Fredrick Töben says: Thanks for the Memory
On this day, 2 June 2008, for some there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel: Australia’s PM, Mr Kevin Rudd, announced that Australian troops serving in Iraq are coming home! Unfortunately the PM has spoiled everything by retaining a scapegoat mentality. He still asserts that Iran is “a rogue state” – this being his political compromise with the Anglo-American-Zionist war machine, and especially with Australia’s Jewish lobby. So, although this newsletter is dated July, it was completed on my birthday because I also wish to inform you of my new trial date, 5 August 2008. Newsletter No 393 contained my email correspondence with court-appointed Barrister Larissa Detmold where I clarify that as the 30 June 2008 court date approaches this time I will not compromise in any way. During the morning of 27 November 2007 I signing an Apology to be incorporated into the Consent Order subsequently handed down by Justice Michael Moore at the Adelaide FCA. When I withdrew that apology, Applicant, Mr Jeremy Jones, claimed that by giving the Apology I had admitted contravening the 17 September 2002 Court Order – and more: ‘Jones told The AJN that Dr Töben’s court statement "acknowledged that he had been in breach of orders and now what he is doing is stating there that he will be in contempt of further orders".’ AJN, 3 December 2007 - http://www.ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=4559.
This is something that I certainly did not do or even discuss with Barrister Charman prior to signing the Apology.
I was prepared to defend the 144 allegations to see which would prevail: the Court Order or Truth! Also, Charman informed me that the Applicant had shied away from asking me to apologize to the Jews because “we don’t want to humiliate him” – more likely the Applicant knew that I would never apologize to him because truth-telling is a moral virtue and requires no apology. Hence my apology went towards one specific article written by someone using a tone that could be deemed to be “rude and crude”. As early as 1994 when we began our enterprise I am on record stating that we’ll apologize for publishing matters that may be considered to be “rude and crude”. Now the saga continues …
From: Larissa Detmold
Sent: Tuesday, 27 May 2008 12:17 PM
Subject: Re: Our meeting - points to consider
Dear Dr Töben
I enclose correspondence relating to the issues you raise in paragraph 3 below. [See Newsletter No 393, p 1 – ed.] I accept the basis upon which you proposed to terminate my referral. I explain my reasons in that correspondence. I will forward a signed copy to you by post to your post box. In such circumstances there will be no need for us to meet tomorrow. I regret that I cannot assist your further.
Yours faithfully, Larissa Detmold
27 May 2008, Dear Dr Töben
Re: Jeremy Jones v Frederick Töben - NSD 237/2001
I refer to your email to me dated 26 May 2008 (a copy which is attached) which I have considered carefully. I also note that I have read the charges made against you which form the basis of the above proceedings currently before the Court.
I note in that email your insistence that Justice Alan Goldberg (among others) be called as a witness in the above proceedings. I note that you also state that if I refuse to accept your instructions on that issue that I should request that my appointment as your legal counsel pursuant to Order 80 be terminated.
I cannot accept your instructions to call Justice Goldberg as a witness in this matter. It is my view that calling Justice Goldberg would not be of any probative value to the Court and that his testimony would not be relevant to any of the issues raised on the proceedings. On that basis it is my legal advice to you that calling Justice Goldberg would amount to an abuse of process. Furthermore, the South Australian Barrister’s Rules prevent me from calling a witness which I consider unnecessary and irrelevant to the issues in a proceeding.
I accordingly accept your written termination of my appointment as legal counsel in this matter as outlined in your email. I will inform the Deputy District Registrar of the Federal Court Registry (Mr Tony Tesoriero) in Sydney by letter enclosing copies of your email and of this letter only for the procedural purpose of being removed as
your legal counsel. I will also inform the lawyers and counsel for the applicant only of the simple fact that I no longer act on your behalf.
Accordingly, I see no reason for the meeting intended for tomorrow 28 May 2008 and consider that time has been cancelled.
I sincerely wish you well in the conduct of your defence.
Well, that was that, then! What to do? Literally, it hit me again that I was without legal representation and although I tried to remain balanced in this adverse situation, I could feel the stress factor begin to kick in where I am most vulnerable – my legs. I loathe to mention such things publicly because I do not like to play the victim and also because there are individuals far more deserving of empathetic understanding than I with my I constant pain. Still, I needed a break from all this and advised the various parties accordingly:
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 3:04 PM
Another problem with legal representation
Dear Barrister Detmold
1. I fully understand your action in refusing to take on this matter. Your involvement in the David Hicks case was relatively easy because public sentiment favoured him but I am not at that level yet, not yet.
2. While the fear of the Jews and the fear of fear prevail, truth will suffer as a result, and that is why my battle needs to be viewed from an historical perspective rather than from the momentary win-lose situation because truth always wins in the long run.
3. It was a pleasure making your acquaintance through this email exchange and I do hope you didn’t mind my spelling out the essence of my case without my pussy-footing around with you.
From: Adelaide Institute
Sent: Tuesday, 27 May 2008 5:18 PM
To: Steven Lewis
Cc: Martin Smith, Associate to Justice Moore; NSW
Subject: Jones v Toben (NSD327/2001)
Please be advised that owing to my barrister withdrawing from the case I shall be uncontactable for one week – from 28 May until 5 June 2008 – I need to take care of myself as the stress of it all is beginning physically to affect me.
The following day an email response arrived from the Federal Court Registry:
From: Michael Sarson
Sent: Wednesday, 28 May 2008 12:33 PM
Subject: listing letter
Please find enclosed a listing letter in regards to Federal Court matter Jones v Toben (NSD 327/2001).
Mike Sarson, Assistant Director Court Services, Federal Court of Australia
JUSTICE B LANDER
Federal Court of Australia
Commonwealth Law Courts
3 Angas Street
ADELAIDE SA 5000
28 May 2008
Re: Jones v Toben (NSD 327/2001)
I refer to the above mentioned matter currently listed for hearing before Justice Moore on 30 June 2008.
I am writing to advise parties that this matter has now been transferred to the docket of Justice Lander.
I write to advise further that the listing for the matter has also been changed to commence in Adelaide on 5 August 2008 at 10:15 am for 3 days.
Please contact me by 4:00 pm on Friday, 30 May 2008 should this date be inconvenient. If I do not hear from you, I will assume the matter can be listed for those times.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should further information or assistance be required.
Associate to the Hon. Justice B Lander
Well, it looks as if on 5 August 2008 I am back in business defending myself against the contempt of court charges that were brought against me by Mr Jeremy Jones, a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, on 5 December 2006, a few days before the International Conference on the Jewish Holocaust-Shoah began at Teheran, Islamic Republic of Iran.
While relaxing for a few days I browsed through my old email files and found a real gem from our former webmaster, Mr Kai Richmond, dated 4 December 2001, while the case was in the Federal Court of Australia before Justice Catherine Branson. There the matter also dragged along because lack of legal representation – I knew only a fool defends himself, and so I refused to defend myself. Justice Branson then handed down an ex-parte judgment on 17 September 2002.
Subject: With style and grace
I have been thinking about our conversation. Thinking deeply and longly (if that is a word).
I feel that you have made your name known throughout the world as a man who has stood up for what he believes in, for what is true. The world knows you are getting on, that you cannot keep fighting alone.
Perhaps one last newsletter stating these things should be the way. To make it known that you have given your life to the cause of truth and justice, that you have shown that truth itself has no place in justice anymore. This, alone, is worth having dedicated your time and your life to.
Now, perhaps, it is time for you to step down, to retire, but to do so gracefully, do so with your honour still intact. You could state in one last newsletter that the declaration that you believe the court will order you to sign will state things you do not believe in, and that you trust the intelligence and faith of 6those that have supported you that they will know that the things in the declaration will not be your true beliefs, and that they will understand.
You can state that you will most probably be instructed by the court to sign a declaration that you do not believe in, that is untrue, but that if you are so instructed by the court then you will not hold the court in contempt and so will sign the declaration.
You have given years of your life to the pursuit of truth, you have not been given a fair hearing by society in general, but now it is time for the next generation to take up the fight, or acknowledge that they surrender to the lies and corruption that infest (even infect) our society.
I honestly believe that you, Fredrick, can now retire the mantle with dignity and honour. You have earned the right to retire to your parent’s property and enjoy your last few decades in peace.
It has been an honour to know you during this time, and it has been an honour to stand with you and to have been of some minor assistance to you during this period.
I, too, longly gave Kai’s words of wisdom a lot of thought, as those who were working with me well recall. What to do? A couple of Associates jumped ship, and so, should I throw in the towel and relax, then do what? That was my problem. I could have gone back teaching because I still retain my professional registration, but the education system was sinking ever lower, as reflected by parents’ fleeing the government school system. Some parents became so desperate wanting the best education for their children that both mother and father worked so that they could send their children to private school thereby preventing their children’s’ exposure to ‘non-value education’, the educational curse that began to afflict the government school system during the 1970s and is still ongoing. . Surprisingly, many government school teachers also send their own children to private school – what an indictment of a school system!
Also, a lot has happened since December 2001. After the Judgment was handed down in 2002, I deleted all the material on Adelaide Institute’s website, as I had done when the HREOC decision was handed down in 2000, and began again taking particular care to note the four points of the Court Order. Also, my father died in March 2003, a few days before the Branson judgment was unsuccessfully appealed in the FCA, and since then I have also been dis-inherited by my mother who cannot stand the stress generated by the media about my work.
The only major breakthrough in our work came on 10-11 December 2006 when the Iranian president, Dr Mahmoud Ahamadinejad, sponsored the first International Conference that was to ‘review’ matters Jewish Holocaust-Shoah, with specific focus on what effect this has had on the Palestinian crisis – al Nakba.
So, in effect, since 17 September 2002 I had been working continuously without Mr Jeremy Jones complaining. Perhaps the 5 March 2004 headline in the Australian Jewish News could be seen as a confirmation that I had been doing things right: “Is Toben at it again!”
I then did expect to be brought before the court again because Mr Jones was quoted as saying that some of the material warranted closer attention – but nothing happened, not until 5 December 2006, and the rest is contemporary history – until 5 August 2008, then!
I conclude this reflection with a quote from Fredrick the Great, which Werner Fischer gave me and James Damon translated.
The thoughts contained therein give Mr Fischer much comfort and have served him well throughout his living in Australia for over half a century – and having to combat the incessant anti-German hate propaganda that has come his way. Mr Fischer served in the SS, and he has problems relating to the daily media-generated hate propaganda against Germans. He disputes the obscene claims that many Jewish Holocaust-Shoah believers claim is an historical fact and agrees with my statement: Anyone who propagates the Jewish Holocaust-Shoah narrative is propagating racial incitement and disparagement of the German people.
Friedrich der Grosse 1712-1786:
„Nur mit Wagemut kommt man zu grossen Dingen. Mit diesem Trost und dem festen Entschluss, allen denen Ohrfeigen zu geben die sich in den Weg stellen, kann man der Hölle und dem Teufel trotzen, ruhig die Zeitung lesen, ruhig die Prahlereien seiner Feinde anhören und sich der Uberzeugung hingeben, dass man mit Ehren bestehen wird!“
“We achieve great things only with courage and integrity. With this consolation and the firm intention of boxing the ears of all those who block our path, we can defy hell and the devil himself. We can calmly read duplicitous newspapers, endure the boastings of our enemies and rest secure in the conviction that we will persevere with honor.”
And here is a book review published on 5 December 2007 where there is the nonsensical/mythical attempt made to turn the topic of the Jewish Holocaust-Shoah into a conceptual universal while at the same time maintaining that the topic is “beyond belief”, “beyond understanding” on account of it being an example of “absolute evil”. Hidden within this theoretical construct is something that some individuals refuse to acknowledge – that massive, horrendous and unproven allegation as stated above are made without offering any forensic evidence. And so I claim: “Anyone who propagates the Jewish Holocaust-Shoah narrative is propagating racial incitement and disparagement of the German people”.
Is Abstracting The Holocaust The Same as Denying It?
By: Menachem Wecker
Abstraction and the Holocaust. By Mark Godfrey
Yale University Press, 2007, $55, http://yalepress.yale.edu/
When Mark Godfrey first stumbled across Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered European Jews in Berlin, he did not recognize it. On a walk, he found himself in “a huge space that I have since read is the size of two football pitches,” which was “cordoned off by a wire fence.” The space was “all pretty messy: the grass had not been cut back; there was the odd portacabin here, a small truck there,” yet Godfrey could tell “something was definitely happening: I could see, against the sandy soil, groups of grey concrete rectangular blocks.”
Though he is a lecturer in history and theory of art at University College London, Godfrey can be forgiven for being confused when viewing the site of the Berlin Holocaust monument. It is abstract, after all, resembling the prehistoric structures of Stonehenge, if a mighty wind blew the tops off. But in a time where rogue world leaders are being charged with Holocaust denial, do abstract memorials which confound art scholars help or harm Holocaust memory?
Godfrey acknowledges Eisenman’s work raises many important questions, “all of them difficult.” He asks: “What does it mean to memorialize Nazism’s victims in the centre of Berlin?” and “What, and who exactly is being remembered in this site?” But the aspect that caught Godfrey most off guard, which is the central subject of his book Abstraction and the Holocaust, is the way that “abstraction and Holocaust memory,” which has a bittersweet 50 year history of being ignored, “had come together in such a public way.”
Cover shot, Abstraction and the Holocaust.
The sort of inquiry Godfrey conducts navigates several complicated terms which require unpacking. To define abstraction, he cites Briony Fer’s definition, “a type of art which does not allow us to interpret it with reference to what is depicted.” Godfrey explains, “Abstract artists eschew depiction and figuration and sometimes, overt symbolism, but this is not to say their work refuses signification. In front of abstract art works, the lack of a depicted image tends to heighten our awareness of materials, of compositional (or anti-compositional) structures, of the process of looking itself.”
The “process of looking itself” and “our awareness of materials” make for insightful conversations in museums and galleries, but does abstract art, insofar as it is divorced from subject matter, really convince the viewer of its content?
When Picasso drew a Cubist painting, he surely saw the model sitting in front of him. He chose to leave viewers not with a mug shot of that model that would help identify her in the street, but with a work that had more to do with paint, color, line and perhaps time, than it did with a woman. This sort of representation (which is of course non-representational) can be viewed either as transcending realism and capturing something about the model that is more than skin deep, or as neglecting the model altogether. “If my husband ever met a woman on the street who looked like the women in his paintings, he would faint,” Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife, once said. The same ought to extend to artists depicting anything abstractly, including the Holocaust.
Godfrey briefly entertains the possibility that abstraction is the best form of representing “an event that is beyond representation.” He quickly rejects the model that the Holocaust is “sublime” or “unrepresentable.” Just because we cannot fathom the evil of genocide, does not mean we cannot discuss it in paint or words. If the reverse were true, only murderers could truly understand Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Julius Caesar.
Frank Stella. Chodorow II, 1971. National Gallery of Art. According to Godfrey, Stella’s “Polish Villages” series was based upon synagogue architecture.
Abstraction and the Holocaust explores the works of several artists, including: Barnett Newman, Louis Kahn, Frank Stella and Beryl Korot. But Godfrey’s discussion of the work of Morris Louis, reviewed in this column on November 13, 2007, specifically the Charred Journal: Firewritten paintings, offers the most interesting perspective on the question of abstraction’s ability to engage the Holocaust.
According to Godfrey, the “firewritten” aspect of Louis’ piece references Nazi book burning, as well as the original form of the Torah, which, according to Midrashic and Kabbalistic texts, consisted of white fire letters composed on black fire. Godfrey notes the sources “are extremely visual, describing the origin of the book through the distinction of figure and ground that occurs when white fire is seen against black, but also when black ink stands out against white parchment.”
Further, “the white lines become suggestive of the renaissance of writing since the Jewish book, though destroyed by flames, was born as flames.” Louis’ work shows that the letters of the books burnt by the Nazis may have flown away like those of the 10 Commandments Moses destroyed, “since unlike the stone they were indestructible.” Godfrey speculates, “Perhaps Louis wished to suggest that like G-d’s letters, the writing burnt by Nazi fires would not be destroyed, but would fly away unharmed.”
As a fair art historian should, Godfrey explores what he calls the “modernist” position, typified by renowned art historian Michael Fried, which holds the woks to be unconnected to any Jewish material. “Michael Fried, for instance, would never have looked at the title in order to explain the possible significance of the works; he would never have begun to read the white lines, even as unreadable or destroyed or proto-writing. He would have seen them simply as figures against a ground,” Godfrey writes. “It is possible to imagine another viewer before the paintings, at first considering associations and forming readings of the kind suggested in the last section of this chapter, and then suddenly halting, viewing the surfaces anew with the eyes of a modernist critic, and seeing them just black and white, paint and canvas, figure and ground.”
Joel Shapiro. Loss and Regeneration, 1993. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, DC. According to Godfrey, “From some perspectives, the shape appears as an angular tree, and from others, it resembles a falling ‘stick man’ whose ‘head’ tips downwards towards the left, and whose ‘arm’ is raised upwards to balance the fall.”
Godfrey admits this sort of interpretation renders his analysis of Louis as a Jewish artist “extremely precarious,” but he has the insight to ask the further question: “what should be made of this precariousness?” The question is particularly potent given the fact, as Godfrey later discusses, that Barnett Newman’s widow claimed that his own “White Fire I” bore no Jewish or Kabbalistic relevancy beyond its title.
Newman himself had written an angry letter to Hans van Weeren-Griek, then curator of The Jewish Museum in New York, about the 1965 symposium, “What about Jewish Art.” Newman wrote he wanted to “express my disgust at the Jewish Museum’s sponsorship of the debate ‘What about Jewish Art’ ... What the Jewish Museum has done is to compromise me as an artist because I am Jewish. Please therefore notify all concerned not to ask me to cooperate ever with any of your shows since you have made it impossible for me to show my works in your museum.”
In asking the question whether he has wasted his time interpreting abstract work symbolically, as Newman charged The Jewish Museum had done, Godfrey discovers that “There is surely something important about the unfixability of the references to the book burnings and to the renaissance of Jewish writing. There is something compelling about the idea that the paintings can encourage interpretations of the kind I have suggested and also of the kind made by the modernists.”
If a “realistic” painting of Auschwitz approximates a literal photograph of the location, an abstract work, according to Godfrey, can include many levels of interpretation. As the joke goes, 20 Jews will undoubtedly voice 21 opinions, and an abstract Holocaust memorial can contain as many interpretations as there are people. This undoubtedly will cause some people to worry, for multiple interpretations can quickly degenerate into chaotic misinterpretations.
But Godfrey returns to his experience of Memorial to the Murdered European Jews at the end of the book. Wandering throughout the different paths of the piece, he discovered “the memorial would exceed my attempts to fathom it. To walk within the memorial was to become at once conscious of the random nature of my own navigation, and of the uniformity of the directional choices available to me.”
It might be better if we could forever continue to remember the Holocaust in a linear way, but as we approach the time where there will be no living witnesses of World War II, this sort of memorial will become the norm. As art lovers and as people interested in preserving Holocaust memory, viewers would do better to examine its potential than to bemoan its relativism.
Menachem Wecker is a painter, writer and editor based in Washington, D.C. He welcomes comments at
The World Today - Tuesday, 27 May, 2008
On this day Australia’s public broadcaster ABC Radio National ran three items that seemed of interest. The first two directly relate to matters Holocaust-Shoah because they deal with murder and forensic investigations, something that has not been done with the homicidal gassing claims Germans are alleged to have perpetrated upon European Jewry. Why not? The answer is that the German people are still an oppressed nation and that Revisionists, such as Sylvia Stolz, Germar Rudolf, Ernst Zündel, Wolfgang Fröhlich and Gerd Honsik, and others, are imprisoned because they refuse to believe and instead contest!
Reporter: Jane Cowan
ELEANOR HALL: It is too late to save his life but today a man, who was executed for murder 86 years ago, has been pardoned.
Colin Campbell Ross was hanged in 1922 for raping and strangling a Victorian schoolgirl but the 28-year-old publican always said he was innocent.
Now he has been pardoned thanks to modern technology.
But while legal experts say justice has finally been done - one relative of the dead girl says the pardon doesn't go far enough. In Melbourne, Jane Cowan reports.
JANE COWAN: The family of 12-year-old Alma Tirtschke always thought the wrong man had been executed for her murder.
JOAN: My grandmother always said the wrong man was hung.[sic – humans are ganged and objects are hung]
JANE COWAN: This woman, identifying herself only as Joan, is the murdered girl's second cousin.
She told Fairfax Radio how the case has preoccupied people like her grandmother over the years.
JOAN: She didn't say who was the right man but she said the wrong man was hung.
JANE COWAN: It was 1921 when Alma Tirtschke's naked body was found dumped in Melbourne's Gun Alley.
The schoolgirl had been raped and strangled while doing errands for her aunt.
The crime was pinned on Colin Campbell Ross, a 28-year-old man who ran a nearby wine saloon.
He professed his innocence but was hanged.
Kevin Morgan researched the case for 15 years and wrote the book "Gun Alley: Murder, Lies and the Failure of Justice".
KEVIN MORGAN: The prosecution held Alma Tirtschke went into the wine saloon of Colin Ross and as the saloon continued its normal trading, remained there consensually from 3pm until 6pm drinking wine at which time Ross had sexual intercourse with her and murdered her and to us it just didn't make sense.
JANE COWAN: Colin Ross was convicted on the basis of a jailhouse confession - and several strings of hair found on a blanket.
But a little research revealed the confession had been reported by a fellow inmate who himself had prior convictions for perjury.
And author Kevin Morgan was also able to discount the evidence relating to the hair.
KEVIN MORGAN: You see the prosecution had to argue that Alma was in that wine saloon or else how could she have been murdered by Colin Ross and just before she was buried, the two policemen went out to her home and as she lay in her coffin, they cut from her head a lock of her hair.
Two weeks later they arrested Colin Campbell Ross and they took from him some blankets and on those blankets they found same hairs and they had the government chemist of the day have a look at those hairs and he was willing to testify in court at Colin Ross' trial, that these hairs and I quote "come from the scalp of one and the same person".
JANE COWAN: But when the samples were retested using modern techniques, the hair on the blanket was found not to be the girl's and the whole decades-old case unravelled.
ROB HULLS: Well this really is a tragic case where a miscarriage of justice has resulted in a man being hanged. It is almost incomprehensible.
JANE COWAN: Victoria's Attorney-General Rob Hulls has today granted Colin Ross a posthumous pardon.
ROB HULLS: It is the first time and this pardon, I think, is a recognition that there are serious doubts about Mr Ross' conviction for murder.
JANE COWAN: But the pardon is not good enough for the murder girl's second cousin Joan.
JOAN: A pardon means I am forgiving you for something you have done. Shouldn't it rather be an exoneration which means I accept you didn't do this in the first place?
JANE COWAN: But the Victorian Premier John Brumby says the pardon does come close to exonerating Colin Ross.
JOHN BRUMBY: Science in particular I think has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he could not have committed that crime.
JANE COWAN: The Premier says the case shows how far forensic technology has come - and it reinforces the decision to formally abolish the death penalty in Victoria in 1975.
Speaking on Fairfax Radio, John Brumby says it's not inconceivable there could be other instances of people being executed for crimes they didn't commit.
JOHN BRUMBY: If you went back through every single case and you had the evidence still around to scientifically test, forensically test, there may well be some other cases.
JANE COWAN: The President of the Law Institute of Victoria Tony Burke says the pardon serves a purpose, even if it comes too late to save Colin Ross' life.
TONY BURKE: Justice reverberates beyond the particular victim to the extended families and it is a good news story for those family members that this verdict will now be set aside.
JANE COWAN: But the official recognition that Colin Ross may not have killed Alma Tirtschke raises fresh questions for her descendants, like who is the real murderer?
Tony Burke, again.
TONY BURKE: They will never have the opportunity to see the perpetrator brought to justice. Presumably he or she is now long dead.
ELEANOR HALL: That is the President of Victoria's Law Institute ending that report from Jane Cowan in Melbourne. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2257126.htm
The World Today - Tuesday, 27 May , 2008
Reporter: Stephanie Kennedy
ELEANOR HALL: They were labelled the 'lost army'.
During the First World War, 2,000 Australians were killed by Germans at the village of Fromelle and while the bodies of most were recovered almost a century on, no one had any idea what had happened to the bodies of 170 of those ANZAC soldiers.
Now the mystery has been solved as Stephanie Kennedy reports from Fromelles.
STEPHANIE KENNEDY: On the night of the 19th of July, 1916, on these muddy foreign fields of Flanders, Australian soldiers fought their first battle on the Western Front.
Their mission was to attack the German lines just outside the village of Fromelles.
At 6pm as rain fell on the low lying field, the whistle blew and the infantry leaped out of their trenches and charged across no man's land.
7,000 men went over the top that night but their efforts were futile - wave after wave was mowed down by the enemy's machine guns.
The ANZAC's were annihilated - by dawn 2,000 Australians had fallen - another 3,500 were wounded, taken prisoner or missing.
170 were buried in a mass grave along with 250 British soldiers behind enemy lines but in the aftermath of the war, the location of that grave was lost.
Roger Lee is the official historian for the Australian Army.
ROGER LEE: By the dawn the attack is over and we failed and our guys try and find their way back to the lines.
Because we don't win the battle i.e.: we don't retain possession of the ground, we are in no position to come out and collect our wounded. In fact, the Australians were retreating, I can't recall exactly when they go over the line but they, neither they nor the unit that replaced them, attempt to challenge the German dominance of no man's land.
So the Germans are collecting Australian dead almost up to the Australian wire in the days after. In fact the Germans recover remains well into August from this area.
STEPHANIE KENNEDY: And so what happened to those remains?
ROGER LEE: The problem that we had is when you do all the sums, we come up with about 160, 170, the numbers are a little uncertain, dead Australians that we can't account for.
STEPHANIE KENNEDY: And you think they are here in this site?
ROGER LEE: The evidence now suggests that they are. I will be honest and say that I didn't they were. I could not understand how a post-war graves recovery operation like, was mounted on the Western Front could have missed a mass grave that everybody knew about.
I mean the evidence is that all knew about it but the evidence from investigation last year and the fact that we can't find the numbers suggest that yes, they are probably still here.
STEPHANIE KENNEDY: It was only after some dogged forensic investigative work that the location of the digger's unmarked resting place was found after 92 years - here in this field next the village of Fromelles.
Major General Mike O'Brien is heading the operation.
MIKE O'BRIEN: I think it is got a significance to the Australian nation because in the First World War, 50,000 Australians died in France and there are still many of those whose bodies haven't been found so I think this is something that is significant for the nation as a whole.
Paying due honour and regard to the people who fought at that time.
STEPHANIE KENNEDY: How do you feel today having this dig start?
MIKE O'BRIEN: I am very pleased that it is starting. It is another milestone. It is just one along a long, long road.
STEPHANIE KENNEDY: How did it go today?
MIKE O'BRIEN: Oh, it went pretty well thanks. We have confirmed the location of the pits. We found them where we expected to find them and we've made good progress towards what we expect to find in the next couple of days.
STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Descendants hope that a DNA database could be built up to match remains with living Australians.
In Fromelles, France, this is Stephanie Kennedy reporting for The World Today.
The World Today - Tuesday, 27 May , 2008
Reporter: Eleanor Hall
ELEANOR HALL: He is one of America's most famous neo-conservatives and his ideas on the spread of democracy have informed the Bush administration's foreign policy.
But Francis Fukuyama, the author of "The End of History" and Professor of International Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, is now a sharp critic of George W. Bush and has even come out as a supporter of Democrat frontrunner, Barack Obama, for President.
Professor Fukuyama is particularly scathing about the Bush policy in Iraq but he says that regardless of who is elected to lead it next, the United States is about to undergo a significant transformation.
Professor Fukuyama is in Sydney this week as a guest of Sydney University United States Studies Centre and he joined me this morning in The World Today studio.
Francis Fukuyama thanks for joining us.
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Thank you.
ELEANOR HALL: Now you are famous for your end of history thesis on the historical inevitability of democracy and yet your latest work is a critique of the foreign policy of a President who professes to be all about spreading democracy. When did you first realise that you needed to split from the Bush neo-conservatives?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: I think that it really happened in the year preceding the war. I had spent a lot of time in Europe and as we got closer to the war, the arguments that the administration was making in favour of it, just seemed to make… didn't make sense to me.
ELEANOR HALL: And yet after 9-11 did you support a policy which would have seen the overthrow of Saddam Hussein?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: No, as far as getting rid of Saddam Hussein I have no problem with that at all. I think that we have seen in a lot of other cases where you have these really terrible tyrants. I don't have a moral problem in the use of power to do that sort of thing. The issue is really in a way more pragmatic question of whether we actually know what we are doing when we use power.
I just didn't think the administration was prepared for a long and difficult post-invasion scenario.
ELEANOR HALL: That is about the execution of the war though but did that mean you had to split with the neo-conservatives who were behind the Bush foreign policy ideology?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: I think so because as I started to think about the uses of American power, I thought that a lot of my friends were way too dependent in their own thinking on the use of hard power as a means of bringing about political change.
These conflicts are very complicated. They ultimately involve bringing over a population to your side and you are not going to do that simply by using conventional military power.
ELEANOR HALL: So do you feel that your ideas have been distorted, even discredited by association with the Bush foreign policy?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, I hope not because I do think that you can't just snap your finger and will a democratic society into being.
ELEANOR HALL: So what advice do you have for the next President of the United States on foreign policy?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, I think that the US as a result of Iraq has really alienated itself from a good deal of the global public. Not just people in the Middle East where anti-Americanism is at a all-time high but from its European allies, from a lot of publics in places where there ought to be a lot of sympathy.
So I think the United States needs to reconnect with the world. It needs to do some symbolic things like we shouldn't torture people so as a first symbolic gesture I think the new President ought to close Guantanamo and I think in general what you need is a shift.
There needs to be great down-playing of the whole war on terrorism. To call it a war I think has over-militarised our objectives and the means that we have used to prosecute it and I think there has to be a greater shift to the use of soft power in projecting American influence and then there're large areas of the world where we have kind of neglected thinking about things like east Asia where you have obviously got some very big changes going off.
ELEANOR HALL: So which President do you think would be the best placed to handle these challenges? Would it be President McCain, President Obama or a President Clinton?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, it is a little bit difficult. In my own thinking since I have to vote in this next election, I personally actually don't want to see a Republican re-elected because I have a general view of the way democratic processes should work and if your party is responsible for a big policy failure, you shouldn't be rewarded by being re-elected.
I think of all the Republicans, McCain in many ways is the most attractive but he is still is too, you know comes from the school that places too much reliance on hard military power as a means of spreading American influence.
I think in many ways, Hillary Clinton represents both the good and the bad things of the 1990s and there is something in the style of the Clinton's that never really appealed to me and so I think of all the three, Obama probably has the greatest promise of delivering a different kind of politics.
ELEANOR HALL: That is a big shift for you, isn't it? To go from a registered Republican voter to an Obama supporter.
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Yeah, but I think a number of people are doing that this year because I think the world is different at this juncture and we need a different foreign policy and there is this larger question about in American politics, I do think that we are at the end of a long generational cycle that began with Reagan's election back in 1980 and I think unless you have a degree of competition and alternation in power, certain ideas and habits are going to get too entrenched.
ELEANOR HALL: Barack Obama talks a lot about sort of big change and what sort of revolution do you expect him to deliver in the United States if he does become President?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, that is an interesting question because I think that one of our problems in the United States is that the existing polarisation has gotten very debilitating where you can not talk about certain issues like raising taxes or starting program in investing in infrastructure without this being cast in this old ideological debate and so I think that he probably got a better chance at trying to forge a different kind of rhetoric. Different ways of thinking about that.
ELEANOR HALL: Do you expect to see a real shift in America? In 10 years time will it be a very different place if Barack Obama is elected?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, I think the shift will happen regardless of who is elected. I think that the politics of the country is going to be different. I think in tone and certainly in terms of the international perception of the United States, if you elected someone like Obama, it is really going to be really quite something I think to witness and I think that is why a lot of people would like to see him as president because it symbolises the ability of the United States really in some way to renew itself in a very unexpected way.
ELEANOR HALL: Are you one of those historians who sees an inevitable decline in US power though over the next couple of decades?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, I don't think American power is going to decline in absolute terms but what is happening manifestly in the world is that there are other power centres that are growing.
So you have got China and India and the rest of east-Asia and that is going to happen regardless of what the United States does so one way or the other so relative power is certainly going to decline.
ELEANOR HALL: Now while you are in Australia you are meeting the Prime Minister at the end of this week. What advice do you have for Kevin Rudd?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Oh, I am not going to give him any advice. I have known Mr Rudd for some time and it is just a matter of catching up.
ELEANOR HALL: What are the topics of conversation you would like to engage him on?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: I think the obvious ones. You know, the US-Australian relationship has been central.
ELEANOR HALL: Do you think there is work to be done on the Australian/US relationship?
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: I think that it is something that can not be taken for granted because Australia is balanced between a need to have really good relations you know, as long as China is digging up half of Western Australia and shipping it off to China, that is going to be an extremely important relationship but there is obviously in terms of culture and politics, a very close tie with the United States so where Australia positions itself is not something that can be taken for granted in this constellation of forces in this region.
ELEANOR HALL: Francis Fukuyama, thanks very much for joining us.
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Thank you very much.
ELEANOR HALL: That is Professor Francis Fukuyama from Johns Hopkins University. He is in Australia as a guest of Sydney University's United States Studies Centre and is giving a public presentation there tomorrow evening.
Paris during Nazi occupation was ‘one big romp’
A recent exhibition of pictures from occupied Paris has revealed a more relaxed image of the city
Matthew Campbell in Paris. The Sunday Times, May 25, 2008
A new book which suggests that the German occupation of France encouraged the sexual liberation of women has shocked a country still struggling to come to terms with its troubled history of collaboration with the Nazis.
Like a recent photographic exhibition showing Parisians enjoying themselves under the occupation, the book’s depiction of life in Paris as one big party is at odds with the collective memory of hunger, resistance and fear.
“It is a taboo subject, a story nobody wants to hear,” said Patrick Buisson, author of 1940-1945 Années Erotiques (“erotic years”). “It may hurt our national pride, but the reality is that people adapted to occupation.”
Many might prefer to forget but, with their husbands in prison camps, numerous women slept not only with German soldiers – the young “blond barbarians” were particularly attractive to French women, says Buisson – but also conducted affairs with anyone else who could help them through financially difficult times: “They gave way to the advances of the boss, to the tradesman they owed money to, their neighbour. In times of rationing, the body is the only renewable, inexhaustible currency.”
Cold winters, when coal was in short supply, and a curfew from 11pm to 5am also encouraged sexual activity, says Buisson, with the result that the birth rate shot up in 1942 even though 2m men were locked up in the camps.
The book has stirred painful memories. One French reviewer called it “impertinent” and another accused Buisson of telling only part of the story by focusing on the “beneath the belt” history of the occupation. Le Monde, the bible of the French intellectual elite, chided the author, who is the director of French television’s History Channel, for painting life under the occupation as a “gigantic orgy”.
People who lived through the occupation found it insulting to suggest that they spent it in bed. “It makes me really angry,” said Liliane Schroeder, 88, who risked her life as a member of the resistance and has published her own journal of the occupation. “It’s shocking and ridiculous to say life was just a big party,” she told The Sunday Times. “We had much better things to do.”
Schroeder nevertheless described her life as a messenger in the resistance as a “marvellous time” in which “people got on with life even if they weren’t laughing”. Young women were useful to the resistance, she said, because “when a young woman and a man sat in a café it did not look as if they were plotting. They looked like lovers”.
French sensitivities about the country’s wartime record were demonstrated last month when an exhibition of photographs depicting Parisians enjoying life under the Nazis included a notice explaining that the pictures avoided the “reality of occupation and its tragic aspects”. The photographs showed well-dressed citizens shopping on the boulevards or strolling in the parks. People crowded into nightclubs. Women in bikinis swam in a pool.
Buisson dedicates a chapter in his book to cinemas, which he describes as hotbeds of erotic activity, particularly when it was cold outside. “At a few francs they were cheaper than a hotel room,” he writes, “and, offering the double cover of darkness and anonymity, propitious for all sorts of outpourings.”
The French even had sex in the catacombs, the underground ossuary and warren of subterranean tunnels in Paris: war, Buisson argues, acted as an aphrodisiac, stimulating “the survival instinct”. He said in an interview: “People needed to prove that they were alive. They did so by making love.”
It has been claimed that prostitutes staged the first rebellion against the Nazis by refusing to service the invaders but Buisson called this a myth. The Germans, he claimed, were welcomed into the city’s best brothels, a third of which were reserved for officers. Another 100,000 women in Paris became “occasional prostitutes”, he said.
Elsewhere, members of the artistic elite drowned their sorrows in debauchery. Simone de Beauvoir, the writer, and Jean-Paul Sartre, the philosopher, were devotees of allnight parties fuelled by alcohol and lust.
“It was only in the course of those nights that I discovered the true meaning of the word party,” was how de Beauvoir put it. Sartre was no less enthusiastic: “Never were we as free as under the German occupation.” [- emphasis added – ed.]
De Beauvoir wrote about the “quite spontaneous friendliness” of the conquerors: she was as fascinated as any by the German “cult of the body” and their penchant for exercising in nothing but gym shorts.
“In the summer of 1940,” wrote Buisson, “France was transformed into one big naturist camp. The Germans seemed to have gathered on French territory only to celebrate an impressive festival of gymnastics.” The author said he did not want to make light of a tragic part of French history, but there was a need to correct the “mythical” image of the occupation. “In this horrible period, life continued,” he said.
“It is disturbing to know that while the Jews were being deported, the French were making love. But that is the truth.”
Now Buisson is at work on a sequel, about how women were punished for sleeping with the enemy. The provisional title is Revenge of the Males.
Council stops Hebron exhibition
Imre Salusinsky, NSW political reporter, The Australian, 27 May 2008
Leichhardt Council, in Sydney’s inner west, has been publicly embarrassed by the activities of a pro-Palestinian group to which it offered its support.
A photographic exhibition by friends of Hebron on “the Palestinian catastrophe” had to be removed from the council library walls earlier this month, only a day before it was due to be opened to the public.
Media reports at the time suggested the group was silenced by counter-terrorism police who visited the gallery in the lead-up to the exhibition.
However, a report by council officers, which has been obtained by The Australian,, reveals that the exhibition was closed because it breached a number of the conditions placed by the council on its support.
In September, a plan put to the council for a sister-city relationship with the Palestinian town of Hebron, on Israel’s West Bank, was scuttled after protests from local residents and Jewish groups. Instead, the council decided it would support projects that were “genuinely humanitarian”, included people from both sides of the debate and were approved by a selection panel.
“The new report says the council became aware of the library exhibition only in the week leading up to its planned opening on Friday, May 9. “It was apparent that the planned exhibition was not in accordance with the Mayoral Minute, as the project did not “include people from both sides” and had not involved the panel of four councillors,” the report says.
It says a plan for an accompanying exhibition by a Jewish group was jettisoned when council officials discovered “the (Friends of Hebron) exhibition material, particularly the text around the photos, could be divisive, and therefore not in accordance with council policy”.
Dennis Bernstein and Dr. Francis Boyle Discuss the Politics of Human Rights,
CovertAction Quarterly Number 73 Summer 2002, pp. 9—12, 27.
CAQ Editor's Note
It has often been said that Amnesty International's agenda tends to fit nicely with the political needs of the United States and Great Britain. Around the world, supporters of the Nicaraguan people's struggle for self-determination were outraged by the timing of a 1986 Amnesty report critical of the Sandinista government, which helped Reagan push another Contra Aid appropriation through a reluctant congress, at exactly the moment when the anti-Contra movement was beginning to get serious political traction.
With regard to South Africa's apartheid regime, AI was critical of the human rights record of the South African government. However, as you will see below, AI never condemned apartheid per se. By the time Amnesty endorsed the Hill & Knowlton nursery tale concerning Kuwaiti infants pulled from incubators by Iraqi soldiers, many otherwise sympathetic observers of Amnesty's work became increasingly alarmed.
More than a decade of grassroots organization within Amnesty's membership base finally succeeded just two years ago in moving the organization to take a position critical of the genocidal sanctions against the people of Iraq, sanctions which have killed approximately a million and a half Iraqis, one third of them children. According to Dr. Boyle, this delay was political, and it clearly served the interests of the U.S. and Britain, the two governments on the Security Council preventing the lifting of the sanctions.
A recent search of the internet shows that AI Venezuela very quickly took up the U.S. line by charging President Chavez with crimes against humanity for the bloodshed during the recent failed coup attempt against his administration. Amnesty's performance on the April 2002 massacre at Jenin is another blot on its frequently laudable record. As our readers are aware, the United Nations attempted to investigate the Jenin massacre, but was prevented from doing so by Sharon and Bush. The announcement on May 3[, 2002] by Human Rights Watch of “no massacre at Jenin” effectively killed the story, although there was a lot of argument about what constitutes a massacre. No such arguments were heard when a suicide bomber turned a Passover dinner into a tragedy.
This magazine will cover the topic of Human Rights Watch in a future issue. For this issue, we were fortunate to be forwarded the transcript of a June 13th  interview with Dr. Francis A. Boyle, professor of International Law and former board member of AI. What follows is a shortened version of the transcript.
PIWP Editor's note: we will attempt to obtain the photo for this article. Photo / caption by – Jeff Guntzel, Voices in the Wilderness Jenin, May 2002: View from the doorstep of a young Palestinian medical relief worker. Standing in her doorway looking in disbelief over the destruction, we asked if there had been a road there. “No,” she replied, “just homes.”
Dennis Bernstein's preface to interview:
There has been much criticism of late about the role of Western Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in international politics. Following the massacre in Jenin, a less-than-vigorous response from Western NGOs helped make it possible for Sharon to delay and finally derail a UN investigation. One NGO which seems to enjoy a kind of "teflon immunity" to criticism, particularly regarding the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, is Amnesty International, a human rights organization so big and so influential that its reports and investigations are cited everywhere, including the halls of Congress. Yet in Jenin, its lackluster investigation – a few initial press releases, compared to a timely fifty page report by the much smaller Human Rights Watch – only added to the suffering there. It is indeed troubling, that while respected forensic pathologist, Dr. Derrick Pounder, who works with AI, reported, after a visit to Jenin, that there was a “prima facie case for war crimes.” Amnesty didn't follow up. Without question, Amnesty does a great deal of crucial work, which is relied on by journalists and activists around the world. However, Amnesty has made huge mistakes in the Middle East and these cannot be overlooked in any fair and balanced assessment of Amnesty's role in international politics. For instance, as you will see below, as the first Bush administration was manoeuvring the nation toward war in Iraq, Amnesty played a crucial role in preparing U.S. and international public opinion by lending credence to the notorious Hill & Knowlton “Kuwaiti dead babies” scam. To shed light on the question of why Amnesty's record seems to be so uneven, I interviewed longtime human rights activist and International Law scholar Francis Boyle. Boyle has a long and shaky relationship with Amnesty. While serving on the board of Amnesty USA in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Boyle repeatedly tried to get the group to investigate the brutal Israeli treatment of Palestinians with little success.
Dennis Bernstein: We are going to be talking about the restrictions and hesitations that seem to be coming out of Amnesty International, and I think before we get into the substance of the questions, why don't you just talk a little bit about your own background and your experience with Amnesty International over the years.
Francis Boyle: I got very actively involved in 1982. At that time I was leading the legal charge against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and I tried very hard to get Amnesty International USA to do something.
You had massive death and destruction, carnage, ultimately 20,000 people in Lebanon were pretty much exterminated. And AI-USA refused to do anything at all because of the pro-Israel bias that concerns that organization. And finally, I remember, when I had given up getting them to do anything, calling the late Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Sean MacBride, a friend of mine, at his home in Dublin, and explaining to him the situation and asking him to intervene with Amnesty International in London at the headquarters to get them to do something.
And it was curious of course – they hadn't done anything either. But Sean did place a call to the Amnesty secretary-general. He was on their international board, Sean was, at the time. And I think they put a half-researcher on it..., which was pretty pathetic between you and me. And I think if you go back and read the Amnesty report for '82, it's pretty shameless given the death and destruction that was inflicted in Lebanon.
Amnesty was no worse than any other so-called human rights organization here in the United States at that time. None of them said or did absolutely anything at all about 20,000 dead Arabs in Lebanon except the American Friends Service Committee. They put together a working group on Lebanon – and asked me to join – I was involved. And they did put out a very courageous, hard-hitting report, and spent a lot of time on it. It's very objective, very thorough. They had people on the ground over there in some danger for their lives to get this information for us.
But Amnesty wouldn't do anything. And eventually what happened – members of Amnesty knew of my efforts and were very upset that they refused to do anything about 20,000 dead Arabs in Lebanon. So they ran me and a group of others for the board of directors by a petition process, and we were all knocked off the ballot by pro-Israel members of the board. So everyone else asked me to represent them with Amnesty International, and I threatened a lawsuit on behalf of my colleagues that, if we were not returned to this ballot, I would invalidate all their elections. Not only did I threaten a lawsuit, I actually had to go out to New York to file the lawsuit. And finally, they settled on our terms on a Sunday afternoon before I was to file the lawsuit Monday morning.
I was elected to the board of directors in 1988. I spent four years on the Amnesty board for two terms and I tried very hard to get them to do something on behalf of Lebanese and Palestinians, as well as many other issues. Amnesty is bad not just on Israel. I tried to get them to do more on Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, American Indians, and a lot of other subjects that are not necessary to go into here. And then after four years on the board, I basically figured I had done enough and it was time to move on.
DB-2: Let's talk about Amnesty International and the carnage of Jenin. I'm thinking specifically of Jenin, but generally speaking, how does Amnesty International decide what to focus on and what to say and what not to say?
FB: Amnesty International is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns. To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and womanpower, publicity, you name it, they can throw whatever they want at that. But if it's dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it's like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation. They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it's not like the official enemies list.
Amnesty International sent three people out there [to Jenin] and came back with nothing more than a news release dated April 22 , saying well, we received credible evidence of serious human rights violations, and they came up with a list of eight. And that was it. It's pretty shameless that that's the best they could do. And indeed, it seemed to me, given the way Amnesty works, this was a typical “CYA” (cover your ass) operation, which is, they knew they were going to have to do something on Jenin, so they did the least amount possible in order to cover themselves.
DB-3: So they did a preliminary report and very little follow-up.
FB: Well this is not even a preliminary report, Dennis. This is nothing more than a news release, it's a press release. There is no preliminary report. As I said, I think more investigation must be done in Jenin. As you know, the United States government headed off the UN fact-finding commission.
Now we know in the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, certainly one of the best reports was by a very courageous Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk, and that was investigated ultimately by different organizations that got over there, and Amnesty International was not among them. And eventually we did have a pretty good idea of exactly what happened at Sabra and Shatila.
Amnesty does not have any report [on Jenin]. This is a press release, that's all they have. There's absolutely nothing there that you can really get your hands on. And again, my conclusion on this was that this was a typical “CYA” operation, that they knew various people were going to say to them, you know, ‘What did you do on Jenin?' So they sent this team out. They came back with very little, put it on their web site and said, “There, that's what we did on Jenin.”
DB-4: And of course it is troubling because their own people – for instance Dr. Derrick Pounder a forensic pathologist whom I interviewed – have said there was a prima facie case for war crimes. And yet Amnesty did not follow up.
FB: Let me say one thing. In fairness to Amnesty International, after twenty years of not dealing with Israel, they finally are prepared to use the word “war crimes.” They've done the best they can for the last twenty years to avoid using the term “war crimes” when it comes to Israel. They'll use euphemisms like “human rights violations” or “violations of international humanitarian law.” If you're an expert, you know a violation of international humanitarian law is a war crime. But only recently, and with respect to Jenin, did they finally come out and use the word “war crime.” But it's taken them about twenty years to get to that point with respect to Israel.
I understand there is some conflict here as to exactly what happened and why and what were the circumstances, charges on both sides. I know that it is emotional for people on both sides with attachments to the different sides. But all I can say about Amnesty International is, well after twenty years, at least they use the word war crimes. I guess that's progress. Maybe twenty years from now, they might do something more. I really don't know.
DB-5: Well I want to talk to you now a little about the connections between the British and U.S. foreign policy circles and Amnesty International. Again, I'm talking in the context of Jenin. We now know, according to the Marine Corps Times (May 31, 2002) that the U.S. military was with the Israeli military. They were there as the Israeli military went into Jenin and went door to door and attacked with helicopters, and they were there, they say, to study the way in which Israelis do this kind of urban action. So could you talk a little about Amnesty its relationship to the U.S. and British government, and how perhaps the relationship between the U.S. military and the Israeli military, particularly in working with them in Jenin, might have something to do with Amnesty's reluctance to thoroughly investigate what happened.
FB: Well, of course we know the U.S. military is over there and has been over there, Special forces and whatever, working with the Israelis. And we also know the whole place has been penetrated by the CIA. So clearly this raises the question of U.S. complicity in what happened at Jenin. Or it could be participation, I don't know. Again, I'm a lawyer, I try to be cautious and careful in my characterization. But certainly it raises the question of complicity without any doubt at all. And this happened at, for example, Sabra and Shatila too. Eventually, it did come out that the United States Embassy had been notified that a massacre was going on at Sabra and Shatila, and despite that, did nothing for 48 hours so that the massacre could be concluded before the U.S. embassy said anything at all about it to the Israelis. And this despite the fact that Philip Habib (then U.S. Envoy to the Middle East himself, on behalf of the United States government) had personally promised Arafat that if the PLO fighters abandoned the camps where they were protecting the innocent civilians, from the Christian Phalange, from outright massacres that the Phalange had said they were going to perpetrate, as well as [from] the Israeli Army, that the U.S. would guarantee their protection. And yet we knew, the U.S. government knew for a fact, that the massacre was going on. Apparently they had an intelligence source there at the scene – we're not sure who it was – and they let it happen anyway.
So it would not surprise me if we were in a similar situation here, I'm not surprised at all that the United States government knew exactly what was going on. They very well might have coordinated it, I don't know. But certainly that aspect needs to be investigated as well.
DB-6: Now, having said that about these connections between the U.S., British and Amnesty International foreign policy…
FB: Sure, you'll see a pretty good coincidence of the enemies that Amnesty International goes after and the interests of both the United States and British governments. Let's take an older example – apartheid in South Africa under the former criminal regime in South Africa. Amnesty International refused adamantly to condemn apartheid in South Africa. Despite my best efforts while I was on the board, and other board members, they would not do it. They are the only human rights organization in the entire world to have refused to condemn apartheid in South Africa. Now they can give you some cock-and-bull theory about why they wouldn't do this. But the bottom line was that the biggest supporter, economic and political supporter of the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa was the British government, followed by the United States government. And so no matter how hard we tried, no matter what we did, they would not condemn apartheid in South Africa. Now I just mention that as one among many examples.
When I tried to work with the Amnesty International chapter down in Puerto Rico, they had invited me to go down there to speak – they're separate from AI USA – they invited me, I met them, they came to our convention, I worked with them. I helped get the AI USA general meeting to adopt two resolutions dealing with the human rights situation in Puerto Rico, as well was the deplorable condition of Puerto Rican political prisoners in U.S. jails. They then asked me down there to give the keynote address on the right of Puerto Rican political prisoners to be treated as prisoners of war. Amnesty International London and New York did everything humanly possible to sabotage and prevent and interfere with my trip to Puerto Rico, and my ability to get up there and give that keynote address.
So again, on Israel, I could give you twenty years of what they've done to try to sabotage, interfere with, prevent, cover up on Israel. Of course the worst instance is well known, and that's the Kuwaiti dead babies report. I was on the AI USA board at that time, it was the late Fall of 1990 and, as you know, we were on the verge of going to war. There was going to be a debate coming up in the United States Congress, and a vote. And at the end of November or so, mid-November, since I was a board member, I got a pre-publication copy of the Amnesty report on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. So I immediately read through this report and it was sloppy, it was inaccurate – even its statement of applicable law. It did not seem to me that it had gone through the normal quality control process.
As for the allegation about the Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators and putting them on the floor of the hospital where they died, I didn't know if that was true or not, but it certainly sounded very sensationalist to me. And as a result of that, I made an effort to hold that report back for further review, on those grounds that I gave to you. I also enlisted a fellow board member for the same reason, and he and I both tried, and I made the point, even if this story about the dead babies is true, it's completely sensationalist, and it is simply going to be used in the United States to monger for war, and could turn the tide in favor of war. And so you know, we really need to pull back on this, further review, more study.
They wouldn't do it. It was clear it was on the fast track there in London. This was not AI USA, this was in London. And it had been put on the fast track, they were ramming it through. They didn't care. Finally, I said look, let us at least put out an Errata report to accompany it on those aspects that are clearly wrong. They refused to do that either. They then put the report out, and you know what a terrible impact that had in terms of war propaganda. Of the six votes in the United States Senate that passed the resolution to go to war, several of those senators said that they were influenced by the Amnesty report. Now I want to make it clear this was not a job by Amnesty International but by London, and what happened then, when the war started, at the next AI USA board meeting, I demanded an investigation. By then it had come out that this was Kuwaiti propaganda put together by the PR firm, Hill & Knowlton, and I demanded an investigation.
Absolutely nothing happened. There was never an investigation, there was total stonewalling coming out of London. They refused ever to admit that they did anything wrong. There has never been an explanation, there has never been an apology. It's down the "memory hole" like 1984 and Orwell. My conclusion was that a high-level official of Amnesty International at that time, whom I will not name, was a British intelligence agent. Moreover, my fellow board member, who also investigated this independently of me, reached the exact same conclusion. So certainly when I am dealing with people who want to work with Amnesty in London, I just tell them, “Look, just understand, they're penetrated by intelligence agents, U.K., maybe U.S., I don't know, but you certainly can't trust them.”
DB-7: Now, is Amnesty International a democratic organization whose leadership is accountable to its members?
FB: Well, I can only speak of AI USA; in theory it's supposed to be democratic, in theory it's elected. But what you have is a board that is basically selected by a process of co-optation. That is, it's basically a small clique of people who have been in power for a good twenty years, or their friends and their buddies that they co-opt through a bogus nominating process to put on there. Now there is a kind of petition process from the grassroots to have other voices on there.
That's how I got on that board – so many members were disgusted with the fact that Amnesty would not do anything on Israel that I was nominated by means of the petition process. It's not easy to do, you have to get at least a hundred signatures and they're all very carefully scrutinized and this, that and the other thing. And even then, I and my colleagues were disqualified by the little clique who sits on this board, and then I had to threaten a lawsuit. And as I said, not just threaten a lawsuit, but fly out to New York to file the lawsuit. And only then did my name appear on the ballot and then I was elected.
Moreover, another interesting point back in 1982, because of my efforts to try to raise what Israel was doing in Lebanon, I was asked to attend the first meeting of what later became the Amnesty International USA Middle East coordination group that's supposed to coordinate human rights work on the Middle East, which I did. So in other words, I was one of the founders of the Amnesty International Mideast coordination group. Shortly thereafter, I gave a speech here in town condemning what Israel was doing in Lebanon that was reported in the local news media. And I made it clear I wasn't speaking on behalf of Amnesty International or anyone else but myself, but it was an Amnesty meeting. And immediately thereafter, the chair of the board of directors of Amnesty International ordered no one to have anything more to do with me, and they didn't. It was a total cutoff.
DB-8: Was this order put in writing?
FB: It was verbal, for sure. So even though I was on their committee and even though I was one of the founders of their committee, thereafter they would have nothing at all to do with me, except that when I got elected to the board, then they had to deal with me. That's the way they certainly worked when it came to Israel, sure. And that continued. As I said, in 1992 or so, I figured I had better things to do with my time.
I keep my membership and I do keep an eye on the reports that come out to see what they're saying, what position they're taking. Indeed, I've gone on the Internet [and read] sections of some of their reports when it comes to Israel, and the people who do these reports over in London and here in the United States, they're very clever, sharp, and sophisticated people. They know exactly what they're doing. And if you go through it, you'll see that basically, it supports the Israeli party line on whatever the issue is. Or finally, after many years of outing them on this, now they're no longer supporting it but they're not doing much. At least the thing on Jenin here is not supporting any Israeli party line. But previous reports in the not too distant past, if you go through them carefully, you'll see that their legal characterizations of the nature of the conflict, the status of these territories, the status of Jerusalem, tracks the Israeli party line.
DB-9: How does the leadership reconcile its stated objectives with its actual practice? How do they go about rationalizing their actions?
FB: They don't care. They're completely and totally arrogant. “We are Amnesty International. We are the world's largest and most powerful human rights organization. We won the Nobel Peace Prize for our work. So we do whatever we want.” And again, if you don't believe me, go search your Lexis-Nexis database and see if there has ever been an apology by Amnesty International for the Kuwaiti dead babies report. To the best of my knowledge, there was no official apology or investigation or explanation. They just toughed it out.
DB-10: Now we know that at the end of that war, the United States was responsible for killing perhaps as many as 100,000 people who were trying to flee at the end of the Gulf War. Did Amnesty ever do a report on that?
FB: I don't know. After a certain point, I realized that I was wasting my time worrying about what Amnesty International was doing on that.
DB-11: So just to be clear Professor Boyle, in terms of Jenin, are you suggesting that it is because of those close connections between Amnesty International, British-U.S. intelligence, the Israelis, the fact that the U.S. plays such a close role with the Israelis, there's so much CIA and military intelligence on the ground, that that would be the reason that Amnesty International would step back and not touch it.
FB: Well that, and in addition, you have here in the United States the very powerful role played by the Israel lobby on AI-USA. They are very powerful; they apply enormous pressure on Amnesty International USA, headquartered in New York. AI-USA pretty much kowtows to them, and they use contributions to make sure that AI-USA tows the line on Israel, and AI-USA pays about 20% of the London budget. So that has an impact over in London too. I do not know about direct lobbying with the London Amnesty International office by the British equivalent of the Israel lobby here. I don't know personally about that, but I do know AI USA pays 20% of their budget.
And I remember once – this was when I was on the board – I got the agenda of, the Amnesty International secretary general was coming over to the United States for a trip, and I got his agenda and he was meeting with just about every pro-Israel group and leader you could possibly imagine on that list here in the United States, and undoubtedly, they were all going to claim that Amnesty was even doing too much with respect to Israel.
And if I remember, on that list, they might have scheduled time to meet with one or two Arab American leaders. And internally, this is the way it's done. And you have large numbers of people on that board of directors here in the United States who are pro-Israel and do everything possible to prevent, sabotage, obstruct effective work on Israel, up to and including getting rid of a former executive director here in the United States because – I hate to say this but – under my influence and one or two others, we did try to get him and some others to do more effective work on Israel and finally, when I was off the board, there was a purge. So that's the way it works and it's highly political, highly coercive, and eventually if you get out of line, they'll get rid of you.
1. For extensive discussion of the role of public relations in preparing public opinion for the Gulf War and other crimes against humanity, see: CovertAction Quarterly, Number 44, Spring 1993.
2. For full coverage of the Gulf War, see CovertAction Information Bulletin, Number 37, Summer 1991.
3. “Physicians for Human Rights Forensic Team Preliminary Assessment, Jenin”, 21-23 April 2002.
4. “Jenin: IDF Military Operations,” Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 14, No. 3, May 2002.
5. Charmaine Seitz, Excavating the Crimes of War; What really happened in Jenin? In These Times, 27 May 2002.
6. For the forthright, uncensored views of Israeli peace activists living in Israel see: Gush Shalom.
7. Paul de Rooij, Amnesty International: Say it isn't so, CounterPunch, 31 Oct. 2002.
Transcription thanks to: Andrew Kennis
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