Thursday, June 14, 2012

Movie Review - Don't Mess with the Zohan

OK, I'll admit it - I'm quite behind the times when it comes to movies.  This one got released a few years ago, but it was showing on the "Go" Channel this week, so I had a look.

I go a bit hot and cold for Adam Sandler's work.  It's really a balance between the brilliant and the cringe.  This film has plenty of cringe, but I thought it was quite a unique and personable premise.

An Israeli out of the army moves to America in the hope of getting away from the conflict.  His life long ambition is to be a hairdresser - even though he has no experience other than cutting his own family member's locks.  Typical arrogance on show.  He can't get a job anywhere else, so he goes to work for the Salon owned by the beautiful Palestinian across the road from the Israeli electronics store.

It just turns out that this Israeli has near super-human powers in his previous role as counter terrorism.  And an arch-nemesis that runs a chain of kebab shops in the West Bank.  Another Arab taxi driver recognises him as the man who stole his goat, and plots revenge.  And the finale is based around a hacky sack tournament between Israel and Lebanon.

There are plenty of Humus jokes, lots of stereotypes of both Arab and Israeli.  Lots of crass humour too.  Obligatory plot against big business, and it has feel-good ending.  Lots of Evrit "B'Seder", "Its all Yofi Tofi" etc.

All in all worth a look if you see it on free to air (and pre-record to fast forward the ads). 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My comment to Phil Goff

Phil Goff has also written about his trip to the Middle East as part of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel

He actually only talks about Jordan and Syria, which is a pity.

I left this nice comment for him:

It’s great that Phil, and the NZ Labour Party took part in this trip as part of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel. With Kennedy Graham from the Greens attending, it is great to have such support for Israel from the Left. Here in Australia, we also have great friendship with Labor Minsters – Julia Gillard, Bill Shorten, Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Michael Danby are all strong supporters.
I heard also that Phil attended the Yom Haatzmaut function, celebrating the creation of Israel. Great stuff Phil!
One minor point – the 1.8 million refugees include the descendents from those wars. In 1970 the UNRWA only had 500,000 registered refugees.
You also neglected to mention that the Jordanian government killed thousands of Palestinian refugees in Black September of 1970.

What the BDS demands as "Justice"

Israelis just want to live in peace.  Peace is a pretty simple concept - you live in tolerance of your neighbours without fighting or violence (my paraphrasing).

BDS groups, such as John Minto, are always demanding Justice.  The concept of Justice has other synonyms such as revenge and retribution.

It's also almost impossible to define.  What level of "Justice" would be acceptable?  Here was one summary from one of the facebook "peace" groups:

OK, let me get this: we recognize 5 Million Palestinians as citizens, send most of our leaders and military commanders to the Hague to stand trial, pay billions in compensation to the refugees, never complain about statements attacking Jews or attacks on Jewish civilians because we are the opressors [sic], and accept the role of a tolerated guest in the new Citizen's country, even thoug [sic] the second largest Palestinian party still refuses to accept our presence, insults our religion, and attacks our civilians? Sure, I'm in! What could go wrong? And thanks for being so reasonable with us Khazars...if it doesn't work out, we're glad to pack uo [sic] and go to the Crimea or wherever we're supposed to have come from. And all along I thought you guys weren't moderate...
  Yes, Peace with Justice to the BDS team is really just a metaphor for the destruction of your neighbour. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kron on Victorian BDS Protesters

Kron has a very good cartoon on the Victorian BDS Protesters

Very simple and to the point.  Why can't you just demand peace rather than supporting violent retribution?

The answer is because your protest is fuelled by hate.

Tom Scott just can't help himself

No news means Tom Scott has to draw an attack on Israel.  Arguably this is criticising Netanyahu and not all Jews (like his last one).  Still a pretty poor effort.

I think all of Israel would rejoice if Iran only was after peaceful propagation of technology.

Any chance Tom Scott could do some cartoons lampooning Ahmadinejad?  It has been a while.

Somthing like Sacha Baron Cohen's "We are only acquiring nuclear technology for peaceful purposes... pppphhht! guffaww... seriously, who writes this stuff?".

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Did Wikileaks lead to Iranian execution?

Last month Majid Jahali Fashi was executed in Iran for Spying for the Mossad

Now it turns out that an unredacted wikileaks cable may have lead to his death

A cable from the US embassy in Azerbaijan described one of its sources as an Iranian martial arts expert. Apparently Fashi had visited Azerbaijan the month before the cable was released for a kickboxing tournament. Analysts argue that Fashi might have lost his life because the confidential cable was published by WikiLeaks. Even if Fashi was not the source of the cable, the document gave the Iranian regime a pretext for charging him, torturing him and executing him.

The Anti-Israel post at Vic Parliament last night

Daphne Anson has a review of the protest at Vic government last night

Really - it was small and meaningless.  Maybe 30 protesters - very much outnumbered by Police. 

By chance, I worked in the city yesterday. I walked past the demonstration. A guy offered me a badge, and I responded "go Israel". He didn't like it, but maybe I could have said something funnier.It was Tempting to spend some time irritating them further, but I really they just live for the attention and confrontation. And anyway, they really aren't that important or interesting to me (or anyone else in Melbourne). I ripped down a half dozen posters though.  This morning, there were no posters at all left.

David Southwick tweeted this

Dale Thomas - great effort to stand up to racism

A Collingwood player dobbed in one of his own supporters for racial abuse

Dale Thomas from Collingwood should take a bow.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Good post on Refugees

A good post on Israel Hayom about Refugees

If this administration and the State Department want to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as they always claim they do, then acceding to a grossly fabricated refugee number will not serve that purpose; that only ensures the refugee issue will remain irreconcilable. The UNRWA definition of refugees applied to other refugee populations would lead to absurd numbers: 150 million or more refugees from the India-Pakistan war of the late 1940s, perhaps 10 times the number of original refugees, most of whom are of course no longer alive

This is reminds me of the Danny Ayalon video.  Surely we can achieve peace whilst sensibly addressing the refugee issue.  Israeli refugees have given up any rights to return to the Arab nations they were expelled from.

Malaysia calls the Jews "Enemy #1"

I was in Singapore recently.  The Major news in the Asian Jewish Times was that a Malaysian government religious leader had labelled the Jews "Enemy #1" in a Friday Sermon in March

Documentary coming soon: "UN Me"

Here's the trailer for a new documentary on the UN called "UN Me".  It's made by Ami Horowitz, and he has produced it in the style of Michael Moore documentaries.

It looks like it's going to be as funny as "The Dictator", but sadly, it looks like the truth.

Here's another sneak....  Why can't the UN define "Terrorism"?

The Dictator

I went to see the Dictator on Saturday night.  I haven't seen SBC's last two movies (Borat, Bruno), although I really wanted to see this one.

The following post may give stuff away.  Not so much movie plot, but jokes in the film.  Skip out now if you want to see it later.

Almost nothing was untouched.  Here is a list of people/groups they took a swipe at:

  • Kim Jong Il
    • The movie dedication "In Loving Memory", and  various sporting references.  (KJI was the world's best golfer).
  • Ahmadinejad
    • We are enriching Uranium for peaceful (guffaw) purposes
  • Apple
    • The chief nuclear scientist is smuggled to the US, where he works in an Apple store.  His main role is to clean semen from laptop keyboards
  • Saddam Hussein
    • Endless executions, body doubles
  • Gaddafi / Syria - small mentions, although interestingly
  • Dick Cheney - is mentioned in a list of dictators
  • Environmentalists / Activists
  • USA bigotry 
    • A security guard for Aladein says "jews, blacks, gays - your all just A-rabs to me"
    • On a flight over New York, Aladein and Najab trigger a security alert when they start talking about Porsche 911s in their native toungue.  "911 2012"
  • China
  • Feminism
  • Cultures which promote sexism - "oh no, the baby is a girl - where's the trash can"
  • BP - allowed do exploit Wadiyan oil, but not offshore drilling
  • USA Government Policy - a fairly sizeable monologue about wealth and press freedoms
  • Osama Bin Laden
  • Various movie actors (Edward Norton, Megan Fox, George Clooney, Ellen Degeneres, Oprah, Lindasy Lohan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to name a few)

They say nothing was untouchable, but off the list were any overt swipes at religion.  I also would have liked to see more jokes made about environmentalists that side with Dictatorships over Western governments.  Pretty much all the environmentalists were shown as anti-Dictators only (which, sadly is not always the case).

There were lots and lots of potty references and cringeworthy toilet jokes.  The movie was funny, although I would have preferred less toilet humour, and more intelligent jibes - especially about the environmentalists that support Dictators.

SBC has a great record of putting people in uncomfortable situations with inappropriate behaviour (Borat, Ali G).  He continues this, but with actors, I do feel that it lacks the punch from his impromptu comedy

We're # 201, Baby!

Open Parachute has just released the May 2012 Blog stats.  We're # 201st (out of those that let themselves be measured publicly)!

I'm not sure really if it makes sense going on the list, but hey, why not.

We're just behind a couple of deadlinkers.  I'll need to work hard if I'm to get above the wacky Dad 4 Justice Mens group into the top 150!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kennedy Graham - Parliamentary Friend of Israel

Kennedy Graham returned from Israel the other week, where he was visiting as part of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel.  I think it's great that the Greens are recognising the State of Israel and consider themselves friends.  Kennedy wrote a detailed Blog Post on the trip, which I will look at here.

I’ve just returned from the Middle East as part of delegation of National, Labour and Green MPs. We visited Israel, Palestine and Jordan.  The aim was to gain knowledge, exchange views, and develop friendship links with fellow parliamentarians in the region.  An Israeli-NZ group already exists. I and the chairman of the Jordanian foreign affairs committee are moving to form a Jordan-NZ group.
Nice of Kennedy to forget to mention that the group he travelled with is the "Parliamentary Friends of Israel".  Instead he just states the group "exists".  I would have thought he could mention that he has chosen to be a member!

Israel: Day 1, we travelled through West Bank (Area C, under full Israeli civilian and military control), passing the settlements, visiting kibbutzim, and then into the occupied Golan Heights. Day 2 involved discussions in Jerusalem with members of the Knesset (including the Speaker who was acting President), foreign affairs committee members, and foreign ministry strategic analysts.  On day 3 we visited the institute that ‘incubates’ corporate start-ups and some agricultural institutes whose researchers aspire to ‘cheat Nature’ through genetic modification.
Kennedy glosses over his meetings with Israelis VERY quickly.  I'm sure there were some interesting insights here.  Instead he condenses each day into a single sentence, without mentioning any details.

There are many environmental and Green initiatives in Israel.  Didn't he visit one??  No mention here.

Palestine (day 4): We proceed to Ramallah through the Qalandia border crossing, inspecting the Wall, meeting the district mayor (who had spent 21 years in an Israeli prison), and holding discussions with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, presidential adviser for foreign affairs, and members of the foreign affairs committee.  In particular we heard about the prisoner hunger-strikefrom Khalida Jarrar, MP, who had done time herself in the past.
Jordan (days 5 & 6): Visit to the Ramtha refugee camp on the Syrian border (see previous blog), and discussions with former and current cabinet ministers (parliamentary affairs, education, health), with the foreign affairs committee chairman, and with Prince Hassan bin Talal, brother of the late King Hussein.
We also had useful discussions with the ‘internationals’ – the Quartet and the UN’s OCHA. Cultural visits included Gethsemane, the Western Wall, Yad Vashem, Galilee, Jaffa, Jerash and Umm Qais.
Aha!  More details now that he visits the West Bank and Jordan.  Excellent.  Kennedy mentions that these people spent time in Israeli jails, but neglects to mention what for.  I will try and find out.  Is Kennedy suggesting these people were innocent Poltical prisoners?  I expect that 21 years is for some serious terrorism charges.

What is one to conclude about the Middle East in mid-2012?  I lived three years in the region.  I arrived in 1999 when the situation was (relatively) stable and optimism was high. Then came the Jenin IDF incursion, the 2nd intifada and 9/11.  When I left in late ’02, things were grim and tense.  I cannot say they have improved since.
Kennedy neglects to mention the failed Camp David peace accord.  You can hardly compare Jenin to the mass suicide bombings of the second Intifada.

The over-riding issue is the occupation.  Palestine is the only territory recognised by the UN as occupied in the world.  So first and foremost, it is about land.  As the Palestinians read it, the original Palestine from the Red Sea to Lebanon has been progressively reduced – from 80% in the Peel Commission (1937), 44% in the UN Partition Plan (1947), 22% in the current occupation (1967) to 12% by the Israeli ‘Swiss cheese’ policy of the settlements and the Wall (2008).
Kennedy has fallen for the propaganda regarding land here.  Since when did the Arabs ever accept one centimeter of land for Israel?  There is no "Swiss Cheese" policy that he refers, and all land mentioned has been offered in peace deals - continually rejected.

Some 2.5 million Palestinians thus cram into West Bank-Gaza, one fiftieth the size of New Zealand.  The population density of Gaza is 4,000 per sq. km.  The global average is 45.  New Zealand is 15. So it is not only about land, but population, resources and carrying capacity as well
I'm not sure Kennedy's point here.  It appears he is suggesting that Palestinians should be relocated to Israel to reduce population density.  Jordan has a much lower population density.  Why not mention that?   No mention of Palestinian birth rates?  As a Green, shouldn't he be worried about the effect that high birth rates has on the planet?

The Palestinians see the land issue as a progressive loss over the past century.  The Israelis see it as a return of their lost land after two millennia.  Neither is wrong.  History can throw curve-balls.   So they have to share.  The question is on what terms, and who gets to decide.
It's a pity that Kennedy chooses to throw curve balls here.  Zionism is about the Self determination of the Jewish people.  Israel is the center of Jewish recognition.  It is not about "return to land after two millenia".  Whilst I appreciate his recognition of Judaism, it is as if Kennedy is trying to water down the signifiicance of Israel to the Jewish people, the fact there has always been a Jewish presence, and that many of them purchased land in Palestine before Israel was formed.

 Other parts of the territory issue are the status of East Jerusalem, repatriation of the ’48 and ’67 refugees back to Israel, the on-going Israeli settlement policy in West Bank, and the Wall.  And water-sharing.
If these are issues, then it is hard to know where Kennedy stands on these.  Is he for or against repatriation of refugees.  What refugees were created in '67?  I can understand Kennedy keeping some cards to his chest as he does not want to disenfranchise himself completely from the rabid left voters.

Adumbrating these small challenges is the issue of recognition.  Israel insists on the name ‘Jewish State of Israel’.  Few agree.  
I am not sure what Kennedy is referring to here.  Is he saying that Israel should not be a Jewish state?  Does he also think that Jordan should not be an Islamic state? Who is the "few".

 Palestine wants recognition now as independent state. Many have extended that.  A few, inside Israel, dream still of a one-state solution.  Few believe that is wise or practicable. 
Correct.  Most want a two-state solution, but few believe a partner exists.  No mention the fact that few Palestinians want a two-state solution - at least a solution next to Israel (at least Kennedy makes this point later on).
The international community maintains the two-state solution.  A number believe this is becoming less feasible with the passage of time and circumstance.  But there is no alternative.  Meanwhile each side pursues competitive population expansion – Israel though immigration, Palestine through reproduction.  At halftime, numbers are roughly even.
 A bit of a weird comparison.  But I get what he is saying.

In a deep-rooted conflict, a political settlement is feasible only when several independent factors are positively aligned.  At present, this is not the case.
-    Globally, things are about to go on hold until the US election in November.
-    Regionally, things are dynamic to the point of chaos. The Arab Spring remains volatile.  The imminent Egyptian presidential election will set the politics for the surrounding terrain.   And the Israelis perceive Iran to be an existential threat, oblivious to the existential dread that occupation has generated within the Palestinian psyche closer to home.
-    Nationally, the reshaped Israeli government, involving Netanyahu teaming up with centrist Kadima, strengthens the PM and offers new opportunity.  But for what end – conflict or peace?  In Palestine, elections are overdue, with both Hamas and Fatah losing electoral ground and reluctant to proceed.
Positive alignment in the Middle East is a crapshoot.
A crapshoot indeed.

Beneath it all is the psychological dysfunction of a zero-sum relationship between the sons of Abraham.  Israel continues to linger in post-Shoah grief, retaining a victim mentality, aggrieved at what it perceives to be a biased and unsympathetic international community. 
A very weird statement here.  Without evidence, he is suggesting a "Victim Mentality".  Since when did Arab threats to 'push Israel into the sea', to 'wipe from the face of the earth' ever be an issue with Shoah victimhood.  Kennedy - wake up to the antisemitism in the world today.  Go for a  walk in Egypt and buy copies of Mein Kampf or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on any street corner.
Palestine rages and whimpers in turns, seemingly powerless to affect events.  And the region explodes around them both, with a distracted world focusing elsewhere.
 This is closer to the truth.

What can New Zealand do to help?  Not a lot, but something. 
I'm glad that Kennedy is realistic here.  He has been wasting the Greens questions in parliament on Syria - as if New Zealand could do anything to affect it.

We should:
1.    Urge a peaceful campaign of non-violence from Palestine, including Hamas. Nothing will be more potent in eliminating the underlying Israeli rationale for harsh security measures. Nothing will attract greater world support.
HOORAY!!!!   The Greens are urging non-violence.  It's a pity he tries to blame security on anything OTHER than Palestinian violence towards innoncents.  And it is great that he is recognising that there is terrorism.  Many others, including his predecessor (Keith Locke) either dismissed it or wrote it off.
2.    Offer some further modest support, beyond our UN observers and peacekeepers, direct to Palestine and Jordan, and even to Israel, perhaps in support of conflict resolution and inter-community engagement (rugby?).  Budget cuts are in vogue, but values and priorities are eternal.
There is lots of bi-lateral and trade initiatives already.  Does Kennedy not know this?  Hellooooooo!
The NZ sevens used to play in the Jerusalem tournament (before the advent of the World 7s)
3.    Urge a clear policy of Palestinian recognition, by both Fatah and Hamas, of Israel’s right to exist within secure borders.  Time for Palestinians to face the reality.
Again .. HOORAY!!!!  It is vital.  What a pity that many in the Greens actually think this has happened already, whilst the Hamas charter clearly calls for death to all Jews and the destruction of Israel.  I commend Kennedy forthwith for making this statement.   However, let's be realistic.  This isn't going to happen anytime soon.
4.    Recognise Palestine as an independent state with potential membership of the United Nations, as 132 countries have already done. 
No problem!  Israel has offered this four times in the last 12 years.  Every peace agreement is scuttled by the Palestinians.  

As NZG policy is to indicate recognition through action rather than formal declaration, this can be done by upgrading the accreditation of Palestinian delegation in Canberra as full embassy status. We should do this irrespective of the policies of Australia, UK or US; a global affairs policy requires us to act as a responsible, and independent-minded, global citizen.
What, New Zealand should recognise Palestine before they renounce violence or recognise Israel.  I don't think so.  This just invalidates points 1 and 3 that he makes above.
5.    Advance the circuit-breaker – a final settlement will not be reached through political negotiation, whether that is bilaterally pursued in asymmetrical fashion, regionally-orchestrated from multiple and conflicting interests, or imposed from on high by global power.  Urge both sides to formally agree, in advance, to accept the outcome of a final settlement through judicial means, with the International Court of Justice reaching an advisory opinion on all relevant issues, backed by Security Council binding authority.
 Go to international courts.  What?  Like the international court of abitration for countries.  OK, so this is one of the more wacky ideas. I can't see this working.

The fifth point – a switch by both sides from the political to the judicial route – would be the ultimate challenge to national leadership, especially for Israel.  But Netanyahu is in a strong political position at present.  He is capable of the vision and he currently has the power.  The people of both sides want peace.  And 21st century politics requires the rule of law, not political machination and raw power.
Ah, now I see.  It's just another means to put pressure on Israel.  Yep, good luck with that one.

On the whole the Greens are walking a fine line here.  They know that to win majority votes (they are aiming for 25% at the next election), they need more mainstream policies.  Their previous support for Terrorism was a big stumbling block.  I commend Kennedy wholeheartedly for recognising Israel (becoming a "friend"), and calling for an end to violence.  It's a pity that he backdoors these statements by suggesting we should recognise Palestine without them first renouncing violence or recognising Israel.

Unfortunately, the Greens traditional supporter base includes many who are opposed to a secular Jewish state, and are willing to throw out all their values to support terrorists.  Kennedy knows this, and he has to walk a fine line to keep both the new and traditional voters in check.  Otherwise, more will desert to the anti-semite John Minto in the Mana party