“Why I stopped being Jewish” by Dr Ron Witton University of Wollongong (On Line opinion)

Dear Friends in solidarity with Palestine
I recently came upon this article by Ron Witton, which is partly an essay of his personal experience as a practising religious Jew and partly a book review of Shlomo Sand’s international bestselling book, The Invention of the Jewish People. Long before Ron read the book, he had stopped being a religious Jew, but still believed that he was ethnically Jewish. 
After reading Shlomo Sands’ book, he came to the position that the Zionist historic claims about a race of Jewish people who had a right to occupy the land that rightly belongs to Palestine are bogus. I has led him to participate in protests in the Middle East to oppose the unjust and inhumane policies of the Zionist government of Israel.
Ron Witton’s essay is a powerful argument in favour of the land and human rights of the Palestinian people.
In addition, it helps to highlight the dangers that we face from fundamentalists of all religions when they adopt rigid interpretations of the myths and legends in the Bible, Torah and the Koran and accept them as literal truth.
I recommend Ron’s article to you to share with friends.
Ron was a student of American studies at Adelaide’s Flinders University in the 1970s when I first met him. He was an academic who was one of the first to support East Timor’s struggle against the illegal invasion by the Indonesian military. I remember asking him, one day, why he had chosen to do research in American studies. His answer was very important. If we want to understand many of the conflicts in the world today and the fact that many dictatorships are not easily overthrown, a study of the way US administrations operate helps to answer most of these questions! The more I see what is happening in our world, the more I realise that Ron’s words all those years ago have proven to be very true.
Viva Palestine!
Andy Alcock
Why I stopped being Jewish
by Dr Ron Witton University of Wollongong (On Line opinion)
As early as I can remember, I was Jewish. I knew I was Jewish because my parents were Jewish and we had Seder on Friday nights when my mother would light the candles and my father would say prayers in Hebrew before we had the Sabbath bread and then dinner. I knew I was Jewish because on High Holy days my father would take me to synagogue and we would fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. When I was young I could never really remember which Holy Day was which, but I knew that on one of them we fasted all day. I also knew I was Jewish because when I went to Rose Bay Public School in the early fifties, that for weekly ‘scripture’ class, I went with the other Jewish kids to Jewish scripture. I also knew I was Jewish because my parents had arrived in Australia as Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany just before the Second World War and that my mother’s parents had been killed there because they had not been able to escape.

As a child, I was still a bit confused about my identity. I didn’t think I looked Jewish because unless I self-identified as a Jew, no one knew I was one. I also knew my parents were German, or at least had been German, and they still had fairly strong accents, they spoke German to my grandmother who lived with us, and we ate food that was different to my ‘Australian’ friends. I recall that I always felt awkward in the fifties when my friends would tire of playing at being cowboys and Indians and switched to playing Second World War games in which we would fight the Germans. I knew I was Australian and that my father must be Australian as he had been in the Australian army during the war. However, I also knew that my parents were in some sense German. In the end, I usually made up some sort of excuse and headed for home.

As puberty approached, so did my bar mitzvah. There was never any question I would not study for it and be prepared for it by the rabbi. The day duly came when I recited my prayers in Hebrew, at the Temple Emanuel in Woollahra. I had learnt the prayers by heart, as I could not understand Hebrew, though I had been taught to read the Hebrew letters in which they were written. I remember that shortly after my bar mitzvah, I began to doubt the existence of God and came to view Judaism and all religions as human-made fantasies, left overs from primitive times. I wondered at otherwise rational people who believed the most amazing tales (including miracles) of their own religion, but viewed the beliefs of other faiths, such as Hinduism or Zoroastrianism, as strange and unbelievable. After a while my parents accepted that I did not attend synagogue on High Holy Days. Indeed my mother soon joined the NSW Humanist Society and declared herself an atheist. I felt the same way, and when many years later the Australian Atheist Foundation was established, I was glad to become a member.

Despite having left Judaism, I still knew I was Jewish. I knew that I could migrate to Israel if I wanted to and become a citizen of Israel. I knew that I could be the target of anti-Semitic acts, though I can’t remember ever experiencing any. Given that I was no longer a believer, I was always in a bit of a quandary if I was asked my religion. I usually dealt with the question by saying that my parents had been Jewish refugees from Germany. Without me saying anything further, people knew I also was Jewish. I could of course have said I was not a practicing Jew. However, it seemed irrelevant and gratuitous to say this because even if I did not practice Judaism, I still remained a Jew because my parents had been Jewish. This was despite the fact that I did not look Jewish (whatever that meant) and my name did not seem Jewish. During the war my parents had changed our surname from Witkowski to Witton, a name they had made up for themselves, and so I felt my Jewish identity was in some way in hiding.

My religion has rarely come up in my daily life. Indeed, there have only been two reasons for me ever coming out as being Jewish. The first has been to oppose anti-Semitism. For example, if I overheard an anti-Semitic remark, though this has in fact almost never occurred. The second reason has been to support the Palestinian cause.

I had always been aware that Israel had been established for the victims of the holocaust and that I had relatives there. However, I came to realise that Israel had been established on Palestinian land, in the same way Australia had been established on Aboriginal land, and that in both cases the land and its original inhabitants had been subject to ‘ethnic cleansing’. For Palestine, this resulted in the creation of generations of refugees stranded in the countries around Israel prevented from returning to their homeland. Meanwhile Israelis, including some of my relatives, built kibbutzim on the land from which Palestinians had been evicted. It seemed the ultimate injustice that I, who had a safe and secure life in Australia, had a so-called ‘right of return’ to go and live in Israel while the Palestinians had no such right.

Feeling I needed to do something concrete about this, I decided late last year to join Jewish and non-Jewish members of the Australian contingent who, together with over 1 400 people from all over the world, took part in the Gaza Freedom March. This event aimed to publicise the fact that Israel had turned Gaza into what David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, has recently described as “a prison camp”. Gaza is a place where some half a million people, including many families with disabled and injured children and ailing old people, are being collectively punished by Israel to live in abject poverty. They are denied commerce and communication with the rest of the world, and even humanitarian aid, while vital infrastructure such as sanitation plants, destroyed by Israeli bombing, cannot be repaired because of the Israeli blockade.

I went on the Gaza Freedom March partly because I felt that as a Jew I had a moral responsibility to do so. I knew that others who were not Jewish were also taking part and their reasons were just the same in terms of opposing injustice, cruelty and the increasing racism of Israel, but I felt a particular need to take part because I was Jewish.

However, it is only in the last week that I have realised that many of the historical ‘facts’ of Jewish history are in fact myths and, at a personal level, that I am not even genetically Jewish. This realisation has come about by reading Shlomo Sand’s international bestseller The Invention of the Jewish People. This book, originally published in Hebrew in 2008, is the work of an Israeli historian who teaches at Tel Aviv University, and is a ground breaking analysis of the myths that have shaped not only my world but also Israel. The myths he examines and shows to lack historical basis are such central Zionist beliefs as that of the exodus from Egypt and the exile of the Jewish people from their homeland. He also draws on a wide range of existing research to demonstrate convincingly that Jews do not share a common genetic descent from Abraham, Isaac and Joseph.

He uses existing, though often conveniently ignored, historical scholarship to show that the biblical stories that are used to justify Israel’s usurpation of Palestine have no basis in historical or archeological record. For example, he shows how there are no historical or archeological records to lend any credibility to such stories of the Bible as the migration of the whole Jewish population (i.e. Jacob and his 12 sons) to Egypt and then their wholesale exodus from Egypt, led by Moses, to the ‘promised land’. Indeed, upon mere reflection, it defies credibility that this could have occurred. The idea that Moses led all the so-called Children of Israel out of Egypt and then wandered for forty years in the desert before returning to Israel is quite preposterous. There is firstly the fanciful assertion that the waters of the Red Sea ‘parted’ allowing both the children of Israel to escape and conveniently causing the wholesale destruction of the pursuing Egyptian forces. Sand shows there is absolutely no Egyptian record of this having taken place. It needs to be recalled that Egyptian records are vast and detailed, and a momentous event such as this would not have escaped being recorded. Moreover, given that there were ostensibly some 600,000 Jewish warriors that were being led by Moses, this means that we are talking, with their families and others, of some three million people wandering in the desert for some forty years. Just try and think of the logistics of such a trek. It defies understanding.

Further, with regard to Moses being ‘given’ an empty promised land of milk and honey, the reality is that archeological records show that the so-called promised land was both populated and indeed ruled by Egypt. As Sand writes: “In the thirteenth century BCE, the purported time of the Exodus, Canaan was ruled by the still-powerful pharaohs. This means that Moses led the freed slaves out of Egypt…to Egypt?” (p.118)

More significantly, Sand examines the historical and archeological records to prove that the exile of the Jews from Israel, whether in 586 BC after the destruction of the First Temple, or in 70 CE with the Roman destruction of the Second Temple,never occurred. The idea of exile is of course the great myth that has justified the return of the Jewish homeland and the dispossession of the Palestinian people. He shows how in ancient times there have never been historical examples of the uprooting of entire populations of sedentary agricultural peoples leaving lands empty. Sand draws on the works of many scholars whose inconvenient findings have been consistently ignored in the face of the purported truth of the Bible. He shows how the uncritical perpetuation of historical myths in Israel’s universities have been engineered by universities such as the Hebrew University, having two separate history departments: one named the Department of Jewish History and Sociology; the other named the Department of History.

As Sand looks at more and more of these accepted historical ‘facts’, their validity fades before our eyes and we realise the world has been duped into believing, in effect, a fairy tale that has fuelled world history and continues to affect the daily lives and fate of the Palestinians. It is the belief in the promised land that has resulted in Israel continuing to defy international law by occupying Palestine land and allowing, and often encouraging, so-called Israeli settlements to spread beyond its borders, thereby destroying any hope of even a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. There is an even more dramatic myth that Sand explodes.

As a Jew, I knew that even if I no longer believed in the religion, I was still a descendent of the Israelites, that is, I could trace my family origins back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I was part of an ethnos whose membership was hereditary. However, I had often wondered about the great divisions among the Jews. I knew that the vast majority of Jews in the world were the European Ashkenazi (of which my family was a member) but there were also the Sephardic Jews who were Middle Eastern in appearance. Despite the great difference in our separate physiognomy, we were all supposed to be related. I had also heard that there were African Jews in Ethiopia and even Chinese Jews. This had in fact already begun to stretch the bounds of my credibility in terms of our common heredity.

It is only through Shlomo Sand’s careful scholarship that I have come to understand what the real story is. Sand documents that Judaism was in fact an early militant religion whose beliefs were spread through proselytisation and conquest. For example, in the eighth and ninth centuries there occurred the conversion of the Khazar kingdom in the north Caucuses and this explains the origins of the many millions of Jews who have lived in such regions no constituting modern-day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Similarly, Judaism spread through conquest and conversion along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa and this explain the origin of the Berber Jews of Morocco. Of course, over time, many of the peoples who had adopted the Jewish faith were subsequently conquered by, and/or converted to, Christianity, and then later many of these Christians and many remaining Jews were in turn conquered by, and/or converted to, Islam.

Hence I have come to realise that I am not in fact descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Rather, my ancestors were Jewish converts and that, as a descendent of Ashkenazi Jews, I am not Semitic. Indeed, if one is looking for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then the place to look is in Gaza and other areas of Palestine where the descendants of the original population of this region continue to live. There is a dreadful and cruel irony that the European Ashkenazi Jews, who promoted Zionism, usurped this heritage for themselves and have managed to evict the real descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph.

Sand documents how this lack of a common genetic heritage of Jews is shown by the very DNA analysis that the Zionists hoped would prove a common Jewish descent. The fact that there is no common genetic heritage shared by Jews throughout the world, in fact confirms the historical record that many, indeed the majority, of the ancestors of the world’s Jews entered the faith through conversion. Even demographically, one would be hard put to explain how the diaspora of large number of Jews throughout the world could have resulted from the progeny of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph. Sand examines in detail how Zionist scholarship has explained away the Jewish diaspora by means of such concepts as ‘The Wandering Jew’ and has dealt with awkward demographic realities of vast numbers of Jews far from their promised land by resorting to such arguments as the claim that Jewish extreme fecundity is a result of Jewish hygienic practices.

What is really chilling in Shlomo Sand’s study is his close description of the way the Israeli establishment and its Zionist supporters throughout the world have harnessed vast resources to counter the research of the academics he cites. Historical home truths that have been analysed in many books over time have been conveniently ignored, or when that proves impossible, have been disparaged, derided and written off. Indeed, the newly-published English language edition of Sand’s book, has a supplementary chapter ‘Afterward: A Reply to My Critics’ which documents the strength of the pro-Israeli and Zionist lobby both in Israel and abroad that resists engaging in honest scholarship in order to protect what Sand calls the ‘mythistory’ that provides the continuing rationale for Israel as a Jewish state, rather than a multicultural democracy for all its citizens.

This book has freed me from a misguided belief that that I was in some way genetically related to all God’s ‘chosen people’. What I have learnt is that I can engage with the whole world though a common humanity in order to create a better world for all.

As Sand looks at more and more of these accepted historical ‘facts’, their validity fades before our eyes and we realise the world has been duped into believing, in effect, a fairy tale that has fuelled world history and continues to affect the daily lives and fate of the Palestinians. It is the belief in the promised land that has resulted in Israel continuing to defy international law by occupying Palestine land and allowing, and often encouraging, so-called Israeli settlements to spread beyond its borders, thereby destroying any hope of even a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. There is an even more dramatic myth that Sand explodes.

As a Jew, I knew that even if I no longer believed in the religion, I was still a descendent of the Israelites, that is, I could trace my family origins back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I was part of an ethnos whose membership was hereditary. However, I had often wondered about the great divisions among the Jews. I knew that the vast majority of Jews in the world were the European Ashkenazi (of which my family was a member) but there were also the Sephardic Jews who were Middle Eastern in appearance. Despite the great difference in our separate physiognomy, we were all supposed to be related. I had also heard that there were African Jews in Ethiopia and even Chinese Jews. This had in fact already begun to stretch the bounds of my credibility in terms of our common heredity.

It is only through Shlomo Sand’s careful scholarship that I have come to understand what the real story is. Sand documents that Judaism was in fact an early militant religion whose beliefs were spread through proselytisation and conquest. For example, in the eighth and ninth centuries there occurred the conversion of the Khazar kingdom in the north Caucuses and this explains the origins of the many millions of Jews who have lived in such regions no constituting modern-day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Similarly, Judaism spread through conquest and conversion along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa and this explain the origin of the Berber Jews of Morocco. Of course, over time, many of the peoples who had adopted the Jewish faith were subsequently conquered by, and/or converted to, Christianity, and then later many of these Christians and many remaining Jews were in turn conquered by, and/or converted to, Islam.

GARETH EVANS AND JUSTICE – letter to the editor (11 July 2012)

Mr Des Ryan

4 Cinema Place (off Vaughan Place) ADELAIDE SA 5000

Dear Mr Ryan


I was interested to see your report on Gareth Evan’s speech which he recently gave to the Donald Dunstan Foundation  in Adelaide, Justice takes time: Evans (InDaily 11 July 2012).

He made a statement that the initiation of international criminal proceedings against those committing genocide  and gross human tights abuses can sometimes generate a significant dilemma and cited the cases of Rwanda and Libya. I find it rather intriguing that he should cite these two examples as there is a case study that Gareth Evans would be more familiar with because he played a much greater role in it than either Rwanda or Libya.

I am referring to the example of East Timor.

As most people would be aware, Gareth Evans was Australia’s minister for Foreign Affairs between 1988 – 1996 during the 24 year illegal occupation of that country by the Indonesian military (TNI). During that time, it is well known that the TNI wiped out a third of the population and committed gross human rights abuses. However, far from working for justice for the people of East Timor, while he was Australia’s foreign minister, Gareth Evans: 

* acted as an apologist for the Indonesian dictatorship and the TNI

After the 1991 Santa Cruz Massacre of 1991, he tried to ameliorate the embarassment for the Indonesian dictatorship by referring to it as an “aberration” despite the fact that there had already been numerous massacres conducted by the TNI before that time.

* poured scorn on those who demonstrated against Indonesian human rights abuses in East Timor and other parts of the region

* ensured that the TNI received Australian funding while it was committing genocide and human rights abuses in East Timor

* formulated an oil and gas treaty with the Indonesian dictatorship which divided up East Timor’s oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea without consulting the East Timorese.

Most would be aware that this action flouted international law. It is illegal for a state to be involved in taking another nation’s resources when that country is under illegal attack or occupation.

While Gareth Evans may have changed his ways after leaving politics and then working for peace and justice with the International Crisis Group, he has never apologised to the people of East Timor for the disgraceful and shameful role he played when they faced genocide or those people he villified because they supported the rights of the East Timorese to be free. 

The Australia East Timor Friendship Association believed that the decision by the Don Dunstan Foundation to invite Evans was a very unwise one as it was contrary to the aims of the Foundation, which are to promote causes that were championed by Don Dunstan – such as human rights, social equality, multiculturalism and aboriginal rights.

The East Timorese struggle for independence and human rights was one of the causes that Don championed. He was a strong supporter of the of the Campaign for an Independent East Timor (now the Australia East Timor Friendship Association) in South Australia and frequently spoke at or chaired public meetings opposing Liberal Party and ALP policies of appeasement towards Indonesia’s actions in East Timor.

Not long before he died, Don attended one a protest rally in Victoria Square when the violence in East Timor  was at its height. We invited him to speak, but he declined as he was very sick, but he felt it was such an important issue that he should be there to make a public stand.

Don Dunstan took a public stand to support freedom and human rights for the people of East Timor while they were suffering genocide. Gareth Evans, on the other hand, aided and abetted those carrying out the genocide and human rights abuses.

The fact is that, since the TNI was forced to withdraw from East Timor by a UN peace-keeping force in 1999, not one TNI officer has faced justice for the crimes that were committed there or in other countries in the region where the TNI has committed similar crimes.
Maybe, now that Gareth Evans has had a change of heart, he could use influence to help establish a special international tribunal to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by the TNI and members of the former Suharto dictatorship.
in sincerely

Andrew (Andy) Alcock

Information Officer

Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA Inc

COMMENT ON “THE FOG OF WAR” Documentary of Robert McNamara [ABC TV 1 July 2012]

COMMENT ON “THE FOG OF WAR” Documentary of Robert McNamara [ABC TV 1 July 2012]
I have to say that I think this documentary is very limited. It only looks at the US war in Vietnam from the viewpoint of someone who was central to the decision making about how the war was waged.
The reality is that McNamara was a very evil mass murdering warmonger. He helped set the pattern of how the US conducted the war in Vietnam- saturation bombings (on scores of occasions, more bombs were dropped than were used by all participants in WW2); extensive use of napalm, defoliants, anti-personnel weapons, landmines; terrorist campaigns like the Phoenix Programme etc McNamara skirted around some of these issues, but apart from admitting that he had made mistakes, did not admit to the criminality of his role.
He did not want to talk about what his family thought and there is a reason for this. His family became very divided about his role and some members refused to speak to him because they saw him as a war criminal, which indeed he was.
When he said he would explain how the US got involved in Vietnam, he merely talked about how President John Kennedy recruited him to be Secretary of Defence not long after he was made president of the Ford Motor Company.
He did not mention that the US forced a separation of Vietnam between North and South in 1954 at the Geneva Conference, set up a puppet government under Ngo Dinh Diem and intervened to stop the promised elections that were to occur in 1956. US historian and adviser to John Kennedy admitted in his book “The Bitter Heritage” that the US administration did not agree to the elections because it knew that 80% of the people would vote for Ho Chi Minh.
Originally, Diem was not elected, but was installed from his place of exile in France.
Even on this issue, McNamara could not be honest. He bemoaned the fact that Diem was assassinated in 1963, but conveniently omitted that this occurred with the connivance of the CIA and the US administration of which he was part.
One of the basic problems is that many of the key administrators that are appointed by US administrations are seconded straight from industry. These people are given incredible power as McNamara admitted. This surely has to be seen as a very basic flaw in so-called US “democracy”. I think that it is no coincidence why many of the big corporations like Dow, Monsanto, Westinghouse, Du Pont, General Electric, General Motors, etc all made huge profits out of the US war in Vietnam.
Before he retired, President Eisenhower warned the US people about the Military Industrial Complex. He was referring to the fact that big business and the US war machine were having an overwhelming say in US policy-making.  An American minister I met several years ago at a political forum on US interference in Latin American politics referred jokingly to the Military Industrial Evangelical Complex. He was acknowledging the role of ultra right wing fundamentalist organisations in the US that have a big influence on US policy eg the Moral Majority, the Tea Party, The Family, Moral Rearmament (MRA) etc.
The Family (TF) and MRA were founded by admirers of the Nazis. TF, in particular, helped Nazi war criminals to escape justice and helped to sanitise them when they went to the US. The Presidential Prayer Breakfasts are organised by TF and their aim is to bring influential right wing politicians together with powerful industrialists and business people. Some of the worst dictators were brought into the US ambit of power through this process. One was General Mahomed Suharto, the Indonesian dictator, who was assisted by the CIA to usurp a democratically elected government in 1965. He was also assisted by the US President Ford and another war criminal Henry Kissinger to mount an invasion of East Timor.
Before that in the early 1960s, John Kennedy had intervened and used his influence to stop the Dutch government from giving independence to West Papua and demanded that it should be part of Indonesia. US geologists had found large deposits of gold and copper ore there. West Papua has the biggest copper mine in the world and the third largest gold mine in the world and the profits are split between US corporations and corrupt Indonesian generals, who, to this day are committing genocide in the country – aided and abetted by the US administration.
I find it hard to believe that McNamara did not know many of these facts. He could have been far more honest than what he was. And the makers of the documentary should have interviewed many more people to give it some validity.
The documentary suggests that McNamara’s role in the World Bank was to help people in developing countries. It is well known that the WB itself is an extension of the big corporations. The aid given comes with very unfair strings attached – wages are kept very low; laws to protect workers and the environment are discouraged; unions to protect workers conditions are not allowed etc .
I personally think that we saw a man who was trying to come to terms with his mistakes/crimes. He was very sad and broken – probably because of the fracture in his family relationships. And I did not think he showed much sympathy for the victims of his crimes. He was more interested in trying to offer excuses for his behaviour.
I think it is fair to say that another purpose of the exercise seemed to be about putting a fog over the role of the US Military Industrial Evangelical (Fascist Fundamentalist?) Complex in US decision making and the role it is still playing in world affairs.
It is a pity that Professor Noam Chomsky, a “righteous” American who has written so much about Vietnam and the role of US administrations in the Middle East, Latin America and other places was not interviewed.
Andrew (Andy) Alcock


Israel’s Mercy is Inhumanely
By Vacy VlaznaThere is a growing campaign to urge the London
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to cancel Israel’s Habima Theatre’s performances of
‘The Merchant of Venice’ on 28-29th May 2012 at the Shakespeare Globe to Globe

The Habima Theatre, the National Theatre of Israel, has
no moral qualms about performing in the illegal settlement colonies on stolen
Palestinian lands.

These colonies and their extremist residents have a
tragic daily and long-term impact on Palestinian lives with their rabid theft of
land, water, livelihood and homes that consequently have impoverished
Palestinian families…

You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth
sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live.

OCHA reported that the weekly average racist attacks
resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage has increased by 40% in
2011. Settler terrorism with its ‘strange apparent cruelty’ is sanctioned by the
Israeli state with the assistance of the Israeli Occupation Forces.

Following Palestine’s bid for its right to membership in
the UN, in September 2011, Israel flagrantly announced plans to build 50,000
homes in Palestinian East Jerusalem in violation of international

Habima has stated that “As a theater, this play allows
us to attack the hatred of Jews and fear of strangers,” Indisputably all racism
is contemptible and must be addressed and eliminated.

Still, Habima should be barred even though the court
scene (Act 4 Sc 1) is damning of Israel when interpreted from a perspective of
the Shylockian rapaciousness for Palestinian land, although, in the process of
theft, unlike Shylock, Israel doesn’t hesitate to draw Palestinian blood
including the blood of 352 children in Operation Cast Lead .

Also in the festival, the Palestinian Ashtar Theatre
(Ramallah and Jerusalem) is presenting the politically controversial Richard II.
The drama could bear analogy to the Nakba: the permanent exile of Mowbray, the
usurping of the weak King Richard ( British Mandate) by the Machiavellian
Bollingbroke who doomed England to decades of bloody civil

The Ashtar theatre is famous for The Gaza Mono-Logues in
which 31 “Youth from Gaza Tell their Personal Stories about War and Siege.” It
was ‘performed simultaneously on October 17th 2010 by over 1500 youngsters in
more than 50 cities in 36 countries all over the world.’

The project is the inspiration of the Artistic Director,
Ms Iman Aoun, and is referred to as a Phoenix of life and truth rising from the
ashes of the 2008/9 Gaza war in which innocent civilians were mercilessly
trapped in the world’s most densely populated open prison with no escape by
land, air or sea,

Gaza’s fish ran away…but people were not able to.
Fateema Atallah, Born 1996

During the 22 days of Israel’s brutal high-tech military
assault, including the illegal use of phosphorus bombs on defenseless civilians,
1417 Palestinians including 352 children were killed. At least 5380 were wounded
and maimed including 1872 children. About 100,000 people lost their homes. For
young Gazans, these war crime facts remain mind, soul and

• Yesterday I was sitting in school and I heard the
sound of planes. I got really scared, I wanted to run away from school. I felt I
was going to die because I remembered the war. The scenes of war won’t leave my
mind. Reem Afana , Born 1996

• Before the war I used to feel that Gaza was my second
mother. Its ground was the warm chest I could lay on, and its sky was my
dreams… without limits. The sea would wash away my worries. But today I feel
it’s an exile, I stopped feeling its the city of my dreams. Ahmad El Ruzzi, Born

• In the future if I grow up, and in Gaza it’s an
achievement to grow up because death is standing on your doorstep, I want to be
a children’s caretaker and defend their rights.. Yasmeen Katbeh, Born

Three years on, Israel’s quality of mercy is still
inhumanely strained by its Zionist apartheid policies and collective punishment
of Palestinians. It is….

A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
uncapable of
pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.

Cancelling Habima’s performance would be an ethical
stand of condemnation and a valuable awareness raising of the crimes against
humanity perpetrated by the state of Israel.

Western governments, as High Contracting Parties to the
Fourth Geneva Convention, have dishonorably relinquished their legal obligations
to secure a Palestinian state and protect the human rights of the indigenous
Palestinian people and that is why the Palestinians have called on all of to
join the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement as a non-violent means of
bringing justice and peace to both Palestine and Israel.

The Globe has a BDSt example close at hand. It has a
partnership with the Deutsche Bank which in 2010 divested from the Israeli
company, Elbit Systems when it was determined that Elbit significantly
participates in operating the illegal Apartheid Wall and protecting the illegal
West Bank colonies.

Cultural boycotts do have a far-reaching influence and
can inspire moral action, can be a vanguard for justice, can save

To do a great right, do a little wrong,
And curb this
cruel Israel of its will.

and, in this case, The Globe can offer Habima a
principled choice to join the movement to boycott the illegal colonies or remain
in Israel during the Shakespeare Globe to Globe Festival.

- Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for
Palestine Matters:
www.palestinematters.com. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second
round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 and was coordinator of
the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and
UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to

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Dear Friends at United to End
I very much appreciate the good work you do to
assist the human rights of the people of Sudan.
I would like to respectfully disagree with the
observation that Tom made in his report, however.
“We know that when the United States Government is
paying attention and exercising its influence, progress can be
The fact is that US administrations frequently support the very regimes that you and other good people around the world are trying to expose because of their inhumanity and gross human rights abuses.
In doing some reading on the situation in Southern Sudan, I came across a report by Susan Gordon of the Huffington Post, who wrote the following on 3 January 2012, :
“At 3 a.m., I received an email from my colleague
and dear friend, Mohamed. Usually calm and measured in his communication, Mohamed raged in his email against the Obama administration and its Sudan envoy, Princeton Lyman, for their complicity in supporting the brutal regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The subject line of the email was “U.S. Sudan policy is killing us.”
Many people had great hopes that the Obama Administration would make a difference for human rights, but this has not proved to be the case. He has done nothing to assist the plight of the Palestinians whose human and land rights are being violated every day by Israel.
In my region of the world, he has continued to assist the Indonesian military (TNI) despite the fact that it has committed genocide in East Timor, West Papua, Acheh and parts of Indonesia (eg Bali and Maliku provence).
In 1965, the CIA assisted Mahommed Suharto, the previous Indonesian dictator, to unseat the democratically elected government of President Sukarno. He remained in power for 33 long, corrupt and brutal years.
Amnesty International claimed that a half to one milion people were butchered by the TNI in the year afterwards with the full knowledge and blessing of the then US Administration and the CIA.
Some Indonesians inform me that the death toll was
nearer 3 million. Most of the victims were those supporting greater democracy and a fairer distribitution of resources. Ethnically, the Chinese and the Balinese suffered the most.
Barack Obama would know all of this as he spent a number of years living in Indonesia. He has done nothing to stop the support that the US gives to the TNI butchers.
Of course, Australian governments that endorse everything that US administrations do also support these people. Many in the SE Asian Pacific regions consider that the TNI is the worst terrorist organisation in our part of the world and that it can continue on its bloody way because the
US, Australia and some European governments allow it to do so.
US and Australian leaders continually preach about democracy, but continue to support dictatorships or get involved in unnecessary wars to get hold of resources of other nations, to increase the profits of their corporations or to install compliant regimes.
The fact is that the US is not a democracy as its governments are controlled by the Military/Industrial/Extreme Right Wing Complex (M/I/ERW/C). Dwight Eisenhower, before he retired as US President in 1961, warned the US people to beware of the Military Industrial complex because he had the foresight to see that this was going to be a very powerful and undemocratic force.
Since then, many extreme right wing organisations have worked to strengthen the power of this complex even further eg right wing
Republicans (and Democrats), the Tea Party, The Family, Moral Rearmament (some quite pro Nazi in outlook) etc and they provide an almost insurmountable force in relation to the decisions of US administrations.
However, to prevent US administrations (and the compliant governments like Australia) from bowing to the dictates of the M/I/ERW/C, more must be done to loosenthe strangle hold it has on decision-making processes.
The supreme war criminal Robert McNamara was never elected by the US people to high office. He was appointed by the Kennedy Administration from the Ford corporation and was given great powers to escalate the US War in Vietnam to an incredible extent. Three million Vietnamese died, their infrastructure was massively destroyed and their environment was greatly
contaminated because of this criminal megalomaniac and the US presidents (and other political leaders) who listened to him.
As we fight for the human rights of the victims of human rights abuses, we also need to confront the political forces that help to install the dictatorships that carry out the crimes against humanity.
And we need to look very critically look at our political structures that have given US and western politicians so much power to affect the politics of other
If we do not do this, certain individuals will always be able to get away with making more people suffer because of their greed and lust for power. And those of us who are struggling for social justice, human rights and a safer environment will be condemned to continue in this struggle forever.
Yours for peace, social justice, human rights and environmental responsibility
A La Lucha Continua!
Andrew (Andy) Alcock


—– Original Message —–

From: “andyalcock” <andyalcock@internode.on.net>
To: “ETAN” <etan@etan.org>; “Noam
Chomsky” <
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2011 12:35

Dear Compainheros John, Charles, Noam and other members of ETAN

I would like to add my congratulations to all ETAN activists on the occasion
of your 20th anniversary and also to reaffirm our solidarity with you.

As an activist in one of the Australian solidarity groups, I know about the
great contribution of ETAN to the existence of the RDTL today. I am a member  of the Australia East Timor Friendship Association of South Australia Inc (AETFA), which was originally, the Campaign for an Independent East Timor, South Australia Inc (CIET).

On 28 May this year, our group celebrated its 36th anniversary with about 80
young people from TL who are undergoing secondary and tertiary education in  Adelaide.


It was a very joyous occasion to celebrate both our anniversary with the 9th
anniversary of an independent TL.

Noam, in his message, has stressed the importance of the work of ETAN and  the other solidarity groups around the world as a contributing factor to
East Timor’s victory over Indonesia and the gaining of its independence.

During the late 1990s, Charles Scheiner introduced two submissions that we
made to the UN to appeal for it to make greater efforts for the East
Timorese. During the celebrations for independence in Dili in 2002, some of
our members were fortunate enough to meet him at the Xanana Resource Centre  at a function for solidarity groups and thank him.

However, we can take nothing away from the tenacity and the courage of the
members of FRETILIN, FALINTIL and RENETIL who fought against overwhelming  odds in their struggle against the TNI.

It was crucial that there were people actively promoting independence for
Timor and demanding the withdrawal of the TNI. This helped the progressive
forces within the UN to prevent it from ratifying the illegal Indonesian
occupation and to demand that the TNI withdraw. I believe that it is a
great  tragedy that in the case of West Papua, the UN ratified the phoney
Act of  Free Choice in that country in 1969. As a result, these people have
suffered the brutality of the TNI for even longer than the East

The international awareness of the Timor issue which was achieved by the
East Timor solidarity groups, I believe, was also a factor in the minds of
leading Indonesian decision makers, when, after the Asian economic meltdown  and the fall of the dictator Suharto, they were forced to allow a
plebiscite for independence. Their hands were forced when they were
confronted with a national economy that was in a dreadful state because of
the huge amounts being spent on the TNI to supress people in East Timor,
West Papua, Acheh and parts of Indonesia itself together with the massive
corruption that had been allowed by the dictatorship.

I also agree with Noam that now there is an independent Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, we need to continue our strong advocacy for the pursuit of justice and compensation for the victims of the TNI barbarity throughout its occupation. Several Australian governments were complicit in supporting the TNI’s illegal occupation because of their unquestioning support of US  administrations. In addition, of course, the Howard government forced an unfair agreement on the fledgeling RDTL government on how the oil and gas  resources in the Timor Sea should be shared. With such a small population,  the RDTL is not in a good position to push these issues with the current  Indonesian and Australian governments.

We have made demands that the Australian government refuse to continue
aiding and arming the TNI while the Indonesian government does nothing to
bring the war criminals in its ranks to justice, does nothing about
compensating the victims of the TNI and refuses to withdraw from West Papua.

Further, we have lobbied a number of Australian politicians to also to call
on the UN to instigate an international ban on all aid to the TNI until these
conditions are met. We also cooperate with the Australia West Papua
Association on these issues.

The Australian politicians we have approached always use the excuse that the RDTL government is not making these demands.

This is the reason why we have to continue the important advocacy role as
well as raising money to support projects to assist Timor Leste to rebuild
and redevelop.

We hope to continue our working together on these import campaigns with you.

Congratulations and thank you for all the valuable work you have done over
the past 20 years to contribute to peace, social justice and human rights in
East Timor and the Asia Pacific region.

The major terrorist organisation preventing this in our region is the TNI
and both of our governments support it while espousing their promotion of
human rights.

In closing, I should mention that progressive people in Adelaide were  excited to have Noam come to Adelaide to deliver the annual Edward Said
Memorial Lecture organised by the University of Adelaide and the Australian
Friends of Palestine Association on 5 November. The numbers attending were  so great that the organisers had to hire the Adelaide Town Hall which can  accommodate over 1000 people. Even the premier of South Australia was in  attendance.

Noam was also in Australia to receive the Sydney Peace Prize, which so many believe was thoroughly deserved because of his great work to
promote peace, justice and human rights.

Warm regards

Viva Timor Leste!

Viva Papua Barat!

Viva Solidaridad International!

Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Information Officer

Australia East Timor Friendship Association (SA) Inc

Phone: 61 8 83710480



—– Original Message —–
From: “ETAN”
To: <
Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2011 5:05 PM
Subject: A
message from Noam Chomsky on ETAN’s 20th Anniversary


December 2011

Dear Friends,

It is 20 years since a
small group of activists founded what is now the
East Timor and Indonesia
Action Network (ETAN), and I have been supporting
it since the beginning. I
am writing to you today to urge you to join me
in that

Twenty years ago, on November 12, Indonesian troops marched up
and opened
fire on a peaceful pro-independence demonstration at the Santa
cemetery in Dili, the capital of what was then known as East Timor.
than 270 young Timorese were murdered in the most publicized of a
many shocking atrocities during the Indonesian invasion and
The eyewitness accounts of western journalists broke through
the silence
and hypocrisy of the media, bringing the first news of the
occupation to

Among those inspired to act were the founders
of the East Timor Action
Network. A small group of activists began to meet,
and in the first of
many demonstrations, a few dozen concerned people
picketed in front of the
Indonesian Mission to the United Nations in New
York City on December 10,
1991, International Human Rights Day. Outraged by
the U.S. government’s
complicity in the oppression of the East Timorese,
they created an
impressive national organization committed to supporting
East Timor’s
right to self-determination. Quickly, grassroots pressure
persuaded the
U.S. Congress to terminate taxpayer-funded training for
soldiers in the United States, the first of many legislative
which eventually moved Washington from supporting to opposing the

I have long supported East Timor’s
self-determination. Even before
Indonesia’s 1975 invasion, I called for the
right of the East Timorese to
control their own destiny. I welcomed ETAN’s
founding and admired its
effective grassroots organizing. I am told that I
was the organization’s
first donor. That contribution was one of the best
investments I have ever
made for political and social change. Without
ETAN’s efforts, East Timor
might not yet be free.

Since then I have
continued to support ETAN. I hope you will too. Please
help ETAN celebrate
20 years of dedicated and effective activism and
continue its important

Throughout the 1990s, ETAN kept up the pressure. In 1999,
when the East
Timorese finally were able to vote on their political future,
the crimes
were escalating once again. ETAN had a significant role in
President Clinton to inform the Indonesian generals in September
that the
game was over, at which point they quickly withdrew.

Timor is now the independent Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, but
remains tenacious in the pursuit of justice for the victims of the
Cruz massacre and the entire Indonesian occupation. It remains
active in
highlighting the complicity of U.S. government officials in the
of the people of East Timor, West Papua and elsewhere in the
archipelago including the still-active Henry Kissinger, who
gave a green
light to the invasion of East Timor. ETAN understands that
there cannot be
peace without justice.

While East Timor is now an independent nation, it
still struggles for
genuine self-determination under the pressures of the
global economic
system. ETAN is currently coordinating a campaign with
Movement against Debt opposing the taking out of onerous
loans by
currently debt-free Timor. A statement signed by 137
worldwide argued, “Rather than repeat the mistakes of other
countries that have struggled with debt during recent decades,
should learn from their experiences, which often inflicted
great hardships
on their people.”Nearly a thousand people have signed
expressing similar concerns.

In 2005, ETAN changed
its name to the East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network to emphasize its
ongoing work for human rights and democracy in
Indonesia as well as East
Timor. In the past, U.S. engagement with
Indonesia’s security forces has
encouraged those forces’ most abusive
behavior. ETAN is opposing the Obama
administration’s efforts to re-engage
with the Indonesian military’s
notorious Kopassus special forces. It
continues to be a voice of reason,
criticizing the administration’s
reluctance to address ongoing human rights
violations and escalating
oppression in West Papua and against religious
minorities. ETAN also holds
corporations responsible for their role in
human rights abuses and
recently joined Occupy Phoenix and union activists
in picketing at the
mining giant Freeport MacMoRan’s headquarters,
supporting striking
mineworkers in West Papua.

If it can find the
resources, ETAN plans to coordinate an observer mission
for next year’s
presidential and parliamentary elections in East Timor, as
they did in 1999,
2001 and 2007. Experienced, nonpartisan international
observers will help
consolidate democracy at this critical moment for the
still young

ETAN’s work remains essential, but it can only do its work with
the active
and generous support of people like you, who believe in human
rights and
in the right to self-determination, justice and accountability,
and in
social and economic justice for the people of East Timor and

I can think of few groups that have done so much with such
resources. For most of its 20 years, ETAN has worked with an
limited budget. In recent years, ETAN’s annual budget has been
less than
$55,000. With your help, we can put ETAN on a firmer footing for
future. Please give generously in this anniversary year. In doing so,
can help strengthen ETAN to meet the challenges of the coming

Thank you for joining me in supporting ETAN and its invaluable






Dear Friends &
I thought the
disappointing news contained in The Advertiser on 30.11.2011 needed a
The Liberal Party of Australia once again
shows that it cares nothing for ordinary working people. It will even go so far
as to undermine their basic human right to work in a healthy and safe
environment while they are producing the profits for the wealthy. So far, it has
not been printed.
Could I urge others to
respond as well.




Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3:26





The Letters

The Advertiser

GPO Box 339


Dear Sir/Madam 


Many ordinary Australian working people will be wanting answers from the Liberal Party Legislative Councillors in the SA Parliament about their decision to delay the passing of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act (Liberals block safety laws, The Advertiser 30.11.2011). The Liberal governments in Victoria and West Australia are saying that they will delay the passing of this crucial bill for another year. 

The process of trying to unify Australia’s OH& S laws began in 2008
and it is very important that the new legislation is implemented as quickly as possible.

I heard some of the committee proceedings in the House of Assembly of the State Parliament at the final stages of discussion the WHS Bill in that house. Iain Evans (Liberal) had a series of questions and amendents most of which sought to delay the passing of the bill and to water down its effectiveness.

One amendment sought to stop the Codes under the incoming act from being used as a legal instrument! 

I wonder if he would say this about the Road Safety Code. 

Safety codes are put in place to give interested people the required
safety standards they are expected to comply with. If a negligent driver causes a fatality on the road, s/he will face the legal consequences. The same principle should apply to negligent employers who cause death and injury in their workplaces because of their refusal ro comply with effective occupational health, safety and welfare.

Greg Kelton, the journalist who wrote the article I referred to, claims
that the new laws are controversial. Such laws are not considered to be
controversial in countries like the Scandinavian countries where they have even stricter OHS&W laws than we can expect when the current Australian WHS Bill is passed. Their politicians also give a higher priority to human rights. 

There is an urgent need to introduce the new legislation in this country. 

Many may not be aware that the deaths caused in Australia’s workplaces outnumber road casualties by a factor of more than three to one. Young workers are more prominent in these statistics than older workers.

On Friday 25 November, we in Australia observed Asbestos Memorial Day, a day that commemorates the deaths of tens of thousands of ordinary Australian workers and consumers who have been exposed to asbestos dust. Safe Work Australia estimates that tens of thousands are in the process of dying because of this exposure to a product that was withdrawn from use in the construction industry in 1983. This should be viewed as a national tragedy and steps need to be taken urgently to prevent it from continuing.

There are many other carcinogenic chemicals and agents that workers are exposed to that take a toll on the lives and health of ordinary Australians as well.

As a national community, we need to consider effective OHS&W laws as a basic human right for working people. Another basic human right for workers is that, following their working lives, they should be able to retire to enjoy long, happy and healthy retirements. 

In a civilised society, it is unacceptable that some try to profit from
not having effective laws to protect the health, safety and welfare of members of our national workforce. 


Yours sincerely


Andrew (Andy)


Dear activists in solidarity with
human rights for all and especially those whose rights are under threat eg the West Papuans

Below is a report in New Matilda re
the West Papuan leaders who were arrested and tortured last

I encourage all to demand that
given the genocide and gross human rights abuses committed by
the TNI, to contact their politicial leaders to demand that
to military aid should be given to the TNI until the Indonesian government:

* withdraws the TNI from West Papua and allows the UN to conduct an   independence referendum of the population
* sends all the war criminals in the ranks of the TNI to the International Criminal Court to face justice
* pays compensation to all victims of TNI crimes in East Timor, West Papua, Acheh and Indonesia itself


Andy Alcock

30 Nov 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Detained Papuan Leaders Speak Out

New Matilda has obtained the first interview with West Papuan leaders detained after last month’s violent crackdown on the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Jayapura.

Alex Rayfield reports:

The man who was last month elected President of the
‘Federal Republic of West Papua’ after a
declaration of independence by the third Papuan People’s Congress may be behind bars, he may have been savagely beaten by the Indonesian police, but he has not
been silenced.

From his five by four metre cell in the bowels of the Jayapura Police Station — quarters he shares with five other Papuans also charged with rebellion against the Indonesian state — Forkorus Yaboisembut
recently issued a rousing call to action, which was smuggled out of the prison and obtained by New Matilda.

“To all the Papuan people,” Yaboisembut writes, “don’t be afraid to celebrate December 1, whether you do so simply, or as part of large
gatherings. Do not be afraid because we, the Papuan people, do not intend to destroy any country; we only wish to defend our political rights.”

1 December marks the anniversary of the first raising of the Morning Star flag in 1961. Along with many other Papuan activists, Yaboisembut was arrested after Indonesian security forces opened fire on the Congress meeting on 19 October. At least six people died during the attack.

This is the first time Yaboisembut has spoken to Western media since his arrest. Our discussion is constrained by time and space but I
can picture the tribal elder from previous meetings. He is a quietly spoken man who is getting on in years but is still strong and alert. He walks tall, sits up straight and dresses neatly. His short hair and longish grey beard gives him the look of an Old Testament prophet.

When Yaboisembut was arrested last month he was tortured
so badly that he could barely sit or stand. Dominikus Surabut, from the West Papua Council of Customary Tribal Chiefs, who was also detained and badly tortured, told New Matilda that police beat Yaboisembut mercilessly with a rifle butt, raining blows down on his head and crashing their weapons into his abdomen. In a widely published Indonesian language account of the arrest, a religious leader said that an Indonesian soldier was ready to shoot him dead but was urged not to by a policeman.

Yaboisembut believes West Papuans’ political rights are inalienable. “Whether you take the United Nations founding document, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights or even the Indonesian Constitution as your starting point, Papuans have the right to self-determination,” he says.

“The preamble to the 1945 Indonesian Constitution mentions expressly, that independence is the right of all nations, and because
of this colonialism must be swept away, it is consistent with the principles of justice and humanity. Consequently, the people of Papua cannot be blamed in accordance with any law for wanting to celebrate their national day.”

These ideas, the same ideas that inspired Indonesians to liberate themselves from Dutch rule, are igniting the imagination of entire
generation who want to be free from Indonesian oppression. What makes Yaboisembut’s ideas even more extraordinary is that he is urging an insurrection that is grounded in what he calls “human dignity”.

“1 December 2011 is the 50th anniversary of when Papuans first raised the Morning Star flag. It is our golden anniversary,” he says. “It
must be celebrated in an atmosphere of peace, safety and calm”.

“To Papuans, I therefore say, do not carry out acts of terror, intimidation or commit violence of any kind towards anyone, for whatever reason, whether they are Papuan or migrants.

Those arrested in the wake of the Third Papuan Congress are not backing down from the declaration of independence made on the final day of the gathering. Selphius Bobii, who also shares a cell with Yaboisembut and is the chair of the Congress committee, told New Matilda: “We are committed to using people power, diplomacy and the law to achieve our rights”.

Dominikus Surabut says that he and the other prisoners are refusing to sign police statements charging them with “rebellion” (makar)
under sections 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

“We have done nothing wrong” Surabut says. “We have a political right to declare independence. We do not seek to destroy Indonesia or any other country. On the contrary, it is the Indonesia state that has attacked us.”

How can it be, they ask, that the Indonesian police get written warnings for killing Papuans when Papuan activists nonviolently
exercising their rights to freedom of expression are beaten and jailed?

Is this the same country that Barack Obama and Julia Gillard recently lauded as a beacon of democracy?

In a widely published letter in support of Papuan political prisoners, Human Rights Watch says that the articles under which the six Papuan political prisoners have been charged “are a legacy from the Dutch
colonial era”. Charging nonviolent activists with rebellion is, they write, “in violation of the Indonesian Constitution, Articles 28(e) and 28(f) which respectively afford ‘the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion’, and ‘the right to communicate and obtain information…’.”

The charge of rebellion is also inconsistent with Indonesia’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2006, a point which the jailed Papuan leaders make repeatedly to me. Besides, the Papuan leaders say, they have been left with no other option. “Special Autonomy has totally failed and even the MRP [Papuan People’s Council], a state institution, convened a meeting which came up with eleven recommendations, one of which was to hold the Third Papuan Congress.”

Outside their police cell, in the cities and towns of West Papua, a new political consensus is emerging. This consensus has been forged not through endless meetings of the Diaspora or in discussions with
political elites in Jakarta — but on the streets. It is simply this: that West Papua must be free.

After the Congress, three overlapping political groupings have emerged: the Papuan Peace Network, which is calling for political
dialogue; the West Papua National Committee, which demands a referendum; and the Papua Congress leaders.

The killing of at least six nonviolent Papuans by the Indonesian police and military on 19 October has divided ordinary Indonesians,
flushing out ultra-nationalists and their racist discourse, and outraging political moderates longing for a different kind of future than the one left to them by former dictator Suharto.

Inside Papua the massacre appears to be having a unifying effect — although Papuan politics remain complex. The West Papua National Committee, who opposed the Congress, later marched in support of the six political prisoners. Father Neles Tebay, respected intellectual and leader of the Papua Peace Network, has intensified the demand for political dialogue.

It is a call that has been supported by Yaboisembut and others.

“All Papuans, wherever they are, must respect the dialogue process democratically initiated through the Papuan Peace Conference and the Papuan Peace Network,” says Yaboisembut.

Whether the Indonesian police and military will act in a similarly dignified manner remains to be seen.

As I write this, a long-term Papuan human rights activist sends me this message: “There’s an increase of military patrol of soldiers around Jayapura Township.” Some put the numbers as high as 40,000.
Reports are filtering in of troop surges in Sorong, Paniai (where gunshots have been heard), the border region and Jayapura.

“The atmosphere here is quiet but eerie,” my friend writes. We are all waiting to see what 1 December will bring.

With West Papua


The Letters Editor
The Advertiser
GPO Box 339
 Dear Sir/Madam
Many Australians who give a priority to human rights would have been dismayed to read that Prime Minister Gillard will give four RAAF Hercules to Indonesia – a gift worth $30 million (“Gillard’s gift of four war planes”, The Advertiser
At the same time she tells us that we have had our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as a contribution to the US war against terrorism.
 The fact is that the Indonesian military (TNI) has been the strongest
force for terrorism in our region for nearly the past 50 years. Since the early
1960s it has been responsible for torture, rape, murder and genocide in West
Papua, East Timor, Acheh and Indonesia itself. No TNI leaders have ever been
brought to justice and none of the victims of their crimes have ever been
 These crimes against humanity are continuing in West Papua which the TNI still occupies with great brutality.
It is highly inappropriate for us to be rewarding the TNI by giving such gifts even though the report claims that the planes will be used for disaster relief.
 During the Acheh tsunami in 2004, many aid organisations had to rely on the TNI to transport aid to victims and to resettle those at risk. It is a matter of fact
that the TNI charged highly inflated fees for the use of their vehicles and
aircraft and sold much of the aid for profit. Apart from its contribution to
regional terrorism, it is a very corrupt organisation.
Such gifts may help smoothe over strained Indonesian-Australian relations caused by the live cattle ban and they may hasten the chances of early release of Australian citizens who face drug charges in Indonesia. However, they will do nothing for human rights in our region.
 If our leaders really care about human rights, they should be demanding that there will be no military aid or cooperation with the TNI until all the war criminals in its ranks are brought to justice, compensation has been paid to all its victims and its troops have been withdrawn from West Papua. 
Yours sincerely
Andrew (Andy) Alcock



Dear Friends
Many have spoken out about the NATO involvement in Libya, which has led to massive losses of innocent civilians and the murder of its leader, who should have had the opportunity to have his day in court.
Fidel Castro, though in his 80s, is still a passionate internationalist and has expressed some thoughts on Libya and on the US blockade of his country.
Barak Obama had the opportunity to end George Bush’s wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only did he not do that, he started another one in Libya. Now, there is international concern that there have been massive human rights abuses and Libyans could suffer even further if a civil war starts.
While many may say that he should keep his ideas to himself. it must be said that his leadership in Cuba built a small nation that has taken some amazing actions to help those in distress.
Currently, Cuba has 300 doctors and nurses working in East Timor and place for 300 young East Timorese medical students in Cuban medical schools. Cuba also trains doctors from many other countries including a number of US citizens who cannot pay the exorbitant fees charges by US universities.
There has been something like 10,000 Cuban doctors in Venezuela and the Cuban government was quick off the mark to assist the people of Haiti following the earthquake they suffered last year.
And how many saw Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko”, which looked at the terrible state of the US health system. Moore took some US rescue workers with him to Canada, Britain, France and Cuba to compare the health systems in those countries compared with the US one.
All the rescue workers had severe health problems due to the fact that they were assisting people after the demolition of Twin Towers in New York in 2001. All had health insurance, but it would not cover all the costs of all aspects of their
Despite the unwarranted behaviour of the US and its blockade against Cuba, Cuban health workers provided free medical treatment to these citizens of the US. When the news of the free treatment was announced, a nurse in the group burst into tears.”At home, they say that I am an American hero,” she said, “But they will not cover my health costs. I have been told by my government that Cuba is an enemy of the US and yet, Cuba is prepared to give me free health care.”
Cuba is a developing country, which is not wealthy, but it does play the role of a responsible international citizen.
Let’s support the NO BLOQUEO movement to stop the US blockade of Cuba
Anyway, some interesting thoughts from Fidel.
En solidaridad
Andy Alcock

Genocidal Role (Part III, English)

Posted by: “walterlx” walterlx@earthlink.net   walterlx

Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:19 am (PDT)

October 27, 2011

Reflections of Fidel
NATO’s genocidal role Part
(Taken from CubaDebate)

ON February 23, under the title
“Cynicism’s danse macabre,” I stated:

“The politics of plunder imposed by
the United States and its NATO allies in the
Middle East is in

“Thanks to Sadat’s betrayal at Camp David, the Palestinian Arab State has not come into existence, despite the United Nations agreements of November 1947, and Israel has become a powerful nuclear force allied with the United States and NATO.

“The U.S. military-industrial complex supplies tens of billions of dollars every year to Israel and to the very Arab states
that it subjugates and humiliates.

“The genie is out of the bottle and NATO doesn’t know how to control it.

“They are going to try and take maximum advantage of the lamentable events in Libya. No one is capable of knowing at this time what is happening there. All of the figures and
versions, even the most improbable, have been disseminated by the empire through the mass media, sowing chaos and misinformation.

“It is evident that a civil war is developing in Libya. Why and how was this unleashed? Who will suffer the consequences? The Reuters news agency, repeating the opinion of the well-known Nomura Japanese bank, said that the price of oil could
surpass all limits.”

“…What will be the consequences for the food crisis?

“The principal NATO leaders are exalted. British Prime
Minister David Cameron, informed ANSA, `…admitted in a speech in Kuwait that the Western countries made a mistake in supporting non-democratic governments in the Arab World.’”

“His French colleague Nicolas Sarkozy declared, `The prolonged brutal and bloody repression of the Libyan civilian population is repugnant.’”

“Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini declared `believable’ the figure of one thousand dead in Tripoli […] `the tragic figure will be a bloodbath.’”

“Hillary Clinton declared, `…the bloodbath is completely unacceptable and has to stop…’”

“Ban Ki-moon added, `The use of violence in the country is absolutely unacceptable.’”

“…’the Security Council will act in accordance with what
the international community decides.’”

“‘We are considering a number of options.’”

“What Ban Ki-moon is really waiting for is that Obama give
the final word.

“The President of the United States spoke Wednesday
afternoon and stated that the Secretary of State would leave for Europe in order to reach an agreement with the NATO European allies as to what measures to take. Noticeable on his
face was his readiness to take on the right-wing Republican John McCain; Joseph Lieberman, the pro-Israel Senator from
Connecticut; and Tea Party leaders, in order to guarantee his nomination by the Democratic Party.

“The empire’s mass media have prepared the ground for action. There would be nothing strange about a military intervention in Libya, which would, additionally, guarantee Europe almost two million barrels of light oil a day, if events do not occur beforehand to put an end to the presidency or life of Gaddafi.

“In any event, Obama’s role is complicated enough. What would the Arab and Islamic world’s reaction be if much blood is spilt in this country in such an adventure? Would the revolutionary wave unleashed in Egypt stop a NATO

“In Iraq the innocent blood of more than a million Arab citizens was shed when this country was invaded on false pretences. Mission accomplished, George W. Bush proclaimed.

“No one in the world will ever be in favor of the deaths of
defenseless civilians in Libya or anywhere else. I ask myself, would the United States and NATO apply that principle to the defenseless civilians killed every day by yankee drones and this organization’s soldiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

“It is a danse macabre of cynicism.”

While I was meditating on these events, the United Nations
debate scheduled for yesterday, Tuesday, October 25 on the “Necessity of ending the commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba began. This is omething
which has been demanded by the vast majority of this institution’s member countries for 20 years.

This time the numerous elemental and just arguments – which for United States governments were no more than rhetorical exercises – revealed, like never before, the political and moral weakness of the most powerful empire ever to have existed, and to whose oligarchical interests and insatiable thirst for
power and riches all the planet’s inhabitants have been subjected, including the very people of that country.

The United States is tyrannizing and plundering the globalized world with its political, economic, technological and military might.

That truth is becoming more and more obvious in the wake of the honest and courageous debates which have taken place in the United Nations during the last 20 years, with the support of states which one would imagine are expressing the will of the vast majority of the planet’s inhabitants.

Before [Cuban Foreign Minister] Bruno’s speech, many country
organizations expressed their points of view through one of their members. The first was Argentina, in the name of the Group of 77 plus China; followed by Egypt, in the name of the Non-Aligned Movement; Kenya, in the name of the African Union; Belize, in the name of CARICOM; Kazakhstan, in the name of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; and Uruguay, in the name of MERCOSUR.

Independently of these expressions of a collective nature,
China, a country of growing political and economic weight in the world, India and Indonesia strongly supported the resolution via their ambassadors; between the three of them they represent 2.7 billion inhabitants. The ambassadors of the Russian Federation, Belarus, South Africa, Algeria,
Venezuela and Mexico did likewise. The impassioned words of solidarity expressed by the ambassador of Belize, speaking
on behalf of the Caribbean community, and those of St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Bolivia, resonated among the poorest countries of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Their arguments in the context of the solidarity of our people –
despite a blockade which has already lasted 50 years – will be a constant stimulus for our doctors, educators and scientists.

Nicaragua spoke before the vote, to bravely explain why it would vote against this perfidious measure.

The United States representative also spoke before the vote, in
order to explain the inexplicable. I felt sorry for him. It is the role that they assigned to him.

At the hour of voting, two countries were absent: Libya and Sweden; three abstained: Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau; two voted against: the United  States and Israel. Adding together those who voted against, abstained or were absent: the United States, with 313 million inhabitants; Israel, with 7.4
million; Sweden, with 9.1 million; Libya, with 6.5 million; Marshall Islands, with 67,100; Micronesia, 106,800; Palau, with
20,900, the total amounts to 336.948 million, equivalent to 4.8% of the world population, which has already risen to seven billion this month.

After the vote, speaking in the name of the European Union, Poland explained the votes of members of this bloc which, in spite of its close alliance with the United States and its obligatory participation in the blockade, is against this
criminal measure.

Subsequently, 17 countries addressed the Assembly to explain, resolutely and decisively, why they voted for the resolution against the blockade.

I will continue Friday the 28th.

Fidel Castro Ruz
October 26, 2011  9:45 p.m.

by Granma International