Acrimonious arguments all round

This story is surrounded by acrimonious argument. Views are very polarized, even here amongst Australians with no direct involvement or stake in the issue. A vociferous passing comment made to me by a colleague yesterday quickly became a heartfelt staking out of positions. Discussion in these circumstances becomes futile, degenerating into emotional assertions. Even when a clear, patient, evidence based account is given, as in the case of Andrew Bolt this week, it results in hateful accusations and mindless racist taunts.

It is not the place here to add to the flood of claim and counter claim, but just to note the stridency of the pro Palestinian camp and the tendency to avoid certain direct questions. ABC Local Radio led some news bulletins yesterday morning with a focus on the “humanitarian activists” on the Mavi Marmara claiming that “no violence was used”, or that “none of the passengers were armed”. This flies in the face of the evidence from the video clips shown on ABC television.

The central issue is Israeli’s right to maintain a blockade on the basis that they want to stop missiles being imported by Hamas to kill Israelis. The logic of this motive is constantly stepped around when Hamas representatives or supporters are questioned. Why is it that Egypt understands this need, but not the Hamas allies and activists or much of the Western media? The Egyptians even offered to facilitate the transport of goods to the Gaza Strip. Whatever each side thinks, it appears that this motive is valid in international law and this was confirmed on an ABC interview last night by International Law Professor, Donnald Rothwell from the ANU.

A more troubling problem is the general misunderstanding of the nature of the Hamas regime by its world-wide supporters. A clear view of the Israeli position was given by the ever patient Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli government:

Hamas is one of the major opponents of any progress in the peace process.

Hamas says no to peace, they say no to reconciliation. They support terrorism, they support violence. They’re trying to overthrow the legitimate Palestinian government and they keep the people of Gaza under a brutal regime where they crack down on all independent political activity. They’ve locked up political opponents, they’ve closed all independent newspapers, they’ve even closed internet cafes.

You know, if you’re a person living in Gaza under the Hamas regime and you’re a Christian, or you’re a gay, or you’re a woman who wants to dress in a modern way, you will face immediately violent retribution from this regime.

This is a view shared by many countries around the world that value democracy and understand the international impact of terrorist organizations and rogue governments. Australia lists the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as a terrorist organization. Canada describes Hamas as a “a radical Sunni Muslim terrorist organization. The European Union lists Hamas among the entities against which it applies restrictions in order to combat terrorism. Japan stated in 2005 that it had frozen the assets of “terrorist organizations, including… Hamas.” Jordan, Israel’s neighbour, banned Hamas in 1999.

Nick Cohen, in his excellent book,  What’s Left? How liberals lost their way asks why the left supports fascists “who believe in the subjugation of women, the killing of Jews, homosexuals, freemasons, socialists and trade unionists”. He asks why Palestine is a cause for the liberal-left but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea.

Cohen’s message is blunt:

the left, through its uncompromising hatred of America and self-loathing for Western democracies, has managed to back and support Islamic clerical fascism and other vile regimes round the world that would have been anathema to the left in earlier times.

Do those who so oppose everything Israel does ask themselves why both Egypt and Jordan are at peace with Israel?  Why have both Egypt and Jordon signed peace agreements with Israel and recognise its right to exist?

Indeed. I started out by saying that this story has turned into acrimonious argument. But where was the acrimony and outrage about North Korea’s unprovoked attack and sinking of the South Korean vessel  Cheonan with the loss of 44 lives. Where was the denunciation from the United Nations, the urging of immediate and impartial enquiries by Kim Jong Il, or the ABC new bulletins reclaiming the innocence of the South Korea sailors and demanding justice?


  1. PG Says:

    Demonstration on Saturday at 2.00 outside Library. Do we dare carry any pro-Israel signs, or will we be lynched if we do?

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