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John Passant

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January 2009



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



The Warsaw Ghetto uprising – it is right to fight back

Just under 66 years ago, on 18 January 1943, the Nazis surrounded the Warsaw Ghetto to liquidate the 60,000 Jews still there. Left-wing Jewish organisations fought back and drove them out.

In 1940, the Fascists had herded 4000,000 people into the tiny space that became the Warsaw Ghetto.  The Nazis walled it in and put barbed wire and glass on top of the wall to make sure no-one could get out.  The 400,000 Jews, cut off from the rest of the world, lived on top of each other in misery and hunger. Many died and lay unburied in the streets.

In 1942 the fascists began to transport Jews to Treblinka, a concentration camp with gas chambers.  The Nazis told the people they were to be re-settled. It is likely the Jewish council and Jewish police knew that these people were going to their deaths but said nothing.

A member of the Bund, a Jewish socialist organisation, with help from a Polish socialist railway worker, secretly followed one of the trains and came back to reveal the truth.

By late October 1942 there were only 60,000 people left in the Ghetto, and with death at the hands of the Nazis their only alternative, fighting back was becoming an option.  The remaining members of the anti-Zionist  Bund, left Zionists and the Communists formed a group called the Jewish Fighting Organisation, or ZOB.

They executed those Jews who were collaborating with the Nazis.

When the Germans did surround the Ghetto on 18 January, the ZOB fought back.  They had a few pistols, grenades and petrol bombs.  And lots of courage.

After four days of guerrilla warfare, the Germans withdrew.  The ZOB had forced them out.

The Fascists returned in April. For weeks the battle raged.  The might of the Nazi Army could not easily defeat a group of committed and principled fighters whose courage and dignity inspire us still today.

The fascists decided to burn the Ghetto to the ground.  Rather than die at the hands of the Nazis, many of the fighters ran back into the flames.

On May Day 1943 the fighters sang the socialist song, the Internationale.  Here is how Marek Edelman, one of the few who survived, describes this moving moment in his book, The Ghetto Fights.

But never yet had the Internationale been sung in conditions so different, so tragic, in a place where an entire nation had been and was still perishing. The words and the song echoed from the charred ruins…indicat[ing] that socialist youth was still fighting in the ghetto, and that even in the face of death they were not abandoning their ideals.

The Warsaw Ghetto Jews had no chance of victory.  But they fought to restore their humanity and to show that the Nazis were not unbeatable.

The West did nothing.  At the same time as the Jews were rising up against the Nazis, the Allies were turning Jewish refugees away.  They refused to bomb the railway lines to the concentration camps even though they knew the evil purpose of these places.

The outside Zionist Organisations refused to help, saying that the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel was the top priority and helping the Ghetto would detract from that goal.

One consequence of the Uprising was that it showed non-Jewish Poles that you could fight back against the overwhelming military power of the Nazis.  Polish resistance against the fascists began to grow as a result This helped defeat the Nazis.  The ZOB fighters did not die in vain.

What courage, what humanity the Warsaw Ghetto Jews showed in resisting the monolith of Nazism. There is a universal message here. It was right then to fight back against the Nazi occupiers.  It is right now, even in the face of overwhelming force, to resist foreign occupation and invasion.

For this article I have drawn heavily on  Liz Walsh’s Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto from the April 2008 edition of Socialist Alternative.



Comment from baruch
Time January 5, 2009 at 7:30 pm

What a devious way to try and create legitimacy for the 1987 creation of the Islamist Brotherhood, Hamas. Would be a very good idea John to read or reread the Hamas charter from then :

Remember that this is a religious document, and can therefore not be changed or altered in any way.
Sort of sets the agenda and explains why Hamas is so gleeful when innocent Palestinians are destroyed. I suppose when your aim is to destroy a sovereign state the methods used don’t matter all that much.

Comment from John Passant
Time January 5, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Thanks Baruch. I’ve read it before. Hamas are realists. They know they have no chance of achieving an Islamic state in Palestine. How are they going to defeat the fourth most powerful army in the world, a state supported by the most powerful country in the world with arms, money and supplies? With rockets, suicide bombs and stones?

That’s why they indicated to Israel they were prepared to discuss a two state solution based on the 1967 borders.

The logic of Zionism cannot accept peace since it is expansionist – it has no borders and dreams of Greater Israel – and wants to be rid of the “Palestinian” problem.

Similarly with the PLO. Israel used to label it as terrorist, and as a consequence supported the establishment of Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO.

Then they began negotiations with the PLO “terrorists”.

Eventually they will do the same with Hamas, who will grow stronger and win even more support as a consequence of the invasion. (From memory they won 72 per cent of the Palestinian vote in the last election.) More than Kadima, Labour and Likud combined in Israel, I’d guess.

Hamas is not gleeful when the Israelis murder civilians. This is a deliberate strategy of the Israeli state to cower and defeat the Palestinian people.

By the way I could quote back at you various Zionist statements and highlight various actions (Deir Yassin comes to mind) which indicate a desire to drive all Palestinians out, and I think that better explains the present invasion than a few rockets.

Comment from baruch
Time January 6, 2009 at 7:16 pm

The last thing Hamas are is realists. The Charter is a religious document, religious (and political) fanatics are never realists. Fourth most powerful army in the world ? Who are 1,2 and 3 ? And if so, surely Gaza could be totally obliterated if the Israelis are as you like to portray them.

Comment from baruch
Time January 6, 2009 at 7:21 pm


Comment from John
Time January 6, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Thanks Baruch.

Hamas got 72 per cent of the Palestinian vote. (Correct me if that figure is wrong.)

The rockets began in earnest again because Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 or 5 November, and because Hamas mistakenly thought rockets would pressure Israel to lift the blockade (as they had agreed to do in the Egyptian brokered ceasefire) and agree to a new ceasefire.

But Israel has been planning to invade for the last two years. The Israelis rebuilt a replica of Gaza in an army base to understand the back streets, likely traps, sniper spots and so forth.

As to military power – US one, China two (maybe), Russia three and Israel four. No hard and fast rule, but Israel is up there.

So why don’t they just obliterate the Palestinians you ask?

41 years of occupation of Gaza. A criminal blockade of Gaza which is itself an act of war. They have already done that. They just can’t finish them off because the whole world is watching. And eventually, if a Palestinian Bantustan comes out of the peace process, the Israeli ruling class has a cheap captive reserve army of labour.

Destroying the spirit and humanity of the Palestinians is far better than destroying them physically because it retains a futre surplus labour pool (which can then be used to undercut Israeli wages.)

But I admit this “rationality” figures too much in Zionism’s irrational calculations.

As Ben Gurion said, or words to this effect: Our border is where our last furrow is.

Zionism does not want peace. That would thwart its expansionist world view and actions.

Comment from John
Time January 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm

And I’ll have a read of the link you put in.

Buggered if I know how to put direct links in. I use the link button in html in my articles, but I can’t get it right.

Any suggestions?

Comment from baruch
Time January 7, 2009 at 10:29 am

The vote ? Acknowledged widely as a vote AGAINST Arafat, nothing more. Democratic ? Maybe. Can’t recall any news about parliament discussions. Ever.

Comment from baruch
Time January 7, 2009 at 10:31 am

Interesting that you can reply at length, we are limited to 3-4 lines.

Comment from John
Time January 7, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Thanks Baruch. It was a a vote against Arafat and for Hamas who at least were prepared to defend Palestinian interests against the ferocity of the Israeli onslaught (including the occupation.)

Also Hamas did social service work which people respected. They still do.

And unlike the PLO they were and are not corrupt.

A vote now would see Hamas win more than 72 per cent. Fatah is gone. It’s strategy of collaboration clearly hasn’t worked and the Israelis have forced the Palestinian people even closer to Hamas.

Interesting that the Israelis developed Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO. They must not have been too concerned then about the Charter.

Did you read today’s Age? Two articles, one by a Hamas leader, the other by a member of the Knesset.

The Hamas political spokesman makes some what I thought were good points (similar to the ones I make). The Knesset member came across to me as an apologist for murder. But of course I have a particular view of the conflict.

Have a read and let me know what you think. I assume the articles are available on line.

I didn’t know there was a limit on replies (although the reply on my global warming article today appears to be more than a few lines.) I’ve asked the administrator what is going on. I’ll sort it out. I don’t want to discourage debate and discussion. Thanks for letting me know.

I had just assumed you were succinct.

Comment from baruch
Time January 7, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Not sure how Sharia law will work in a demcracy, Mark seems to think that is where Hamas is heading :

I am still not sure how you can claim that an organisation recognised as terrorist by most of the world (including the Arab States) supplied with arms variously by at least Iran and Russia, and smuggled in through Egypt are so blameless. You will not, I think, find any mention of a Palestinian State in their mantras; but the Caliphate of the Muslim Brotherhood is there. An organisation with an army of 25,000 in uniform 15,000 in civvies;
We have an army of 50,000…. And most of their troops are hiding in bunkers under Gaza, safe, and letting the poor Palestinians take the assault. Then mantra of 72% in a democratic election wears very thin. And I would like you to explain why the expansionist Zionists gave Egypt all of Suez and Sinai as part of a peace treaty (and thought Egypt was also reclaiming Gaza); Egypt did not want Gaza, were glad to be rid of it.

The answer to succinctness I now discover is to just keep typing…

Comment from baruch
Time January 7, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Not quite fourth in this list, John

Comment from John
Time January 8, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Thanks Baruch. I didn’t find the global firepower site helpful at all. As it says it is hardly scientifc, but a bit of fun.

For example Australia is ranked above Israel but we don’t have nuclear weapons.

But you did get me thinking. It has been a mantra of mine about the 4th most pwoerful military, and I wonder where that came from. I read it often in left wing literature (from memory) so I’ll chase up some more authoritative souces to just verify or rebut my assertions.

Comment from baruch
Time January 8, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Who better than Yahoo ?
Which of course has a list of estimates of Nukes which includes Israel who may or may not have, but not yet Iran. When Israel left Gaza in 2005 the other border was with Egypt; it now seems to be with Iran.

CIA have interesting lists of male and female AVAILABLE for military service. Hmmmm.

Comment from John
Time January 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm


You and the Israeli Government must be the only people who stick to the nonsense of neither confirming or denying Israel has nuclear weapons. The evidence is onverwhelming, and Zionist logic mandates Israel have them for offensive and defensive purposes.

Comment from baruch
Time January 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

Another view of your democracy.
Not sure where your expertise on “Zionist logic” comes from? Most think that we are in a post-Zionist age.

Comment from John
Time January 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Thanks Baruch. I am a commentator, so that of necessity makes me a generalist not an expert. As a friend put it I am a pamphleteer. Nothing wrong with that. I can make intelligent comments on a range of isssues. (Well, I think they are intelligent, sometimes.) This is partly based on 35 years of reading and socialist, union and social activism. Otherwise if we leave it to the experts, ordinary citizens are denied participation in the debates and discussion of issues of importance to, and impact on. them.

About the only thing I can claim expertise in is some aspects of tax, having been in my past life an Assistant Commissioner of Taxation in the Australian Tax Office. But really my expertise was more about marshalling the experts in my areas of responsibility. My tax technical days are well behind me.

I’ll read this new link but let me get in first. As the Israeli state kills more Palestinians, (my guess is it will soon be 1000), as it continues its settlements on stolen land, as it continues the war on Gaza through a blockade that is an act of war and invasion, as it denies the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland,as it continues to disciminate against Israeli Palestinians, as it, in Begin’s words, regards Palestinians as two legged animals, it seems to me to talk of post-Zionism is intellectual sophistry to try to hide the brutal reality that is Zionism.

Comment from John
Time January 9, 2009 at 8:55 pm


Just spent 20 minutes thinking about and typing a reply to the Sultan’s article. Then the internet cafe computer logged me out.

Hamas’s takeover of Gaza was a response to Fatah’s attempt at a coup in Gaza and the West Bank.

Lack of medicines, clean water and raw sewage going into the sea are a consequence of Israel’s criminal blockade.

Rockets and suicide bombers are a futile stratgey. Hamas, or revolutionary working class oriented Palestinian groups, (when they exist), should link with the Arab masses in neighbouring states to overthrow the mainly US backed dictatorships. The road to Jerusalem runs through Cairo. That could lead to a democratic and secular Palestine for all who want to live there.

See the latest post on this site – Oppose Israeli Terror: Support the Palestinians. Written by the editor of Socialist Alternative, Corey Oakley.

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