30 April 2015

Tony Burke: shadow Minister for Terrorism

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke is expected to propose a resolution at the upcoming national conference that if "Israel continues to build and expand settlements, a future Labor government will consult like-minded nations towards recognition of the Palestinian state”.

Last year, at an Australia Palestine Advocacy Network Fundraising Dinner Burke said:

...If you are serious about justice, then we need to acknowledge and acknowledge the truth, that all Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are illegal. If we’re serious about speaking the truth then we must unequivocally be able to say that East Jerusalem is occupied…
For those who are political advocates within Palestine itself, I will never know the bravery that comes with putting your life on the line and at risk, in engaging in politics in different ways.

"putting your life on the line and at risk, in engaging in politics in different ways..."??  What did he mean by that??

29 April 2015

USyd mocks anti-Israel conspiracy theorists

Since University of Sydney Associate Professor Jake Lynch, and senior lecturer Dr Nicholas Riemer, led a disorderly and noisy disruption of a lecture by Colonel Richard Kemp on 11 March, and a subsequent inquiry by the University into the rucus, a petition defending Lynch, with the support of Lee Rhiannon, Melissa Parke and Mike Carlton, called on the university’s vice-chancellor, Michael Spence “not to allow [him]self to be made the agent of the Israel lobby’s persecution.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, today released the below statement:
"In recent days the claim has been made that the allegations brought against staff, students, contractors and visitors to the University concerning their behaviour at the lecture given by Colonel Kemp on 11 March are politically motivated. This claim is simply risible.
"The concern for the University is whether the conduct of those people breached the University's Codes of Conduct.
"In fact, by sheer happenstance, people on each side of the debate concerning the merits of Colonel Kemp's lecture were included in the 13 against whom allegations have been made.
"The University is not interested in the political views of staff or students. It is very interested in upholding its Codes of Conduct."

28 April 2015

Activists corrupt noble principles in defence of Lynch


The defence of Jake Lynch and the students who stormed the lecture theatre at the University of Sydney during a talk by Colonel Richard Kemp, has been speciously framed as a struggle for the right of free speech and dissent.

No mention is made of the protesters having admitted that it was they who were trying to suppress free speech by shutting down Richard Kemp’s lecture altogether. 

There is a rich irony in anti-Israel academics and students invoking the right of free speech in order to deny the right of free speech to anyone they disagree with, and specifically of anyone who dissents from the disingenuous, one-dimensional caricature that constitutes their portrayal of Israel.

The right to protest or hold opposing views is not in question. When protesters held anti-Israel banners outside the lecture theatre and distributed flyers to all who entered to hear Kemp speak, they were exercising these important rights, no matter how misguided their message was. Their subsequent conduct had an altogether different and darker purpose — to deny Kemp his right to speak, and to deny the students, academics and visitors in the audience their right to listen and engage with his ideas.

There is no room for competing ideas or opinions in the narrow, grim worldview of the far-left.

In the wake of the negative media coverage that the censorious protesters attracted, Lynch’s supporters quickly launched an Op-ed offensive with one clear message: The protesters who tried to deny Richard Kemp and his audience the freedom to speak, were themselves being denied the right of free speech. With typical moral inversion, the perpetrators were now being cast as the victims.

Nick Riemer, who convenes an anti-Israel boycott group at the University of Sydney asserted that the University of Sydney would make itself “the instrument of the Israel lobby’s witch hunt”, if it investigated the allegations against Lynch and the students.

At a subsequent forum organised by Riemer at the University of Sydney, titled “Why boycotting Israel isn’t antisemitic”, Riemer claimed that “the Israel lobby had only to snap its fingers for the university to jump.” The irony of using an event aimed at distancing BDS from anti-semitism to rail against the so-called string pulling of the pro-Israel community, was obviously lost on Riemer.

A petition defending Lynch, which drew the support of the usual anti-Israel voices, including Lee Rhiannon, Melissa Parke and Mike Carlton, made further insinuations regarding unnatural Jewish power and manipulation. The letter called on the university’s vice-chancellor, Michael Spence “not to allow [him]self to be made the agent of the Israel lobby’s persecution.”

The theme was picked up by the National Tertiary Education Union, which released a statement claiming that the investigation into the actions of Lynch and the students is “solely designed to placate external parties”. The union didn’t mention the “Israel lobby” by name but it didn’t need to. The mere allusion to this seemingly supernatural force is far more evocative.

There is a great deal of scholarship around the racially infused use of terms such as “Jewish lobby”, “Zionist lobby” and “Israel lobby”, all of which mean the same thing. The term is intended to cast the involvement of the Jewish community in public affairs as somehow subversive, undemocratic and inherently sinister. It is intended to appeal to antisemitic views of the Jews as exercising an extraordinary or dark power. It is crude, conspiratorial thinking.

The effect of the unchallenged use of the term is to limit or worse, deprive the Jewish community of its right to speak on matters of importance to it, a right extended to all communities and all people in our free society.

It is significant that while a range of stakeholders have spoken publicly on the matters that transpired at the lecture, including alumni, academics, students, political commentators, politicians and concerned members of the public, only the views of the Jewish community have been described as a “witch hunt” or depicted as shadowy, controlling or unduly powerful.

The themes of victimhood and power were then taken to their absurd conclusion by Riemer, who in a rambling letter condemning the university for issuing show cause notices, claimed that the investigation into conduct on campus and any resulting disciplinary action should be seen as the University “siding with a nuclear power” and “siding with Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair.”

Equally disturbing has been the perversion of noble ideals central to university life to spare Lynch and his followers from the consequences of their deplorable conduct.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks defended the actions of the student activists claiming that they were “exercising their legitimate right of free speech”. The claim that the investigation into students who shouted down Colonel Kemp’s free speech with a megaphone actually infringes on their rights of free speech is beyond parody.

There is a further right at stake in this battle. That is the right to express views sympathetic to Israel or otherwise antithetical to the far-left smorgasbord of causes. Kemp had not uttered a word about the Arab-Israeli conflict when the theatre was stormed. His mere presence on campus and reputation for defending Israel was enough to ensure that his basic right to speak was violated by baying, ranting crusaders with megaphones. This is a chilling development played out on campuses throughout the world, where facts are held hostage to embedded prejudices and small bands of protesters can suspend the rights of others as they seek to fulfil their quest for moral superiority.

*Alex Ryvchin is the public affairs director at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Recognising a culture of hate, death and refusal to share the land

In the light of the ALP apparently considering recognition of the non-existent state of "Palestine", see this from "a previous posting"

If the Palestinians would:

  • recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people (which would mean acknowledgment of the character and permanence of Israel...);
  • accept demilitarization of Gaza and the 'West Bank';
  • change their culture of hatred by amending their founding documents that proclaim their intention to annihilate Israel;
  • forego their unconditional and non-negotiable position on their absolute “right of return” to Israel;
  • cease incitement against Jews and Israelis in their schools, newspapers, mosques, media, summer camps, TV programming and educational system;
  • cease portraying Palestine on their maps as including the State of Israel;
  • cease their acts of murderous violence across Israel; 
  • cease justifying violence against Israelis as a legitimate form of political action;
  • cease naming tournaments, marketplaces and streets after Palestinian “martyrs" whose claim to fame is that they murdered [Jews];
  • cease firing thousands of rockets into Israeli population centers;
  • cease building terrorist tunnels into Israel for the sole purpose of kidnapping and murdering Israeli civilians;
  • cease referring to Jews as “the descendants of apes and pigs”;
  • cease providing payments to the families of suicide bombers;
  • cease embracing as ‘heroes’ released Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israelis;
  • cease attempting to bring war crimes charges against Israeli officers and officials at the International Criminal Court;
  • cease insisting that the UN Security Council impose a deadline for Israeli withdrawal from the 'West Bank';
  • cease playing the victim on the international stage and begin taking responsibility for their own failures, and cease promoting the apartheid, racist idea that any future Palestinian state will be “Jew-free” (as Mahmoud Abbas said in 2010), ........

then recognition of a Palestinian state based on a two-state solution would become feasible.

At this moment in time and for the foreseeable future, however, there is no serious evidence that the Palestinian leadership (be it Fatah or Hamas or both) want a state of their own that will live in peace with Israel as a Jewish state which rests on land they consider to be a sacred part of the Islamic ummah. In fact, there is ample evidence that they will treat anything they get as a staging ground for further attacks on Israel until it has been annihilated or subjugated to Islamic rule.

Despite the fact that the British resolution was non-binding and may have been motivated more for internal political purposes (conflicts between the British Labor Party and the governing Conservative Party), formal recognition of a Palestinian state (should it ever come to pass) would be a disaster for many reasons:

  1. The Palestinians, despite numerous historical opportunities, have consistently refused to accept a Palestinian state (unless it includes the state of Israel). That is, their negotiation stance is contingent not on compromise but on struggle until victory.
  2. The Palestinians have never been able to set up the infrastructure of a responsible state that would include transparent governance, a fair judicial system and a competent administration. Anything short of this would be a recipe for another failed Arab state.
  3. The Oslo treaty is quite clear that resolution of borders and other issues must come through direct negotiations between the parties. Unilaterally declaring a state (as the British and Swedes have done) effectively undermines the treaty that committed both sides to a negotiated settlement between the two parties. That is, imposing Palestinian demands upon Israel using European or American pressure effectively destroys the Oslo treaty and undermines the peace process. In honor-shame Islamic cultures such as that of Palestinian society, if a foe (Israel) is forced to make concessions, it is seen as a sign of weakness and encourages further demands for further concessions.
  4. It is a certainty that any Palestinian state so created will become a militant jihadist state controlled initially by Hamas and, later, quite possibly by ISIS. As the 2007 Hamas coup in Gaza showed, and as polls continue to show in the wake of Operation Defensive Edge, Hamas would end Fatah control over the 'West Bank' within months. This is what the Swedish and British parliaments have in fact endorsed in the name of “peace”.
  5. With 48 Muslim majority states in the world (including 22 Arab states) - most of them failed states, none of them true Western-style democracies, and most of them belligerent - why on earth would the Europeans want to establish yet another guaranteed failed state? Given the current Palestinian leadership, establishing a formal state with all the rights that come with statehood (the right to govern, diplomatic immunity, a standing army, defined borders, an air command, sovereign control over land, territorial waters and air space, the right to collect taxes, and the capacity to enter into treaties with other states and to join specialized UN agencies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Law of the Sea Treaty, and the International Criminal Court) would be madness. More importantly, this new “state” would be ruled half by a terrorist group (Hamas) and half by an unelected administrative entity (Fatah) whose last election occurred years ago. The government of each half considers the government of the other half illegitimate - and both are correct.             
  6. Forgetting the fact that the Palestinians have been offered a state on numerous occasions over the past 70 years, there are plenty of other ethnic and religious peoples who have a far greater claim to statehood in the world - peoples who maintain their own language, their own religion, and in many respects, their own history - peoples that include the Kurds, Tibetans, Tamils and Chechens. To favor formal statehood to a group that shares the same language and religion as 22 other Arab states sets a dangerous precedent.
  7. As ISIS expands its murderous Islamic juggernaut across Iraq and Syria and threatens Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia and eventually Israel, Europe and the U.S., Western recognition of another failed state (Palestine) would represent a major victory for radical Islamist forces in the Levant to establish a new base of operations in Palestine that would allow them to use state status, rights and diplomatic immunity to further their global Islamic crusade
  8. Israel is the West’s only truly reliable ally in the Middle East. Establishing a jihadist, genocidal Islamic enemy with full state powers on her borders would not only sow the seeds of a new war with a jihadist-controlled Palestine, but would guarantee the collapse of other moderate Arab nations with whom Israel is currently allied in its war against the jihadists.

None of those speaking for the creation of a Palestinian state appear to have taken any of these critical issues into account. [Those who recognize the non-existent] Palestinian state have done nothing to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. They have only sown the seeds of further war. The responsibility for the escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rests with the Palestinians who continue to turn their backs on peace.

Palestinian national identity is predicated on winning a zero-sum struggle with Zionism, not on a vision of a state of their own. Rather than take the many opportunities offered to them to build a future for their children, they have refused to relinquish their embrace of a culture of hate and death.

Consequently, eminently sensible proposals regarding borders, Jewish communities in the 'West Bank' and even Jerusalem are rendered irrelevant. 

...no peace is possible until Palestinian society makes the compromise it has been unwilling to do for nearly a century – to share the land.

Recognizing the non-existent won't help anyone

In the light of reports that the ALP may consider recognizing a non-existent Arab state of "Palestine", we should, remember that statehood requires a series of criteria, as set out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States,including 

  • capability of governance, 
  • permanence of population, 
  • defined territory, and 
  • capacity to enter into relations with other states.

In fact, the Convention specifies that “the political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states.”

For the Arabs of Palestine, these criteria must be read in the context of the commitments by the Arabs in several agreements signed with Israel over the years.

In the attempt to declare "Palestinian" statehood in 1988, over 100 states gave their recognition. But this attempt to unilaterally dictate a solution to the Israel-Arab conflict without agreement from Israel, did nothing to resolve the conflict

So any act of recognition of a non-existent Arab state, whether by the ALP or anyone else, can have no validity nor make any contribution to resolving the conflict with Israel.

In Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2011 speech to the U.S. Congress, he said:
...They [the Palestinians] ...continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees....My friends, this must come to an end.
President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people, and I told you it wasn’t easy for me, and I said… “I will accept a Palestinian state.” It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say… “I will accept a Jewish state.”
Those six words will change history. They will make clear to the Palestinians that this conflict must come to an end. That they are not building a state to continue the conflict with Israel, but to end it. They will convince the people of Israel that they have a true partner for peace. With such a partner, the people of Israel will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise. I will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise.
In other words, once the Palestinian Arabs openly acknowledge the Jewish connection to the land, Israel will know they are a partner for peace.

In answer, Abbas said:
We say to him [Netanyahu], when he claims — that they [Jews] have a historical right dating back to 3000 years [BC] — we say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7000 year history [BC]. This is the truth, which must be understood and we have to note it, in order to say: “Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history.”
In other words, Netanyahu said: We have rights; you have rights. We recognize yours and when you recognize ours we can have peace. Your refusal to recognize our rights — to demand total annihilation of Israel — makes peace impossible.

And Abbas answered: We don’t recognize that you have any rights. All the rights belong to us! You are just a passing breeze.

THAT's why peace is impossible: because the Palestinian-Arab leadership continues to claim that Israel has no right to exist at all.

25 April 2015

Bob Carr: Miles High and Hallucinating

Illustration: John Shakespeare.  Complimentary plane pyjamas in Qantas business class takes flying to a whole new comfort level.

Dear Bob
Why don't you don your silk pyjamas, drink a warm milk, and relax? We no longer need you to lie in your suit, nor to embellish our national opinion pages with your Persian-bazaar fantasies, as you did in yesterday's Centenary-ANZAC-Day edition of The Australian.

The key "neo-conservative" principle, which you discern in your hallucinogenic haze, and deride, is to emulate Ronald Reagan. It seems that, like Groucho Marx, you would quickly abandon your principles under pressure - and not much pressure at that.

However the self-contradictory punch-line to your far-fetched, interminably-protracted, self-congratulatory yarn, is that you would have us believe that Obama's treatment of the evil Iranian regime is analogous to Ronald Reagan's approach to the evil Soviet regime, and is therefore commendable after all. How droll and clever...

Are we to forget that the Soviet Union faced years of credible military as well as diplomatic pressure? Are you really suggesting that it succumbed to glib diplomacy and agreed "frameworks"? Or was it so stretched by its weapons program and economic nonperformance that it finally collapsed under its own weight?

Compare this to your (and Obama's) prescription for Iran. As Natan Sharansky has pointed out (and he should know):
The Obama administration apparently [like Bob Carr] believes that only after a nuclear agreement is signed can the free world expect Iran to stop its attempts at regional domination, improve its human rights record and ...behave like [a] civilized state...
The differences [between the US's treatment of Iran and the Soviet Union] are striking and revealing.
For starters, consider that the Soviet regime felt obliged to make its first ideological concession simply to enter into negotiations with the United States about economic cooperation. At the end of the 1950s, Moscow abandoned its doctrine of fomenting a worldwide communist revolution ...the Soviet government understood that it had no other way to get what it needed from the United States.
Imagine what would have happened if instead, after completing a round of negotiations over disarmament, the Soviet Union had declared that its right to expand communism across the continent was not up for discussion. This would have spelled the end of the talks.
Yet today, Iran feels no need to tone down its rhetoric calling for the death of America and wiping Israel off the map.
Just last week, the Iranian regime held another of its military parades with truckloads of weaponry, masses of goose-stepping zombies and repeated chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel". Would you have us ignore this, Bob? ... or perhaps join in the chorus?

Natan Sharansky continues:
...Over the past month alone, as nuclear discussions continued apace, we watched Iran’s proxy terror group, Hezbollah, transform into a full-blown army on Israel’s northern border, and we saw Tehran continue to impose its rule on other countries, adding Yemen to the list of those under its control [Lebanon, Syria and Iraq].
Then there is the question of human rights. When American negotiations with the Soviets reached the issue of trade, and in particular the lifting of sanctions and the conferring of most-favored-nation status on the Soviet Union, the Senate, led by Democrat Henry Jackson, insisted on linking economic normalization to Moscow’s allowing freedom of emigration. By the next year, when the Helsinki agreement was signed, the White House had joined Congress in making the Soviets’ treatment of dissidents a central issue in nearly every negotiation.
Iran’s dismal human rights record, by contrast, has gone entirely unmentioned in the recent negotiations. Sadly, America’s reticence is familiar: In 2009, in response to the democratic uprisings that mobilized so many Iranian citizens, President Obama declared that engaging the theocratic regime would take priority over changing it.
Furthermore, as Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, recently pointed out:
..The unsigned, non-binding “understanding” announced [in early April] dismantles none of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — not even Fordow, the facility built secretly and illicitly under a mountain. 
It does nothing to slow the Islamic republic’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose only conceivable purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads to distant targets. 
It does not authorize “go-anywhere-anytime” inspections — the only kind of inspections likely to uncover whatever prohibited activities Iran undertakes over the months ahead.
It doesn’t even require Iran’s rulers to stop lying — to acknowledge that their nuclear program has not been strictly for “peaceful purposes” as they have claimed.
And, of course, it doesn’t address
  • Iran’s support for terrorists, 
  • its holding of innocent Americans hostage, 
  • its power grab in Iraq, 
  • its military support for the brutal Assad dynasty in Syria and Houthi rebels in Yemen, 
  • its continuing threats to
  1. topple Arab regimes with close ties to the United States, and 
  2. to “erase Israel from the map” (that is “non-negotiable,” a commander of Iran’s Basji militia declared ...) and, 
  3. in due time, bring “death to America.”
But you would dismiss all this, Bob, with another of or your mile-high fantasies: 
"If there are violations, sanctions are snapped on again...."
Such colourful language! Just lift the sanctions, like a seat-belt clasp, and we're free to take our pants off in exchange for smooth-as-silk deceit. Then if we're disappointed, snap-click, and we're securely strapped in again... Do you expect us to forget that the sanctions are an economic edifice (a UN version of the Tower of Babel) that took years to erect? ...and to believe that, once destroyed, it can be re-instated with a snap of the finger?

Clifford May continues:
...the agreement being finalized is likely to lead to the spread of nuclear weapons (with a serious risk that some of those nukes will end up in the hands of terrorists), ... further fuel jihadi fires (Sunni and Shia alike), [and] ....heighten our enemies’ contempt for us (while further depleting our allies’ trust in us)...
...21 years ago, President Clinton announced the conclusion of a “framework” with North Korea, an agreement he described as “a good deal for the United States” because North Korea would henceforth be obligated to “freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program.”
“The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments,” he vowed.
North Korea’s chief negotiator, Kang Sok Ju, provided further reassurance: The agreement will resolve “all questions of the so-called nuclear weapons development by North Korea” that have raised “such unfounded concerns and suspicions.” He added: “We have neither the intention nor the plan to develop nuclear weapons.” 
He was lying. And we were choosing to believe him... 
Natan Sharansky concludes:
...in today’s postmodern world [and Bob Carr's diplomatic fantasies], when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions. 
We have yet to see the full consequences of this moral diffidence, but one thing is clear: The loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule. Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course — before the effects grow more catastrophic still.

21 April 2015

Jewish leaders question benefits of Julie Bishop's Iran talks

From The Australian, April 21, 2015, by Pia Akerman:

Australian Jewish leaders have questioned the benefits of Julie Bishop's visit to Iran.
The Foreign Minister has left Tehran after talks with President Hassan Rouhani, highlighting a new agreement for the countries' intelligence agencies to share information on terrorism.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said there was a clear risk Iran had received all the benefits of the changed relationship with no apparent change in its aggressive stance towards its neighbours.
"From where we sit, there are lots of loose threads here," he said. "If this proves to be a step in genuine moderation of Iran, this will be seen in hindsight as a constructive visit, but there's no evidence whatsoever that that's the case."
Dr Rubenstein said Australia's allies may also hold concerns about the new intelligence-sharing arrangement and that the issue of returning Iranian asylum-seekers - a primary goal of the trip - had seemingly been rebuffed.

"It's not a revelation to say the Iranians know a lot about what's happening in Iraq, obviously they do, but my point would be that defeating a barbaric form of Sunni Islamic extremism in the form of Da'ish or Islamic State is not likely to be all that effective in terms of ultimate outcomes if you're relying on the foremost sponsor of Shi'ite radicalism and terrorism in the region..."...
"If that's who you're depending on and collaborating with, I'd say we're in a dangerous zone."
Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said it was unclear if Ms Bishop had raised anti-Semitism incited by Iran, but the intelligence-sharing needed to be seen in a broader context.
"We have confidence that the government will do everything reasonably possible to safeguard the interests of Australian citizens at home and abroad...If that means co-operating with the Iranian regime in relation to intelligence, we're not in a position to gainsay that."

17 April 2015

BDS = antisemitism

April 14, 2015

In response to a University of Sydney forum titled "Why Boycotting Israel isn’t Anti-Semitic" by The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) has reiterated its strong criticism of the BDS movement as antiSemitic.

Dr. Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, issued the following statement:
“No matter what this forum may claim, the global BDS movement is anti-Semitic, using a hateful double standard to demonise, delegitimize and to ultimately destroy Israel. Who would have thought that more than 80 years after the Nazi regime turned its pre-existing boycotting of Jewish-owned business into German national policy, that we would see the Jewish people targeted and defamed in such a sickening way. BDS activists can dress up their thinly-disguised anti-Jewish campaign as a pro-peace initiative, but the truth is that they have insidiously declared a vicious war against Israel— denying Israel’s fundamental right to exist and rejecting the two state solution in favour of one state solution, deliberately ignoring the most brutal behaviour of major human rights abusers in the world while shamefully singling out Israel, and refusing to engage in any meaningful dialogue regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict...”. 

15 April 2015

Lynch faces Sydney University sanction

From The Australian, 16 April 2015, by Ean Higgins:

Lynch interviewed on the Iranian PressTV

Sydney University has issued a “show cause” letter to academic Jake Lynch, threatening him with disciplinary action over his conduct at a public lecture last month which was interrupted by pro-Palestinian students.

...The “show cause” letters ­allege breaches of university rules by a number of people at the melee in which students, one using a megaphone, shouted and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans as retired British colonel Richard Kemp, a vocal defender of the ­Israeli Defence Force, was giving his talk.

In a statement yesterday, the university said it had issued letters to 13 people as a result of an investigation launched by vice-chancellor Michael Spence which followed dozens of complaints against Professor Lynch, the protesting students, the security guards who manhandled the protesters as Professor Lynch urged the guards to stop, and members of the public, including one who has admitted throwing water at the protesters, Jewish semi-­retired English literature lecturer Diane Barkas.
Ms Barkas, as revealed by The Australian yesterday, rejects Professor Lynch’s claims that she kicked him during the fracas, but admits trying to grab his mobile phone.
Professor Lynch held up a $5 note in front of Ms Barkas and ­repeatedly said he would sue her and it would cost her money, which he said he did only to try to stop what he claims was her ­assault.
The investigation found one staff member, five students and two contractors engaged by the university “may have engaged in conduct that breached the university’s codes of conduct”, and that five members of the public also engaged in untoward behaviour.
No names were released, but The Australian has established that the staff member is Professor Lynch, and the contractors are ­security guards.
Professor Lynch could not be reached for comment last night, but earlier this week he told The Australian that if he received a letter “it will be an outrageous attack on my intellectual freedom”.
“Nothing in my conduct at the Kemp lecture would make such a response make sense except in context of the witch-hunt led by the pro-Israel lobby and its right-wing political allies.”

12 April 2015

Good advice for Australian journalists: Never work for Al-Jazeera

11 April 2015

Obama’s capitulation on Iranian nuclear deal leaves the world exposed

From The Australian, 11 April 2015, by Greg Sheridan:

...Three American presidents, Bill Clinton, George W, Bush and Obama, have declared that Iran must never possess nuclear weapons and that if it tries to acquire them the US will act, if necessary with military force, to stop them.

We now know that Obama was just kidding.

This agreement guarantees Iran will acquire nuclear weapons eventually.

Iran’s nuclear program has always been about acquiring nuclear weapons capability. It is drenched in oil and does not need nuclear energy. The nuclear power reactor it has comes with a lifetime supply of fuel from Russia, where many other nations with nuclear power stations get their nuclear fuel. So it has no need to enrich its uranium. But it has built massive enrichment facilities plus a plutonium-producing facility. Both these routes lead to nuclear weapons.

Under the agreement Iran gives up two-thirds of its enrichment centrifuges for 10 years. But it doesn’t destroy any part of its nuclear infrastructure. They just go under temporary lock and key.

And it has a prodigious ability to cheat.

It was to export the vast majority of its stockpile of enriched uranium but now insists it will keep it and use a technical process to render it harmless. But the technical process can be reversed.

It keeps its deep underground nuclear facility, which is almost impossible to strike successfully from the air. It gets to undertake massive research into much more advanced enrichment centrifuges that will eventually make it much easier to produce uranium enriched to the extent necessary to produce nuclear weapons material.

And for the first time ever, Iran’s entire nuclear establishment will be accepted as legitimate by the UN and all the international nuclear regulatory bodies. It subjects itself to an inspections regime but nobody knows how this will operate or how intrusive it will be. This is one of many areas the US and Iran interpret in contradictory ways.

As well as all this, Iran will get rapid relief from the economic sanctions that have hurt it in recent years.

... from this point it looks as though the Iranians have achieved enormous strategic gains at very little cost.

This is immensely important in itself, but it also stands as a signal of the declining influence of the US in the Middle East and the broader crisis of global security.

... Iran is now the dominant political and military force in Iraq. Its proxies have been successful in overthrowing a legitimate government in Yemen. It has established permanent control of a large slab of Lebanon through Hezbollah. It has kept its ally, Bashar al-Assad, in power in Syria. It has never had greater sway over the Arab world, or over the Arab world’s Shi’ite minority.

Its anti-Western rhetoric and purposes remain central. While the negotiations were ongoing, a Revolutionary Guards commander, Reza Naqdi, commented that “erasing Israel from the map’’ was “non-negotiable”.

Supreme leader Khamenei finished a big public gathering with the declaration: “Yes, death to America.”

It is worth googling Iran’s written constitution, with its commitment to “fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad” and its determination to forge leadership of all Muslims worldwide.

In the recent agreement, or framework, there is 

  • nothing about Iran’s international behaviour, 
  • nothing about its sponsorship of terrorism, 
  • no limitation on its missile program, 
  • nothing about threatening to wipe another nation off the map, 
as though it would be bad form to consider such language and behaviour relevant in assessing whether a nation should possess the ability to produce nuclear weapons.

...All of Iran’s recent strategic gains have come from hardline, strategic aggression and sticking with regional allies, no matter how unsavoury or how much trouble they’re in.

With the immense gift of this legitimisation of its nuclear program and freedom from sanctions, why would its leaders suddenly reverse course? ...

...The alternative to Obama’s Iran capitulation was not war but continued and intensified sanctions, and the rallying of allies towards preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons....

09 April 2015

AIJAC statement on Foreign Minister Bishop's forthcoming visit to Iran

9 April 2015 statement by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)

Knowing Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's principled views, AIJAC is hopeful that, on her controversial visit to Iran, she will express her disapproval in the strongest terms possible of the Iranian leadership's continued calls for the destruction of Israel, its promotion of terrorism and its fanatical propagation of antisemitism.

In the midst of the nuclear negotiations which concluded last week, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the Commander of the Basij militia of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, declared that erasing Israel from the map is non-negotiable, while in March, her host, supposedly moderate Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, said Israel "should be annihilated". We therefore hope that our Foreign Minister will make clear the complete unacceptability of this attitude and will stress the importance of the Iranian leadership acknowledging Israel's right to exist as part of any final agreement.

It is also imperative that the Iranian leaders hear from Ms Bishop that the West is willing and able to defend its values and interests, and that no nuclear weaponisation by Iran is acceptable under any circumstances.

Well aware that many crucial details still need to be settled before June 30 to create a better, more reasonable deal, we are hopeful she will explain to the Iranians the importance of tightening up verification and providing remedies for inspection inadequacies and of linking sanctions relief to improved Iranian behaviour with agreed, workable enforcement mechanisms for violations.

Important US allies, including Australia, should use whatever influence we have to ensure that any ultimate deal is effective in limiting Iran's nuclear aspirations and doesn't prematurely confer unwarranted legitimacy on an unreformed, aggressive, expansionist rival.

As our Foreign Minister well understands, the implications of Iran's nuclear ambitions are so far-reaching, and the consequences of a bad, ineffective deal so dire - reviving the economy and strength of a radical Islamist regime and making it even more threatening to its neighbours behind its nuclear shield - that it's crucial for our own national interest that any deal signed deprives Teheran of any path to a nuclear capability or bomb.

Additional comment  on  troubling Iran "agreement":

We are deeply concerned that this unsigned framework agreement will leave Iran a nuclear threshold state, with its nuclear infrastructure, including its research,missile program and military facilities, left intact. There are self-evident weaknesses in the critical verification and inspection provisions. These include the lack of clarity on how violations will be dealt with and on which sanctions would be lifted, and when and how they could be re-imposed. These critical details need to be resolved satisfactorily and then agreed to by Iran by June 30.While any ultimate deal must ensure that the terror-supporting, expansionist, fundamentalist regime in Tehran is prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons capability,this framework risks conceding Iran precisely that nuclear status and the ability to assert further regional dominance.

Dr Colin Rubenstein AM
Executive Director AIJAC

Open Letter From The Organisers of The USYD Kemp Lecture

A letter to the editor from the organisers of Richard Kemp's lecture to Sydney University in March

Nick Riemer - from the Lynch mob

On 7 April 2015 Dr Nick Riemer has written (again) an opinion piece in the media (newmatilda.com) on the events that took place during (Ret.) Col. Kemp’s 11 March 2015 invited lecture in the University of Sydney.

As organizers of the event (and Chair) we have accepted the obligation not to discuss any matter relating to the event itself — that is between 11:55am and the end of the event, round 13:00 — until the investigating body concludes its work. We have observed this commitment and will continue to do so.

However, among other arguments, Dr Riemer, from the Department of English, makes the following claim:
Kemp’s lecture very clearly wasn’t an academic occasion, since the organisers made no effort to attract an audience from the many staff and students whom the issue of Palestine justice interests. The organisers of Kemp’s talk did not encourage any free and open debate of his highly controversial views. The lecture was only advertised on J-Wire, the online Jewish community news site, and it was only by chance that my colleagues and I learned that it was taking place. Most people who would have liked the opportunity to debate Kemp didn’t even know the talk was happening…. Kemp’s talk, then, was clearly not an academic lecture mounted in a context that encouraged free and open debate.”
This claim touches upon issues that are outside the timeframe of the event and are levelled against us, “the organisers”.

We find Dr Riemer’s claim offensive, uncollegial, and defamatory. Regrettably, it casts doubt over our professional judgment and conduct, as well as on those of our peers and supervisors who approved the event.

1. Mr. Kemp was invited by both of us, because we found the topic suitable for our departments’ students and staff. Mr Kemp’s lecture was dealing with international conflict (Dr Merom’s field of expertise) and the Middle East (relating to Prof Rutland’s field of expertise and Dr Merom’s empirical interest).

2. We sought and received academic consent to organize the event through the university regular process, involving our heads of departments and the VC office.

3. In light of the size of the venue, we decided to circulate the event to our students and departmental peers, which we did. The event was thus circulated to a minimum of 700 students, and perhaps a larger audience, if our department peers advertised it also to their students (as they were encouraged).

4. Everyone who wished could attend, as indeed Dr Riemer had, by his own admission.

5. Everyone who wished could and did ask questions, as indeed BDS supporter/s admitted in written publications.

6. This being the case, the claim that the event “was clearly not an academic lecture mounted in a context that encouraged free and open debate,” rings exceptionally disingenuous.

7. The lecture was not about the Israeli-Gaza war, nor advertised as such.

8. As it was not a political event, nor about Israel and Gaza, Dr Riemer’s suggestion that there should have been an “effort to attract… staff and students whom the issue of Palestine justice interests” is perplexing.

Dr Gil Merom and Professor Suzanne Rutland

08 April 2015

Parke supports Lynch mob bullying as "academic freedom"

From The Australian, 9 April 2015, by Ean Higgins:

Labor State Conference

Melissa Parke in Perth.
 Source: News Corp Australia

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has called on Bill Shorten to disassociate himself from Labor MP Melissa Parke, who has further aligned herself to the boycott campaign against Israel by supporting pro-Palestinian students and academics in a row over an ugly disruption at Sydney University.

Mr Pyne told The Australian the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel “has given anti-Semitism a fashionability among the far Left” which “has no place in Australia”.

Ms Parke and Greens senator Lee Rhiannon this week signed an open letter promoted by a pro-Palestinian group on campus...for BDS.

The open letter, with more than 600 signatures, supports students who disrupted a talk last month by former British colonel Richard Kemp, and backs pro-BDS academic Jake Lynch, who remonstrated with security guards when they tried to remove the students.

Colonel Kemp, who led British troops in Afghanistan, was speaking on the ethics of tactics in counter-insurgency operations when the students stormed the venue shouting pro-Palestinian slogans.
With a petition running for Professor Lynch and another pro-BDS academic at the event, Nick Riemer, to be sacked, and Professor Lynch calling for the security guards to be disciplined, vice-chancellor Michael Spence commissioned an investigation, which a spokeswoman said would be completed “shortly”.

“Free speech in Australia does not extend to threats, intimidation and physical harassment and it is inappropriate for anyone to pre-empt the findings of Professor Spence’s inquiry into this incident,” Mr Pyne said.
Senator Rhiannon said ...“I wanted to add my voice to the hundreds of people who have also rejected this course of action and to speak up for academic freedom.” ...
Apparently, to Parke, Rhiannon and the Lynch mob,  "academic freedom" means freedom to violently silence anyone who disagrees with them.

01 April 2015

Mob Rule at Sydney University

Supplied Editorial
Illustration: Sturt Krygsman Source: Supplied
The University of Sydney is one of Australia’s most venerable higher education institutions. It should be a place where controversial issues are debated freely and openly with the contending sides able to present their cases without intimidation and harassment.

It should be governed by an administration that strongly affirms the importance of free debate and acts swiftly and decisively to protect it if it comes under threat. It should definitely not be a place where mob rule is allowed to prevail or where activist groups get to decide which viewpoints can be expressed.
Can that be said of Sydney University today? Based on an experience I had there recently, it would appear not.
On March 11 I attended a public meeting on the campus addressed by Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. His talk was about the ethical dilemmas that faced military forces opposed by non-state groups.
Kemp was in Israel during the Gaza conflict in July-August last year, and he gave the Israel Defence Forces credit for their measures to minimise civilian cas­ualties during their operations. He found it difficult to envisage what more they could have done given the need to counter attacks deliberately launched from within densely populated areas. In saying this, he did not deny there were ser­ious errors and abuses by some IDF forces, including possible war crimes.
This, it seems, is sufficient to make him a pariah to some of Israel’s more extreme critics. Enough of a pariah to warrant silencing him wherever possible; and sad to say, today’s universities are places where this is possible.
Kemp was able to speak unimpeded for about 20 minutes, at which point 15 to 20 people pushed past a security guard and began loudly chanting “Richard Kemp you can’t hide, you support genocide”, led by a young woman with a megaphone set to maximum volume.
Kemp described the experience in these pages on March 17, so I won’t detail it all again. But at one point the lights went out, leaving some — including me — wondering what was to come next. It was a genuinely frightening experience; a systematic, planned attempt to wreck the meeting. The attempt to suppress speakers perceived as pro-Israeli on campus is part of a wider pattern at Australian universities and internationally spearheaded by supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.
The young woman with the megaphone shouting down Kemp went on to defend the speech rights of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist Islamist organisation that gained notoriety last year when its Australian spokesman pointedly and repeatedly refused during an ABC Lateline interview to condemn the tactics used by Islamic State (mass beheadings, crucifixions, selling women into slavery, and so on).
The clueless young woman with the megaphone shouted about Hibz ut-Tahrir’s opposition to US policy, but this group has a few other ideas such as the following reported in The Australian recently: “The top Australian cleric of extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has ramped up his hate speech in a rant referring to Jews as ‘the most evil creature of Allah’ who have ‘corrupted the world’ and will ‘pay for blood with blood’.”
In the latest tirade to surface, cleric Ismail al-Wahwah — representing an organisation whose stated aim is to take over the world — said recognising Jews constituted the “epitome of evil” because that would “strengthen the cancerous entity”.
The disrupters ludicrously charged Kemp with supporting genocide while they and the rest of the BDS brigade have nothing to say about the open and explicit support of genocide by Hamas, now part of a unity government with Fatah. The Hamas charter adopted in 1988 looks forward (in article seven) to exterminating every last Jew on earth and incorporating “every inch” of Palestine in an Islamic state. Hamas refuses to rescind this foul, evil document despite repeated calls to do so and, on the contrary, relentlessly promotes its genocidal goals in its propaganda and schools.
As someone affiliated with the Labor Left throughout my active political career I find this growing affinity between the far Left and the Islamists one of the strangest and most disconcerting developments of recent times.
The naivety is quite astounding. A quick Google search turned up an article by the megaphone woman on the website of the Trotskyist group Solidarity in which she extols workers’ control in, of all places, post-revolutionary Iran, where all the leftist groups instrumental in overthrowing the shah ruthlessly were crushed by the Khomeneists once they had fulfilled their “useful idiot” role. Some of the people she is defending would gladly stick her head and those of her Marxist colleagues on the end of a pike if they were ever to take over.
Two well-known pro-BDS aca­demics were present: Jake Lynch, director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Centre; and Nick Riemer, a senior lecturer in the English department. Both denied involvement in the disruption but loudly supported it once it began.
How do they justify this stance? They have both gone on the record.
Columnist Gerard Henderson raised the following question with Lynch: “Since you support disrupting the Kemp lecture, do you also think it would be acceptable to disrupt speakers hosted by your centre such as John Pilger and Hanan Ashrawi? If not, how do you justify the double standard?”
Lynch replied: “I would dispute the parallel with John Pilger or Hanan Ashrawi. I have never heard either of them deliver a speech that was disingenuous or deceitful in the way of the remarks by Colonel Kemp.”
Riemer gives a detailed defence of the disruption in a long article in the online journal New Matilda. This piece of casuistic nonsense is worth reading in full as it says volumes about the mentality that defenders of free speech on campus have to contend with these days.
Here is a sample of his “reasoning”: “Many left-wing people, I ­believe, would defend the proposition that protesters have the right to disrupt any kind of public speaker, but that only disruptions of certain public speakers are right.”
Applied to the present case, this means anyone has the right to disrupt a pro or an anti-IDF speaker, but only interruptions of pro-IDF speakers are actually ­justified.
In the first paragraph Riemer asserts a general “right to disrupt” any speaker. This cannot be squared with any reasonable understanding of the right to free speech, the whole point and effect of disruption being to prevent the effective exercise of the latter. Bear in mind that we are not talking about the kind of interjection familiar from parliamentary debates but the systematic drowning out of a speaker with a megaphone and sustained chanting. There was specific provision in the meeting format for questions and critique, but the goal of the disrupters was to censor, not challenge, what Kemp had to say.
Note the second paragraph where Riemer, like Lynch, justifies disrupting the expression of one side of the debate. How does he rationalise this? He asserts the rightness of disrupting speech that is “extreme” or “hateful” or, in an Aristotelian touch, “fails to promote human flourishing”.
To label Kemp’s lucid and well-reasoned presentation as hateful or extreme is just bizarre. As for the stuff about failing to promote human flourishing, perhaps Riem­er should consider that by turning Gaza into an armed camp, launching thousands of projectiles into Israel and pouring huge amounts of cement provided under aid programs into building a subterranean network of attack tunnels, Hamas and its supporters and apologists are failing to “promote human flourishing”.
Riemer goes on: “As such, his (Kemp’s) speech aims at the dismantling of the very democratic freedoms among Palestinians which commitment to the principle of free speech is supposed to embody.”
What “democratic freedoms” would those be? Is he familiar with the increasingly brutal crackdown on dissenters in the territory controlled by the Palestinian Author­ity, with dissidents jailed for long periods for “extending the tongue” against the authority? Or the vicious persecution of Christians, most of whom have now fled the territories? Or the far worse situation in Gaza where dissenters can expect a bullet in the head, where the death sentence is prescribed for homosexuality?
The only country in the region where any semblance of democratic freedoms exist is Israel, where the Arab-aligned parties emerged as the third largest force in the recent elections, where people of all faiths — and none — are safe, and where homosexuals can live free from fear.
Tel Aviv was named as the most popular gay tourist destination in the world recently. This was labelled “pinkwashing” by the BDS brigade, just a cunning Israeli plot to disguise their oppression of the Palestinians.
The intellectual arrogance of the campus BDS supporters, articulated by Lynch and Riemer, is quite astounding. 
No postmodern questioning of objective truth here; not only is the truth “out there” but Lynch and Riemer are in possession of it and are able to distinguish it from lies and deceit. No need to allow people to actually hear the contending cases presented fully and effectively, even in contexts such as the Kemp lecture where they can be challenged. Defend Israel in any respect and you are a warmonger, callously indifferent to the fate of oppressed people. You need to be silenced.
This is a truly sinister development, and one not confined to Australian universities. Jewish students at Sydney University with whom I corresponded report feeling increasingly insecure and fearful on campus. My sense is that increasingly anti-Zionism is a mask for occulted anti-Semitism.
Will the university administration, led by vice-chancellor Mich­ael Spence, act decisively to defend free speech on campus in response to this outrage? Time will tell, but at this stage the portents are not encouraging.
The university has engaged a firm of workplace lawyers to investigate the incident and the responsibility of individual staff and students and consider all “allegations and counter-allegations”. It is profoundly disappointing, however, that so far the vice-chancellor has not gone on the public record to say that what happened was completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in future.
There is absolutely no reason a clear statement of principle could not have been made right away. Does the vice-chancellor really need advice from a firm of workplace lawyers before doing this much? Of course decisions about individual culpability should be handled carefully, with those accused given an opportunity to respond to allegations.
Finally, I note a certain inconsistency in the university’s attention to procedural fairness.
In October last year Barry Spurr, a distinguished academic with a long association with the univer­sity, was suspended from his position and barred from the campus within a day following the disclosure of offensive language in some hacked private emails. He was subjected to this terrible public humiliation before being given any opportunity to give his defence that he was speaking in a joking or ironic voice.
No workplace lawyers to consider all sides before taking action in that case.
The common factor in these two incidents was the presence of chanting mobs of demonstrators, in one case silencing someone with whom they disagree, in the other demanding the peremptory sacking of an academic. In one case a panicked rush to action by the vice-chancellor, in the other a drawn-out process with all involved bound by strict confidentiality provisions — a procedural black hole.
It is hard to avoid the depressing conclusion that at Sydney University today mob rule works.
Peter Baldwin was minister for higher education (1990-93) in the Hawke-Keating government.