Jason Koutsoukis and Bren Carlill


Something’s changed with this guy. He used to report something like AP handouts. Now, he actually discusses issues, and has noticed the occupation. And he’s writing op eds. Anyway, today he writes an article that begins with Benny Begin:

Noting that the Middle East was a region that rarely produced ”good days”, Begin said that June 7 of this year had in fact been one such good day.

It was the day Lebanon’s pro-Western March 14 alliance won that country’s parliamentary elections, defeating the March 8 coalition that includes Hezbollah, the Shiite ”party of God” that is strongly backed by Iran. [the “pro-western” list includes salafist Bin-Ladenite extremists, but nevermind]

”The June elections were a triumph for the good guys,” enthused Begin.

Putting Saudi Arabia at the top of his list of ”good guys” that had provided support for March 14, Begin said the Lebanese election results proved at least one thing.

”It showed us that when you really make an effort, the good people can win.”

Since when did Saudi Arabia top Israel’s list of good guys? – but more of that later.

To balance standard Western media disinformation, read Angry Arab. He writes all the time about the Zionist Wahabi alliance: and he is opposed to both ideologies.

But let’s go on:

”This theology is not something we are used to anywhere in the free world,” warned Begin. ”This is something else.”

Quoting a few choice examples of vitriolic extremism that often punctuate the speeches of Iranian leaders and their Hezbollah clients, Begin asked what other country in the world would tolerate such a threat on its doorstep. [this is ridiculous though: Israel routinely threatens to bomb Iran and Lebanon, and occasionally, they say something like: The Zionist enemy will regret it if they attack us, and then there are headlines across Western media about threats against Israel]

”Actually, we live a mad house,” said Begin, with the clear implication that Israel was the only sane nation among them.

Yet where else in the Middle East is there such a fusion of religion and politics?

The lines between the two are so blurred in Israel that it has prevented the country’s legislators from formally adopting a constitution for the past 61 years.

Begin himself, in almost his very next breath, then did what every Israeli politician – secular or religious – does when they start defending Israel’s right to occupy the West Bank: he weaved together history as told by the Old Testament, with facts on the ground.

The land of the West Bank, which he referred to exclusively by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria, was the ”cradle of Jewish civilisation”, Begin argued.

Therefore no Israeli leader, Begin reiterated, should ”relinquish” this land to the Palestinians, and no one had any right to demand that Jews should stop settling this land.

The mixture of religion and politics may well be a dangerous thing in the hands of Shiite clerics such as Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. [Dangerous? in what sense?]

But religious extremism is not exclusive to Islam. Israel has its own Jewish extremists that Begin is happy to ignore. People who are settling the land of ”Judea and Samaria” because they believe they are acting on God’s explicit wishes.

Are these people dangerous?

Last Sunday it was reported that Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, had recently received intelligence on the existence of an ammunition cache in the West Bank settlement of Beit Hagai.

A year ago, religious extremists detonated a pipe bomb at the front door of the distinguished Israeli historian Professor Ze’ev Sternhell, a longtime campaigner against Jewish settlement of the West Bank.

How far would such people go if Israel ever moved to evacuate the West Bank and start evacuating settlements?

When I asked Begin if he was concerned about the fusion of religion and politics in the settler movement, he simply dodged the question.

His bottom line was that because Jews have a strong historic link to the land of West Bank, they have a perpetual right to live there.

As Begin indicated in his earlier blessing of Saudi Arabia – an Islamic monarchy that is one of the world’s most repressive regimes – the fusion of religion and politics is not his real concern. [I’m actually really pleased that Koutsoukis wrote this. It very rarely faces public criticism]

What Begin really demands of movements like Hezbollah, and countries such as Iran, is obedience. An unswerving commitment to the West’s geopolitical strategic vision. [Bravo! Now, just mention that this is also what the US and its imperial alliance (Australia, Britain etc) want too]

If secular moderates were what politicians like Begin were looking for, then the one person they might embrace is Salam Fayyad, the Western-educated former World Bank economist who is now the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister.

But instead of moving to strengthen Fayyad and set the course towards a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict, the Netanyahu Government prefers to weaken the Palestinian Authority by encouraging more settlements, and maintaining the restrictions that make the occupation intolerable for Palestinians.

Two days after Begin appeared before the foreign media in Jerusalem, Salam Fayyad did the same at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah.

Time and again Fayyad repeated his affirmation of the pro-Western mantra of rejecting armed resistance as the only way to achieve the goals of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state. [I’m beginning to think it likely that Fairfax are going to fire this guy. He’s going to be considered outrageous for saying things like this. Of course, it is pro-Western to say the Palestinians must abandon armed struggle, which is their right, whilst Israel refuses to stop engaging in military repression of the Palestinians.]

But as the recent weeks of rioting across East Jerusalem, and the bitter backlash against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ mishandling of the Goldstone Report suggests, the grass roots of Palestinian society seem to have reserved their perceived right to use armed resistance to achieve their national goals. [This is stupid. Resistance doesn’t mean military struggle. Practically every Palestinian faction has abandoned armed struggle, including Hamas.]

Ignoring the effects of 42 years of military occupation with specious arguments about religious extremism is a good way to prolong the Israel-Palestinian conflict, not end it.

Koutsoukis appears to actually oppose the occupation. In the West Bank at least.

Bren Carlill

I’ve written about him a million times before. He also loves to show off his ignorance.  “In May 1967, [Nasser] positioned 80,000 troops next to the Israeli border, demanded UN peacekeepers there leave (tellingly, they did) and closed the Red Sea to Israeli shipping (an act of war).” This Zionist fanatic for hire thinks UN peacekeepers should have stayed when asked to leave. Should they fight a war on behalf of Israel too?

Note also how an economic blockade, in the view of Carlill, is considered “an act of war”. Is a blockade on Gaza an act of war? No, for exactly the same reason that expelling Jews in 1948 was genocide, but expelling Arabs was “perfectly understandable” for Carlill: Jews have rights Arabs don’t.

Look also at his pretend concern for Iranians: “Today it means imposing meaningful sanctions. We all recently witnessed the hundreds of thousands of Iranians that took to the streets over fake election results. Iranians aren’t happy. Imagine their reaction if meaningful sanctions were imposed with a single condition – end your illegal nuclear activities. The regime’s choice would be losing its nuclear program or losing its grip on power. Either result is good.” No one believes this would actually happen: sanctions strengthen the regime, as do military threats, which is what human rights activists have been saying for years. Carlill concludes:”I don’t want another Middle Eastern war. Nor does Israel. But, as we saw in the 1930s and ’60s, if the world doesn’t prevent a genocidal regime from pursuing its stated intentions, war becomes unavoidable.”

This is ridiculous. There is no genocidal regime: and note also how Nasser’s Egypt, Khamenei’s Iran and Hitler Germany are equated as genocidal. It’s unbelievable that these fanatics who constantly complain about comparing Israel to Nazis (which is anti-Semitic) can make the same stupid and ignorant comparisons, and no one apparently says anything.


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