Saturday, 10 January 2009

Disproportionate Response

Keith Locke

"NOW is the time for New Zealand to stand up and be counted", says the Greens foreign affairs spokesman, Keith Locke.

What we’ve all been taking lying down, says Keith, is "Operation Cast Lead", Israel’s "murderous assault" on Gaza – which, he unabashedly asserts, "is clearly a war crime".

A fairly substantial chunk of the New Zealand Left would echo Keith’s view. In part this is because a great many leftists see Israel as the primary instrument of "US imperialism" in the Middle East – making the Palestinian cause one of the World’s last great unresolved struggles for national liberation.

For leftists of Keith’s generation, people who came of age in the early-1960s, when the empires of the European powers were being challenged by a multitude of national liberation movements, the anti-colonial struggle was something to be supported wholeheartedly and unequivocally.

Even more exciting for these young leftists was the fact that most liberation movements espoused some variant of the socialist ideology, and many enjoyed the backing (overt or covert) of the Soviet Union and/or the Peoples Republic of China.

National liberation struggles and the socialist revolution seemed inextricably linked.

That the United States was determined to prevent the former colonies of its European NATO allies from falling under the sway of the communist powers incensed the Left. And when that determination was translated into GI’s boots on the ground – as happened in Vietnam – anti-American feeling reached fever pitch.

By combating American imperialism, and supporting the worldwide struggle for national liberation, most leftists genuinely believed they were helping to set people free.

The post-war struggle for national liberation in the Middle East mostly followed this anti-colonial, pro-socialist path, with many of the newly-independent Arab states subscribing, at least initially, to the Soviet model of economic development. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was awash with revolutionary socialist rhetoric.

But, just as the Catholic Church resolutely set its face against "atheistic communism" in the West, conservative Muslim clerics mobilised the faithful against what they saw as the corrupt, essentially secular, Soviet-aligned, post-colonial regimes of the Middle East. Unable to defeat the "Zionist entity" (Israel) in a succession of regional wars, the quasi-socialist secularists who led these regimes were discredited, and the ideological initiative shifted to radical Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots – one of which is the Islamic Resistance Movement or Hamas.

Hamas is anything but secular and quasi-socialist, and its dedication to the elimination not only of Israel, but of the entire Jewish people, is unequivocal. In the words of its own charter:

The Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree.

The last time people talked about the Jews in this way, they were wearing brown shirts and jackboots. And the fate they had planned for the Jewish people gave new meaning to the word disproportionate".

Which is why I find it so hard to respond with any degree of positivity to Keith Locke’s call for New Zealand to stand up and be counted among the outspoken opponents of what is happening in Gaza.

Were Hamas a secular and socialist organisation dedicated to the creation of a secular and socialist state of Palestine: a state where all those with an historical and/or religious attachment to the Holy Land; Jews and Arabs, the followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all the people of the Book – could live together in peace and harmony; well, then I might feel differently.

But it isn’t.

So, to Keith I say this: "Confronted with a government which connives in (if it doesn’t actually direct) the launching of deadly rockets against civilian targets in Israel, but then complains bitterly to the world when the Israelis respond with deadly force against military personnel and installations which that government cynically shields behind the bodies of its defenceless citizens, then, surely, you should devote a word or two of condemnation to that government’s ‘murderous assaults’ and ‘war crimes’?"

Anything else sounds like anti-Semitism.

This essay was originally published in The Timaru Herald, The Taranaki Daily News, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Evening Star of Friday, 9 January 2009.


Anonymous said...

After reading this and your previous post I am left wondering if you think what Israel is doing is right?

Steve said...

Chris, you seem to have overlooked a few important facts.

Hamas were democratically elected by the Palestinian people. They offered Israel a 10 year truce based on Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders - an offer that Israel refused. In June 2008 a six month ceasefire commenced between Hamas and Israel. This was broken on 4th November when Israel killed 6 Hamas members inside the Gaza strip. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Southern Israel.

You say that "Hamas cynically shields its institutions behind the bodies of its defenceless citizens". Presumably by this you mean the police stations, university, government and welfare buildings that have all been destroyed by Israel in this latest assault. These institutions were indeed "hidden" amongst the civilian population much as the police stations, university, government and welfare buildings of Auckland are "hidden" amongst it's civilian population.

The firing of rockets by Hamas into civilian populations is clearly to be condemned. However, Israel's current actions are only ever going to add to the masses of young Palestinian men who want to fire the rocket launchers or seek revenge in some other awful way.

Keith Locke is right, for the sake of both the Palestinians and Israel.

Anonymous said...

1: if a nutter says you have no right to exist and has an assault rifle aimed at you, that's one thing.

If a nutter says you have no right to exist but only poses an immediate threat that's less risky than heart disease or traffic accidents, and you level his apartment block killing half his neighbours . . . that's a bit of a disproportionate response. So what if he "hid behind the innocent"? You were still that keen to get him you killed babies.

2: The fact that Hamas are nazis when it comes to Israel is not news.
The fact that Israel doesn't know that forcing people into ghettoes and then shelling the $%^& out of them doesn't make them your friend isn't news, either.

The latter's irony is, however, noteworthy.

Anonymous said...

Steve is wrong on the facts and Keith Locke on the overall situation. Being duly elected means little, as witnessed by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party having been duly elected. They then manipulated and eventually controlled the German political system to achieve supreme and ultimate power, ending with millions of dead throughout Europe includ8ing genocide against all Jews, homosexuals, and Roma ("Gypsies").

To safeguard democratic rule there must be a an independent civil society and press, something Hamas refused to permit. It split with the ruling Palestine Liberation Organization and Fatah and created an authoritarian, religion-based regime that now controls the Gaza territory. Despite Steve's claim Hamas had sent rockets and mortar shells into Israel's southern regions, especially the city of Sderot, for more than two years. This reign of terror escalated with arms from Syria and Iran, who see Hamas as their vehicle for destroying Israel and killing all Jews, even those who are critics of Israel's current Gaza policies. In fact it was Hamas that refused to renew the arms pause in December. Israel was prepared to have it extended, despite serious reservations. More recently Hamas had reportedly been given missiles capable of reaching the Tel Aviv, something Israel could not tolerate. Furthermore, Hamas is in violation of international law by deliberating placing rocket launchers and other arms in residential areas, near schools, etc., thus inviting the horrific civilian deaths and maiming we have seen.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you comment that Hamas should be condemned for firing rockets into civilian populations. However, Keith Locke has merely said in his 30th December press release that "Yes, we should also oppose the firing of rockets into Israel."

There is a distinction between opposing something and condemning it. I would appreciate if anyone can locate any press release where Mr Locke has actually condemned Hamas.

Steve said...

Jerry, you say I'm wrong on the facts but do not specfy which facts you dispute.

Judging by your first paragraph you do not dispute that Hamas was democratically elected.

In your second paragraph you say "despite Steve's claims" and then seem to follow up with nothing that refutes anything I've said.

Can you be more specific?

Brewerstroupe said...

Much is made of the Hamas Charter because it contains bellicose language. As the founding document of a resistance movement formed in response to the suicidal attack during which Baruch Goldstein took a machine gun and killed 29 Muslims at prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque, wounding another 150, this is not surprising.

We have only to pull back the cloak of time to find equal, damning documents on the other side. Here is just one:

Stern gang.
"Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: "Ye shall blot them out to the last man." But first and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier. We are particularly far from this sort of hesitation in regard to an enemy whose moral perversion is admitted by all."

It should surprise no-one that Hamas calls for the end of an Israel that was established by terror and has continued that terror down to this very day.

What is not often understood, however, is that Hamas has now evolved into a bona fide Political movement.

Those who cite the dated founding document of a militant resistance movement should give equal time to this relatively recent statement by Khalid Mish'al, head of the political bureau of Hamas:

Our message to the Israelis is this: we do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be respected and protected. Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us - our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.

We shall never recognise the right of any power to rob us of our land and deny us our national rights. We shall never recognise the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else's sins or solve somebody else's problem. But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms. Hamas is extending a hand of peace to those who are truly interested in a peace based on justice.

Chris. I posted this on the yesterday's thread by mistake. Feel free to delete it from there if you wish.

I.M Fletcher said...

Steve, from what I understand it was Hamas that didn't want to extend the ceasefire that was negotiated by Egypt -


A little more than six months ago, Egypt brokered a cease fire between Israel and Hamas. The truce ended on December 19, and it was Hamas, not Israel, that refused to extend it. In fact, The current attacks began before the cease-fire agreement expired. In the last six weeks, Hamas has fired more than 400 missiles into Israel, including 40 Qassam rockets and mortars since December 19.

With Hamas attacking Israel, and with Hamas unwilling to extend the truce, Israel responded with the current offensive.


As far as universities and the like, it has been proved that Hamas militants were hiding inside and firing munitions from there. One thing about Israel is that they don't expose innocents to harm if they can help it, unlike the terrorist group Hamas which actually admit that they use women and children as shields and are proud of it. Check out this video clip - It is from a discourse of Fathi Hamad, Hamas representative in the PA council, in which he claimed few months ago that he created a shield of women, children and aged people to protect Hamas jihadists.

Below are some of the captions from the video -


For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry

In which excel the women and all the people of this land:

The older people excel, the jihadists excel

And the children excel

Consequently, [the Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children

Older people and jihadists

Against the Zionist bombing machine

That is telling the Zionist enemy

We want death just as much as you desire life.


And you are defending these people?? Really??
They are terrorists, pure and simple, who want nothing other than Israel's destruction. All they have to do is lay down their arms and there would be peace. Is Israel laid down it's arms, Israel would be completely wiped out.

Meanwhile, the Israeli's go out of their way to protect civilian lives as much as they can, to the extent of ringing up the neighbours of where they are about to bomb and giving them 10 minutes warning to move out.


More significant, the IDF has figured out how to separate the civilians from the weapons: call the neighbors and give them ten minutes warning. The numbers prove how efficient this has been: prior to the ground invasion, more than 600 targets had been destroyed, fewer than 500 Palestinians killed, and fewer than 100 of those were civilians even by Palestinian and UN reckoning. Of course, there remain the pictures of civilians surrounded by devastation, but they’re alive, and it wasn’t Israel that stacked bombs in their cellars.


Sorry, but Locke and his buddy Minto are dead wrong. Where was he and his protesters when Israel were being shelled by 80 rockets a day? I didn't see them out on the streets then - hypocrites - or rather, anti-Semitic.

Anonymous said...

Nice piece Chris relating to the current slanging against Israel (particularly in left oriented side of the media). Neither side deserves anything other than opprobrium but balance helps understanding that both parties need to be brought to a settlement (we hope).

Brewerstroupe said...

They are terrorists, pure and simple, who want nothing other than Israel's destruction.

It disappoints me that some of my countrymen have come to accept that a label can be put upon an organisation and, as soon as that label has been applied, it is no longer deserving of an audience, due process of law (be it International Law or otherwise) and it’s political figures can be assassinated and innocent bystanders can be bombed and strafed on the flimsiest of excuses.

Even if I did not believe that the rocket attacks (which have killed 15 people in the past 8 years) were primarily a protest aimed at the buildings erected on land to which the inhabitants of Gaza still have legal title, even if the U.N. had not, every year instructed Israel to give that land back, I would still view this current Israeli response as an atrocity.

I do not buy into this argument.

it has been proved that Hamas militants were hiding inside and firing munitions from there.

Apart from the fact that it is unsupported by independent testimony or evidence, one must ask oneself where did the Marquis hide their weapons? I can remember no instance of the German occupiers bombing a French city because resistance fighters where hiding in it.

Carol said...

I.M Fltecher said:

A little more than six months ago, Egypt brokered a cease fire between Israel and Hamas. The truce ended on December 19, and it was Hamas, not Israel, that refused to extend it. In fact, The current attacks began before the cease-fire agreement expired. In the last six weeks, Hamas has fired more than 400 missiles into Israel, including 40 Qassam rockets and mortars since December 19.

Well, the actual breaking of the ceasefire has been credited, by many news outlets, to Israel for an attack on Gaza on 4th November November. It was during the US presidential elections, so it got buried under all the election coverage. I've read this a few times , particularly in major British news outlets. CNN has also attributed the break of the ceasefire to Israel.

Also I read, I think in one or other of the UK papers, that neither Hamas nor Israel kept to the truce. There are claims that Israel kept making attacks on Gaza from land and sea during the ceasefire.

Israel’s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then

I’ve also read, heard or seen reports that many (or maybe all) of the rockets during the apparent truce, were fired by other groups and not Hamas. I don’t know how true that is.

There's also evidence that Israel had been planning this assault on Gaza for at least 6 months. There's an article by Chris McGreal in The Observer of 4 January 2009:

He quotes a guy who had been involved in Israel's preparation of their PR approach to the assault a long way in advance - basically the propaganda line has been for the Israeli authorities to respond to any criticism by blaming everything on Hamas.

John Pilger also says there's evidence the assault by Israel was planned about 6 months in advance:
Something uncannily similar [to the Israeli attack on Palestinians in 2001] happened on 5 November last, when Israeli special forces attacked Gaza, killing six people. Once again, they got their propaganda "trigger." A ceasefire initiated and sustained by the Hamas government – which had imprisoned its violators – was shattered by the Israeli attack and homemade rockets were fired into what used to be Palestine before its Arab occupants were "cleansed." The On 23 December, Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire, but Israel's charade was such that its all-out assault on Gaza had been planned six months earlier, according to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

Anonymous said...

“Anti semitism” is an overused and often inaccurately applied label. Its use aids avoidance of applying a full class analysis to the conduct of the Israeli state forces and their US imperialist backers.

The fact is, Israel is based on stolen land, and would have long ago disappeared up its own olive grove if the yanks and brits (US and British imperialism to be more correct) had not offered major support over the decades.

“Anti Semitism” implies that things Israeli should remain uncriticised lest you become by default a final solution supporter. Who else gets such a broad exemption in world affairs from media commentators?

James Doleman said...

I think this piece should mark your full acceptance by the "Decent Left"

You would think that the hundreds of dead women and children in Gaza may have rated a mention on Mr Trotter's piece, however he is sadly unable to mention them as he has used up his space with a fake quote from the Hamas Charter (fact check Chris, don't just download stuff from the internet without checking it)

Dead kids, why mentioning that must make me an Anti-Semite!

Chris Trotter said...

I would like to reassure the readers of Bowalley Road that there is nothing remotely fake about the quotation from the Hamas Charter.

Having re-checked the contents of the quoted passage from multiple sources, I am certain that it is as accurate as any translation can be.

Anonymous said...

Dear oh dear Chris

Afghanistan, Iraq, the Urewewas, and now this...
I don't know how we can share a civilised pint anymore.

Here's the Socialist Aotearoa report from Saturday's demo n Auckland for you to critique ruthlessly...


rouppe said...

Chris I agree with your post.

Carol it would be remiss of any military to not have contingency plans, particularly as regards an opponent of long standing.

Notwithstanding all of this, there can only be a solution when both Israel and Hamas (and in fact all Palestinian factions) are prepared to give up something significant.

Israel has to allow a Palestinian state that is free from any interference, much as Israel does not interfere with Egypt, Lebanon, Syria or Jordan. The matter of what land and how much of it is a much bigger discussion. The matter of how to provide access for everyone to Jerusalem will be the most difficult to resolve.

Palestinians must recognise Israel as a sovereign country and allow it to operate without interference, much as they do not interfere (send rockets into) Egypt or Syria.

Until both are willing to let go of the fact that they have hated each other for a very long time, and agree on how to basically ignore each other, there will never be peace.

Anonymous said...

Thank You Chris for such a great Post. When I corresponded with Keith Locke in 2006, I quoted the same passge from the Hamas charter as you did. He stated (paraphrasing) "I prefer to look at this other quote which is much nicer...". Does that mean he's not ignorant, but one eyed? Using the Green party website to make my own postcard to "Vote For Me", I inserted a picture of Hamas Children carrying a rocket. I was hoping I would be wrong, but now the Greens seem to have proved me right!

Chris Trotter said...

To Joe: Afghanistan, Iraq, the Ureweras - let's take these in turn.

Afghanistan: Supported the destruction of the Taleban regime - still do.

Iraq: Opposed the US invasion. Marched against it. Wrote columns denouncing it.

Ureweras: Publicly rebuked those whose conduct and/or utterances suggest that they consider a recourse to armed struggle and political violence justifiable in the context of a functioning democracy like New Zealand. To date, I've been given to good reason to resile from this position.

The truth is Joe, that I'm confident the record of most moderate left-wing New Zealanders on these issues would look pretty similar to my own.

Extremism is something I've never (thankfully) acquired a taste for.

James Doleman said...

"Having re-checked the contents of the quoted passage from multiple sources"

Are these "sources" a secret or would you like to share them with us?

Still no comment on the hundreds of dead and maimed Palestinian children I see, not even a rhetorical, "I weep for their suffering but"

A hard man you are underneath Christopher, that moderate cloak conceals a pretty callous individual.

Green Tea said...

Chris, while I enjoy almost all of your other posts this one is frankly absurd and sounds as if you've become an Israeli apologist.

What your article fails to acknowledge is that Hamas are simply a response to Israeli racism and oppression. If someone came into your house illegally and said "Im moving in, Im having the house and the section, and you can live in the shed out the back", you would be absolutely livid. The Palestinians are no different.

While Hamas might not be all inclusive and socialist, they're all the Palestinians have left to help them fight. Peaceful protest marches are not going to provide a solution, Israel has indicated it does not want peace.

What would be your response if you lived in a country where soldiers and police looked on as settlers kidnapped children or opened fire on civilians at will.

Steve said...

Chris, you say you have never aquired a taste for extremism.

So is a government that steals land, builds illegal settlements and defies multiple UN resolutions a "mild" or a "moderate" government?

Equally could you describe sealing all the exits on a small overcrowded strip of land, turning off the power then bombing the 1.5 million inhabitants from the air, land and sea with the most sophisticated weaponry of modern warfare a "moderate" response to Hamas rockets?

Like Smowboy, I'm still waiting for just a hint of recognition from you that Israel may bear some responsibility for what's happening.

Chris Trotter said...

To Green Tea and Steve:

Your characterisation of the Palestinians' fate simply cannot withstand historical scrutiny. The interaction of the Arab and Jewish populations of Palestine/Israel has been nowhere near as simple as you suggest.

The conduct of terrorist groups over the past 60 years (is it "moderate" to walk into a wedding reception with 20lbs of high explosive strapped to your body and detonate it?) has contributed mightily to the growth and power of the extremist elements on both sides.

Arab and Jewish moderates struggle for a hearing.

So, I fear your "one side right - one side wrong" frame of reference will contribute little of utility toward the ultimate resolution of the conflict.

And finally: what would I do if I found myself and my family living in the circumstances you describe?

Well, I would do what tens of thousands of Palestinians have already done: I would seek a new life in a new country - as far away from the guns and bombs as I could get.

rouppe said...

Also to Green Tea and Steve

Your reactions are exactly the reactions that are keeping this conflict alive.

Palestinians say "...but the Israeli's have killed our children and stolen our land so we will kill them"

Israeli's say "...but Palestinians are firing rockets and sending suicide bombers into Israel and terrorising our people that is why we have to blockade them and why we have had to strike"

As I said previously, both sides have to stop, put aside the historical grievances, give up something significant, agree to let the other alone, and move on.

Until that happens, and the reliance on retribution and revenge is stopped, there will continue to be killing.

Brewerstroupe said...

Chris, I expected better of you. Have you not heard of The King David Hotel, the Rome Embassy Bombing, the sinking of the Patria? Is it only the conduct of non-Jewish terror groups that arouses your concern.

Are you aware that Khalid Mishal, the author of the peace offer I posted survived an assassination attempt ordered by then Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1997?

Here is another small voice that dares question the received knowledge:

British Diplomat and former British Ambassador to the UN Sir Jeremy Greenstock stated in an interview on the BBC Today Programme that the Hamas charter was "drawn up by a Hamas linked imam some years ago and has never been adopted since Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government in 2006". Greenstock also stated that Hamas is not intent on the destruction of Israel and that nor is it politically tied to Iran.

Steve said...

Chris,I have already condemned the actions of Hamas in an earlier post so to charecterise my frame of reference as "one side right-one side wrong" seems to be a cheap shot.

The last two paragraphs of your previous post are most revealing.

Sadly, your solution to this problem is for the Palestinians to simply uproot and leave i.e. ethnic cleansing. Now, to use your words, do you really believe that suggestion is going to "contribute toward the ultimate resolution of the conflict".

Brewerstroupe said...

I hate to importune but your post has me concerned as the depth of your understanding of this affair. Perhaps I can inspire a little broader enquiry on your part by referencing Benny Morris, one of Israel's foremost historians, himself an avowed Zionist:
(My) book is a double-edged sword. It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the pre-state defense force that was the precursor of the IDF] were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.

Brewerstroupe said...

Link to interview with Blair and Sir Jeremy Greenstock:

Anonymous said...

Chris you're attributing a view to the left that simply does not exist. The left has been almost unanimous in its condemnation of Israel's aggression. For example this Orthodox Jew. That condemnation does not extend to support of Hamas. When those on the left say they stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza they mean exactly that. Solidarity with the people and not the government of Gaza. The left has also been dispelling the myths and exposing the lies of Isreal. Doing so does not mean they support Hamas. What you're doing is constructing a straw man to once again differentiate yourself from others on the left. I've not heard anyone come out in support of Hamas it's merely outrage at the disgusting aggression purpetrated by Israel. The in comparison minute amount of indefensible violence carried out by Hamas is also condemned. The spin which you seem to have bought is cut through time and time again by those on the left. For instance the myth of Hamas's rejectionism which you obviously believe. Hamas has time and again signalled its willingness to accede to a two state solution. It offered Israel a ten year ceasefire - Isreal didn't even talk to them. Clearly there is a disconnect between the rhetoric of their charter and their actions in power. Hamas observed the last ceasefire, Isreal broke it. It's already been pointed out to you, but you don't seem to get it. Despite Israel's outrageous blockade of Gaza Hamas didn't fire any rockets until Isreal broke the ceasefire on November the 4th. Many groups fire rockets into Isreal from Gaza. Groups with names like Martyrs brigade. Two rockets were fired into Isreal from Gaza in October by these groups. Well over a hundered were fired in November after Israel broke the ceasefire - the point being that Hamas had started firing rockets again. I shouldnt'need ot say this, but you seem not to understand the left's position on this situation - rocket attacks do not in anyway serve the interests of the Palestinian people. It should be clear to anyone though that the rocket attacks are just a false pretense for Israel's aggression. It should also be patently obvious that Isreal, as Hamas does, targets civilians intentionally - bombing ambulances, hospitls, schools, universities, ordering 100 people into a house and then shelling it. Making these points does not mean someone supports Hamas and it is preverse and cynical to make that implication. Hamas is depisable and not worthy of anyone's support on the left. Charges of anti-semitism are outrageous - it is the argument used by Isreali's to stultify discussion on the topic. Criticising Israel or zionism does not amount to anti-semitism. I have lost an immense amount of respect of you after that dispicable comment.

You may be interested to read this repsonse from other's on the left: No state solution in Gaza.

Green Tea said...

Chris, I, like Steve, dont approve of Hamas and its use of suicide bombing. Suicide bombing is ultimately designed to cause fear and terrorise innocents that they could be next, however I think you should also acknowledge that Israel uses these same tactics to great effect on the Palestinians.

To rouppe, I dont accept the argument that both sides are as bad as each other and therefore should both put down their arms and get on with peace. The problem I have with that is that Israel's idea of peace is wiping out nearly 1000 Palestinians in response to 27 Israeli's killed over 8 years. Israel must stop being the agressor if they're even going to get close to peace in the region.

Chris, I feel that your piece reflects a very narrow view. Could I humbly suggest you (and others) take a look at the reporting/writing of Jonathan Cook ( or Alan Hart (


Sonic said...

Chris, you somehow failed to post my link with the actual Hamas charter

As for this,

" I would seek a new life in a new country - as far away from the guns and bombs as I could get."

I know you are aware that the people of Gaza live behind a fence and are not allowed to leave.

Who are you trying to fool Chris?

Chris Trotter said...

Well, Sonic, I'll concede they might have a little difficulty leaving at the moment. But you must concede that there are Palestinian families all over the world - including right here in NZ - who have opted to emmigrate rather than endure life on the West Bank or Gaza.

Oh, and if you want to be certain that your comments will be posted on this blog, I'd strongly suggest you first read Bowalley Road Rules.

Chris Trotter said...

Oh, and Sonic, I nearly forgot. I followed your link to the Hamas Charter, and guess what I found:

"Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter. But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim)."

Now, where have I seen that before? Oh, yes, that's right - in my original posting!

Thanks for clearing that up.

Anonymous said...

"History Matters"

Brewerstroupe said...


If you listen to the interview with Sir Jeremy Greenstock you will hear him state that the biggest school in Gaza is run by a Catholic Priest - with Hamas' approval.

Here's the latest on who started what.

Who will save Israel from itself?
By Mark LeVine

One by one the justifications given by Israel for its latest war in Gaza are unravelling.

The argument that this is a purely defensive war, launched only after Hamas broke a six-month ceasefire has been challenged, not just by observers in the know such as Jimmy Carter, the former US president who helped facilitate the truce, but by centre-right Israeli intelligence think tanks.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, whose December 31 report titled "Six Months of the Lull Arrangement Intelligence Report," confirmed that the June 19 truce was only "sporadically violated, and then not by Hamas but instead by ... "rogue terrorist organisations".

Instead, "the escalation and erosion of the lull arrangement" occurred after Israel killed six Hamas members on November 4 without provocation and then placed the entire Strip under an even more intensive siege the next day.

According to a joint Tel Aviv University-European University study, this fits a larger pattern in which Israeli violence has been responsible for ending 79 per cent of all lulls in violence since the outbreak of the second intifada, compared with only 8 per cent for Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

rouppe said...

Green Tea

I believe the IDF must stop and withdraw. But that will only work if Palestinians *overtly* state they will stop rocket attacks, suicide bombings etc.

Is one side worse than the other? Well, I don't think it matters any more because there will *never* be a peace if either side keeps hold of "who started it". The situation is past that now.

They both have to put that aside and want a solution where both Israel and a Palestine state perceive it as a win. If either try to dictate terms well then there will either be continuous conflict, or an unforgivable ethnic cleansing.

Green Tea said...

rouppe, I agree, the IDF must withdraw, however they have been advancing further and further into whats left of Palestine.

If you read carefully you'll find that Hamas have been the most restrained, they even offered Israel a 10 year truce in exchange for Israel withdrawing back to pre 1967 borders, an agreement Israel promptly rejected.

IMO, the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is a democratic state in Israel representative of all its peoples. However this represents a huge threat to the Zionist regime and quite possibly could mean the eventual phase out of Israel as Jews return to living amongst other cultures as they have done for hundreds of years.

rouppe said...

Green Tea this is going to be an endless argument, much as the situation in the Middle East is...

I cannot accept that Hamas has been "most restrained". The 1967 borders leave Israel open to attack again.

Do not forget that in May 1967 Egypt amassed 1,000 tanks and nearly 100,000 soldiers on the Israeli border. They closed the Straits of Tiran (a blockade by any other name) to all Israeli traffic, ejected the UN forces in Sinai that were there from the Suez crisis, and got overt support from Jordan and Syria.

To protect themselves, Israel attacked Egypt, which brought Jordan and Syria in since they had pacts with Egypt. This attack was essentially condoned under UN guidelines as being in "self defence" to a real threat - the massed army.

Israel offered to withdraw to a modified 1967 line (modified to ensure its security) in at Camp David in 2000. The offer was quite substantial and detailed. Arafat rejected it when everyone else was on the verge of agreeing.

So no-one is innocent here. For the Arab nations to attack the 1967 border and then claim to be the victim after they got their asses kicked is a bit rich.

I.M Fletcher said...

Carol, I believe you are wrong when you say that Israel stole Palestinian land - that is balderdash. The United Nations formed a plan in 1947 to separate the land pretty much 50/50 as you can see in THIS MAP, with Jerusalem being under UN administration (since it's ownership was a point of contention). The Jews agreed to this plan, the Arabs did not and attacked Israel together with the armies of 8 other countries.

Israel won, after a year long battle, and claimed some land as spoils of war (as often happens after any war).

So, if the Arabs had taken up the UN plan, they would have had half the land by now. It is their own fault.

Yes, there are figures that say that 590,000 Palestinians were turned into refugees by the creation of Israel in 1948, but there are also figures that say 850,000 Arab Jews were forced to leave their homes in 10 Arab states, were taken in by Israel, but never compensated for the land and homes they lost.

Luke Hassall said...

Before it is thrown around again I must point out: Hamas was never truly elected by the Palestinian people. While Hamas may have won close to 60% of the seats in the most recent Palestinian election (doing so largely by a campaign focused on Fatah corruption and local service delivery), they did by winning just 44% of the vote, only 3% more than Fatah. In a proportional electoral system the outcome of the election would almost certainly have been a coalition Fatah-Minor Groupings+Independents coalition. Much as Israel's hyper-proportional electoral system makes it so difficult for Israel to make hard decisions on this Palestinian question, Palestinians un-proportional system spawned a political crisis that has cost so many people their lives.

For that matter, Hitler was never elected either. The Nazi party never won more than 37% of the vote in a free election. Hitler became Chancellor only because he was installed as such by members of the German "deep state" most of whom were authoritarian minded former aristocrats who had never committed themselves to democracy. He then quickly silenced a legislature he knew would oppose him.