Monthly Archives: February 2009

Tax Deductible Contributions for Israel

The article below gives quite an insight into the Zionist fund-raising organisations – especially the United Israel Appeal (Keren Hayesod) and the JNF (Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael) and the Jewish National Fund [JNF] subsidiary  (Himnutah) that specializes in land theft by subterfuge in the occupied territories.

The books and papers mentioned in the notes might be worth following up on.

Ray Bergmann Continue reading

Seminar – TRADE UNIONS: Past, Present, Future

Of special interest are 2 BLHA events coming up in the next couple of months:

BLHA logo 7 March – SEMINAR – TRADE UNIONS: Past, Present, Future

Book Review: The Lemon Tree

Khairi's House at al-RamlaThe Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan is narrative non-fiction, meaning it tells a personal narrative of the people affected by the occupation of Palestine and does it in the context of the history of this unresolved conflict.

I found the stories in the book to be both deeply moving and hard to read because of the sadness and struggle faced by the Palestinian people involved.

It was moving also because of a Jewish person who reached out to the people her country had dispossessed. Central to the story are the lives of Basir Khairi and Dalia Eshkenazi which intersect at a house in al Ramla from which the Khairi’s were forced out during al Nakba, ‘the catastrophe’, in 1948. Tolan describes it thus:

“By the morning of May 19 (1948), al-Ramla’s fighters had pushed back the Irgun. The Jewish militia would count thirty men dead and twenty missing. ‘The people are in very low spirits’, read an Israeli intelligence report issued a few days later, ‘due to heavy losses and lack of success’.”

“The city’s defenders had prevailed. It appeared to be an unambiguous victory for the ex-mufti’s forces, the bare foot brigade, the civilian volunteer fighters of al-Ramla. Ahmad, however had had enough. It was too dangerous to let Zakia and the children stay in the city. Despite Sheik Mustafa’s pleas that no one should abandon al-Ramla, Ahmad would take no more chances. He hired two cars to take the family east, through the hills of Palestine to Ramallah. That trip in itself would be dangerous, Ahmad knew; though Ramallah was only twenty miles away, the roads were bad and pockets of fighting were erupting in unpredictable places. But staying would be more risky than leaving. In Ramallah it was relatively calm. The family could remain there until fighting subsided. (at p101).”

“Yet a month later after the loss of one of the town’s leaders the situation had become grave and the remaining family were expelled:

The morning of the July 14 was cloudless and extremely hot. It was the middle of July, the seventh day of Ramadan. Thousands of people had already been expelled from al-Ramla by bus and truck. Some like Bashir and his siblings, had left well before Jewish soldiers arrived taking temporary refuge in Ramallah. Others in the Khairi clan had remained in al-Ramla. ”

“Firdaws and her cousins, aunts, and uncles sat waiting at al-Ramla’s bus terminal. There were perhaps thirty-five in all, the khairis and their relatives, the Tajis. Sheikh Mustafa was among them.”

“With them they carried few suitcases, bundles of clothes and gold strapped to their bodies. Firdaws, the Girl Guide, had also packed her uniform and brought along her knife and her whistle. They had planned for a short trip, in miles and in days; they were certain they would be coming back soon, when the Arab armies recaptured al-Ramla.” (pages 113-114).


I quote these accounts here because it has often been claimed on the Zionist side that Palestinians left their villages voluntarily. The story of the expulsion is not restricted to al‑Ramla, it occurred across Palestine hence the name al Nakba (the catastrophe). I do not think the current situation in Palestine can be understood without intimate knowledge of what happened in 1948.

For example, in 1948 there was a Christian village not far from al-Ramla called Lydda, the Israelis now call it Lod.  Its people  were expelled by Zionist militia in brutal fashion. I won’t go into to details here; you can read them in The Lemon Tree. What is significant is that one of the people who was expelled from Lydda was George Habash who later became a leader of the Palestinian resistance. Such was his experience in 1948 that Habash would never accept a ‘two state solution’ because it meant that the people of his village (and those of other villages) would never be able to return. Similarly Bashir Khairi has never been able to go back to his house even though, in partnership with Dalia Eshkenazi, he has made his family home (depicted) an open house to help educate Arab and Jewish children.

The irony of Christian villages being routed by the Zionists is that it is often been claimed by Christians in the West, from the Crusades  down through history to the Iraq War (2004-2009), that such acts are justified in order to protect and save the holy land.  Yet in Iraq today it is Christians who have been persecuted and expelled as a direct result of the US invasion in 2003.

Rejection of this justification of occupation can be found throughout the history of the Palestinian resistance. It can be found today in Gaza where militants continue to fire rockets at Israeli towns which were formerly their own, Palestinian villages.

Take Sderot [spelt variously as Siderot and Sederot] an Isareli settlement just outside the Gaza strip and the subject of many media reports of rocketing.

The reports never say that Sderot is an Israeli settlement established in 1951 after the catastrophe (al-Nakba) on the Palestinian village of Najd, historic lands that date back many centuries.

The Lemon Tree speaks of many such villages, Al Ramla became Ramle in Israeli hands, Lydda became Lod, and so on.

Yitzhak Rabin, the Noble Prize winner, wrote in his diary soon after Lydda’s and Ramla’s occupation:

“After attacking Lydda [later called Lod] Ben-Gurion would repeat the question: What is to be done with the population?, waving his hand in a gesture which said: Drive them out!. ‘Driving out’ is a term with a harsh ring… Psychologically, this was on of the most difficult actions we undertook.” (Soldier Of Peace, p. 140-141).”

A list and videos of the towns ethnically cleansed during al-Nakba can be found at Palestine Remembered.

The other story
The Eshkenazis’, Bulgarian Jews who had fled Europe in 1948, were placed there under the Zionist resettlement program and their baby daughter, Dalia, grew up there wondering whose house she was living in. So the Khairis became stateless as a result of the setting up of the Jewish state of Israel. In an attempt to resolve the conflict Dalia and Bashir agreed to set up an Open House for young arab children in the Khairi family home that had been occupied by the Eshkenazis since 1948.

The book intertwines the personal lives of these protagonists within the larger history of the struggle of the Palestinian and Jewish people. The book is fully referenced with endnotes, bibliography, and interviews at the back.

This is a book for people who wish to understand the struggle and particularly the importance to the Palestinian people of ‘the right to return’ to their villages – something yet to be offered by the United Nations, by the international courts, the political process inside Israel, Oslo, Camp David and the many other half hearted attempts – but increasingly is demanded by the people themselves, a cry that is only recently starting to be heard by the broader community.
Details: The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan Transworld Publishers 558 pp 2007 maps ISBN 9780552155144

Availability of the book
I had some trouble getting hold of this book. It is supposed to be available from a range of bookstores like QBD and Dymocks. However they do not stock the book.

I overcame this by ordering it from my local bookshop, The Avid Reader at West End Brisbane. Their price was also cheaper than Dymocks.

Public Libraries
The book like a number of others should be available in libraries (Brisbane City Council, Shire, State, Uni, Schools) but currently is not. These libraries abound with books on the holy land but are lacking in such important narratives as this one.

As one librarian put it ‘we know the stories of the conquerors but not of the conquered’. Her claim was that few such stories are written in English as mostly would be in Arabic. A claim that libraries can no longer rely upon to justify their purchasing bias.

A list of public libraries can be found at but only the Sunshine Coast library (QSCL) has a copy of the book.

Public Library Services at Cannon Hill have ordered a meagre two copies.

I have put in a request for the state library to acquire the book. I think that others should do likewise in their local libraries and seek out information about this important history.

Ian Curr
February 2009

All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 by Walid Khalidi (Editor)

A map of Najd (Sderot) can be found at Palestine Remembered at

Film Screening: ‘Jerusalem – east side story’


The latest shipment of history is the Israeli occupation. In 1948, the western part of the city fell under Israeli control; in 1967, the eastern part fell under Israeli occupation. Since then, Israel has pursued a policy of Judaizing the city, aiming to achieve “Jewish demographic superiority.” Part of this policy is to drive Palestinian Muslims and Christians out of the city; denying their presence, history, and ties to the land.
The documentary takes you on a journey exposing Israel’s policy to gain supremacy and hegemony over the city and its inhabitants. It also touches on the future of the city: Jerusalem is the key to peace; without Jerusalem, there is no peace for anyone.
The film includes interviews with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, human rights activists and political analysts.

Tues March 10, 1pm

Info enquiry: Ph 0402 577 188

Film screening organised by
Students for Palestine in conjunction
with Justice for Palestine Brisbane

Worklife films

At our latest meeting we decided to use our next meeting (Wed 18 March) to view the video which QTU bought to add to the joint QTU/Worklife video library – namely “Amongst Equals” (description is:

“A film (from 1991) about the history of the Australian Trade Union movement – starting with the Shearer’s strike of the 1890’s and leading to the present day, featuring interviews with prominent unionists. The film was sponsored by the Australian Council for Trade Unions which eventually withdrew their support for the project after disagreeing with the Filmmaker’s interpretation of history.”

Our plan then is that, after viewing it,  we think it is OK to use, we shall have a film showing of it a few weeks after May Day, so we can publicise it, and Worklife, widely at May Day march.
As Maggie has previously said, another discussion point at the meeting was to look at how we can adrress the Paid Maternity Leave campaign.

I have attached a list of all the videos and VHS tapes which the QTU has in their library (on labour issues).
Have a look at the list…If you know of a film video which is NOT in the collection, and which you think we should purchase to add to the collection, please let us know.

Continue reading

Boycott Starbucks! Protest!

Saturday February 21, 11am
Starbucks Store, Queen’s Plaza (near corner of Adelaide & Edward Sts, City)
Starbuck’s chairperson, Howard Schultz is an active supporter of the apartheid state of Israel. While Starbucks has been trying to damp down its pro-Israel image, and in particular, distance themselves from the actions of their CEO, the facts speak for themselves:

* In 1998 Shultz was honoured by the Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah with “The Israel 50th Anniversary Friend of Zion Tribute Award” for his services to the apartheid state of Israel and his promotion of the “close alliance between the United States and Israel”. This organisation insists that the occupied Palestinian territories should be described only as “disputed”. It also funds the pro-Israel propaganda website and Israeli arms fairs chaired by the General Shaul Mofaz – known as the “butcher of Jenin” for his role in the 2002 massacre in Jenin.

* In 2001 Gideon Meir, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, complimented Mr Shultz for helping American students to hear “Israeli presentations on the Middle East crisis” after he sponsored pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian seminars on college campuses.

FOCO NUEVO in February 2009

Jumping Fences at Emma Goldman room

FOCO NUEVO in February 2009




Friday 27th Feb
8.00 p.m.

26 Horan Street, West End

Light savory meals, cakes, tea and coffee available

$10 / $7 concession Continue reading

Regulation-proof builders

Premier Brumby promises building regulations to reduce the impact of bushfires.

Several outcomes are certain. First, numerous consultants will walk away with buckets of fees from the drafting of the new laws. Secondly, lobbyists for the builders determined to water them down will also be rewarded. Thirdly, building firms will generate mountains of paper for their lawyers to use as evidence that the next 2,000 burnt-out houses were designed in accordance with the regulations. If all other defences fail, barristers will argue the meaning of ‘the’ to the High Court. Continue reading

Rome Must Go – St Mary’s Stays

by Gary MacLennan, Brian Laver, Sam Watson, Bernie Neville & the ISE

The strength of religions, and of the Catholic Church in particular, has lain, and still lies, in the fact that they feel very strongly the need for the doctrinal unity of the whole mass of the faithful and strive to ensure that the higher intellectual stratum does not get separated from the lower.
The Roman church has always been the most vigorous in the struggle to prevent the “official” formation of two religions, one for the “intellectuals” and the other for the “simple souls” … That the Church has to face up to a problem of the “simple” means precisely that there has been a split in the community of the faithful.

This split cannot be healed by raising the simple to the level of the intellectuals (the Church does not even envisage such a task, which is both ideologically and economically beyond its present capacities), but only by imposing an iron discipline on the intellectuals so that they do not exceed certain limits of differentiation and so render the split catastrophic and irreparable. (Antonio Gramsci) Continue reading

Marx and the Crisis

Continue reading

British aid convoy to Gaza

Route of the Viva Palestina Convoy

Route of the Viva Palestina Convoy

Continue reading


By Humphrey McQueen
12 February 2009

Two previous items looked at the volume and value of comments from several socialist grouplets on the crisis in the accumulation of capital. Two of the biggest have the least impressive records. Instead of preparing for an implosion of global capital, each is locked onto the campaigns they had developed to attract recruits during two decades of capitalist triumphalism.

How are Marxists to refocus our activism? Continue reading

Darwin, Lincoln and the survival of the slave-masters

By Humphrey McQueen
12 February 2009

February 12 is the bicentenary of the births of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. Their personal convictions towards slavery were pretty much the same. The name of the former is entangled with Social Darwinism as a doctrine about survival of the fittest. This distortion of ‘fitness’ sustains a pseudo-scientific basis to justify the naturalness for the division of human society into masters and slaves, whether chattel-slaves of the plantation South or wage-slaves of the capitalist factories. By contrast, the conventional ignorance about Lincoln is of the Great Emancipator.

Continue reading

Crisis! What crisis?

by Humphrey McQueen
11 February 2009

Shortly after the Austrian aeronautical engineer Ludwig Wittgenstein arrived in Cambridge in 1911, he drove Bertrand Russell to distraction by refusing to admit that there was not a rhinoceros in the room. These days, I find myself sharing Russell’s frustration because so many socialist grouplets are unable to focus on the probability that, not only is a rhinoceros loose in the global economy but also herds of elephant and wildebeest.

Continue reading

Never mind the quantity – feel the thinness

by Humphrey McQueen

‘Crisis? What crisis?’ sketched the quantity of attention that some socialist grouplets have given to the crisis in capitalist accumulation. This companion piece sifts through their printed materials and educational plans for traces of Marxism. Continue reading

Sorry Day: anniversary of the apology

scannedimage-4.jpgApolgy Celebrations 13 Feb 2008

Anniversary of The Apology

13 February 2009

Event Program,

Musgrave Park Cultural Centre in partnership with Queensland Parliament Stolen Generations Alliance Link-Up Qld Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council

Joins the Community to celebrate the Anniversary of The Apology to the Stolen Generations, given by our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd on 13th February 2008.

Hear the stories of the stolen generations; listen, learn, understand;

Join with many Australians, who gather to reflect over the past, 12 months; and together let’s look beyond.


RSVP your attendance to: Trevarne

Phone 3846 5700


Natalie Alberts

Assistant Director

Musgrave Park Cultural Centre Inc

121 Cordelia St

South Brisbane

PO Box 3467

South Brisbane Qld 4101

Ph:  07 3846 5700

Fax:  07 3844 0495



Boundary St Spring Hill – Boundary St West End February 20th at 5:00pm 2009 Meeting at St James College 201 Boundary St, Brisbane On February 13th 2009, to celebrate the Anniversary of The National Apology 2008 the people of Queensland’s … Continue reading

Sanctions on Israel: what will they do?

“Let no one say the past is dead.
The past is all about us and within.” —
Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) 1970

Even though 2009 is a long way from 1985 when government sanctions were launched against the apartheid regime in South Africa, what effect economic sanctions had on the apartheid regime should be considered by groups launching boycott campaigns against Israel.

What type of political campaign is required to bring justice to the Palestinian people? An economic sanctions campaign? A cultural (or sporting) sanctions campaign? Sanctions by unions? Sanctions by governments? How, when the Australian electorate and its government are so conservative? Sanctions by private individuals?

If it is a campaign of boycott of Israeli companies as proposed, how should it be targeted, if at all? Will such a campaign hurt Palestinians in the occupied territories?

If there are risks of retaliation and repression by Israel and its supporter (the Australian government), what are they, and how should they be dealt with? Continue reading


Female of the Species Whoever said I can’t fly? Why, Sisters, I can – can’t I Whoever said, that because I’m a girl, I’d be moulded and scolded by a sexist world. Told me I could only be a mother, … Continue reading