Saturday, May 03, 2008

Makes you wonder

The following thought-provoking collective letter was published this week in The Guardian (UK):

In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust.

Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler’s genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa’s market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.

Seymour Alexander, Ruth Appleton, Steve Arloff, Rica Bird, Jo Bird, Cllr Jonathan Bloch, Ilse Boas, Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Tanya Bronstein, Sheila Colman, Ruth Clark, Sylvia Cohen, Judith Cravitz, Mike Cushman, Angela Dale, Ivor Dembina, Dr. Linda Edmondson, Nancy Elan, Liz Elkind, Pia Feig, Colin Fine, Deborah Fink, Sylvia Finzi, Brian Fisher MBE, Frank Fisher, Bella Freud, Catherine Fried, Uri Fruchtmann, Stephen Fry, David Garfinkel, Carolyn Gelenter, Claire Glasman, Tony Greenstein, Heinz Grunewald, Michael Halpern, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Anna Hellman, Amy Hordes, Joan Horrocks, Deborah Hyams, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Yael Oren Kahn, Michael Kalmanovitz, Paul Kaufman, Prof. Adah Kay, Yehudit Keshet, Prof. Eleonore Kofman, Rene Krayer, Stevie Krayer, Berry Kreel, Leah Levane, Les Levidow, Peter Levin, Louis Levy, Ros Levy, Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky, Catherine Lyons, Deborah Maccoby, Daniel Machover, Prof. Emeritus Moshe Machover, Miriam Margolyes OBE, Mike Marqusee, Laura Miller, Simon Natas, Hilda Meers, Martine Miel, Laura Miller, Arthur Neslen, Diana Neslen, Orna Neumann, Harold Pinter, Roland Rance, Frances Rivkin, Sheila Robin, Dr. Brian Robinson, Neil Rogall, Prof. Steven Rose, Mike Rosen, Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, Leon Rosselson, Michael Sackin, Sabby Sagall, Ian Saville, Alexei Sayle, Anna Schuman, Sidney Schuman, Monika Schwartz, Amanda Sebestyen, Sam Semoff, Linda Shampan, Sybil Shine, Prof. Frances Stewart, Inbar Tamari, Ruth Tenne, Martin Toch, Tirza Waisel, Stanley Walinets, Martin White, Ruth Williams, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Devra Wiseman, Gerry Wolff, Sherry Yanowitz

By contrast, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has already celebrated on the collective behalf of all Australians.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Goat Friday

click to enlarge  —  image source

“Proud and Handsome!”

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who are ‘the Taliban’?

BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead tries to explain for a television audience:

... gradually over the last few years the Taliban have been growing in strength. We say ‘Taliban’, it’s a shorthand term, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same people who are [were] in government here. It’s a combination of criminal, of al Qaeda, of other groups of drug lords. It’s a hugely complicated picture across Afghanistan as to exactly who these insurgents are.

On the other hand, the picture doesn’t seem nearly so complicated in general news reporting. Regarding the recent attempt to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a “militant attack” at a parade, it was reported that:

The extremist Taliban said it had carried out the attack, in which three militants were also killed.

And regarding a later “suicide blast” outrage:

A man claiming to be a Taliban commander for the region said a Taliban loyalist had carried out the attack.

“We claim responsibility for the blast in Khogyani,” said the man, who identified himself as Qari Sajad. “It was a suicide attack carried out by one of our friends named Abdullah.”

One may wonder how rigorously the bona fides of someone claiming to be “a Taliban commander” are assessed. On the other hand, we all know ‘Abdullah’... don’t we?


The first US Marines of a new expeditionary force were deployed in Afghanistan’s troubled Helmand province yesterday, promising more aggressive tactics and implying criticism of the British operation there. ...

The extra US force in the south will make it easier for the Americans to press their allies to adopt common tactics, primarily those refined over the past few years by US forces against the Taliban and other groups.

Those “other groups” — whoever they may be — seldom seem to emerge from behind the blanket “shorthand” expedient of “the Taliban”.

Hopefully the NATO command in Afghanistan will have a better idea of exactly who they’re fighting in this “generational” conflict, than we punters back home, who only have the benefit of shorthand reporting.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Warming debate

They believe an ecological and economic disaster is imminent, that human activity should be severely curtailed, and that Government has been “grossly incompetent” and isn’t doing enough to “manage” the problem.

Tasmanian abalone producers are demanding a trial ban on human activity on some sections of Victoria’s coast to try to stop the spread of a virus threatening commercial stocks of the marine mollusc.

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