Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Mark Leibler:
Indigenous Rights Advocate Denies Indigenous Rights to Palestinians

"Australian Jew working to end discrimination against indigenous peoples," reads a proud headline from the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) today, January 22, 2012. The article reports that a "high-profile Jewish Australian cited the effects of the Holocaust on his family as a driving force in his work to help 'end the exclusion' of Australia's Indigenous peoples from the nation's constitution"

The "Jewish Australian" is "Melbourne lawyer Mark Leibler, co-chair of the Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples", who has spent years fighting for the rights of the indigenous people of Australia. JTA quotes Leibler from a recent op-ed: "[R]acism doesn't just belong in another place or time. It casts a shadow here in Australia because it is still part of our nation's constitution.”

“It was racism and its off-shoot Nazism that caused my parents to flee Belgium in 1939," Leibler continues. "It was racism that saw my maternal grandparents murdered in Auschwitz. My family has never forgotten our debt to Australia. We owe our freedom, prosperity and the very lives of our children and grandchildren to this country. For me, one way I can help repay this debt is by working to change our constitution for the better.”

"As far as the constitution is concerned," Leibler laments, indigenous people "are invisible: no mention of their heritage and cultures; no mention of their place as the first inhabitants of this country and as the world's oldest continuing cultures." He adds that this deliberate omission and denial reflected "the values and beliefs of the time it was drafted. The founding fathers deserve our gratitude and respect. But their perspectives - including those on race - were of the 19th century, not the 21st."

Leibler's passionate fight for equal, constitutional rights for the indigenous in Australia is a just and noble cause to be sure, but a closer look at Leibler is illuminating. Leibler, who according to his own website is "one of Australia's leading tax lawyers and corporate strategists," has deep and powerful connections to Israel. Indeed, half of his "extended bio" [PDF] is dedicated to celebrating his Zionist credentials:

Mark is also Deputy Chairman of the National Australia Bank Yachad Scholarship Fund, which enables Australian scholars of diverse backgrounds - including indigenous scholars - to study in Israel and to return with ideas and experiences of advantage to Australia. His 2006 essay 'Crossing the Wilderness: Jews and Reconciliation', published in New Under Sun - Jewish Australians on Religion, Politics & Culture, examined the parallels between the Jewish and Indigenous Australian experience and considered the importance of land to both cultures.

Mark is deeply involved in Jewish affairs, occupying senior leadership roles in several Australian and international Jewish bodies. In Australia, he holds the positions of National Chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, Life Chairman of the United Israel Appeal of Australia and Governor of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. He is also a Patron of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Friends of Tel Aviv University. Mark served for ten years as President of the Zionist Federation of Australia and for six years as the President of the United Israel Appeal of Australia. Internationally, Mark recently completed his term as Chairman of the World Board of Trustees of Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal, serves on the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and holds office as a Governor of both Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa in Israel.
Leibler's bio also includes accolades he received from Australian government officials including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (who once proudly said of himself, "support for Israel and the Jewish community is in my DNA"). Another former Prime Minister, John Howard, said this in tribute to Leibler: "I want to salute his contribution to Jewish causes within his own country and also around the world. Mark is a single-minded, committed, dedicated Jew, a man who in every way has demonstrated himself as being a wonderful Australian citizen."

Leibler's position on the Executive of the Jewish Agency is instructive. The Agency, formed in 1929 by the 16th Zionist Congress, was and is still tasked with increasing Jewish immigration to and the continued colonization of historic Palestine. Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal (KH-UIA) is the leading fundraising agent for the Jewish Agency under the auspices of what was originally called the "Colonization Department" of the World Zionist Organization.

In 1930, the British government's Hope-Simpson Report on "Immigration, Land Settlement and Development" in Palestine meticulously detailed the deliberately discriminatory employment practices of Zionist agencies and organizations operating in Palestine at the time:
The effect of the Jewish colonisation in Palestine on the existing population is very intimately affected by the conditions on which the various Jewish bodies hold, sell and lease their land.

The Constitution of the Jewish Agency: Land Holding and Employment Clauses...
"(d) Land is to be acquired as Jewish property and...the title to the lands acquired is to be taken in the name of the Jewish National Fund, to the end that the same shall be held as the inalienable property of the Jewish people.

" (e) The Agency shall promote agricultural colonisation based on Jewish labour, and in all works or undertakings carried out or furthered by the Agency, it shall be deemed to be a matter of principle that Jewish labour shall be employed..."
KerenKayemeth draft lease: Employment of Jewish labour only. — respect of all holdings granted by the KerenKayemeth (Jewish National Fund)...:
"....The lessee undertakes to execute all works connected with the cultivation of the holding only with Jewish labour. Failure to comply with this duty by the employment of nonJewish labour shall render the lessee liable to the payment of a compensation..."
The lease also provides that the holding shall never be held by any but a Jew. If the holder, being a Jew, dies, leaving as his heir a nonJew, the Fund shall obtain the right of restitution...

KerenHayesod Agreements: Employment of labour...the agreement for the repayment of advances made by the KerenHayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund) to settlers in the colonies...:
" Article 7.—The settler hereby undertakes that...if and whenever he may be obliged to hire help, he will hire Jewish workmen only."
In the similar agreement for the Emek colonies there is a provision as follows : —
" Article 11.—The settler undertakes...not to hire any outside labour except Jewish labourers."
The Hope-Simpson Report described the "effect of the Zionist colonisation policy on the Arab" this way:
Actually the result of the purchase of land in Palestine by the Jewish National Fund has been that land has been extraterritorialised. It ceases to be land from which the Arab can gain any advantage either now or at any time in the future. Not only can he never hope to lease or to cultivate it, but, by the stringent provisions of the lease of the Jewish National Fund, he is deprived for ever from employment on that land. Nor can anyone help him by purchasing the land and restoring it to common use. The land is in mortmain and inalienable. It is for this reason that Arabs discount the professions of friendship and good will on the part of the Zionists in view of the policy which the Zionist Organisation deliberately adopted.
According to the website for Keren Hayesod's Australian chapter, of which Leibler is Life Chairman, "[s]ince its inception in 1920, KH-UIA has assisted over three million Jews to make Aliyah and has helped them to find their way in Israeli society," and boasts, "KH-UIA is the main institution for financing the Zionist Organization's activities in Eretz Israel" which it deems the "ancestral homeland" of all Jews worldwide. The indigenous people of Palestine - Palestinians - are conspicuously absent from all Agency and UIA literature.

Furthermore, the following image containing three vintage UIA posters, one stating "Welcome Jabotinsky," is featured on the website of the United Israel Appeal of Australia:

Vladmir Jabotinsky, in his 1923 Zionist manifesto, The Iron Wall, wrote, "Zionism is a colonization adventure and therefore it stands or it falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonization," adding, "Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population."

He also wrote that "there has never been an indigenous inhabitant anywhere or at any time who has ever accepted the settlement of others in his country. Any native people...views their country as their national home, of which they will always be the complete masters. They will not voluntarily allow, not only a new master, but even a new partner. And so it is for the Arabs" who had a "birth right to Palestine." Jabotinsky asserted that, even if "the Arabs of Baghdad and Mecca" acquiesced to Zionist intentions, "Palestine would still remain for the Palestinians not a borderland, but their birthplace, the center and basis of their own national existence. Therefore it would be necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs, which is the same condition that exists now." He nevertheless concluded that "Zionism is moral and just...There is no other morality."

Four years earlier, in 1919, the U.S.-sponsored King-Crane Commission determined that the aggressive Zionist colonization in Palestine was incompatible with the Wilsonian ideals of self-determination and sovereignty of indigenous populations. The report explained that even though "[t]he Commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in its favor" and had been "abundantly supplied with literature on the Zionist program by the Zionist Commission to Palestine; heard in conferences much concerning the Zionist colonies and their claims; and personally saw something of what had been accomplished," their conclusions were based on "the actual facts in Palestine, coupled with the force of the general principles proclaimed by the Allies." The Commission concluded that in no way could
the erection of such a Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the "civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission's conference with Jewish representatives, that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine...
This dispossession, the overarching goal of the Zionist enterprise, was deemed by the Commission to be "a gross violation" of both the principles of self-determination and "of the people's rights."

In response, Lord Balfour wrote a memorandum in which he clearly expressed his disinterest in the will or rights of the indigenous population of Palestine:
[I]n Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American Commission has been going through the forms of asking what they are. The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder importance than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. In my opinion, that is right.
On March 20, 1941, Yosef Weitz of the Jewish National Fund - which describes itself as the "the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners - Jewish people everywhere" - wrote, "The complete evacuation of the country from its other inhabitants and handing it over to the Jewish people is the answer."

Obviously, the indigenous rights of the Palestinian people are directly anathema to the racist mission of the Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund and the United Israel Appeal, and to Zionism in general. One wonders what Leibler thinks of the 1937 letter Israeli founding father David Ben-Gurion wrote to the then-head of the Jewish Agency in Palestine, Moshe Shertok (later, the second Israeli Prime Minister after Ben-Gurion), in which he stated, "Were I an Arab politically, nationally minded...I would rebel even more vigorously, bitterly, and desperately against the immigration that will one day turn Palestine and all its Arab residents over to Jewish rule." The following year, Ben-Gurion told the Jewish Agency Executive, "I support compulsory transfer. I don't see in it anything immoral."

Moshe Sharett himself wrote in 1914, "We have forgotten that we have not come to an empty land to inherit it, but we have come to conquer a country from people inhabiting it...if we cease to look upon our land, the Land of Israel, as ours alone and we allow a partner into our estate - all content and meaning will be lost to our enterprise."

The Israeli policy of colonizing Palestine has continued unabated and ramped up considerably after the 1967 occupation of the West Bank.  In May 1979, Mattiyahu Drobles, chairman of the Jewish Agency's Settlement Department, stated, "[T]he State of Israel must for political and other reasons, develop the entire region," explaining that "[i]f Jews will live in Judea and Samaria it will be ours; if they will not live there, it will not."  Drobles further determined that Israeli colonies must be deliberately and strategically established in ":the areas between and around the centers occupied by" the indigenous Palestinian population in order "to reduce to a minimum the danger of an additional Arab state being established in these territories. Being cut off by Jewish settlements, the minority population will find it difficult to form a territorial and political continuity."

Note how the term "minorities" is used in reference to the native population of Palestine, who constitute an overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the occupied territories, and not to the hundreds of thousands of recent European, American, and Russian immigrants who are illegally colonizing the land.

Just today, during a speech at the Jerusalem Symposium in Memory of Avi Schaefer, Natan Sharansky, current head of the Jewish Agency, said, "The State of Israel is the realization of Herzl's vision of an answer to anti-Semitism. After Herzl came Ben-Gurion, who viewed the Zionist project as the common mission of the Jewish people. Ben-Gurion's vision came to fruition through the Jewish Agency, and it has been a success."

So, what is to be made of Leibler's defense of indigenous rights at home in Australia while simultaneously working with - no, leading - groups that explicitly deny such rights to indigenous population of Leibler's beloved Israel? Are we to believe that Leibler considers Jewish Americans, Jewish Europeans, Jewish Ethiopians, Jewish Yemenis, and Jewish Australians to be deserving of rights that are explicitly denied to the indigenous people of Palestine? Does he deny that Palestinians are a dispossessed, displaced, and disenfranchised native population? Does he think Jews - Jews from all around the world - are the real indigenous people of Palestine?



January 27, 2012 - For some reason, I excluded the following information from the above post. It's additionally illuminating:

Isi Leibler, for the uninitiated, is the former chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress and former head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. He lives in Jerusalem and writes regularly for the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom (which, surprise surprise, is owned by Sheldon Adelson). Leibler also chairs the Israel Diaspora Committee of the right-wing Israeli think-tank Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

According to his bio, Leibler has "published a study on the threat post Zionism poses to the soul of Israel, titled Is the Dream Ending?." It can be read here [PDF].

Isi's wife Naomi is currently the World President of Emunah, a right-wing religious Zionist women's organization that has long encouraged tribalism and colonization. Here's some nice tidbits from their website:
The Children of Teheran

Naturally the country's pre-occupation with the problems of Aliya had long-term social and political repercussions. When European children from the Shoa were sent to Teheran, the various Israeli political parties dispatched representatives to entice them to come to Israel and adopt their particular ideology. The secular and anti-religious sections fought most aggressively in this struggle. We decided to go after the one-and two-year olds. We requisitioned some empty buildings at a Hapoel Hamizrachii kibbutz in Pardes Hanna and established the Neve Michael orphanage.

We entered the political arena as well, pressing for the inclusion of women's rights in every contract drawn up by the Keren Kayemet, the Jewish National Fund, with Hapoel Hamizrachi.

Building the foundation of a religious Zionist education

In 1956, when it was still easier to get from Jerusalem to New York than to Eilat, we decided to set up a religious nursery in Eilat. Naturally when Eilat's mayor heard of our plans he vigorously opposed them. We learned of a religious soldier stationed there and prevailed upon him and his wife to open a nursery in their home. It did not take long before he was asked to stop on the grounds that this was a 'political' matter, and men in uniform are barred from taking sides in political issues. We then transferred the nursery to a rented apartment despite the mayor's protests. Eventually a compromise was reached whereby we paid 1500 lirot to the Municipality and they would maintain it. The nursery grew into a first grade, and then to a full eight classes. Today Eilat boasts a religious elementary and high school.
Emunah also looks to the future:
Looking forward

In looking towards the next decade on the international scene we have set our sights on one of the greatest threats to world Jewry, assimilation and intermarriage. Here in Israel, we will continue building and expanding services for children and their mothers.
Awww, how sweet of them.

Meet the Leiblers: Champions of Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples.



January 29, 2012 - It has come to my attention that my article, a shorter version of which has been cross-posted on Mondoweiss, is also approvingly quoted by Kevin MacDonald over at the white nationalist/eugenics site Occidental Observer.

It is appalling to me that my work is being used and promoted in such a way. MacDonald's obvious racism, antisemitism, and white supremacism is abhorrent and directly antithetical to the work I do.

In short, fuck that guy.



Mark Pyruz said...

Nima, I am the only person of partial Iranian (father) and partial Native American (mother) descent I know of.

I can tell you this: as a believer in the American rendering of Western liberalism, I've zero tolerance for both anti-Semitism (not to be confused with anti-Zionism) and anti-Islam.

Anonymous said...

Nima, Mr Liebler wrote an op-ed in The Age one of Australia's few broadsheets, and cast a former PM Malcolm Fraser as the dybbuk. My eyes widened, and I just wondered what the local ADL would have done had it been one of Liebler's tribe and been called a jewish devil instead of the gentile dybbuk.

Anonymous said...

Im all for pointing out flawed logic but to attack someone doing so much for little to none return I would hope your up to the same scrutiny, is this because of different beliefs? the question I was inclined to ask is what have you done besides line your pockets? their are a lot of people with flawed logic and practices but unless im open to the same scrutiny I would be more selective

Nima Shirazi said...

Hey Anonymous #2, is that a serious comment?

If so, I'm curious as to how you -and you alone - found out about the vast fortune in gold bullion, assorted ingots, doubloons, and Krugerrands I have accumulated whilst writing this blog. In fact, my pockets are so lined, they're like graph paper.

How on Earth did you know!?

- Scrooge McDuck

P.S. Kindly stop trolling my website anonymously; your commentary is shameful and, frankly, I'm embarrassed for you on your behalf. Do us all a favor and go line your pockets somewhere else.