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Spain to EU: End Gaza blockade June 13, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, Gaza, Spain.
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// // Spain to EU: End Gaza blockade

European Union pressures Israel to lift blockade on Gaza.

//

European leaders urged Israel over the weekend to lift its blockade of Gaza, as they drafted plans to revive and expand the European Union’s role in monitoring goods heading into the area.

On Monday, the EU Foreign Affairs Council plans to debate the matter.

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Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said at a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday that his country wants to “forge a strong common position” with EU countries in the face of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Zapatero said that at Monday’s Council meeting, Spain’s foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, would propose that the EU deploy “all its political and diplomatic capability” to end the Gaza blockade.

On Friday, the foreign ministers from France, Italy and Spain wrote an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune in which they joined in the call. They were careful to insist that captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, held by Hamas in Gaza since June 2006, be released.

The ministers also acknowledged Israel’s security concerns: “Lifting the blockade,” they said, “must not go hand-in-hand with a resurgence in arms trafficking and an influx of terrorist groups in Gaza.”

The quantity and variety of goods entering Gaza must increase, they said, offering as one possibility a proposal by Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair. Blair has “suggested a shift from a logic of denial of supplies to Gaza, with some exceptions, to a logic based on general authorization, with the exception of banned products.”

“Why not adopt this idea?” they asked. “To guarantee full security of supplies, we propose that inspections supported and funded by the European Union should be put in place [at land crossings] in conditions acceptable by all in order to ensure that consignments bound for Gaza contain neither weapons nor explosives,” they said.

“A similar regime could in addition be applied to [sea-bound] consignments bound for Gaza, for example by deploying EU monitoring teams in Cyprus. These various arrangements would be implemented only against a backdrop of very substantial relaxation of the restrictions on imports and exports to and from Gaza,” they said.

The ministers added that they wanted to expand the role of the European Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM), which has been stationed in Ashkelon since the 2007 Hamas coup in Gaza that made it impossible for Fatah to monitor the Rafah crossing, which links Egypt with Gaza.

They said they wanted to see EUBAM return to Rafah. Diplomatic sources have told The Jerusalem Post that the EU is also considering placing EUBAM at two of the three land crossings linking Israel and Gaza: Karni and Kerem Shalom.

But they did not address many of the technical problems inherent in opening a sea route to Gaza or in fully opening the land crossings – such as the fact that Gaza’s port is not large enough to accommodate cargo ships. In addition, the agreement under which EUBAM operates is between Fatah and Israel and involves the placement of Fatah on the Palestinian side of the crossings. Hamas is not interested in having Fatah at the crossings.

Since the Gaza coup, in an attempt to economically cripple Hamas, Israel has closed the land crossings to all but humanitarian goods. Recently it has relaxed some of those restrictions and, in particular, allowed in building material for 12 projects.

On Friday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Blair in Jerusalem to drum up support for Israel’s right to continue its naval blockade of Gaza by which it searches and halts ships heading there so as to prevent weapons from flowing into that area by sea.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu told Blair that goods could enter Gaza by other means.

Israel has said it could show flexibility with respect to the quantity and variety of goods heading into Gaza by land. It has, however, insisted it does not intend to allow a full revival of the Gaza economy, because such a move would only strengthen Hamas.

June 8, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Gaza, Human rights abuses, Israel, Turkey.
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Turkey announced Thursday that it was suspending all its joint government projects with Israel in the infrastructure and energy field, the country’s energy minister said.

The decision was taken in response to the Gaza flotilla incident, he said.

“At times where we are focused on humanitarian aspects… we cannot talk about commercial and economic matters,” the minister said.

The projects suspended include a water initiative that was to see Israel receive water from Turkey, as well as a natural gas pipeline to Israel. However, the boycott does not include transactions involving non-governmental companies, the minister said.

The Turkish response is also expected to affect security and defense cooperation between the countries on the economic front.

“Officials at our defense industries and in the Defense Ministry already realize that in the near future there will be no significant contracts with the Turkish Defense Ministry,” a defense official told Calcalist earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Turkish finance minister on Thursday said he was not worried about Turkey’s economy being harmed by the deteriorated relations with Israel.

“I don’t think that we would see a major impact from the Israeli incident,” Mehmet Simsek said in a press conference following a convention on global recession and it effects on the Turkish economy.

“We will be receiving maybe twice as many as tourists from the Middle Eastern countries than we expect to receive from Israel. Besides, Israel’s share in Turkey’s economy is minimal – around one percent – as for in tourism, bilateral trade or in foreign direct investments,” he said.

“Relations between Turkey and Israel would never be the same again. Israel will have to face the consequences of its actions,” he added.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speech June 8, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Gaza, Israel, Turkey.
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Today I do not only want to speak to my dear people but to all of humanity.

I want to call to the conscience and hearts and minds of the whole of humanity, I would like to share courageously my feelings.

Yesterday, in the darkest moment of the night two bloody attacks occurred.

The first of them was the terrorist attack against our military troop at the Iskenderun Naval Base. In this malicious, vicious attack six of our soldiers died, and they have become martyrs. Seven of our soldiers have been injured.

The second, at dawn in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the heart of humanity has taken one of her heaviest wounds in history. The aid ships, from the humanitarian heart, these flowing aid ships have been hindered with guns, by violence, despotism.

They, who with mercy, compassion and humaneness, loaded onto these ships, they could not reach their place of destination, they were wreaked in carnage.

Yesterday, beginning in the morning hours, armed elements of the Israeli Army stopped humanitarian aid being brought to the Gazan people, from more than 32 countries, with 600 people inside carried by the Free Gaza Flotilla, in international waters, in an absolutely illegal way did they attack, spilling the blood of innocent humans.

At this violent attack, resulting in casualties and persons being wounded, the humanitarian aid ships were seized and sequestered. This inhuman attack against those women, young people, religious functionaries that the ship was carrying, I do one more time strongly, severely condemn.

I have declared in Chile. Here I do stress it one more time. The bloody massacre of Israel, brought against the ships bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza is a massacre deserving of any kind of curse and condemnation. This is openly an attack against international law, against the heart of humanity, against world peace, I say against the heart of humanity, for, on those ships were people from all nations, all religions. People alone and they only were bringing humanitarian aid to those under blockade, embargo, to the people in Gaza. The ships, before they left openly declared to the entire world their cargo, their intention, their mission. As witness to this openly humanitarian aid from the world and our country 60 journalists have entered the ships as well. In international waters, in open sea, this armed attack against 600 people and 6 ships which were carrying aid to oppressed people, poor people, to starved people, to people whose homes were destroyed – this was openly an attack against the basic philosophy of the United Nations.

The ships which set sail, be it from Turkey be it from other countries, were completely stocked to carry out the humanitarian purpose, having aid material. They were, according to international traffic rules, strictly controlled. At the same time on the ships were no other passengers than civilians and aid volunteers. The ships were flying white flags. Despite all those conditions the ships were subject to an armed attack.

As you know we were during that time on our Latin America program. Due to this abhorrent terrorist attack which occurred in Hatay and Israel’s illegal attack against aid ships, we had to cut our work sort in Chile and return to our country. From the very first moment we had been watching the events closely. We have taken the necessary steps, together with our friends in Turkey. Yesterday morning at 6:30, deputy Bülent Arınç, together with related ministers and administration representatives, organised an evaluation meeting in which we have considered the issue in all its dimensions. Our Foreign Ministry, our intelligence units, related establishments and armed forces have been monitoring the issue very closely.

Our Minister of Foreign Affairs and our Minister of Defense, talking on the phone with Israel’s Minister of Defense, forcefully put forth our reaction and sensitivities. And I, together with my ministers, evaluating the events during the entire night, have been continuously in contact with Turkey. On the other hand I have established contacts with the international community and for now this process continues. In this framework, I have put on the table everything necessary to do in all the dimensions of this situation. I urgently I did the steps necessary. The Republic of Turkey is using all possibilities, every chance made available by international law and diplomacy. And Turkey will keep using it. In this framework, Turkey’s ambassador to Tel Aviv has been called back. Three joint military operations which were on the agenda have been cancelled. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs went to New York and The UN Security Council has been called for an urgent meeting and it was ensured that there would be an urgent, extraordinary meeting. The UN Security Council has made a statement condemning Israel. It has been pointed out in the statement the need to open an investigation, to set free immediately the civilians and the injured. The matches of our youth football team have been cancelled. NATO’s Council has been called for an extraordinary meeting. Furthermore, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Arab League, European Union and all related establishments have been contacted, international institutions have been called to duty. The Organisation of Islamic Conference will hold a meeting on Monday.

Primarily, the safety and security of the convoy and our citizens in the convoy has to be ensured. Necessities to ensure the treatment of the injured are being taken care of. Israel has said: “Let us send the injured to you.” We have replied that we have the will and power to take our injured ourselves, and we have refused this offer. Two military ambulance aircrafts have taken off to bring our injured back. And now, they shall be taking our injured, and then returning to this destination. With civil aircraft the Ministry of Health is about to arrive there. To the Israeli Ambassador, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, a call was made to demand the immediate return of the citizens of the Turkish Republic, and setting the captured ships free.

Further, all efforts to attend to the treatment of the injured, bringing them to Turkey, have been made and in our country all measures have been taken. Israel, hindering the international community’s access to information from the first moment of the incident, now must inform the world public opinion in a truthful way, and must not refrain from international cooperation. Israel must understand the seriousness of the situation and must stop committing actions such as this that are wrong. Israel’s attitude at this stage is being watched by the world’s people, the public opinion is forming its views. Those who are affiliated with the effort are in touch and are coordinating with the countries whose citizens are in the flotilla.

The ships fly the flags of Turkey, Greece and the Comore Islands, there are people from 32 countries involved. I expect those countries, too, to show the necessary reaction and sensitivity. Thus I once again express that Israel must immediately lift the inhuman embargo against Gaza. [15 seconds applause]. Israel must not hinder that the humanitarian aid reaches its destination.

Dear comrades, as you know, we are working together with Spain on the Alliance of Civilisations’ project. Our goal and mission is to reinforce the conviction that different religions, different civilisations and cultures can live in peace and tolerance together. It is a struggle so that instead of hatred and animosity, love will dominate.

Regrettably I must say, the incidents which occurred yesterday, in terms of humanity’s collective civilisation and culture have been a black mark. In terms of history of humanity this has been recorded as a major shame. Attacking humanitarian aid ships with arms, to massacre innocent people, treating civilians as terrorists is in terms of humanity a great defeat. A despicably cowardly and vicious act of presumption that is recklessness and dauntless. [20 seconds applause].

We know, war as well as peace has its laws. In war you do not attack children, in war you do not attack women, old people, in war you do not attack civilians or religious functionaries, in war you do not attack those who are hoisting the white flag, health and rescue personnel; not in wartime, but in peace time, those who do these things not only violate the law, at the same time they trample humanity under their feet, they abandon humanity.

Despots, gangsters even pirates have specific sensitiveness, follow some specific morals. Those who do not follow any morality or ethics, those who do not act with any sensitivity, to call them such names would even be a compliment to them. Israel has, by attacking a ship with volunteers from 32 countries, in fact defied the world. World peace has been deeply wounded. This brazen, irresponsible, reckless government that recognises no law and tramples on any kind of humanitarian virtue, this attack of the Israeli government by all means – but by all means, must be punished.

A government, having made lying its state policy and does not blush on account of the crime it commits, instead of expecting them to open an investigation, the international community must investigate this incident in all its dimensions and must give the legal response.

The State of Turkey won’t be satisfied only by watching this. Turkey is not an adolescent, rootless state. It is in no way a tribal State! No one should attempt to play around with this nation, to test the patience of Turkey. As precious as Turkey’s partnership is, so harsh will be her hostility.

Losing Turkey’s friendship and partnership is a price itself to pay. We have always been in a historical friendship and collaboration with the Israeli and Jewish people. I do so believe, those Israeli people who watched this bloody attack in tears, who strongly criticise it, do understand very well that this incident does not befit human dignity, is a great mistake, how a heavy hit strike it has been to the friendship of both countries.

The issue is not a matter between Turkey and Israel. The issue is Israel’s present lawlessness, and  recognising the present government’s inhuman practices, using violence, spilling blood, showing approaches that threaten peace.

Turkey has always been, in the Middle East, on the side of peace. She has contributed to regional stability and security.  In the recent past, for Israel’s relations with Palestine, Syria and Lebanon to be normalized, the country contributing was also Turkey. Israel now is showing attitudes, taking the most important peace defender in the region, and opposing her.  Israel from now on, must give up the carelessness it shows in explaing the injustice being practised with their justifications about security, criticism that they call anti-semitism.

There is an understanding where violence is its policy, Israel sees that it is licit for itself to oppress, tyrannize, maltreat and she does not hesitate to shed blood. There is no longer any way for the illegal actions of Israel to be covered, to be misinterpreted intentionally, to be ignored. The time has come for the International community to say: STOP!

It is Israel who does not recognise over 100 UN Security Council resolutions against her. So, the United Nations cannot be content with the condemnation decision it has taken last night.

I just talked to the General Secretary of the United Nations. He is also coming to New York. And this evening at 8 o’clock Mr. Obama said he would, I will also talk to him. I declare here that I will share precisely these issues with them.

Israel’s aggressive manner doubtlessly takes its source from the power they get from elsewhere. At this point, as Turkey our precision is obvious. And I talked yesterday from Chile with one of United Nations Security Council permanent members, Mrs. Merkel. I spoke with others today. I talked to England’s new Prime Minister, he called as well, I am also going to talk to him, I called him earlier and we talked, today we will discuss this again. And with the others we will also talk.

We cannot  leave Israel, with what they have done, alone. We cannot say to the Israeli government, all you do will go to your advantage. Everything has a price. And this government will have to pay for this.

For this kind of comprehension that does not show respect for human life, that they find it impossible to esteem any right and law, we cannot have a peaceful attitude, my comrades.

It is impossible to support a comprehension that does not esteem and respect the human and human rights.

A State considering the security of its own people cannot achieve this by obtaining the hate and hostility of the whole world with their actions.

An administration that does not esteem others as humans except its own people cannot have a concern called peace.

Israel has been destroying her defense shields one by one, losing one by one her alliance points, isolating herself. The Israeli administration, generating grudges and hatred in the Middle East, is setting dynamite off in regional peace, as an instability is spreading, Pandora’s Box comes out like iodine.

The international community must immediately take action.

I also want to call to the Israeli people from here. We have always been against anti-semitism. We have raised our voice against the injustice against the Jewish people. We have contributed so that the Israeli people can live in peace and security in the Middle East. Now, as the Israeli people it is your turn to show the same sensitive attitude, the same humane attitude, to say, “Stop these cruelties being done.”

The policy of violence shown by the coalition of the government, violating any kind of right and law, is totally putting Israel’s interests aside. Is clearly putting your peace and security at risk. Due to the aggressive attitude of your government, the State of Israel assumes a piracy position, engaging in banditry.

Those reckless administrators, thinking that they, with lies, deceit, shedding blood, aggressiveness, piracy, using state terrorism, the massacre of innocent people do govern a State. But those reckless politicians primarily do evil to Israel and the Israeli people.

Before all else you must say stop to this situation. By the way, I thank the Turkish Jewish Community, putting in words their right and sincere reaction to the event. Our Jewish citizens have, as members of the Turkish people, defended, and continue to defend the right position of Turkey to the utmost.

Looking with hatred upon our Jewish citizens or being in any other different manner by anyone is not acceptable, it cannot be and should never be.

Dear brothers, sisters, today is a new day. Today is a new beginning, a birth. Nothing will be like before, this is clearly apparent. An aggressive State which openly murders, massacres, cannot explain itself to humanity without regretting, without being held to account for it, cannot stand in the face of the international community.

Those ships were all ships of mercy. And their cargo was the heart of humanity.

Seventy-two miles far from their own waters, entirely in open sea and international waters, Israel carried out an operation on a ship, a civil ship, not a military ship, one is not allowed even do this at all. To make an operation on a civil ship, even the capture of the passengers is itself a crime. Attacking innocent people with arms, to shed blood, and to massacre is clearly state terrorism. They deny, they say that they were shot at. We are sick of your lies, we are sick. Be honest, honest, be honest.

The captured ships, together with the staff and volunteers immediately must be released. With the volunteers (activists) and Members of the European Parliament, 60 journalists, with his mother on board, the one-year-old infant Kaan, who was released, on the ships, no one has the right to show those ships as if they had any other intention, purpose, mission than to deliver humanitarian aid. This attack has one more time clearly proved the inhuman oppression and cruelty Israel for years has been using regarding Palestine and Gaza.

I have said it once before. The Israeli administrators — whom we told to their faces how well they know how to murder — have once more shown the world how good they indeed are in massacre. A comprehension: handcuffing even heavily wounded innocent people they have shot at. Hey! Can there be an explanation for this? Lying on the stretcher, wounded, you even handcuff him! Can that be explained with human rights, with universal values? It is no longer possible to tell the world how much those were shown humanity.

All people of the Earth condemn this clear cruelty, I know this. But it is not enough anymore to only condemn, we have to obtain results.

All people on earth who want justice on earth, one day not power but justice will dominate, you should know that, I want this.

Turkey will use all opportunities that international law allows. At this course we will move together with the international community. I want all humanity to attract attention to this issue. With her blood-shedding policy Israel cannot legitimate this illegal, this bloody murder with any excuse, she cannot explain it.

Israel, with no excuse, no reason can wash the blood on her hands. The issue, case created by the bloody attack in the Mediterranean Sea, is not the problem between two countries but the problem of the entire world. I believe that no country considering humane values and virtues, no international institution will just watch a murder of these dimensions.

From now on, whoever shuts their eyes to the bloody attacks of Israel, whoever ignores them, should know, they are accomplices of these murders. It has been understood that the matter is not a matter of defending against terrorism, that the matter is not struggle against terrorism, but that the matter is an effort of a massacre towards a city, towards all people of a city, in order to completely exterminate them, has one more time been proven with this last incident that occurred.

You throw bombs on these people, you try phosphorous bombs on these people, you bomb hospitals, you bomb mosques, you attack schools, you bomb playgrounds, you even aim at the UN Office, as if this illegality was not enough, you also cut off all kinds of needs of those people.

And after all of this, you won’t withhold the aid volunteers who try to deliver to these people medicine, food, construction materials, to feel your inhuman savagery.

Anyone, everyone can condone, tolerate this illegality. I openly say, stressing it, insidiously can support it, but Israel should not make the mistake of comparing Turkey with others. Such a mistake will have a very high price.

Israel, who shot a bullet on innocence and mercy, has chosen with this murder in the open sea, solitariness against the whole world. Has chosen to be isolated.

I say it one more time. If everyone keeps silent, if all shut their eyes, if all turn their backs; we, as Turkey, we won’t turn our back to Palestine, to the Palestinian people, to Gaza. We won’t shut our eyes! We won’t cease crying for Palestine!!!

My dear brothers and sisters, our nation has to be firm. Our people must have dignity worthy of Turkey. We will take it into our hearts. The wounds of our wounded we will all together heal.

We are aware with satisfaction that all around in Turkey our people with a great sensitiveness are watching the issue closely, they are showing their democratic reactions lawfully.

To say it, this is appropriate for our people. I believe that all our citizens will keep their steadfastness, and move in dignity and common sense. Everyone should know and be sure, the love and friendship ships flowing down from the heart of humanity will pass one day all hindrance, barricades and reach their destination. To those who stand behind this inhuman, this inhuman and illegal operation:

  • As much as you stand behind illegality, we stand behind laws.
  • As much as you stand behind this bloody operation, this aggressiveness, this terror, just as much do we stand behind justice.
  • As much as you stand against civilians, against the oppressed in Gaza, Palestine; just as much we stand next to and behind civilians, innocent people, the Palestinian people, the people in Gaza.

We have been honoured to have this status through history. We are proud of it, and also, from now on, we will continue to act and move with the mission our history, our civilisation and our state tradition has given us.

We’ve been here before … but Israel has failed to learn lessons of history June 7, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Spain.
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The Israeli attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla was an act of lethal stupidity. Lethal for its victims, stupid for Israel. It might be well, therefore, to remind the Jewish people of their own history.

Two years after World War II, a rustbucket American steamship renamed Exodus 1947 sailed from France with 4515 Jews on board. Most were Holocaust survivors, bound for a new life in the Promised Land, then the British Mandate of Palestine.

The British refused to accept them as immigrants and stopped the ship off the Palestine coast. Three people were killed when the Royal Navy boarded it by force and sailed it to the port of Haifa. The Exodus 1947 Jews were eventually sent back to occupied Germany, of all places.

// This was a priceless propaganda coup in the fight for an independent Jewish homeland. There was a tremendous international outcry. The novel Exodus, by Leon Uris, a bestseller based on the story of the ship, and the 1960 Hollywood film of the same name, starring Paul Newman, cemented the idea of Israel in the Western political and cultural imperative.

Some of this ought to have occurred to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, when he ordered the commando assault on the Gaza flotilla. Evidently not. Beneath that silvery, Harvard-educated veneer there lies an unprincipled thug addicted to the use of Israeli military might and impervious to world opinion.

Endlessly repeating the errors of history, Israel now engages in a savage repression of the Palestinian people and their right to a homeland of their own. The policy platform of Netanyahu’s Likud party makes no bones about it.

”The government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River,” it reads. ”The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”

The blockade of Gaza is a human catastrophe. It has created a ghetto of despair for 1.5 million people. Just this week the International Committee of the Red Cross reported again that: “Gazans continue to suffer the effects of siege-induced poverty and warfare.

“The closure imposed on Gaza three years ago and the effects of Israel’s military operation in the Strip in January 2009 are crippling the entire economy. Humanitarian aid alone cannot address the massive needs in Gaza, where civilians are paying the price of the blockade and ongoing hostilities.”

Writing in The New York Times on Wednesday, the Israeli novelist Amos Oz stated the bleedin’ obvious, that no idea has ever been defeated by force. Israelis should understand this better than any people on the planet but, tragically, they do not.

AT LONG last there are encouraging signs that the state government is getting its act together. The exciting new policy of showering favours and buckets of money on multi-millionaire horse breeders in the Hunter Valley is a great leap forward and a surefire election winner.

As the Herald reported last week, the government is believed to be offering as much as $160 million – plus another $50 million in loans – to fund a shotgun marriage for Sydney’s two race clubs, the Australian Jockey Club and the Sydney Turf Club.

This will be music to the ears of the stud owners and their media friends who, as everyone knows, have been battling along on the smell of an oily rag for years, never sure where their next million is coming from. And that’s not all. There’s been the recent $2 million upgrade for the airport at Scone, and the decision to block plans for an open-cut coalmine in the valley, helpfully announced on the day of the Scone Cup last month.

And it doesn’t stop with horseracing. We’ve also had the wonderful news of $45 million of taxpayers’ money to be pumped into the V8 Supercar race at Homebush Bay over the next five years, $10 million more than was originally set aside for this globally admired project.

Of course there will be the narks and whingers. We will hear endless complaints from the do-gooders – people caring for the disabled or the mentally ill, mothers working two jobs to afford childcare, single parents in rundown public housing, elderly folk waiting years for hip replacement surgery, and so on.

This special pleading should be ignored. For too long Labor governments have been obsessed with supporting grassroots battlers. It’s high time the rich and powerful were properly looked after.

This new direction appears to be a joint effort by Kristina Keneally and her Minister for Lunching, Ian Macdonald. They are worth every airline upgrade they are offered, and more.

What the bloody hell were they thinking?

The new commercial that Tourism Australia released this week is terrific, a marketing triumph. If you were flogging margarine or pizza or laundry detergent, that is. Or if you were trying to con the punters into believing, say, that some rapacious bank is actually all warm and cuddly.

As an ad to sell Australia around the globe it’s crap. There’s no other way of putting it. It’s hokey, it’s dumb, it’s a toe-curling embarrassment. Worse even than that Lara Bingle “where the bloody hell are ya?” clunker.

Take the slogan, for a start: there’s nothing like Australia. Gosh, I wonder how many thoughtful hours went into that stunning concept, how many fine minds tossed it around, ran it up flagpoles, etc. Imagine the litres of coffee drunk, the ferment of creative endeavour and argument around the agency boardroom table long into the night.

How vacuous can you get? There’s nothing like South Yemen, either, but that’s hardly an enticing reason for buying a ticket and leaping on a plane.

Then there’s the plonking da-de-da jingle. It reminds me of something we used to sing at primary school, a ditty about a little red fire engine, if I remember correctly. And why on earth did they get it sung by people who can’t sing?