25 December 2012


This wonderful video comes from Geoff Coupe's blog and should be able to help those who are unable to understand how to operate Windows 8. I think Geoff Coupe is surprised at those people who are complaining about this programme, but not everyone is computer literate and for some of us Windows 8 is totally incomprehensible!

22 December 2012


Dropbox is a very useful tool to enable you to share files and folders with everyone else.

However, when you have a problem and want to contact Dropbox for information on how a particular programme works, it is literally impossible to find out how to get any answers because they are not contactable.

If there is a solution to this ridiculous situation, I hope someone who knows will contact me and tell me how to send them a message, otherwise Dropbox is of no use to me and I will certainly make sure that I tell everyone else I know who is contemplating a cloud programme that dropbox is not the way to go!

12 December 2012


December 17th 2012 will be Bradley Manning's third birthday in prison without trial

Bradley's 25th birthday. Report from his attorney's first public presentation.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

Bradley's attorney praises public support, thanks 'truth-battalion'

In his presentation David Coombs acknowledges the importance of public support, and he affirmed that your ongoing support has made a real difference.

On December 3rd, David Coombs, Bradley's attorney, gave his first public presentation to an audience of over 100 at All Souls Church in Washington DC. In his speech, he acknowledged the importance of public support and the influence public pressure had in having Bradley moved from Quantico prison. He also acknowledged the difficulty Bradley faces with so much government opposition:

Bradley's attorney David Coombs.
Watch the presentation here:

"When I'm in the courtroom, I stand up and look to my right, and, I see the United States government. The United States government with all of its resources, all of its personnel, I see them standing against me and Brad. And I have to admit to you, that can be rather intimidating. And I was intimidated. Especially when the President of the United States says your client broke the law. Especially when congress members say your client deserves the death penalty.

I want to tell you though today as I stand here I'm no longer intimidated. I am not intimidated because when I stand up I know I'm not standing alone. I know I'm not alone because I turn around and I see the support behind me. I see members here today in the audience that are there every time we have a court hearing. I see what I am not going to affectionately call the 'truth batallion,' those who wear a black shirt. It has the word 'truth' on it, and they are behind me. And when I look there, I know that I also have unlimited personnel and unlimited resources."

View the Presentation. Donate now to the Bradley Manning defense fund. For more information about the defense fund click here.

December 17th will be Bradley Manning's third birthday in prison without trial Let Bradley know you care! Write him a letter of support for his 25th birthday - his third behind bars.

Bradley Manning will turn 25 on December 17th. It will be his third birthday in prison without trial. His court martial is scheduled for March, 2013.

Military whistle-blower Bradley Manning will turn 25 on December 17th.

It will be his third birthday in prison, and by the time his court martial begins it will have been almost three years in prison: one year of which in the Quantico marine brig, where he was held in solitary confinement against the recommendations of mental health professionals. His trial is scheduled to start next March, and he needs our support. Please take a few minutes to send Bradley a birthday message, and to send a gift to his Defense Fund.

Bradley can receive mail at the following address: Commander, HHC USAG Attn: PFC Bradley Manning 239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417 JBM-HH, VA 22211 Visit this link to read about mail restrictions.

Bradley's lawyer David Coombs recently spoke publicly for the first time. He said that Bradley is one of the smartest, most caring young men he's ever met, and he also talked about Bradley's future dreams and goals:

"And [Bradley] told me that his dream would be to go to college, go into public service, and perhaps one day, run for public office. And I asked Brad, why would he want to do that? And he said, 'I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in this world.'"

Please take some time before December 17 to show Bradley that you are thinking of him, and appreciate his efforts to hold US government officials accountable by informing the American public.

In addition to mailing him a birthday message and donating to his Defense Fund, you can also take a photo holding a "Happy birthday Bradley Manning!" sign and e-mail it to


We will compile photos to share on our website, and send them to Bradley as well.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.


Michael Leunig has long been a cartoonist of some controversy and has been the cause of passionate debates about his political directions.But as Michael himself says in his essay below, that is, in essence, what cartoonists are meant to do.

I well remember, in South Africa, during some of the worst periods of the previous apartheid regime [we now have a new black one, courtesy Jacob Zuma, current president!] that many of our favourite cartoonists were often in trouble because the government detested what they were looking at, mocking, deriding, and making fun of - if you can call making mincemeat of a police state fun - illustrating the excesses of the South African political rulers of the day.

And, of course, many of them were warned and threatened by President PW Botha and others before and after for drawing seditious cartoons which in their views would have supported uprisings and worse, revolutions of the most violent sort!

And just on the issue of Jacob Zuma, some of South Africa's current finest cartoonists are taking Zuma to task for his current excesses and he is very upset by the media who publish such cartoons, to say nothing of the cartoonists themselves, one of whom happens to be white, and Jewish.

Now, back to Michael Leunig and his having to defend himself against a morally bankrupt Melbourne and Australian Jewish community, who live in Australia, but like to call Israel home!

Many of us Jews in Australia who don't "TOE THE PARTY LINE" about zionism and its excesses in Israel against Palestine are called self-hating Jews, and the zionists also use their favourite epithet and call us anti-semites.

These days, of course, those who oppose the Israeli apartheid regime, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are labelled anti-semites, and it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic and a travesty of human rights and hatred.

Here is Michael Leunig's essay, which speaks for itself and many of us who support him and his right to draw things as he sees them

Just a cartoonist with a moral duty to speak

December 11, 2012 (The Age)
By Michael Leunig

The cartoonist's task is not to be balanced but to give balance.

SEVERAL years ago I was invited to speak at Melbourne's Jewish Museum on the subject of ''The cartoonist as society's conscience''. I gladly accepted but within a week was informed by the museum that the invitation had been withdrawn because of my views on Israel. Although I had been somewhat critical of aggressive Israeli government policies I had never publicly outlined my broad views on Israel and was puzzled by the cancellation and bemused by the gross irony of being excluded from a discussion about conscience because I had acted with conscience in my work.

Upon reflection I wondered if an internal philosophical disagreement lay behind this peculiar cancellation. Whatever, a door had been closed to me.

I relate this tale as a backdrop to more recent circumstances in which it has been publicly inferred that I am anti-Semitic because of a cartoon I created expressing sad dismay at the plight and suffering of the Palestinians in the recent bombardment of Gaza.

As a cartoonist I am not interested in defending the dominant, the powerful, the well-resourced and the well-armed because such groups are usually not in need of advocacy, moral support or sympathetic understanding; they have already organised sufficient publicity for themselves and prosecute their points of view with great efficiency.

The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society. And the cartoonist's task is not so much to be balanced as to give balance, particularly in situations of disproportionate power relationships such as we see in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a healthy tradition dating back to the court jester and beyond: to be the dissenting protesting voice that speaks when others cannot or will not.

My recent cartoon ("First they came for the Palestinians … ") was a lament based on the famous lines attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller that neatly highlight the way apathetic or frightened silence in the face of injustice is a dereliction of moral duty. It is interesting to note that Niemoller had been an active Nazi supporter but a decade after the war became a pacifist.

Although greatly valued in contemporary Jewish culture, the poem's message is universal and eternal; it could apply to any oppressed group, including the Palestinians who, even with their relatively feeble rockets, are so obviously oppressed.

In spite of all the highly organised rhetoric justifying Israel's actions, the intuitive, heartfelt moral shape of the situation is becoming clearer and more obvious to the world the longer the conflict goes on. When all is said and done, it looks like the Palestinians have been massively robbed and abused, and are engaged in a desperate struggle for survival and liberation. Israel on the other hand would appear to be conducting an imperialistic campaign of oppression supported and substantially armed by the most powerful nation on earth. My cartoonist's duty and conscience compel me to focus on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.

I am not against Israel but I am opposed to what I regard as its self-defeating, self-corrupting militarist policy, which is not only excessively homicidal and traumatising but sows the seeds of irreversible hatred and can never bring a lasting peace. One expects more from a prosperous democratic country. It's as if this young nation Israel has not yet come to maturity; so delinquent, irresponsible and unwise are its actions.

I sense that the Jewish community in this country is itself increasingly divided on the question. I also suspect that the more aggressive Israel supporters fear this moral unease and quiet doubt in their community and are angered by any cartoons or commentary that might encourage such doubt. In spite of what the bullies say, I suspect they are not really upset by any "anti-Semitism" in my cartoons (there is none) but by the possible impact of a cartoon on the doubters. The better the cartoon, the more it must be discredited. What cheaper way to discredit than the toxic smear of anti-Semitism.

I am not sure whether it is legal to publicly call someone an anti-Semite without evidence but it certainly feels like hate talk to me, as well as a damaging thing to say about someone who does not agree with you. That's often why it is said of course. At my advanced age, I know I am not an anti-Semite, not even vaguely or remotely, but others would seem to know better as false accusers always do. If only there was some sort of test I could sit for to clarify the situation, but there is no science to this obsessive and vapid denunciation. It's cynical, it's bullying and it's lazy. Stupidly, it's also a case of the boys who cry wolf.

Over the years it has been implied that I am "a second degree anti-Semite", "a new-world anti-Semite" and a "latent anti-Semite" as well as a simple old-fashioned common or garden anti-Semite. I now learn to my amazement that to make comparisons between Israeli policy and any Nazi behaviour is in itself an anti-Semitic act. So much for free speech. I say all nations that throw their military weight around, occupying neighbouring lands and treating the residents with callous and humiliating disregard are already sliding towards the dark possibilities in human nature.

My cartoons have also had me labelled a misogynist, a blasphemer, a homophobe, a royalist, a misanthrope and a traitor, to name but a few. I would sum it all up by saying: I am a cartoonist.

Michael Leunig is an Age cartoonist.


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is 80 years old but it still has a great deal to learn.

It is now doing promos to death for each new show coming on, and despite complaints this ghastly process still continues.

To introduce its nightly news bulletin it tells its viewers "ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS!" - people who have turned it on for the news know the news is about to begin, but NO!!! - the ABC has to tell all us morons - "ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS!"

For years we have been telling the ABC that their radio promos are drowned out by background music, and it is now even happening with such people as Marion Arnold on ABC Classic FM but she is just one who is being drowned out by the music over!

There are many examples of how the ABC is run, but with someone like Mark Scott who came from print media to the ABC - the print media being that execrable stable the Fairfax media - we can't expect anything other than a backward political disaster created by federal governments of all hues some decades ago, and deteriorating ever since.

Since SBS has refused to stop its in-between advertising on all its shows, we were left with the ABC as the only so-called advert free free-to-air station, but it has been becoming more and more unwatchable, unlistenable, and so right-wing reactionary that it is appalling.

In addition, so many programmes are now repeats - what is the point of it all?

11 December 2012


Rupert Murdoch controls a large quantity of the western media, and as a consequence he influences the thinking of many people who don't have deeply committed views on a range of issues, from politics to economics and other items of everyday living such as education and health.

His media also have very set ideas of what their lord and master requires of them and they set out to ensure his beliefs are allowed to dominate his media at the expense of truth, honesty, integrity, ant-discrimination and most of the issues which are our daily lives.

When it comes to political matters such as Israel and Palestine, it is not too difficult to guess on which side of the divide Murdoch and his media lie, to coin an apt word!

There is a blog which I look at on a daily basis and a few days ago, this blog had a whole posting on what Murdoch's newspaper, the Australian, was writing about an item at Sydney University which had become very controversial because it dealt with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions call by Palestinian groups to garner support for their ongoing campaign against Israeli oppression.

Because of the articles in the paper, people wrote letters with their views on the topic, and the following sentence from one of the letters published on 8 December 2012 shows how far conditioning by the media has gone that people could write in this manner:

Australians should be concerned by the unconscionable indoctrination of our young, who are largely unaware of the manipulations to which they are being subjected.

If anything shows unconscionable indoctrination and manipulations it is the whole of the Murdoch media, and it will only get worse because our media and educational institutions are part of this pathetic attempt to leave people in ignorance Aand to stop them being able to think for themselves.

03 December 2012


The abuse of power in the United States of America grows apace, and some of the articles to be posted on this page give a clear picture of Obama's dictatorial actions in his treatment of Bradley Manning and his threats against Julian Assange.

Bradley Manning's abusive and inhumane treatment by the Obama regime is not very different from George W Bush's Abu Ghraib - but Quantico is in the USA and Bradley Manning is a serving soldier in the US Army!

Bradley's first testimony in court: On unlawful pretrial punishment at Quantico.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

Bradley Manning takes the stand, details months of abuse

Nine months in solitary ordered by brig command against the recommendations of three mental health professionals. David Coombs to speak in Washington, DC on December 3rd, and talk to be broadcast by CSPAN.

Bradley Manning took the stand for the first time this week at the motions hearings addressing his unlawful pretrial punishment at Quantico prison. Three mental health professionals who evaluated Bradley during his nine month detention in the Quantico brig, revealed that Bradley Manning posed little to no risk and that their ongoing recommendations to remove Bradley from the aggravating and abusive conditions were ignored by the brig command.

Further, testimony by Quantico officers revealed that while brig officials claimed to be isolating Bradley due to his mental health, that in reality the high profile nature of the case, and a prior suicide at Quantico brig, had resulted in a highly sensitive environment where senior officers gave directives to have Bradley Manning held in an extreme "Prevention of Injury" (POI) status throughout his stay. This directive led to the unheard of situation where brig commanders ignored the recommendations of the mental health professionals, and left Bradley Manning to endure nine months in solitary, segregated, conditions that a psychiatrist associated with interrogation techniques harsher than the treatment he had seen given to deathrow inmates.

Further, officials deceived Bradley as to the reasons he was being kept in segregated POI status. Bradley's calls to improve his situation were ignored by the military command, and it was revealed that Quantico commanders colluded to block an independant review of his conditions.

Supporters out in the rain during the November 27th Protest at Fort Meade

In defending the Quantico command decisions to keep Bradley Manning isolated in Prevention of Injury status, officers attempted to portray normal behaviors as being erratic - such as that he would dance in his cell and make faces in a mirror.

Bradley took the stand Thursday, testifying that yes indeed he danced in his cell as there was little else he could do. He was not permitted to lean his back against the walls of his cell during day hours, nor was he allowed to exercise in it. Dancing was however not a prohibited activity and it allowed him to move around.

Bradley also testified that yes, indeed, he spend a lot of time looking in the mirror as "it was the most interesting thing in his cell." Considering that he was not permitted to communicate with people or do anything else, three mental health professionals testified that this behavior was not only normal, but healthy, and that Bradley did a remarkable job enduring such a prolongued and abusive incarceration.

It was also revealed that the Quantico brig was ill prepared for long term pretrial confinement as it lacked the necessary staff to handle Bradley's detainment, and that in fact, it was not prepared to handle any detainee for longer than three months. Contrasts were drawn against other prisons, such as Ft. Leavenworth where Bradley was eventually transfered, where keeping prisoners isolated for so long was unheard of, and completely against regulation.

Reporting from the Courtroom - click on each item below the date to read the item

November 27th

"Military feared independent reviews of Bradley’s treatment"

November 28th

"Quantico psychiatrist says Bradley treated worse than death row"

November 29th.

"Bradley takes the stand to describe abuse, brig deception"

Watch the report from Democracy Now!

Exclusive presentation by Bradley's attorney

Washington DC. December 3rd

Talk will be broadcast on CSPAN and live streamed at www.bradleymanning.org December 3, 2012
Washington, DC
6pm doors/refreshments - 7pm event
All Souls Church Unitarian
1500 Harvard Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009
(2 blocks from the Columbia Hts Metro Station, Yellow/Green lines; also near the S2, S4, H8 and 42 bus lines)

On December 3, 2012, Army PFC Bradley Manning’s civilian defense lawyer David Coombs will make his first ever public appearance to provide an overview of pending defense motions before the court and other facts regarding U.S. v. Manning. Mr. Coombs is expected to focus on the unlawful pretrial punishment that PFC Manning was subjected to for nine months while at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia – the subject of international outrage and a UN investigation.


This article appeared in The Age newspaper on 3 DECEMBER 2012:

Whistleblower's treatment exposes dark side of Obama

December 3, 2012
By Glenn Greenwald

America's behaviour towards Bradley Manning is revealing.

Wikileaks suspect testifies at hearing

US army private Bradley Manning, takes the stand at his trial, where he faces suspicion of leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks website.

More video:

The Wikileaks Whistleblower

• The Bradley Manning story, watch the 20-minute mini-documentary on .tv

OVER the past 2½ years, all of which he has spent in a military prison, much has been said about Bradley Manning, but nothing has been heard from him. That changed late last week, when the 23-year-old US army private, who is accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, testified at his court martial about the conditions of his detention.

The oppressive, borderline-torturous measures he endured, including prolonged solitary confinement and forced nudity, have been known for some time. A formal UN investigation denounced them as ''cruel and inhuman''. President Barack Obama's State Department spokesman, retired air force colonel P.J. Crowley, resigned after condemning Manning's treatment. A prison psychologist testified last week that Manning's conditions were more damaging than those found on death row, or at Guantanamo Bay.

Barack Obama ... his treatment of Manning a "disgrace". Photo: Reuters Still, hearing the accused whistleblower's description of this abuse in his own words viscerally conveyed its horror.

''If I needed toilet paper I would stand to attention and shout: 'Detainee Manning requests toilet paper!','' Manning said. And: ''I was authorised to have 20 minutes' sunshine, in chains, every 24 hours.'' Early in his detention, he recalled, ''I had pretty much given up. I thought I was going to die in this eight-by-eight animal cage.''

The repressive treatment of Manning is one of the disgraces of Obama's first term and highlights many of the dynamics shaping his presidency. He not only defended Manning's treatment, but also, as commander-in-chief of the court martial judges, improperly decreed Manning's guilt when he asserted that he ''broke the law''.

Bradley Manning. Photo: AP

Worse, Manning is charged not only with disclosing classified information but of ''aiding the enemy'', for which the death penalty can be imposed (military prosecutors are seeking ''only'' life in prison).

The US government's radical theory is that, although Manning had no intent to do so, the leaked information could have helped al-Qaeda, a theory that essentially equates any disclosure of classified information - by any whistleblower or a newspaper - with treason.

Whatever one thinks of Manning's alleged acts, he appears the classic whistleblower. This information could have been sold for substantial sums to a foreign government or a terrorist group. Instead he apparently knowingly risked his liberty to show them to the world because - he said when he believed he was speaking in private - he wanted to start ''worldwide discussion, debates and reforms''.

Compare the aggressive prosecution of Manning to the US administration's vigorous efforts to shield Bush-era war crimes and massive Wall Street fraud from legal accountability. Not a single perpetrator of those crimes has faced court under Obama, a comparison that reflects the priorities and values of US justice.

Then there's the behaviour of Obama's loyalists.

Ever since I first reported the conditions of Manning's detention in December 2010, many of them not only cheered that abuse but grotesquely ridiculed concerns about it. Joy-Ann Reid, a former Obama press aide and now a contributor on the progressive network MSNBC, sadistically mocked the report: ''Bradley Manning has no pillow?????''. With that, she echoed one of the most extreme right-wing websites, RedState, which identically mocked the report: ''Give Bradley Manning his pillow and blankie back.'' They hold themselves out as adversarial watchdogs, but nothing provokes the animosity of establishment journalists more than someone who challenges government actions.

Typifying this mentality was a CNN interview on Thursday night with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It was to focus on documents revealing secret efforts by US officials to pressure financial institutions to block WikiLeaks' funding, a form of extra-legal punishment that should concern everyone, particularly journalists.

But the CNN host was uninterested. Instead she tried to get Assange to condemn the press policies of Ecuador, a tiny country that exerts no influence. To the mavens of the US press, Assange and Manning are enemies to be scorned because they did the job that the press refuses to do: namely, bring transparency to the bad acts of the US government and its allies.

Manning has bestowed the world with multiple vital benefits. But as his court martial finally reaches its conclusion, one likely to result in a long prison term, it appears his greatest gift is this window into America's political soul.

Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for The Guardian.


World AIDS day has been and gone but you wouldn't have noticed anything out of the ordinary from the Federal government.

During the past year it has been noticeable how in the federal parliament when parliamentarians are shown, they have more often than not -symbolic only, of course - worn something or other in their lapels or on their garments to indicate their "theoretical" support for an issue of "national" importance.

For World AIDS Day, despite statistics showing that the numbers of new infections had risen beyond what is reasonable in 2012 considering that educational programmes have been around for well over 25 years, the federal government totally ignored the Day! Even Obama managed to recognise the event, despite the United States' appalling record locally and internationally on HIV/AIDS support.

The current Australian parliament, and in this respect I mean all politicians of all flavours, left -ha ha ha -, right and centre - well left of extreme right ignored World AIDS Day as if the issue was irrelevant in this country.

When the next out-of-control disaster occurs, Australia will be less prepared than many countries with very poor infrastructures and resources, but who are aware of the daily HIV rates and their ongoing crisis figures.

Here is the World AIDS clock which gives a picture of the ongoing unfolding crises:


To find out the number of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, click on the above link

02 December 2012


The latest attack by Israel on Gaza and the United Nations approval of Palestine to have observer status at the UN has produced some dramatic results which the zionists seem not to have anticipated.

The facts on the ground are that there is more and more opposition to Israel and the zionists than there has ever been before, and there are signs that young people in the United States are no longer following their elders blindly into unthinking support for the US support of the state of Israel and the loud cries of AIPAC to make them toe the "party line"!.

In Australia the latest outcry from the zionists and the rabid religious right fundamentalist rabbis and their supporters such as the Australian Jewish News aka the Israeli zionist times is because of some recent cartoonists such as Leunig and Petty.

They are now labelled with that catch-all cry "ANTI-SEMITES!".

Here are the three cartoons at the centre of the argument and here are some Jewish commentators:

From the Australian jewish news aka Israel Zionist times:

The Age defends cartoons

November 30, 2012

THE editor-in-chief of The Age has defended a series of cartoons published over the last week, one of which the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) labelled as “virulent hate-speech”, that have outraged the Melbourne Jewish community.

A cartoon by Michael Leunig last Wednesday (see the first cartoon above) adapted German pastor Martin Niemoeller’s famous “First they came for the Jews” statement about the apathy of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power, changing it to “First they came for the Palestinians”.

The cartoon then states: “I did not speak out because if I did, doors would close to me, hateful mail would arrive, bitterness and spiteful condemnations would follow.”

ADC chairperson Dvir Abramovich said the cartoon “crossed the line”, using anti-Semitic words and themes.

“‘They’ of course referred to the Nazis. In Leunig’s cartoon, however, it is the Israelis who are the Nazis,” he said. “Leunig’s second anti-Semitic theme [is] that anyone who supports the Palestinians will immediately be besieged by the all-powerful Jewish lobby. This is the kind of hateful rhetoric you would expect on anti-Semitic websites, not The Age.”

A second Leunig cartoon on Saturday (see second cartoon above)portrayed a character – presumably Jewish – at Mount Sinai receiving the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” before shooting both Moses and God dead, then standing on the mountain wearing God’s crown. Then a Bruce Petty cartoon on Monday, November 26, (third cartoon above)showed a boat of Palestinians with the banner “The Right of Return – UN” approaching a heavily fortified and armed Israel flying the banner “The Right to be Here – Bible”.

“This not only ignores the unquestionable fact that the UN created the modern Jewish State, but also overlooks thousands of years of Jewish history in the Land of Israel,” Abramovich said.

Defending the cartoons, Age editor-in-chief Andrew Holden said the cartoonists were all “very experienced, and well aware of the sensitivities around Middle East politics”.

“However, they are also entitled to express their personal opinions, even if these are challenging.”

But Abramovich said there was a “clear moral difference” between something that was challenging and something that was racist. “The same applies to something that is a lie. I strongly suggest that editors have a responsibility to their readers to prevent both of the foregoing,” he added.


From the age newspaper 301112

Leunig's cartoon deserves a more thoughtful Jewish response

November 30, 2012
By Harold Zwier

The power of a cartoon lies in the many ways it can be interpreted.

ON NOVEMBER 21, The Age published a cartoon by Michael Leunig which commented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The device Leunig used was a parody of the famous poem by Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller about the need to be vocal when one sees a wrong - even if not directly affected by it.

First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

There are variations to the poem and it seems it was first used in speeches Niemoller gave in 1946. In Leunig's cartoon there are four frames to match the four stanzas of the original poem. There is an almost universal view in the leadership of the Victorian Jewish community that Leunig's cartoon is anti-Semitic. The media release from the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission quoted chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich presenting the following arguments to support that claim.

'''First they came …' introduces a celebrated statement attributed to German pastor Martin Niemoller about the apathy of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and their gradual elimination of certain groups. 'They' of course referred to the Nazis. In Leunig's cartoon, however, it is the Israelis who are the Nazis.

''And Leunig's second anti-Semitic theme? That anyone who supports the Palestinians will immediately be besieged by the all-powerful Jewish lobby, similarly jackbooted, treading on all who oppose them, closing doors in their faces, spiteful, hateful and bitter. In Leunig's black-and-white world, Palestinian/Arab/Muslim lobby groups are muzzled and The Age would never dare to publish an article (or cartoon) critical of Israel.''

My reaction to the cartoon was very different. The power of a cartoon is in the many ways in which it can be interpreted. Once the cartoon is in the public domain it lives its own life - as indeed does Niemoller's poem. My comments should therefore be understood to reflect a personal view.

That Leunig comes to his cartoon with the perspective of a Palestinian supporter merely sets the scene. The baseline of the cartoon is that Palestinians are always the victims. We know this isn't a universal truth, but the cartoon isn't a balanced dissertation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - it's a cartoon. It uses exaggeration to tell us something.

The parody of Niemoller's language is playful: ''First they came for the Palestinians … Then they came for more … '' And in this respect Leunig can be criticised - or maybe he is being self-critical. Is he being too playful about the plight of the Palestinians in complaining overtly about silence as a form of tacit acceptance and covertly that publicly criticising Israeli treatment of Palestinians will be met with anger - from ''the all-powerful Jewish lobby'', to quote Dr Abramovich?

However the cartoon is also clever, because the reaction of the Jewish community as articulated in the Anti-Defamation Commission media release is in fact encapsulated within the cartoon. As Leunig said, ''bitterness and spiteful condemnations would follow'', duly obliged by Dr Abramovich in his comments. And so the Jewish community has been wedged. A more thoughtful response might have been to silently reflect on the sometimes appalling and disgraceful level of the debate about the conflict - and not just from one side. However, the genuinely held perception of anti-Semitism mandated a public response.

The Jewish community is a wonderful community, but sometimes I wish it was a little less weighed down by its collective memory and a little more informed by it. Sigh.

Perhaps, in the end, we might ask whether the cartoon is really about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or in fact about the conflict between the Jewish community and Leunig. It's all a question of perception and interpretation - the power of the cartoon.

Harold Zwier is on the executive of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.


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