While I was out

I’ve been off the air with database problems for a day or so, and missed some important developments. First, there was the bad news of the first Australian military casualties in Iraq, an unfortunate but inevitable development, given that insurgents are now operating freely throughout Baghdad, and even within the Green Zone. The Zarqawi group has claimed responsibility. This followed the earlier horrific massacre of Iraqi recruits, again claimed by Zarqawi.

Second, and closely related, the Zarqawi scandal has developed a further, with the Administration finally admitting on the record that the decision not to go after leading terrorist Zarqawi in the lead-up to the Iraq war was politically motivated. Money quote

Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in an interview that the reasons for not striking included “the president’s decision to engage the international community on Iraq.” (from the WSJ, via Tim Dunlop

With a week to go, it’s probably too late for this disclosure to have any impact on the US election. But if anyone ever refers to George Bush as fighting a war against terrorism, just point them to the Zarqawi story. The failure to go after bin Laden in an effective fashion can be put down to this Administration’s routine incompetence. The failure to go after Zarqawi was simply criminal.

Finally, there was this piece by Barry Cohen, accusing the ALP of anti-semitism. In Cohen’s language criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism and criticism of Ariel Sharon is criticism of Israel. I’m sure examples of anti-Jewish prejudice can be found in the Labor party, but Cohen doesn’t produce any. There are more extensive responses here and here.

27 thoughts on “While I was out

  1. For a very interesting perspective by an American academic who is Jewish but against Israeli government policy on the accusation of anti-semitism levelled against critics of the Israeli state, have a read of this piece by Judith Butler in the London Review of Books.

    I like her conclusion –

    What is needed is a public space in which such issues might be thoughtfully debated, and to prevent that space being defined by certain kinds of exclusion and censorship. If one can’t voice an objection to violence done by Israel without attracting a charge of anti-semitism, then that charge works to circumscribe the publicly acceptable domain of speech, and to immunise Israeli violence against criticism. One is threatened with the label ‘anti-semitic’ in the same way that one is threatened with being called a ‘traitor’ if one opposes the most recent US war. Such threats aim to define the limits of the public sphere by setting limits on the speakable. The world of public discourse would then be one from which critical perspectives would be excluded, and the public would come to understand itself as one that does not speak out in the face of obvious and illegitimate violence.

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