Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Us – updates

I did a post recently on the escalation of conflict by the Israeli government on Palestinians in Gaza and now also in Lebanon (according to this report, bombing a powerplant there too.). As I said then, this is one issue that I have never been able to see a solution to, but at least in the past I could feel thankful that it was not likely to directly affect Australia or most Australians. However, I don’t feel that way anymore.

The way the so-called ‘war on terror’ is portrayed and prosecuted includes a very strong inference that it is a battle between militant Islam and the West – in crude but none the less reasonably valid terms, ‘them’ and ‘us’. I don’t accept the view that this is a struggle between Islam and the West, but unfortunately, the more it is portrayed this way by western leaders and commentators, the more this perception can become a reality.

In such circumstances, in the same way that many people in Western countries are seeing all Muslims as linked to “them”, we in the West are faced with being seen as linked to the actions of countries like Israel, who are clearly seen as one of “us”.

When Israel acts or reacts in ways which are disproportionate, excessive or clearly unjust, we in the West are now more at risk of being caught up in the backlash (or ‘blowback’ to use the US term) – particularly if we sit silently by and do not criticise such actions.

I feel a bit ashamed to admit it, but it is as much this self-interest as it is my sense of injustice that drives me to express concern at the extreme, unjust and disproportionate actions which the Israeli government is currently engaged in.

“We” demand of the general Muslim community that they criticise more stridently any violence by extremists and fundamentalists who call themselves Muslim, even though – as this Karen Armstrong article I linked to previously shows, fundamentalist terrorists are much more antagonistic to mainstream Muslims than they are to the West.

If Western governments and leaders demand that the Muslim community do more to criticise “them”, it is not surprising that Muslims look askance when extreme disproportionate action by Israel, clearly involving collective punishment of whole civilian communities, is only met with minimalists murmurings of concern by the West, when Israel is clearly linked to “us”.

The trouble with governments trying to insist that we are at war with so-called Islamist terrorists is that the paradigm of war virtually forces people onto one side or another, as the middle ground tends to get blasted away by both extremes.

We are then at risk of forcing a large chunk of the global population to be on the opposite side to us in an unwinnable conflict, despite ‘them’ having far more in common with ‘us’ than the extremists we both abhor.

ELSEWHERE: I will link here to information on what is or has been happening in Gaza and Lebanon. I do this to provide information and views from a range of perspectives – that does not mean I endorse the contents or views contained on them.

.- A brief summary of some of the key questions from The Guardian.

.- Some pieces from the Washington Post: This one considers the impact of the current violence on Hezbollah, and whether the situation can be used to have another go at getting them to disarm? This one is long piece with a lot of detail and some reaction from different parts of the world.
This opinion piece by David Ignatius is worth a read. By pounding the Beirut airport and other civilian targets yesterday, the Israelis have taken a step back in time — to tactics that have been tried repeatedly in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories without much success.

.- Some comment on John Howard’s reaction by Armaniac on his blog.

.- Patrickg has a couple of comments on his blog, along with a link to quite an interesting (and wide ranging) interview with Fred Halliday, a Professor of International Relations based in the UK who considers the narrow thinking by both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ on international issues.

.- Veteran Middle East reporter, Robert Fisk, who is currently based in Beirut, provides some regional political analysis.

.- Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reports that “Lebanon was effectively under siege Thursday after Israel bombarded the country’s airport and imposed blockades on its seaports”.

.- The Daily Star also reports that “Israeli warplanes bombed the Palestinian Foreign Ministry in Gaza Thursday, causing heavy damage and wounding 10 children”.

.- Israels’ Haaretz newspaper says that Israel’s “operations are guided by an effort to indicate to the Lebanese government those areas for which Israel considers it responsible. Therefore, it is important to note not only the nature of the targets the air force is attacking, but also those that it is not. The air force, for example, attacked Hezbollah offices, but none in Beirut”.

.- This Haaretz article quotes a Lebanese analyst saying ” there are huge swathes of Lebanon that understand the extent of the Hezbollah danger, but are helpless. Don’t expect citizens to demonstrate outside government buildings tomorrow and demand that the state disarm Hezbollah. Washington, France and the UN tried through Resolution 1559 and failed, and you want a weak government that has not yet really begun to govern to succeed?”

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90 Comments

  1. Fisk?

    Even Tony Jones was embarassed by him on lateline.
    Honestly Andrew.
    better sources please.

  2. The Terrorist group Hezbollah, like Hamas, has now become part of the political establishment. That must say something about the so-called Islamic moderates that are supposed to be the majority in the Islamic world.

    Hamas was democratically elected back in January 2006,it is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel.

    Its charter clearly and emphatically states; that the “land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf (trust) consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours. So-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.”

    In an election advertisement on Palestinian television in January this ye, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said: “We do not recognise the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbour, nor to stay (on the land), nor his ownership of any inch of land. Our principles are clear: Palestine is a land of Waqf, which cannot be given up.”

    The orthodoxy within radical Islam, as said by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is; “Israel must be wiped off the map.”

    Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has said: “There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel.”

    Radical Islamist movements have accepted time and time again periods of truce, but within the Islamic world, there is continuous work against any kind of normalisation.

    So what are the options facing the Israeli Government in response to the taking of hostages, first in Gaza, then in the north, and the continuous firing of rockets into Israel, not just during the past weeks but over many months and years?

    Should they negotiate on the terms demanded by the kidnappers – that is, with the release of prisoners.

    The problem with such a solution is that it increases the likelihood that further hostages will be taken tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after. It also just provides more people to plot and plan and wage war against them. And it is a war.

    The Israelis could withdraw the barriers around Gaza to allow free trade, but this would enable the entry of weaponry with greater range, accuracy and force, as has happened in southern Lebanon.

    Whatever exchange of prisoners that may take place at a later time, the immediate Israeli response to the taking of hostages is usually military. This was known and accepted by the terrorists.

    If the Israelis now enter negotiations for withdrawal from occupied territory, which is widely accepted as the only way to a resolution, the question is: negotiate with whom? With Hamas, which renounces the idea of peace and is committed to the liberation of Palestine and thus the eradcation of Israel. Or Hezbollah, who have similar aims.

    Israel’s options are severely limited. The tactics of radical Islamist groups rely on redressing the power of the Israeli military by using the cover offered by densely populated areas.

    Israel can withdraw, attack infrastructure or civilian areas. The price paid by those caught in the conflict is the price the radicals’ are willing to inflict on their fellow countrymen for what they see as their eventual victory. It seems that their viewpoint is that, the more the situation deteriorates the better.

    Israel faces an enemy that believes that time, is on its side.

    10 more years of conflict, 20 years, 30… they are accepted. The terrorists think that defeat can come through one means only – the normalisation of relations with Israel. The purpose of the present conflict. is to render unviable the Israeli policy of unilateral disengagement.

    As I’ve said, Israel is in a no win situation. As long as arabs and Islam refuse to accept it there will never be peace.

    Could anyone tell me why it is that a “group” can wage war against another nation from within a country using missiles… without that country taking action against it?

    Unless that country of course condones and supports that group.

  3. ah, good ol’ Geoff. Attack the man to avoid the message. Which bit of Fisks’ analysis do you disagree with Geoff, and how many years have you sepnt living in those countries?

  4. As Charles Krauthammer wrote on July 14th: …occupation was a mere excuse to persuade gullible and historically ignorant Westerners to support the Arab cause against Israel. The issue is, and has always been, Israel’s existence.

  5. Just posting the truth Tommy.
    Don’t take it so personally.
    Did you see Lateline Tommy?
    It takes something special for even Tony Jones to feel embarassed by a political comrade.

  6. Same old feeble bait and switch from Geoff. Throws out the slur, avoids the clear and straightforward question asking him to back up the slur with something resembling substance, and then baits the questioner instead.

    Yawn.

    One can only assume this is a sad combination of intellectual pygmy and primary school level bully.

    No wonder he uncritically backs the Israelis regardless of what they do – gotta stick with your own team after all.

  7. I just don’t want to wste my time having it all deleted by Andrew.

    Most of your posts only consist of flaming and trolling most of your posts should be deleted.

    You could have looked up the interview.

    You could if you held a balanced position and admit that Robert has not just a slight political bent but one that overshadows everything he writes.

    You could admit that your so called expert refused to believe Zaqawi existed and was just an American contrivance.

    You could if you knew anything about him admit his reputation for bias is very well known.

    You could if you knew anything tell us why the term “Fisking” came into existence.

    You could admit if you weren’t so busy insulting me and everyone’s intelligence that Fisk has spent too much time in the Middler East and that and his personal politics has affected his ability to acquire let alone maintain a balanced perspective.

    BTW Tom… I’m not uncritical of the Israelis (not that you’d have a clue) and they are not part of my team.

    Personally I hope not to read anymore of your garbage as it seems your obsession with me only goes as far as baseless personal attacks.

  8. TO those posters that continually bully and attempt to silence Marilyn, I would suggest that you just skip her posts.

    I for one find Marilyn’s posts informative and intelligent.

  9. While I don’t accept it as a justification for the present Israeli attacks, Geoffs analysis of the situation is correct (strewth) in terms of the Palestinian agenda of not recognising or accepting the existence of the Israeli state.

    The other side of the story, which I am sure Geoff is also aware of is that Israel does not recognise or accept the Palestinian state.

    That is why it is assasinating key government officials.

    All concessions to each other that both sides have made have been forced on them by others, not the media hyped negotiations but the real economic and political blocs of the middle east and elsewhere pulling strings in their own interests.

    Just for the fun of it, since this is such a jolly subject, I would suggest that the solution to peace in Palestine is the same as Aboriginal reconciliation in this country – by way of treaty and layered title including dual sovereignty. If the people are at peace it can easily work. It is a similar process to the nature of the Australian federation where state and federal governments retain their own sovereign authority yet collaborate through a common constitution over commen or deliniated territories.
    This would be easy if the war was not going on, but it is.

    Just to extend the fun a bit further

    Palestinian/Israelis, Hebrew, Muslim or Christian, all are children of Abraham. What is happening now is a struggle of biblical, or koranic proportions, as they are both the story of the middle east. The conflict began when Abraham fathered two nations, and they both claim the same family inheritence.

    They might get their messiah or they might slaughter each other, but the intervention of the world community is only manipulating this unfinished family business to secure oil and markets for other places.

    Is George Bush the Antichrist? – spooky.

  10. How are you going? Interesting to see an Aussie website linked to the Washington Post. I’m a Yank registered nurse who emigrated to Melbourne on a work visa because my wife and I could no longer in good conscience be tax-paying parts of the American war machine. (Yes, we knew how Howard and the Libs were beforehand…)

    It’s a damn shame what’s happening in the Middle East now because there is no good way out. Aside from lots and lots of people on all sides deciding “We’re going to use moral force like Gandhi instead of RPGs” it’s going to involve lots of death. I’m glad I’m not religious (the a-religious nature of Oz attracted us mightily) or I WOULD believe Bush is the anti-Christ. It’s a lot more plausible to see the past 60 years as analagous to the Crusades. Western forces regain the “Holy Land” but there’s fighting on all sides. The conflict spreads to Babylon. Persia intervenes. Will the West prevail, or will it be worn down? The first round of Crusades lasted for more than a hundred years. Aside from the countries and weaponry, how is now any different to then?

    Anyway, nice to see an Aussie blog I can relate to. You’ve got a nice country, mates. People are still mostly sane here. Just don’t become like America!

  11. I spent a bit of time backpacking in various North African countries (mainly Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia) about 6 years ago and I have to say that Geoff’s analysis (which is very similar to a Guardian analysis by Jonathan Spyer (?) by the way) seems pretty accurate. As far as I could see from talking to people in markets, cafes etc there is no real preparedness to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist in any form. These groups are talking past each other. I have to say that I think part of the problem is the equivocal western response to Israel over the years. Instead of taking a clear stance (and matching words with actions) glimmers of hope get offered and each side tries to maximise its opportunities. A unilateral Israeli border solution would have been a disaster from the Palestinian point of view as it could have been accpeted by the rest of world (i.e. EU, Russia and US) as final borders. The current actions would seem to have been to ensure that this option is no longer available to the Israelis, and it has succeeded in spades. Interstingly, the UNDP Human Development Index has Palestinians in the Occupied territories with a much higher standing than Arabs in countire such as Syria, Iran and Egypt. I also agree fully with Bukko in Australia!

  12. Andrew

    This is going to end in nuclear war. Whether we like it or not Israeli perception will become evident that it will have no choice but to attack all of iran’s nuke installations with nuke weapons. Syria’s Bekka valley may also be attacked with nukes if the Israelis think the Syrians are hiding WMD’s there.

    I think this is the big one.

  13. PC
    We have a new President of AFIC Australian Federation of Islamic Council and Councils in Australia.
    A Media Release which is very different to the approach of their past President Dr Ali has just been put out.
    It’s a different stand against the Australian Government.

    Situations are certainly soured between the Australian Government and the leader of the Muslim community if this is anything to go by.

    I should think the old PM is on to it however because AFIC has had its funds frozen…

    It May have reached the papers here but more than likely it was only printed in Muslim papers while the Government try to gag them and keep the truth from us.

    With R Murdoch’s papers and media control and the Le- Courts, the Packers along with Amanda Vanstone all being either live animal exporters or the cruel intensive farming trade I guess, the Government and minister for Comminations are doing what they have managed to do for years with their direct conflicts of interest and that is to Gag the public again.

    This time we are treating Muslims as equals I guess.

    I agree with you. PC

    Allan Jones was speaking on the situation in India and raised the issue that even if a country has not involved itself they just want all democracy destroyed.

    I think we need now to take some steps to look at our own Muslim Community.

    This has to be done by the people because the Government won’t do it pretending everything is under control.

    It’s not under control here in Australia.
    It’s far from it.
    The quite tension is mounting.
    There are some Muslims here that are frothing at the mouth to engage in some sort of disruption and Aussies likewise.
    Muslim People are really scared here PC so we have got to try to befriend them as much as they will allow us.
    Aussies are starting to scare as well especially people living alone.

    The State Emergency services need to start some sort of a group and use the resources of people gathering together and get some plans in place.
    America has heaps of underground safety houses but that’s not the case here.

    I also spoke with the minister for Defence three years ago and suggested we do something similar to the USA.
    He said it was a great idea if I wrote to him so he could act on it.
    He also said it would have to be a joint council approach Australia wide.

    Can anybody imagine relying on the Gold Coast City Council to do anything?

    Still maybe their close connections to the developers might come in handy after all.

    Anybody and everybody who knows or lives next door to Muslim people should make an extra effort to get to know them and try to encourage them to mix.

    Ask them in for a coffee.

    We can only hope that kindness will make them think twice before acting against us as many Muslims are shunned these days by us.

    However know that basically they do not believe in our laws our God or our Ways so it’s going to be an uphill battle but I think we can at least try.

    Every Country has a right to protect itself and I believe we will have to do those ourselves as our fathers and grandfathers before us.

    Mind You I would think we would be in real trouble with the biggest Muslim country a stones throw away.

    I for one dont believe the Korea problem is a ploy for more aid.
    I think that’s a porky to keep the public quiet.

    I agree with PC.

    Donna I think what you will find with regards to M s posts they are complaints about off posts more so than what the lady has to say.

    That has been my observation. I think also people get annoyed that she tells everyone she is working with Andrew on immigration so she expects special privileges.
    All in all it places Andrew in an unnecessarily difficult position too.

    That’s what gets up their noses especially when she then says to somebody that their comments off post.
    It is a bit much as she does on about how we terrible Aussies killed somebody’s poor kid in china [China Mind you [
    As if we are responsible for making the laws in China. Anyway see how easy it is to get off post Donna.
    Just by my answering you I am getting off post.
    Perhaps that because you were off post.

    And on.

    That is why the other posters get upset all the time.

    PC ladies and Gentleman of Australia its time to choose sides and anybody who is against Australia should leave this wonderful country and go where they have laws and rules that you do agree with.

    Australia has been very kind the many Muslims and many others from almost everywhere and me for one am very proud of that.

    We are a country of many cultures which will be a disaster in the end.

    Sadly People don`t mix deep down and in what they really believe.
    What `is in the roots and blood stays there same as us.

    I am sure we could all live in a far off land especially to survive, but deep down we would always be Aussies and if the Audis arrived to invade few would pick up a gun and shoot another Aussie.

    Some Would Like David Hicks.

    Talk About blind Faith!

  14. Given the adversarial nature of some of the comments on this page, is it any wonder we struggle as species to find ways towards peace!

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  16. Norman

    Look mate. You don’t know how many backpackers come back to Australia representing themselves as political experts of whatever country because they spent six weeks backpacking there. It doesn’t make you an expert.

    halal kind meats.

    It’s not everyone that complains about M. It’s just a few bullies. She’s allowed to post here. You can skip over her posts like I skip over some posters.

  17. Geoff says – The Terrorist group Hezbollah, like Hamas, has now become part of the political establishment.

    Put simply Geoff, your statement is ignorant.

    Hezbollah’s presence in the Lebanese political process was dealt an extreme blow with the recent overthrow of the pro-Syrian government.

    Israel’s idiotic actions will now strengthen the resolve, and subsequent recruiting power, of terrorist groups worldwide.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, 150,000 American troops have failed dismally in attempts to bring peace to Afghanistan and Iraq, yet many expected the new Lebanese government to be able to control Hezbollah with a few months.

    Israel has now managed to slaughter Lebanese civilians, including many families fleeing for their lives, yet Israel continues to operate with total impunity.

    Destroying Lebanon is inexcusable, and should be condemned. This is not a roadmap to peace, it’s a road map to the end of the world. Read this from a prominent Right-wing site. It details the deaths of Lebanese families, and is accompanied by rapturous applause by other wingnuts via comments.

  18. I think a series of posts by visitors to both Lebanon and Israel with insights on observations, conversations with locals etc would be beneficial to this discussion on recent events.

    The so called experts are not likely to provide the everyday experiences and life on the ground perspectives that are sorely missing in real story of the escalating conflict and our view of them as portrayed by the media.

  19. PC Here is A copy Of The AFIC Media Release.
    Media Release

    14 July 2006

    AFIC CONDEMNS ISRAELI AGGRESSION

    The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils unequivocally condemns the brutal

    terrorism inflicted upon the people of Palestine and Lebanon.

    The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils calls upon the Australian Government to

    Take a stand with the rest of the world in not only to stop the aggression but to become

    proactive in calling for an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories and finding a

    just and peaceful solution to the long and brutal conflict that has seen the deaths of many

    tens of thousands of innocent people.

    The President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), Mr. Rahim Ghauri

    said that Israel has a proven record of committing brutal atrocity causing immense

    sufferings of hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians living in refugee

    camps both in Palestine and in Lebanon. “Where is the call for Israel`s accountability?”

    asked Mr. Ghauri. He said that justice for all must be applied equally if we are to see an

    end to this cycle of violence. He added that it will be wise for all parties not to continue to

    inflame and deteriorate the situation. If the aggression continues, there may be retaliation

    and many innocent Israeli lives will be lost.

    AFIC also expresses deep concern at the muted responses from the US and other

    countries including Australia for the aggression that is bound to increase the activities of

    the terrorist not only against Israel but against other countries of the world as well. The

    international community including the US and Australia cannot continue to ignore the

    plight of the Palestinian people any longer. The situation is explosive not only for the

    middle east but for the peace and security of the entire world. The security of the region

    cannot be dictated by one country alone. Urgent action must be taken by the world

    community to find a just solution to this long conflict that is tearing apart the peace and

    security of the entire globe.

    ****

    My Post Continued

    It`s hard to know what to say other than we are not going to find good or bad right or wrong in Groups Governments or even football teams.
    Each person must be measured by His Or Her Intentions and Actions.

    Some Time Ago I attended a full AFIC meeting to put forward a proposal to improve Animal Welfare.

    I was really nervous standing up in front of all the Muslim Leaders alone.

    I flew to Sydney without much hope they would be interested or even care.
    My main issue was Live Exports to the Middle East and else where.

    I changed my mind that day and we could learn a lot if we also listen.

    These people were well informed and regardless of what people say about them dealing with women in business they were attentive and very interested.

    There was not one of them that were not sincerly disgusted with the mis treatment of animals.

    So if our Muslim Leaders can be happy to look into ways of slaughtering in Australia and do the right thing what`s wrong with the Australian Government?

    If you Ask the Australian Government WHY we have to send these animals of these death ships and they will tell you it`s the Muslims?

    A FEW GOOD MEN

    We have Andrew Bartlett and Bob Brown in politics that have spoken out about animal cruelty and jobs for Australia.

    Then we have twenty Muslim Leaders in Australia.

    If your as confused as I was I can only say I have learned to judge people as people and not by their Religion.

    To be honest I still get irritable when I see people wearing a Burka.

    I cant help it. I find looking at eyes through two slits irritating in my town.

    However I no longer think of sneaking up behind them with my BBQ Gas Lighter and setting fire to them.
    Believe it or not I used to think that would be heaps of fun!

    We all must learn to be tolerate and above all listen.

    Forget about what we do or don`t read in the papers and get some friendship groups started.

    Muslims have long run clean up Australia Days and invited us to BBQ`s.
    [Mind you no bundys served]

    Perhaps it`s time our Churches did the same and we extended a arm of friendship to our Muslim neighbours.
    We complain they don`t mix but let`s be fair how many of us have tried it.

    I dont like terrorists or extremists anymore than anybody else and if we get attacked I will be up there fighting for my country but we need to be real sure as to who the enermy is.

    Nobody ever said we all have to agree on everything but good finds its level as evil does.

    The good Christian Steve Fielding Of Family First who claims to represent all church Groups In Australia has no such concern or compashion for animals.

    Family First dont think they even will have a Animal Welfare policy.

    Kind of Makes You Really think Doesnt it.

    There is only one hope for us here in Australia and that is A Few Good men Will talk to another Few Good Men and women both Christian and Muslim and together we will be wiser and Stronger.

    Dont wait for Governments and World Leaders to sort it out get out there and do it ourselves.

    Whatever your interests are just include and invite Muslims as fellow Ausies.
    Mine is animal welfare but you will find most muslims do want to mix.

    Of course the ones who dont want to mix in any way we can just kick them up the bum and Send them home
    the way in which you would expect an Ausie to do.

    Hopefully you will dodge the ever frustrating Ausie Bashing do Gooders and if not we will send them too!
    Australian People Are Wonderful but we do tend the leave too much to trust in the hand of our Government and leaders.

  20. You raise some good points, however this is a bit dodgy:

    The way the so-called ‘war on terror’ is portrayed and prosecuted includes a very strong inference that it is a battle between militant Islam and the West – in crude but none the less reasonably valid terms, ‘them’ and ‘us’. I don’t accept the view that this is a struggle between Islam and the West, but unfortunately, the more it is portrayed this way by western leaders and commentators, the more this perception can become a reality.

    Initially you say “militant Islam and the West” which is literally true. But you then drop “militant” and say “Islam and the West”. Only a simpleton (for want of a better term) would not be able to see the distinction. As far as I’m aware, Western leaders do refer to militant/terrorist/jihadist Islam, not just plain old Islam.

    Regarding your next paragraph: …in the same way that many people in Western countries are seeing all Muslims as linked to “them”, we in the West are faced with being seen as linked to the actions of countries like Israel, who are clearly seen as one of “us”.

    Click this link to see stats that suggest “us” Westerners are more tolerant than “those” Muslims thanks to our obsession with post-modern relativism. The stats for the UK are especially telling.

    The stats also point to democracy being real chance at taking root in the “Muslim world”. There is hope.

  21. Also, some have commented on the link to Fisk. He might be a “Veteran Middle East reporter” – but a person of more bias could not be found. For example, Fisk argues that journalistic neutrality is “no longer relevant” to the Middle East and that instead journalists are “morally bound … to show eloquent compassion to the victims.” Just plain old dodgy.

  22. thanks Theo

    I guess I left out the word ‘militant’ the second time around because I don’t think we’re in a battle (or struggle) between the West and Islam – militant or otherwise.

    The reason I thought the Karen Armstrong article (linked to in the main post) was of value was because it emphasised that moderate Islam is a bigger target for militant Islam than the West is.

    I’m not 100% convinced of the value of that survey you link to, but either way, I think it does reinforce the fact that current conflicts are predominantly idelogical and political, rather than religious. Religion is mainly the mechanism for shaping the identity politics involved, and one of the concerns I sought to voice in my post is that the more we force it into a religious paradigm, we risk forcing Muslims onto the other side almost by default.

    As for Fisk, I don’t have any particular views on him one way or the other, except that he obviously has a lot of on the ground experience. I’m not sure ‘compassion to victims’ = bias, although it may be that some victims are more equal than others. The debate about how neutral any journalist can be is much wider than topic, as well as where the lines are between reporting facts, promoting a particular view or providing opinion. The key trait of greatest value as far as I am concerned is a preparedness to consider all the facts, rather than just the ones that fit your pre-determined view (easier said than done of course).

  23. Hi Andrew

    See this wikipedia entry for what Fisk means by compassion. Complete absolution of personal responsibility. Though before the compassion bit he does state, outright, that neutrality is not relevant.

    The point about extremist Muslims hating moderates even more than us “westies” is a very important one. One that needs to be brought to the attention of all, none more so than moderate Muslims. If I were a moderate Muslim, I’d be extremely outspoken against extremism in Islam! (Just as if I was a moderate Christian I’d spend most of my time bagging the “fundies”. As it is I’m of no particular persuasion, so I bag everyone!)

    Regarding nomenclature, I think the term Islamofacism suits best. As you mentioned, it focuses on the political/ideological nature of the extremists.

    I don’t see how you can make the claim “we” are not in conflict with militant Islam. It is fascist in nature and by definition, liberal western democracies are in conflict with fascism (as we must be -though not necessarily violently). The Australian Democrats must be completely opposed to all aspects of Islamofascism, surely?

    As far as the survey goes – it doesn’t offer too many surprises and they are open WRT their data gathering techniques. It doesn’t seem unreasonable (love the double negative?) to give it credence.

  24. Just read this criticism in the wiki entry I link to on Islamofacism:

    The use of the term “Islamofascist” by proponents of the War on Terror has prompted some critics to argue that the term is a typical example of wartime propaganda.

    “Islamofascism is nothing but an empty propaganda term. And wartime propaganda is usually, if not always, crafted to produce hysteria, the destruction of any sense of proportion. Such words, undefined and unmeasured, are used by people more interested in making us lose our heads than in keeping their own.”[4] —Joseph Sobran, syndicated columnist.

    Great, I was using it for the exact opposite reason – to demarcate between rational, non-violent Muslims (the vast majority) and the crazies. So how are we to describe them? An extremely small subset of people who claim to follow the prophet Muhammad, yet kill others, often by using explosives strapped to themselves? A little long; so I’ll just go with “the crazies”.

  25. Theo
    There are a few more crazies as you put it than we would like to think.
    I agree that most muslims are not a threat but we also have a job to do ourselves by getting to know our Muslim Neighbours.
    Comments on events overeas only seves to divide our own country. Howard could have supported bush but notmade such a show of himself because he alone has drawn attention To Australia.
    I For one would rather be heavy handed if you like to use those terms and start asking for hands up now.

    We can only worry about Australia but if every person makes an effort to mix with them we would get a better idea of who the crazies might be.

    Of course sleepers are well oiled in the art of deception.

    Its Love us or leave us now as far as I can see.

    Make no mistake Theo we need to move on this now not in a few years time.

    There should be Zero Tolerance for anybody wanting to rally up trouble in Australia.

    For Eg Those Guys who raped the girls in Sydney should be deported after they serve their time along with all their supporters.

    We dont want trash like that here.

    If their familes support them then they should leave now.

    We need to get seruios about people respecting our laws.

    How many people have really looked into the move to have bibbles taken out of public hospitals and who is behind it.

    Its time now to act with the unique Australian Kindness. However as Prince Charles said Australians dont let anybody tell them what to do. I think that we should have all jumped when they stopped saying the lords prayer in schools.
    We must wake up.
    We have to be fair kind but tough too.

  26. Halal kind meats, “PC ladies and Gentleman of Australia its time to choose sides and anybody who is against Australia should leave this wonderful country and go where they have laws and rules that you do agree with.”

    That would have to be one of the more extremely radical, incitement to hatred posts here. This Hanson/Howard type of hate speak is what divides this country.

    People can love Australia, be proud Australians, but not support the current government and it’s policies. And if you happen to be an asylum seeker, refugee, Aborigine or Muslim living here, you’d have been feeling pretty vulnerable, victimised and frightened in the last decade.

    These calls to leave the country whenever someone is critical of Govt. policy is idiotic and just plain inflammatory.

  27. I assume this:

    “Zero Tolerance for anybody wanting to rally up trouble in Australia.”

    is even more applicable for those, such as the cronulla thugtards, who organise en masse to display their contempt for Australian values?

    Bah, bizarre.

    Andrew, thanks for the link.

  28. Here’s [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/19/nsharia19.xml]another survey of interest[/url]:

    Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.

    The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the “feelings and motives” of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.

    Overall, the findings depict a Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream society, even though 91 per cent still say they feel loyal to Britain.

    The results of the poll, conducted for the Sunday Telegraph, came as thousands of Muslims staged a fresh protest in London yesterday against the publication of cartoons of Mohammed. In Libya, at least 10 people died in protests linked to the caricatures.

    And in Pakistan, a cleric was reported to have put a $1 million (£575,000) bounty on the head of the Danish cartoonist who drew the original pictures.

    Last night, Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP involved with the official task force set up after the July attacks, said the findings were “alarming”. He added: “Vast numbers of Muslims feel disengaged and alienated from mainstream British society.” Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “This poll confirms the widespread opposition among British Muslims to the so-called war on terror.”

    The most startling finding is the high level of support for applying sharia law in “predominantly Muslim” areas of Britain.

    Islamic law is used in large parts of the Middle East, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, and is enforced by religious police. Special courts can hand down harsh punishments which can include stoning and amputation.

    Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain, while 41 per cent opposed it. Twenty per cent felt sympathy with the July 7 bombers’ motives, and 75 per cent did not. One per cent felt the attacks were “right”.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any similar surveys having been carried out in Australia.

  29. I think the religious argument is not the issue – but rahter used by all sides to eihter justify / demonise. Isn’t this more a case of disposseion and forced post WW2 resettlemtn that inevitably had to come to this?

  30. Ken — the problem with that theory is that Muslim terrorists are killing people all over the world, in the name of Islam.

    From New York to Chechniya, Bali to Thailand, Somalia to Sudan, London to Madrid, the common thread is Islamofascism.

  31. From Gaza to Lebanon, the common thread behind the vast majority of civilian deaths, both in the current crises and, statistically, throughout the intafada, has been the Israeli military.

    Funny you mention Thaliand. Are you suggesting that the number of people killed or missing on the Islamic side is higher than the number of their victims in THAT country?

    Do you not think you might be misconstruing a legitimate push for independence by a section of land overwhelmingly populated by Malay Muslims and run with an iron fist by Thailand, a country that does not have an historic claim to the peninsula?

  32. No, I am merely noting that wherever there is a sufficiently large number of Muslims, Islamic terrorism follows.

    This is a consistent, repeated pattern.

  33. Yes EP – I do see the broader issue here. Althouhg one can’t help to wonder how much of this might have grown from, or been enabled by, the decsions to assuage the collective guilt of the holocaust by creating Israel.

    Notwithstadning, wars have always been fought over property rights, culture / ethnicity, ego, or a combinaiotn of the above.

  34. Breaking news- They’ve had a significant victory in the war against terror, wiping out a family of canadian holidaymakers who were carrying transmitters for Hizbollah in their colons.

    Yay for modern targetting.

  35. EP, don’t be reidiculous. I lived in Malaysia for nine years, and there was never a terrorist attack there. Islam and Muslims aren’t a problem any more nor less than Christians, Jews and Zaroastrians or noe-Pagans. It’s all geopolitical – d’uh! I wish I didn’t have to insult you to get your attention. Just because Malaysia and the fact of there not being a terrorist attack there doesn’t make it onto your eveining news doesn’t mean there aren’t 25 million people of many different religions and ethnicities living peacefully in a ‘muslim’ country. EP, you are such a troll.

  36. Alex…

    “Geoff says – The Terrorist group Hezbollah, like Hamas, has now become part of the political establishment.

    Put simply Geoff, your statement is ignorant.

    Hezbollah’s presence in the Lebanese political process was dealt an extreme blow with the recent overthrow of the pro-Syrian government. ”

    Yet they have how many member of parliament? How many people voted for them?

    Isn’t their legislature part of the political establishment?

    I may be ignorant but it seems not wrong Alex.

  37. P C Person [post 14]:

    “This is going to end in nuclear war”.

    Of course it will; that’s been obvious for the past 4 years. Neither you nor I can do anything to stop it. That doesn’t mean we are helpless at all because we can do something ourselves that both the Liberal-National bunch and the Labor mob has neglected to do for us over the past four decades …. supply us with practical, relevant information on how to cope right here when nuclear weapons are being thrown around elsewhere.

    The “major parties” have failed miserably in their duty of care to the citizens of Australia: useful and sensible Civil Defence information campaigns could have been implemented at any time and especially in the period between the Chernobyl accident the Sumatran tsunami without alarming and upsetting the populace here but they seemed to feel that if a problem is ignored, it will go away. The “major parties” have made themselves irrelevant in this.

    So, look on the internet yourself or go to a library yourself and find out about things like fallout, radiation detecting, filtering air, decontamination and all the other things the government should have taught you about staying alive …. but failed to do so.

    Bukko in Australia [post 11]:
    Welcome aboard.

  38. Israel must beware the cost, by Henry Siegman

    July 17, 2006

    Israel’s aggressive actions may cause it greater problems.

    IN LEBANON, as in Gaza, it is not Israel’s right to protect its civilian population from terrorist aggression that is at issue. It is the way Israel goes about exercising that right.

    Despite bitter lessons from the past, Israel’s political and military leaders remain addicted to the notion that, whatever they have a right to do, they have a right to overdo, to the point where they lose what international support they had when they began their retaliatory measures.

    Israel’s response to the terrorist assault in Gaza and the outrageous and unprovoked Hezbollah assault across its northern border in Lebanon, far from providing protection to its citizens, may well further undermine their security by destabilising the wider region.

    On the surface, the situations in Gaza and in Lebanon may seem similar, but there are important differences. No matter how one judges the rights and wrongs of the recent Hamas assaults and Israeli reprisals, in Gaza the fundamental spark is Israel’s occupation, which has now lasted nearly 40 years. Israel’s leaders continue to suffer from the delusion they can defeat violent Palestinian resistance to that occupation without offering the Palestinians a credible, non-violent political path to statehood, promised in various international agreements.

    Following the precedent set by Ariel Sharon with his unilateral disengagement from Gaza, his successor as Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, believes that if Israel dodges the bullet of a bilateral peace negotiation with the Palestinians — something it has done so far by claiming “there is no Palestinian partner for peace” — it will be able to create, unilaterally, a rump Palestinian state that will leave in Israeli hands large chunks of Palestinian territory and make a mockery of Palestinian national aspirations.

    Despite the massive imbalance of forces, the Palestinians will never abide such an outcome. In 1988 and in 1993, as part of the Oslo agreement, they recognised Israel’s legitimacy in 78 per cent of what used to be the Palestine mandate, leaving themselves with 22 per cent, less than half the territory assigned to them by the United Nations in 1947. No Palestinian leader, now or in the future, will agree to further Israeli land grabs to accommodate settlements established in violation of international agreements and international law, whose illegality even the utterly one-sided Bush Administration has had to concede.

    On this territorial issue, as on that of Israel’s efforts to deny Palestinians the right to site the capital of their prospective state in East Jerusalem, there is no daylight between any of the Palestinian parties. President Mahmoud Abbas would be no less unyielding on these issues in a negotiation with Israel than would Hamas.

    On the other side of the Israeli-Palestinian divide, if Hamas wishes to enable the international community, and particularly European countries, to end sanctions that have so brutally punished the Palestinians, it must at least be prepared to say that, even if it is now unwilling to pronounce on Israel’s legitimacy — given Israel’s continued violation of previous agreements and its ongoing theft of Palestinian land for its settlements — the elimination of the state of Israel is not Hamas’ goal.

    Its goal is a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

    Hamas must understand that Palestinian violence to punish Israelis is self-defeating. The new Hamas regime will achieve nothing if it is not prepared to offer Israel a non-violent political path to security within its pre-1967 borders. Hamas cannot have it both ways: it cannot demand recognition by the international community as the legitimate Government of the Palestinian Authority if it is not willing to enforce law and order. It must be willing to suppress the various militias and end their illegal activities. Otherwise, its proposals for a hudna (truce) with Israel remain meaningless.

    Similarly, the Lebanese Government cannot allow the uninhibited operation of Hezbollah’s militia and its freedom to violate international borders at will and still maintain its own legitimacy.

    That said, Israel will quickly lose what international support it had for opposing Hezbollah’s terrorism if it continues its assaults in Lebanon without regard to the consequences, not only for Lebanon and for the wider region, but for its own long-term security as well.

    Indeed, the point of Hezbollah’s aggression is the expectation that Israel would act in ways that will only deepen its isolation. Nothing is likely to achieve the goal of Israel’s enemies more effectively than disproportionate measures that even its friends cannot support.

    Hezbollah’s naked aggression against Israel has nothing to do with the Palestinian cause. The two are linked only in the following sense: Hezbollah would not have attacked Israel if it could not have invoked Israel’s assaults on Gaza’s civilian population as its pretext. As long as Israel’s policies allow this conflict to fester, it remains vulnerable to the depredations of radical groups that will exploit the Palestinian tragedy for their own ends.

    Henry Siegman is a senior fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations, a visiting professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and former head of the American Jewish Congress.

  39. I went looking for the high moral ground for the coalition of the killing and found it eventually buried in the swamp of Iraq.

    In Palestine most of 1.3 million people living in Gaza have had their water, electricity and food supplies blown up with over 120 people, almost all civilians slaughtered.

    In Lebanon the capital Beirut has been bombed to bits, the airport blown up and over 175 people have been killed, including 15 little kids who had been ordered from their homes by the Israelis who then blew them up. Tens of thousands of people are homeless and hurting, escape routes have been bombed and there are bombers in the air, navy in the seas and rockets flying from Israel all day.

    In Haifa and other parts of Israel 24 people are dead, 12 of them civilians. Israel uses the excuse that they have had some soldiers taken which does not ever excuse the massive attacks launched on the innocent populations of their neighbours.

    In Iraq the coalition of the killing didn’t even have the excuse of captured soldiers did they yet they have inflicted the deaths of over 100,000 Iraqis on a broken down nation, a poor and sick nation with 54 % children for the satisfaction of Bush.

    In Afghanistan it was said there would be democracy yet Paul McGeough has just been there. He has a photo study in the Herald on the weekend which is a metaphor for Afghanistan’s democratic society.

    The girls go to school in tents while the NGO’s, the elites and the government steal the land. Boys play on burnt out busses while a former Taliban commander stands in front of a new parliament house for a parliament full of the old warlords and murderers who the US sustained and supported in their proxy fight with Russia in Afghanistan.

    The Taliban were not Al Qaida and are not Al Qaida yet the lives of 25 million Afghans are held to ransom through our actions – at the same time of course we were locking up Afghan kids and their parents like criminals.

    In Iraq the coalition of the killings high moral ground is to be found buried in Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Fallujah, Najaf, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and in Stephen Green, a drunken GI with mental health problems who raped and murdered a 14 year old child, shot her in the head, burnt her body and then murdered her little sister and parents to cover it all up.

    Stephen Green is the metaphor for the high moral ground of the coalition and it is the poor and destitute of Lebanon and Palestine, and Israel who will suffer.

    Geoff, Tony Jones deserved to be embarrassed for his partisan attitude – disarming one without the other is useless and Fisk was quite right to pull him up.

    Wendy none of this has anything to do with live animal exports and I have never said I work for Andrew.

  40. Aron, maybe the reason there isn’t significant Islamic terrorism in Malaysia is because Muslims already dominate that country.

    There aren’t many Islamic terrorists operating in Iran, either. That’s because they run the government, so their terrorism is part of the State apparatus.

    It’s in the areas they don’t dominate, but seek to, that Islamofascists concentrate their attacks. Thus, Thailand, Russia, India, the UK, Bali, New York, democratic Iraq, Israel — are all targeted.

  41. Nice one, EP. Maybe you’re right! But it could also be the case that terrorism isn’t a problem inside Malaysia because it is a stable, prosperous and peaceful country. It is also more multicultural than Australia, as there is no religious or ethnic majority. Malays/Muslims are about half the pop. There were race riots in the West back in the 60s, but this was economic rather than purely racial – as soon as the economic side was addressed, the racial tension subsided. I notice the government and media does work hard on a verbal level to promote intercommunal peace, unlike in Oz where the govt and media actively work to promote discord and fear. It’s not perfect, of course. But it’s nice to go there occasionally and not have to listen to the ‘war on terror’ etc. I have noticed a rise in religious sentiment there recently, but this is in accord with the world-wide rise in religious insanity, which is not limited to Muslims, and which has clear economic and political causes – ie. the failure of the national governments of the world to provide material hope and solve the world’s problems. Seeing as M’sia is so far progressing nicely, religion has remained a complementary rather than competing force for the aspirations of the nation. The rise of religion is the result of the failure of politicians – we can seet that much in the Middle East and in Australia.

    I just hope you are wrong, EP. It’s a sad world, otherwise, and if you are right, then you are fighting a war you will never win. Poor you.

  42. question .
    is this war about religion or land.?

    i know you will all jump on me for this

    i cant help but see a lot of lebanonese ppl with an australian passport that went to lebanon for what ever reason knowing there mite be trouble .
    really want to be ozzys now and critisise the govt for not getting them out quike enough.

  43. Red do you want to continue the repulsive “kill the f….g Lebs” perpetrated by the thugs in flags in Cronulla? For heaven’s sake why the hell shouldn’t dual citizen Australian’s go to Lebanon during peace time? What about the Canadian tourists blown to bits? Is that their own fault? Did the children deserve it? What about the thousands of mercenaries like Doug Wood who are exploiting the Iraqis? How do you feel about them?

    What about Australians who might be in Israel? If they get killed it is their own fault too?

    The complete lack of compassion for all sides in danger by some Australians here makes me physically ill. Are you savages that you cannot see the shared humanity of the Lebanese, the Palestinians and the Israelis? Did the civilian populations deserve this?

    Did the Iraqis ask for it? What about the ordinary Afghans who still have no electricity or clean water after 5 years? Get a grip – we are talking about human beings in terrible situations they did not cause, not cockroaches to be exterminated.

  44. With the greatest respect Marilyn – as apparently if anyone disagrees wiht you it is claimed to be bullying but that sort of hystreical abusive rant is – I think the words were inetresting and informative – I think red was actually talking more about citizens expectations that somehow the government has to do everything for them and they have some sort of god given expectation that if an instantaneous respiosne is not forthcoming then the “governemnt should pull there fingers out”. Of what is of course conveniently never mentioned.

    Not unlike the distasteful similar expressions we heard not long ago about bali troubles. This is of course an entrencehd attitude fosterd over the last 30 or so yeasr of increasing govenrment and bureacratic intrusion in the private roles and resposnbility of citizens. I think the hand out mentaility was a delviberate stratgey for those fostering that view.

    Notwithstanding the above, I do think in this situation, given the nature of it, all efforts should, and indeed are being, made to assist as much as possible any citizen, Austrlain or otehrwise who seeks assistacne.

  45. I must say, Marilyn is correct about pretty much everything in this instance. Especially about the high moral ground of the pro-war faction.

  46. I spotted the ‘Israelli Women in Black’ on a bus trip not long after I entered Israel on my first trip. I had sat behind a young male conscript returning from a night on the front line. I sat there and stared at the back of his shaven head and wondered what he had done during the night.

    My gaze wandered away fron his uniformed splayed body slouched on the bus seat in front of me and I saw the group of women in black standing on the corner not far from Bethlehem, calling for the madness to end with signs pleading for the lives of theirs and the Palestinian women’s children.

    What Are They Fighting For / Tanya Reinhart
    2006-07-13 16:49

    Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli armys war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government. The army initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling of civilians in the Gaza Strip. Governmental authorization for action on a larger scale was already given by 12 June, but it was postponed in the wake of the global reverberation caused by the killing of civilians in the air force bombing the next day. The abduction of the soldier released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June with the destruction of infrastructure in Gaza and the mass detention of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank, which was also planned weeks in advance. [1]

    In Israeli discourse, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza when it evacuated its settlers from the Strip, and the Palestinians behavior therefore constitutes ingratitude. But there is nothing further from reality than this description. In fact, as was already stipulated in the Disengagement Plan, Gaza remained under complete Israeli military control, operating from outside. Israel prevented any possibility of economic independence for the Strip and from the very beginning, Israel did not implement a single one of the clauses of the agreement on border-crossings of November 2005. Israel simply substituted the expensive occupation of Gaza with a cheap occupation, one which in Israels view exempts it from the occupiers responsibility to maintain the Strip, and from concern for the welfare and the lives of its million and a half residents, as determined in the fourth Geneva convention.

    Israel does not need this piece of land, one of the most densely populated in the world, and lacking any natural resources. The problem is that one cannot let Gaza free, if one wants to keep the West Bank. A third of the occupied Palestinians live in the Gaza strip. If they are given freedom, they would become the center of Palestinian struggle for liberation, with free access to the Western and Arab world. To control the West Bank, Israel needs full control Gaza. The new form of control Israel has developed is turning the whole of the Strip into a prison camp completely sealed from the world.

    Besieged occupied people with nothing to hope for, and no alternative means of political struggle, will always seek ways to fight their oppressor. The imprisoned Gaza Palestinians found a way to disturb the life of the Israelis in the vicinity of the Strip, by launching home-made Qassam rockets across the Gaza wall against Israeli towns bordering the Strip. These primitive rockets lack the precision to focus on a target, and have rarely caused Israeli casualties; they do however cause physical and psychological damage and seriously disturb life in the targeted Israeli neighborhoods. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the Qassams are a response to the war Israel has declared on them. As a student from Gaza said to the New York Times, Why should we be the only ones who live in fear? With these rockets, the Israelis feel fear, too. We will have to live in peace together, or live in fear together. [2]

    The mightiest army in the Middle East has no military answer to these home-made rockets. One answer that presents itself is what Hamas has been proposing all along, and Haniyeh repeated this week – a comprehensive cease-fire. Hamas has proven already that it can keep its word. In the 17 months since it announced its decision to abandon armed struggle in favor of political struggle, and declared a unilateral cease-fire (“tahdiya” – calm), it did not participate in the launching of Qassams, except under severe Israeli provocation, as happened in the June escalation. However, Hamas remains committed to political struggle against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In Israel’s view, the Palestinians elections results is a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel’s demands.

    Since ending the occupation is the one thing Israel is not willing to consider, the option promoted by the army is breaking the Palestinians by devastating brutal force. They should be starved, bombarded, terrorized with sonic booms for months, until they understand that rebelling is futile, and accepting prison life is their only hope for staying alive. Their elected political system, institutions and police should be destroyed. In Israel’s vision, Gaza should be ruled by gangs collaborating with the prison wards.

    The Israeli army is hungry for war. It would not let concerns for captive soldiers stand in its way. Since 2002 the army has argued that an operation along the lines of Defensive Shield in Jenin was also necessary in Gaza. Exactly a year ago, on 15 July (before the Disengagement), the army concentrated forces on the border of the Strip for an offensive of this scale on Gaza. But then the USA imposed a veto. Rice arrived for an emergency visit that was described as acrimonious and stormy, and the army was forced to back down [3] . Now, the time has finally came. With the Islamophobia of the American Administration at a high point, it appears that the USA is prepared to authorize such an operation, on condition that it not provoke a global outcry with excessively-reported attacks on civilians. [4]

    With the green light for the offensive given, the army’s only concern is public image. Fishman reported this Tuesday that the army is worried that “what threatens to burry this huge military and diplomatic effort” is reports of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hence, the army would take care to let some food into Gaza. [5] From this perspective, it is necessary to feed the Palestinians in Gaza so that it would be possible to continue to kill them undisturbed.

    * A shorter version of this article was scheduled to appear Thursday, July 13 in Yediot Aharonot, but postponed to next week because of the developments in Southern Lebanon
    * Parts of this article were translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall.

    [1] Alex Fishman, Who is for the elimination of Hamas, Yediot Aharonot Saturday Supplement, June 30, 2006. See also Alex Fishman, The safety-catch released, Yediot Aharonot June 21, 2006 (Hebrew), Aluf Benn, An operation with two goals, Ha’aretz, June 29 2006.
    [2] Greg Myre, Rockets Create a ‘Balance of Fear’ With Israel, Gaza Residents Say. The New York Times, July 9, 2006.

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/world/middleeast/09rockets.html?ex=1310097
    [3] Steven Erlanger, U.S. Presses Israel to Smooth the Path to a Palestinian Gaza, New York Times, August 7 2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/07/international/middleeast/07israel.html?ex=1281067200&en=82f12ac7eed5ee24&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss The planned July 2005 offensive is documented in detail in my The Road Map to Nowhere – Israel Palestine since 2003, Verso, September 2006.
    [4] For a detailed survey of the U.S. administration’s present stands, see Ori Nir, U.S. Seen Backing Israeli Moves To Topple Hamas, The Forward, July 7, 2006. http://www.forward.com/articles/8063
    [5] Alex Fishman, Their food is finished, Yediot Aharonot, July 11, 2006.

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