28 June 2018

Australian Unions channelled millions of dollars to an organisation that employed a terrorist leader

From the Daily Telegraph, June 27, 2018, by Sharri Markson:

AUSTRALIAN taxpayer funds are being funnelled to a Palestinian aid organisation that has employed and supported a leader of a terrorist group in Gaza.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has given at least $21 million in the past decade to a Sydney-based charity set up by the unions, Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA).

This charity then channelled millions of dollars to the MA’AN Development Centre — a Palestinian organisation that employed a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The revelations have prompted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to announce an audit of the union funding, understood to have been decided by her department.

PFLP has been on the official terror lists of the United States, European Union and Canada as a result of its hijacking of planes, assassinations and suicide bombings, while Australia has the group on its “Consolidated” list of organisations subject to financial sanctions as a result of security threats.

One of the MA’AN Development Centre’s 36 staff working in Gaza was Ahmed Abdullah Al Adine, 30, who held the job of Project Co-ordinator and Field Monitor since 2012.

Al Adine was also a leader of the PFLP in Gaza until he was killed in border protests last month. The terror group now hails him as a “martyr” and gave him a grand funeral last month, attended by at least a dozen PFLP terrorists.

Image result for Ahmed Abdullah Al Adine funeral
Funeral of terrorist Ahmed Abdullah Al Adine 

Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA, which describes itself as a “justice organisation of the Australian union movement” and provides funding to human rights causes around the world, issued a media release about the death of Al Adine.
“Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA is particularly sad to report that a colleague working with the MA’AN Development Centre, our partner organisation in Gaza, was killed during the protests,” APHEDA’s May 15, 2018 media release states.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s website states that their “ martyred comrade” Al Adine was a member of their leadership team in Gaza.
“With deep pride, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine salutes its esteemed martyr, Ahmad Abdullah al-Adaini (sic), who was martyred as he participated in the uprising of return near al-Bureij,” a May 16 statement on his death reads.
“The martyred comrade was born in the Gaza Strip in 1981 to a family from Tarabin in Bir Saba. He was a member of the leadership of the PFLP in Deir al-Balah and its secretary and a member of the Palestinian Progressive Youth Union.
 “His vast capabilities made him an esteemed contributor to the struggle; he never left the field and especially the march for return, carrying high the banner of its goals and advancing with his comrades until his death.”
On Al Adine’s personal Facebook page, he states his occupation is a “project co-ordinator” for MA’AN Development Centre. On May 9 and May 7 he posted photographs featuring PFLP flags and PFLP propaganda.

He also posted PFLP press statements and frequently wrote incendiary comments about the death of Israel, while celebrating martyrdom.

His funeral was guarded by more than a dozen armed men wearing balaclavas with the PFLP logo on bandannas, and his funeral image also had the PFLP logo on it.

The group has been responsible for a spate of terror attacks dating back to 1968 when it hijacked a commercial El Al Flight and held hostages captive for 40 days. The incident has been described as laying the foundation for al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks.

More recent incidents include 

  • a 2015 attack on Israelis driving in a car, 
  • an assassination plot against ¬Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 
  • a 2014 massacre in a Jerusalem synagogue where four Jewish worshippers and a policeman were killed and a further seven were injured, 
  • a 2012 attack involving firing an antitank missile explosive device and, 
  • a month earlier, detonating a roadside bomb targeting an Israeli Defence Force patrol in southern Israel, 
  • among others.

PFLP also claimed responsibility for a spate of suicide bombings in 2002 to 2004 which killed Israeli civilians, and assassinated Israeli Minister for Tourism Rahevam Zeevi and Israeli head of security Meir Lixenberg in 2001.

APHEDA received $8.6 million in government funds from 2011 to 2015 and is budgeted to get another $5.1 million from 2016 until 2019.

Its annual report for 2017-18 states 40 per cent of its income is from government funds. Its total funding encompasses donations from many Australian unions including 

  • Australian Workers' Union, 
  • Finance Sector Union, 
  • Health Services Union of Australia, 
  • MEAA, 
  • NSW Police Association, 
  • Rail, Tram and Bus Union, and 
  • Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union, among others. 
There is no public information for how much funding APHEDA currently gives to the MA’AN Development Centre. It referred questions to DFAT.

In 2011 AusAID revealed MA’AN had received $1.2 million from Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA in the 12 months to April 30, 2010.

...Ms Bishop said Union Aid Abroad was a longstanding Australian aid partner...

27 June 2018

Israel boycotter to address NSW Labor Conference

From The Australian, 28 June 2018, by Andrew Clennel:

Peter Manning will host an event for Labor Friends of Palestine on Saturday. Picture: AAP
Peter Manning will host an event for Labor Friends of Palestine on Saturday. 
Picture: AAP

A former senior ABC journalist who has advocated for boycotts of Israeli products is a speaker at a Fringe event at this weekend’s NSW Labor conference...

Peter Manning, who in 2009 signed off on a letter with fellow academics urging the boycott of Israeli institutions and who chaired forums in Marrickville for the “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” group, is headlining an event for the “Labor Friends of Palestine”.

The web page for the conference says of Dr Manning’s involvement:
“In this event, we will discuss the evolution of Labor’s Foreign Policy and examine how we can navigate and profit from the challenges we face in a rapidly evolving and changing region.
“The event will be presented by Dr Peter Manning, the known Australian journalist, author, broadcaster, commentator and academic, followed by a Q&A session.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said yesterday it was 
“appalling that an active proponent of boycotting Israel who accuses Israel of apartheid, colonialism and ethnic cleansing is accorded a platform at the State Labor conference... It’s an unequivocal repudiation of the sensible voices within Labor ...”.
...Dr Manning has previously chaired forums for the Marrickville BDS Group — the primary group that pushed BDS through Marrickville Council in 2011.

In 2009 he signed a letter that called for universities to 
“refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural co-operation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions”...

Editor's note:

The BDS campaign is aimed at destroying Israel, not promoting peace between Israel and its neighbours. 

It is a product of the NGO Forum held in parallel to the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa , which was marked by repeated expressions of naked anti-Semitism and condemned as such by the United States government and  the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

The Forum’s final declaration described Israel as a state that was guilty of “racist crimes including war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.” The declaration established an action plan—the “Durban Strategy”—promoting “a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel . . . the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel” 

The BDS movement deliberately draws a false parallel to South African apartheid . According to BDS proponents, if South Africa was worthy of a boycott and sanctions campaigns that eventually led to the downfall of that despicable system, “Israel should be subject to the same kind of attack, leading to the same kind of result.”

13 June 2018

"Racism dressed up as scholarship..."

From The Australian, 13 June 2018, by Paige Taylor:

Sandra Nasr: “crude prejudice and lack of scholarly rigour ..."

A Perth academic who criticised Israeli policies in a PhD eight years ago says she is the subject of sustained attempts to silence her on the topic of Palestinian human rights.

Sandra Nasr’s 2010 thesis is the subject of a complaint to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency by the president of the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia, Joan Hillman, who alleges it contains “improprieties”, citing “crude prejudice and lack of scholarly rigour of the thesis (as now attested to by three independent academic scholars); apparent conflicts of interest by the two examiners; and the university’s … placing the thesis under permanent embargo in 2010”.

Dr Nasr, a lecturer in politics and history at Notre Dame in Western Australia, said her thesis was passed in line with Curtin University’s PhD candidate admission and supervisor and examiner review processes. In it, she “critiqued Israeli policies and practices of occupation within the framework of critical state terrorism … These attacks on academic freedom are part of a sustained attempt to redefine criticism of Israel or Zionist ideology as anti-Semitism in order to silence those who would express concern regarding Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation.”

The complaint is being dealt with 2½ years after Dr Nasr was criticised for a piece she wrote on the London School of Economics website that criticised Zionist ideology. [The matter was reported in WA Today and The Jewish Chronicle ]. The Britain-based Jewish Community Security Trust decried the article for “employing grotesque racist slanders against Judaism”.

A spokeswoman for the University of Notre Dame Australia said an investigation into the 2015 post was “internal and confidential” and the university would not be making further comment.

[At the time, the University stated that 
"The opinions and comments expressed by Dr Sandra Nasr were not endorsed or sanctioned by the University and do not, in any way, represent the views of The University of Notre Dame Australia... "The University expresses its disappointment and apologises that comments causing such offence have been associated with it.""Notre Dame is addressing this issue in accordance with its relevant processes and will not make any further comment ..."]
Yesterday, TEQSA confirmed it was reviewing the complaint about Dr Nasr’s PhD but its disclosure policy prevented it from making further comment.

Curtin University said it had “assessed the PhD thesis in accordance with university contemporary policy and supported, at the time, a request that the thesis be placed under embargo. Once the university was made aware Dr Nasr had made public presentations about the thesis topic and findings, the embargo was lifted.”

It did not comment on the ongoing complaint.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry chief executive Peter Wertheim said Curtin University had rewarded Dr Nasr with a PhD for derogatory generalisations about Jews and Judaism.
“No university that values its reputation would allow crude racism dressed up as scholarship to pass muster.”

11 June 2018

Oman’s Dangerous Double Game

From WSJ, June 10, 2018, by Jonathan Schanzer and  Nicole Salter:

The sultanate, a U.S. ally, seems to be helping Tehran wage a proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The Mutrah Corniche seafront in Muscat, Oman. 

The Obama administration sought to help Iran cash in on the 2015 nuclear deal, a Republican-led Senate investigation revealed last week. The report also raises questions about the role played by Oman, a strategically located if little-known sultanate.

During the run-up to the deal, administration officials promised that Iran would never get access to the U.S. financial system. But Team Obama was desperate to ensure that Iran, a pariah in the banking community, saw some material benefits from the deal. Among other things, they sought to convert $5.7 billion of Iranian-held Omani rials, a decidedly illiquid currency, into euros.

The problem was that the rials first had to be converted into U.S. dollars. Under the sanctions regime, this required a license from the U.S. Treasury. According to the Senate report, Treasury issued the license, then asked two American banks to work with Bank Muscat to process the transactions. But the American banks balked, fearing the legal and reputational risks of doing business with Iran. Oman then resorted to buying small amounts of euros that it could transfer to Iran. It’s unclear if Iran has received all $5.7 billion.

Why Oman? Between 2012 and 2015, the country was the site for talks between Iran and the other parties to the nuclear agreement. The Obama administration lauded Oman’s contributions to the deal, but some of the sultanate’s neighbors view its policy toward Iran as too accommodating. The Omanis, less powerful and less oil-rich than other Gulf Arab states, have long argued they have no choice but to play peacemaker. But that doesn’t explain some of Oman’s recent behavior.

In 2016 Reuters reported that Iran was smuggling arms through Oman to the Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-backed government in Yemen. The shipments allegedly included antiship missiles, surface-to-surface short-range missiles, small arms, explosives, and unmanned aerial vehicles. All shipments of weapons to the Houthis violate a 2015 United Nations Security Council arms embargo.

In March 2017, Conflict Armament Research, a U.K.-based nongovernmental organization, reported that UAVs used by the Houthis entered Yemen through Oman. In a January 2018 report, the Security Council’s panel of experts on Yemen asserted that a land route through Oman was the “most likely” explanation for how Burkan-2H missiles had arrived in Yemen. The second likeliest explanation, according to the report, was that Oman’s Salalah port was used as a transshipment point, due to its lax inspection protocols. Local Yemeni authorities also seized a pickup truck on May 9, 2017, at the border crossing with Oman. The truck contained $3.42 million in foreign currency and gold.

Perhaps most troubling, the Syrian airline Cham Wings began flying between Damascus, Syria, and Muscat, the Omani capital, in 2015. Treasury imposed sanctions on Cham Wings in 2016 for terrorism and arms proliferation. It’s possible that the airline has been bringing weapons, parts, personnel or cash into Oman from Syria for transshipment to Yemen. It isn’t clear why else this air bridge was established. As Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker recently observed, “People do not go on vacation in Syria.”

There is no evidence that Omani authorities directly engaged in illicit activities on behalf of Iran. But U.S. officials have conveyed their concerns to Omani authorities several times since 2016. The Saudis, Yemenis, Emiratis and Israelis have also expressed concerns. Omani officials emphatically deny that there is a problem at all.

While most Americans probably couldn’t point to Oman on a map, the country plays an important role in preserving U.S. interests in the Middle East. Oman has allowed the U.S. to use its military bases since 1980. The country is also crucial because Oman, along with Iran, controls the crucial oil-shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz.

President Trump has executed a near-total reversal of American policy toward Iran. Oman is in the unenviable position of having to adjust to this new reality. American officials should be sympathetic, but not if Muscat is turning a blind eye to Iranian weapons smuggling on its soil.

Mr. Schanzer, a former terrorism-finance analyst for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is senior vice president at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Ms. Salter is a project manager and Oman analyst.

10 June 2018

Increasingly, in our Universities, anti-Semitism travels under the guise of pro-Palestinian activism.

From The Australian, 11 June 2018, by Jennifer Oriel:

...Being Mein Kampf-y is back in vogue and Jews amassed in their homeland are the primary target. Islamic regimes claim the moral high ground by criticising Israel for using disproportionate force to protect state borders while they quietly bankroll illegal armies of ­jihadis. The use of non-state ­actors in the place of legitimate ­armies means Islamic regimes can fund ­illegal wars while avoiding accountability under international law, at the UN and in the media.

The UN General Assembly will convene for an emergency session this week regarding Gaza. Some Arab states object to Israel defending its borders against Hamas militants. Recent attempts to damn Israel while exculpating terrorists have failed. But they have gained support from powerful countries such as China, whose government rails against colonialism as it colonises international waters.

The Palestinian territories are so radicalised that Hamas governs Gaza. It is the foot soldiers of ­Islamist terror that you see running for Israel’s borders on the TV news at night. If the accompanying narration is anything to go by, we are supposed to be angry at Israel for gunning down the terrorists trying to invade it. What is the proposed alternative? Should the ­Israel Defence Forces lay down their arms and let the terrorists ­invade the only pluralistic democracy in the Middle East?

Israel was always going to be a risky venture. Theoretically, it ­secures a safe haven for Jews after centuries of persecution. However, their concentration in a small territory in a neighbourhood of ­Islamic states poses a significant threat.

Increasingly, anti-Semitism travels under the guise of pro-Palestinian activism. While it is possible to argue for the two-state solution and against Israeli policy without being anti-Semitic, it is dangerously naive to ignore the ­intent of Palestinian jihadis to enact the final solution by wiping Israel off the map.

Dangerously naive is the ­default position of progressive ­populists in relation to Israel. The alt-left champions jihadis while ­denouncing democracies. Many seem unaware of what they are ­defending when they criticise Israel’s national security measures.

Student activists [at the University of Sydneyhave struck another blow for tyranny by celebrating a female suicide bomber who killed Israelis. 

The AUJS has slammed the controversial cover.

The student women’s collective at the University of Sydney featured Hamida al-Taher on the front page of campus newspaper Honi Soit. The edition was dedicated to the struggle against “Israeli colonisation”. The collective described her as a martyr. One may reason that a young woman being used as a bomb for ­jihad is cause for condemnation, not celebration. But the sisterhood between jihadis and Western feminism is no place for reason.

See "University of Sydney Glorifies Terrorism" and "University of Sydney academics back Hamas" for further background.]

Jewish organisations have com­plained in recent months about a PhD thesis undertaken at Curtin University

Western Australian Sandra Nasr

Documents about the complaint were sent to me by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. The president of the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia, Joan Hillman, has submitted a complaint to the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency contending ­alleged
“improprieties — which collectively constitute a lack of ­integrity — in the award by Curtin University of a PhD for a thesis submitted by Sandra Nasr (now a lecturer at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle) in 2010. Please note the following: 
  • crude prejudice and lack of scholarly rigour of the thesis (as now attested to by three independent academic scholars); 
  • apparent conflicts of interest by the two examiners; and 
  • the university’s action in covering up the matter by placing the thesis under permanent embargo in 2010, thus preventing its being reviewed and exposed until access was granted following an appeal to the Information Commissioner.”
To be clear, any assessment of the quality of Nasr’s academic work is a matter for the relevant university and regulatory bodies.

Peter Wertheim, the co-chief executive of ECAJ, said Nasr 
“first came to our attention in December 2015 when the London School of Economics published, and then removed and apologised for”, a post she had published. In the post, available as a Google cache, Nasr claims: “Zionism, the ideological project to secure a Jewish homeland, relies upon notions of separateness, superiority and entitle­ment.” Nasr contends the notions of superiority stem from religious texts and that the establishment of Israel relied on “terror tactics” to expel Palestinians, considered to be “inconvenient ‘non-people’ ”.
[See "London School of Economics removes ‘contemptible’ anti-Jewish blog posting by Western Australian academic" and "Notre Dame lecturer Sandra Nasr investigated over anti-semitic article" for further background.]

Wertheim objects to the “essen­tial contention that Judaism is an inherently racist religion” and Israel is a racist state that routinely violates international law.

Anti-Semitism is frequently presented as legitimate activism for Palestinian liberation. The next time you hear Israel’s nat­ional security measures described as disproportionate or excessive, imagine armies of jihadis storming Australian borders and how far you would go to stop them.