Natalie’s decision to refrain from playing in Israel is much appreciated, following the passing of a criminal “law” by Israel’s Knesset retrospectively “legalizing” theft of private Palestinian lands for illegal Jewish-only settlements. Recently, in concert with renewed bombing, Israel prevented anaesthetic gas from reaching Gaza, yet after international pressure, one shipment of anaesthetic was permitted before Israel slammed the Gaza prison gates shut for all imports and exports. Gaza’s civilian population has lived under brutal siege by Israel since 2006. Of 2 million Gazan civilians persecuted by Israel’s military Occupation, over half are children.
Nevertheless, “Concert producers said refunds would be given to all ticket holders” and thus a reschedule is not expected in the near future.
The Israeli promoters of Natalie Imbruglia are said to claim, but not Natalie Imbruglia herself (who removed apartheid Israel from her tour without any comment on it being cancelled): “Imbruglia apologized for disappointing her fans in Israel and vowed to schedule a show in country at a future date.”
No new concert in Israel appears on Natalie’s tour program or the promoter’s events.
Clearly, by claiming the concert will be rescheduled the promoters facilitate the Israeli anti-BDS propaganda. This tactic has been used rather frequently. For example, when Pharrell Williams cancelled his July 2016 gig due to “scheduling problems”, it was claimed falsely by JPost he would reschedule.
Similarly, the JPost published in August 2014: “American pop singer Lana Del Rey announced on Friday that her Tel Aviv concert scheduled for August 20 has been pushed back to another date due to the ongoing crisis in the south.”
“Those who purchased tickets for the concert will be notified of an alternate date. Organizers for the show said that the original tickets will be honored.”
However, two and half years later Lana Del Rey has not rescheduled.
At Walla (Hebrew), “industry sources” allegedly are blaming poor ticket sales for Natalie’s cancellation. “Industry sources” also claimed Pharrell Williams’ concert was cancelled due to low ticket sales. Are “low ticket sales” yet another repeat excuse deployed to disguise cancellations made by musicians who decide to refrain from crossing the boycott picket line?
The promoters, 3A Productions, are now claiming “she just couldn’t make it” and “she is busy, really busy“, not low ticket sales, for Natalie’s cancellation.
UPDATE – PALESTINIANS THANK NATALIE
“Palestinian artists, cultural organizations and human rights supporters welcome the Australian-British singer Natalie Imbruglia’s cancellation of her March performance in Tel Aviv.”
We are writing to you to ask you to please reconsider your performance in Israel, scheduled for the 1st March, 2017. We understand this will be your first appearance in Israel and would like to inform you that playing there will be in breach of the Palestinian call for artists to respect the cultural boycott of Israel until it adheres to international law and Palestinians have their civil and political rights which they are currently denied by the apartheid Israeli government. 
Like Aboriginal people in Australia before 1966, indigenous Palestinians who live in Israel are prevented from enjoying full citizenship in that state. Full citizenship is available only on theocratic grounds, to people who are defined as Jewish by the State. Furthermore, Palestinians in Israel are subject to more than 50 laws discriminating against them – de facto apartheid. Palestinians who reside in the Occupied Territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza which Israel seized and occupied in 1967 cannot vote at all in Israeli elections. These Palestinian people subsist in segregated bantustans isolated from each other by apartheid walls and fences with their movement controlled by over 500 checkpoints, preventing them from attending universities and hospitals, and seeing friends and relatives – many families have been separated for years due to this system of apartheid. Indeed the International Court of Justice declared Israel’s apartheid wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory illegal in 2004 – further international law that it ignores.
Palestinians persecuted by military occupation naturally wish to live freely with rights in their own ancestral lands. However, illegal Israeli settlements continually expand and encroach upon those lands, despite several United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Most recently, on 23 December 2016, the UNSC passed another resolution unanimously against expansion of the illegal settlements, and again affirmed their illegality under international law, yet Israel refuses to recognise these resolutions. Israel has now declared de facto war on the resolution’s sponsors, including New Zealand  and also intends to withhold UN dues . Since the resolution Israel has accelerated its demolition of Palestinian homes to four times its 2016 weekly average, making hundreds of people homeless.
Nearly 800,000 Jewish people now reside illegally on Palestinian lands, enjoying full political rights while Palestinians languish, brutalised by military occupation and without rights. Palestinian refugees driven out in the 1948 Nakba from the areas which Israel claimed comprise the second largest refugee population in the world and again, despite the requirements of international law, Israel refuses to permit these Indigenous people to return to their homes. In many countries Palestinians are stateless, living in squalid refugee camps for decades, never giving up hope that their right of return will be realised and they can return to their Indigenous home and heritage which has been usurped and colonised.
Zionist colonisation of Palestine follows a similar trajectory to British colonisation of Australia, where Indigenous Australians were forced into isolating missions and reserves, slaughtered and dispossessed of their land and culture, while Palestinians too are subjected to extreme violence and forced into refugee camps and bantustans We understand you have experienced the end results of these genocidal colonial crimes during your participation in the First Contact SBS programme and are sympathetic to the plight of Aboriginal people in Australia consequent to white colonisation. We ask you to consider also the distressing situation for Palestinian people and the importance of support for their struggle for liberation and justice. Because the international political community has refused to act to support their rights, Palestinians called in 2005 for cultural boycott and asked people of conscience like yourself for solidarity with their movement by refraining from performing in Israel.
By respecting their call, you will also be supporting the women of Gaza who suffer from breast cancer, another area where you have shown empathy. Israel prevents breast cancer sufferers, and indeed most cancer sufferers from obtaining appropriate treatment, due to its collective punishment of two million civilians which it has incarcerated in the largest prison in the world – Gaza – since 2006.
“Dozens of female cancer patients in the Gaza Strip have launched a protest against Israel’s refusal to allow them to cross into Israel to seek medical treatments in hospitals in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The women say the ban or delay of their treatments is a “premeditated death sentence.” 
Due to Israel’s military attacks on Gaza and its illegal, immoral siege which prevents the import of fuel supply and parts, sickness is common there since the water supply is contaminated by dysfunctional sewerage treatment plants and electricity supply is currently down to a mere four hours per day . Physicians for Human Rights comments on Israel’s deprivation of medical equipment:
“There are no syringes, no bandages and no tubes. When one of our surgeons asks for a specific scalpel or bandage during surgery he’s told that there aren’t any available. When we train a local doctor and teach him techniques and procedures he has nothing to work with.” [Ibid.]
The UN has estimated that without major reconstruction, Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. [Ibid.] Should you play your concert in Israel, be aware that this crime against humanity is being perpetrated just miles from you.
Certainly, Israel will continue to carry out its injustices against the Palestinian people if we are silent and do not act. We implore you to recognise your performance in Israel cannot create bridges over apartheid, oppression and suffering, merely obscure it so Israel can continue to pretend that its crimes are “normal” and blame Palestinians for their own plight. This is clearly not the case any more than the myth proliferated by white supremacists that Aboriginal people in Australia are responsible for their own immiseration.
The reality is that for Israel any show that isn’t cancelled because of boycott appeals is considered a political victory over the Palestinian struggle and international solidarity with it. Performing in Tel Aviv means playing for a segregated audience, on ethnically cleansed land. We really hope you can’t see yourself doing this and you join Lauryn Hill, Cassandra Wilson, Sinead O’Connor, Cat Power, Massive Attack and thousands of other artists who have refused to play in Israel – in Ireland over 540 artists have pledged to boycott the state, as have over 1,190 in the UK, and many more all over the world.
Please respect the Palestinian call to boycott Israel – you can make a real difference here and help tip the moral scales toward justice.
We are a group, of over 2000 members from many nations around the globe, who believe that it is essential for musicians & other artists to heed the call of the PACBI, and join in the boycott of Israel. This is essential in order to work towards justice for the Palestinian people under occupation, and also in refugee camps and in the diaspora throughout the world.
Unearthed from my library, this satirical poem by celebrated Australian poet, C.J. Dennis (aka “Den”) was published in his 1913 anthology Backblock Ballads and Other Verses – with its piercing, remarkably relevant political humour, it might stand up proudly today as a live slam performance.
The Martyred Democrat
A Recitation (with directions)
(Begin breezily) In Lady Lusher’s drawing-room, where float the strains of Brahms,
While cultured caterpillars chew the leaves of potted palms –
In Lady Lusher’s drawing-room, upon a summer’s day,
The democrats of Toorak met to pass an hour away.
They hearkened to a long address by Mister Grabbit, M.L.C.,
While Senator O’Sweatem passed around the cakes and tea.
And all the brains and beauty of the suburb gathered there,
In Lady Lusher’s drawing-room – Miss Fibwell in the chair.
(With increasing interest) Ay, all the fair and brave were there – the fair in charming hats;
The brave in pale mauve pantaloons and shiny boots, with spats.
But pride of all that gathering, a giant ‘mid the rest,
Was Mr Percy Puttipate, in fancy socks and vest.
Despite his bout of brain-fag, plainly showing in his eyes –
Contracted while inventing something new in nobby ties –
He braved the ills – the draughts and chills, damp tablecloths and mats –
Of Lady Lusher’s drawing-room: this prince of Democrats.
(Resume the breeze) Upon a silken ottoman sat Willie Dawdlerich,
Who spoke of democratic things to Mabel Bandersnitch;
And likewise there, on couch and chair, with keen, attentive ears,
Sat many sons and daughters of our sturdy pioneers –
Seed of our noble squatter-lords – those democrats of old –
Who held of this fair land of ours as much as each can hold;
Whose motto is, and ever was, despite the traitor’s gab:
‘Australia for Australians – who’ve learned the art of grab.’
Good Mr Grabbit spoke his piece ‘mid glad ‘Heah, heahs’ and claps,
And Willie Dawdlerich declared he was the best of chaps.
Then the lady organizer, dear Miss Fibwell, rose to speak.
A fighter she, tho’ of the sex miscalled by men ‘the weak’.
And, tho’ they hailed her there and then as Queen of Democrats,
They privily agreed that she was something choice in ‘cats’.
She was, in truth, a shade passé a trifle frayed, but still,
She was an earnest Democrat who owned a sturdy will.
(In cultured tones) ‘Deah friends,’ began Miss Fibwell, ‘you – ah – understand ouah league
Is formed to stand against that band of schemers who intrigue –
That horrid band of Socialists who seek to wrest ouah raights,
And, with class legislation straive to plague ouah days and naights.
They claim to be the workers of the land, but Ai maintain
That, tho’ they stand for horny hands, we represent the bwain.
Are not bwain-workers toilers too, who labah without feah?’
(The fashioner of fancy ties: ‘Heah, heah! Quaite raight! Heah, heah!’)
‘They arrogate unto themselves the sacred name of Work;
But still, Ai ask, where is the task that we’ve been known to shirk?
We’re toilahs, ev’ry one of us, altho’ they claim we’re not.’
(The toiler on the ottoman: ‘Bai jove, that’s bally rot!’)
‘Moahovah, friends, to serve theah ends, they’re straiving, maight and main,
To drag down to theah level folk who work with mind and bwain!
They claim we do not earn ouah share, but, Ai maintain we do!’
(The grafter in the fancy socks: ‘They’re beastly rottahs, too!’)
(With rising inflexion) ‘Yes, friends, they’ll drag us down and down, compelling us to live
Just laike themselves – the selfish elves, on what they choose to give!
Nay, moah, they’ll make us weah theah clothes – plain working–clothes, forsooth!
Blue dungarees in place of these …’ ‘Mai Gahd! Is this the truth?’
(With fine dramatic force) A gurgling scream; a sick’ning thud … a flash of fancy socks –
And Percy Puttipate went down, felled like a stricken ox –
Crashed down thro’ cakes and crockery, and lay, ‘mid plate and spoon,
In Lady Lusher’s drawing-room one summer afternoon.
(With a rush of emotion) A scream from Mabel Bandersnitch broke thro’ the ev’ning calm
(The cultured grubs, alone unmoved, still chewed the potted palm).
Strong men turned white with sudden fright; girls fell in faint and swoon
In Lady Lusher’s drawing-room that fateful afternoon.
(With tears in the voice) But Puttipate? … Ah, what of him – that noble Democrat,
As he lay there with glassy stare, upon the Persian mat?
What cares he now for nobby ties, and what for fancy socks,
As he lies prone, with cake and cream smeared on his sunny locks?
(With appropriate mournfulness) Good Mr Grabbit took his head, O’Sweatem seized his feet,
They bore him to an ambulance that waited in the street.
Poor Mabel Bandersnitch sobbed loud on Dawdlerich’s vest;
And lo, a pall of woe fell over all – Miss Fibwell and the rest.
A settled gloom o’erspread the room, as shades of ev’ning fell,
And, one by one, they left the place till none was left to tell
The tale of that dire tragedy that wrecked the summer calm –
Except the apathetic grubs, who went on chewing palm.
(Suggestive pause, then with fresh interest) There still be men – low common men – who sneer at Toorak’s ways,
And e’en upon poor Puttipate bestow but grudging praise.
But when you hear the vulgar sneer of some low Labor bore
(With fine dramatic intensity) Point to that pallid patriot who weltered in his gore!
Point to that daring Democrat, who, with a gurgling scream
And flashing socks, dropped like an ox into the clotted cream!
Point to that hero stricken down for our great Party’s sake,
His sunny locks, his fiery socks mixed up with fancy cake.
(With bitter contempt) Then lash with scorn the carping wretch who sullies his fair fame,
Who, moved by fear, attempts to smear the lustre of that name.
Great Puttipate! The Democrat! Who perished, all too soon,
In Lady Lusher’s drawing-room, one summer afternoon.
(Finish with a noble gesture, expressing intense scorn, bow gracefully and retire amidst great applause)
‘Backblock Ballads and Other Verses’
The rebranding of JFS (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham)/Nusra/AQ is purely cosmetic and strategic, enabling opportunistic calls for “unity” in East Aleppo, occupied by these AQ largely foreign mercenaries in a “death before surrender” stand at the expense of around 300,000 civilians who remain there.
On the propagandist Facebook wall of Australian number one terrorist Shaykh Mostafa Mahamed aka Abu Sulayman, his current slick spiel is delivered by his student acolytes. He/they can also be found at present slogannising on multiple twitter accounts* in his name and for the JFS in several languages for “unity”. Significantly, main leader of the “rebel” Aleppo team is Sheikh Muhaysini, who “is ready to announce all factions must unite.” ‘I’ve described him as “pro-Al Qaeda” since 2014.‘ says analyst Thomas Joscelyn.
On a US kill list, Sulayman, AQ/JFS/Nusra’s head propagandist in Aleppo, announced the fake split of the rebranded Nusra under the banner of JFS from AQ about 3 weeks ago on CNN and Skynews. Notably Sulayman broadcast Zenki promoter Rslan’s recent rebel propaganda which went mainstream before the Syria Campaign. Bin Laden was never so fortunate to have the mainstream global media whitewashing his agitprop and facilitating the viralisation of toxic AQ ideology.
This JFS split from AQ is fictitious. AQ is a franchise.
‘The split between Al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra is part of the competition between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri on the future and the leadership of the global jihad. It reflects a decentralized strategy of AQ’s central leadership.’
As Joscelyn observes:
‘Al Qaeda’s branches technically owe their loyalty to Mullah Haibatullah as well.
In al Qaeda’s hierarchy, the regional branches — AQAP, AQIM, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Shabaab in Somalia and Al Nusrah Front — swear allegiance to Zawahiri. These groups are then responsible for waging jihad in their designated regions on behalf of al Qaeda. (Al Nusrah Front recently rebranded itself as Jabhat Fateh al Sham, or the “Conquest of the Levant Front.” The move was directed by al Qaeda’s senior leadership.)
Therefore, al Qaeda’s regional branches are loyal to the Taliban’s emir by virtue of their bay’ah (allegiance) to Zawahiri.’
In 2012, Sulayman was the founder of the Sydney childcare network which has defrauded the Australian taxpayer of $27 million. Yet ASIO knew he had extremist connections since around 2003? this staggers belief.
2012 was also the year Sulayman decamped from Australia to Syria where he was quickly shuffled up the Nusra/AQ food chain to his present position of lead propagandist. Initially he was responsible for an attempt to reconcile Nusra with ISIS, which failed.
‘As a result of ISIS’ effective online attacks, Al Nusrah has been forced to expose the identities of some of its most seasoned personnel, some of whom were dispatched to Syria by al Qaeda’s senior leadership. While previous reports identified Abu Sulayman as an Al Nusrah Front official in Raqqah province who was expelled by ISIS, little was known about his role in al Qaeda’s mediation efforts.
Abu Sulayman does not hide his allegiance to al Qaeda. On his own Twitter feed, which currently has nearly 7,000 followers, Abu Sulayman decribes himself as a member of “Al Qaeda in the Levant.”’
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on Afghanistan. People of Afghanistan, the last 93 years, they have gone ups and downs from one regime to another. Now in the last 30 years, they were freed by the U.S. from the Soviet occupation, and now they are under the occupation of Taliban and al-Qaida. And what they’re asking is if and when are they going to be free from these terrorists.
QUESTION: That’s my second question.
MR KIRBY: (Laughter.) I mean, Goyal, I can’t possibly put a date certain on the elimination of the terrorist threat in Afghanistan. And Afghanistan, as we talked about at the opening, isn’t – I mentioned Turkey – isn’t the only country that continues to face a very real threat from terrorism, and we know that groups like Daesh are trying to expand their influence there. And we know that not every member of the Taliban has and is willing to embrace the political process moving forward. That’s why it’s important that the United States continue to make clear our intention and our support of a strong, sovereign, secure, stable Afghanistan.
From Vietnam, to Honduras, Grenada, Columbia, Chile, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and countless more US interventions, we need to remember and learn from history when the US targets countries in the name of “democracy” and “humanitarianism” it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The Intercept provides yet another platform for Sulayman’s JFS sanitisation, erasure of his initial task in Syria to resolve differences with ISIS and concealment of the falsity of the “split” with AQ. Shame they didn’t ask him about the disappeared $27 million of Australian taxpayer money.
Preceding 2011 there were long term US plans for destabilisation and regime change, from placing Syria on the cartoonish “axis of evul” after 9/11 to tough sanctions to IMF debt and pressure to “neoliberalise”.
Recap back to 2006:
The US tilted at the Syrian government years before Clinton’s email where she said she wanted to dismember Syria “for Israel”.
‘A December 13, 2006 cable, “Influencing the SARG [Syrian government] in the End of 2006,”1 indicates that, as far back as 2006 – five years before “Arab Spring” protests in Syria – destabilizing the Syrian government was a central motivation of US policy. The author of the cable was William Roebuck, at the time chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Damascus. The cable outlines strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government.’
At the bottom of my post last year, there’s more links and info about pre-2011 US dodginess in Syria, and particularly interesting are those involving Jim (James) Prince and the “Democracy Council” in Syria, Prince was also involved in similar schemes in the Palestinian OPT with “Best Plans” and “Free Muslims Coalition” Kamal Nawash. Worth a very close look indeed.
For more on Nawash and his astroturfing of the Palestinians, see here.
More on the Jim Prince “Democracy Council” astroturfing of Syria 2006 – 2009 here.
‘Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, said the Middle East Partnership Initiative has allocated $7.5 million for Syrian programs since 2005. A cable from the embassy in Damascus, however, pegged a much higher total — about $12 million — between 2005 and 2010.
The cables report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from Washington.
A September 2009 cable reported that Syrian agents had interrogated a number of people about “MEPI operations in particular,” a reference to the Middle East Partnership Initiative.
“It is unclear to what extent [Syrian] intelligence services understand how USG money enters Syria and through which proxy organizations,” the cable stated, referring to funding from the U.S. government. “What is clear, however, is that security agents are increasingly focused on this issue.”
U.S. diplomats also warned that Syrian agents may have “penetrated” the Movement for Justice and Development by intercepting its communications.
A June 2009 cable listed the concerns under the heading “MJD: A Leaky Boat?” It reported that the group was “seeking to expand its base in Syria” but had been “initially lax in its security, often speaking about highly sensitive material on open lines.”
The cable cited evidence that the Syrian intelligence service was aware of the connection between the London exile group and the Democracy Council in Los Angeles. As a result, embassy officials fretted that the entire Syria assistance program had been compromised.’
‘Working with a local partner, the Syrian Civil Administration Development Center (SYCAC), NDI provides ongoing skills-building and training to local and provincial councils inside of Syria through a network of NDI-trained embedded governance advisors. Beginning in August 2014, activists identified in partnership with SYCAC have been taking part in a comprehensive training-of-trainers (ToT) program, which aims to equip them with knowledge, training skills, and a firm understanding of administrative and organizational facets of local governance so that they can begin to address local council needs and encourage community engagement.
NDI’s support to SYCAC dates back to 2012, when opposition activists responded to local governance needs by forming administrative councils in communities throughout the country. In December 2012, NDI assisted SYCAC to organize the first significant gathering of local council representatives in Ankara, Turkey. The meeting brought together more than 200 local council representatives from all parts of Syria to discuss, revise, and approve a set of bylaws to govern their practices and relationships between councils.
Using the same model of embedded advisory assistance, in early 2016 NDI launched a program in partnership with Creative Associates International to build the legitimacy of local councils inside Syria by improving governance, service delivery, and citizen outreach capacity.
NDI’s Citizen Syria civic education program, which has been ongoing since October 2013, aims to empower Syrian citizens to become active participants in political decision-making process at the local level.
NDI has worked with a number of established political parties and emerging movements on party development and organizational structure. The Institute’s partners have included: the Damascus Declaration; the People’s Party; Building the Syrian State; the Kurdish Youth Tanseekiyat Union; the Ahrar Party; the Muslim Brotherhood; the Democratic Platform; the National Change Trend; the Syrian Democratic Coalition; and the Yekiti party, as well as many others.’
The British government is picking up the Western-backed opposition’s $1.4 million annual tab influencing policymakers in Washington and at the American United Nations mission in New York, Justice Department records reveal. And Saudi Arabia helps get the rebel point of view in the media via the kingdom’s $8 million contract with PR giant MSL Group (formerly Qorvis).
‘Three years ago, it had taken 29-year-old Hajar, a part-time beautician, all her powers of persuasion to convince her husband Majid to leave Aleppo after he had fallen under spell of the then-al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra (now called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham).
“The radical clerics brainwashed him,” she recalls. “His mentality totally changed. He just became so angry, so argumentative; it was impossible to discuss anything with him,” her voice drops. “He was always hitting me.”
The birth of their son brought a reprieve. Majid agreed to quit fighting and the family fled to Beirut. But Hajar’s relief proved short-lived and months later, Majid again turned on her and the children, blaming them for “taking him away from (his) jihad.”
“One time he drew a knife, as if to slaughter me. But my son saw it and fainted. That stopped him.”
When he announced that he was returning to Syria with their children, she hatched a plan. As his involvement with a terror group placed him on the Syrian government’s wanted list, his only option was to fly to Turkey alone and cross into Syria from there. She told him she would meet him in Aleppo with the children.
“We had sold everything. I had nothing left here, so he assumed I had no choice but to go back,” she replies, when I ask why he believed her. “But I didn’t go. There was no way I was going to follow him.” ‘
In his terrific book on ISIS, leading academic specialist Fawaz Gerges explained that “Al Nusra has a Salafi-jihadist worldview that is similar to that of ISIS, with the two only differing tactically and operationally.”
Gerges observed that Turkey and Qatar have lobbied for JAN to split from al Qaeda central, in the hope that this could unite the anti-Assad opposition, and increase its chances of garnering Western recognition and support. Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian theoretician of Al Qaeda, reportedly said that Zawahiri was fine with JAN splitting from Al Qaeda, other than his concern that ISIS would be the primary beneficiary.
JAN took the plunge in July, renaming itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Earlier that day, “Zawahri, gave the Nusra Front his blessing to break away. In his message, Golani thanked Zawahri for putting the interests of Syrians ahead of organizational concerns.”
Despite the obvious coordination involved, and the fact that the new organisation has not claimed any kind of ideological change, Joulani said the change was made “to remove the excuse used by the international community – spearheaded by America and Russia – to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: that they are targeting the Nusra Front which is associated with al Qaeda”
So what do these outraged observers want “us” to do to ameliorate Syrian suffering? For prominent pundits and leading editorial boards, the answer is usually bombing the Syrian government. More often than not, they use humanitarian euphemisms like “safe zones” or “no-fly zones.” Rarely mentioned is the fact that establishing these zones would require US bombing of Syria’s air capacity, including infrastructure, planes, buildings, possibly troops. That would, in effect, be a declaration of war. How Russia would respond is anyone’s guess, but it would certainly heighten tensions between Washington and Syria’s longtime ally (which also happens to have the world’s largest nuclear arsenal). One 2012 Pentagon estimate found that enforcing a no-fly zone would involve at least “70,000 American servicemen”; another estimate insisted such an effort would involve “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers.” These messy details are hardly ever mentioned when the do-something crowd calls for “action” in Syria.
Foul boofhead Efraim Inbar from an Israeli stink tank which consults for NATO and the zionist government advises long-term war in Syria, as if that’s not what the US has been and is facilitating with its contras. Norton, who appears to have rebranded himself on Syria recently, recycles the story here). Inbar previously recommended that Israel “mow the grass” permanently in Gaza every now and then. Inbar was in Australia in February, minimising ISIS fears and advising a credulous audience to focus on Iran if anywhere in the region.
A four-year-long deliberate strategy of backing anti-Assad forces–which has helped fuel the bloody civil war and paved the way for the rise of ISIS–is reduced to a cheesy “bumbling bureaucrat” narrative.
In April2014, CFI will open a media centre, the Syrian Media Incubator, in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 60km from the Syrian border, to the north of Aleppo. This collective workspace aims to provide modern telecommunication tools and support Syrian journalists who are determined to continue relaying news from their country, whatever the cost.
As a reminder, CFI already works in partnership with International Media Support (IMS) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF), and, in particular, helped in2013 to set up an independent Syrian radio station called Radio Rozana, which broadcasts from Paris and relies on a network of 30correspondents based in Syria. CFI provided several training sessions for these correspondents in2013.
Howard had toned down his anti-Asian racism in deference to business concerns. But Hanson helped create a climate that enabled him to carry out policies in the interests of the ruling class that meshed happily with his own prejudices and which he would have pursued anyway: the attacks on land rights and native title; the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC); cuts to immigration, especially family reunions; the ramping up of Islamophobia using the pretexts of “border security” and the “war on terror”.
Howard’s attitude to Hanson eventually changed for two reasons. First, he was the target of sustained criticism from sections of the media, the small-l liberal middle class and even some ruling class figures – prominent businesspeople and Liberal politicians like Victorian premier Jeff Kennett – for not taking a stronger stand against Hanson. This was a product of their concern about Australia’s international image. Hanson was receiving a great deal of media attention in Asia, and as with Howard’s anti-Asian comments in 1988, they were worried about the potential damage to Australia’s business interests and ability to play a dominant role in the region.
Second, and probably of greater concern to Howard himself, Hanson began to cohere a movement and set up an organisation, the One Nation party, that posed an electoral threat to the traditional conservative forces.
Mick Armstrong’s detailed, booth by booth analysis of who actually voted for One Nation in the Queensland election further erodes the notion that her support came mainly from the blue collar working class. He found that One Nation’s support was strongest in what had been National Party strongholds in south-east Queensland – polling 43.5 percent of the vote in Barambah, once the electorate of the right wing Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and over 30 percent in 11 other seats in this area, compared with a state-wide average of 22.7 percent. Moreover:
South-east Queensland has a high concentration of small farmers, and numerous small towns with a large number of small businesses – newsagents, petrol stations, real estate agents, pharmacists, accountants, farm equipment suppliers – but very few large workplaces with concentrations of unionised workers.
The general pattern was that Labor did better in the bigger towns but One Nation overwhelmed them in the smaller centres. So the core support for One Nation was the “small town middle class, not – as so many commentators repeat ad nauseam – ‘ignorant’ workers.” Actually, very few blue collar workers defected from Labor to Hanson. Overall, 80 percent of the Hanson vote came from conservative parties and 20 percent from Labor. In addition, while its highest votes were in rural areas, One Nation polled better in affluent middle class areas of Brisbane and the Gold Coast than in poorer working class areas. Armstrong concluded: “It was not the ‘enlightened’ middle class that most strongly rejected Hanson, but unionised, traditional Labor-voting urbanised workers.”
The role of mass protest in the decline of support for Hanson, however, has been understated if not completely ignored. Indeed, there has been no account that I have been able to find of what was one of the most militant and sustained protest movements of recent times. Yet it was an important factor, playing a crucial role in preventing the growth and organisational consolidation of One Nation.
There was widespread opposition to Hanson from the outset. Many in the business community were alarmed by Hanson’s anti-Asian policies – not because they opposed racism, but because it was bad for business. This became clear when the Business Council of Australia, along with the Council of Social Services, religious leaders – and, disgracefully, the ACTU – issued a joint statement which condemned her stance on Asian immigration but ignored her equally vile racism towards Indigenous people. This was no oversight: anti-Aboriginal racism was the basis of the business community’s campaign against native title. Small-l liberals generally saw Hanson as dangerous. But they too were more concerned about the national interest and Australia’s international image than with the impact of racism on immigrant and Indigenous communities. Like Tony Abbott in more recent times, Hanson was considered to be an embarrassment.
But there was also a groundswell of revulsion and opposition from what Robert Manne might call “ordinary people”. From the moment Hanson made her maiden speech, people started mobilising against her. Everywhere she went she had to run the gauntlet of protesters.