say I want to go to Jerusalem. We'll see what happens," said Dr Mazin Qumsiyeh. However the Freedom Riders were determined to remain on the bus, saying over and over again "We are headed to Jerusalem."

Journalists were then kicked out of the bus and fined 500 Israeli Shekels for "parking on the side of the road". This is merely an attempt to punish those who spread the word of Israel's apartheid regime and its racist implications to the rest of the world.

At this point, Freedom Riders had begun chanting, "We are not getting off, even if you throw us in jail". They knew that they could be arrested but remained defiant, and most importantly, non violent. Palestinian activist, Badee' Dwaik, resisted by nonviolently laying on the floor of the bus. He asked the Israeli Border Police "Why didn't you ask a settler for his permission slip into Jerusalem? Is his blood red and mine blue?"

When journalists and settlers were removed from the bus, only IOF and Israeli Border Police remained with the Freedom Riders. The bus then began its move to a police station.

Once at the police station, Israeli Border Police began forcibly removing Freedom Riders one by one. (Due to the camera shooting the live stream footage running out of battery, we were only able to see three arrests (Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Huwaida Arraf and lastly Fadi Quran’s). Israeli Border Police tried to negotiate with activists Huwaida Arraf and Fadi Quran, if negotiating meant saying "You are here illegally. Yallah, you will be taken off the bus."

The Freedom Riders remained in their seats, staring straight ahead. IOF and Border Police then began to violently grab these activists one at a time forcing them off the bus. Whilst being arrested, Huwaida and Fadi both introduced themselves as Freedom Riders and said "We are only trying to go to Jerusalem." Alongside the activists, Fajr Harb was also arrested, even though he was not on board the bus, nor part of the Palestinian Freedom Riders group, he was merely arrested for showing support for the cause, and being Palestinian. As Fadi Quran said as he was being arrested "We only want our freedom, justice, and dignity." The activists and Fajr Harb were taken to the detention center of Atarot, where they remain now until further notice.

This post originally appeared on the website WrittenResistance. All the Freedom Riders have since been released from Israeli custody.

Mariam Al-Barghouti is a Palestinian-American graduated from high school May 2011, currently taking a gap year in attempt to bring more awareness to the Palestinian cause.

Deema Al-Saafin is from both Gaza and West Bank,she also holds a British passport. She graduated from high school May 2011. She is continuing her studies at Birzeit University, where she is majoring in public administration.

12 November 2011


The following articles published in The Age newspaper over the week ranging from 5 to 11 November 2011 provide some diverting and diverging views on the Palestine bid for statehood - or at least standing as a nation at the United Nations:

ALP senator laments Gillard's Palestine stand

By Daniel Flitton

November 5, 2011

A PROMINENT Labor senator has expressed dismay at Julia Gillard's decision to overrule Kevin Rudd on a key United Nations vote on Palestine.

NSW Labor Senator Doug Cameron said Australia had missed a chance to help win peace in the Middle East.

The government is yet to declare how it will vote on the contentious plan for Palestine to join the world body, although Britain, France and Colombia told the UN overnight they will abstain on a vote.

The Age revealed yesterday Mr Rudd had also urged Australia to abstain from a separate resolution on Palestine becoming a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, only for Ms Gillard to ignore the advice and side with Israel, the US and 11 other countries in opposing the proposal.
Senator Cameron said yesterday he supported Mr Rudd's position and that recognition would have helped their cause and not harmed Israel. ''It would have meant we could take a very small step towards fixing the problems in the Middle East, which is so important in the overall fight against terrorism,'' he said.

Asked on ABC radio if he was disappointed Ms Gillard had overruled Mr Rudd, Senator Cameron responded: ''Yes, I am.''

Mr Rudd told reporters in Brisbane, when asked if he was satisfied with the UNESCO vote: ''I support the government's policy.'' The New York Times reported the Palestinian bid for UN membership - which Washington had threatened to veto - had moved closer to outright rejection in the Security Council.

Britain, Colombia and France told a private meeting of the council's membership committee they would abstain, raising doubts Palestinians could muster the nine votes needed on the 15-member body before the US would likely wield a veto. Should Palestinians push ahead to seek observer status in the General Assembly - similar to the Vatican - Australia would then be force to take a position.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd yesterday issued a statement in response to questions from The Age that has not changed since September.

''If a Palestinian resolution is introduced to the General Assembly - and that is not yet certain - the government will consider it carefully. The government will not make a decision until it has seen a draft resolution,'' it read.

Obama's gaffe exposes uneasy relationship with Israel

November 10, 2011

By Simon Mann in Washington

A CANDID moment between French and US Presidents has laid bare the testy relationship between Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's allies, and underscored the lingering discord between the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister.

In an exchange at last week's G20 meeting in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy allegedly branded Mr Netanyahu a ''liar'', inviting agreement from Barack Obama.

According to French journalists, who overheard the exchange, Mr Obama obliged, responding: ''You're sick of him, but I have to work with him every day.''

The loose remarks reflect mounting international frustration with the stalled Middle East peace process, as well as a barely concealed animosity between Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu.

The gaffe gave Mr Obama's Republican opponents ammunition and prompted the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League to express concern over the extent to which the ''private views'' might inform US and French policy towards Israel.

''We hope that the Obama administration will do everything it can to reassure Israel that the relationship remains on a sure footing and to reinvigorate the trust between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which clearly is not what it should be,'' said the league's national director, Abraham Foxman.

Republican presidential wannabe Michele Bachmann demanded that Mr Obama apologise to Mr Netanyahu, linking the incident to the administration's lax efforts to protect Israel from the nuclear ambitions of Iran and to other ''tragic errors'' of the President's foreign policy.

The uneasy relationship between the two leaders was most on show in May when Mr Netanyahu lectured Mr Obama before reporters in the Oval Office, after the President had raised the prospect of a return to Israel's pre-1967 borders as a means of advancing the peace process. Mr Netanyahu flatly rejected the idea and appeared to patronise Mr Obama by offering a history lesson.

In an earlier meeting between them, Mr Obama had reportedly sat down to dinner, making the Israeli leader wait in another room at the White House.

Despite the embarrassment, a former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, did not believe the blunder would damage US-Israel relations, particularly over the issue at hand - Iran's nuclear ambitions.

''The subject is too serious to be affected by personalities. They agree on the nature of the threat and they also agree on the way to deal with it. That is by ratcheting up sanctions.''

Public backs Palestine bid

November 11, 2011

AUSTRALIANS broadly back an independent Palestinian state joining the United Nations but mostly confess to ignorance about the Middle East conflict, a poll has found.

The findings come as it appears the question of Palestinian membership at the UN will fail in the Security Council. The US has indicated it would veto any such resolution and Palestinian negotiators are now likely to take their quest to the General Assembly, where the Gillard government will be required to take a position.

The Roy Morgan poll, commissioned by advocacy group Australians for Palestine, found Australians had roughly equal sympathy for Israelis and Palestinians. But 62 per cent of those surveyed said Palestine should be accepted as a UN member after being told ''Israel and the USA are opposed to it'', although the question neglected to mention other countries also opposed.

The figure dropped to 52 per cent of people saying Australia should vote in favour of the Palestinian bid.

Voting against Palestine may cost Australia a seat on the Security Council

By Richard Woolcott

November 11, 2011

Our national interest requires a rethink on the Middle East.

The importance of Australia's candidature for election next October as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term (2013-14) should be better understood and supported by our politicians and the Australian public.

Unfortunately, our prospects have been undermined by our recent vote against Palestine's admission to the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The Security Council is the principal organ of the UN with the power to impose sanctions and the responsibility for initiating peacekeeping operations. Like the G20's role in dealing with international economic and financial issues, the council deals with the maintenance of international peace and security. It is the world's pre-eminent crisis management forum.

Membership of the council is important to us. It will enhance our international standing as a responsible middle power. As I know from my experience in representing Australia on the council, membership offers an opportunity to make a difference, to influence situations in the direction of peace and to contribute to reforms.

The election, by secret ballot, will be contested. There are three candidates for two seats. When then prime minister Kevin Rudd announced our candidacy in March 2008, Finland and Luxembourg had already been in the field for well over a year.
Should we fail in our bid, the addition of two more western European voices, in addition to Britain and France, both permanent members of the council, would unbalance it, as happened in 1996 when we were defeated by Sweden and Portugal.

I have recently returned from two weeks in New York. Since my time at the UN, the global situation has changed enormously. Unprecedented economic growth, especially in China and India, and the increase in membership to 193 have driven change. The UN now reflects a different and much more complex, multipolar and interconnected world.
Australia has a proud record in the United Nations. We have played a major role in peacekeeping and peace-building since 1947. We have provided some 60,000 servicemen and police to more than 50 multi-lateral operations, including our major contribution to the UN Transitional Authority that brought peace and elections to Cambodia. We are in the top 10 contributors to the World Food Program, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the UN Development Program and the Human Rights Commission.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has described the Security Council's work as ''vital''. She worked to secure the support of the Pacific Islands Forum in Wellington in September and again at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth. She will have more opportunities to seek support for our election at the APEC and East Asian Summit talks later this month.

In these circumstances, I find it both surprising and a decisive setback to our election prospects that the Prime Minister decided Australia should vote against the admission of Palestine to UNESCO.

The applications committee is to report to the Security Council today on Palestine's bid for statehood. If it is decided to vote in the council, the US is committed to a veto. Ultimately, however, the issue will presumably go to the General Assembly in the attempt to upgrade Palestinian representation. A positive approach to this issue is actually in the US and Israel's long-term interests.

Putting it bluntly, I consider that if we again vote against Palestinian ''statehood'' when it comes to the General Assembly, we are most unlikely to be elected to the council. At worst we should abstain.

I have never argued that we should change policies to secure a vote. What I have argued is that policies should be changed if they are ineffective or overdue for change, which is the case on a number of our votes on Middle East issues. We will do considerable damage to the more even-handed and reasonable policies we have been moving towards in the Middle East if we continue to vote against Palestinian statehood. This is also illogical because we support a two-state solution.

Middle Eastern diplomats outside Israel have depicted the present situation as like two people arguing over a pizza, but before the argument is resolved one side (Israel through the acceleration of its settlements program) has started to eat the pizza.

I do not think the security of Israel, which we rightly support strongly, is at issue. Israel's security needs to be underpinned by a negotiated two-state solution. Statehood itself can only result from a negotiated settlement, as all sides know.
This is a historic moment although it will not create a state, as the Palestinians themselves know. It does, however, reinforce their moral position and progress towards the accepted two-state solution.

We can and should win a seat on the Security Council. But I fear we will be defeated again, as we were in 1996, if we continue to vote against upgrading Palestinian representation, especially when it comes before the General Assembly. This will be a matter for regret and it will not be in our national interest.

Richard Woolcott, former head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was Australia's ambassador to the UN (1982-88) and represented Australia last time it was elected to the Security Council in 1985-86.


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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