Middle East File 
(keeping this file up to date is impossible...almost daily there are excellent reports...like 2008-02-16)


Selected news items
from the Middle East
Move On  


(civilians wounded
- more than 50,000?)


  I R A N


2008-02-16 The world's largest prison

2007-12-05  No peace in Israel-Palestine

2007-10-23  Antony Loewenstein:  My Israel Question

2007-03-05 Jewish groups call for debate

Dec 23, 2006: Abp Rowan Williams - spot on

Dec 13, 2006: Jimmy Carter's new book  on Palestine - must read ....  and see Apartheid Gaza

May 18, 2006  Italian prime minister: Iraq invasion encouraged global terrorism (Guardian)

May 17, 2006 : check the last line of this piece from Crikey:

1. Rupert predicts Howard will go

By Stephen Mayne

Have a listen to Michael Rowland's story on The World Today this afternoon when it appears online because Rupert Murdoch has made some unguarded remarks to the ABC's Washington correspondent suggesting it would be a good time for John Howard to retire while "on top of his game".

Eleanor Hall immediately interviewed Murdoch biographer Neil Chenoweth pursuing the question of whether the Sun King wants Peter Costello installed sooner rather than later and whether this ties in with proposed changes to Australia's media ownership laws.

 For mine, I reckon Rupert was just backing up his closest friend in Australia, a certain Piers Akerman. The two still exchange birthday presents and it wouldn't surprise at all if Rupert was the primary Akerman source for last Sunday's column predicting an elegant departure for the PM shortly before Christmas.

You see, Rupert was invited to the special John Howard tribute dinner at the White House last night which further confirmed the impression that this trip is a farewell lap of honour.

Given the closeness of Murdoch's media machine to the Bush White House – Fox News operative Tony Snow is Dubya's new official spokesman – this could well be the source of the leak.

Sure, John Howard keeps his counsel close in Australia, but to get the sort of lavish treatment in Washington would have required communication that there was unlikely to be another trip.

This information presumably prompted Rupert's decision to attend the lavish White House tribute dinner and then the cat was let out of the bag when Rowland door-stopped him on the way in.

Asked if he expected Howard to stick around longer than George Bush, Rupert said: "The Prime Minister could if he wanted to, but I doubt it."

"I would like to see him stay on, he's had 10 years ... he's on top of his form and it's much better to go out that way."

Rupert cited Margaret Thatcher as an example of someone who stayed too long and said departing with an election loss was always the worst possible outcome.

As expected, Rupert described the Australia-US relationship as "very, very close – they have never been closer". He also laid it on thick during his speech, praising the PM for his "vision and courage".

Gee, supporting the folly of the Rupert-backed invasion of Iraq sure does elicit plenty of praise these days.

April 20, 2006: Antony Loewenstein
blogger, journalist and author of the forthcoming My Israel Question (MUP), writes: (in Crikey)

There is one foreign affairs issue that remains virtually taboo in public debate. The close relationship between Israel and the US is almost universally avoided in the mainstream, Western press. When attempts are made to analyse one of Washington's key strategic relationships (see my recent Australian article about this debate), allegations of anti-Semitism are never far away. It should not be so.

The partial cause of this silence is the pro-Israel Lobby, a loose affiliation of journalists, politicians and lobbyists who believe that the only language understood by Arabs and Palestinians is force. In Australia, the Australia/Israel & Public Affairs Council (AIJAC) is the prime instigator of slander and intimidation against anyone who dares challenge the hawkish Zionist agenda in the US, Australia or Israel.

Although the lobby is not solely responsible for this unbalanced equation – Western sympathy for Israel's fight against Islamic “terror” is also central, especially since September 11 – our media outlets are failing to present the Arab world in all its diversity.

Why, for example, has no Australian broadsheet published a leading article by a Palestinian since the Hamas win in the Palestinian territories in late January? While the group's past actions warrant close scrutiny, Hamas took power in a democratic process allegedly supported by George W Bush's push for democratisation across the Middle East. Instead, we suffer innumerable Western, pro-Israeli commentators pontificating against “terrorist” Hamas versus “peace-loving” Israel.

Furthermore, as the war in Iraq moves towards its inevitable conclusion – US defeat and withdrawal – the absence of Iraqi voices in our media is striking. Ever since the “Coalition” invasion in early 2003, the Australian mainstream has routinely avoided presenting Iraqis voices either for or against the war. The British and European media regularly publish Iraqi bloggers and academics discussing life in war-torn Iraq. Our media prefer to present the conflict through Western eyes and interests.

US academic Tony Judt writes in the New York Times that the close US relationship with Israel is drawing to a close, “thus it will not be self-evident to future generations of Americans why the imperial might and international reputation of the United States are so closely aligned with one small, controversial Mediterranean client state.” It is therefore imperative that our media fearlessly engages with the complexities and shifting grounds in the Middle East, and not be swayed by lobby pressure or ideological diversions.

Jan 7, 2006:  Excellent article on Ariel Sharon "From Muscle to Mystery" (Guardian)

Dec 9, 2005: Blair should be tried as war criminal (Guardian)    (c.f.  April 8, 2004 below: coalition leaders should face war crimes trial - ABC)

December 24, 2004: No peace on earth during unjust war (Andrew Greeley)

October 29, 2004:  100,000 Iraqi civilians dead since invasion (Guardian)

July 13, 2004: A  U.S. Comedian brings us closer to the truth than the BBC. Most of our journalists fail us

May 21, 2004: Lies about crimes (Guardian Editorial)

April 8, 2004:  Coaltion leaders should face war crimes trial (ABC)

April 7, 2004: The war on terror misfired (Guardian)

January 19, 2004  Hate mail for Jewish peace activists (Guardian)

January 9, 2004   Muddying the world's conscience  Abigail Fielding-Smith (Guardian)

The 'war on terror' is being used as cover for a sustained assault on the independence and progressive agenda of NGOs

Monday December 29, 2003  When God goes to war   The Guardian - Karen Armstrong 

Religions usually espouse peace and goodwill, so why have they sparked so many conflicts?

Middle East File 2003