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It is too easy to criticize politicians for playing the political game which includes the “new dark arts”, hypocrisy, outright lying and semantic sliding around the known truth. Still they are supposed to be leaders able to speak to and imaginatively understand all the people in the society, although the tactic of electoral polarization turns that idea into fantasy. “The clash of civilizations”, as the Cronulla rioters, for example, well understood occurs within societies as well as between them.

The problem, I suggest, may be not as some allege multiculturalism but the failure of assimilation. Multiculturalism it is seems to me is based on mutual understanding and acceptance. Assimilation is the expectation that people with a different cultural background must accept established norms. The pain for the migrant, and for the first born may be created when they have assimilated to the extent necessary, but then the wider society, reflected by political opinion leaders and policy makers who do not recognize their responsibilities in a multi-cultural society.

Patriotism is perhaps many things but it is a noble cause which may inspire people, for example, to fight for country. When people become alienated from the country of their birth, perhaps it is not surprising that they should discover their noble cause elsewhere, especially if it is conditioned by the bitter perception of injustice. For example, control orders may be easier to apply than standard policing and intelligence gathering, but this measure of effectiveness needs to be assessed in the social and political context of the message sent and understood, not least their dubious legal merit. Fortunately, the magicians evoking the dark arts have merely drawn ridicule.

Moazzam Begg, a British Muslim, incarcerated and released from Guantanamo Bay has an interesting experience to relate.

Blair and Howard will be seen as very successful electoral politicians, but failures as leaders.


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Juan Cole, at Informed Comment, doe not agree. In fact he writes:

A top United Nations humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, said he was shocked on inspecting southern Lebanon to find it littered with deadly unexploded cluster bombs. These were for the most part dropped in the last three days of the conflict, when it was foreseen that there would be a resolution and a ceasefire. He said, ““What’’s shocking and I would say, to me, completely immoral is that 90 percent of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution.”

Egeland was not just harshly condemning a UN member state, which is a breach of protocol. He was also accusing Israel of crimes against humanity. You see, if a rationale could be found at all for using cluster bombs, it would be against a massed, invading enemy infantry corps. But just to scatter them all around a civilian area as a cease fire is imminent is not a legitimate military action. It is a monstrous crime. It is a surefire death sentence on hundreds, perhaps thousands of innocent children, who will find the bomblets and think they are playthings. The government of Ehud Olmert committed this crime as part of its cynical attempt to ethnically cleanse the far south of Lebanon of its Shiite inhabitants. It was a way of discouraging them from returning, just as was the massive demolition of thousands of houses, with bulldozers and aerial bombing, which had no military value whatsoever.

The American people are complicit in these war crimes, insofar as they provided the cluster bombs and supported Olmert to the hilt in his dirty war, which was only occasionally about actually combating Hizbullah fighters (there weren’t any, in a lot of the places that were bombed).

As noted above the bombing with cluster bombs occured in the last three days of the battle, but it serves to make me cautious, if not cynical, in relation to any cant about widespread aerial bombing excused as clearing the battlefield of civilians.

I do not understand how the Israeli Government can get away with such behavior, and if it is true that it is due to the protection of the United States then in terms of moral values “the decline of the West” is surely appropriate.


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Views get expressed in Ha’aretz that would not get a run elsewhere. Amira Hass makes a indictment of Israel policy toward the Arabs and Arab lands, including Israeli Arabs and concludes:

As Jews we all enjoy the privilege Israel gives us, what makes us all collaborators. The question is what does every one of us do in an active and direct daily manner to minimize cooperation with a dispossessing, suppressing regime that never has its fill. Signing a petition and tutting will not do. Israel is a democracy for its Jews. We are not in danger of our lives, we will not be jailed in concentration camps, our livelihood will not be damaged and recreation in the countryside or abroad will not be denied to us. Therefore, the burden of collaboration and direct responsibility is immeasurably heavy.

TEMPUS FUGIT August 30, 2006

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Counting makes time go faster. Of course, as we wait, and for what? we steadily, inexorably get older.

Last time I looked Bush still had 873 days a number of hours, minutes and seconds to wrought further disaster.

I have not got the clock, but if the political gods are kind, John Winston Howard’s time in office will be up somewhat sooner.

We can only wait and hope, and if it can be imagined then get something worst. But then, at least, we can say we were not starry-eyed optimists.


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The BBC reports that the Ugandan Government has reached a ceasefire with the Lords Resistance Army. This ceasefire has the potential to end twenty years of conflict.

Ceasefires and the establishment of peace are good things? Yes. In this case no only is the government talking to terrorists, but there is another sting:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) wants the LRA’s top officials – among them Joseph Kony – to face charges including murder, rape and forcibly enlisting children. The LRA has abducted thousands of children and forced them to fight since the conflict began.

Against the wishes of the ICC, Uganda offered amnesty to LRA leaders in exchange for the peace talks.

During the time of the insurgency, more than one million people have fled from the fighting.

Just to remind me, if nobody else, that things are not always clear cut.

The Boston Globe has a report suggesting:

The rebels, notorious for mutilating innocent civilians, enslaving tens of thousands of children, and driving nearly 2 million people from their homes, have agreed to end one of the most brutal, but least known conflicts in the world.

FIXING DEMOCRACY August 28, 2006

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Liberal Democracy does not seem to be working too well, and that inevitably leads to disappointment. The reasons can be listed, and it is an expanding list. And when we look at this list we realize that nothing is perfect, and improvement is difficult, and what is worst what is claimed to be improvements are put up by politicians actually make things work as intended and add to the detriment. Nothing it seems is to be done except that the citizens of a democracy apply themselves to the seeking truth and the best way, or at least to see through the fog of propaganda, lies and half truths fed by the indifferent politicians and the media, but then it seems most citizens cannot be bothered. They have given up, yet remain fully entitled members of the democracy.

The enthusiasm for democracy still springs eternal. Why do not we apply the New England town hall meeting approach to the problems of the Middle East knowing that even at the local level roads do not get paved, or teachers get paid what they merit, on the basis that a half solution is better than no solution. Anyway there is a chance, worth taking and saving lives, that the talking cure may avert madness, provided that mechanism in democracy is allowed that provides equal opportunity even for minority opinions.

We can be certain that democracy is failing when war is resorted too between democracies. Now the “hundred year Arab Israel War” has taken on this character. The triumph of Lebanon was that its government was able to merely survive against the wanton and disproportionate aggression of Israel. The eternal shame of Israel was that it engaged in war crimes. Now that democracy, as others is overtaken by the failure of its politicians and its leaders to be held accountable, both before and after decisions were made.

So Alcibiades speaking at the time of the Peloponnesian War is looking good, when he said of democracy, “Why should we discuss acknowledged madness”? And all that can be said in return is that democracy never works, it never has, when those who participate are consumed by bad faith. Under those circumstances why would anybody in their right mind expect it to? So what is good faith in relation to democracy? What are the conditions that are necessary for good faith to be realized?

POST CEASEFIRE August 27, 2006

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Israel maintains a naval blockade of Lebanon, via Informed Comment, which is detrimental to economic recovery. Firstly they have the arrogance to bust up the country on a flimsy pretext so as to carry out vicious bombing that they had war gamed, and now they want to persist with damaging the Lebanese economy.

I do not get it. I think these Israeli policies are insane. When will they stop visiting immiseration on their neighbours, on the premise that they can survive by force alone. In this sense Israel is like apartheid South Africa.

The influence of religion on Israel is not much commented. One common feature between these two social systems of apartheid South Africa and Israel is that their is a exclusive religious ideology that underpins the State. In this sense, Judaism seems to me to be anachronistic. I am not the person to comment because I do not know.

By way of striking contrast, whatever else, Islam is widely inclusive, and that historically was one reason why the “Islamic occupation” was taken up by the people of the Levant, and why it has long endured compared to previous rulers. It can be further observed that the Holocaust took place in Western Europe, not the Arab World and there is long history of non-Muslims, even Christians. Sadly now, following the American Invasion and Occupation, as I understand it, this has changed in Iraq.

I think the World has to draw the line at the trashing of Lebanon, as it should at the trashing of Iraq, and with it respectively the wanton murder of innocent civilians. We must establish the rule of international law in relation to war crimes. And if that means the American Presidents, even figure heads have to be indicted, and if the powers behind the throne such as Richard Bruce Cheney have to indicted, so be it.

We are not all film directors, so we probably cannot undertake a cultural boycott of Israel, but there must be ways that we can express our disapproval of their vicious policies. At the same time it is necessary to support those in Israel who oppose the established, ingrained policy reactions. For example, Gideon Levy is critical of the post ceasefire protestors:

Above all, it is depressing to find out that none of the protesters are raising moral questions. A protest movement that says nothing about the terrible destruction we wreaked in Lebanon, how we killed hundreds of innocent civilians and turned tens of thousands into impoverished refugees is by definition not a moral movement. Even after it has been proved that the excessive force was not effective, no protest has been directed at it. How long will we only focus on ourselves and our distress?


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Banning extremist organizations, however defined, is deeply troubling. The analogy that comes to my mind is convicting people without giving them a fair trial. Allowing people to express argument and points of view is fundamental to liberal democracy because that is a way of suppressing minority opinion other than allowing it free reign to be expressed and its merits be judged in open debate. John Stuart Mills advocacy for the rights of minority opinions in Representative Government might be a suitable text reference. Similarly a fair trial supposes in part that those accused are given the presumption of innocence, at least in those jurisdictions that follow the British tradition, and subject to cross examination to establish the truth – a process that might also be described as “obsessive data collection” and fact checking.

The Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales has called for the banning of Hizb ut-Tahrir, not on the basis that they are, or have conspired to break the law, but as far as the ABC News Online report suggests that their views are extreme. Peter Debnam must I presume know more about HT than I do, and therefore may have genuine grounds for his concern. He needs to advance them. However it is not sufficient to contend as the report has it:

The group held a lecture in Sydney’s south-west last Saturday questioning the legality of the Israel state. Mr Debnam says it is disturbing. “I was very concerned to hear that this extremist organization hasn’t been outlawed or that their views of pamphlets don’t contravene Australian legislation,” he said.

Of course, everybody who looked at the “hundred year war” between Jewish settlement and the Palestinians would observe that it was based on displacement and dispossession of the original people from their land, not less for example in Israel proper in 1948 (I believe about 780,000) and the Golan Heights in 1967 (about 130,000). Similarly, it only requires a construct intelligence, sadly beyond my wit, to realize that the massive displacement of people in Lebanon, up to one million people, could have been designed to expand the space of Israel, and may have been effected except for the successful resistance of Hizbullah and the determination of the people of Southern Lebanon to return to their broken homes. Frankly one ought to question the legality of States that engage in war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

Any review of the history of the Levant – looking at the changing maps is sufficient – will reveal the role of imperialism in the creation of the nation states. Now, of course, some proponents of Israel look back to Roman Imperialism and the diaspora as justification for reclaiming their homeland. Given this history, it is as logical, for Arabs to suggest and believe that a united national state would serve their interest better, allow for fairer distribution of wealth and provide for a place at the United Nations than the composite of states created by Western Imperialists.

I take the separation of religion and the State as bible, not least because it appears to be sanctioned by the Australian Constitution. Still this doctrine is not as sacrosanct as it might be. For example, certain Christian religious bodies have been in recent times given the role of distributing welfare on behalf of the Australian Government, including the extremist, fundamentalist Hillsong organization. Jewish and Islamic organizations might also be participating in this example of public largesse, as they in principle should be if the Christian Churchs are so favored.

The BBC had a review of TH, which says that they reject democracy but accept the need for voting. It is useful to remember that the secular West has its origins both in rationalism and the Englightenment and in religious wars. While that is true, I think, I am also conscious that the experiential basis of democracy has much of its foundation in the dissenting protestant religion who adhered to the spiritual priesthood of the believers. The problem of democracy then becomes of institutionalizing it as a practice that moves up in scale the group, the chapel, the public meeting to the nation state and representative institutions, and that requires at each level counting numbers and some degree of individual integrity to uphold principle. As recent discussions suggest modern democracy the 24 hours news cycle and constant electioneering is not without problems.(The podcast is here for the next few days) Doubtless, God’s law which might be seen as going back to the roots, has appeal to some Christians as much as some Muslims.

The ABC report concludes with the observation that:

A spokesman for the federal Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock, says the Federal Government is constantly reviewing the status of groups and whether they should be prescribed as terrorist organizations. He says the Government acts on the advice of appropriate agencies. The Federal Government asked ASIO to assess whether the group should be outlawed in Australia last year and at the time, it said there were no grounds for a ban.

On one hand we can be thankful, for the moment, for sanity. Democracy is not enhanced by suppressing opinions, but is damaged by it. The opinions of Muslim Australia should be part of the whole dialogue and debate. Whatever views may be held should be expressed, not suppressed. That at least, if I have understood it, is the democratic way.


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A camera provides the opportunity to see things that otherwise would not be seen, and in doing so one photo does not provide context for continuous behaving. Otherwise I would not notice what the dogs do from one moment to the next. Most of the time, provided there are no other dogs or people, I am thinking my own thoughts, and I suppose they are thinking theirs. What they might be, I have no idea. I try here to capture a dog’s world as caught in a moment.

Sasha with a serious look. 19 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter’s bi-lateral hearing?A more familiar Sasha. 19 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Is that your tongue Sasha? 20 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter gets Sasha’s attention. 21 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Following the scent. 22 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Sasha laps up the sunlight. 23 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Perhaps the first stage in orientation? 24 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Then relax and explore. 24 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter looks for sticks. 24 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Two minds; two directions. 25 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Sometimes we share the same view. 25 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

“Patience, patience!” 25 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

These photos can be enlarged by clicking onto them.

Friday Ark #101 continues at Modulator, and I imagine the Carnival of the Dogs plays on at Mickey’s Musings.

LIVING FOR WAR August 24, 2006

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Israel is seems can just dismiss the charges that it engaged in war crimes by widespread, disproportionate and in discriminate bombing. Protected by the United States, Israel is not accountable for its actions to the world, and can afford to ignore world opinion and the United Nations.

We should remember this is the position – short sighted in my opinion – of the leaders and major political parties, but not of all Israelis. Danny Schechter, via Common Dreams, quotes Uri Avernery:

“After every failed war, the cry for an official investigation goes up in Israel,” he writes.“Now there is a “trauma”, much bitterness, a feeling of defeat and of a missed opportunity. Hence the demand for a strong Commission of Inquiry that will cut off the heads of those responsible. To have any value whatsoever, the investigation must expose the real roots of the war and present the public with the historic choice that has become clear in this war, too: Either the settlements and an endless war, or the return of the occupied territories and peace.

“Otherwise, the investigation will only provide more backing for the outlook of the Right, to wit: we only have to expose the mistakes that have been made and correct them, then we can start the next war and win.”

And then Nadim Shehadi:

What is the logic that will emerge from this war?,” he asks.

“If Israel can exist only by destroying the neighborhood, then it’s time to declare it a failed state. The Zionist dream has turned into a nightmare and is not viable. If the future holds more of the same, then the time has come to reconsider the whole project.

“Every state has a duty to defend its citizens, but also it has a duty to provide them with security and the two are different. The prospects are for more destruction, fanaticism, violence and hatred. No unilateral separation can isolate Israel from this, nor can the region or the world live with the consequences. This seems to be the only choice, and Israel must do itself and others a favor and go away.”

A former ambassador has said that Australia is lost its influence in the Middle East by following a toadying, pro-Israel position. It is proving difficult, as in the United States, to have this foreign policy position debated. The Holocaust cannot be used to justify Israeli barbarism now, or be used to block debate about it, and where necessary indict those who have committed war crimes. The difficulty for the American Government, but not for Australia, is that there must be legal consistency in the application of legal principles. We should be concerned that the UN role in preventing transnational aggression is been undermined.

Stephen Zunes, also via Common Dreams, draws important conclusions with respect to the United Nations and the world system:

The inability of the UN to stop the fighting earlier and the weakness of the resulting compromise demonstrate that the power of the United States in the Security Council severely restricts the UN from fulfilling its principal mandate to prevent aggression by one state against another. If a UN member state can get away with launching a full-scale attack on the civilian infrastructure of a neighboring member state following a minor border incident (even when instigated by the militia of a minority party outside the control of the central government of that country), this constitutes a serious breakdown in the international legal order . . .

And if the United States­-the most dominant military and economic power the world has ever known-­believes that it and its allies do not have to play by the rules, why should Hezbollah or anyone else?


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Amnesty International, as reported by the BBC, has charged both Israel and Hizbullah with war crimes. They are to issue a separate report on war crimes committed by Hizbullah. In fact when comparing reports in Al Jazeera and Ha’aretz, and the BBC, Al Jazeera’s report is more damning of Hizbullah. They mention evidence such as footage on the Hizbullah TV station showing rockets launched from within settlements, and the report carries the accusation of the Israelis that Hizbullah used the civilian population as human shields, and in some instances stopped the civilian population from fleeing.

Amnesty does not believe claims made by Israel that the destruction of civilian infrastructure was simply collateral damage. They argue that the bombing of “homes, bridges, road, water and fuel plants were an integral part of Israel’s strategy”. Spokesman for Israel denied that they deliberately targeted civilians, and that all targets were cleared by lawyers. The report also says that targeting of essential civilian infrastructure water pumping stations and water treatment stations was in violation of international humanitarian law.

The climate in Israel, as reported in The LA Times, is not, as was predictable, favorable to the Government Coalition, the agitators seem to be those who expect another round of conflict and the erstwhile supporters of Israeli aggression.

Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent has an account of a civilian massacre in which a convoy of civilians given the imprimatur of safety from the UN and the Israelis was attacked by missiles killing people indiscriminately, which on the report as given appears to be a straight out massacre. Apparently, the Israelis have not provided a point by point rebuttal, nor have they to this point instituted an inquiry.

This article in The Washington Post, American policy is at odds with the emergent Middle East

Rami Khouri comments in The Daily Star. “We will create a desert and call it victory”, with the Israeli addendum. “We will create fear, and call it the measure of our survival”.

A perusal of Ha’aretz provides the following comments. If past evidence is anything to go by, then the widespread aerial bombing conducted by the Israelis may have been counterproductive as much as anything else. According to Amira Hass the occupier defines justice.

I am left wondering what will come of these charges, but it is a good thing that someone, even if an NGO, is following them up. I thought I would send some emails calling upon members of the Security Council to initiate an investigation of the allegations. The raw material for this action were taken from the Amnesty website.

NOTHING CHANGED August 22, 2006

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There was doubtless a new dawn in Gaza, but not a new realization on the part of the Israeli Government that their policies and attitudes need to change.

The BBC reports that the punishment of the Gaza population continues. The campaign in Gaza has been running from before the outbreak of “hostilities” in Lebanon.

The cost of the war to Israel is calculated at over $(Aus)1.8 billion, or NIS 6 billion, was more than expected, and this was generated in large measure by the Kaytusha rockets. This figure does not take into account, as far as I can see, the loss of military hardware. The cost to Lebanon is at least four times that amount.

So much for wars making a difference. Stupidity is doing the same things and expecting to get different results.


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I know it is an incorrect coinage.

However, Trudy Rubin, via Common Dreams, does shed some light on the emergence of the Shiite branch of Islam, following the invasion of Iraq, and the fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of Iraq society.

I suppose it would be necessary to start with the treatment of Iran, starting with the assassination of the prime minister in 1953, the imposition of the regime of the Shah, and then the revolution of the Ayotollahs.

The aftermath of the Iraqi Invasion has seen the Persian ascendancy over much of the Mid East based on religious affiliation rather than ethnic identify. Gary Younge’s article in The Guardian about multiple identities which he suggest we all have is relevant, and the role of fundamentalists in asserting that one chosen identity should override all others.

(Whenever I make comments about matters related to ethnicity, I have cannot but observe that I live in a lower class Anglo enclave, predominantly of homeowners. That clearly is part of my identity, but it is not the sum total of who or what I am. The construction of “us”and the inherent differences can be forged, so it is suggested by the politics of fear as in Don Arthur’s review of Carmen Lawrence’s book launch at Troppo.)

And it seems that the poor South Lebanon Shiite population has been the beneficiaries of the wave of change triggered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, not least in the emergence and development of Hizbullah, which paradoxically may well increase their share and stake in the Lebanese state. So in this instance, democracy might triumph, although not before Israel has something to say and again put its spoon into the Lebanese melting pot.

Now here is an alternative explanation as to the foundation and patronage of Hizbullah suggested by Uri Avenery writing in CounterPunch:

Hizbullah grew up with the support of Syria, which controlled Lebanon at the time. Hafez al-Assad saw the return of the Golan to Syria as the aim of his life – after all, it was he who lost them in the June 1967 war, and who did not succeed in getting them back in the October 1973 war. He did not want to risk another war on the Israel-Syria border, which is so close to Damascus. Therefore, he patronized Hizbullah, so as to convince Israel that it would have no quiet as long as it refused to give the Golan back. Assad jr. is continuing with his fathers legacy. Without the cooperation of Syria, Iran has no direct way of supplying Hizbullah with arms.

And goes on to observe:

The solution is on hand: we have to remove the settlers from there, whatever the cost in wines and mineral water, and give the Golan back to its rightful owners. Ehud Barak almost did so, but, as is his wont, lost his nerve at the last moment.

In addition he makes reference to the situation in Gaza and the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

I get the impression that if some outside body does not suggest to them to stop, the Israelis are just digging the hole deeper and deeper until as William Lind suggests they suffer the fate of the Crusader states.

Am I right in believing that terrorism has grown out of the Authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and the unresolved Palestinian conflict, which is then used as a model for other continuing conflicts, such as Kashmir? The resolving of the Palestinian conflict would go a long war to solving the problem of terrorism, which is likely to be recurrent in the absence of global grievance process and system of international law replacing the doctrine that might is right.

WINNERS OR LOSERS? August 20, 2006

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By definition, guerrilla wars are not pitched battles, and so there is usually not clear winner. I believe it is true to say that most armies in history have struggled to get the better against guerilla resistance movements, and have seldom conclusively defeated them. More often than not guerilla movements seem to have prevailed, not without considerable pain, over the long haul.

The Washington Post suggests that Hizbullah is the best guerilla movement in the world. The Israel Chief of Staff claims that Israel won on points. There was no knockout he acknowledges. Therefore, as these things are measured in asymmetrical warfare, Israel lost.

Charles Glass gives his thoughts on Hizbullah, and relates how he was once captured by them. He argues that they have shown less vengence than comparable movements, that they have always supported the Palestinians when almost nobody else will, and they are not the cats-paw of Syria or Iran, and that the Israelis understand that to be the case.

Being too much of an idealist myself, it is easy for me to have deep sympathy for those who invested great hope in Israel. The Jewish people have suffered grave injustice, even if my knowledge of it is limited to reading Ivanhoe and Peter Singer’s, Pushing Back Time. Moving on often means forgetting, or perhaps selectively remembering, as has become the ideology for the past eleven years in Australia.

Whatever else can be said the bombing campaign waged against civilians in Lebanon, with the intention that they would set upon each other in a civil war, was immoral. Since Israel was the protagonist of this crime, even if encouraged and supported by the Bush Government, it must face the moral opprobrium.

There is a pattern of behavior here, which did not begin during last months in Gaza. This pattern of behavior is deeply imbued in Israeli actions over the past sixty to one hundred years. As I have said elsewhere there is something rotten in the State of Israel, not only is it based on the principle that might is right, but it has consistently engaged in ethnic cleansing, and now punishments of whole populations.

Compared to the Israelis, Hizbullah are saints. They have won a moral and ethical victory by a knockout. Perhaps, because in truth there was no competition. The Israelis need to look to how they are to secure their Jewish Homeland if not by military force which simply means tears and blood as the select of each new generation, as they have since its foundation, are tossed onto the altar of useless sacrifice.

It will not be easy for Israel to accept that they must form a genuine multi-cultural society in which Jews will be a minority with a recognized right to their homeland, while acceding the same rights of return to Palestinians. Can such a society, and one State solution, work? I do not underestimate the problems and difficulties. But some things are worth trying, and some are not worth persisting with.

Postscript: Here is a brief history of the Arab-Israel conflict from The Guardian, 2004.

SOMEBODY TELL THEM August 19, 2006

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The Israeli Government is going to be the last to know that the funny little war they engaged in thirty days of so has changed their world. I know that the Israelis have overdeveloped pretensions, but the reality is that they are small fry, with an oversized military capacity it is true.

So they are standing in the boots of the United States, but let me remind the Israelis that the Americans, whatever their posturing and posing, are up to their knees in the Iraqi sandpit, which means that the Israelis are over their heads.

I notice that Israel has kidnapped another Palestinian politician on the West Bank, and launched a raid into Lebanon. It pretty much seems to me that they do not want the ceasefire to continue.

They should understand that the world has watched with horror as Israel blasted the civilians and infrastructure of Lebanon, and those crimes will not be forgotten or forgiven.

Postscript: 20 August 2006

And somebody has. Here is a report, carried by ABC Online, of the comments of the Secretary-General in relation to the raid into Lebanon and the violations of Lebanese air space.


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The weather is starting to warm up with the expected maximum temperatures for next week ranging from about 19 -22 degrees Celsius. Some people started talking about spring. And I have to start thinking about taking water with us on our walks.

Dexter, given his breed, although we did not know that at the time we took him, was always going to be a challenge. We are operating on a risk minimalization policy – which could always be sad last words. He has taken to chewing up whatever he can get his mouth around. For example, the latest item was my wallet, but my card still works at the ATM despite Dexter’s tooth imprint. He is given to robust play with Sasha, but she seems to stand her ground and growl at him, seeming often to enjoy it.

Dexter close to looking happy. 12 August 2006Posted by Picasa

Sasha’s usual disposition. 12 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Sometimes Dexter sidles up to Sasha. 13 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Again Dexter seems pleased with himself. 13 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Time to lie down among the leaves and grass. 15 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Taking it easy, but not switching off. 15 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Some, like Sashas here, are content with the middle of the road. 15 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

. . . which does not mean that they might be equally happy off the beaten track. 16 August 2006

Posted by Picasa

“So I should check out what is over here”. 16 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

“Not bad!” 17 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Sasha stands on the rubble as the wattles flower. 17 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

Dexter has a closer look. 17 August 2006. Posted by Picasa

A stop along the bike track. 18 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

With these photos the option exists to click-on to them to enlarge them.

Friday Ark# 100 has scored the century. Congratulations to them. The Carnival of the Dogs is still running at Mickey’s Musings.

HIZBULLAH AGO August 17, 2006

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Photo: Carolyn Cole / LAT

An academic from the AUB described Hizbullah as ” state within a non-state”. Judging by this article in The LA Times it now seems to be the main agent in the reconstruction of South Lebanon. In this light, it makes sense why the people returning were so happy to carry the yellow flag.

Still some are of a mind that as a designated terrorist organization its members should be killed per se.

The article also suggests that Hizbullah is in competition with the Americans to be the principal agents in the reconstruction. And this is not parody?

The Daily Star suggests that Hizbullah has lessons for all Arabs – and I would imagine on this basis not just Arabs.

“TERRORIST STATE” August 17, 2006

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George Walker Bush is the US president. The President of the United States has speech writers and advisers, and if he has the wit to use them a reservoir of human intelligence and experience, especially in matters relating to affairs in other countries, not least I suppose in the country that he ordered invaded and occupied. Given those conditions, I am still taken aback to read:

Leaving before we complete our mission would create a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East, a country with huge oil reserves that the terrorist network would be willing to use to extract economic pain from those of us who believe in freedom.

Cindy Sheehan keeps asking Bush what the noble cause was, and so far she has no been given an answer. This I suspect is a case of making the mission fit the case, rather than the case fit the mission.

Then I am quite interested as to the definition of “a terrorist state”, especially when I fit that description to Israel, and then told that it does not apply. Thus I conclude that it is a subjective epithet.

UN FORCE IN LEBANON August 17, 2006

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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I have now convinced myself that the only way to see the recent conflict in the Levant is as part of a long running war that breaks out periodically, and the periodicity is somewhere between ten and fifteen years, if the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians is not taken into view. We would expect to see the outbreak of another major conflict installment by or soon after 2016.

In the meantime, and subject to the ceasefire holding, UN Resolution 1701 required the stationing of a International Force and the disarmament of Hizbullah. I will believe the latter when I see it.

French was widely believed to be the country to lead the beefed up UN presence and provide the majority of the troops. Not understanding matters machiavellian, I did not know why France would want to take on this role, for it seems to me there is more downside that upside. The BBC reports that the French seem to be reconsidering.


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Harry Farr, photo via The Guardian.
Photograph: PA

History was only yesterday. The people who lived then were just like us, even if at that time we had not been thought of.

The Guardian reports:

All 306 British first world war soldiers executed for desertion or cowardice are to be pardoned, Des Browne, the defence secretary, will announce today.

For 90 years, families, friends and campaigners for the young soldiers have argued that their deaths were a stain on the reputation of Britain and the army.

In many cases, soldiers were clearly suffering from shellshock but officers showed no compassion for fear that their comrades would have disobeyed orders and refused to go “over the top”.