Australian Pests

Discussion with Aussie work mates last night moved to the subject of possums, and they being a pest in NZ. Can’t remember why we were talking about that. Anyway, it got me thinking this AM, and here is the result:


The possum is high on cuteness, and equally high in nuisance value. The Possum in tree.  Photo: Rod Morris/DOC.Australian brush tailed possum was introduced into New Zealand in 1837 to establish a fur trade.

In its native land the possum is up against dingoes, bush fires and less palatable vegetation, but in New Zealand conditions are so favourable it often breeds twice in one year. It is estimated that the New Zealand possum population now tops 70 million and chomps its way through seven million tonnes of vegetation per year.

The above link also describes eradication techniques.
I wonder if these work on other Australian pests? There are some links at the bottom about poisoning too. Very useful……

Other links useful to getting rid of Aussies, er, Possums:


Other Aussies in NZ:



— Fun to shoot and hang from power lines along the route from Hastings to Palmerston North – the Hawkes Bay NPC team is called The Magpies.
  – May be they were just pissed? Pretty common in Melbourne on a Saturday night.

Australian Sedge — NZ Cows say it tastes like shit. Aussie cows know no different.

Sedge Picture




Israelis use Phosphorus and cluster bombs on Lebanese Civilians.

Reported in the Guardian as part of a different column:

Israel has been accused of pursuing a scorched-earth policy in the region, using aerial weapons and phosphorus shells in a manner human rights organisations claim is in breach of international law.

As Lebanese medical staff reported that an Israeli air strike had killed a woman and her six children in a house in the southern village of Nmeiriya, western diplomats in Beirut admitted they were ‘baffled’ by Israel’s targeting policy. Ambulances, refugee columns and civilian homes, infrastructure and UN posts have all been hit – and evidence has begun to emerge that civilians may have suffered phosphorus burns.

Footage has also emerged of the increasingly widespread use of cluster munitions in areas with civilian inhabitants. Concern has been further heightened by the delivery to Israel by the US of at least 100 GBU-28 ‘bunker-buster’ bombs containing depleted uranium warheads for use against targets in Lebanon.

Human rights organisations are also examining whether Israel’s ‘order’ for hundreds of thousands of Lebanese residents south of the Litani river to abandon their homes is a breach of international law and UN conventions.

A field researcher from the American based Human Rights Watch (HRW), Lucy Mair, sent pictures to military experts at the organisation’s New York office of munitions being transported to Israel’s northern border and fired into Lebanon from howitzers. She was shocked to discover they were cluster munitions.

Mair said researchers on the other side of the border documented an attack using the munitions on the village of Blida last week which killed one person and injured 12 and that the explosives – which disperse after impact – are ‘inaccurate and unreliable’, and should not be used in populated areas.

Mair, who heads HRW’s Jerusalem office, said a disturbing picture was emerging of the use of weapons, fired from air and land, which pointed at best to a lack of due care regarding civilian life and at worst to the direct targeting of civilians.

‘The overwhelming impression is that time and time and again civilians are attacked and only civilian infrastructure is targeted. In cases of civilian casualties our investigators have studied, they have not been able to find the presence of Hizbollah rockets or launchers – only civilian targets,’ she said.

The group believes the use of cluster munitions in populated areas may violate the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law. Critics say the law of war requires a distinction between soldiers and civilians, so when an army is using an outdated, unreliable weapon in a populated area it is likely the attack will violate international law.

Regarding reports that Israel was intentionally trying to depopulate a large swathe of territory in the south, Mair said: ‘It’s hard for us to speak about this. But given there is such a massive displacement, it’s difficult to imagine a situation where the population can move back.’

There have also been reports in Lebanon that Israel is using phosphorus munitions, with doctors reporting burn wounds to civilians. Israel has commented that it believes that it has used its weapons legally.

Guardian Unlimited: Israelis withdraw from Hizbollah border stronghold,,1833618,00.html

John Pilger – Empire: war and propaganda

The US role in supporting Israel’s military assault on Lebanon falls into a pattern of imperial tyranny, where history is rewritten to suit America’s needs while Europe stands cravenly by.

John Pilger provides a personal assessment from Washington.

The National Museum of American History is part of the celebrated Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Surrounded by mock Graeco-Roman edifices with their soaring Corinthian columns, rampant eagles and chiselled profundities, it is at the centre of Empire, though the word itself is engraved nowhere. This is understandable, as the likes of Hitler and Mussolini were proud imperialists, too: on a “great mission to rid the world of evil”, as President Bush has also said.

One of the museum’s exhibitions is called “The Price of Freedom: Americans at war”. In the spirit of Santa’s Magic Grotto, this travesty of revisionism helps us understand how silence and omission are so successfully deployed in free, media-saturated societies. The shuffling lines of ordinary people, many of them children, are dispensed the vainglorious message that America has always “built freedom and democracy” – notably at Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the atomic bombing saved “a million lives”, and in Vietnam where America’s crusaders were “determined to stop communist expansion”, and in Iraq where the same true hearts “employed air strikes of unprecedented precision”.

The words “invasion” and “controversial” make only fleeting appearances; there is no hint that the “great mission” has overseen, since 1945, the attempted overthrow of 50 governments, many of them democracies, along with the crushing of popular movements struggling against tyranny and the bombing of 30 countries, causing the loss of countless lives. In central America, in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s arming and training of gangster-armies saw off 300,000 people; in Guatemala, this was described by the UN as genocide. No word of this is uttered in the Grotto. Indeed, thanks to such displays, Americans can venerate war, comforted by the crimes of others and knowing nothing about their own.

In Santa’s Grotto, there is no place for Howard Zinn’s honest People’s History of the United States, or I F Stone’s revelation of the truth of what the museum calls “the forgotten war” in Korea, or Mark Twain’s definition of patriotism as the need to keep “multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries”. Moreover, at the Price of Freedom Shop, you can buy US Army Monopoly, and a “grateful nation blanket” for just $200. The exhibition’s corporate sponsors include Sears, Roebuck, the mammoth retailer. The point is taken.

To understand the power of indoctrination in free societies is also to understand the subversive power of the truth it suppresses. During the Blair era in Britain, precocious revisionists of Empire have been embraced by the pro-war media. Inspired by America’s Messianic claims of “victory” in the cold war, their pseudo-histories have sought not only to hose down the blood slick of slavery, plunder, famine and genocide that was British imperialism (“the Empire was an exemplary force for good”: Andrew Roberts) but also to rehabilitate Gladstonian convictions of superiority and promote “the imposition of western values”, as Niall Ferguson puts it.

Ferguson relishes “values”, an unctuous concept that covers both the barbarism of the imperial past and today’s ruthless, rigged “free” market. The new code for race and class is “culture”. Thus, the enduring, piratical campaign by the rich and powerful against the poor and weak, especially those with natural resources, has become a “clash of civilisations”. Since Francis Fukuyama wrote his drivel about “the end of history” (since recanted), the task of the revisionists and mainstream journalism has been to popularise the “new” imperialism, as in Ferguson’s War of the World series for Channel 4 and his frequent soundbites on the BBC. In this way, the public is “softened up” for the rapacious invasion of countries on false pretences, including a not unlikely nuclear attack on Iran, and the ascent in Washington of an executive dictatorship, as called for by Vice-President Cheney. So imminent is the latter that a supine Congress will almost certainly reverse the Supreme Court’s recent decision to outlaw the Guantanamo kangaroo courts. The judge who wrote the majority opinion – in a high court Bush himself stacked – sounded his alarm through this seminal quotation of James Madison: “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether her editary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

The catastrophe in the Middle East is a product of such an imperial tyranny. It is clearly a US-ordained operation, with the long-planned assault on Gaza and the destruction of Leba non pretexts for a wider campaign with the goal of installing American puppets in Lebanon, Syria and eventually Iran. “The pay-off time has come,” wrote the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe; “now the proxy should salvage the entangled Empire.”

The attendant propaganda – the abuse of language and eternal hypocrisy – has reached its nadir in recent weeks. An Israeli soldier belonging to an invasion force was captured and held, legitimately, as a prisoner of war. Reported as a “kidnapping”, this set off yet more slaughter of Palestinian civilians. The seizure of two Palestinian civilians two days before the capture of the soldier was of no interest. Neither was the incarceration of thousands of Palestinian hostages in Israeli prisons, and the torture of many of them, as documented by Amnesty. The kidnapped soldier story cancelled any serious inquiry into Israel’s plans to reinvade Gaza, from which it had staged a phoney withdrawal. The fact and meaning of Hamas’s self-imposed 16-month ceasefire were lost in inanities about “recognising Israel”, along with Israel’s state of terror in Gaza – the dropping of a 500lb bomb on a residential block, the firing of as many as 9,000 heavy artillery shells into one of the most densely populated places on earth and the nightly terrorising with sonic booms.

“I want nobody to sleep at night in Gaza,” declared the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, as children went out of their minds. In their defence, the Palestinians fired a cluster of Qassam missiles and killed eight Israelis: enough to ensure Israel’s victimhood on the BBC; even Jeremy Bowen struck a shameful “balance”, referring to “two narratives”. The historical equivalent is not far from that of the Nazi bombardment and starvation of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto. Try to imagine that described as “two narratives”.

Watching this unfold in Washington – I am staying in a hotel taken over by evangelical “Christians for Israel” apparently seeking rapture – I have heard only the crudest colonial refrain and no truth. Hezbollah, drone America’s journalistic caricatures, is “armed and funded by Syria and Iran”, and so they beckon an attack on those countries, while remaining silent about America’s $3bn-a-day gift of planes and small arms and bombs to a state whose international lawlessness is a registered world record. There is never mention that, just as the rise of Hamas was a response to the atrocities and humiliations the Palestinians have suffered for half a century, so Hezbollah was formed only as a defence against Ariel Sharon’s murderous invasion of Lebanon in 1982 which left 22,000 people dead. There is never mention that Israel intervenes at will, illegally and brutally, in the remaining 22 per cent of historic Palestine, having demolished 11,000 homes and walled off people from their farmlands, and families, and hospitals, and schools. There is never mention that the threat to Israel’s existence is a canard, and the true enemy of its people is not the Arabs, but Zionism and an imperial America that guarantees the Jewish state as the antithesis of humane Judaism.

Government silence

The epic injustice done to the Palestinians is the heart of the matter. While European governments (with the honourable exception of the Swiss) have remained craven, it is only Hezbollah that has come to the Palestinians’ aid. How truly shaming. There is no media “narrative” of the Palestinians’ heroic stand during two uprisings, and with slingshots and stones most of the time. Israel’s murders of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall have left them utterly alone. Neither is the silence of governments all that is shocking. On a major BBC programme, Maureen Lipman, a Jew and promoter of selective good causes, is allowed to say, without serious challenge, that “human life is not cheap to the Israelis, and human life on the other side is quite cheap actually . . .”

Let Lipman see the children of Gaza laid out after an Israeli bombing run, their parents petrified with grief. Let her watch as a young Palestinian woman – and there have been many of them – screams in pain as she gives birth in the back seat of a car at night at an Israeli roadblock, having been wilfully refused right of passage to a hospital. Then let Lipman watch the child’s father carry his newborn across freezing fields until it turns blue and dies.

I think Orwell got it right in this passage from Nineteen Eighty-Four, a tale of the ultimate empire:

“And in the general hardening of outlook that set in . . . practices which had been long abandoned – imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions . . . and the deportation of whole populations – not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive.”

John Pilger’s new book, “Freedom Next Time”, is published by Bantam Press (£17.99)
New Statesman – Empire: war and propaganda

John Pilger, Monday 31st July 2006

Kidnapped in Israel or Captured in Lebanon?

As a follow up to my note in the previous post that the Israeli soldiers were “kidnapped” in Lebanon, not Israel as the Israeli’s claim, here is an interesting article that analyzes the question properly:

Official justification for Israel’s invasion on thin ice
Article By Joshua Frank – Jul 26 2006

Article image As Lebanon continues to be pounded by Israeli bombs and munitions, the justification for Israel’s invasion is treading on very thin ice. It has become general knowledge that it was Hezbollah guerillas that first kidnapped two IDF soldiers inside Israel on July 12, prompting an immediate and violent response from the Israeli government, which insists it is acting in the interest of national defense.

Israeli forces have gone on to kill over 370 innocent Lebanese civilians (compared to 34 killed on Israel’s side) while displacing hundreds of thousands more. But numerous reports from international and independent media, as well as the Associated Press, raise questions about Israel’s official version of the events that sparked the conflict two weeks ago.

The original story, as most media tell it, goes something like this: Hezbollah attacked an Israeli border patrol station, killing six and taking two soldiers hostage. The incident happened on the Lebanese/Israel border in Israeli territory. The alternate version, as explained by several news outlets, tells a bit of a different tale: These sources contend that Israel sent a commando force into southern Lebanon and was subsequently attacked by Hezbollah near the village of Aitaa al-Chaab, well inside Lebanon’s southern territory. It was at this point that an Israel tank was struck by Hezbollah fighters, which resulted in the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the death of six.

As the AFP reported, “According to the Lebanese police force, the two Israeli soldiers were captured in Lebanese territory, in the area of Aitaa al-Chaab, near to the border with Israel, where an Israeli unit had penetrated in middle of morning.” And the French news site reiterated the same account on June 18, “In a deliberated way, Israel sent a commando in the Lebanese back-country to Aitaa al-Chaab. It was attacked by Hezbollah, taking two prisoners.”

The Associated Press departed from the official version as well. “The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them,” reported Joseph Panossian for AP on July 12. “The forces were trying to keep the soldiers’ captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity.”

And the Hindustan Times on July 12 conveyed a similar account:

“The Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah movement announced on Wednesday that its guerrillas have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon. ‘Implementing our promise to free Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, our strugglers have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon,’ a statement by Hezbollah said. ‘The two soldiers have already been moved to a safe place,’ it added. The Lebanese police said that the two soldiers were captured as they ‘infiltrated’ into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border.”

Whether factual or not, these alternative accounts should at the very least raise serious questions as to Israel’s motives and rationale for bombarding Lebanon.

MSNBC online first reported that Hezbollah had captured Israeli soldiers “inside” Lebanon, only to change their story hours later after the Israeli government gave an official statement to the contrary.

A report from The National Council of Arab Americans, based in Lebanon, also raised suspicion that Israel’s official story did not hold water and noted that Israel had yet to recover the tank that was demolished during the initial attack in question.

“The Israelis so far have not been able to enter Aitaa al-Chaab to recover the tank that was exploded by Hezbollah and the bodies of the soldiers that were killed in the original operation (this is a main indication that the operation did take place on Lebanese soil, not that in my opinion it would ever be an illegitimate operation, but still the media has been saying that it was inside ‘Israel’ thus an aggression first started by Hezbollah).”

Before independent observers could organize an investigation of the incident, Israel had already mounted a grisly offensive against Lebanese infrastructure and civilians, bombing Beirut’s international airport, along with numerous highways and communication portals. Israel didn’t need the truth of the matter to play out before it invaded Lebanon. As with the United States’ illegitimate invasion of Iraq, Israel just needed the proper media cover to wage a war with no genuine moral impetus.

GNN contributor Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh’s blog at

Independent News Portal COAnews: : Kidnapped in Israel or Captured in Lebanon?

Myths of the Israeli attack on Lebanon

Crossing red lines, The Guardian, 24 July 2006:

Israel and Hizbollah have identical objectives: both are targeting economic and military assets with careless disregard for civilians.

Jonathan Cook, The Guardian

July 24, 2006

Two myths are taking root as the carnage mounts in Israel and Lebanon. The first is that, while Israel is doing its best to target “terrorists” and fight a clean war, Hizbullah is interested only in killing Israeli civilians with its rockets and in endangering Lebanese innocents by hiding among them. The second myth claims that Israel’s current bombardment was triggered not simply by Hizbullah’s attack on an army post on July 12, in which three soldiers were killed and two captured, but by an unprovoked barrage of rockets from the Shiite militia on Israeli towns.

Both ideas are shaping the British government’s understanding of current events, including that of Foreign Office minister Kim Howells as he tours the region. However, there is little evidence that Hizbullah is acting any worse, or better, than Israel in the confrontation between them.

Regarding the first proposition, the casualty figures alone should be grounds for refuting claims by Israel that it is taking the moral high ground. The bombardment of Lebanon has been paid for mostly in the blood of Lebanese civilians, not Hizbullah fighters. If Mr Howells’ suggestion yesterday is right that Hizbullah is hiding among the Lebanese population, why then are civilians the ones being found amid the rubble left by Israeli air strikes?

Examining the same statistics, one might infer, conversely, that Hizbullah, not Israel, is trying to keep the war on a military footing. For every Israeli civilian killed in a rocket strike, an Israeli soldier is paying with his life on the battlefield. But in truth, the two sides have almost identical objectives. Both are seeking to weaken the other side by targeting its economic and military assets, with careless disregard for the toll on civilians. Israel is doing a better job on all counts because it has far superior firepower.

The fact that Hizbullah’s rockets are not precision-guided should not lead us to conclude that they are entirely inaccurate or random. It is clear from the main targets Hizbullah is selecting that its priority is to hit sensitive sites: Haifa, the economic hub of the north, its satellite towns, as well as military installations that are dotted across the Galilee.

In a limited sense, that strategy has been successful: many Israelis have fled Haifa, forcing the closure of its port and commercial and financial centres for more than a week, as well as other northern cities like Karmiel, Safed and Nahariya. That is a significant dent to the Israeli economy, though not on the scale of the damage inflicted on Lebanon.

Even the most problematic Hizbullah strike, one that killed two Muslim children in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth last week, is not quite as it appears. Although it was of little consolation to the residents here, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah used a rare televised appearance immediately afterwards to apologise for the deaths.

Not only did his words of regret confound those commentators, including the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who have claimed that the Shiite militia wants to kill Christians in the Holy Land – Nasrallah, unlike many in our media, knows the city is mainly Muslim – but the apology also confirmed that the strike was intended for a target other than Nazareth.

Local inhabitants did not doubt that. They understand too that Israeli media reports that Hizbullah has repeatedly hit areas near Nazareth’s neighbour, the mixed Jewish and Arab city of Upper Nazareth, are glossing over the facts. Close by both Nazareths is a major weapons factory that Hizbullah has clearly identified and is trying to strike. Many of the other sites Hizbullah has been targeting on a regular basis are military. Its chances of damaging these fortified positions are low, but it is striking at them nonetheless. It may be hoping to send a deterrent signal that, if it knows where Israel’s military Achilles’ heels are to be found, so do its patrons, Syria and Iran.

No doubt in the balance of terror it aspires to with Israel, Hizbullah is happy to trumpet the death toll it is inflicting on its southern neighbour. But there is no reason to assume Nasrallah’s tactics are any more ignoble than Israel’s. In another irony, Israel has located many of its military installations in the north close to population centres, including Arab towns and villages. Mr Howells, it should be noted, is not suggesting that the Israeli army is “hiding” its arsenals among Israeli civilians.

As for the second claim, there appears to be a growing confusion about the chronology of this war. Observers forget that Hizbullah did not begin by firing on the distant targets of Haifa, Tiberias and Afula. It was Israel that started the pounding of civilian areas in Lebanon. Israel’s severe response was launched on the same day, July 12, that Hizbullah killed three soldiers and captured two more (Über Kiwi adds: in Lebanese territory), and arranged a brief rocket attack on border areas that the Israeli army characterised at the time as a “diversionary tactic”. (A further five soldiers died shortly afterwards in fighting when they entered Lebanese territory in pursuit of Hizbullah.

The reorganised timetable of war is preventing proper scrutiny of Israel’s later justifications. It seems Israeli officials quickly calculated that the deaths of so many Lebanese civilians, nearly 400 so far, would be difficult to defend as a “proportionate” response to the capture of its two soldiers – whose release Hizbullah says it will agree to in return for some of the thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. As the Israeli historian Tom Segev observed of Lebanon’s devastation at the weekend: “The kidnapping of two soldiers does not justify it.”

On the other hand, Israel’s claims of indiscriminate and unprovoked rocket fire by Hizbullah on civilians provide a far more convincing pretext for the launch of military operations. But, if we cast our minds back, it was Israel that began the bombardment of civilian areas with its savage attacks on south Lebanon and on Beirut in the immediate wake of the soldiers’ capture. Hizbullah responded with limited fire on border communities like Kiryat Shemona, Safed and Nahariya, all of which have faced Hizbullah attacks before and are well protected.

Only as Israel extended and intensified its attacks on Lebanon, and in particular began targeting Beirut’s main airport, roads, bridges and power stations, did Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah order his guns turned on Haifa. In what looked more like a warning than an escalation, Hizbullah launched a small volley of rockets at Haifa late on July 13 that caused no injuries. When Israel continued its onslaught, Nasrallah waited three days before upping the ante by aiming his fire at the city again, with one rocket killing eight workers in a railway depot.

No one should have been surprised. Nasrallah was doing exactly what he had threatened to do if Israel refused to negotiate and chose the path of war instead. Although the international media quoted his ominous televised warning that “Haifa is just the beginning”, Nasrallah in fact made his threat conditional on Israel’s continuing strikes against Lebanon.

It is worth citing another line from the same speech: “As long as the enemy pursues its aggression without limits and red lines, we will pursue the confrontation without limits and red lines.” Nasrallah will doubtless see Israel’s limited ground invasions as the crossing of a further red line. What red lines Hizbullah will cross in response are not yet clear.

William Blum on the eternal Israel-Palestine conflict

The following is an excerpt from William Blum’s latest Anti-Empire Report

Some things you need to know before the world ends
July 22, 2006
by William Blum

The End Is Near, but first, this commercial.

There are times when I think that this tired old world has gone on a few years too long. What’s happening in the Middle East is so depressing. Most discussions of the eternal Israel-Palestine conflict are variations on the child’s eternal defense for misbehavior — “He started it!” Within a few minutes of discussing/arguing the latest manifestation of the conflict the participants are back to 1967, then 1948, then biblical times. I don’t wish to get entangled in who started the current mess. I would like instead to first express what I see as two essential underlying facts of life which remain from one conflict to the next:

Israel’s existence is not at stake and hasn’t been so for decades, if it ever was, regardless of the many de rigueur militant statements by Arab leaders over the years. If Israel would learn to deal with its neighbors in a non-expansionist, non-military, humane, and respectful manner, engage in full prisoner exchanges, and sincerely strive for a viable two-state solution, even those who are opposed to the idea of a state based on a particular religion could accept the state of Israel, and the question of its right to exist would scarcely arise in people’s minds. But as it is, Israel still uses the issue as a justification for its behavior, as Jews all over the world use the Holocaust and conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

2. In a conflict between a thousand-pound gorilla and a mouse, it’s the gorilla which has to make concessions in order for the two sides to progress to the next level. What can the Palestinians offer in the way of concession? Israel would reply to that question: “No violent attacks of any kind.” But that would still leave the status quo ante bellum — a life of unmitigated misery for the Palestinian people forced upon them by Israel. Peace without justice.

Israel’s declarations about the absolute unacceptability of one of their soldiers being held captive by the Palestinians, or two soldiers being held by Hezbollah in Lebanon, cannot be taken too seriously when Israel is holding literally thousands of captured Palestinians, many for years, typically without any due process, many tortured; as well as holding a number of prominent Hezbollah members. A few years ago, if not still now, Israel wrote numbers on some of the Palestinian prisoners’ arms and foreheads, using blue markers, a practice that is of course reminiscent of the Nazis’ treatment of Jews in World War II. [1]

Israel’s real aim, and that of Washington, is the overthrow of the Hamas government in Palestine, the government that came to power in January through a clearly democratic process, the democracy that the Western “democracies” never tire of celebrating, except when the result doesn’t please them. Is there a stronger word than “hypocrisy”? There is now “no Hamas government,” declared a senior US official a week ago, “eight cabinet ministers or 30 percent of the government is in jail [kidnapped by Israel], another 30 percent is in hiding, and the other 30 percent is doing very little.”[2] To make the government-disappearance act even more Orwellian, we have Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in late June about Iraq: “This is the only legitimately elected government in the Middle East with a possible exception of Lebanon.”[3] What’s next, gathering in front of the Big Telescreeen for the Two Minutes Hate?

In addition to doing away with the Hamas government, the current military blitzkrieg by Israel, with full US support, may well be designed to create “incidents” to justify attacks on Iran and Syria, the next steps of Washington’s work in process, a controlling stranglehold on the Middle East and its oil.

It is a wanton act of collective punishment that is depriving the Palestinians of food, electricity, water, money, access to the outside world … and sleep. Israel has been sending jets flying over Gaza at night triggering sonic booms, traumatizing children. “I want nobody to sleep at night in Gaza,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert[4]; words suitable for Israel’s tombstone.

These crimes against humanity — and I haven’t mentioned the terrible special weapons reportedly used by Israel — are what the people of Palestine get for voting for the wrong party. It is ironic, given the Israeli attacks against civilians in both Gaza and Lebanon, that Hamas and Hezbollah are routinely dismissed in the West as terrorist organizations. The generally accepted definition of terrorism, used by the FBI and the United Nations amongst others, is: The use of violence against a civilian population in order to intimidate or coerce a government in furtherance of a political objective.

Since 9-11 it has been a calculated US-Israeli tactic to label the fight against Israel’s foes as an integral part of the war on terror. On July 19, a rally was held in Washington, featuring the governor of Maryland, several members of Israeli-occupied Congress, the Israeli ambassador, and evangelical leading-light John Hagee. The Washington Post reported that “Speaker after prominent speaker characteriz[ed] current Israeli fighting as a small branch of the larger U.S.-led global war against Islamic terrorism” and “Israel’s attacks against the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah were blows against those who have killed civilians from Bali to Bombay to Moscow.” Said the Israeli ambassador: “This is not just about [Israel]. It’s about where our world is going to be and the fate and security of our world. Israel is on the forefront. We will amputate these little arms of Iran,” referring to Hezbollah.[5]

And if the war on terror isn’t enough to put Israel on the side of the angels, John Hagee has argued that “the United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West”. He speaks of “a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.”[6]

The beatification of Israel approaches being a movement. Here is David Horowitz, the eminent semi-hysterical ex-Marxist: “Israel is part of a global war, the war of radical Islam against civilization. Right now Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world by taking on the terrorists. It is not only for Israel’s sake that we must get the facts out — it is for ourselves, America, for every free country in the world, and for civilization itself.”[7]

As for the two Israeli soldiers captured and held in Lebanon for prisoner exchange, we must keep a little history in mind. In the late 1990s, before Israel was evicted from southern Lebanon by Hezbollah, it was a common practice for Israel to abduct entirely innocent Lebanese. As a 1998 Amnesty International paper declared: “By Israel’s own admission, Lebanese detainees are being held as ‘bargaining chips’; they are not detained for their own actions but in exchange for Israeli soldiers missing in action or killed in Lebanon. Most have now spent 10 years in secret and isolated detention.”[8]

Israel has created its worst enemies — they helped create Hamas as a counterweight to Fatah in Palestine, and their occupation of Lebanon created Hezbollah. The current terrible bombings can be expected to keep the process going. Since its very beginning, Israel has been almost continually occupied in fighting wars and taking other people’s lands. Did not any better way ever occur to the idealistic Zionist pioneers?

But while you and I get depressed by the horror and suffering, the neo-conservatives revel in it. They devour the flesh and drink the blood of the people of Afghanistan, of Iraq, of Palestine, of Lebanon, yet remain ravenous, and now call for Iran and Syria to be placed upon the feasting table. More than one of them has used the expression oderint dum metuant, a favorite phrase of Roman emperor Caligula, also used by Cicero — “let them hate so long as they fear”. Here is William Kristol, editor of the bible of neo-cons, “Weekly Standard”, on Fox News Sunday, July 16:

“Look, our coddling of Iran … over the last six to nine months has emboldened them. I mean, is Iran behaving like a timid regime that’s very worried about the U.S.? Or is Iran behaving recklessly and in a foolhardy way? … Israel is fighting four of our five enemies in the Middle East, in a sense. Iran, Syria, sponsors of terror; Hezbollah and Hamas. … This is an opportunity to begin to reverse the unfortunate direction of the last six to nine months and get the terrorists and the jihadists back on the defensive.”

Host Juan Williams replied:

“Well, it just seems to me that you want … you just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East … you’re saying, why doesn’t the United States take this hard, unforgiving line? Well, the hard and unforgiving line has been [tried], we don’t talk to anybody. We don’t talk to Hamas. We don’t talk to Hezbollah. We’re not going to talk to Iran. Where has it gotten us, Bill?”

Kristol, looking somewhat taken aback, simply threw up his hands.

The Fox News audience does (very) occasionally get a hint of another way of looking at the world.

[1] Washington Post, March 13, 2002, p.1

[2] Washington Post, July 16, 2006. p.15

[3] Washington Post, July 3, 2006, p.19

[4] Associated Press, July 3, 2006

[5] Washington Post, July 20, 2006, p.B3

[6] Sarah Posner, The American Prospect, June 2006

[7], Horowitz’s site

[8] Amnesty International news release, 26 June 1998, AI INDEX: MDE 15/54/98

William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Family just ‘waited for death’


Family just ‘waited for death’
D.D. McNicoll

DESPERATELY attempting to flee the bombing in southern Lebanon, Maged Ibrahim and his family knew death could come from the sky at any moment.

“We were waiting for death,” the unshaven and bleary-eyed schoolteacher said yesterday as the dual Lebanese-Australian citizen was reunited with three of his children in Sydney. “We were trying to find shelter — but there was nowhere to go.”

Exhausted but still unable to sleep, Mr Ibrahim, who has lived in Lebanon for the past 14 years, said he was forced to drive to Beirut from the village of Aitaroun, which has been smashed by recent Israeli bombing.

But he praised the Australian government officials who helped him, his wife and three of his daughters escape from their destroyed home.

“Thank you to the Australian Government, thank you for everything,” Mr Ibrahim said.

“We had only our passports and the clothes we were wearing — no luggage, no money, nothing.”

On the second day that Israeli jets bombed southern Lebanon, with his home razed, Mr Ibrahim loaded his wife Souad, 45, and daughters Rima, 22, Fatme, 14, and Jinan, 12, into a car and started driving towards Beirut.

“It was a nightmare journey,” said Rima, who was studying English literature at university in Lebanon. “We were crossing a bridge when it was bombed. The car behind us, carrying a family of 14, was blown to bits. They were all killed.

“I don’t know what day it was. All the days were the same, we haven’t slept since the bombing started.”

Excerpt from:

Family just ‘waited for death’:The Australian