Categories
World

Gaza – Well Done Micheál Martin

It is not often that this site finds itself praising the actions of anyone associated with our present Government.

However the visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Gaza last Thursday was a singular achievement.

Why so?

This was the first visit of an EU minister to Gaza since the ‘war’ which devastated the ‘strip’ last January.  It took place despite the trenchant opposition of Israel. Israel had turned down a request by Martin to visit Gaza last year and had also refused a number of requests from other EU ministers.   The visit required a major diplomatic effort by Irish officials in Cairo, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.  The Cairo link was especially important in persuading a reluctant Egypt to allow Martin to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt — the only entry point into Gaza not directly controlled by Israel.

The visit was strongly welcomed by most international organisations active in Gaza, none more appreciative than the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), the largest employer in Gaza, headed by former Irish Army officer John Ging.  Martin correctly highlighted the unacceptable nature of the Israeli blockade on Gaza which has been in force since 2007 after Hamas defeated Fatah in a brief civil war.  Israel had earlier imposed economic sanctions on Gaza when Hamas took power in Gaza after winning elections there in 2006.

In September 2009 a UN ‘fact-finding mission’ found the blockade to be in breach of international law as it ‘amounted’ to a collective punishment of the entire population and recommended that it be investigated by the International Criminal Court as a war crime or a crime against humanity.

Micheál Martin discreetly avoided all personal contact with Hamas officials in line with European Union policy.  Martin avoided political comment and focused instead on the humanitarian crisis —  in particular on the blocking by Israel of international aid allocated to Gaza which has so frustrated John Ging and his colleagues.

However while Martin’s visit was widely reported throughout the Irish and the Arab media, the response elsewhere was quite disappointing.  Neither Sky nor the BBC appear to have picked it up.  Even the French media who had widely reported Martin’s statement on the Dubai passports issue were relatively silent on the Gaza visit.

Martin’s visit does not provide any definitive answer to the problems of Gaza, Palestine and the wider Middle East.  It doesn’t address the political and moral issues which exercised contributors to this site on the forged passports issue.  However, it was an act of political courage which has highlighted the appalling conditions in which Gazans are now living.  Israel has tried to minimise knowledge of this humanitarian crisis and Martin’s visit has briefly lifted that veil.  This is a humanitarian crisis where avoidable human suffering can be alleviated.  It is in the same category as the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes and famine.

The international community should be allowed to address it without prejudice to the emotive political disputes in the region. Indeed, a smart Israeli Government would do well to heed the advice of John Ging and Micheál Martin.  Many individual Israeli citizens would agre, but with Bibi in charge now, and with international media apathy, it is hard to be optimistic.

Categories
Rugby

Flannery- Palisson Incident

Paris 1996 – Paris 2010: Spot the Difference

Déjà vu all over again. We remember the videos so well. The thuggish Limerick front rows exposed in their true colours in the city of culture. You have disgraced yourselves again.

Parc des Princes, February 1996. Peter Clohessy dances on the head of Olivier Roumat and the English referee Mr Morrisson misses it. Ireland got walloped 45-10 and now we will never ever manage to win at the Parc des Princes. France moved to the Stade in 1998. The similarities with Stade de France in February 2010 are uncanny.

The Claw ‘escaped’ with a mere 26 week ban though many in the old school Irish rugby establishment thought he should have been banned for life. The general feeling was that his international career was over although he had to have six good years at the top afterwards. Clohessy was just a month short of 30 at the time and Flannery was 31 last October. A long ban could well terminate his international career in advance of the 2011 World Cup.

Back in 1996 Olivier Roumat was so dazed that he could not remember much of the incident and said he didn’t even know whether it was an Irish or French boot that got him. Other French players were more certain and muttered darkly about an eye-gouging of the same Roumat, which he also couldn’t remember although the photographic evidence was pretty graphic. Califano had a few teeth smashed up and Pelous and Gonzalez were also allegedly assaulted. Rugby was slightly more gentlemanly in those days (off the park) but the general chatter was that Claw had been attending to a lot of ‘business’ on Ireland’s last visit to Parc des Princes.

The short video from Saturday’s game repeated again and again over the past 24 hours certainly doesn’t look good for Flannery. The shot shows him approaching Alexis Palisson who has the ball in his hand and then hacking Palisson savagely to the ground making a connection just below the knee. Then he jumps on top of Palisson as the ball runs loose and only for the ref blowing his whistle you would fear that a coup de grace was about to be administered to the prostrated Alexis. The English referee Mr Barnes just like his predecessor in 1996, had not seen the incident and was giving Ireland a penalty until the touch judge drew his attention to Flannery’s assault. However the touch judge doesn’t seem to have seen the incident properly either and suggested that Flannery had shoulder charged Palisson. Clearly the truth was too awful to contemplate. The reaction around the world to Flannery’s crime has been severe. One typical comment was

This guy has been involved in many violent ‘incidents’ in the past… He is a DISGRACE to the game of Rugby !!!He should be cited and put away for many months ! The Irish should be ashamed to have this sub-human specimen playing in their team. Not content to be perceived as cheaters the Irish now want to be seen as a bunch of thugs.

Kinder more sober voices said that it was a red card offence and at a minimum a yellow card. As George Hook said this would have earned a red card in the Premiership (he meant FA Premier League) and of course there the ball would not be normally held in the opponent’s hands. Most of us would agree especially having seen the four second clip that has been whizzing around the media and cyberspace over the past 24 hours.

However if you look at a slightly longer clip maybe 10 seconds long you see a somewhat different picture. The ball is loose in a tense match which was very much still in the balance. The French No 10 Trinh Duc impedes an Irish player illegally, possibly Darcy, then David Wallace tries to pick up and fumbles. As he does so Alexis Palisson, France’s No 11, tackles him, probably illegally also as he doesn’t use his hands. The ball runs free, Palisson picks up and Flannery makes contact very quickly after Palisson picks up possibly within a second. There is a reasonable case that Flannery’s intent in deploying his leg was to fly kick the ball away before Palisson picked up. If so, his timing was awful and regardless of intent probably deserved both a yellow card and the penalty reversal. However it does not appear to have been a premeditated assault as suggested by the deceptive short version video clip and does not belong in the same category as Claw’s Roumat Hornpipe of 1996. Also unlike the 1996 incident the referee dealt with the Flannery incident at the time even if many believe he should have taken sterner action.

Despite the many similarities there appears to be one crucial difference between Clohessy in 1996 and Flannery in 2010. That is intent. There is considerable doubt as to whether Flannery intended to kick Palisson. Indeed he probably did not. If there is a suspension therefore and there may not be one at all, it should be a relatively short one, of four weeks or less. Given recent well documented catastrophes the Shannon club in particular could do with some less bad publicity for a change.

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Update 17t Feb 2009

Flannery was today given a 6-week ban until the 29th March.  This means he’ll miss the rest of the Six Nations, but will be available to play against Leinster in the Magners League, and against Northampton in the quarter final of the Heineken Cup.

Categories
Crime Politics

Northern Ireland’s Legions of the Rearguard?

It was like a news bulletin of 20 years ago. Two Brits and one policeman shot dead.

People old enough to remember the bad days feared the worst and doubtless the perpetrators had hoped for the worst. Their strategy was to force a chain reaction that would unravel the peace process and make their fringe and outdated views relevant again.

Locating the first attack in South Antrim would bring local MP Wild Willie McCrea back on the public stage. Nationalists would recoil. DUP backwoods preachers are emboldened to make provocative statements. Simmering tensions between SF and DUP would boil over leading to paralysis of the Executive. Loyalist retaliation against uninvolved Catholics would harden attitudes, heighten fears and create further momentum for a harder line within the mainstream Republican Movement. This would be aggravated by an over-the-top security force response and a partial return of the British Army to the streets. After a number of iterations of this cycle, SF would find it impossible to survive in Government or would suffer a further damaging split increasing support for the fringe groups, or both. Arms would flow in from Eastern Europe, former USSR states and Africa. Within a few years or possibly sooner we would be back to 1980 levels of conflict and another generation would be filling the jails and the graveyards. Very plausible and very worrying. Except to date none of this predictable chain reaction has happened.

What has actually happened reveals just how much has changed in the North. After an early scary moment when Wild Willie was briefly allowed near a microphone, all parties have acted in a manner which defeats the purpose of the dissidents and have refused to revert to previous form. The Unionists including the DUP and former paramilitaries have by and large resisted the urge to use the killings as a means of embarrassing Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein has come out more strongly in favour of the PSNI than ever before. The First and Second Ministers, Robinson and McGuinness, have stood resolutely together and avoided the temptation to curry tribal favour. The Police Chief Hugh Orde has avoided talking up the role of British Army covert specialist assets. He may indeed have questions of his own to ask the army now. Like what Brits in desert battle dress were doing standing outside their barracks waiting for a pizza delivery in a week when the Police Chief had said the risk of violent attacks on the security forces was at its highest in 10 years. Reassuringly the “republican street” has appeared almost totally opposed to the dissidents who seem isolated and vulnerable to early police penetration and arrest. Hopefully, provided all key actors keep their heads, these events of 2009 will be a footnote to the long history of political violence since 1969 and the Continuity and Real IRA will be of concern to only the most dedicated of Table Quiz anoraks.

Who are the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA? The Continuity IRA derives from a split in the Republican Movement (Sinn Fein and IRA) in 1986 over the issue of abstentionism when those who wanted to stick to the orthodox republican ideology of not recognising partitionist parliaments left Sinn Fein to found Republican Sinn Fein. Gradually they developed a military wing but as long as the mainstream IRA was pursuing its military campaign the Continuity were barely relevant. Using a combination of semi-retired older operatives and very inexperienced youngsters they were notable only for their amateurishness. The Real IRA was initially a much more dangerous organisation who emerged after the second IRA ceasefire in the summer of 1997 which led to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. This split had been long threatened and had only been delayed by skilful manoeuvring by the Adams-McGuinness faction. The Adams-McGuinness faction had managed to shift a lot of weapons and munitions out of the control of local commanders in advance of the ceasefire and into large secure dumps in the Republic. Nevertheless the Real IRA had access to much material through their leader McKevitt who had long service at the head of the IRA’s logistics operations. However they were short of manpower and were on occasions forced to rely on inexperienced Continuity IRA members. It is believed that the Omagh bomb was manufactured by experienced Real IRA bomb makers but was moved into position by Continuity IRA people who panicked under pressure. This earlier, more effective and politically dangerous RIRA-CIRA campaign was completely halted by the disaster of the Omagh bombing and the dissident factions who collaborated in that catastrophe have never regained the limited public support and ‘military’ effectiveness that they had displayed throughout the summer of 1998. The killings of the past few days have hopefully ended any hope of a revival in a similarly definitive manner.

What types of people participate in such organisations? We are told that the CIRA is strongest in Fermanagh and Armagh and Limerick and Tipperary. Limerick and Tipperary? You can’t be serious. Yes I am and recent court cases bear this out. On a quiet Sunday in Limerick in early January strange figures were noticed walking uncertainly around O’Connell Street. Skinny long-haired youths in drab combat jackets that were far too large for them, the odd pair of sunglasses, older and often overweight men and women in leather jackets trying to look important and serious. The casual observer might have thought it was some sort of experimental drama or a retro charity event. In Bedford Row, though, where these odd groups could be found massing, you would have realised that it was the annual Sean South Commemoration. Here things were more serious. A Band was playing and motley uniforms had been assembled into military-style formation. The banners said Republican Sinn Fein, (CIRA) and 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a group which is sometimes seen as the political wing of the RIRA. These are people for whom politics are a set of immutable certainties. It was odd, slightly amusing and also sad to see these people whose views once so dangerous and relevant were now so marginal and irrelevant to others in the street many of whom were too young to remember the ‘troubles’ and many others were not even Irish and who must have been really confused. Now of course this gathering appears far more sinister giving some sort of spurious legitimacy to the arbitrary taking of human life.

Hopefully some or even many of the people who turned out in Bedford Row to commemorate Sean South will reflect on the extent to which they may not only have collaborated or condoned the killing of three professional people but also have been party to a conspiracy to end the peace on this island. Everybody including the dissidents will need to learn the right lessons from these unacceptable and unnecessary attacks. Commemorations we can accept or even indulge. Actions designed to stop the peace process clock and return the island to hatred and bloodletting can not be condoned. Maybe these misguided and discredited legions of the rearguard have unwittingly provided a useful service to Ireland, reminding us and more importantly our leaders, how precious boring peaceful politics is, however infuriating and cantankerous it might appear at times, and how unthinkable the alternative would be.

Categories
Favourites war World

Gazastan — The Present and the Future

In the New Years Day post, I focussed on the long-term underlying issues in Gaza, rather than joining the short term finger-pointing and blame game. The morality of the blame game is valuable to Israel and Hamas only in terms of affecting international opinion in their favour and to date they have each established moral supremacy in their own home patches: the US in Israel’s case and the Arab and Islamic ‘street’ for Hamas. Now as the death toll in Gaza clicks smoothly past the 1000 mark (with less outrage than when we passed 500) maybe it is time to focus on the ‘war’ aims and the long term aims of the protagonists.

What does Hamas want? In theory an Islamic state in Palestine and in the world. In reality however their ambitions are less grandiose, and are closer to Hezbollah-type pragmatism than to the universal jihadist lunacy of al-Quaeda. The de facto Hamas political supremo and the last elected Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, has said that Hamas would be prepared to settle in the medium term for a two-state solution with elements such as removal of West Bank wall, ending of Jewish settlements outside 1967 borders, a capital in Jerusalem, release of 11,000 prisoners, communication corridors between Gaza and the West Bank, and recognition of a right to return for refugees. A return to 1967 borders is of course anathema to many Israelis and to the Zionist ideology which underlies much of Israel’s policies, and may be unrealistic in present circumstances. Nevertheless the Hamas agenda, although encumbered by a theological refusal to formally recognise Israel, is not significantly different from the declared objectives of other Palestinian groups including Fatah.

In the short term, Hamas will grasp at any ceasefire that sees Israeli withdrawal and does not seriously weaken Hamas political control of Gaza. Hamas ultimately aspires to political hegemony in the Palestinian territories, a hegemony which was vindicated in the last Palestinian elections and not just in Gaza. (In the large West Bank towns of Nablus and Ramallah, Hamas won 9 out of 11 seats on their Change and Reform’ platform.) However much we may dislike it, it is hard to see any rival to Hamas for democratic political control in Gaza and the West Bank because of disarray within Fatah and other groups under the old PLO umbrella.

What does Israel want? The present Israeli Government in the short term appears to want to get the credit for ending rocket attacks on Israel, attacks which only resumed recently due to Israeli actions which Hamas considered provocative and a breach of an earlier understanding. That is unlikely to be achieved completely but a significant reduction or a temporary cessation of fire may be enough to satisfy many Israelis, at least for the moment.

The Israelis would like to close all tunnels linking Egypt to Gaza. They have largely won the PR battle in the West by presenting these tunnels as existing solely for the smuggling of rockets, or more correctly rocket parts and other weapons and munitions, into Gaza. The reality of course is that the tunnels are primarily a method of circumventing Israeli blockades and other restrictions on consumer goods, foodstuffs and medical material. Military supplies, though politically significant and important to the militants, necessarily constitute a small element of the smugglers’ payload. If these tunnels were eliminated then the Israeli stranglehold on Gaza’s economy and society would be significantly strengthened.

Israel may also like an international presence of some sort to help ‘monitor’ an agreement and hopefully embarrass and undermine Hamas and Palestinians. Nevertheless they will be wary of having too strong an international presence that may inhibit Israel’s future freedom of action.

On the other hand there are subtle hints that Israel may have a grander strategy and may not have risked all this adverse publicity merely to end pin-prick rocket attacks and damage Hamas infrastructure. The conventional wisdom is that the present Israeli campaign is not likely to continue in its present form after the Obama inauguration. However an alternative view is emerging this week among some long-time observers who have been puzzled by Israeli behaviour in this conflict. This view suggests that Israel, or at least some elements within the Israeli Government, would like to continue the war through the Obama inauguration.

Why would they wish to do this?

Traditionally Israel’s best defenders in the US have been Democratic administrations which have had strong Jewish support and membership. However the Neo-Con revolution combined with the Twin Towers fallout has made the outgoing Bush II administration the most pro-Israel ever. Since 2001 Israel has acted with greater impunity than ever, paying less attention to international law and being less concerned with European public opinion. Obama is an unpredictable factor but has appointed Hilary Clinton, with a hawkish pro-Israel Senate record, as Secretary of State and Israel may prefer to force the issue with Obama earlier, rather than later when he may have more confidence on the international stage. This thesis suggests that a continuing war will compel the new administration to choose between the ‘evil terrorism’ of Hamas and the good, if somewhat robust, allied Government of Israel. There can only be one choice in these circumstances for Obama, bearing in mind the selective and absurdly biased coverage in the mainstream US media. It will also be too early to squabble with his new pro-Israel Secretary of State with whom he already has a difficult history. So if I had to make a guess here, there may a few more noisy nights in Gaza yet before Israel can clinch this vital geopolitical chess piece.

But what of Israel’s long term vision for Gazastan? Israel has a very sophisticated information warfare capability. Throughout this conflict Israeli actions have continually strengthened Hamas at the expense of the allegedly more moderate, more corrupt, more secular and hence one could argue, more ‘Western’ Fatah. The wider impact on the Arab ‘street’ has also been an entirely negative one. Israel with its superb PR machine surely knows that endless footage of Israeli artillery and air attacks on crowded Arab urban areas, frequently dotted with prominent minarets, is not going to benefit Israel in its long term relationships with the Arab world. So it would seem that Israel has calculated it does not need good relations with its neighbours. It appears happy to exist in a hostile climate for many years to come, confident that US patronage, and European squeamishness over “terrorism” and fears of “fundamentalism”, will enable Israel to continue to achieve its short-term goals by threats of extreme military action.

If the destruction of Hamas and a lasting peace with the Arab world was the real objective why not adopt a more clever media strategy? It is possible that Gazastan is now performing the role that South Lebanon played for decades. An area where Israel can flex its military muscle with impunity and at minimal cost while enabling a tiny state to play superpower geopolitical games and defer indefinitely the pain of engaging in a real peace process with its neighbours.

The next few days leading up to and beyond the Obama inauguration should tell us a lot about Israel’s real intentions and about what type of future the almost voiceless Palestinians can expect.

Categories
Favourites Politics Scandal World

Gazastan, Israeli Ghettos and the New Apartheid

I mentioned earlier that I intended to have guest postings on various subjects, and this is the first in what I hope will become a series.

James Carr is an Irish professional whose work has taken him to many disturbed parts of the world, and here’s his assessment of the dreadful events now taking place in Gaza.

— Bock

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It is reported that Israeli citizens have taken to labelling the Gaza Strip somewhat sneeringly as Gazastan suggesting that it belongs more to the supposed backward (and predominantly Muslim of course) steppes of Central Asia than on the borders of a modern progressive ˜Western’ state like Israel. While such attempts to ridicule and diminish one’s enemy are by no means unusual at times of conflict, this appellation may be more revealing than might seem at first sight. Long before the dissolution of the USSR led to the proliferation of unstable and conflict-ridden ˜stan’ states, there was another notorious type of ˜stan’.

In 1970 the sanctions-beleaguered apartheid state in South Africa tried to polish up its ˜western’ democratic credentials and at the same time achieve the democratically impossible feat of ensuring that four million whites could continue to dominate a population of 26 million. Very simply, they created ten self-governing black homelands which they planned to be declared in time as independent states. In the event only four homelands – Transkei, Bophutstwana, Venta and Ciskei –  achieved full ˜independence’ between 1976 and 1981. The Apartheid Government planned to transfer the great majority of the African population to these homelands on the basis of their tribal origin. Naturally these people were now no longer considered South African citizens and naturally therefore could not vote in South African elections. These unrealistic and non-viable states were termed ˜bantustans’, initially in a parallel to the partition of the Indian sub-continent, but later increasingly as a term of derision. Just as the outrageous Bantustan experiment highlighted the fundamental contradiction in the concept of a ˜white’ South African state, Gazastan is an unavoidable counterpoint to the miracle in the desert, the modern state of Israel.

The Gaza Strip has a population of more than 1.5 million in a total area of 320 sq km giving a population density of 4688 per sq km, one of the highest in the world. However only about one third of the land is arable and most of the population is packed into the major urban concentrations of Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah making the real density much higher. Israel controls almost all the borders of Gaza, its maritime waters and its airspace, which is not very relevant anyway since the Israeli Air Force bombing destroyed the runway at Yasser Arafat International Airport in December 2001. Israel returned control of the narrow southern border to Egypt in 2005 but the single crossing at Rafah has rarely been open due to a number of factors including the withdrawal of EU monitors in the aftermath of the Hamas election victory in 2006.

I worked in Gaza during the innocent days of the first Intifada when 10 casualties a day was considered appalling. At the time the entire strip was under Israeli occupation, as it had been since 1967, and living conditions, although far better than today, were still grim for the Palestinian population, with high unemployment, food and fuel shortages, constant intimidation and often arbitrary arrests, beatings and killings.

Supporters of Israel consider the use of the term concentration camp in relation to Gaza an outrageous parallel to the Nazi era, but of course concentration camps were not invented in Germany.  They were invented in in British-run South Africa during the Boer war — another interesting parallel. So let’s not use the term. Just look briefly at some of the facts. About 1 million or 70% of the population are refugees or descendants of refugees from what is now southern Israel. Gaza was part of Mandate Palestine in 1948 and although administered by Egypt from 1948 to 1967 the population were never given Egyptian citizenship. The entire population is effectively stateless living in an entity whose legal status is highly ambiguous. Israel claims it no longer has the responsibilities of an occupying power since its withdrawal in September 2005. Since then, however, it has used the enormous powers at the disposal of a modern state to control virtually every aspect of life in Gaza. Especially after the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Legislative Elections, Israel has used this power to impose what is effectively collective punishment on the entire population of Gaza, declaring the strip ˜a hostile entity’, restricting fuel and food supplies and restricting movement between Gaza and the outside world including the West Bank. All Gaza electricity is supplied from Israel. You will remember the many TV appearances of Irishman John Ging, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, pleading with Israel to permit the entry of essential humanitarian supplies.

So Gaza is not really a concentration camp. The Guards do not patrol  inside the area. They do allow the population to arrange much of their own lives. However, people are generally not allowed to leave or to develop a reasonable economy, and the basic necessities of life are withheld at the whim of the invisible controlling power. The perimeter of the zone is patrolled by an aggressive military force. No, it is not a concentration camp. It is much more like the large urban zones established in the early 1940s by the occupying German authorities in places like Warsaw and Riga into which a demonised and disempowered ethnic group were ruthlessly corralled, contained, dehumanised and controlled.

Gaza is a ghetto.

Demonisation is a very important weapon in modern conflict and one of the most potent agents of demonisation is the word ˜terrorist’. Hamas is a ˜terrorist’ organisation; Gaza which it controls is a ˜terrorist’ entity and everything within the entity, whether human or infrastructure can be presented as a legitimate target.

But back in 1988 it was very different. Then the secular, non-sectarian Fatah was the ˜terrorist’ organisation and a new religious organisation called Hamas which means ˜zeal’ in Arabic was considered a suitable target for Israeli support. It was facilitated in the receipt of foreign funding and assisted by Mossad in establishing itself as a force in the occupied territories to fragment the united PLO-led front during the first intifada. When Arafat supported Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1990-91 Gulf conflict, the wealthy Gulf states switched their funding from the suspiciously progressive Fatah to the religiously conservative Hamas. In 1992, in another slightly weird parallel with South Africa, Arafat attacked Hamas as being the Zulus of Palestine comparing their activities to certain Zulu leaders who supported the apartheid Government against the ANC. Of course much has changed since the early 1990s. But however unwittingly, Hamas have served the long term strategic interests of the more right-wing elements in Israel quite  well over that time, transforming the image of the Palestinian cause in the West from a populist national liberation struggle to an alien, fanatical and frightening fundamentalist jihad.

 

This demonisation of Gaza certainly distracts attention from the basic reason for Gaza’s existence. It exists primarily as a place to incarcerate the original inhabitants of what is now southern Israel without actually having to exterminate them or to give them any of the rights extended to the citizens of a state. It is also a place where  Israel can continue to intimidate its neighbours by regularly venting its military power on an entity that possesses none of the protections of a state. It provides a fig-leaf of justification for the massive wall built by Israel within the Palestinian West Bank and it also helps us to ignore the outrageously disproportionate distribution of casualties, where 300 deaths is seen as a reasonable response to the mere threat of death to one’s own citizens. There is here of course an insidious racism that Israeli Jews are really European just like us, and of course their peace of mind and freedom to maintain a western standard of living are more important than the lives of the alien demonised Palestinians, who are clearly not like us. Yet I wonder how we would view the situation if we were imprisoned in an impoverished overcrowded ghetto where our living standards were constantly diminishing and our lives and those of our family and friends were constantly hostage to the arbitrary whim of an invisible foreign power?

Remember Warsaw and Riga and those marvellously panoramic movies celebrating the resistance and fortitude of their doomed inhabitants. And remember Human Rights are universal. Political crisis and rhetoric should never be accepted as an excuse for selective application of these universal principles.

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Also on Bock :-

Israel Murders 200 People in Gaza

The Ghetto Slaughter Begins

Auschwitz

Elsewhere :-

Salem News

Richard Falk

The People’s Voice