Both the moral and the legal issues in protesting against Isreali tennis player Shahar Peer are somewhat cloudy

I’ve long since given up on trying to get my head around the rights and wrongs of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinian territories. It’s one of those issues that would demand far, far more time and effort on my part to understand than can ever pay off in terms of useful action, and at the end of that process I'd still have a nagging doubt that I was wrong. Thus my default position on Israel and Palestine tends to be “a plague on all your houses”.

So with all due respect to John Minto and Global Peace and Justice, as well as to pro-Israeli folks like this, I discount heavily their fevered assertions that they have “the truth” about the situation. And yes, this refusal to engage probably is a morally compromised position. But it strikes me that the Israeli-Palestine issue is one that could do with far more compromise, and a lot less moral certainty all round.

The issues involved in protesting against individual Israeli sportspeople, as has been taking place in Auckland over the past few days, are even more problematic. Sure, if (a big if) Israel really is guilty of war crimes and creating a quasi-apartheid state (as Global Peace and Justice claim), then that fact demands some form of response from all morally responsible persons. But why a boycott of all sporting contacts?

The rationale for this seems to be that it was used, and seems to have had some effect, in relation to apartheid-era South Africa. But the best rationale for protesting against South African sports teams and individuals was that they were outright manifestations of South Africa’s immoral policies, in that no (or at most a token) black or coloured players were permitted to represent that country. Israeli sports teams just don’t play that same symbolic role, and Arab-Israelis routinely play under the Israeli flag.

So the reason for targeting Shahar Peer and her ilk simply seems to be that as she comes from a “bad” country, she should be stopped from having contact with the international community. Well, I guess that’s OK – but what then of the multiple Russian players in Auckland who come from a state that still is brutally occupying Chechnya, routinely murders dissident journalists, and effectively rigs its elections? And why was China’s Li Na able to play her one match without a murmur – are Tiananmen Square and Tibet now just relics of history?

Doesn’t it then start to look a bit arbitrary to say to Shahar Peer alone: “sorry – your country is just morally unfit to compete against”? And that’s without even getting into the conundrum of whether a form of collective punishment should be visited on all individuals, irrespective of their personal responsibility for the actions of the place they just happen to have been born in.

Fortunately, when these sorts of moral questions all become too hard, I’ve a convenient bolt-hole to escape into: the Law. In particular, the legal niceties of the Police halting Global Peace and Justice’s protests on the grounds that they are “disorderly”. Irrespective of whether these protests are morally commendable or misguided, should the law nevertheless allow them to take place in the way that they did?

Over at No Right Turn, I/S is of the opinion that they should be permitted. He cites the Supreme Court coming down “decisively on the side of free speech” in Brooker v Police - in particular Justice Tipping’s comment that “the purpose of protest is to make someone listen to something they do not want to hear” - to support a claim that the police “can’t just arrest people for saying something [they] don’t like, loudly and repetitively.

Now, I’ve had cause to write on Brooker v Police in my day job as a legal academic, and I’m afraid I don’t think this is quite right. For one thing, Brooker was decided 3-2, which is hardly a “decisive” decision about anything. For another, the 3-judge majority could not agree on one common test as to when a protest becomes “disorderly”, aside from accepting that the particular protest that Mr Brooker undertook didn’t meet that threshold. And while they did indicate that merely causing “annoyance” should not be enough to make a protest unlawfully “disorderly”, they by no means wrote a blank cheque for protestors to use any means necessary to attract attention to their cause.

Take, for example, Justice Blanchard’s comment that the outcome in Brooker might have been different “had Mr Brooker’s behaviour been repetitive or continued for a rather longer period, or involved the noisy participation of other people or amplification.” Or Justice Tipping’s comment that behaviour that causes “anxiety or disturbance” beyond which a reasonable citizen can be expected to bear will be unlawfully “disorderly”. These sorts of comments make it clear that the mere fact you are engaged in a protest doesn't drape a mantle of impunity over your actions - there still exists a point beyond which further disruption will attract the sanction of the criminal law.

So I don’t know whether the police acted in a legally correct manner. I suspect they are not entirely sure either, but will leave it up to the District Court Judge to determine on the particular facts of the case.

What I do know, however, is that brandishing Brooker as proof that the Police clearly acted in an unlawful manner is, with all due respect, too simplistic. Brooker may have widened the bounds of acceptable protest a bit, bit it didn't throw open the floodgates completely (as others also have had cause to discover).

One last, quite unrelated, point. A large part of the problem with the protest at the tennis venue seems to have been that it intruded noise into the Stadium, which then disturbed the players. This is because in tennis there is a tradition of silencing the crowd before a player serves the ball to allow them to concentrate. But why is it that tennis players (along with golf players) get this kid-glove treatment, while all other sports require players to perform in a cauldron of noise? I mean, try telling the crowd at the World Cup Football final that they must shut up so that the striker and goal keeper can concentrate fully on a penalty kick!

Is the real problem just that competitors in these sports are too soft?

 

Comments (21)

by Graeme Edgeler on January 07, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

So the reason for targeting Shahar Peer and her ilk simply seems to be that as she comes from a “bad” country, she should be stopped from having contact with the international community. Well, I guess that’s OK – but what then of the multiple Russian players in Auckland who come from a state that still is brutally occupying Chechnya, routinely murders dissident journalists, and effectively rigs its elections? And why was China’s Li Na able to play her one match without a murmur – are Tiananmen Square and Tibet now just relics of history?

Whilst I disagree with the rationale and the protest, I think this oversimplifies the protesters' argument. They do view Israel as a special case - a country which no action short of a wholesale boycott is enough of a response. The argument is that western governments are unwilling stand up to Israel, and Israel ignores criticism and diplomacy .

The protesters were probably horrified by China's actions at Tiananmen or Tibet, but consider that actions targetted at the Governments of those countries, or aimed at assisting dissidents within those countries, have prospects of success. The protesters likely consider that the Chinese Government actually takes account of international opinion, and is getting better (Tiananmen was 20 years ago).

The protesters do not consider the same could be said about Israel. They likely consider that its human rights record is getting worse, rather than better.

Thus they view that individual action against the whole of Israel is the only way of making the Israeli Government take notice, and have called for their idiotic boycott of the whole country. But it's not just because Israel is "bad" - the argument is that Israel is bad and nothing else will work.

by Raymond A Francis on January 07, 2010
Raymond A Francis

Andrew I must say I like and agree with your position on both the Israel and Palestine problems

And the legal i regarding protest and Brooker v Police

 It is not a license for wholesale rioting or anything close to that

But let see what the Auckland D C make of the case

by Tim Watkin on January 08, 2010
Tim Watkin

A lot to pick up on here... Following the three week 'war' in Gaza a year ago, the UN has found Israel (and the Palestinians) guilty of war crimes, saying:

“The mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility,” the report’s executive summary said. “It also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation of the right to life.”

It went on to criticize the “deliberate and systematic policy on the part of the Israeli armed forces to target industrial sites and water installations,” and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

But both the protesters and the police seem to have been rather arbitrary. Why, as Andrew asks, target an Israeli player and ignore the Russians and others? Sorry Graeme, but I don't buy your argument (whether it's yours, or the protesters). Take  China... Tiananmen may have been 20 years ago, but its killing of protesting Uighurs was just months ago, and it's unrepentant on any number of other human rights abuses. You could also argue that human rights are getting worse again in Russia, if they ever got better; more convincingly you could claim that Russia is taking less and less notice of world opinion as it starts flexing its muscles again.

Israel, on the other hand, seems to be taking tentative account of world condemnation of its awful Gaza attack. It's paying $10m to the UN and, significantly, will consult lawyers on the legality of future attacks.

But I'd also ask why the police would target the disorderly behaviour of these protesters, and not, say, the guys who drag their cars up and down my streets at the weekend... Perhaps they're just responding to a complaint, but it seems to me they ignore plenty of other disturbances at least as disorderly as a man with a loudhailer.

by Tim Watkin on January 08, 2010
Tim Watkin

Oh, and as for the Supreme Court ruling, going merely by your comments and extracts Andrew, I'm hardly impressed by the Supreme Court's attitute to free speech. Surely that's one thing the judges could be unequivocal about – free speech above all else.

by Andrew Geddis on January 08, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Tim,

"Perhaps they're just responding to a complaint, but it seems to me they ignore plenty of other disturbances at least as disorderly as a man with a loudhailer."

Yes - it's pretty clear from the news reports that they are responding to complaints from the tournament organisers (who in turn are responding to complaints from the players and attendees). As for the cars on the road outside your house, this was meant to fix that problem!

But as for "one thing the [Supreme Court] judges could be unequivocal about – free speech above all else", I wonder. The Brooker case involved a protestor who decided to take his protest to the pavement outside a policewoman's home while he knew she was trying to sleep after a shift of night-duty. Surely one's "right to"/"interest in" enjoying an undisturbed home life ought to (at some point) balance out the right to protest? Surely you don't think, for example, that anyone who is unhappy with one of your blog posts has the right to set up camp outside your house at 12 midnight, chanting his/her views through a megaphone for the next 6 hours? (You might wish to clear your answer to that question with Eleanor.) Equally, I don't think that "free speech" ought to permit protests like this. Or this. I'm a liberal, just not that liberal!

Of course, the "balancing" question in the immediate case is whether the protestors right to intrude their message into the tennis arena ought to outweigh/override the interests of the players and spectators in enjoying an undisturbed sporting contest. This is a bit tougher ... and as I say, I suspect it will come down to the District Court judge considering things like how long were the protestors permitted to chant for before the arrests? How loud were the chants within the stadium? How many complaints were received by the organisers, and especially, how aggravated were the competitors? In other words, it'll be a specific, on the facts call ... which is what the Supreme Court said is needed in such circumstances.

Finally, any legal aficionados out there might be interested to recall that the seminal House of Lords decision, Brutus v Cozens, dealt with a protestor who disrupted a match at Wimbledon involving a South African player. He escaped without conviction on the charge of engaging in "insulting behaviour likely to provoke a breach of the peace".

by Tim Watkin on January 08, 2010
Tim Watkin

I hadn't realised the details of the Brooker case, so I withdraw and agree. That sort of protest seems to go too far; not so much taking a stand as victimising someone.

I was reacting to my (limited) knowledge of supreme courts elsewhere and their almost fanatical commitment to free speech, which seems like exactly the sort of thing SCs should champion. It can be hard for politicians, whereas SCs can take the high moral ground on such issues of social principal.

by Andrew Geddis on January 08, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Tim,

"I was reacting to my (limited) knowledge of supreme courts elsewhere and their almost fanatical commitment to free speech ..."

We need to be a bit careful, and not assume the US Supreme Court's approach to free speech (which one could justifiably call "fanatical" in many respects) is shared by the judiciary of the rest of the world. So, for example, the Canadian Supreme Court has upheld pretty draconian limits on "third party"/"parallel campaigner" election spending in the face of a free speech challenge; while the House of Lords unanimously ruled that a law prohibiting any form of political advertising on TV is compatible with a guarantee of free speech.

In fact, every jurisdiction (including the US) accepts that at some point "free speech" gives way to competing interests ... it's just that the US thinks that point ought to be reached a little later in the piece than do countries like NZ/Canada/Australia/the UK. But that's a part of the US's distinctive soc io-political culture ... they just don't trust government/public officials to police lines between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" speech and assume the worst of any attempt to do so, hence they try to have as few such lines as possible.

Anyway - you might find this discussion of the issue interesting.

by Ross Forbes on January 08, 2010
Ross Forbes

Andrew, I disagree with much of what you have posted. I will try to go thru your main conclusions one by one and refute them...perhaps not all on this comment as I am a slow typist!

One of the first points you make is that protestors have singled out Israel and are not been consistent....[Strangely enough this old chestnut is a common refrain and one I recall been used years ago during the Springbok tour times when various calls were made to protestors to quit their focus on Sth Africa as other countries were equally as bad.]

The moral logic here is flawed. If as a policeman I am confronted with evidence of 5 burglaries....I should not try and stop any of them as to single one out is to be "inconsistant"?

You ask why the Russian or Chinese players were not singled out as both states repress various minorities....this is correct...both are repressive states. However no state has flagrantly flouted as many U.N resolutions as Israel....nor has there been to my knowledge any recent action on the part of those States to equal operation "cast lead"...in which 1400 Palestinians were killed whilst only 13 Israelis died. Of those Palestinians killed....320 were children. No Israelis kids were killed over the same period by Palestinians.

So...to return to the policeman analogy above....of those 5 burgaries..one is clearly more recent and of a graver nature than the rest.....moreover the  Israeli burglar in question has employed a brilliant PR company that represents his ongoing crimes in such a good light that much of the policeforce is convinced that he is merely retrieving stolen property...whilst there is an implicit assumption by the policeforce that, yes, the Russian and the Chinese are by nature thieves.

Seeing this and knowing the real nature of the Israeli's crimes....the policeman attempts to apprehend him...but is criticised for "singling" him out!

Thats obviously rubbish.

by Ross Forbes on January 08, 2010
Ross Forbes

Its the statistics that get me. Particularily the ones concerning the deaths of 320 Gazan kids...the incredible one-sidedness of the atrocity..[no Israeli kids]....and then the incredible indifference shown by much of the western world when the enormity of the crime was revealed.

Imagine the press headlines if the reverse occurred....if Palestinian militants killed 320 Israeli kids last year and then a palestinian who had been a militant [Shahar Peer was an enthusastic member of the Israeli Defense Force} and so persumably supported that atrocity came here to play tennis?

Might you feel compelled to join in a protest?

I know I would...we owe it to the 320 Arab kids who died horrible deaths then had those deaths discounted by western States who gladly welcome their killers....Britain with Livni whatever her name is.

by Andrew Geddis on January 09, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Ross,

I do not deny that the IDF have acted in immoral, even criminal, ways - as Tim linked to in his earlier comment, there is very good reason to consider it to have engaged in war crimes. But using "statistics" or bodycounts alone to try and decide the moral rights and wrongs of this issue is deeply problematic.

First up, the number of recent Israeli dead is lower not because of a lack of intention by those resisting occupation (many of whom would like to go further and push Israel into the sea/extirpate the presence of Israelis from the region), but rather because they have inferior means of achieving their intentions and the Israelis have had some good luck. And when you consider examples like this, it's clear that neither side here has clean hands in respect to using childrens' deaths to further their position.

Second, if you do want to apply an arithmetical approach to moral culpability, how "recent" does action by a State have to be to count? For example, Russia's "counter-terrorism" actions in Chechnya only officially ended in April 2009 - with "unofficial estimates rang[ing] from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians in Chechnya." Or, what about the elephant in the room ... the presence of American Jill Craybas at the tournament while US troops continue to kill multiple civilians in Afghanistan (to say nothing of their recent actions in Iraq)? If the number of dead children is the key, then aren't you morally required to search out which nation has killed the most kids in the last (say) 3 years and then protest them?

Which is where your policeman investigating burglaries analogy breaks down a bit. If all the burglaries were the same, then yes - to ignore all 5 because you don't have resources to investigate them all would be silly. But are all the burglaries the same? If not, wouldn't the most moral response be to identify which crime is the worst and focus your efforts on solving that one? Otherwise, it very much looks like you are saying the police should focus only on crimes committed by a particular national/ethnic group, and ignore all other crimes (no matter how bad) commited by any other national/ethnic group. Which is a morally dubious policing strategy.

Finally - regarding the "old chestnut" used in respect of South Africa ... I've indicated in my post that I think there was a perfectly good response to it. South African sportspeople/teams that purported to represent "South Africa" manifestly did not do so - they only represented white South Africa and denied the existence of blacks/colours in that nation. So to allow them to participate in international sporting tournaments as "South Africa" was to give credance to/legitimacy to the lie that underpinned apartheid - that only white people were "really" South Africans. Hence, a sporting boycott made moral sense ... it said to South Africa "we will not accept and be complicit in the lie you are perpetuating." The message of a sporting boycott of Israel is different ... it is "you act in such a bad manner that we won't engage with you." Fine - but that then opens you to quite legitimate charges of inconsistency and favouritism in terms of your assessment of who is "bad" or "good" enough to play against.

by Ross Forbes on January 09, 2010
Ross Forbes

Tim....in your first point you ascribe higher moral motives to the Israelis vis-a-vis hamas. This is total conjecture on your part....you are simply parroting the israeli line that they are the civilised ones whilst its hamas with its diabolical home made rockets that would push the Jews into the sea.if they could. 

A cursory look at the historical record.... at what has actually occurred...should dispossess you of this conception. The historical record is crystal clear on this and I won,t bother to quote the many numerous documented instances of the Palestinian "nakba"....it is the Israeli State that is actually throwing the Palestinian into the sea...and not vis-versa. When one is judging intentions....it is wise to extrapolate from past actions...anything else is simply unfounded conjecture..

Secondly ...you dismiss bodycounts as a barometer of morality. Lets accept for the moment that you are correct about this....what do you replace it with? Intentions? You mention in your next sentence that its the Palestinians that are resisting occupation...ergo they have the moral highground.....do they not?

However to return to bodycounts...if one accepts that the death of innocent children is the worst crime there is...in fact is the definition. of terrorism...then the IDF are terrorists.-pure and simple. To say that Hamas would do the same if they could....what are you saying here?...basically you are justifying the worst crime there is-terrorism- on the basis that "if we didn,t do it to them they would do it to us"

Patently nonsense of course and it betrays a typically colonialist world view where various races had to be almost exterminated in order to be "civilised". Again , I repeat,... the historical record....the only basis for a judgement of "civilsed" behaviour... is clear. For every israeli civilian dead in the ongoing conflict there are perhaps 20 Palestinian civilian dead. I realise mentioning such inconvenient statistics is "deeply problematic" but I guess it is just in my nature to focus on the deaths of innocents as a barometer of morality....in the absense of you furnishing me with a more proper basis I will continue to do so.

by Tim Watkin on January 09, 2010
Tim Watkin

Ross, I'm assuming you're responding to Andrew in the above post. I certainly didn't attribute higher moral motives to the Israelis.

I think I'm more sympathetic to the numbers game than Andrew is. For me, proportionality has to be front and centre in this debate, and the 100:1 ratio in favour of the Israeli killings has to be taken into account when making judgment on last year's 'war'. Those lives are very vital statistics. However Andrew's right that the Israelis have superior killing equipment. I'd add that Gaza is a tiny territory, and so the likelihood of death when you toss a bomb in there is much higher than if you toss one into Israel. There's a shooting fish in a barrel element to invading Gaza, and the Israelis should be held accountable for that.

On the other hand, I think he's right to point to Chechnya. And I'd add Iraq, and the early American bombing there. Targetting the Israeli player isn't quite as logical as your policeman metaphor makes it seem, to my mind.

I'm afraid that it's also hard to avoid the truth that, however much they have suffered, the Palestinians remain a cause celebre in a way that other minorities suffering oppression do not. And we should be careful not to excuse Hamas its sins while we're condemning the IDF.

Perhaps the best point made was one of Andrew's original ones, that a little less moral certainty on both sides would be welcome. All sides have committed horrible atrocities over the years... centuries.. millennia... And don't forget, last year's invasion was provoked by the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. It was likely by Palestinian extremists trying to provoke a response, so there's plenty of blame to go around...

by Andrew Geddis on January 09, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Ross,

Helps if you know who you are debating. It's Andrew, not Tim. Just sayin'.

As for me "parroting the Israeli line" about Hamas' intentions, I'd prefer to take Hamas at its word. You know, the bits in its Founding Charter where it says "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it", and "... the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree,  would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.""

Of course, you're welcome to think you know what Hamas wants better than does Hamas itself ... but isn't that a little condescending on your part? Or are Hamas and the Palestinians so uncivilised and primitive that they'll write down any old thing without understanding what it means?

Second, you misunderstand my argument in a rather telling fashion. I'm not trying to defend Israel as being "right" - hence the bit in my post where I say the IDF probably are guilty of war crimes. However, because you obviously view this conflict solely in black and white terms, you assume that my attempt to introduce nuance into it/my refusal to outright say "Israel is completely bad so the Palestinians must be completely good" means I somehow support Isreal's actions. That sort of conflation of positions is why this whole topic gives me a headache. 

Third, I do think intentions matter in moral assessments. The Nazi's under Hitler killed some 21 million innocent people. The Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot killed some 1.4-2.2 million innocent people. Any claim that Hitler and the Nazis were therefore 10 times more evil than Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge strikes me as asinine. 

Fourth, even "if one accepts that the death of innocent children is the worst crime there is...in fact is the definition of terrorism" then you still haven't said why you (and Global Peace and Justice) choose to focus on Israel. How many innocent children did the Russian armed forces kill in Chechnya? How many innocent children did the USA kill in Iraq/Afghanistan? If they have killed more innocent children than Israel (highly likely), why ain't you out with placards and megaphones when their sports people come to town? Which is, after all, the whole point of this post - not the fundamental rights and wrongs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

by Ross Forbes on January 09, 2010
Ross Forbes

Now in respect of what you have to say regarding the other States....Russia, the U.s.a. China etc. First off i would have no problem if other protest groups were to voice their opinions on this at the tennis....i would support them. My field of interest happens to be israel and palestine. that is where i would prefer to focus my energies.....not least because that conflict lies at the heart of  the West's obsession with "terrorism" and arguably, if not resolved...is a conflict that in its wider ramifications could easily lead to nuclear war-i.e.Iran/Israel.None of the other conflicts you mention come close to having this as a consequence.

Secondly...we as a country align ourselves with the West. Our "ally and friend", the U.S.A, has missiles pointing at china and Russia.It is a given that as part of the western bloc we oppose Chinese and Russian actions vis-a-vis their minorities. It is part of our political DNA. As a private citizen I am much more interested in pointing out the immoral actions of our "friends" than our enemies...This is only natural...as a human being my first instinct is to expose hypocrisy amongst the members of my "tribe".

Arguably there is certainly a case for demonstrating against the American tennis player...however given the maxim that in the case of choosing between 2 actions one should choose the action most likely to produce a result....I feel that in protesting Israels actions i just might have more effect than protesting the U.S.A's actions in this case

Whew. I feel a bit like I'm debating some esoteric nuance whilst Rome burns...or at least Palestinian kids burn...

Look its really quite straight forward This argument of yrs boils down to not doing anything when confronted with clear breaches of civilised behaviour.Taken to its extreme it would have discouraged anyone speaking out about the Holocaust in the nitpicking belief that perhaps there were historical crimes greater than that.

Its obfuscation, pure and simple. 

S

by Ross Forbes on January 09, 2010
Ross Forbes

Sorry about the name mishap....Yes it is Andrew who provoked my ire...sorry tim...[ however i disagree with your statement about what provoked operation "cast lead"...Israel has 11000 palestinians under lock and key....Gaza has one Gilad shirot or some such name]

by Tim Watkin on January 09, 2010
Tim Watkin

Ross, I don't think it's nitpicking. This isn't the holocaust, it's a single Isareli tennis player, so that comparison doesn't hold up. And Israel has not been killing Palestinian kids this week, so if that's your 'Rome', it's not burning as we speak.

The debate is one of moral equivalency. Why pick one player/cause/oppression over another? I'm not won over by your arguments, except the point that perhaps, as you say, protesting against some injustice is better than protesting nothing. Yet I'm still uneasy, because I suspect this week's protesters wouldn't turn out to boo a Palestinian player, and yet many Palestinian leaders are also corrupt murderers.

As for what started the invasion, you might not like the fact that Israel used that capture as a pretext to invade and find it disproportionate, but that undoubtedly was the reason. Check out this New Yorker piece, reporting on how it began (including the suggestion that the kidnappers were provoking Israel just days prior to the Palestinian referendum for or against a two state solution, that could have created a new path towards a new peace process.

by Andrew Geddis on January 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Ross,

I've gone as far on this as I care to. Good luck with your future endeavours.

by Ross Forbes on January 10, 2010
Ross Forbes

Tim...The New Yorker!...so lets get this straight...for the real facts about what caused operation "cast lead" I am referred to an article in a leading New York newspaper...thats New York, the U.S.A. Surely I do not need to point out that America had its hands all over "cast lead" as surely as Israel....their policies vis-a-vis the middle-east are to all intents and purposes identical . Israel is America's 53rd state.

I did look at the article...poor Gilad Shilot.....its funny how most of us know his name...the only Israeli militant held in occupied Gaza....whilst the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails...thats right thousands..[those damned inconvenient statistics yet again]...are nameless and faceless.

There is a well documented timeline leading up to "cast lead" and believe me it has nothing to do with Gilad or any other spurious israeli pretexts-and everything to do with the continuing Israeli project of the dissappearing of Palestine which began in 1948 and continues to this day.

by Tim Watkin on January 19, 2010
Tim Watkin

Oh come on Ross, The New Yorker is hardly Fox or part of a zionist conspiracy. It's arguably the most prestigious magazine in the world, with a tendency to the liberal.

I utterly agree about the nameless Palestinians and how the face of a young Israeli soldier plays in the propaganda war, but that doesn't change the facts of what prompted last year's war. And going back to 1948 does you no favours. Any self-respecting Jew or Arab can pick dates out of their hate to blame the other, dating back centuries. Choosing to start the clock of sins in 1948 is disingenuous; this battle is far, far older, and there's plenty of blame to go around on both sides.

by Ross Forbes on February 05, 2010
Ross Forbes

Look Tim...the idea you have that there is some sort of equivalence in the crimes committed by both sides in the Israeli/Palestinian struggle just doesn,t make any historical sense. Take any yardstick you want.....civilian deaths, child deaths,house demolitions, deaths thru medical aid being withheld, loss of land,the right to live in the country of ones birth,political prisoners held without trial, etc, etc,....the terrorism as reflected by the statistics has overwhelmingly fallen on the Palestinian populace...usually by a factor of 100:1. Take just one statistic....the number of Gazans killed by the IDF in the year 2008 prior to the unleashing of Cast Lead.That number is 419....yes 419...in the same period the Gazan militants managed to murder just one Israeli civilian with their rockets. So 420 people were murdered, all but one by the Israelis...why doesn't this fact alone make western liberals such as yourself think that perhaps there is something slightly askew with this narrative that attributes blame equally to both sides in this dispute.Or,...would you believe that "there was plenty of blame on both sides" in the case of the Nazi's versus the Jewish inhabitants.of the Polish ghetto in 1942...where a simiiarly disproportionate deathrate held between the 2 warring sides?

 

by Ross Forbes on February 07, 2010
Ross Forbes

The truely scarey thing about this narrative  that attributes blame equally to both warring factions is the question.. just how hellish does life for the palestinians need to get before Western liberal opinion begins to recognise Israeli fascism.. Do all Gazans have to die under bombs, or starve to death, or die thru lack of medicine denied them by the Isreali blockade? 

The history of colonial conquest and resistance, [for this is what this "war" really is] is sobering. The Aborigine was almost wiped out, the American Indian humiliated...the Maori here in NZ punished for speaking their native tongue until quite recently. Similarily, various myths such as Custers Last Stand  portraying the colonial settlers as heroes battling overwhelming odds justified the carnage....just as the arrows in the form of Gazan homemade missiles are seized upon to justify the latest colonial police effort in Israeli occupied Gaza. Actually the example of  Custer,s rampage is enlightening in another aspect as well...most kids grew up knowing that roughly 90 odd brave white soldiers died that day....it was only recently that I learnt that it is estimated that over a 1000 Indian men, women and children died that same day defending their land just as 1400 Palestinians died defending theirs. Yet its the missiles, isn,t it....always the missiles...that the narrative focuses on... in exactly the same way as the film camera zeroed in on the Indian arrows entering the chests of those heroic soldiers in the technocolour films of our childhood.

It took roughly 100 years before revisionist historians began overturning the myth of the heroic settler...Do we really have to wait another hundred years before the crime that was "Cast Lead"  is seen in a similar vein. 

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