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?

The case of South Africa

Economic sanctions by various governments were applied in the mid-1980s to pressure the South African government to end apartheid.

However this came about as a result of actions by anti-apartheid groups that had existed since the 1970s. A flyer advertising the ‘Lessons of the Anti-apartheid struggle‘ puts it this way:

“In South Africa, during the 1970s and 1980s, when Western governments were encouraging “constructive” engagement with the racist white minority regime there, thousands of ordinary people across the world took creative actions to isolate it and companies that did business there. “

This culminated in economic sanctions by governments in 1985. After Soweto, the UN had placed an arms embargo of South Africa. OPEC* placed an oil embargo as well, however South Africa overcame this by sourcing its oil from Iran (until the US-backed Shah was deposed n 1979).


Resistance occurred in waves after the setting up of apartheid in 1948 after a long period of European colonialism in Southern Africa dating back to the early 19th century.

The ANC wave of resistance was led by Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and others who were all jailed in the 1950s for treason — Mandela until Feb 1990.

Others leaders took their place including Steve Biko, Winnie Mandela and Chris Hani.

Chris Hani had this to say about his political development:

“The arraignment for Treason of the ANC leaders in 1956 convinced me to join the ANC and participate in the struggle for freedom.

In 1957 I made up my mind and joined the ANC Youth League. I was fifteen then, and since politics was proscribed at African schools our activities were clandestine.

In 1959 I went over to university at Fort Hare where I became openly involved in the struggle, as Fort Hare was a liberal campus. It was here that I got exposed to Marxist ideas and the scope and nature of the racist capitalist system.

My conversion to Marxism also deepened my non-racial perspective.” See


Resistance mounted through the 1970s and led to the 1976 Soweto uprising.

It began as a revolt against a government plan to teach Afrikaans in black schools, but built a new resistance to the apartheid regime.

“The final key ingredient in the change was the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and Mikhail Gorbachev’s forswearing of regional proxy wars [i.e. the end of the cold war]. The Afrikaner government of South Africa saw the ANC as a party of godless communists, ready to take their country into the communist bloc. Once the communist bloc fell apart and a withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola was negotiated, a political deal with the ANC became conceivable.” See “SANCTIONS ON SOUTH AFRICA: WHAT DID THEY DO?” by Philip I. Levy

Apartheid’s Cost

This included an extensive bureaucracy to maintain apartheid, restrictive labor laws against black people that hurt the economy and growing reluctance by financial institutions in the West to lend money to South African business because of the risk that the ANC may take power and swear allegiance to the Soviet bloc. This led to a decline in the growth of GDP in the period 1974 to 1987 when it averaged only 1.8 percent per year compared to 4.9% in the years prior. This occurred before sanctions were applied in the mid 1980s. A period of increased growth in GDP occurred after the sanctions were applied because of efforts made by the apartheid regime to exploit black labour and to circumvent the sanctions and the exemption of strategic goods from the sanctions applied by the US and Europe. The repression inside the country got worse.

“In July of 1985, President P.W. Botha declared a state of emergency. Shortly thereafter, Chase Manhattan Bank declared it would not renew its short-term loans, touching off a liquidity crisis as other lenders followed suit. [from See “SANCTIONS ON SOUTH AFRICA: WHAT DID THEY DO?” by Philip I. Levy]”

This occurred before the sanctions were applied. It was private capital that saw the risk to their investments.

“Although the direct economic impact of governmentally imposed sanctions was quite small, one could argue that they were the “final straw” that made economic conditions intolerable and forced political change.

There were numerous contemporaneous statements from South Africans that drew such a link between the economic climate and political change, although they were usually accompanied by denials of sanctions’ role.

However, one might discount such denials as an effort to dissuade foreign governments from further sanctions…

Yet once the perceived communist threat diminished, the release of Mandela and negotiations on a transition followed fairly quickly” — SANCTIONS ON SOUTH AFRICA: WHAT DID THEY DO?” by Philip I. Levy


It seems to me that the demise of the apartheid regime was brought about mainly by resistance organised by the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid groups inside South Africa. They had considerable assistance from Cuba and the Soviet Union in the armed struggle against the regime. They had assistance from the growing nationalist movements in Africa and the Arab states (particularly from Nasser in Egypt).

Solidarity groups in the west mounted various campaigns that may have been more psychological  in their effect, contributing to but not a key part of the resistance against the apartheid state. Australia did not play such a big role in bringing down apartheid. Australian governments like the Queensland and West Australian governments supported the regime. The Queensland government tried to implement its own form of apartheid against aboriginal people through the Queensland Acts. Even the cutting of Australian sporting ties with South Africa was limited; for example, Kim Hughes led an Australian cricket side to South Africa during the sanctions.

However the protests against the 1971 Springbok Rugby Union tour did a lot to raise the consciousness of white Austrtalia. Gary Foley put it this way:

“On 26 June 1971 the South African Springbok rugby union team arrived in Perth for the beginning of a tumultuous six week tour of Australia which would not only divide the nation on the issue of race, but would also have a profound effect on the indigenous political movement.

As the South African footballers stepped off their plane in Perth, on the other side of the country the Redfern Aboriginal activists had already developed strong connections with the leaders of the Anti-Apartheid Movement(AAM).” —

Mandela may have been alluding to the psychological effects of sanctions when he said on release from prison:

“To lift sanctions now would be to run the risk of aborting the process toward ending apartheid.”

However the US only pushed hard against the apartheid regime when they knew a communist ANC was no longer a possibility.

The US wanted a compromised ANC to deal with, one that would implement economic rationalist policies, which is pretty much what the ANC in government did.

The same could be said for the US administration now, they want a compromised Palestinian Authority to deal with.

As the world is entering the second year of a Global Financial Crisis, solidarity groups  could do well to consider alternatives to the model being proposed for Palestine by the US administration, the World Bank and the British government:

“Over the last six months ( up till July 2008), the Palestinian economy has been radically transformed under a new plan drawn up by the Palestinian Authority (PA) called the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP).

Developed in close collaboration with institutions such as the World Bank and the British Department for International Development (DFID), the PRDP is currently being implemented in the West Bank where the Abu Mazen-led PA has effective control.

It embraces the fundamental precepts of neoliberalism: a private sector-driven economic strategy in which the aim is to attract foreign investment and reduce public spending to a minimum.”  — Palestine in the Middle East: Opposing Neoliberalism and US Power more @

What sort of economy do the Palestinian people in Gaza want? One without siege, where there is a free flow of food, goods and supplies.

When aid is given, what is there to stop Israel from bombing the new buildings, schools and hospitals as they have been doing over the years?

Ian Curr

2 Feb 2009



“Biko” by Donald Woods Paddington Press 1978

OPEC was born out of  the Arab-Israeli
conflict, which occurred in 1973. An Arab oil embargo, a
political measure taken in support of the war effort against
Israel, resulted in oil prices on international markets surging.
This price hike sparked alarm in the oil-dependent
nations of the industrialized world, who, in realizing their
vulnerability to such supply disruptions, took action to
safeguard their future position. The International Energy Agency was established to fulfill that role. See OPEC Bulletin

52 thoughts on “Sanctions on Israel: what will they do?

  1. Although Levy’s article acknowledges a widespread perception that sanctions against South Africa had some impact on the economy, the economic figures he presents suggest that they had no impact at all. The economic crisis was caused simply through local political instability scaring off the banks.

    State sanctions against South Africa laid the psychological groundwork for the perception of Western economic intervention and the world bank agenda as forces for liberation and justice, as such, state sanctions were simply the trojan horse that allowed the banks, agribusiness and mining companies to stabilise and expand their assetts in South Africa, solving the problem of political instability, not tackling poverty and oppression.

    Similarly today with Zimbabwe, the massive propaganda machine that villifies the evil despot Mugabe, formerly honourable Sir Robert the darling of the world bank, and the massive international support and funding for the MDC has simply opened the door to the world bank agenda and overcome the problem of instability.

    Zimbabwean instability was not caused by Mugabe who stalled the land reform process for decades, but by the war veterans who have not yet finished the war of liberation because all of the productive land is still owned by whites and multinational corporations. Mugabe did not sieze the white owned farms until the war veterans threatened war against him if he did not. The MDC agenda of total world bank compliance – including entrenching white and foreign control of land and the destruction and outlawing of the informal (subsistance) economy – has been embraced as the force for “democracy”

    It seems to me that the PRDP is the same process, the neo-liberal agenda of foreign domination has been embraced as the path to freedom.

    The PRDP and world bank process includes the entrenchment of Israeli land rights and continued containment and disposession of Palestinians as well as keeping the Palestinian state and economy in perpetual debt to the world bank network.

    The great weight of international outrage against the Gaza attacks, focused on the very low common denominator of a ceasefire and opening up aid routes to the refugee camps, provides psychological justification for the implementation of the world bank plan.

    This is why Israel is not concerned about the backlash to its brutality, this has been anticipated and planned for.

    The big difference between Israel and South Africa is that the Apartheid regime was a problem for global capital because it could not deliver stability. Israel however exists for the very purpose of causing instability in the region.

    Israel has been in perpetual war with its neighbors since it was created. After each war, characterised by a deep Israeli arrogance, an international peace process orchestrated by the USA has been implemented to end the war. The specifics of the peace deals all entrench the interests of global capital, in particular oil interest, and provide little in terms of a just settlement, yet they are universally embraced as a way to end the horror of war.

    The modus operandi is clear and the Gaza war is no different.

    “Peace” is a double edged sword.

  2. It has been pointed out to me that the sanctions campaign was only one part of the anti-apartheid movement in Australia which tried to raise the consciousness of people here more than any direct effect on the regime in SA.

    People here have described their actions against apartheid in such books as “Australians against racism : testimonies from the anti-apartheid movement in Australia” / [edited by] Penny O’Donnell, Lynette Simons.

    It has also been pointed out that the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and the resistance to the ‘pass laws’ [where movements of black South Africans were restricted] had a big effect on the anti-apartheid movement in other parts of the world. It also had a big effect on the ANC prompting it to take up armed struggle against the apartheid regime.

    Interestingly, one member of the Justice for Palestine group has recently received the following message from her friend in SA:


    See media alert below.

    The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) will announce tomorrow (Tuesday at 09:00 GMT) at a media conference that SA dockworkers have resolved not to offload Israeli goods off a ship that is due to dock in South Africa.

    This will be the beginning of Cosatu’s BDS campaign.

    We are calling on trade unions and solidarity organisations from around the world to send messages of support to Cosatu (and, in particular, to the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union – Satawu) for this decision and action.

    It will be great if these messages could be received before the media conference.

    Please send them to me at

    I will send you the full Cosatu statement after the media conference.

    Please send this out to other organisations which might be willing to assist with messages of support or endorsement.

    Palestine Solidarity Committee – South Africa

  3. Richard B. says:

    I would agree broadly with Ian’s analysis, but suggest that the campaign for trade boycotts did have some impact on the Apartheid regime – by weakening support provided to it by Governments. (A correction: Ian says boycotts began mid ’80s – UN General Assembly called for them in 1962!) It is the reverse side of the rewards of increased trade for that support. Israel’s trade with the regime increased tenfold over a decade (’70s, I think -was in a UN report I’ve mislaid- will check). Over three years (1968/71) Australian exports to South Africa trebled.

    But when Australia ended its resistance to sporting bans following the 1971 Springbok protests, and the raising of consciousness that went with them, attention did turn to boycotts, etc. Woolworth’s fish finger, imported from South Africa, became a target -and I suggest that this helped moved other firms to question their trade with South Africa – whether on principle, or fear of protest.

    The Springbok protests did have an impact on South Africa. Professor Robert Anderson of Ormond College Melb.Uni went to S.A. on a fact finding mission with two other Presbyterian Ministers while the tour was on – and described the “tremendous shock (there) that this little outpost was reacting against apartheid . . . In fact, the Austrralian demonstrations have had a greater impact than those in Britain or any other country..” (The Australian, 17/7/71) And of course they provided a morale boost to those in South Africa fighting Apartheid.

    And let’s not forget the changes the protests brought to Australia – raising questions of racism here, setting the stage for greater impact of the Aboriginal Embassy, and questioning our dependance on US leadership.

    Given the gap between rich (incl. a handful of non-whites) and poor (non-whites) in S.A. today, the other question raised by Ian is highly relevant. The Pan-African Congress was well to the left of the ANC – but what hope of success did it have? More or less than that of Hamas?

  4. The 1962 UN resolution to which Richard refers called for voluntary sanctions by member states. This resolution was originally boycotted by Western governments because of their disagreement with the requirement to break off all ties and boycott all goods and arms sales to South Africa (See clauses 4 a -e ).

    Nevertheless there was an arms embargo (limited) and OPEC (middle-eastern) countries placed oil sanctions on SA which was skirted by US-backed Iran supplying SA with oil until the Shah was deposed in 1979.
    So it was not until 1985 that stronger sanctions were applied by the international community. See SANCTIONS ON SOUTH AFRICA: WHAT DID THEY DO?

    The UN has an unhappy relationship with Israel having recognised the zionist state by mandate in 1948 as a result of European guilt over the holocaust. This is an oversimplification because any number of dates could be quoted as definitive in this conflict. Take 1936 (the Arab Revolt) 1929, 1921, 1917 (Balfour declaration and British mandate established, 1897 or 1858 (birth of zionism). It can’t all be lumped on the UN, British colonialism, Nazism, Zionism all played their part.

    Many of UN resolutions concerning Israel’s military aggression over the years have either been vetoed by the US or ignored by Israel.

    Remember it bombed the UN school and depot in Gaza as its representatives sat down with the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

    If left to the UN, we must conclude there will be no justice for Palestinians.

    We should not forget that the UN declaration of human rights was proclaimed in 1948 as Israel was recognised, as Apartheid was enacted in South Africa and when Aboriginal people were not even regarded as human beings by the Labor government that sent its leader, Doc Evatt, to be president of the UN in that same year to witness the signing of the human rights declaration. See Doc Evatt Foundation

    So we must ask ourselves what kind of boycott do we want and what is its objective. How long can the Palestinians wait and at what cost? Black South Africa did not wait for the UN, it won the struggle at great cost over a period of 40 years from the UN resolution to have apartheid removed. And their reward? Widespread poverty — economic apartheid — they got change with no change. The fundamental exploitation remains.

    Is this what people want?

    Reference: United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1761

  5. The springbok protests definitely influenced Australian politics, it provided a boost to the emerging land rights movement and it revealed to the new left that Australia too had black people, Bantu stands and pass laws.

    I struggle with this notion of “moral support” as it seems to be meaningless to power in real terms. How important was the moral support of Australians to South Africans when they faced their life choices whether to resist or not? The Australian protests might well have been a topic of conversation and put smiles on a few black faces and frowns on a few white faces but outside of Australia it only manifested as media sensationalism. In terms of real politics it achieved nothing outside of Australia. The social forces for and against South African resistance was about local organisational strength, material resources, local solidarity and the extent of state brutality and had nothing to do with the good wishes of international commentators. The necessary evolution of consciousness for South Africans – “black is beautiful” did not come from international protests but from the leadership of African activists, teachers and artists.

    Only those Australians who contributed material assistance to the ANC, PAC, etc. can claim to have supported the African struggle, all the other protesters were either building a struggle in this country or just making themselves feel morally righteous.

    The real and non-symbolic resistance of South Africans was a direct boost to the struggle here, Australian radical political movements were morally and intelectually supported much more by South African resistance than the other way around. The South African resistance legitimised struggle in Australia, not the other way around.

    Until we can manifest a real struggle in this country then we have nothing of moral value to offer to any struggle anywhere else. Until then our fine plattitides are just hot air that only provide momentum to the so called peace plans devised by our leaders, the oppressors themselves.

    Until we are resisting in our own country, our claim of solidarity with others who are resisting in theirs is very shallow. There is a big difference between joining someone in struggle and giving them moral support from a position of non-struggle.

    moral support is the opiate of the people.

  6. Wow, I’ve found someone who agrees with me.

    “Sanctions did not liberate South Africa” by Tim Black

    “The nostalgic recollection of anti-apartheid sanctions and boycotts is not just a delusion. It serves a purpose. By associating the action of foreign states, not to mention consumers, with the end of racial oppression in South Africa, the fantasies of the anti-apartheid activists place potential action against Israel in a specious tradition of state-sponsored anti-imperialism.”

    “And this is the real aspect that today’s anti-Israel lobby shares with the Anti-Apartheid Movement. They are both born of narcissism, an inability, as the social theorist Christopher Lasch defined it, to distinguish the self from the external world. Instead, the world appears as little more than a mirror of the self. Be it a conflict in the Middle East, or an anti-colonial struggle in Africa, both are experienced in terms of the self, and its frustrated desire for meaning and purpose. Little wonder that the ultimate horizon of such narcissistic solidarity with spectacles of suffering is the boycott, as if the act of individual consumption contained within it the potential for world revolution. Do we really want to turn Palestinians into the pet victims of Western liberals, in the same way that the Anti-Apartheid Movement did with black South Africans 20 years ago?”

  7. Hello John,

    I do not think that anti-apartheid solidarity in Australia can be written off as a psychological aberration, ‘born of narcissism’.

    It was a political movement which formed ties between people, black and white — it was a non-racial movement as Chris Hani pointed out.

    Of course there is racism still in South Africa, but the difference now is the racism is not institutionalized racism. The struggle against the institution of apartheid was won first and foremost by African organisations of differing political colours and differing racial background.

    The Springbok tour in 1971 brought out and raised political consciousness both here and there. The Springboks were an all white team, the Botha regime in SA had institutionalized racism in sport.

    Look how things have changed, if you look at the South African cricket team that recently conquered the Australian team, touted by the sporting press as the ‘best-in-the-world’, was a multi-racial team not chosen on the basis of race. This did not come about as a result of black south african’s becoming ‘pet victims of Western liberals’ as Tim Black puts it. That reasoning is far too abstract. The pundits at ‘Spiked’ overlook the class nature of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, against racism in the South in the US, and in Palestine. It is poor working class that bear the brunt of the suffering.

    Organic political change occurred both there and here to make change possible.

    As for the sanctions campaign, that too may just be one of many tactics in the political isolation of Israel – it may not be that effective here, but who knows, it may strengthen political organisation and resolve as the anti-zionist movement grows.

    This is not something we should relie upon bloggers at ‘Spiked’ to tell us, or anyone for that matter, we need to find out for ourselves through our own actions what is true and what works and what does not.

    In the end solidarity is not a contest of ideas, it is struggle, politically organised struggle.

    in solidarity

  8. Ian,

    The extent to which Australian solidarity manifested as a development of the Australian struggle, in particular land rights and Qld. civil liberties, it was no psychological abheration. It was a conscious assesment of the historical conditions and a strategy to bring about change in those conditions. However, the extent to which it assumed some role of significance in the African struggle is a matter of Australian minds and non-conscious cultural assumptions rather than African historical conditions.

    I believe African sporting clubs have more to do with non-racial selection of sporting teams than any desire of foreign sports fans. This indeed did not come from being pet victims of liberals, nor did the new government These things came about by serious struggle and organisation in South Africa – this I believe is the point I am trying to make.

    The problem with South Africa was not racism, just as that is not the problem with Australia. The problem in both cases are matters of poverty and ownership of the means of production, in particular land. The racism of the colonial regimes in Africa and Australia instituted disposession from land and economy which is what causes death, disease and misery.

    The white regime repressed the blacks, not because they were black but because they were on the one hand the cheap labour of the white enterprises and secondarily because their liberation was a major threat to the prosperity, property and lifestyles of the whites.

    How is the state of South African poverty and disease today? Do the non-racial government and sporting teams provide any solution to widespread poverty and disposession from land?

    No they dont. poverty in South Africa today is caused by the same things that caused it under white rule. The cosmetic “non-racial” changes have just given a new gloss to the domination of South Africa by foreign mining and agribusiness corporations and banks who still steal the wealth from indigenous people, at best offerring a lucky minority the opportunity to be wage slaves and the vast majority tackling desperate poverty. The world bank dropped its debt to South Africa and then gave it a new set of development loans to be repaied at the same rate as the previous loans. South Africa is still totally controlled by foreign debt and the world bank just as it was under apartheid, the people still do not have power in real terms over their land or the means of production. But the foreign investment climate is much more stable now than under apartheid.

    But some of us in Australia delude ourselves into thinking that South Africa has been healed and we had a part in that healing. The international protests were used by the world bank to contain the S.A. economy much more than they were used by African communist and nationalist movements to achieve their ends.

    Politically organised struggle is not something that exists in a vacuum of ideas – at least it shouldn’t be. The capacity to read history and respond consciously is the basis of any real struggle.

    Activism without conscious understandings of the purpose of action is just a narcisistic head trip, like praying in public for for peace.

    The Palestinian BDS was devised by Palestinians primarily to build economic, educational and cultural independence in the Palestinian territories and to remove the profit motive from their own oppression. Secondarily it was designed to revive the Arab nations isolation of Israel. As far as international solidarity goes, its only function was to be a platform for propaganda that de-legitimises Israel, a pre-Gaza war strategy that was superceded by the strategy of promoting images of the children and civilian victims of the war in the mainstream media – a strategy that you have strongly spoken against in B.T..

    A serious support to Palestine in terms of the Palestinian agenda would involve either direct donations to the resistance or developing import/export businesses with Palestinian businesses. Short of that, putting pictures of dead children in the mainstream media is all that can be done.

    What are the objectives of the solidarity action that you and others propose other than providing an outlet for Australians to let off steam regarding their own anxieties about Palestine?

    Or is letting off steam a meaningfull mode of struggle and I just don’t get it?

  9. John,

    Have you seen the website ‘Viva Palestina‘ and the associated strategy of forming a convoy of aid from Britain to Gaza?

    George Galloway (a real social democrat not a fake one like Rudd) describes its progress at

    To me this is the kind of solidarity that I think is warranted, especially if the convoy manages to run the Israeli blockade in Rafa at the Egyptian/Gazan border.


  10. Well it’s always a struggle to respond to such overwhelming death and destruction. But as woody Guthrie pnce said “The secret to life is showing up!”

    One idea is to locate how your place is complicit in the recent killing in Gaza and focus what resources you can muster at that point…this helps to avoid becoming a therapeutic talkfest or mere moralising. That Brisbane hosts Raytheon one of Israel’s largest weapon suppliers offers a logical target in responding tot he death and destruction in Gaza. A similar office provides a focus in Derry, Ireland and has become the focus of much creative solidarity nvda

    If one finds oneself not up for much at this point in their lives, one can offer proactive solidarity with those who who have chosen this time to put their bodies on the line. The more solidarity the resister gets the easier and more plentiful the resistance is going to be….check out the EDO 6 some presently in jail and some on bail
    for taking nvda to their local Isareli supplying arms cmpany in Brighton, England. Prison addresses for the folks still in should be on this link.

    Why not drop the a line from sunny Queensland as it’s freezing over here.

  11. Who are the resisters with whom to show solidarity?

    Those resisting are not the British non-violent activists but the Hamas militias.

    To psychologically substitute the real struggle for the international commentary is a misappropriation of the real struggle to promote the ideologies and agendas of the so-called support activists themselves outside of Palestine.

    The absolution of personal complicity also is purely for the benefit of soothing the personal anxiety of those outside of Palestine.

    As for the Galloway expedition, it is a clear example of the missionary mentality where the point of the project is the experience of the missionaries, not the real needs of those they are trying to help. If humanitarian aid is the objective then a much more cost effective mode of aid would be on-going direct donations to the international aid agencies already in Gaza, or to the Palestinians who organise supply routes through the tunnels. To wrap aid up into a one-off tourist package is self indulgent adventurism.

    I must comment on the boast that someone has donated a yacht to the Palestinian fishers to replace the boats destroyed by Israel. Perhaps the fisherfolk can timeshare the yacht to have their holiday’s on but it is not at all a realistic response to the needs of fishing – it is a response by the yacht owner’s need to feel relevant. The sort of boats that Australia sent to East Timor – designed for fishing in the local circumstance, would be very usefull I am sure. However, the main problem that Palestinian fishers have at the moment is not lack of boats but the Israeli naval blockade that prevents them fishing where the fish are,.

    Maybe Galloway should get a British Naval destroyer to help the Palestinian fisherfolk rather than a Royal Mail van.

  12. John,

    For an anarchist you have a very Leninist view of struggle.

    It is not only Hamas militias that resist Israel.

    To say otherwise is to fall into the trap of the Israeli propaganda machine.

    Why do you think grandmothers hand rocks to children to throw at tanks?

    If Hamas did not exist Israel would have invented it – actually it did invent Hamas as a counter to Fatah.

    The Palestinian resistance is widespread, it is in the refugee camps, in the Palestinian trade unions, in Christian and Islamic Palestinian communities.

    As for George Galloway’s mob, it shows a widespread belief in Britain to the Zionist narrative (ironically where it began with the Balfour Declaration of 1917).

    My grandfather was a conservative but recognized Palestine. Many of the British are the same despite their conservatism they not accept the Israel narrative above the Palestinian story.

    Both exist, in fact they could co-exist as a secular state if it weren’t for the Zionists and their supporters who have set up a Jewish state (as Livny says) and those others that would set up an Islamic state.

    George Galloway should be supported, the ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy is a Palestinian version of the international brigade to the Spanish Civil War, what is wrong with that?

    in solidarity

  13. Dufus,

    The weapons come from the west, otherwise the Israelis would be throwing rocks too.
    John you can choose to sit on your ass and do nothing but cynically snipe in cyberspace at those moved by compassion struggling for a response. You can also cheerlead for violenceion faraway places…very first world white boy responses.

    Meanwhile back on earth friends are risking their lives and liberty over the last period resisitng the U.S./Brit companies that supplyIsrael the weapons.

    Caoimhe and Kathy made their way into Gaza in solidarity while the bombs dropped…listen to Chomsky on the siginificance of this phenomenon.

    The boycott sounds like a large project…if you want something immediate support those folks in jail and awaiting trial for nonviolent resistance over this last period see link above Edo 6 for example.
    Name and shame Raytheon in Brisbane for its profiterring in the bombing of Gaza

  14. I have certainly embraced historical materialism and dialecticism in my old age, but not Leninism. The Bolsheviks killed 6 million indigenous Russian peasants based on the ideological illusion of eugenics, such genocidal fantasy has no place in today’s struggles. .

    The attempts to de-legitimise Hamas as a terrorist group or as a puppet of Iran and Syria or as an authoritarian regime is the point at which western liberalism intersects with the Israeli agenda, the point at which support for armed struggle is evaded and so-called solidarity is reduced to simple compassion and humanitarian aid provision, the point at which solidarity is conditional and denied to the armed struggle (unless it is grandmothers and children with stones).

    israel blames Hamas aggression for its attacks on Gaza and it seems the western peace movement does too.

    The minimal demand for a ceasefire and opening of aid routes is just a recipe for continued domination by Israel and Palestinian dependence on their oppressor.

    Whether we like it or not, the resistance is being orchestrated by Hamas, the democratically elected government of Gaza. This might change but that is how it is now.

    What is the path to peace and justice in Palestine? Whatever ideologies and illusions the western peace movement has about the situation, Hamas, has sought the support of Iran and Syria. As many have pointed out, the Palestinian capacity for resistance is minimal, only by getting the support of other regional powers can Israel be challenged at all, Same as South Africa was dependent on the communist block and its intervention into Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia as well as economic and military support in South Africa itself..

    We may not like the undemocratic stench of the Islamic revolution but the simple truth is the Palestinian resistance is now part of it. The Palestiinian resistance in not a simple nationalist movement but part of the regional Arab and Muslim resistance to Israel and the U.S. Palestine, like Iraq and Afghanistan and Kashmir are just flashpoints in a global war.

    The western peace movements rejection of Islam as a political force and consequent rejection of Islamic struggle has de-legitimised Hamas in equal proportion to its delegitimisation of Israel. – 2 bob each way rather than taking sides in the struggle.

    Hamas has been negotiating a cease fire with Egypt. The primary demand of Hamas is opening up aid routes, in particular opening Rafah.

    Today, Rafah has been closed.

    It seems to me that the symbolic challenges to Israel’s blockade such as the Galloway junket and the Lebonese ship captured yesterday have played a significant role in undermining Hamas’s negotiations for the opening of Rafah to mainstream aid agencies.

    Aid is very political, many agencies are fronts for CIA agendas. Israel is trying to make Fatah control aid in Gaza. Hamas has its own relationships with aid agencies and it is insisting on being in control of Gaza aid.

    Bombastic adventurism and media spectacles can only be used to de-stabilse the very fragile aid lines that Hamas has been able to organise at present.

    The Galloway trip has nothing to do with the International brigades. The brigades provided soldiers, not humanitarian aid to the spanish armed struggle, they joined the struggle on the struggle’s own terms.

    Solidarity was at the core of the brigades but there was nothing at all symbolic about it – no royal mail vans there. It is a liberal romantic delusion to compare Galloway with the brigades.

    As long as the western peace movement continues to play with the ideas of war and peace and act them out in theatrical exhibitions of their own opinions then it cannot connect to the historical force in Palestine or in our own back yard.

  15. p.s. Ian,

    In recent B.T. posts you have condemned suicide bombers, advertising in mainstream media, the involvement of religious groups and Hamas. I wonder how closely your perception of the struggle matches the real struggle that is occuring in Palestine. The conditions of your solidarity seem to exclude the resistance itself.


    When you can engage in a national resistance movement – in Australia or Ireland or anywhere, then you will have the integrity to critique white boy politics. Your international saviour model of activism is itself the essense of white western moral superiority politics.

    What information did Kathy bring back from Palestine that was not available from Palestinian media outlets? What is so important about her visit? Were the threats to her Palestinian hosts worth it to tell her story?

  16. Hello John,

    Why must you caricature what I say? Do you own a stereo? Yes. Do you own a keyboard? Yes. You are the biggest stereotyper on the Left. lol.

    If you had attended any of the rallies organised by Justice for Palestine (JFP) in Brisbane you would not have heard a single speaker criticise any aspect of the Palestinian resistance; certainly there was no criticism of Hamas.

    That did not happen by chance.

    There was a political decision taken by JFP to invite a wide range of speakers to speak at four rallies and a number of speak outs in January, but on the condition that they would not criticise Hamas.

    ‘Justice for Palestine’ is not ‘a western peace movement’, it comprises Afghani, Arab, Jew, Indian, Irish, english and many other migrants to this aboriginal land. Murris spoke at every rally, murris and Kooris attended the rallies. As one Koori told me at one “Of course this is important, it is about land rights”.

    An ALP federal member, Graham Perrett, undertook to abide by the decision ‘(not to criticise Hamas) and kept his word on the dais on the day. This, while both his leader and deputy leader have been baying like the hounds of the mainstream media for Hamas blood to be shed.

    The Australian media can see only one narrative, Israel’s. So why advertise there? I mean on principle. Just look at today’s editorial in the Australian titled “No holocaust in Gaza“. How does the open air concentration camp that is Gaza differ the lagers of Auschwitz?

    Any reader of Primo Levy’s classic narrative of his own experience of Auschwitz , “If this is a man” and “The Truce”, should be able to see that Gaza is like (but not the same as) the holocaust. It is genocide. Over 1300 people dead this time, and what about the last time and the time before that? And the next time?

    Ciaron can speak for himself but you are wrong to say he has not been part of a national resistance movement. I stood beside him on a platform during the street marches in Brisbane in 1977 when he was only a lad of about 16 and sang together of the Irish rebellion “The Rising of the Moon“.

    That must say something of his sympathies (and mine).

    in solidarity

  17. Ian,

    I did not say JFP has condemned Hamas, I said you had.

    I did say that the peace movement opposes Hamas, which is a generalisation that should be refined to say the non-muslim peace movement.

    As for Ciaron, his demonisation of Aboriginal leaders (and Irish republlican leaders) dissolves any credibility he had in a national resistance, at least as much as the Aboriginal struggle has anything to do with a national movement. A national liberation movement that does not tolerate indigenous leadership is indeed white boy politics, or as I prefer to say – colonial consciousness.

  18. Hello John,

    Why must you caricature everything I say? Do you own a stereo? Yes. Do you type on a keyboard? Yes. You are the biggest stereotyper on the Left .

    Get the record straight, I have not and do not condemn Hamas.

    I am for a secular state of Palestine, Hamas wants an Islamic state. Just because i disagree with them on that does not mean i will criticize or condemn them — I am with them, like every olive tree, every lemon orchard, every village they protect through their resistance.


  19. “If Hamas did not exist Israel would have invented it – actually it did invent Hamas as a counter to Fatah.”

  20. There are only two alternatives for Palestine, 1/ An Israeli/Wold bank dominated economy and a so-called democracy dominated by Israeli/world bank collaborators, such as Fatah is in the West Bank and 2/ Islamic resistance where the focus of power is not the “democracy” but the local community and tribal organisations (the centrality of the mosques in grass roots organisation) and their regional and international interconnectedness by way of not just the philosophy of Islam but more importantly the political structures of it.

    It is just a fantasy of affluent western culture to invent a third way based on its own mythology and campaign for it.

  21. John,

    Why limit the outcome of Palestinian struggle to only two possible outcomes? This is comic book stuff, if you don’t mind me saying.

    I do not accept your premise that that Palestine has an Islamic culture, it is an Arab culture. What of the culture of the Druze, the Bedouins, the christian Palestinians? They are all part of Arab culture.

    Arab culture has even permeated Israeli society as depicted in the film “The Lemon Tree”. By saying that the only alternative to an Israeli World Bank Jewish ‘democratic state’ state is an Islamic one is to misrepresent the nature of the struggle, it is not a religious struggle, you even say that yourself. The Palestinian people want their land, their villages that have been bulldozed, their houses, their culture back. A right of return. Arab people from other countries want that too. You ignore the strength of Arab unity, of worker solidarity. You ignore recent history as well, the Nasserite revolution that took land back from the British and the state of Israel until the 6 day war. Nasser did not lead an Islamic revolt against colonialism it was a pan Arab revolt.

    In your 2-solution-scenario you also ignore that section of Israeli society that is not Zionist, broadly depicted as the ‘Peace Now’ movement. This probably represents about 20% of Israeli society, depending on the time and situation.

    Why ignore the original aims of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Popular Front, the Democratic front, the Palestinian trade unions? Even Fatah itself has such aims no matter how corrupted they have become, and so too the international solidarity movement spawned by the Palestinian diaspora. Why ignore Lebanon, the preferred destination for many Palestinian refugees, because of its open secular society.

    If you pool the aims of all these you have at least the hope of a secular Palestine. There is historical precedent for this, after Saladin drove out the Crusaders from Jerusalem, Saladin set up freedom of religion of all persuasions in Jerusalem. Only to be defeated in the third Crusade by the anti-Semitic Richard the LionHeart of England who savagely put to the sword Muslim and Jew alike.

    And who says that Hamas is not pragmatic about its Islam? Surely they would prefer a secular state of Palestine to a Jewish one?

    You need to read more, John, read the narrative of both people, start with something real, contemporary, the true story described in “The Lemon Tree” by Sandy Tolan [a book not to be confused with a the film of the same name].

    That is pretty much all I have for you on this point, I have my own understanding of the struggle to improve, so maybe we can talk after some more thinking and doing. Why don’t you come to the Justice for Palestine meetings and find out for yourself where people stand? This Wednesday 11 Feb 2009 at 6pm at Trades Hall they are showing a Palestinian film called “Jenin Jenin” followed by a meeting and discussion.

    in solidarity


    Upon the capture of Jerusalem, Saladin summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city in particular the Jews of Ashkelon which was a large Jewish settlement responded his request.

    See Wikipedia

  22. Ian,

    I have indeed read the narratives of both sides. I have also read the narrative of the international support commentary which is quite different from the perspectives that come from Palestinian analysts. .

    The simple reason of the Gaza war is to destroy Hamas. To try and construct an understanding of the war and its solutions while dismissing Hamas as simply provocateur for Israel is just parroting the imperial narrative,

    “The French and US foreign ministers have both said that they will push the Israeli administration to open the Gaza Strip crossings but that neither will speak with any member of the Hamas party because they are “not a part of the peace process.”

    I do not believe the Israeli people will be the saviours of Palestine either, Netenyahu is gaining ground in the electoion on his promise to go back into Gaza and finish the job off. The Israeli liberals will be appeased by the world bank saviours.

    If Islam is so irrelevant to the Palestinian struggle then why is Jerusalem so important to it? Good television reception on the mount?

  23. Hello John,

    Peace Now Movement

    Some of the strongest defenders of the Palestinian resistance at the rallies in January 09 were Jewish people. For example in Brisbane two Jews spoke out against the assault on Gaza.

    Here is part of what one of those people, Ray Bergmann, said:

    “Zionism claims, as the Nazis did, that anti-Semitism is inevitable if Jews live amongst non-Jews because ethnic conflict is a natural consequence of what they claimed were “incompatible races mixing together”.

    “Judaism on the other hand teaches that the long exile from the Holy Land is decreed by heaven until the Messianic dream time when the whole world would be in peace and harmony. So Zionism is incompatible with Judaism, with its teaching of universal justice and compassion for the oppressed.”

    The other Jewish speaker was even more direct, Margot Shalom said Palestinians have a right to resist Israeli aggression and should do so. Margot was shaking as she said this. Perhaps she understands better than you or me what such statements mean — especially when stated by a Jewish person.

    So don’t give me that hogwash about “Israeli liberals will be appeased by world bank saviours”, this is a real conflict with human consequences.

    Now, you raise the question of Jerusalem. And you do it with glib sarcasm, some might interpret it as disrespect (not to me, but to Palestinians), with the words: “Good television reception on the mount?”

    When the Butcher of Beirut, Sharon, went up to the Temple Mount in September 2000 he provoked the “al-Aksa Intifada” which continued for five years. Five years of children and adolescents throwing stones at soldiers with machine guns and tanks. Sharon’s visit reminded Palestinians, young and old, that not only had their land been taken by the Zionists but had been taken by force by brutal men like Sharon who earnt his name in the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Shabra and Shatilla camps in Beirut in 1982.

    You say you have read Palestinian analysts, but you still do not understand what is most important in Arab culture. Family comes first, then the Village, so the State and Religion are down the list particularly in more secular societies like Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon. If you read Edward Said’s (another Palestinian) account of his family’s retreat from Jerusalem to Cairo in 1948 you may get some idea of what this means. This is the same Edward Said who was the original Palestinian theorist behind the two-state-solution before the Oslo accord. He counseled the PLO but like Arafat recanted this solution before he died.

    You ridicule my statements about Hamas being an invention of Israel. That does not mean that Hamas not changed.

    Hamas was elected in Gaza because in the end Hamas were not corrupt no matter how hard Israel tried to make it so.

    The same with Arafat. In a way, the PLO was an invention of the Americans, but Arafat could not sell out his people, at least not totally, this was confirmed by the love and respect his people showed him when he came back to Palestine in a coffin.”

    A christian Palestinian friend of mine, a refugee from the 1948 Nakba, described how he took his Australian wife to Palestine many years ago under the cover of an Australian passport (Palestinians are not allowed back). He did not speak of Jerusalem, he spoke of his family’s land, his village now occupied by Israeli settlers.

    If you do some research you will probably find that the Zionists bulldozed more Muslim villages than Christian villages in Palestine after the Nakba. That would make anyone upset, you do not need to be religious.

    History – our own

    Think about the reaction of ordinary people in Brisbane in the 1970s when Joh Bjelke Petersen started his ‘nocturnal demolitions’ of buildings like the mansions – terraced houses in George Street dating back to the 19th century – and Cloudland – where many Brisbane people performed their right of passage – and then he bulldozed the Daintree, all in the name of progress. Joh even used the Deen brothers to do it. People were outraged.

    One Palestinian man who attends the JFP meetings said that there is a group of Israelis in Jerusalem who, for ten years, have been excavating under the al-Aksa Mosque to bring it down.

    A secular state of Palestine?
    The modern state of Israel is an attack on land, culture, history, religion — substituting settlers and development for family and village. All of this will have to be rebuilt someday. Isn’t it more likely that a secular state will achieve the rebuilding of Palestinian villages, especially in a land where Arab culture is still dominant, and ironically where its culture has even been appropriated by modern Israeli society through Israeli use of Arab food, music, orchards and olive groves — all products of Palestinian land.

    In the book, ‘The Lemon Tree’ by Sandy Tolan, a young Jewish woman, at home alone, hears the doorbell ring in the house in Ramallah where her family lives. She goes to the door. There are Palestinians outside, in front is a young man of 25. She looks at them and knows, in fact she has been waiting for them all her life, it is their house her family has been living in. The young man asks her if they can come in to see the house they had fled 19 years previous in 1948. She lets them in.

    As Oodgeroo said: ““Let no one say the past is dead. The past is all about us and within.”

    Ian Curr
    8 February 2009


    Orientalism by Edward Said See also

    Nocturnal Demolitions by Rod Fisher at

    Cloudland at Bartlett’s blog at

    The Palestinian War at

  24. Ian,

    Your faith in Israelis to liberate Palestine is absurd. Ar best they will only moderate the brutality of the colonial state.

    Your denial of the significance of Islam is just an imposition of your own philosophy onto the situation. What do you think is the structure of the Arab culture in terms of family, village and nation? What sustains this culture?

    The P.L.O. charter identifies the Palestinian’s spiritual connection to land as a centrepiece of Arab palestinian identity. What is this spirituality?

    Your denial of the significance of Jerusalem – to the whole Arab world – as the place of Mohommed’ ascension is the disrespect. Your patronising atheist dismissal of the consciousness of Arabs, religious and secular is the disrespect. Islam is not a religion as the church of england or rome are, it is a culture and sociology and in the middle east it is a deep connection to land and history.

    The doctrine of seperation of church and state which seems to underpin your attitude to spirituality is not based in Islam, Judaism or Christianity. It is a construction of the Magna Carta, a contract between the church of england, the monarch and the parliament of england.

    Your attitude to spirituality is a product of your culture and not the culture of Arabs who, like so many indigenous people, see a unity of spirit and the land as a cultural force – from a broad spectrum from orthodox religiosity to simple national identity.

    The notion of a secular state is a construction of the ruling classes, originally in england but now in the whole “democratic” world that disposessess people of their spiritual connection to land and the law and power of their extended families.


    The main people that got upset about Joh’s demolitions were bourgoise liberals wanting to preserve the colonial history and identity of Brisbane which has no parallel at all with people fighting for the indigenous spiritual connection to their own land. (even though colonial consciousness believes it is the same thing)

    To compare the Belleview hotel to the Al Aqsa Mosque is beyond offensive.

    I suggest your denial of the cultural importance of Islam to Arabs is the real misunderstanding.

  25. I just read the Said link. It seems your critique and dismissal of Hamas is a good example of orientalism.

    Why do you refer to a Jewish commentary on the 2000 Intifada? Do you agree with its comments about Palestinian violence?. You will not get an understanding of the spiritual significance of jerusalem to Arabs by reading Jewish encyclopedias.

    SBS documentary on Hamas tonight (Sunday) 11.15pm

  26. John,

    You are just talking, many of your words are both false and caricatures of what i have just written. If you don’t listen to what people say (or read what they write) how can you expect to convince anyone of anything?

    Get this straight, for about the fourth time, I do not dismiss Hamas, nor do I condemn it. What I said was:

    You ridicule my statements about Hamas being an invention of Israel. That does not mean that Hamas has not changed.

    Hamas was elected in Gaza because in the end Hamas were not corrupt no matter how hard Israel tried to make it so.

    The same with Arafat. In a way, the PLO was an invention of the Americans, but Arafat could not sell out his people, at least not totally, this was confirmed by the love and respect his people showed him when he came back to Palestine in a coffin.”

    Anyone can talk but what are you prepared to do about Palestine?

    Said gave his life for Palestine, not as a soldier or a militant but as a tireless supporter. As the notes on Orientalism (that you are so keen to distort) point out:

    Said’s primary objectives were humanistic and not Islamic; his vision for Palestine and Israel’s peaceful co-existence necessarily took Islam into consideration, but emphasized the needs of Palestinians and Israelis as two ethnic groups whose basic needs, such as food, water, shelter and protection, were to be valued above all else.

    “Food, water, shelter” — sounds pretty secular to me, John. Not much spirituality in getting a drink of clean water.

    To put the Israel-Palestine conflict down to spirituality (or religion) is stupidity, it has nothing to do with Islam or Judaism — as countless Arab and Jewish commentators have pointed out. Just listen to and read the speeches at the Justice for Palestine rallies — nor did the Imam put it down to that. You are with Mass Murdoch and similar right loonies like George Bush and Greg Sheridan (of the AUSTRALIAN) on this one, John.

    Quote me one serious Arab commentator who puts this down to a question of Islam.

    Just look at the issues reported in the Palestine News Network:

    # Turkey on my mind
    # Hamas party calls for investigation at the UNRWA
    # France and US freeze out Hamas while Egypt tells Israelis to drop intransigence
    # Jenin area still reeling from assassination is hit again
    # Rafah crossing closed after partial opening
    # Brother of assassination victim: it was horrible
    # Pray for rain: huge losses in agriculture
    # Cost of living raises for Gaza Strip and West Bank

    The closest you get to religion is “Pray for rain” and any atheist could be caught saying those words, especially this weekend, given the disastrous fires in Victoria .

    OK you don’t like Rallies and Marches and you avoid JFP meetings (no doubt you think they are run by leftists) why not go to the Vigil and memorial service next Sunday at City Square. For details, see


    PS. Ordinary people including a lot of Murris (not ‘bourgeois liberals’ as you put it) got upset when Joh tore down Cloudland to replace it with a developers monstrosity. Don’t believe me, read Bartlett’s Blog.

  27. For a publisher you seem to have a low opinion of words.

    Action for action’s sake is stupid.

    You ask me what am I prepared to do about Palestine? I have sent emails to Rudd through the Amnesty campaign so that I can have the warm inner glow to know that I did not do nothing. It seemed a more direct way to express my dissaproval than participating in a demonstration to somehow send a mesage to somebody or other through the media, if the demo is lucky enough to get media coverage. Why is my easy option less effective than your marching around in the hot sun?

  28. I believe the president of Gaza, an Imam, has had some things to say about Islam as have the non-Hamas militant factions.

    Hamas has not hidden its Islamism. They won an election on the basis of it. Either the people of Gaza respect their Islamism or they are stupid.

    PLO charter,,,,,

    Article 7: That there is a Palestinian community and that it has material, spiritual, and historical connection with Palestine are indisputable facts………….All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country in the most profound manner, both spiritual and material, that is possible.

    Article 16: The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country’s religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support.

    Your de-spiritualisation of Arab identity is a psychological assumption of a spiritless society such as Australia.

    As for Oodgeroo and history, her comment about the 67 referendum is, I suggest, relevent to Palestinian solidarity activism….

    “Looking back, the only major improvement has been the 93% ‘Yes’ vote of the referendum of May 1967; but this improvement did not benefit the black Australians though it eased the guilty conscience of white Australians in this country and overseas.
    It can be regarded therefore as a victory for white Australians who formed a coalition with black Australians. Black Australians must be seen as stooges for white Australians working in the interest of white Australians. – Oodgeroo Noonuccal”

    To use Oodgeroo as a symbol for your own perceptions of history is a colonial misappropriation.

  29. “Quote me one serious Arab commentator who puts this down to a question of Islam.”

    “The Role of Islam in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” By: Bassem Eid*

    “While the proliferation and threat of Islamic extremism is the greatest danger challenging the regional status quo, there is no evidence to support contentions that resolution of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict will ameliorate the strategic threat this phenomena poses to Israel. This is primarily due to the fact that Islamic extremism is a manifestation of deeply imbued religious, cultural, and historical norms which transcends the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.”

  30. Upcoming Justice for Palestine meetings and protests:

    Justice for Palestine organising meeting and film
    Featuring: Jerusalem: An East Side Story

    This documentary covers the recent history of Jerusalem through interviews with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, human rights activists, and political analysts. History is heaped on Jerusalem by the truckload. The latest shipment of history is the Israeli occupation. This film takes you on a journey exposing Israel’s policy to gain supremacy and hegemony over the city and its inhabitants.

    Wednesday Feb 11, 6pm-9pm (film screening from 6-7pm, organising meeting 7-9pm)
    TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane

    Justice for Palestine organising meeting and film
    Featuring: The Land Speaks Arabic

    Palestinian Maryse Gargour’s film, The Land Speaks Arabic, unearths rare photos in order to tell the story of Palestinian dispossession in 1948 when over 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly removed from their land. Gargour’s film directly confronts the aims of the Zionist leaders who were behind Israel’s creation as a state. The documentary also has interviews with Palestinians who still vividly remember life before 1948, before they were expelled.

    Wednesday Feb 18, 6pm (film screening from 6-7pm, organising meeting 7-9pm)
    TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane

    Boycott Starbucks! Protest!
    Howard Shultz, the chairman of Starbucks is an active supporter of the Zionist state of Israel. In 1998 he was honoured by the Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah with “The Israel 50th Anniversary Friend of Zion Tribute Award” for his services to the zionist state in “playing a key role in promoting close alliance between the United States and Israel”.

    The Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah funds Israeli arms fairs chaired by the “butcher of Jenin” – General Shaul Mofaz, and the zionist propaganda website honest

    His work as a propagandist for Israel has been praised by the Israeli Foreign Ministry as being key to Israel’s long-term PR success. In 2002, while the Israeli army was slaughtering Palestinians in Jenin, Nabulus and Bethlehem he made a provocative speech blaming the Palestinians for terrorism, suggesting the intifada was a manifestation for anti-Semitism, and asked people to unite behind Israel.

    Starbucks continues to support Israel by sponsoring fund raisers for Israel. Now is the time to isolate the corporations that support apartheid Israel. Join the boycott of Starbucks.

    Saturday February 21, 11am
    Starbucks Store, Queen’s Plaza (near corner of Adelaide & Queen Sts)

    Justice for Palestine organising meeting and film
    Featuring: Jenin. Jenin.

    Jenin Jenin, directed and co-produced by Palestinian actor and director Mohamed Bakri, includes testimony from Jenin residents after the massacre carried out in the refugee camp by the Israeli military in April 2002. Banned in Israel, Jenin Jenin is dedicated to Iyad Samoudi, the producer of the film. On June 23, as Israeli forces besieged Yamun, Samoudi was shot and killed as he was leaving a military-closed area with three friends.

    Wednesday Feb 25, 6pm (film screening from 6-7pm, organising meeting 7-9pm)
    TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane

    Public meeting
    The Gaza massacre: Israel must pay for its war crimes in Palestine
    A public meeting to launch the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign in Brisbane

    Wednesday, March 4, 6:30pm
    TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane

    For more information:
    Phone: 0413 783 853 (Abdalla), 0401 586 923 (Hamish)

  31. Hello John,

    I do not think that Bassem Eid from the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group is saying that religion is the cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    I think that he is arguing that a distortion of Islam (extremism) may protract the conflict. In his conclusion he states: “resolution of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict” may not solve Israeli security problems because of weapons sales (from the West [see below]) and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

    He is arguing for a stop to the human rights violations in Palestine based on respect for all religion. See

    I do not disagree with that.

    Also, in your quote he is commenting on Islamic fundamentalism, and I think he does so from a secular perspective. He is a critique of the Palestinian Authority, but he seems to be inside their tent (i.e. he is for secular solutions not islamic ones).

    Don’t confuse what I am saying. I have an Iraqi friend who, when asked by Australians, about his religion, he says that he is a Muslim. But I know that he is not religious, he is making a cultural statement. Also he is professing to being a muslim as a provocation to those that cannot see the difference (between religious belief [islam] and [arab] culture). [I note that in the debate above you simply jumped to conclusions about what I was saying, not bothering to ask what I meant by ‘Arab culture’]. This approach will not shed light on anything.

    On the other hand I think that Bassem Eid can see the difference.

    Also, look at his conclusion:

    “The influx of conventional and non-conventional weapons in the region … is facilitated by the decisions by Western powers and Eastern European countries to accrue the economic benefits
    from these sales at the expense of their long-term strategic interests.”

    Hey, I would not disagree with that being a cause of escalation of the conflict, but it is not the source of the conflict which was the UN supervised taking of Palestinian land by Ben Gurion and his thugs glorified in the film, “Exodus”, scripted for American audiences. [I hope you are not going to get stuck into me for referring to such propaganda].

    Still I can’t see much to support your theory of spirituality in all of this, it is pretty clear — the man is concerned about human rights.


  32. As I read th Eid article he is saying that human rights achords and agreements need to be framed in terms of Islamic principles and historic demands or else the hearts and minds of Arabs will belong to the extremists, the reason being that Islam is such an important pillar of Arab identity. The fact that your non-religious friend embraces moslem identity is an indication of the importance of Islam, even to the non-religious.

    You can’t see much to support my theory of spirituality because you cannot see spirituality. Your denial of the importance of spirituality to Arab consciousness is a western delusion. You have created Arabs in your own image.

  33. I believe the notion of a secular state, as described by Palestinians such as Eid have been misrepresented by Western commentators who seem to see secularism as a modern evolution from a backward religious tribalism.

    The imperial narrative would have a secular state governing the occupied territotries, within a 2 state paradigm.

    However the secular state, as described by Eid is the principle of a one state solution whereby the state is neither Moslem or Jewish (or christian or anything else) – One religiously tolerant state, one vote, one value for the whole of Palestine.

    “One State Solution”, by Bassem Eid

    This is no dismissal of Islamism but rather a call for political tolerence and accomodation of it.

  34. Hello John,

    I agree with what is said in “One State Solution”, by Bassem Eid. I am for a single secular state of Palestine free of American and European interference. The ‘right of return’ for Palestinians is paramount, as is the rebuilding of any Palestinian villages destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. A settler state of Israel is a relic of 19th century colonialism and is not a viable proposition, it is an artifice made possible by US imperialism in the region. Australia, a settler state itself, should break with both colonialism and US imperialism. This is not possible given our current political system that entrenches both colonialism and the US alliance.

    Regarding your accusation some comments above —

    “Your denial of the significance of Jerusalem – to the whole Arab world – as the place of Mohommed’ ascension is the disrespect.”

    The significance of the struggle for Jerusalem from a Palestinian perspective is shown in the film Jerusalem – East Side Story [shown by JFP on Wednesday 11 Feb 2009]

    This documentary covers the recent history of Jerusalem through interviews with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, human rights activists, and political analysts. History is heaped on Jerusalem by the truckload. The latest shipment of history is the Israeli occupation. This film takes you on a journey exposing Israel’s policy to gain supremacy and hegemony over the city and its inhabitants.

    JFP will screen more films about Palestine in coming weeks on Wednesday evenings at 6pm. See JFP entry above for the details of the films to be shown in coming weeks.


  35. The Truth about 2009 Gaza Massacre is a video that shows more of what Israel has done in Gaza in the past month, January 2009.

    The video concentrates on Livni’s lies but this is what Israel has been doing for 60 years, bulldozing villages, creating camps, bombing people, their schools and hospitals — all this has been done in full sight of a world that has been largely inactive and often unmoved — till now.

    Israel has polarised to the right as shown in the recent election for the Israeli parliament (Knesset).

    Meanwhile Palestine has moved toward Hamas which may end up governing both Gaza and the West Bank — the opposite result desired by the American administration and the Zionists.

    Little has changed since Bush polarised Iraq.

    Ian Curr.

  36. Public meeting

    The Gaza massacre:
    Israel must pay for its war crimes in Palestine
    A public meeting to launch the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign in Brisbane

    Avigail Abarbanel: Canberra director of Deir Yassin Remembered
    Khalil Hamdan: QLD Palestinian Association
    Gary MacLennan: Justice for Palestine

    Wednesday March 4, 6:30pm
    TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane

    Over 1300 Palestinian people were slaughtered and over 5300 injured in the three week Israeli attack on Gaza which began on Dec 27, 2008. The massacre sparked a massive worldwide outpouring of solidarity with the people of Palestine. Now is the time to organise this support into a campaign to make Israel pay for its war crimes in Palestine. Come to this public meeting to learn about the growing international movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. No more massacres!

    Organised by Justice for Palestine
    For more information, phone: 0424 264 750 (Emad), 0413 783 853 (Abdalla), 0401 586 923 (Hamish)

  37. Justice for Palestine meeting says:

    Hi all,

    A reminder about this week’s Justice for Palestine meeting – Wednesday (Feb 25), 6pm at the TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane.

    The meeting will start with a screening of Jenin Jenin from 6-7pm.

    in solidarity,


    Jenin Jenin:

    Jenin Jenin, directed and co-produced by Palestinian actor and director Mohamed Bakri, includes testimony from Jenin residents after the massacre carried out in the refugee camp by the Israeli military in April 2002.

    Banned in Israel, Jenin Jenin is dedicated to Iyad Samoudi, the producer of the film.

    On June 23, as Israeli forces besieged Yamun, Samoudi was shot and killed as he was leaving a military-closed area with three friends.

  38. Attacks on UN by IDF says:

    Israeli attacks on UN schools and warehouses in Gaza

    Israel bombed two UN schools, the one referred to below is at BEIT LAHIA .

    The pictures here document the use of white phosphourus at one UN school at Beit Lahia on 17 Jan 09.

    On 6 Jan 09 the people killed at the UN-run al-Fakhura (Fakhoury) school in Jabaliya refugee camp died from mortar and artillery fire not phosphorus. It is this incident that has become the subject of international controversy with many lies told by the IDF and its supporters in the Murdoch Press.

    The UN warehouses and food distribution centres were burned on 15 Jan 09.

    The details of the many attacks on these two places & the resulting deaths can be found at the website of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

    Another interesting site of an israeli peace activist is at

    Ian Curr
    Feb 2009

  39. Justice for Palestine BBQ says:

    Saturday February 28, 1pm
    Orleigh Park, Orleigh St, West End

    Bring a plate

    Look for the Palestinian flag and banners.

    If you can’t find it call 0400 720 757 or 0401 586 923

  40. BMJ reviews the perils of criticising Israel says:

    BMJ reviews the perils of criticising Israel
    by Tony Delamothe 24 Feb 2009

    In 2004, the BMJ published an article criticising Israel, which provoked hundreds of hostile emails. Karl Sabbagh analyses responses sent directly to the editor and takes a broader look at what journalists and editors face when covering controversial issues. Michael O’Donnell thinks that the best way to blunt the effectiveness of orchestrated email campaigns is to expose them to public scrutiny. Jonathan Freedland suggests growing a thicker skin. And Mark Clarfield, a doctor at Sokora Hospital in Israel, is surprised at some of the responses to his blog on
    Avoiding topics where medicine and politics collide is not an option for the BMJ, nor is this what our readers want, write editors Tony Delamothe and Fiona Godlee in an accompanying editorial. They decide to follow the advice of O’Donnell and Freedland and ignore future orchestrated email campaigns. And they suggest authors, editors, publishers, advertisers, and shareholders do the same

    See all articles:

    * What to do about orchestrated email campaigns
    * Toughen up
    * Perils of criticising Israel
    * Standing up for free speech
    * My surprise at fallout over dispatches from Israel
    * Podcast: Doctor under fire

  41. Story from Palestine says:

    Story from Palestine
    by emad sinan
    February 26, 2009

    Pictures from Palestine, showing how does it look lke to live under the occupation. Together, we can make a difference. It’s been 60 years, enough is enough! … view at Story from Palestine

  42. Unbiased coverage says:

    Unbiased coverage

    “Save the life of my child!”
    Cried the desperate mother.
    “What’s becoming of the children?”
    People asking each other.

    No good times, no bad times,
    There’s no times at all,
    Just The New York Times…”

    — from the songs “Save the life of my child” and “Overs” by Paul Simon on the album “Book Ends” by Simon & Garfunkel

    For a study of the ‘unbiased’ coverage by the New York Times (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) and other mass media in the US on Palestine see Unbiased Coverage:The Israel-Palestine Conflict Part 2

    I still do not understand why I was the only person at’Justice for Palestine‘ meeting in Brisbane in January 2009 opposed to giving money ($40,000) to the Murdoch Press to place ads which depicted man carrying a dead child and had another small child holding a placard addressed to the Children of Gaza saying ‘please don’t die. I love you. from Crusoe.

    Can someone explain what was to be achieved after having viewed the analysis in this UTube video? Please don’t begin by telling me you have to use the media.

    Ian Curr
    Feb 2009

    1. I have thought more about this.

      I suppose people were just desperate to do something, anything to stop the killing of the innocent.

      It is not good to be hardline about this, given the many different perspectives and the need for people to work together.

      Perhaps, in the future, we should bear in mind that:
      1. not many people bother to read ads in papers,

      2. not that many people even read papers [part of the reason that News Corp has just posted its largest ever loss] and

      3. the money probably would have been better spent in Palestine.

      As a friend pointed out, George Galloway’s strategy in sending a convoy is a more positive approach and it generates interest and coverage all the way on its route to Gaza. Plus it exposes the political weakness of the regimes in the countries that the convoy passes through.

      Ian Curr
      Feb 2009

  43. There is a factual error above.

    The $40,000 was the cost of the ads placed in Australian daily’s in each capital city.

    Justice for Palestine (Brisbane) made a contribution to ‘Australians for Palestine’ towards the total cost of the ads.

    Ian Curr

  44. Public Meeting - Justice for Palestine says:

    The Gaza massacre:
    Israel must pay for its war crimes in Palestine

    A public meeting to launch the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign in Brisbane

    Avigail Abarbanel: Canberra director of Deir Yassin Remembered
    Khalil Hamdan: QLD Palestinian Association
    Gary MacLennan: Justice for Palestine

    Wednesday March 4, 6:30pm
    TLC Building (2nd floor), 16 Peel St, South Brisbane

    Over 1300 Palestinian people were slaughtered and over 5300 injured in the three week Israeli attack on Gaza which began on Dec 27, 2008. The massacre sparked a massive worldwide outpouring of solidarity with the people of Palestine. Now is the time to organise this support into a campaign to make Israel pay for its war crimes in Palestine. Come to this public meeting to learn about the growing international movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. No more massacres!

    The meeting will feature a display of the “Horror in Palestine” exhibition from the Emperor’s Clothes Gallery.

    Organised by Justice for Palestine
    For more information, phone: 0424 264 750 (Emad), 0413 783 853 (Abdalla), 0401 586 923 (Hamish)

    1. Tom Bramble says:

      Dear all

      For information about the small but growing Students for Palestine groups around the country, check out:

      Any students or university staff are encouraged to join in and help build for the coming Palestine Solidarity Week events in the week beginning 30 March (Palestine Land Day).

      Also, please forward these details to anyone else who might be keen to be involved.

      Tom Bramble

    2. Justice for Palestine says:

      Ms Avigail Abarbanel

      Dear Avigail

      We, at Justice for Palestine, wish to thank you for coming all the way to Brisbane from Canberra to address the meeting to launch our Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. It was a huge sacrifice on your part in terms of time and effort. We are indeed very grateful.

      “When an Israeli civilian or soldier sees a Palestinian, he doesn’t see a human being – he sees a terrorist,” was how you described the dehumanisation so necessary to Zionism. You gave us a starkly disturbing – but revealing – insight into how propaganda is used to fashion the psyche of the average Israeli – a psyche so essential for Israel to expropriate more and more Palestinian land and suppress the dispossessed Palestinian. It is a rare human being who has the courage to stand up for the truth against her own people. You have had that courage and paid a heavy price.

      Every one in that room that night was moved by your principles. We listened to every word as you recounted the experiences leading to the ‘turning point’ – when you realized what the Israeli state was all about and decided not to be a part of it. You can well imagine then how the Palestinians in that room must have felt to hear such words from an Israeli. Emad Sinan, for instance, couldn’t control his emotions and kept saying: “I have never met someone like this in all my life. I will never forget this moment and this person.”

      No matter how dark things become, the fact that there are people like Uri Avnery, Noam Chomsky, Uri Davis and Avigail Abarbanel gives us reason to hope for better days when truth, justice and human rights will be respected, not just in Palestine, but in every part of this world.

      We wish you and your family good luck, good health and God Speed in your new life in Scotland. If ever you visit the land of Oz, do drop in on us in Brisbane for a Barbie – no, you needn’t bring a plate.

      Our deepest thanks,

      The members of Justice for Palestine, Brisbane

  45. Mandela on Sanctions says:

    If you read Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ you will see that the role played by international sanctions in overcoming apartheid was only a small part of that struggle.

    In that book sanctions barely get a mention until Mandela was free. The eminent persons group (remember the one with malcolm fraser) sussed out Mandela and found him a person they could deal with because he denied that he was a communist. Mandela was not even the head of the ANC at the time, Oliver Tambo (a member of the Communist Party) was the leader.

    On release from prison Mandela went to the ANC congress with Oliver Tambo and asked for the demand for sanctions to be removed.

    It was the armed struggle that eventually ran the South African economy into the ground. South African forces fought the MK (armed wing of the ANC which Mandela once led) in Zimbabwe and in the Frontline states of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.

    Both Mandela and Tambo were rolled by the militants at the ANC congress – the demand for sanctions remained in place but George Bush senior and Britain’s Margaret Thatcher found a way around them (they were both opposed to sanctions from the outset). In 1986 the South African Air force responded to calls for change from the international community by bombing the ANC bases in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The eminent persons group immediately left South Africa.

    There was increased unrest in townships like Soweto.

    Mandela placed far greater emphasis on the armed struggle in Long Walk to Freedom. But that is not to say that the popular struggle was not equally important as the video below demonstrates.


    Ian Curr
    Jan 2014

    ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ by Nelson Mandela
    Sanctions on South Africa: What did they do? by Philip I. Levy

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