Australian anti-Semitism

… Israeli assassins…

Antisemitism.  Perhaps no word or phrase carries such a heavy or ominous tone as this.  Well, maybe the “N-word” when used out-of-place (“in” place seems to be so many rap videos).  If you are labeled an anti-Semite, you can see your job disappear; your friends abandon you and have a crown of disdain placed around your head.  Knowing the weight that a charge of anti-Semitism carries, I decided to use it as the title plot of this post.  The reason is because I’ve heard some use it to describe anyone who says almost anything critical about Israel.  The funny thing is, there is plenty of criticism of Israel – you’ll just never hear it in the United States.  And so, as I travel around the world and see fair and balanced reports of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute I can’t help but think how so many Americans would label these reports as anti-Semitic in nature.  I heard a scholar on the subject recently jest, “The whole world is anti-Semitic in America’s eyes.”

And so, is this not why we travel, to find out more about the world around us?  It is one of the primary reasons why I travel and as I see differences around the world I write about them – this is the point of this blog, to point out (to friends and family in the States) how the world is different from our world within the borders of the 50 States and Territories.  As I travel around the world I can’t help but notice the difference in the news coverage inside and outside the United States.  I was watching TV in Perth and I saw a documentary that was coming on and decided to give it a watch; it sounded very intriguing and was named Passports to Kill.

… the victim…

The documentary covered the murder in Dubai of a Hamas official.  This leader was a member of the legitimately elected government of Gaza and was labeled a terrorist by the Israelis.  Admittedly, he did kill Israeli soldiers, but if we applied the heavy label of terrorist to everyone who kills (whether civilian or military) we would have to brand the Israeli Defense Forces as terrorists as well as they have surely killed a fair number of Palestinian civilians.  The Israeli version of the CIA called the Mossad flew in to Dubai, stalked this man and then murdered him in his hotel room.

… female Mossad Assassin…

A few things stand out about this killing that I’ve already debated with some friends and family.  I’ve heard a few say that Israel was justified in killing him because he was a terrorist.  I’ve heard it been said that the killing was justified.  If it was justified, why did the assassins hide under assumed names, try to hide the crime and then flee once the deed was done.  If it was a legitimate wartime hit they should have been able to do it in the wide open.  But it was not legal.  It was done covertly because it was an illegal act.  No different from the illegal bombings in Israel that the world labels as evil, illegal and immoral acts.  Israel often complains that Hamas “cheats” in that it doesn’t follow the “rules of war,” but isn’t this a violation of the rules of war?  There is a double standard that is applied to the rules of conflict in Palestine.

Another disturbing aspect of this murder is the way that the Israeli Mossad gained access to Dubai; they posed as western tourists.  Using faked American, British, Australian, German and other nationality’s passports they entered a foreign country and committed murder.  As Americans we should find this offensive that someone committed a capital crime while disguised as an American (or western) tourist.  What does that do to every subsequent western tourist who travels around the globe?  It subjects us to additional scrutiny and suspicion.  I’m always told that Israel is America’s ally but no one can tell me what benefit we are getting from our relationship with them.  What is most disturbing about this assassination – from an American point of view – is that it was barely covered in the United States.  England was so upset that the Mossad used British passports that they expelled an Israeli diplomat.  Interpol is investigating this assassination as the murderers used EU passports.  So far as I can tell neither the CIA nor the FBI has begun an investigation.  Do our security agencies only investigate crimes from some nationalities and ignore those from others?  That smacks of prejudice.

Of course the Israeli government denies the assassination but the investigative journalist who presented the story began contacting the people who’s passports were copied for the forgeries – each was living in Israel (one was German one was American) and no doubt had their passport scanned and copied when they received their Israeli visas.  The reporter contacted two of the two dozen or so passport theft victims and by the time she had called the third, the Israeli government disconnected their phones and then removed their names from the directory assistance computer.  Wow, that seems like a drastic action to take if the Israeli government is indeed innocent.

Unlike the American media that only interviews the victims of Palestinian violence, this reporter interviewed not only Israeli Mossad and Hamas officials but also the parents of the slain Hamas leader.

The reporter went to the room where the man was murdered and explained how the Israeli assassins entered illegally, took rooms adjacent to their victim, went into his room, drugged him and then smothered him with a pillow.  They quickly fled the country and scattered across the globe.  This documentary showed their faces and copies of their illegal passports that were scanned at Dubai customs.

It wasn’t just this documentary where I saw the difference between Australian and American reporting.  While most Americans believe the Gaza blockade to be justified, it is reported as an illegal act in most countries.  I watched a story on the national news about a renowned European composer who traveled to Gaza City with his orchestra to put on a concert for the besieged Palestinian residents.  The reporter commented how the composer was an outspoken critic of Israel and its illegal policies in Gaza.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard Israel’s actions described as “illegal” on American television.

It is quite different to see news that covers both sides this issue.

Update 08 June 2011:

I’m sure that some of my friends, colleagues and family will say, “So what,” in regards to whether or not America is or isn’t very popular in the Middle East.  I just saw this photo in Western Australia, it should speak volumes as to how we are viewed around the world.


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Yucatan deals

You know that something is different when you see Army soldiers in the airport.  Post 9/11 everything changed – what started as National Guard soldiers would eventually lead to the dreaded (and incompetent) TSA.  Ah, the old days when family could come to the gate and checking took 10 minutes…

My reason for this post is more of an “educational” post directed at so many of my American friends and family who think that an “affordable” holiday means not leaving their state and staying close to home.  I’ve been on a few trips to the Yucatan Peninsula and am always astounded at how inexpensive the trips are.  On this particular trip I paid less than five hundred dollars for round trip airfare, transfers from the airport to the hotel, a beach front hotel with a very nice room, all 3 meals included and all drinks as well.  Yes, I did say drinks included; you plop down at the pool or on a chase lounge at the beach and the cabana boy/girl keeps bringing you drinks until you can’t stand up.  How these hotels can make a profit is beyond me.  And the food was not bad at all; you had your selection between two restaurants (on left and right side of the pool in photo below).  One was buffet style and the other was order by menu.

I also picked up a 4 day, 3 night trip to Cozumel for $350 that included airfare (from Dallas-Ft. Worth airport in Texas), transfers, meals and drinks.  That particular vacation was over Christmas and I have found that trips to Mexico and the Caribbean are particularly inexpensive during the Christmas holidays.  I’m all for traveling during “low season” and this often means traveling to other countries during American holidays.  I’ve posted a bit about it in the Lessons I’ve learned.

In the photo above, you can see the hotel pool and the beach in the background.  The hotel grounds were stunning in their beauty; beautiful peacocks roamed neatly groomed gardens and lawns, pelicans snacked on shellfish in the marina and the white sand beaches of Cancun made for baby-blue water near the shore and the darker azure blue at the deeper water.  The staff was quite pleasant and the trip was one of the nicer that I’ve had.

The beach has additional activities like kayaking, water skiing and beach volleyball.  Even in wintertime, Cancun is far enough south that you can swim comfortably and the air temperature is mild and balmy.  There were occasional cloud patches but not a big sacrifice considering that you don’t swelter under the summer sun.

If you decide to come to Cancun or any other destination in Mexico, I highly recommend taking one of the “all-inclusive” packages that include food, drinks, hotel and airfare – you really can’t beat the price and service.

On this particular trip, I met a Swiss man who was on a 2 year RTW (Round the World) trip.  He was a bank employee at UBS when the company announced layoff plans following the post-9/11 financial crisis.  The company offered severance packages to anyone who wanted to “voluntarily” separate.  He negotiated a 2 year severance package, packed his bags and hit the road.  This is one of many travel strategies you can use to find the time and $ to travel.  I often use MLT Worry Free Vacations book trips heading “south.”  They are but one company of many who specialize in last minute and all-inclusive trips.


Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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