George Galloway 1, Sky News 0

27 August, 2006

(Thanks to Jimmy’s Corner for the heads-up)

This is an interview conducted on 6th August on Sky News by its Jerusalem bureau reporter, Anna Botting, with controversial left-wing UK MP George Galloway, most notable for his strong stance from the very beginning against the war in Iraq.

The interview is most notable for the lengthy and biased questions by the reporter, and Galloway’s eloquent and informed rebuttal of all of them in his own unique style. I have been a critic of Galloway in the past for courting unnecessary conflict, but on this occasion, I can’t fault him in any way. There is only one way to handle such a bizarre interview. Not that he hasn’t got experience, either – “you are conducting one of the most absurd interviews I have ever participated in” pretty much sums that one up.


Another anti-war Israeli perspective

19 August, 2006

Found a very interesting Ha’aretz article by Professor Ze’ev Maoz, who is also a security expert and former head of Tel Aviv’s Jaffee Centre for Security Studies, entitled “Morality is not on our side“. It’s a few weeks old now but raises some highly pertinent points. I’ve excerpted the relevant portions below:

There’s practically a holy consensus right now that the war in the North is a just war and that morality is on our side. The bitter truth must be said: this holy consensus is based on short-range selective memory, an introverted worldview, and double standards.

This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion. That is not to say that morality and justice are on Hezbollah’s side. Most certainly not. But the fact that Hezbollah “started it” when it kidnapped soldiers from across an international border does not even begin to tilt the scales of justice toward our side.


So much for the history of morality. Now, let’s consider current affairs. What exactly is the difference between launching Katyushas into civilian population centers in Israel and the Israel Air Force bombing population centers in south Beirut, Tyre, Sidon and Tripoli? The IDF has fired thousands of shells into south Lebanon villages, alleging that Hezbollah men are concealed among the civilian population. Approximately 25 Israeli civilians have been killed as a result of Katyusha missiles to date. The number of dead in Lebanon, the vast majority comprised of civilians who have nothing to do with Hezbollah, is more than 300.

Worse yet, bombing infrastructure targets such as power stations, bridges and other civil facilities turns the entire Lebanese civilian population into a victim and hostage, even if we are not physically harming civilians. The use of bombings to achieve a diplomatic goal – namely, coercing the Lebanese government into implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1559 – is an attempt at political blackmail, and no less than the kidnapping of IDF soldiers by Hezbollah is the aim of bringing about a prisoner exchange.

There is a propaganda aspect to this war, and it involves a competition as to who is more miserable. Each side tries to persuade the world that it is more miserable. As in every propaganda campaign, the use of information is selective, distorted and self-righteous. If we want to base our information (or shall we call it propaganda?) policy on the assumption that the international environment is going to buy the dubious merchandise that we are selling, be it out of ignorance or hypocrisy, then fine. But in terms of our own national soul searching, we owe ourselves to confront the bitter truth – maybe we will win this conflict on the military field, maybe we will make some diplomatic gains, but on the moral plane, we have no advantage, and we have no special status.”

Israel and Lebanon: a rabbi speaks out

6 August, 2006

As the international community inches closer to a Security Council resolution on this matter, I found an interesting statement from a Jewish Reform rabbi in California. Religion I feel has a role to play in solving the crisis – unfortunately, religion has been used in many conflicts including that in my birthplace of Northern Ireland as a pretext to kill or dispossess people rather than affirm life.

The full text is quoted in the link, but the text from Lerner makes three demands, which he describes as only the minimum steps necessary to stop the disaster. It is a nice change to see someone who has thought this out and wants peace which does not favour either side but allows each to live in peace.

  • a halt to attacks on Lebanon on Israel – such attacks, he argues, will not provide peace or security for Israel – and for Israel to provide humanitarian assistance and funds to repair the damage it has caused.
  • a halt to attacks on Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas – attacks which he argues played a central role in provoking the crisis and harm the cause of Palestinian and Lebanese independnece and democracy by driving decent Israelis into the hands of “militaristic and paranoid political leaders”.
  • for the US government and international community to call for an immediate ceasefire – he argues the US has become a party to the violence which, together with Iraq, are creating enmity towards the US and Israel.

Lerner then calls for an International Peace Conference to impose a solution – “Why do we say “impose”? There are too many forces in each country in the region who are committed to continuing this struggle forever.” While I agree with him, I don’t agree that imposing a solution from outside will necessarily help to solve the situation. One key emphasis is a viable Palestinian state and a return to the 1967 borders.

Lerner also calls for a “new spirit of open-heartedness and reconciliation”, as each side needs to recognise the humanity of the other and stop demeaning the other in media, religious institutions and educational systems. He believes the fundamental “goodness and generosity” in humanity, led by those with the financial means to be generous, will ultimately fix not just this situation but wider world problems. For those who disagree or find this an unrealistic possibility, he answers his critics at length in this piece and I do suggest reading it.

This has GOT to stop.

31 July, 2006

The incident in Qana today is the latest of a catalogue of events which communicates the obvious – there are no winners in war. The battle of spin has raged across the international community with the US, Israel and Tony Blair making use of one set of language and Iran and Hezbollah another, while hundreds of civilians of at least two nationalities and five religions are slaughtered. The talk, the delays, the endless talk, but no-one seems to genuinely care about the people, both Israeli and Lebanese, either losing their lives or livelihoods or in fear of doing so.

The part which is of most concern is that some nations are immune to international law while others are persecuted by it. The case of Iran is interesting – unlike North Korea, Iran has not broken any international laws. Iran also has not violated any other country’s sovereignty. It has cooperated with the IAEA. However, the international community insist on moving the goalposts as a means to control Iran’s activities within what the US and several European countries consider an acceptable set of limits which they have in effect unilaterally imposed on Iran. The end result has been an increasingly entrenched position from Iran, and a feeling that abiding by the rules is useless as they will not be rewarded for it.

Israel has on four occasions invaded other countries, and at present illegally occupies part of Syria (Golan Heights) as well as the Palestinian territories, in contravention of UN resolution 242. They continue to receive billions of dollars of aid from the US, and we now know that the US is supplying deadly munitions to them via a compliant UK administration (which may soon fall from internal outrage about its complicity in this affair).

UN resolution 1559 (2005), which Israel and the US make considerable use of in their rhetoric, was passed in a set of circumstances where Lebanon was trying to shake off a foreign power which had dominated its political life for the previous 30 years. UN resolution 1441 (2002) was creatively interpreted to allow the US to go to war. Yet UN resolution 242 (1967) calling on Israel to retreat to its borders has been left to dry, and any attempt to pass any resolution criticising Israel today is vetoed by the US under the archaic post-war system which allowed the five leading countries to hold veto powers.

Is a war crime a war crime or not? The Lebanese president was certainly in no doubt of that when he addressed the media today. But who gets prosecuted? While Saddam’s war crimes case is wrapping up in Baghdad, complete with seemingly biased judge, questionable process and certain verdict, one can be fairly sure that the international community, whose first responsibility should be to the citizens of the world always, will dismiss this as some kind of mistake or justify it in terms of Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel. Those too are crimes against civilians that should be proscuted, but they probably will be – my question is why two civilians can die and one receives justice and the other a kick in the guts by wealthy Western leaders and their media entourages.

It is my hope that the Qana incident (actually the second Qana incident – the last atrocity there is documented in a link from the BBC story) will be a catalyst to stop the spin and help the people who need it most. Commission of unpunishable war crimes only gives rise to helpless anger and a desire to avenge, which in turn is a detriment to Israel’s future security needs.

Recommended reading:
* Philippe Sands (international jurist) – “Lawless World” – documents both the rise of international law and its abuse in recent years.
* Viewpoint from the Arab world (26 Jul) – found on another blog.

* Declaration: The author believes that Israel has the right to exist and a need for secure and peaceful existence within its borders. The author is only 3 generations removed from European Jews, at least 13 of whom died in Treblinka and Dachau, and fears the consequences of excessive Israeli force to its future security and that of a future viable Palestinian state. The author is also from Northern Ireland and is more than used to pointless standoffs where innocents on both sides die and both armed sides have their hands covered in blood.

Breaking the spin – Israel/Lebanon

18 July, 2006

Just thought I’d share an article from Shmuel Rosner of Haaretz who takes the mickey out of the leaders on all sides of this weird conflict.

Article 1
Article 1

Overall, I’ve found Rosner’s commentary on this conflict to be a rare voice of perspective and balance in this increasingly polarised and polemical discussion.

Iraq – One year on.

9 April, 2004

First anniversary of the toppling of Saddam’s Baghdad statue, and the US is fighting a war of justification in Iraq, particularly in the cities of Baghdad, Fallujah, Kut, Najaf and Karbala. Confirmed reports coming in from Fallujah (US codename: “Operation Iron Resolve”) are that the US Marines have suffered “substantial” casualties (no reports on numbers) and at least 300 are dead, according to the local hospital. Unconfirmed radio reports say that some US troops have broken ranks and have engaged in a frenzy of attacking and raping unarmed men, women and children in parts of the city. So much for the battle between good and evil that Bush mentioned in his 2004 state of the union address. It’s beginning to sound more and more like Northern Ireland (my birthplace, for those who don’t know), where two groups of foreign-backed illegal militants fight it out with rhetoric and bombs and the people who have to live there are stuck in the crossfire, dying, hurting, suffering. Now we have previously unknown terrorists (not even related to last week’s group of previously unknown militants who are now practically running several cities) holding several unarmed civilians as hostages threatening to burn them alive for political purposes – and they’re crazy enough to actually do it too. When will this insanity ever end? 😦

George W. Bush and many in his inner circle call themselves Christians. They should start acting like Christians, whose prime commandments are to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul and to love their neighbour as themselves. The Bible they hold so dear (which George wants to use as the basis to ban gay marriage in the US Constitution) also says that “[Satan] comes to steal, kill and destroy”, and calls Satan the “father of lies”. I don’t know how you would describe Bush’s actions firstly in getting the presidency (via his brother and his father’s mates in Florida), then in the campaign in Afghanistan (which currently resembles 1910s China after the fall of the Qing dynasty in both the warlordism and opium production stakes), then in the leadup to Iraq, and the reasons for Iraq, and then the post-war operation of Iraq. Lying is bad enough, lying to one’s friends (UK, Australia, Spain etc) is even worse. The Spanish had enough of lies in the end and chucked out their president. I can only hope that UK, Australia and the US follow suit and end this NWO state terrorism enterprise.

Christians in Iraq (a post I saw online)

26 March, 2003

Just a curiosity, really. Emailed to me by a Christian friend, who got it from his pastor.

Still not sure how you feel about the idea of the U.S. attacking Iraq? Some ministers are warning against military action because it could have ‘disastrous results’ for Iraqi Christians. UK minister Graham Cooke told delegates at a conference that while Saddam Hussein had no faith and was a secular politician, “Hussein allowed Christian churches to exist as a way of keeping Islam in check. You know that once he gets killed there will be a bloodbath in that nation, and every Christian in that nation will likely be killed because they are on somebody’s list right now.” Cooke added: “We need to pray for Saddam Hussein right now. No matter what you think about it, this guy is the only one standing between the church in Iran and Iraq and a bloodbath. We need that guy alive because thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people are getting saved in the country. [Bible Society]

May I add to that that Tariq Aziz, probably the most recognisable face other than Saddam’s outside of Iraq, and who has served as both Foreign Minister and Deputy President, is a Christian, as is the family he comes from. Apart from the palestinian administration, it’s one of the few places in the middle east where freedom of religion for non-muslims actually exists (it wouldn’t exist in Yemen, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, all major US allies). An interesting thought.