Monday, January 5, 2009

Australia: Locals divided over Gaza

Cross-post at Global Voices:

Australian blogs are dominated by disagreements about the situation in Gaza. The stances taken by Australian politicians have also been attacked by several bloggers.

There were 425 comments on Larvatus Prodeo’s first thread that argued that:

Any form of peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Palestine and Israel has been blocked for a long time by a range of factors - including but not limited to internal Israeli politics and the decomposition of its party system, the legacy of past atrocities, an effective economic blockade of Palestine, the power balance in the Middle East and the hypocritical and empty promises of the Bush administration. If there is a “peace process”, its outlines were frozen in time long ago. Unfortunately, I think it’s probably too much to hope for that there’ll be any sort of progress under the Obama administration, particularly with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Eyeless in Gaza
So they’ve continued the discourse on a new thread, Eyeless in Gaza II. A comment on the original thread from Paul Burns (421) is typical of many people’s frustration with both sides:
I don’t agree with Hamas firing rockets at Israeli civilians. (Israel can kill as many Hamas militants as it likes, and Hamas can kill as many Israeli soldiers as it likes - that’s what happens to soldiers, and let’s face it, on both sides, whatever else they are, they’re varieties of a defence/offence force.)
What gets to me is the indiscriminate bombing of women and children, of mosques, (you’re not supposed to bomb places of worship - I know people don’t take much notice of it in modern warfare, but among other things places of worship are places of sanctuary for civilians as well as places of prayer.)
Its all very cliched, but the end result of all this is going to be that neither side wins, and we’re going to have a lot of traumatized kids, in whom the mutual hate will just live on.
There’s little point for me in debating the rights and wrongs of this - both sides are wrong, the Israelis infinitely more so because of their use of disproportionate force, and, at the risk of sounding really boring, their use of collective punishment on the Gazans as a whole.
Somehow the whole damn thing just has to stop for good.
I know the above is very simplistic, and probably doesn’t take account of the infinite permutations of Israeli and Palestinian politics, but really, surely that is what has to happen.
The Orstrahyun presented a series of photos of child victims of the bombing. He questioned the Australian government’s support for Israel’s actions:
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was too busy over the weekend to explain how he feels about an Australian ally using indiscriminate terrorism to collectively punish the Palestinian people in Gaza, for the actions of their democratically elected government. Terror attacks that have killed more than 400 people, including at least 80 children, wounding thousands more in nine days.

Australia All But Silent On Ally Terror Attacks Killing 80 Children
Harry Clarke’s self-titled blog took a very different tack:
The response of the media and mealy-mouthed politicians has been predictable. On the one hand a section of the media, backed up by supporters of terrorism around the world, has been to attack the immorality of the Israeli attack often without mention of the past and continuing bombardment of Israel by missiles from Hamas. This is one-eyed hypocrisy given the avowed intent of Hamas to wipe-out Israel.

Mealy-mouthed politicians (including our own Julia Gillard and the toothless UN - this is particularly disgraceful) have participated widely in these forms of hypocrisy as well as by launching the standard response that both sides should stop the conflict, kiss and go home.

Israel launches ground attack into Gaza
This earned him the displeasure of Slim at The Dog’s Bollocks:
I’m always amazed at how polarised people’s opinions are when it comes to Israel - how generally reasoned and moderate commentators can be so single-mindedly supportive of Israel, despite the appalling anti-humanitarian conditions it imposes on the Palestinians and the numerous floutings of conditions imposed by the UN – as though Israel can do no wrong.

Why the taboo on criticising Israel?
At do not adjust your mind, Zac Spitzer also attacked local politicians as well as Barack Obama:
Obama needs to rebuke Israel (and it's use of the current Administration flawed spin), which is difficult and obviously given that Bush is almost out of the White House, unfortunate timing, but many, many lives are being lost.

Shame on Israel, I can really understand their situation, having rockets landing everyday in their towns is an outrage, unfortunately, they have overstepped the mark completely and now have lost most of their credibility with their actions in Gaza.

Kevin Rudd has been MIA on this as well, the Federal Opposition is going to have it's hand tied somewhat having Helen Coonan as the Shadow Foreign Affairs, given her seat lies in the heart of Melbourne's Jewish Community.

Israel and it's WMD Style spin on Gaza, Obama MIA
It’s interesting to note that the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Deputy PM Julia Gillard are seen as having different views on the conflict in Gaza.

So does the general populace. Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protests were held over the weekend. Joni from Blogocrats attended one and took his video camera along:


Gaza Protest
The rally went past the Egyptian Consulate where chants against Mubarak were heard. So everyone realises that it is not just the Israelis that need to act - the Egyptians also need to act.

Of course, there was the (somewhat) militant fringe to the protest, but overall it was a peaceful protest - where the chants stayed polite, if passionate. The organisers tried to keep the protest to being one of respect and to be in support of the people of Gaza. I estimated that there was a couple of thousand people in attendance.

Protest for Palestine (Sydney)


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