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Weekend reflections

January 27th, 2006

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. January 27th, 2006 at 22:46 | #1

    Not that I follow Palestinian politics, but I am not surprised at Hamas clear victory in the parliamentary elections, as the BBC reports, with 76 seats of the 132 seats. The escalation of conflict, in spite of the asymmetrical nature of military capability with Israeli predominance, and the recourse to indiscriminate suicide bombing by the Palestinians, has I suspect, not so much hardened attitudes but squeezed out the expression of moderate opinions on both sides. After all, this almost always happens. For example, Bertrand Russell was, I think, very brave to oppose his government’s war against Germany, and go to jail.

    I wish that Australia had followed a more middle course seeking the resolution of conflict and the murder of innocent people, whether they be Palestinians or Israelis. I do not know why Australia adopts this position, other than to form an identity with American policy. Otherwise, we might perform the role of an honest broker with peace, justice and humanity as our objectives.

    It seems to me the policy challenge for the US, begins with the policy makers themselves, who appear to ignore history and the grievances of the Palestinian people, and for that matter the grievances of the Israeli people, as distinct from the unilateralist and belligerent stance of the Israeli Government. I would expect “double standards” from the Americans.

    Sure Israel is a democracy, but so now is Palestine, at least in that sense defined by the holding of parliamentary elections. They are both arguing over the same ground, without recognizing each others claims. I suspect unless the Palestinian historically based experience of dispossession is not addressed, and while Israel continues to claim entitlement as an apartheid state based on religion, the conflict will continue, regardless of the expected continuation of the Israeli predominance of military force.

    Not withstanding, Juan Cole’s more informed outstanding of the developments, he concludes that ” a fatal paralysis will continue to afflict the region”, in part because of the lack of clear-sightedness of American policy.

    We might yet, be a more valuable member of the international community, if we were to exercise an independent foreign policy in relation to those issues in which we clearly could do so.

    I appreciate this topic was covered on MMB, but my question is why is it that we seem to have a bi-partisan, as I understand it, pro-Israeli policy?

  2. January 28th, 2006 at 01:02 | #2

    Mistake:it should be: “. . . opposing the murder of innocent people. . .”

  3. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 07:53 | #3

    I’m not sure you can make the case that “Palestine” is now a democracy, simply based on the fact that they held an election. They’ve been holding them for years after all. I would say that sponsoring suicide bombing would eliminate one from having the desigination of “democracy” bestowed upon them.

    It is my hope that Hamas will take the welfare of the Palestinian people seriously, but I have my doubts that they will. They certainly never have before. If they renounce violence and recognize the right of Israel to exist, then there may be reason to deal with them. If they refuse to do either, they can “taste Israeli steel” as Clive Davis put it.

  4. Andrew
    January 28th, 2006 at 08:32 | #4

    I don’t think that sponsoring suicide bombing stops a country being a democracy. The idea that free voting in elections will produce peaceful prosperous states by itself, is more than little hopeful.

    OTOH Hamas is not the most illiberal government in the world or the most violent. The US is willing to work with a horrible gov’t like Uzbekistan’s so it should be able to hold its metaphoric nose and work with this one.

    As to “tasting Isreali steel”- that may have a satisfyingly bloodthirsty ring, but it hasn’t stopped the violence yet.

  5. Katz
    January 28th, 2006 at 08:40 | #5

    “I appreciate this topic was covered on MMB, but my question is why is it that we seem to have a bi-partisan, as I understand it, pro-Israeli policy?”

    Foreign policy is often domestic policy by other means.

    Both the Left and the Right in Australia have a conflicted attitude to Israel, to attitudes to Semites, and to Zionism. It is incredibly difficult to tease out and to isolate these issues from each other. And both Left and Right have their own reasons for wanting to continue to conflate them.

    The Right has traditionally been more anti-semitic than the Left. This has been inspired by a range of prejudices, from religious and doctrinal to Darwinian.

    The Left has traditionally been more anti-zionist than the Right. To them Israel looks like a neo-colonialist, white outpost imposed on a displaced indigenous population.

    Yet both Left and Right in Australia have largely supported the legitimacy of the declaration of the existence of the state of Israel in 1948 by the United Nations. The Left tend to be more wedded to the notion of the legitimacy of international law, as expressed in UN resolutions. The Right tends to be more sceptical of the status of the UN, but accepts pragmatically the beneficial consequences of the legitimation of a state by UN resolution.

    The Australian Right tend to excuse zionism as a legitimate expression of national and cultural identity of a people in peril. They also support this because that is the traditional US policy toward Israel.

    Most Australian leftists are embarrassed by the bloodthirsty rhetoric of Arab and Islamist rejectionists. The Left grapples with the problem of defining the limits of legitimate Israeli actions in support of their right to exist as a nation. They tend to think that Israel has gone too far, but there is disagreement within the Left as to exactly when the Israelis did this.

  6. conrad
    January 28th, 2006 at 08:42 | #6

    “It is my hope that Hamas will take the welfare of the Palestinian people seriously, but I have my doubts that they will. They certainly never have before.”

    That isn’t true at all. Do you think people voted for them because they bomb Israelis or do you think people voted for them because they provide education, housing, and medical services to people that couldn’t otherwise afford it ?

  7. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 09:09 | #7

    “I don’t think that sponsoring suicide bombing stops a country being a democracy. ”

    By definition democracies hold human rights in esteem. That would contradict sponsoring suicide bombing.

    “The idea that free voting in elections will produce peaceful prosperous states by itself, is more than little hopeful.”

    I agree.

    “As to “tasting Isreali steelâ€?- that may have a satisfyingly bloodthirsty ring, but it hasn’t stopped the violence yet.”

    It’s up to the Palestinians to stop their violence. The Israelis cannot do it for them. But the Israelis WILL respond to Palestinian violence. It’s not bloodthirsty, it’s just recognizing reality.

  8. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 09:13 | #8

    “That isn’t true at all. Do you think people voted for them because they bomb Israelis or do you think people voted for them because they provide education, housing, and medical services to people that couldn’t otherwise afford it ? ”

    Since I wouldn’t vote for people who sponsored suicide bombing under ANY circumstances, I really couldn’t say why anyone else would. Surely some Palestinians are in favor of continued violence against Israelis, polls show that to be so. I can’t say that I’ve noticed that Palestinians have good medical services, or live is adequate housing or are well educated.

  9. conrad
    January 28th, 2006 at 09:41 | #9

    “Since I wouldn’t vote for people who sponsored suicide bombing under ANY circumstances, I really couldn’t say why anyone else would. Surely some Palestinians are in favor of continued violence against Israelis, polls show that to be so.”

    I’m sure some are. Alternatively, if Palestinians voted mainly based on that, then all a political party would need to do to win an election there would be to incite even more violence and be even more hardline than Hamas. Thus, under your suggestion, the Taliban could regroup there and win the elections, which doesn’t seem likely to me.

  10. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 09:46 | #10

    “Alternatively, if Palestinians voted mainly based on that, then all a political party would need to do to win an election there would be to incite even more violence and be even more hardline than Hamas.”

    I don’t know that they did vote based mainly on Hamas capacity for violence. Although surely some likely did.

    “Thus, under your suggestion, the Taliban could regroup there and win the elections, which doesn’t seem likely to me.”

    I don’t recall polls in Afghanistan showing that a significant proportion of the Afghan population approves of violence directed at Israel or anyone else for that matter .

  11. Terje Petersen
    January 28th, 2006 at 09:50 | #11

    I don’t know why suicide attacks are seen as more awful than say missile attacks. Surely the issue is who gets hurt and why? The how is somewhat secondary in this instance.

    Would you vote for people who sponsored missile attacks?

  12. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 09:53 | #12

    “I don’t know why suicide attacks are seen as more awful than say missile attacks.”

    Hamas targets civilians. You won’t find democracies targeting civilians .

    “Surely the issue is who gets hurt and why?”

    The issue is actually more who gets targeted.

    “The how is somewhat secondary in this instance.”

    I don’t think so.

    “Would you vote for people who sponsored missile attacks?”

    Against Hamas? Sure would. Against Saddam? Yup. Against OBL, yes again.

  13. Ian Gould
    January 28th, 2006 at 10:06 | #13

    “You won’t find democracies targeting civilians .”

    No, but you will find one democracy that regularly and deliberately launches airstrikes on heavily populated areas knowing that they will inevitably cause civilian casualties.

    Virtually everyIsraeli over the age of 18 is a military reservist, if HAMAS claimed they were targetting reservists and that the other Israeli deaths were “collateral damage” would you accept that?

  14. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 10:42 | #14

    “No, but you will find one democracy that regularly and deliberately launches airstrikes on heavily populated areas knowing that they will inevitably cause civilian casualties.”

    The US does not target civilians. You’re welcome to continue to claim that it does, but that won’t change the fact that it doesn’t.

    “Virtually everyIsraeli over the age of 18 is a military reservist, if HAMAS claimed they were targetting reservists and that the other Israeli deaths were “collateral damageâ€? would you accept that?”

    Of course not. Strapping bombs on to people and having them board buses loaded with civilians is barbaric.

  15. Ian Gould
    January 28th, 2006 at 10:59 | #15

    >The US does not target civilians. You’re welcome to continue to claim that it does, but that won’t change the fact that it doesn’t.

    I was referring to Israel.

    But whiel we’re on the topic, what’ the difference between “targetting civilians” and targetting areas you know have large concentrations of civilians in them?

    I’m sure the families of the people killed in the recent airstriek will be very interested in your response.

    “Strapping bombs on to people and having them board buses loaded with civilians is barbaric.”

    Right, but firing an air-to-ground missile into a group of worshippers leaving a mosque is the epitome of civilised behaviour.

  16. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 11:09 | #16

    “I was referring to Israel.”

    Israel doesn’t target civilians either.

    “But whiel we’re on the topic, what’ the difference between “targetting civiliansâ€? and targetting areas you know have large concentrations of civilians in them?”

    who is being targeted

    “Right, but firing an air-to-ground missile into a group of worshippers leaving a mosque is the epitome of civilised behaviour. ”

    You appear to be unable to determine when civilians are being targeted and when they are not.

  17. Ian Gould
    January 28th, 2006 at 11:14 | #17

    So it’s alright to kill civiilians provided they aren’t being “targetted”?

    So you find the 9-11 attack on the Pentagon less objectionable than the attack on the WTC?

  18. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 11:20 | #18

    “So you find the 9-11 attack on the Pentagon less objectionable than the attack on the WTC?”

    What would make either one not objectionable?

    Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, you may not either target civilians or put them in harm’s way. If a Hamas terrorist is hiding among civilians, he’s violating the 4th GC.

  19. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 11:41 | #19

    “So it’s alright to kill civiilians provided they aren’t being “targettedâ€??”

    The 4th Geneva Convention recognizes that civilians die during war. The distinction it makes is are the civilians being targeted intentionally or not. If even the UN can recognize that it’s wrong to target civilians, no one else should have a problem with it eithr.

  20. Ian Gould
    January 28th, 2006 at 12:04 | #20

    >What would make either one not objectionable?

    By your reasoning, the Pentagon was a military target and any civilian deaths along the way were merely collateral damage.

  21. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 12:10 | #21

    “By your reasoning, the Pentagon was a military target”

    for whom?

  22. January 28th, 2006 at 12:15 | #22

    Dear John

    In my role as a student of peace and conflict, I stand a little to one side in this discussion about Hamas, but share the understanding as to how Hamas came to be. I do not share the apocalyptic vision of Shiite Islam and deplore the violence. No one seems to think that it is understandable that some will want to return fire when they are attacked by one of the world’s most modern armies (thanks to US military aid at US$2.5 billion a year).

    But surely, the one thing all these so called news journalists (not peace journalists) miss completely is the fact of the brutal Israeli occupation that has brought out the despair voters and the defiance voters from within the Palestinian community (that part of the Palestinian community that was allowed to participate). If Palestinian society is dysfunctional it is because it is a fractured society living with the most brutal occupation for the past 36 years.

    Yes, Hamas could put down their weapons, but that is a long process. Young men who have guns don’t like giving them up, and, if they have to give the appearance of disarming, they may very well use their weapons in criminal activities or to settle old scores. While we are on ‘process’ I concur with Melissa that there is no “peace process” and that the US and Israel are not engaged in or committed to any such thing. Perhaps we should be challenging the journalistic prostitutes at the Murdoch chip-wrap to explain what the nuts-and-bolts of the “peace process”.

    Ask them if they ever heard of Jake Lynch and Annabelle McGoldrick and peace journalism in which the complexities of conflicts are explained. Glib simplistic explanations and propaganda is much discouraged. http://www.rowmanlittlefield.com/Catalog/Singlebook.shtml?command=Search&db=%5EDB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0742536424

    Regards
    Willy Bach

  23. avaroo
    January 28th, 2006 at 12:19 | #23

    “No one seems to think that it is understandable that some will want to return fire when they are attacked by one of the world’s most modern armies (thanks to US military aid at US$2.5 billion a year).”

    Israel responds to Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens. Israel wouldn’t repond if it weren’t attacked.

  24. January 28th, 2006 at 13:00 | #24

    Well put Avaroo.

  25. January 28th, 2006 at 14:19 | #25

    One eyed people will never understand the conflict in the Middle East. It is just not possible.

  26. Allborn Equal
    January 28th, 2006 at 15:36 | #26

    “Israel doesn’t target civilians either. ”

    In June 2005 the international group Human Rights Watch released a report claiming that Israeli military investigations into the deaths of innocent victims were often a sham. The Israeli human rights group Btselem said at the time that its figures show that since the uprising began in September 2000 Israeli security forces have killed 1722 Palestinians who were not taking part in hostilities, including 563 minors. Military police investigated 108 of these cases and just 19 indictments were launched. In only three cases, including that of Tom Hurndall, were troops convicted of causing death. The Tom Hurndall killing is the only one so far to result in a conviction for homicide murder or manslaughter.

    The Human Rights Watch report, “Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military’s Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing,” documents how the Israeli government has failed in its legal obligation to investigate whether soldiers have killed or injured Palestinian civilians unlawfully or failed to protect them from harm. The report found that Israeli authorities have investigated fewer than five percent of fatal incidents to determine whether soldiers were responsible for using force unlawfully. When investigations were undertaken, they frequently fell far short of international standards for an independent and impartial inquiry. Human Rights Watch called on Israel to establish an independent, civilian commission authorized to receive complaints and investigate human rights violations by Israeli forces.

    Although Israel disputes that its international human rights obligations apply to the Occupied Territories, this view has been rejected definitively by the international bodies responsible for monitoring state compliance under these treaties. Israel is a party to five international human rights treaties that require the state to ensure a remedy to persons whose human rights are violated. (See http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/iopt0605/4.htm#_Toc106249172.)

    Recent studies of U.S. media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reveal that the media reported Israeli children’s deaths at rates up to 40 times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths. Some typical examples: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/media/clues.html

    In “Snipers with children in their sights – Palestinian civilians have been killed by the army with impunity”, Guardian Comment Tuesday June 28, 2005 posted at http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5225940-103677,00.html Chris McGreal writes:

    Asma, 16, and her younger brother, Ahmad, were collecting laundry from the roof of their home in the south of the Gaza Strip in May last year when they were felled by an Israeli army sniper. Neither child was armed or threatening the soldier, who fired unseen through a hole punched in the wall of a neighbouring block of flats.

    The army said the two were blown up by a Palestinian bomb planted to kill soldiers. The corpses offered a different account. In Rafah’s morgue, Asma lay with a single bullet hole through her temple; her 13-year-old brother had a lone shot to his forehead. There were no other injuries, certainly none consistent with a blast.

    Confronted with this, the army changed its account and claimed the pair were killed by a Palestinian, though there was persuasive evidence pointing to the Israeli sniper’s nest. What the military did not do was ask its soldiers why they gave a false account of the deaths or speak to the children’s parents or any other witnesses.

    When reporters pressed the issue, the army promised a full investigation, but a few weeks later it was quietly dropped. This has become the norm in a military that appears to value protecting itself from accountability more than living up to its claim to be the “most moral army in the world”.

    As Tom Hurndall’s parents noted yesterday after the conviction of an Israeli sergeant for the manslaughter of their son, the soldier was put on trial only because the British family had the resources to bring pressure to bear. But there has been no justice for the parents of hundreds of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers.

    According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the army has killed 1,722 Palestinian civilians – more than one-third of them minors – as well as 1,519 combatants, since the intifada began nearly five years ago; the comparable Israeli figures are 658 civilians killed – 17% minors – along with 309 military. The army has investigated just 90 Palestinian deaths, usually under outside pressure. Seven soldiers have been convicted: three for manslaughter, none for murder.

    B’Tselem argues that a lack of accountability and rules of engagement that “encourage a trigger-happy attitude among soldiers” have created a “culture of impunity” – a view backed by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which last week described many army investigations of civilian killings as a “sham … that encourages soldiers to think they can literally get away with murder”.

    In southern Gaza, the killings take place in a climate that amounts to a form of terror against the population. Random fire into Rafah and Khan Yunis has claimed hundreds of lives, including five children shot as they sat at their school desks. Many others have died when the snipers must have known who was in their sights – children playing football, sitting outside home, walking back from school. Almost always “investigations” amount to asking the soldier who pulled the trigger what happened – often they claim there was a gun battle when there was none – and presenting it as fact.

    The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls for:
     
    1.      Providing immediate international protection for Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories against crimes and attacks committed by the Israeli occupation forces and settlers.
    2.      Convening a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to ensure Israel’s compliance with its obligations under the Convention.
    3.      Immediately providing international protection for Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories in the face of the killings and criminal acts perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces and groups of Jewish settlers who move under the protection of these forces.
    4.      Use by the EU of effective political and economic measures with reference to Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which calls for the respect of human rights.
    5.      Providing humanitarian and medical assistance for the Palestinian people whose living conditions are increasingly deteriorating because of the continued total siege imposed by the Israeli occupation forces on the entire occupied Palestinian territories.

  27. January 28th, 2006 at 15:51 | #27

    Gosh, all that moral muscle getting stuck into Israel. Golly, just imagine what is being said/done about the Palestinian shredding alive of commuters by the busload.

    Gee, in Palestinian areas people even parade in the streets celebrating the murder of busloads of commuters. Human Rights Watch & others must really have their hands full with the raw material which Palestinians provide them with.

  28. Allborn Equal
    January 28th, 2006 at 16:35 | #28

    You’ll find critical information about the use of the death penalty by the Palestinian Authority at http://www.btselem.org/English/PNA/Statistics.asp.

    At http://www.btselem.org/english/Collaboration/Index.asp you’ll find the report “Harm to Palestinians suspected of Collaborating with Israel”

    At http://www.btselem.org/english/Israeli_Civilians/Index.asp you’ll find the report “Attacks on Israeli Civillians by Palestinians”.

    All Human Rights groups agree that attacks aimed at civilians undermine all rules of morality and law. Specifically, the intentional killing of civilians is considered a “grave breach� of international humanitarian law and a war crime. Whatever the circumstances, such acts are unjustifiable.

    Some Palestinian organizations raise several arguments to justify attacks on Israeli civilians. The main argument is that “all means are appropriate in fighting against a foreign occupation and to attain independence.� This argument is contrary to the fundamental principle of international humanitarian law, whereby civilians are to be protected from the consequences of warfare. In attacking the other side, therefore, each party must discriminate in selecting its targets and attack only military objects. This principle is part of international customary law; as such, it applies to every state, organization, and person, even those who are not party to any relevant convention.

    Some Palestinian spokespersons distinguish between attacks inside Israel and attacks directed at settlers in the Occupied Territories. They argue that, because the settlements are illegal and many settlers belong to Israel’s security forces, settlers are not entitled to the protections granted to civilians by international law.

    This argument is readily refuted. The illegality of the settlements has no effect at all on the status of their civilian residents. The settlers constitute a distinctly civilian population, which is entitled to all the protections granted civilians by international law. The Israeli security forces’ use of land in the settlements or the membership of some settlers in the Israeli security forces does not affect the status of the other residents living among them, and certainly does not make them proper targets of attack.

    Several points need to be remembered, however: it is the Palestinians who are subjected to violent occupation and terrorized by a modern powerful army – not the other way around. The Israelis have the responsibility under international law to protect the residents of the occupied territories from harm with the same vigour that they protect Israelis. It is a crime under international law to permit settlers from the occupying country to displace the native population of the occupied territories. It is not permissible under international law for a country to acquire territory by military force. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, and its blockade of Gaza has been illegal, is illegal, and will remain so until Israel withdraws from all the territories captured in 1967.

    The Palestinian Authority has copied some of the worse practices of the Israeli government. Arbitrary arrests and imprisonments are rampant, torture is widely used and hundreds of political prisoners remain in custody without charges. Trials of political prisoners, when available, violate all international due process norms. There are reports of extra-judicial executions, as well as deaths under torture. Freedom of speech and the press is restricted, and journalists have faced imprisonment for reporting on subjects sensitive to the authorities.

    There is a directory of Human Rights and Peace and Justice Groups at http://www.ariga.com/humanrights/index.shtml

  29. Andrew Reynolds
    January 28th, 2006 at 18:52 | #29

    avaroo & satp,
    Some may argue that Israel’s illegal occupation of territory (and not just the 1967 borders, but the 1948 lines) constitutes an attack on the rightful inhabitants. To simply say that “Israel wouldn’t repond if it weren’t attacked” is sophistry. Israel has been attacking and occupying land it does not own and people that are not their subjects since its inception.
    They may well have some justification for doing it – the Arab states surrounding them did want to destroy them – but to identify the palestinian arabs as the sole aggressors as you are doing here is simply wrong. There is fault on both sides, but, as they have far and away the stronger military forces it is an onus on them to act with restraint and within the bounds not only of international law but also the bounds of humanity.
    Yes, the Palestinians have responded in illegal ways and they should (as individuals) be punished for this. To punish them as a people for simply trying to get back their land in the face of repeated expulsion is a travesty.

  30. January 28th, 2006 at 22:45 | #30

    The onus is on Israel to survive, nothing more.

    You can drop the suggestion that sophistry and myself are connected Andrew Reynolds, there is however plenty of sophistry in comments on this site, it is rather difficult to avoid it at times.

  31. Waratah
    January 28th, 2006 at 23:50 | #31

    Interesting angles of democracy. It’s natural to decry a form of governance we don’t like as not being a democracy. But a democracy is simply a model of governance where the government is elected by the people and represents the interests of the people. Respect for the rights of others don’t come into it, except that our values expect that from a democracy.
    Was Australia a democracy when only white men were allowed to vote?
    Was it democratic of the US and allies to invade Iraq? Did that act respect human rights?
    By getting into power, perhaps Hamas will be forced into maturity and responsible governance. Eg If faced with a choice between violence and international aid, what will they do?

  32. January 29th, 2006 at 06:00 | #32

    Waratah said: “If (Hamas) faced with a choice between violence and international aid, what will they do?”

    The Hamas leadership has already said that it will look towards surrounding Arab countries either as an official donor replacement, or link into the underground to generate the cash.

  33. Mike Hart
    January 29th, 2006 at 13:06 | #33

    Much discussion on the election of Hamas and illuminating discussion on the biases of the worlds media.

    Don’t you just hate it when democratic processes elevate the oppostion to power and you have to engage in real dialogue and diplomacy. I wonder why is it so hard to convince all those peace loving newly emerging democratic middle east nations to embrace the Tory or GOP view of the world? Bit hard to win the hearts and minds of the middle east when all you have done for the past forty years is support brutal dictatorships and unjust tyrannies and every time some religious contrarian sneezes within cooee of Israel everyone has palpatations. The pre-emptive force doctrine is going to be hard to implement now, pity the dialoque and diplomacy box is empty as well.

    Seems to me the Cheney-Rumsfeldt-Bush plan to secure the US’s oil and energy supplies has produced an altogether different outcome. Armed conflict on how many fronts now? We all want to hope the Saudi’s don’t come up with a similar delusion.

  34. January 29th, 2006 at 14:20 | #34

    Will Hutton, writing in The Observer sees the election of Hamas as an opportunity for the peace process, albeit one that might be lost if the Israelis, and perhaps the Americans, take the position that they cannot deal with the new government.

    He suggsets that Hamas now they are in government, and therfore accountable to the their parliament and to the wider Palestinian public opinion, do not now have the license to wage aymmetrical warfare through suicide bombong. Moreover, he says:

    Hamas always was as much a political as a religious organisation and its political dimension was there for all to see. Now it has won, it is locked in a political, rather than terrorist, dynamic. . . The occupation may go on, but the political position of the principal resistance movement has been transformed.

    The choice for the new government then is war, or ultimately negotiation.

    And Hamas does not want war. Already this reality is forcing extraordinary change.

    In the light of the conversation here, I am stuck by this opinion:

    But it’s not just voting that will count in Palestine; it is, by Arab standards, the free press, the independent courts, trade unions and enfranchised electorate.

    If indeed it is the West’s job to ensure that the Palestinian State is supported, and to ensure that Israel does miss the opportunity to negotiate with the Palestinians, then this might be a transforming moment in their War on Terror for the Americans, and dare I suggest the Australian Government.

  35. Andrew Reynolds
    January 29th, 2006 at 15:11 | #35

    satp,
    I would agree re sophistry, but I am not sure that the only onus on Israel is to survive. Follow that to its conclusion and it could easily become a justification for mass murder.
    I believe in property rights, Steve. The Arab inhabitants clearly held the property pre 1948 and then were deprived of those rights through illegal action, including the use of force, up to and including deadly force. Personally, I find that wrong. Don’t you?

  36. January 29th, 2006 at 16:48 | #36

    Andrew:
    Difficult for those of us from safe and secure nations to empathise with Israel, which has had it’s back to the wall ever since it has existed.

    They were attacked visciously in 1948 & saw off all the arab nations, something they have done from time to time whenever they have had to. (I note there has not been a set piece arab military attack since it has become an open secret that Israel has nukes – a guarantee that no arab leader who attacks will survive the annhilation of Israel)
    Prior to the 1948 independance the Israelis made such rotters of themselves that the departing British Army gave all of their weapons and munitions (including some handy artillery pieces) to the Arabs. I would have done the same, the soon-to-be-Israeli nation had behaved most ungratefully and were taken to independance by people who were little more than common terrorists.
    However, Israel has survived, despite repeated attempts to eradicate it.

    In 1948 the advancing arab armies advised the Palestinian people to “get out of the way”, to abandon their homes & lands to make the arabic attack easier. The Arabs lost, and the Israelis are not inclined to have much sympathy for anyone who tried to assist those who would annhilate them. Neither would I.

    I note that despite their fellow arabs being the ones who got them into trouble, the Palestinians recived most of their financial aid from the USA & the west. There is nothing so unwelcome in an Arab country as a Palestinian. Despite the actual number of original Palestinian refugees being fewer than many others who have been victims of such upheaval, they have not “made a go of it” (unlike almost everyone who has had to scarper in the face of advancing communism, which ALSO took everything from people).

    Instead the Palestinians have sat around in their own filth and done nothing but whinge at the situation they are in. The (mythical) pan-arab nationalism has done nothing for them except to exacerbate their misery.

    Footnote: Israel does not have my support, Palestinians do. For the biased reason that Palestinian paramilitary police have highland pipe bands. Anybody whose troops march to a pipe band is a “goodie”.

  37. orang
    January 29th, 2006 at 16:49 | #37

    # avaroo Says:
    January 28th, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    “Israel responds to Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens. Israel wouldn’t repond if it weren’t attacked.”

    What a comedian.

    Well of course, a “response” is something you do after something was done.

    How about Assasination, another great word – as in Targeted Killing, as in Oh shit things are so quiet, we might have to negotiate with them, let’s have a (insert word here) and they will respond.

    How about “pre-emptive” – a beautiful word. Particularly when preceeding strike , as in …the 1967 war began with a Pre-Emptive Strike.

  38. orang
    January 29th, 2006 at 17:07 | #38

    steve at the pub Says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    “…..In 1948 the advancing arab armies advised the Palestinian people to “get out of the wayâ€?, to abandon their homes & lands to make the arabic attack easier. The Arabs lost, and the Israelis are not inclined to have much sympathy for anyone who tried to assist those who would annhilate them. Neither would I.”

    I’ve just spent a little time with someone who actually “got out of the way” and after a year or so in a refugee camp managed to get out (because they were not “Palestinian”). Their memories of getting out were not as you describe above, but of “oh shit we’d better get out of here because (the non-arab team) are about to kick the shit out of us.” – But that’s only one eye witness account, and you know how unreliable they can be.

    I’m 100% sure that your love of the bag-pipes and the Pali police has absolutely convinced any Pali reading this that you are their most ardent supporter in their struggle. Upon reading your comments they will pull their socks up, make peace with Israel and lift themselves out of their filth.

  39. January 29th, 2006 at 19:30 | #39

    You think Israel is in the wrong Orang, go there & stand in front of a bulldozer, make your own protest against their evil ways & oppression of the innocent Palestinians.

    Gosh, from the way people go on, one would be fooled into thinking that it is the Israelis who started all the rot.

  40. orang
    January 29th, 2006 at 20:20 | #40

    No , quite right satp.

    Back in 1948 they politely asked “Excuse me , we’re moving in. No, not the bits the Brits and the UN said we could take, we want the good bits.”

    They were ever so polite and look what happened.

    By the way, where do you live? I might come over and check it out.

  41. January 29th, 2006 at 22:57 | #41

    All are welcome Orang!

  42. avaroo
    January 30th, 2006 at 06:18 | #42

    “Some may argue that Israel’s illegal occupation of territory (and not just the 1967 borders, but the 1948 lines) constitutes an attack on the rightful inhabitants. ”

    Not correctly they couldn’t.

    Israel is within it’s rights to keep any territory it captured after being attacked in 1967 until whomever wants the territory back negotiates in good faith to get it back.

    “To simply say that “Israel wouldn’t repond if it weren’t attackedâ€? is sophistry.”

    If you’ll pay attention to what actually happens, you’ll find that Israel does not attack without provocation. If the Palestinians never perpetrated another terror attack against Israel, then Israel would not respond as there would be nothing to respond to. Personally I think unilateral withdrawal and the building of the wall are the best ideas the Israelis ever had. Both will save lives. But the Palestinians don’t want the wall built because then they won’t be able to attack Israel.

    “They may well have some justification for doing it – the Arab states surrounding them did want to destroy them – but to identify the palestinian arabs as the sole aggressors as you are doing here is simply wrong. ”

    Not legally, it isn’t. Jordan and Egypt both lost territory after Israel captured it after being attacked. It wasn’t Israel attacking Jordan and Egypt, it was the other way around.

    “There is fault on both sides”

    The fault it with the aggressor, in 1967′s cse, Egypt and Jordan.

    “but, as they have far and away the stronger military forces it is an onus on them to act with restraint”

    I disagree completely. Now were Jordan and Egypt stupid to attack Israel? No question. Bu that doesn’t require Israel to endanger Israeli lives.

    “Yes, the Palestinians have responded”

    responded to what? Remember, it was Jordan and Egypt who attacked Israel, not the other way around.

    “To punish them as a people for simply trying to get back their land”

    It’s actually Jordanian land and Egyptian land that’s in dispute. And when Egypt negotiated in good faith with Israel after 1967, what happened? It got back the Golan Heights. Jordan hasn’t done that, preferring to keep the Palestinians, who are actually mostly Jordanians, as pawns. As fine an example of muslim brotherhood as you’ll find anywhere.

    “How about Assasination, another great word – as in Targeted Killing”

    I have no problem with the targeted assassination of terrorists. It saves innocent lives.

  43. orang
    January 30th, 2006 at 20:49 | #43

    “But the Palestinians don’t want the wall built because then they won’t be able to attack Israel.”

    …are you 8 years old?

    “And when Egypt negotiated in good faith with Israel after 1967, what happened? It got back the Golan Heights. ”

    Did you learn Geography in the US? Egypt got back the Golan heights eh?

    Hmmmm.

    Are you 5 years old?

  44. Andrew Reynolds
    January 30th, 2006 at 22:20 | #44

    orang – I think that constitutes personal abuse. I disagree with avaroo, but to belittle in that manner is wrong. On your second ‘point’ even I can tell that avaroo meant the Sinai. On the first, I think it is wrong, but it is hardly a point that an 8 year old would make.
    .
    OK, on to avaroo’s substantive points.
    As regards the land – I would agree that Israel may administer land seized in war until a final peace treaty or other armistice type agreement is signed. But that is not a justification for pushing the owners of the land off it without compensation and resettling others. That would now be called ethnic cleansing.
    Israel has attacked without being attacked – both in the field (Six Day War of 1967, 1956 war – perhaps justified on pre-emptive strike grounds – and against terrorist groups (the ‘targetted killings’ of Hamas leaders continued even after Hamas had started observing a truce).
    The wall is clearly not legal or moral – it is a naked attempt to create facts on the ground and to seize territory. I would have less of a problem with it if it also infringed on undoubted Israeli territory – but it does not. Nowhere, not one iota of ground represents Isreali territory given up – it is just hemming in the Palestinian people (who are, BTW, not Jordanians – the Jordanians are seperate from Palestinians pre-Ottoman times).
    On the military forces – yes, they have no onus to act with restraint WRT Egypt or Syria. But that is not what I was saying – using strong military force against an occupied people (the Palestininans) is not OK- they must act with restraint against them. They do on occasion, but the fact that not a single Israeli soldier has been prosecuted for what are evident human rights violations, up to and including murder, speaks volumes.
    You are consistently saying that the actions of the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian governments gives the Israeli government some form of legal cover for its actions WRT the Palestinians. This is very doubtful at law. You are also then saying that the others are not showing brotherhood towards them. You cannot have it both ways. Either they are showing brotherhood and commonality of struggle (giving rise to some possible justification) or they are not. I would agree that they are not – so how can the actions of a foreign government give rise to justification of the sort you are relying on?

  45. avaroo
    January 31st, 2006 at 01:40 | #45

    Andrew, thank you for your comments. You’re right, of course I meant the Sinai. It was late, I was tired.

    “But that is not a justification for pushing the owners of the land off it without compensation and resettling others. That would now be called ethnic cleansing.”

    I disagree. Israel legitimately holds that land. Until whomever wants it back negotiates in good faith, Israel is under no obligation to return it. Also, Israel is still under attack from the territory, making removal of people necessary as a security measure. I agree with you on the settlements, but I think Israel has now modified its stance on settlements, thinking them too much trouble. But removing the locals who are attacking Israel from the territory? I think that’s ok, certainly, we would clear out some kind of security strip in a neighbor that was attacking the US.

    “Israel has attacked without being attacked – both in the field (Six Day War of 1967, 1956 war – perhaps justified on pre-emptive strike grounds – and against terrorist groups (the ‘targetted killings’ of Hamas leaders continued even after Hamas had started observing a truce).”

    The targetted assassinations of Hamas leaders occur for 2 reasons. One, as retaliation for what they’ve done and also to prevent them from doing it again. Hamas leaders don’t get to perpetrate terror and then scramble behind the protection of an alleged truce. The other attacks were preemptive, all OK as far as I am concerned. I’m not one to wait to be attacked when you know it’s coming. That isn’t fair to civilians.

    “The wall is clearly not legal or moral – it is a naked attempt to create facts on the ground and to seize territory.”

    The territory has already been seized. The wall isn’t seizing anything that hasn’t already been seized.

    “I would have less of a problem with it if it also infringed on undoubted Israeli territory – but it does not.”

    I see no obligation on Israel’s part to infringe on its own territory. Right now, no good faith efforts have been made by those who lost the territory to regain it. And they’ve had plenty of chances to do so. At some point, Israel had to recognize that the Palestinians were going to attack them forever. How long would any of us wait for our government to build a wall to keep out people trying to attack us?

    “Nowhere, not one iota of ground represents Isreali territory given up”

    Why would Israel either want to give up its own territory or be obligated to? Israel won the wars.

    “- it is just hemming in the Palestinian people (who are, BTW, not Jordanians – the Jordanians are seperate from Palestinians pre-Ottoman times).”

    Pre-Ottoman times? Let’s stay in the 20th century at least. Palestinians, as they exist today, are Jordanians.

    “using strong military force against an occupied people (the Palestininans) is not OK- they must act with restraint against them. ”

    not if Israel is being attacked. And it is. Why is only Israel required to “use restraint” against people who are attacking them? No one else would be held to that standard.

    “They do on occasion, but the fact that not a single Israeli soldier has been prosecuted for what are evident human rights violations, up to and including murder, speaks volumes.”

    I see what Israel does as preemptive and retaliatory. And unfortunately, as long as the Palestinians provoke such actions I see it as Israel’s right to protect its citizens’ lives even at the cost of Palestinian lives. Because that’s who the aggressor is. And it isn’t just Israel, I would say that no matter who was being attacked.

    “You are consistently saying that the actions of the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian governments gives the Israeli government some form of legal cover for its actions WRT the Palestinians.”

    No, I’ve never said that. I do think that their muslim brothers use the Palestinians shamefully as pawns, they are completely willing to sacrifice every single Palestinian life for the chance to eliminate Israel.

  46. orang
    January 31st, 2006 at 05:56 | #46

    Andrew Reynolds – you are right, I should not do the “you are 5 years old? ” stuff. It’s wrong and counterproductive.

    But you know when I read, ..”they are completely willing to sacrifice every single Palestinian life for the chance to eliminate Israel.” I have no arguement to counter this-do you? If I can’t insult the writer, can I nominate as Drama Queen of the day?

  47. Terje Petersen
    January 31st, 2006 at 08:53 | #47

    “I don’t know why suicide attacks are seen as more awful than say missile attacks.�

    Hamas targets civilians. You won’t find democracies targeting civilians .

    If Hamas switched to targeting civilians with missiles instead of suicide bombers would that improve things?

    There is nothing inheriently worse in deliberatly targeting and killing innocent people civilians a bomb strapped to your chest compared to deliberatly targeting and killing innocent people with a machine gun or a missile. The horror is in targeting the innocent, not in the choise of weapon.

    If Osama had shot down several airplanes and hit the world trade centre with a self guided missile would it have made the acts of September 11 any less awful?

  48. orang
    January 31st, 2006 at 11:54 | #48

    Terje,
    No, you still don’t get it.

    You see if Osama (evil) kills innocent people, he means it.

    If we (The West, US, Oz, Forces of Good) had knocked down the Towers, it would have been with something smart and big, and Technical and many of us Freedom loving people would have enjoyed it. And IF innocent people had died as a result of our effort we sincerely regret this. Because we targeted a Bad Guy who we honestly believed was within the walls of the Twin Towers, (planning a suicide operation for instance) and can only condemn the fact that these combatants choose to live and hide amongst innocent civilians. Are we to stand idly by and see our people killed and maimed? I say no.

  49. avaroo
    January 31st, 2006 at 13:15 | #49

    “If Hamas switched to targeting civilians with missiles instead of suicide bombers would that improve things?”

    Of course not. It’s never acceptable to target civilians.

    “There is nothing inheriently worse in deliberatly targeting and killing innocent people civilians a bomb strapped to your chest compared to deliberatly targeting and killing innocent people with a machine gun or a missile. ”

    Who is it you think is targeting civilians with a machine gun or a missile? Israel? No, in fact, Israel endangers the lives of their own soldiers rather than risk civilian lives. There’s little doubt that Israel could wipe out every civilian in the WB or Gaza if it wanted to. The US also risks the lives of its own soldiers rather than target civilians. The fact that civilians die during war isn’t always because they’ve been targeted.

    “If Osama had shot down several airplanes and hit the world trade centre with a self guided missile would it have made the acts of September 11 any less awful?”

    I don’t know how I can make it any plainer for you. Targetting civilians is wrong. If your point is that the US or Israel targets civilians, you’re simply wrong. If either of us wanted to, we could level the WB and Gaza in a day. Yet we don’t BECAUSE we don’t target civilians. The Palestinians, if they had the capacity to level Israel, would do so without so much as a thought for the civilians.

    But you do need to stop pretending that this is about the weapon used to target civilians. It’s actually about your inability to distinguish who does and doesn’t target civilians.

  50. orang
    January 31st, 2006 at 13:56 | #50

    Why do you say, “The Palestinians, if they had the capacity to level Israel, would do so without so much as a thought for the civilians.”?
    How do you know this? Of course it’s impossible to say this as a fact. However, you choose to write it anyway. Are you saying we’re dealing with subhumans here?

    ” [The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.”
    Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts”. New Statesman, 25 June 1982.

  51. February 3rd, 2006 at 08:27 | #51

    Is there an rss feed I can get for this blog? Kimber in San Diego.

  52. March 10th, 2006 at 20:42 | #52

    Found your blogg on google, not what I was after but hello anyway :-)

  53. March 16th, 2006 at 01:05 | #53

    I do agree with that last statement. I also must say your doing a good job with the overall content of this blog. Hats off to you! -Mike-

  54. March 29th, 2006 at 23:09 | #54

    Great point. I second that. :-) This is a terrific site and certainly will visit again!

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