Middle East Crisis

Unlike Hizbollah, Mel, Israel is not trying to kill civilians

Apart from a pint of tequila, I don’t know what got into Mel Gibson when he decided to favour the Los Angeles police with an anti-Semitic rant.

I don’t know what whacko religious convictions inspire the Aussie heart-throb, or whether he genuinely believes that the “f—— Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”.

But whatever Mel was having the other night was powerful stuff; and, you know what, my impression is that a lot of folks across Britain are secretly having a snifter of the same. Across the country there are sober people who would never dream of calling an LA police officer “sugar tits”, or swinging like an ape from the bars of their cell. Yet these people seem to share the essentials of Mel’s analysis of the Middle East.


Come on, Blair! they write from their wisteria-clad redoubts. Come on, Straw, Cameron, Hague, and you, too, Boris Johnson! When are you all going to stop poodling and call a halt to Israeli murder? American-made Israeli helicopters are pounding villages, killing hundreds of women and children – and our politicians do nothing but wring their hands.

Look at Blair, they say with real disgust: out there in Hollywood, touting for his next job while Beirut blazes, and we all know who runs Hollywood, eh, hmmm, know what I mean? It’s a gigantic conspiracy, Boris, they say, and it is high time you did something about it.

And believe me, if I thought it would make a blind bit of difference, I would. I can see that the Israeli strategy seems to be disastrous, and is turning terrorists into martyrs. But then I don’t live in Haifa, or any of the places rocketed by the Hizbollah maniacs. These are not my relatives being killed, nor the relatives of my angry correspondents; and let us imagine that I did “denounce” Israel in full, free, frank and ferocious terms. Let us suppose that news of this stunning démarche were to reach the ears of some Katyusha victim, or some grime-streaked soldier of the Israeli Defence Force.

Never mind the mild hilarity at discovering that some obscure Tory spokesman had “denounced” Israel. If I were an Israeli, I would be astounded that any member of the British Government or Opposition felt able to criticise Israel at all.

This is a country responding, however incompetently, to direct aggression against its own people from a neighbouring failed state. It was only three years ago that we, the goody-goody British, invaded a sovereign country thousands of miles away that presented absolutely no direct threat whatever.

We, the smug British, have been responsible for what is now a full-scale civil war, and in case there is still some ass out there (such as Blair) who says this is not a civil war, let me point out that Iraqi civilian deaths are now averaging 800 a week, and the monthly casualties for June approached the levels of the American Civil War, one of the bloodiest in history.

Our strategy – Jack Straw’s strategy – for Iraq has proved to be pure carnage, and for him to criticise Israel’s strategy is laughable. All of which, of course, makes my friends even crosser. Yes, they hiss, but then we shouldn’t have gone near Iraq. It was our fault for poodling to the Americans, and we all know why the Americans wanted to invade Iraq, hmmm?

It was partly about oil, but it was also Israel, wasn’t it? It was the old Jewish lobby, eh? they say, beginning to rev up like Mel in the cell. To which I can only wearily respond that, yes, I suspect that it was a bit about oil, and, yes, I have no doubt that the Israelis were happy to see the back of Saddam Hussein.

But the only reason I supported the war was because I persuaded myself that it would be in the long-term interests of the people of Iraq, and, though that hope now looks pitiful, it has not quite died.

And whatever the frustrated ravings of Mel Gibson and my correspondents, I do not believe that all the problems of the region can be traced to Israel, and nor do I believe that if Britain were to spurn Bush, snub Condi and “denounce” Israel, we would make the slightest difference to the fate of southern Lebanon.

Of course anti-Americanism wins votes, especially if, like Jack Straw, you have a seat with a lot of Muslims. But show me how it works, this proposed spanking new “independent” British policy on Israel? Presumably we join France and Germany in their vapourings. Presumably we join the European Commission in encouraging the pouring of further squillions down the gullets of the brutal and corrupt Palestinian government.

Then what? Then nothing. The real problem in the region is not Israel, but what it represents to the Islamicists who surround it. The difference between Israel and her neighbours is that Israel is a capitalist democracy, with all the freedom and tawdriness that entails. They don’t give a monkey’s in Teheran about the fate of the poor Palestinians. Israel incarnates everything the mullahs hate, not least the spectacle of liberated womanhood that they find so appalling and so shamingly tempting.

Israel provides a focus for the resentment of a Muslim civilisation that finds itself materially and intellectually humiliated by the achievements of America and the West. Indeed, Israel provides a convenient proxy target for people in this country who loathe the Yo-Blair way America bosses us around, and who resent our enclitic status: not so much the parrot on America’s shoulder as the monkey in the pocket of an organ-grinder who is himself controlled by a vast Zionist conspiracy.

Well, let me remind Mel and all his secret British sympathisers of two last differences between Israel and the Islamicists. Whatever the hideous shambles of the past few days, it is still true, in principle, that when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit.

That is a moral difference that needs to be dinned into the skull of every saloon-bar strategist currently denouncing Israel. Finally, Mel, if you want to get wasted on tequilas and sheilas, you’re much better off in Tel Aviv than Teheran.

425 thoughts on “Middle East Crisis”

  1. I didn’t think you had the balls. Now I wonder if you have the brains.

    With all due respect, hail Miss Manners, etc: Good lord, man, what have you been smoking?

    I do not think that anyone here believes that all the problems of the region can be traced to Israel.

    I also do not think many rational, informed people believe the actions by Israel have been measured, appropriate or in accordance with international law and the conventions of wartime.

    Yes, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. And they’ve killed a great many Israelis and continue to do so.

    But from the beginning of this 22-day-and-counting war the IDF has deliberately destroyed roads, airports and gas stations, preventing civilians from fleeing. They also deliberately targeted and destroyed a UN outpost. The American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) is running out of fuel. Today they defined everyone left in the area as a de facto terrorist.

    Lebanese Casualties: 835, of whom slightly more than a third are children. 800,000 homeless.

  2. You might wish to take a look at this as well. The War on Children is an illegal, immoral act by a nation which is clearly confident that in the current anti-Islam political climate it will not be sanctioned in any meaningful way, shape, or form.

    In this at least they are perfectly right.

  3. But you’re absolutely correct, Boris, that the war in Iraq is bloodier and even more absurd and futile. What I’m not getting is why you present that as a plus.

    We can look at the war in Lebanon objectively. It’s possible. Let’s leave Mel Gibson out of it, though. And perhaps leave the US out of it as well, although they’ll be hurt. Because they’re not actually in it yet, are they?

    Now I’m going to make a daring suggestion:

    Let’s leave religion and race out of it as well. Because according to Israel this war is a direct response to the actions taken by Hezbollah in conducting a raid and kidnapping soldiers and not about Jewish hatred for Muslims or Muslim hatred against Jews. Or Aussie-American hatred for rationality.

    So let’s react to it in that context, as a war by two nations in a political hotspot. Now all the “weep for the persecuted Jews” moralizing makes no more (and no less) sense than “weep for the persecuted Muslims” and we can turn our beady eye to the political and legal actions, consequences, and lessons here.

  4. Well said Borris. Whilst they are some easy points, people often forget and quite the figers in the hundreds of civilians that mis placed US and IDF bombs have killed. This is a great tragedy and one that means every political avenue must be explored with vigor before commencing armed conflict. However it is a salient that the IDF is an Army acting on behalf of a state in a war, a state that in its short lifetime has been under constant threat of attack and destruction by midnless thugs wanting to spread their own disgusting version of a peaceful and intelligent religion with a lot to offer. However Hezbollah is not an army, either for a state or a religion it is a terrorist organisation, like the IRA is and PLO is – at least the IRA had some form of poliitcal wing that you could converse with. IDF aims its weapons and threats what suports those threats. PLO and Hizbollah destroys cafes and discos on purpose with no regard for human life. IDF has said the bombing of Qana was a mistake. Hezbollah rocketing Hifa is not.

    ps Hezbollah ~ Hizbollah ?

  5. Thanks Boris! I wasn’t sure if you’d have the courage either, I’m glad you did 🙂

    An excellent post, and “… when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit.” really hits the nail right on the head.

    I think it is also important to bear in mind that for the past decade Israel has been unilaterally seeking peace in the region. Unilaterally because the terrorists around are unwilling to talk to them. It has been 6 years since Israel withdrew from Lebanon, and a good while since Israel withdrew from Gaza. Given some time without terrorist attacks on it, Israel would probably have withdrawn from the vast majority of the West Bank too. Israel is not, as many people seem to think, intent on expansion, enslavement, or any of the other accusations levelled at it. It is in fact striving for peace, and the safety of it’s civilians, and those countries who realise this (Egypt, Jordan) demonstrate it in the form of safe and stable borders, and relatively prosperous peaceful economies.

    Israel is clearly exercising a disproportionate response to the provocation, however their declared aim does go further, to the disablement of Hizbollah. That is something which only Israel has any chance of doing, and it is something which is clearly needed, as the UN and everyone agrees.

  6. Well, Jack, we agree that the most important quote here is

    it is still true, in principle, that when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit.

    What we disagree on is whether or not it is true. Take a look at the aerial photographs of Beirut and tell me whether those residential neighborhoods were completely populated by terrorists or whether Israel deliberately flattened the houses of civilians.

    If these really were accidents, if the IDF is really as incompetent as Boris implies, then I really do think it’s time we took the guns away, because this is madness.

  7. raincoaster, I want to marry you and have your babies.

    I will be responding to this article by the idiot in chief (in my own inimitable way) when the rigours of penury permit.

  8. I’m afraid on this one I’ll have to diverge a bit from you Boris.

    When the most recent chapter of this whole mess started Hizbollah kidnapped a couple of Israeli soldiers and killed a few others.

    Now this is most certainly a heinous crime, murder and kidnap – however you paint them – are, but the Israel government described the action as an act of war.

    Sorry but to my eyes there is no way in hell that the murder of eight soldiers and abduction of two more can be described as an act of war. It was a criminal act, a dirty nasty criminal act purpetrated by a nasty bunch of criminals and needed to be dealt with as such.

    Israels response to this was, to all intents and purposes, to declare war on Hizbollah and proceed to drop enough bombs on Southern Lebanon to have to get its personal diplomatic poodle- the US – to speed up the delivery of more high powered bunker-buster bombs. I can only guess that they were running low to require this, with Israels arsenal that’s one hell of a lot of ordinance.

    Now I realise that Israel as an entity does not intend to kill civilians, and I know that HIzbollah couldn’t care a monkeys cuss who these rockets fall upon. But honestly did Israel really give the Lebanese government anyything like the time it required to try to solve this crisis? Was time and safe passage provided to the large civilian population? When the UN requested a short cessation to allow this it was denied as unneccesary hours before they accidentally bombed over 50 children off the face of the planet in Qana.

    Of course this was not deliberate, but was there really a significant military advantage gained by Israel over Hizbollah by denying the requested 72 hours?

    Finally what are the longer term rammifications of this upon the Lebanese government, Israel has effectively castrated them in the eyes of a great many of its own people. The government of the Lebanon desperately needed support and maybe, in time with the right amount of international support and encouragement, Hizbollah would have been disarmed.

    Instead the primary income of the Lebanon has once more been devastated and getting close to a million Lebanese have been displaced. What better grounds for recruitment for organisations like Hizbollah than the poor and displaced, the bitter remnants of families killed in the conflict? Could there have been a better outcome of these kidnappings from Hizbollah’s point of view than the past few days, they may have lost ordinance and manpower, but bombs can be reaquired and there will be no shortage to angry youths willing to join them after this debacle.

    Such a pity for a place that only months ago looked like it may have been dragging itself away from its past and towards a democratic and wealthy future. It is that future that the Islamists fear most and Israel has it seems to me, provided a great service to the extremists by its actions.

  9. Boris, we expect you to come up with an oblique view of these things. Here you have surpassed yourself. An excellent piece of commentary.

    It’s a gigantic conspiracy, Boris, they say, and it is high time you did something about it. And believe me, if I thought it would make a blind bit of difference, I would.

    The world is full of I’m-right-you’re-wrong opinionistas with their tiresome cry that something must be done (MY something, naturally). But some issues – and this is one – are almost too big for us mortals to grasp. I confess to being confused by it, a subject steeped in events going back to the Old Testament. It must be quite literally the longest-running political problem on Earth. What good would Boris do by banging out yet another “solution”, as demanded by some of his correspondents? At least he has the guts to admit it and stick to an admirably honest – if somewhat resigned – overview of the situation. Well done that man.

  10. “it’s time we took the guns away, because this is madness.” – Yes we could stop selling the IDF arms, at which point is Syria and the others going to stop arming Hezbollah – in short no. Then you leave Isreal open to attack, unless you’d like to send more overstretch NATO troops to not just keep the two sides apart but activly defend Isreal when the unavoidable invasion and ethnic cleansing begins. Yes a wonderful idea if everyone could put down their weapons and chill out – while we’re at it, why don’t we ask Bono to pop by and give everyone a great big hug. Isreal have made active concession after active concession ever since Yitzhak Rabin was murdered over a decade ago. often these concessions have done nothing for political will inside Isreal and have never, ever caused the terrorism to lesson in and around such a beautiful region. I personally remember being so upset when visiting the Wailing wall seeing armed guards there to stop attacks on civillians.

    “But honestly did Israel really give the Lebanese government anyything like the time it required to try to solve this crisis?” well they’ve had 21 years to sort out the problem of Hezbollah and they have failed – one the principal declared aims is to fight the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon, which ended 6 years ago… rocket attacks and incurrsions havn’t ended for the people of Hifa.

  11. it is still true, in principle, that when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit. Boris the Bozo

    If you believe that Bozzer you’re even more gullible than in my wildest dreams.

    So how many terrorists were in the power station then?

  12. Question: If an aggressor goes into battle with a baby strapped to their chest, and that baby ends up getting killed, is it the moral responsibility of the baby-strapped aggressor, or the baby-killing defender?

    Serious question folks, because I think it is the answer to this question that determines where one falls in relation to the terrible events now transpiring. One either feels it is morally excusable to kill innocents in defense of self and state, or, that is is morally unjustified to attack when one knows there is a moderate-to-high chance of killing innocents.

    If one takes the morally unjustified position (which I think most people would prefer to take, even if they don’t, i.e. that pragmatism wins out and they defend themselves) – how does one then combat an aggressor who uses such tactics, since they can seemingly attack at will without fear of retribution?

    Serious answers please folks, because I’m beginning to feel that unless I can satisfactorily answer the above questions I really don’t have the right to ‘bitch’ about the Israeli tactics.

    It is not a clear ethical answer either way as I see it – makes me wish I was back at Uni so as to ask my professors, in their absence I’ll ask the ‘enlightened’ readership of Boris’ blog.

  13. War is war. Everyone understands that except the people nattering on about how Israel doesn’t kill civilians.

    I’m in favour of a ceasefire and UN peacekeepers, and as a Canadian (we do a lot of that sort of thing) I fully realize how difficult and dangerous and possibly doomed this will be.

    But it would be better than this, and I have no hesitation whatsoever about saying that.

  14. What a sad and unexpected article from Boris.

    No mention of the Yanks wanting to broker a ceasefire on one side while shovelling in weapons to the Zionists on the other, using British airports as staging posts. No mention of the fact that the UK and the US aren’t prepared to critcise Israel whatever atrocities they perform. What has happerned to you Boris, has the party central office come down like a ton of bricks or are these really your views?

    Open your eyes and see that the Israelis are still expecting the sympathy of the whole world for what happened to the Jews in WW2, and using this as an excuse for the most horrendous present-day behaviour.

    I fear you’re as much a closet totalitarian as Blair (God help us).

  15. What Raincoaster said.

    Not much to add, really, apart from taking issue with one point. You describe Israel as ‘a country responding, however incompetently, to direct aggression against its own people from a neighbouring failed state.’

    Sorry, but my understanding was that Lebanon, having once been a shattered state, was in the process of doing a damn fine job of succeeding again. Virtually from scratch. They’d got themselves out from under Syrian and Israeli influence. They’d established a working democratic state. And within the terms of that democracy they’d started to slowly and painfully deal with the presence of Hezbollah.

    Fat chance of that happening now. Hezbollah are sucking in new recruits like wasps to a honey jar. Israel can, and probably will, knock them back strategically – but that’s just dealing with symptoms, not causes. They’ll be back. And they’ll keep coming back until the international community starts to figure out a peaceful solution to the presence of Isael in that part of the world (and the consequent effect on the Palestinians).

    You’ve been to Iraq. You’ve seen what violence achieves. Do you really think Israel throwing its weight around to prove it’s the meanest SOB in the region is going to IMPROVE Middle East relations?

  16. “The darkest places in Hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” –Dante

    CNN reports:

    As of Tuesday, 557 Lebanese civilians and soldiers have died and 2,128 have been wounded in the conflict, according to Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces.

    Israel has reported 54 deaths, including 19 civilians killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks.

  17. Thanks for those figures Raincoaster, though they’ll make no difference to the vast majority who think that Israel is entitled to do what they like to any other country, whenever they like, knowing that if they get any criticism, their extremely effective propangada machine (it’s certainly fooled Boris) will simply parrot its normal claim that the people complaining are ‘Anti-Semitic’. (Although the majority population of the countries surrounding Israel are also Semitic).

  18. I feel very sorry for the good Muslims and Christians of Lebanon who were aiming to bring their agricultural nation into the European Economic Area and perhaps eventually the European Union. These projects are all suspended now.

    I think there is room for criticism of the Israeli response, though I actually think Blair is handling this quite well.

    As for Iraq, at least the allies are in a position to stop Teheran expanding into it’s borders, Saddam would never have been able to protect his people (not that I’m suggesting he cared for his people) from the Ayatollahs. Sixty per cent of Iraqis voting showed some signs of promise, unfortunately some of the men with guns seem to want to become another Iran with no liberation for women.

    The FT on Tuesday was saying that Iran have until August 31st (by virtue of a UN resolution) to suspend their Uranium Enrichment. I hope Hizbollah are not allowed to distract the international community from the important work of de-nuking the Ayatollahs.

  19. One last comment before I actually do some work today:

    Blair, I must admit, surprised me, and in a good way. He didn’t actually do anything, but it’s remarkable to hear a world leader rebuking Syria and Iran. And it could never be the US taking on Syria; they have as much invested there as they have in Israel.

  20. Not one of your best, Boris. You, and other apologists for what the Israel is doing to Arabs, forgets that the State was created by means of its own terrorism. I am old enough to remember what the Irgum Zvei Leumi and the Stern Gang did to the British in the days of the Mandate. They created terror then and have continued with it ever since.
    The fact that they have disposed the Palestinians of their land, presumably is matter of no importance in your eyes – but then being of Turkish antecedents, no doubt you think Northern Cyprus is also OK.
    But as to Lebanon, perhaps we should arm the Lebanese so that they can protect themselves from the brave flyers of the IDF bombing undefended targets.

  21. So I assume that when the IRA were blowing Belfast to bits in 1972 and British soldiers were being killed in a 25 year period, you would have said say that London should have blown the Irish Republic and Dublin to pieces ? Think about it….

  22. Reading some of the above comments, I have to assume some people missed:

    “if I thought it would make a blind bit of difference, I would [say something]. I can see that the Israeli strategy seems to be disastrous, and is turning terrorists into martyrs.”

    Boris’ position seems pretty sound. In effect, I don’t like what’s happening, but it’s not as bad as Iraq, and I voted for that, so what weight does my opinion carry now?

    I think that’s a brave argument from a politician, certainly a refreshing one.

  23. Boris…

    I’ve been following this blog for what seems like ages, and I can’t remember a single post from you that inspired such a passionate response in the comments column.

    Wouldn’t this be a good time to break that rule of yours that stops you replying to the comments?

  24. S Roberts it tires me when people try and directly compare the IRA and any other 20th / 21st century problem. It was never an IRA stated aim to destroy this country or eradicate the Protestants. Further more the IRA, whilst inexcusable, had a mechanism of coded warnings etc for a reason their target was millitary / paramillitary inferstructures. Yes they did have a habbit of beating / knee caping other paras but not a cafe full of teens having a latte.

    Hurd tried this ludicrous comparison over the Balkan conflict – he was as wrong then as you appear to be now. I draw everyones attention to a book called Unfinest Hour by Brendan Simms. The inept handling of that conflict by the EU and in some parts the UK’s handling is culpable, should be on everyones minds now. Thus fiddling about calling for a ceasefire while Rome burns is unforgivable.

  25. Mark Gammon Wouldn’t this be a good time to break that rule of yours that stops you replying to the comments?

    Forget it mate, that’d require a full set of balls and at least half a backbone.

    Radio silence will be maintained for the duration of the emergency.

    I think it’s a miracle he wrote as much as he did even if it is uninformed bollocks.

  26. Question: If an aggressor goes into battle with a baby strapped to their chest, and that baby ends up getting killed, is it the moral responsibility of the baby-strapped aggressor, or the baby-killing defender

    Chris, it’s a moral responsibility to shoot the c**t in the head as opposed to the Israeli strategy of using a bunker buster/cluster bomb to take out the gook, the baby and the shopping mall they were standing in.

    How about a question on football?

  27. Perhaps things aren’t that bad. At least UK interest rates have gone up by 0.25% today so (as my mortgage is paid off, and I’m looking to move house) my savings will earn a tiny bit more, and perhaps there might even be a fall in house prices (fat chance!).

    At least it’s a crumb of cheer to get me away from these ‘Protocols of the Elders of Texas’ or whatever.

  28. Slightly less flippant answer.

    If you are suggesting that your question is in some way analagous to the Israeli attack on Qana (where the IDF claims H’zBallah hid behind civilians) I’d have to say, that it’s a false analogy.

    For want of a better reason only because you can’t claim either side of the Lebanon conflict is an aggressor or defender unless you look at the last 60 years or so which blurs the respective roles a bit. Anyway, in answering your question, let’s drop the aggressor/defender stuff because those are just labels mostly determined by perspective.

    So what we have, for the sake of argument, is someone who has strapped a baby to their chest to stop his/her opponents shooting at him/her whilst being able to shoot back with impunity.

    The answer to your dilemma in the latter proposition is very simple, the responsibility lies solely with the person who brought the baby INTO the combat area where death is an extremely likely outcome of engagement. This is NOT, however, the case in Lebanon where the ‘baby’ is already in the field of conflict and (using your analogy) strapped to the defender not the aggressor. Both sides, however, STILL have to make a decision about whether to engage or not. Note that engagement is entirely a one sided decision when aerial bombing is involved.

    But, I hear your anguished cry, how then is poor Israel to prevent missiles being lobbed over the border if they can’t take out the terrorists with a nice, undiscriminating anti-personnel cluster bomb?!?

    Simple, they send in ground troops and engage in the old time honoured fashion. It’s often easy to spot civilians in these circumstances because they are the ones without guns and missiles and are sometimes in nappies.

    The problem, from Israel’s viewpoint with this latter approach is that it’s very expensive on military lives (soldiers, you know. the guys that actually get paid for being shot at) So we can come to a simple conclusion, and the reason the Israel deserves our strongest censure, is that Israel values the lives of their military personnel VASTLY more highly than the lives of Lebanese civilians.

    To the tune of about 40:1 by my estimate.

    And yes, I agree, Britain and the US are JUST as bad as Israel. It is my considered opinion (backed up by the opinion of a number of international lawyers) that Blair and Bush are war criminals in terms of UN and international law.

  29. PaulD seems to abdicate his moral authority, saying “It’s all too confusin’ for me, guv’ner!”

    Nuts. This is possibly the single example of Middle-East conflict that can be taken out of context and debated on its mathematics alone:

    8 Israeli soldiers dead + 2 kidnapped = roughly:
    500 Lebanese adult civillians
    + 250 Lebanese children (presumed civillians except, one assumes, by the IDF)
    + 100 Hizbullah guerillas
    + 40 Israeli soldiers
    + 20 Israeli civillians

    (all dead).

    Chris B defends the murder of civillians by saying “they’re just in the way, and it’s Hizbullah’s fault”. The statement that “Hizbullah is hiding in the civillian population” is untrue, and in any case does not relieve the IDF of responsibility for those deaths.

    Israel’s stated goal of “stopping Hizbullah” was unattainable from the start. And the continuing slaughter makes it less so with each passing hour. Worse yet, the longer the international community looks away (and I mean here particularly the elements of that community who voted against the UN call for ceasefire) the more Islamist organisations will reap the benefits in recruits and funding.

    “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

    The victims of the Holocaust knew that.

  30. i noticed as i skimmed down the comments a few references to the IRA, however i didn’t read them totally so please do forgive me if somebody has already brought up this point, but the current situation is like conducting airstrikes on dublin in retaliation for the canary wharf bombings. it seems to have been forgotten that the lebanon is in fact a SECULAR DEMOCRACY, over half of the cabinet is in fact made up of christians of various denominations, and i don’t see how attacking UN observation posts and villages full of children is dealing with the terrorist element, and remember that those two attacks were after all deliberate. in fact the IDF only stopped shelling Qana because they began seeing news reports from inside the town. also do not forget that the attack on the UN post was certainly deliberate, you don’t stop shelling and then begin shelling the rescue parties “by mistake”. wether or not there is a grand zionist conspiracy, i am not going to speculate, after all there is evidence for both there being one and it all being crap.

  31. There are essentially two issues in this debate, the first being whether Israel was right to begin attacking Hizbollah/Southern Lebanon, and the second being whether they have gone about it in the right way. I haven’t spoken to a single person who supports the second, although opinions are much more evenly split on the first. I know lots of people who follow the “plight of the oppressed” logic, that the Lebanese are suffering, and so Israel must be in the wrong (very typical I find of Israel/Palestine debates). However on the whole people will take a more balanced approach to the issue.

    Either way, it is generally agreed that Israel is conducting this war very poorly. It is worth noting though that this is unusual for Israel. Israel does have one of the most effective intelligence services in the world, along with one of the most effective armies, and usually they are much more discriminant in their targetting. In the recent conflict in Gaza for example, the Economist recently reported that just over 100 people had been killed, slightly more than half of whom were civilians. This means that Israel managed to attain a successful targetting rate of nearly 50%, which is extremely high by anyone’s standards.

    I have been variously a supporter of the Palestinian cause or that of the Israelis over the years, but for the last few years I have been fairly consistently in support of Israel. However, the astonishing number of civilians who have been killed, the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the bombing of the UN station, and the reluctance to use ground troups has been surprising. The Israelis are not stupid, and realise I’m sure that this will fuel militant feeling in Lebanon, weaken the favourable government of Lebanon, probably not destroy or disarm Hizbollah, and by killing UN observers damage international opinion. Consequently I suspect there may be a further motive for this military action which we have not seen yet.

    For the moment I’m maintaining my position, supportive of Israel’s invasion and right to it, but critical of the means they have used.

  32. Yes Metro, I also find this ‘Hizbolla hides in civilian areas’ a bit implausible.

    Let’s face it most people are pretty sensitive to getting themselves plastered over a few square feet and, even the most rabid base jumpers and extreme sports addicts, are likely to head for the nearest underground car park if they see a missile launcher getting erected in the vicinity. Or do the IDF think we believe the lebanese are so indescribably thick that they’ve failed to associate the launching of missiles with about 400 lbs of high explosive landing on them half an hour later?

    The other explanation offered for this curious behaviour is that Hizbolla effectively imprison the local civilian population while they are launching missiles, presumably to attract a lot of irate international criticism of Israeli tactics. Okay, that sounds plausible at first glance; maybe Hizbolla are a bunch of murdering scum who would walk over a pit of newborn babes to achieve their goals.

    Seems a bit odd then that Hizbolla spend so much time effort and money in community support and building hospitals etc. It also doesn’t explain why the surviving local population (assuming the IDF don’t get all of ’em) still keep singing the praises of Hizbolla when all the fuss has died down.

    I would have thought they’d be a bit pissed off if they’d really been used as a human sandbag.

  33. According to Sky News, there’s a ‘masturbate-a-thon’ to raise money for charity and to celebrate, if you can believe it, Channel 4’s ‘national wank week’

    Link if you don’t believe me
    (http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1229695,00.html)

    Apparently some people are going for records (8 hrs – male record, 6 hrs female record)

    With the crap in the opening article Bozzer could win hands down.

    Or should it be hands up and down?

  34. I have to say I’m generally with raincoaster on the Israel conflict.

    As for the baby strapped to an agressor – it’s the agressors responsibility. When you have a child you will do ANYTHING to protect it – crawl, beg, and yes even kill or die yourself. But if you’re faced with the prospect of the baby dying anyway, through thirst, starvation or bombs/gunfire then, between a rock and a hard place it’s anyones guess what you’ll do. And you won’t know till you’re there.

    Have to disagree with raincoaster when it comes to Boris though. He has/does respond to comments on the blog, when he wants to. Trust me I’ve been around for…. ooh ages. I was here at the birth….. awwwww.

  35. I’m very disappointed with your article – the casual condemnation of the Palestinians’ elected leaders, the lack of recognition that Hizbollah are fighting on behalf of the downtrodden Palestinians and so on.

    Why do Conservative politicians have such a knee jerk pro-American attitude? I’m inclined to think that it’s cowardice stemming from a fear that their careers will be damaged if they choose a different attitude.

    As for Mel Gibson, I’m sure that he would get a brilliant reception on the occupied West Bank and in many different parts of the world whether christian, muslim, hindu etc – one has to ask oneself why Israelis are so unpopular?

  36. @Metro – To be clear, I wasn’t defending the murder of civilians – what I was doing was asking for an answer to an ethical scenario.

    Perhaps I didn’t make the second part of my question clear; namely that, if it is morally unjustified to defend oneself where it is highly likely that an innocent might die (which I noted was the preferred position) then how does one defend oneself? I did not mean this as a challenge, rather as a genuine question requiring a pratical answer.

    I will trust that your accusation of my defense of civilian murder was precipitated by a misinterpretation of my argument. I was simply asking for the readership’s opinions as to alternative strategies that might be employed that would negate the majority of risk to non-combatants. To ask such a question does not condone, nor support, the position of harming innocents in order to neutralise an aggressor. It is exactly what it is, a question.

    The final part of my post was saying not that you don’t have the right to ‘bitch’ about the Israeli tactics, but rather that I feel it negates my moral right to critcise the Israelis when I cannot generate an alternative strategy. (Thus the use of the emphasised I in my post.)

    Perhaps the only moral thing to do is for the Israelis to call an immediate cease-fire and then simply suffer the random and indiscriminate murder of innocents within Israel. If they did this then the entire rational community would be agreed on who the ‘bad guy’ was and perhaps the international community would mobilise a peace-keeping force to engage and defeat anyone involved in acts of murder within the area. However, why would the Israelis have any cause to believe such a force would appear when elsewhere in the world, notably in the Sudan presently, there has been a clear programme of genocide that the United Nations has shamefully allowed to be perpetrated. (Rwanda is another ealier example). Hence my own personal reluctance to critic the Israeli actions given this history. And that is without mention of the most terrible of crimes, the Holocaust.

    I therefore, honestly and humbly, ask anyone, what can be done?

  37. Hi ChrisB. My apologies for the misunderstanding. But truthfully, I feel that the chosen analogy is false. Mainly because Israel had a choice. They have freed hostages through negotiation before–what was new in this situation?

    Can we agree though, that the moral thing to do, whatever it might actually be, is not to actively target civillians and the UN?

    Apparently Hizbullah has asked for a ceasefire, in return for which Nasrullah has promised that they will not target any settlement or city of Israel.

    I respectfully suggest that since the avowed objective of the IDF was to stop Hizbullah’s rocket attacks, they should accept.

    Or am I crazy?

  38. I’d like to congratulate Boris for at last strapping on the pads, donning the gloves and the helmet, clasping firmly the bat, and marching out to the wicket to take a swing at all this. Bravo!

    I’ve been wondering if the political classes in Britain have simply decided to look away from the Israel-Hezbollah war, in the hope that it would all simply go away. Boris’ article last week – on the Dome, of all things -, certainly seemed part and parcel of this averting of eyes. I was wondering what Boris would write about this week. The threat that bicycles would have to carry licence plates?

    But, no, Boris has finally come good. He has looked at the matter squarely in the face, and expressed an opinion about it at last.

    But having applauded Boris for going out to bat on a very sticky wicket, I would like to suggest that he took a very wild swing at the first ball. Mel Gibson is irrelevant, except if one wants to somehow tar any critic of Israel as another Mel Gibson. I for one would not like to be associated with the producer of the blood-soaked Passion of the Christ.

    But Boris connects with the second ball, and hits it past square leg for a four, when he writes: “I can see that the Israeli strategy seems to be disastrous, and is turning terrorists into martyrs.” It’s done a bit more than that: it’s united Lebanon against Israel:

      In an event that would have been unthinkable a few months ago, in this country where politics is locked into religious lines, the Maronite Catholic patriarch — the spiritual leader of the most pro-Western populace — convened a meeting this week of religious leaders of other communities, Shiite and Sunni Muslims and several varieties of Christians . . . Their joint statement, condemning the Israeli “aggression,” hailed “the resistance, mainly led by Hezbollah, which represents one of the sections of society.” (New York Times)

    And then Boris blocks the third ball by faux-meekly describing himself as “some obscure Tory spokesman”. Since when has Boris been ‘obscure’, huh? But it perhaps answers the question of why political figures seem so strangely silent on this issue: they don’t think their opinions matter.

    I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m really just simply glad Boris went out to bat.

  39. I think I’ll carry on my commentary.

    Boris takes a big swing at the fourth ball, and misses completely.

      “The real problem in the region is not Israel, but what it represents to the Islamicists who surround it. The difference between Israel and her neighbours is that Israel is a capitalist democracy, with all the freedom and tawdriness that entails. They don’t give a monkey’s in Teheran about the fate of the poor Palestinians.”

    The real problem with the region, I would suggest, is oil. It is for this reason alone that it has suffered the unholy attentions of first the British, and now the Americans, for an entire century. Israel has simply been yet another humiliation. What they hate is not our freedoms, but our guns and our bombs. And it is absurd to suggest that the inhabitants of the region are indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians: what has happened to the Palestinians is quite likely to happen to them, as Lebanon has just found out.

    And the fifth ball catches the edge of Boris’ bat, and heads straight for the hands of first slip. At which point Boris trudges back to the pavilion.

      “it is still true, in principle, that when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit.”

    What Israeli rockets? They’re not firing rockets. They’re dropping laser-guided munitions, which land with pin-point accuracy. Which is why we may know that the destruction of the southern suburbs of Beirut, and the bombing of Red Cross vans, and UN observation posts, was perfectly deliberate.

    By contrast, it is the unguided rockets of Hezbollah which are entirely aimless – and consequently far less destructive. Their purpose, if anything, has been to terrify Israelis. And in this at least they have been highly successful.

    Boris, by my account, scored only four runs off one ball. And that is in recognizing that the Israeli strategy has been disastrous. In fact, it is not clear to me that there is any strategy, since it seems to change from week to week, if not from day to day.

    And a disastrous strategy must imply also disastrous defeat. Whatever happens, this is a victory for Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Nasrallah, and a defeat for Israel. Israelis have been learning these last few weeks that, for all its tanks and warplanes and laser-guided bombs, the IDF cannot protect them from Hezbollah. It is this that is going to be the primary lesson of this futile war.

  40. I have just seen figures from Save the Children that 49% of 800 deaths in Lebanon and 33% of wounded are children. It is a relief to hear from Boris Johnson that the Israelis are NOT trying to kill civilians. Let’s hope they don’t change their minds.

    The truth is Hizbollah attacked and captured Israeli SOLDIERS who are occupying tracts of land in Lebanon and Syria and half of Palestine. In response, Israel unleased massive air attacks in civilian areas including appartment blocks, bridges, ports,highways with no apparent thought for civilian casualties, all in the name of self defence (even the name IDF reminds one of Orwell’s 1984) and the War on Terror. Hisbollah did not fire any rockets until the Israeli air raids into civilian areas of Beiruit.

    Ah yes, the War on Terror, supported wholeheartedly by Mr Johnson and the Conservatives and resulting in an escalation of fear, hatred and terror throughout the ME and beyond. A policy that can never win nor do anything but create ever more division in our society. It is easy to sneer at well meaning people who call for a ceasefire and negotiation as sentimental and naive. Was it not a great deal more sentimental and naive of Mr Johnson and his party to beleive that a quick invasion of Iraq who bring joy and light throughout the ME? Mr Johnson tells us he has not given up hope. Tell that to the mothers of the children playing football in Bahgdad this week.

    How deeply depressing that the alternative to Blair is Boris.

  41. All quiet on the Henley front recently.

    Thanks, idlex, for your thought-provoking comments. I, too, am glad Boris stepped up to the plate, but I call what he accomplished there the same way.

  42. I’ve been thinking this whole issue over for a while now and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t care who wins this battle any more; it’s irrelevant.

    To explain this position I need to take a step back and look at something Mr. Blair said recently. When asked, by a journalist, how he could sleep at night having killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians, Mr. Blair replied “I think you’ll find it’s closer to 50,000.” To say that my jaw dropped when I read this is inadequate to describe the gamut of emotions which ran through me as I considered this statement. “Is he for real?” I thought! So the proposition we must accept is that 50,000 deaths is “pretty much okay”? What would the upper limit be then? If he’d been accused of killing a million would he have justifying it by saying that he had, in fact, only rubbed out half a million and that this was perfectly acceptable? Were there estimates of this magnitude before he dispatched the army and if not, what went wrong? Surely these are questions which must be put to him. Now, of course, I understand why Blair has been so circumspect in his criticism of Israel. He’s a far more successful mass murderer than in Olmert’s most febrile dreams. All thanks to his Iraqi campaign and his unquestioning support of US foreign policy and military tactics.

    We may all have suspected, from time to time, that Israel and Iraq have become ‘cunning’ and convenient diversions which destabilize the Middle East and give the indigents something to gripe about and so distract them while we are nicking all their oil. The question all this begs is simply: Are we so greedy in the West that we support wholesale murder to supply our ‘habits’?

    Regardless of all the saber rattling rhetoric about wars on terror, aggressors and defenders, who’s in the right etc., people are getting killed by the truckload daily in this conflict and in many parts of the world for more or less the same reason: the rapacious appetite of the US. It seems, much of this activity occurs with the support (and also the supply of military and strategic equipment) of the West, China and the Russian Federation. I can only conclude, therefore, that there is something fundamentally wrong with us as a species if we, even if only through inaction or apathy, allow this state of affairs to continue. In my view we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

    What I find utterly extraordinary is that now, the foremost mass murderers of modern times, Blair and Bush, are goading the most rabidly psychopathic military in the world to new heights in arbitrary civilian mortality simply because they don’t want to admit that, perhaps, they misjudged the situation in invading Iraq.

    Suffice to say I have since lost all interest in human ‘civilisation’ (if you’ll excuse the term) and any remaining vestige of faith in human nature; except perhaps where that nature describes a rabid, murderous animal, crazed with fear and greed.

    Maybe World War Three would be a good thing; if only to eradicate the dangerous virus infesting the planet.

  43. @Metro – I hadn’t seen that news item previously, but having seen it I agree with you that it represents the best out so far. Some people would no doubt say, Ah! but to do that one has to ‘trust’ Hezbollah to not violate the cease-fire, well, one has to trust the sides to abide in any cease-fire. I would like to see Israel immediately cease all military operations for a period of 48 hours, that way the world would clearly see whether there is the option of diplomacy. If Hezbollah carried on rocket attacks then you can always go-back to military operations, but I agree with you that if the ‘aggressor’ has offered a cease-fire and one refuses to act upon it, hencefore you become morally responsible for any resultant lose of innocent life, even if they are ‘baby-strapped’. (Of course if the ‘aggressor’ uses this ‘pause’ as an opportunity to attack then the moral impetus immediately switches back.)

    Alas, I see on the morning news that Israel has attacked Beriut again, and Hezbollah has continued its rocket attacks. So it seems that this opportunity to halt the violence has passed. It seems that there is to be more death.

    Thanks for interesting discussion Metro, I just wish it was a hypothetical ethics debate rather than a real one. Peace.

  44. Boris seems to have made up his mind so please don’t confuse him with the facts idlex.

    I find is passing strange that any politician can say things like “…if I thought it would make a blind bit of difference, I would do. [something about it].”

    Don’t you get paid to say inconvenient things to the government? Or is that just a perk when you think you can score a few cheap points? EVERYONE has an obligation to condemn militaristic regimes like Israel (and the US) even when it may attract unwanted criticism and/or cost you a constituency.

    Things don’t stop being wrong just because they inconvenience us.

    P.S.
    I see Jack Ramsey is conspicuous by his absense.

  45. Well, Boris???????

    Come on, old son. You stirred up this hornets’ nest of a comments string. If you’ve got the courage of your convictions, get in here and argue for them.

    And don’t bluster about being too busy in the constituency or whatever – we’ve all got jobs to do as well.

  46. When satellite pictures clearly show whole civilian neighbourhoods in Beirut being flattened by the Israeli air force, it becomes nonsensical to argue that Israeli bombs only kill civilians when they miss their targets.

    Four civilians were killed today in Jounieh, a Christian city north of Beirut where Hezbollah has no presence whatsoever.

    Is this also part of this titanic struggle between the ignorant extremist Arabs and the enlightened Judeo-Christian world?

    But then again, we have grown eerily accustomed to dark-skinned, turbaned men, veiled women, and children being slaughtered by soldiers in Western-style military uniform and pilots in sleek American aircraft, haven’t we?

  47. I think I’ve become too political over the years. Because I look at what everyone above has contributed to the debate and I consider the inaccuracy and wrongness of Boris’ article to have been well established. So I’m dropping that fight for the moment.

    What occurs to me now is that we haven’t heard a peep from Cameron; do you think that Boris was given a last meal, a keyboard and a blindfold and told “just go out there and get it over with”?

    Is this some kind of Tory trial balloon? Just to test public reaction?

    God, I hope so.

  48. New stuff in the Guardian:

    As the full extent of Lebanon’s catastrophe began to emerge yesterday, the US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch accused Israel of war crimes. “In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians … the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accident and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hizbullah practices. In some cases, these attacks constitute war crimes,” it stated when releasing a study of attacks in Lebanon.

    “Israeli forces have fired with war planes and artillery on dozens of civilian vehicles, many flying white flags,” it said.

    Israel has sought to justify the deaths by saying Hizbullah fighters hide among civilians to fire rockets. HRW says it believes Hizbullah does violate the laws of war by hiding among civilians during military operations, but “the image promoted of such shielding as the cause of so high a civilian death toll is wrong”.

  49. And here is the Human Rights Watch report itself.

    And here is the summary, in full. Sorry for droning on, but what the hell. Obviously there’s at least one person on this blog who needs to read it.

    Summary
    This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Lebanon between July 12 and July 27, 2006, as well as the July 30 attack in Qana. During this period, the IDF killed an estimated 400 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and that number climbed to over 500 by the time this report went to print. The Israeli government claims it is taking all possible measures to minimize civilian harm, but the cases documented here reveal a systematic failure by the IDF to distinguish between combatants and civilians.

    Since the start of the conflict, Israeli forces have consistently launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military gain but excessive civilian cost. In dozens of attacks, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some cases, the timing and intensity of the attack, the absence of a military target, as well as return strikes on rescuers, suggest that Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians.

    The Israeli government claims that it targets only Hezbollah, and that fighters from the group are using civilians as human shields, thereby placing them at risk. Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack. Hezbollah occasionally did store weapons in or near civilian homes and fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers, which are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. However, those cases do not justify the IDF’s extensive use of indiscriminate force which has cost so many civilian lives. In none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack.

    By consistently failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians, Israel has violated one of the most fundamental tenets of the laws of war: the duty to carry out attacks on only military targets. The pattern of attacks during the Israeli offensive in Lebanon suggests that the failures cannot be explained or dismissed as mere accidents; the extent of the pattern and the seriousness of the consequences indicate the commission of war crimes.

    This report is based on extensive on-the-ground research in Lebanon. Since the start of hostilities, Human Rights Watch has interviewed victims and witnesses of attacks in one-on-one settings, conducted on-site inspections (when security allowed), and collected information from hospitals, humanitarian groups, and government agencies. Human Rights Watch also conducted research in Israel, inspecting the IDF’s use of weapons and discussing the conduct of forces with IDF officials. The research was extensive, but given the ongoing war and the scope of the bombings, Human Rights Watch does not claim that the findings are comprehensive; further investigation is required to document the war’s complete impact on civilians and to assess the full scope of the IDF’s compliance with and disregard for international humanitarian law.

    While not the focus of this report, Human Rights Watch has separately and simultaneously documented violations of international humanitarian law by Hezbollah, including a pattern of attacks that amount to war crimes. Between July 12, when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight, and July 27, the group launched a reported 1,300 rockets into predominantly civilian areas in Israel, killing 18 civilians and wounding more than 300. Without guidance systems for accurate targeting, the rockets are inherently indiscriminate when directed toward civilian areas, especially cities, and thus are serious violations of the requirement of international humanitarian law that attackers distinguish at all times between combatants and civilians. Some of these rockets, Human Rights Watch found, are packed with thousands of metal ball-bearings, which spray more than 100 meters from the blast and compound the harm to civilians.

    This report analyzes a selection of Israeli air and artillery attacks that together claimed at least 153 civilian lives, or over a third of the reported Lebanese deaths in the conflict’s first two weeks. Of the 153 civilian deaths documented in this report by name, sixty-three of the victims were children under the age of eighteen, and thirty-seven of them were under ten. Israeli air strikes also killed many dual nationals who were vacationing in Lebanon when the fighting began, including Brazilian, Canadian, German, Kuwaiti, and U.S. citizens. The full death toll is certainly higher because medical and recovery teams have been unable to retrieve many bodies due to ongoing fighting and the dire security situation in south Lebanon.

    The report breaks civilian deaths into two categories: attacks on civilian homes and attacks on civilian vehicles. In both categories, victims and witnesses interviewed independently and repeatedly said that neither Hezbollah fighters nor Hezbollah weapons were present in the area during or just before the Israeli attack took place. While some individuals, out of fear or sympathy, may have been unwilling to speak about Hezbollah’s military activity, others were quite open about it. In totality, the consistency, detail, and credibility of testimony from a broad array of witnesses who did not speak to each other leave no doubt about the validity of the patterns described in this report. In many cases, witness testimony was corroborated by reports from international journalists and aid workers. During site visits conducted in Qana, Srifa, and Tyre, Human Rights Watch saw no evidence that there had been Hezbollah military activity around the areas targeted by the IDF during or just prior to the attack: no spent ammunition, abandoned weapons or military equipment, trenches, or dead or wounded fighters. Moreover, even if Hezbollah had been in a populated area at the time of an attack, Israel would still be legally obliged to take all feasible precautions to avoid or minimize civilian casualties resulting from its targeting of military objects or personnel. In the cases documented in this report, however, the IDF consistently tolerated a high level of civilian casualties for questionable military gain.

    In one case, an Israeli air strike on July 13 destroyed the home of a cleric known to have sympathy for Hezbollah but who was not known to have taken any active part in hostilities. Even if the IDF considered him a legitimate target (and Human Rights Watch has no evidence that he was), the strike killed him, his wife, their ten children, and the family’s Sri Lankan maid.

    On July 16, an Israeli airplane fired on a civilian home in the village of Aitaroun, killing eleven members of the al-Akhrass family, among them seven Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals who were vacationing in the village when the war began. Human Rights Watch independently interviewed three villagers who vigorously denied that the family had any connection to Hezbollah. Among the victims were children aged one, three, five, and seven.

    Others civilians came under attack in their cars as they attempted to flee the fighting in the South. This report alone documents twenty-seven civilian deaths that resulted from such attacks. The number is surely higher, but at the time the report went to press, ongoing Israeli attacks on the roads made it impossible to retrieve all the bodies.

    Starting around July 15, the IDF issued warnings to residents of southern villages to leave, followed by a general warning for all civilians south of the Litani River, which mostly runs about 25 kilometers north of the Israel-Lebanon border, to evacuate immediately. Tens of thousands of Lebanese fled their homes to the city of Tyre (itself south of the Litani and thus within the zone Israel ordered evacuated) or further north to Beirut, many waving white flags. As they left, Israeli forces fired on dozens of vehicles with warplanes and artillery.

    Two Israeli air strikes are known to have hit humanitarian aid vehicles. On July 18 the IDF hit a convoy of the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates, destroying a vehicle with medicines, vegetable oil, sugar and rice, and killing the driver. On July 23, Israeli forces hit two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances in the village of Qana.

    As of August 1, tens of thousands of civilians remained in villages south of the Litani River, despite the warnings to leave. Some chose to stay, but the vast majority, Human Rights Watch found, was unable to flee due to destroyed roads, a lack of gasoline, high taxi fares, sick relatives, or ongoing Israeli attacks. Many of the civilians who remained were elderly, sick, or poor.

    Israel has justified its attacks on roads by citing the need to clear the transport routes of Hezbollah fighters moving arms. Again, none of the evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch, independent media sources, or Israeli official statements indicate that any of the attacks on vehicles documented in this report resulted in Hezbollah casualties or the destruction of weapons. Rather, the attacks killed and wounded civilians who were fleeing their homes, as the IDF had advised them to do.

    In addition to strikes from airplanes, helicopters, and traditional artillery, Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions against populated areas, causing civilian casualties. One such attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed a sixty-year-old woman and wounded at least twelve civilians, including seven children. The wide dispersal pattern of cluster munitions and the high dud rate (ranging from 2 to 14 percent, depending on the type of cluster munition) make the weapons exceedingly dangerous for civilians and, when used in populated areas, a violation of international humanitarian law.

    Statements from Israeli government officials and military leaders suggest that, at the very least, the IDF has blurred the distinction between civilian and combatant, and is willing to strike at targets it considers even vaguely connected to the latter. At worst, it considers all people in the area of hostilities open to attack.

    On July 17, for example, after IDF strikes on Beirut, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, Eliezer Shkedi, said, “in the center of Beirut there is an area which only terrorists enter into.”1 The next day, the IDF deputy chief of staff, Moshe Kaplinski, when talking about the IDF’s destruction of Beirut’s Dahia neighborhood, said, “the hits were devastating, and this area, which was a Hezbollah symbol, became deserted rubble.”2

    On July 27, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said that the Israeli air force should flatten villages before ground troops move in to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers fighting Hezbollah. Israel had given civilians ample time to leave southern Lebanon, he claimed, and therefore anyone remaining should be considered a supporter of Hezbollah. “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” he said.3

    International humanitarian law requires effective advance warnings to the civilian population prior to an attack, when conditions permit. But those warnings do not way relieve Israel from its obligation at all times to distinguish between combatants and civilians and to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from harm. In other words, issuing warnings in no way entitles the Israeli military to treat those civilians who remain in southern Lebanon as combatants who are fair game for attack.

    In addition to recommendations to the Israeli government and Hezbollah that they respect international humanitarian law, Human Rights Watch calls on the U.S. government immediately to suspend transfer of all arms that have been documented or credibly alleged to have been used in violation of international humanitarian law in Lebanon, as well as funding or support for such materiel, pending an end to the violations. Human Rights Watch calls upon the Iranian and Syrian governments to do the same with regards to military assistance to Hezbollah.

    This report does not address Israeli attacks on Lebanon’s infrastructure or Beirut’s southern suburbs, which is the subject of ongoing Human Rights Watch research. It also does not address Hezbollah’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, which have been reported on and denounced separately and continues to be the subject of ongoing Human Rights Watch investigations. In addition, Human Rights Watch continues to investigate allegations that Hezbollah is shielding its military personnel and materiel by locating them in civilian homes or areas, and it is deeply concerned by Hezbollah’s placement of certain troops and materiel near civilians, which endangers them and violates the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. Human Rights Watch uses the occasion of this report to reiterate Hezbollah’s legal duty never to deliberately use civilians to shield military objects and never to needlessly endanger civilians by conducting military operations, maintaining troops, or storing weapons in their vicinity.

    The armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is governed by international treaties, as well as the rules of customary international humanitarian law. Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 sets forth minimum standards for all parties to a conflict between a state party such as Israel and a non-state party such as Hezbollah. Israel has also asserted that it considers itself to be responding to the actions of the sovereign state of Lebanon, not just to those of Hezbollah. Any hostilities between Israeli forces and the forces of Lebanon would fall within the full Geneva Conventions to which both Lebanon and Israel are parties. In either case, the rules governing bombing, shelling, and rocket attacks are effectively the same.

  50. When asked, by a journalist, how he could sleep at night having killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians, Mr. Blair replied “I think you’ll find it’s closer to 50,000.” (Wobbly)

    I’ll have to see a link to this before I believe it, I’m afraid. It also doesn’t sound like Blair. He’s too quick on his feet. He would have more plausibly replied that the mortality figures were disputed or unknown, and that he regretted any there may have been.

    And I can’t say that what’s happening has affected my views on human nature or civilisation at all. My read on events is that a bunch of crazies (and the neocons were called “crazies” during Bush I’s tenure) have taken over the US government, and have been wreaking havoc ever since, both around the world and within the USA. They don’t believe in peace, but in war – or “creative destruction”. They believe in violence as a first resort rather than a last resort. None of them has ever fought in any war, and so it’s easy for them to entertain stupid fantasies about its efficacy. They have undoubtedly been encouraging Israel to use maximum violence. They also want a war with Iran. They believe that the more the region is shaken up, the sooner it will settle into Western-style democracy – hence Condi Rice’s recent infantile “birth pangs” remark.

    My only hope is that the world makes it to the end of the Bush idiot presidency without too many more wars, and without too much more totally unnecessary bloodshed.

  51. I wish people wouldn’t say ‘Judeo-Christian’. Islam and Judeism are the close religions, not Judaism and Christianity. Both Islam and Judaism have a vindictive, capricious tribal god; a mere demiurge, whose most obvious characteristic is an over-reaching jealousy of some other (un-named)God. YHWH/Allah is worthy only of our contempt, and I can only hope that there is some other higher God out there. (One who obviously has other things to do than spread a little peace and light in this world though it seems).

  52. From your link, Wobbly.

      At a Downing Street reception not long ago, a guest had the temerity to ask Tony Blair: “How do you sleep at night, knowing that you’ve been responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis?” The Prime Minister is said to have retorted: “I think you’ll find it’s closer to 50,000.”

    So it was a guest, not a reporter, who asked the question. And we only know what Blair is said to have replied. Unless somebody can corroborate the exchange, there appears to be no record of it.

    But it is alarming, all the same. It reminds me of something I read a few months back, about how, after Maggie Thatcher’s popularity surged during the Falklands war, the previous Labour PM, James Gallaghan, is reported to have said, “I wish I’d had a war.” Or, as I read it, “I wish a lot have people had been killed and maimed, simply so that I could have remained in office.”

    It’s the enormous self-regard of these people that is astonishing. In many ways, Blair is not different form Callaghan or Thatcher. It’s just that his wars have turned into disasters, although he will be the last person to ever admit this.

  53. I wish people wouldn’t say ‘Judeo-Christian’. Islam and Judeism are the close religions, not Judaism and Christianity. Both Islam and Judaism have a vindictive, capricious tribal god; a mere demiurge, whose most obvious characteristic is an over-reaching jealousy of some other (un-named)God. YHWH/Allah is worthy only of our contempt, and I can only hope that there is some other higher God out there. (One who obviously has other things to do than spread a little peace and light in this world though it seems).

    In fact all three of the main monotheistic religions have a great deal in common with each other, and many different pairings can be made if wanted. It is true that Islam and Judaism are both legalistic and law-based religions, whereas Christianity sets broad concepts and allows the individual believer to determine the correct course of action in any instant. (I am of course talking about the religions in their pure form, many Christian churches in the world, notably Catholic and Evangelical ones, have turned Christianity into a legalistic religion).
    However, Judaism and Christianity both place a greater emphasis on human ability than Islam does, Judaism having a long tradition of debate even with God, and Christianity putting trust in people to adapt rules to the situation. They also have the same basic mythology from the Old Testament, whereas Islam changes some parts of it.
    Likewise, Islam and Christianity are both missionary religions, who are open to anyone who accepts the appropriate theology. Judaism on the other hand is a tribal and racial religion, based on birth to a Jewish mother rather than acceptance of the theology.

    With the advent of liberalism all of these pairings are not strictly true anymore, with some denominations within each religion showing features of the others (as you might expect anyway from religions with a common root). As already mentioned some Christians have become very legalistic (pretty much since the day Christ died in fact… so much for that), some Muslims have been questioning their legal structure’s applicability in the modern world, and some liberal Jews have been opening up to people who wish to join the club.

  54. And Wobbly, I’m afraid I would be slightly dubious of that quote. Even if it is true word-for-word, it sounds like it has been taken out of context and would be the beginning of a reply rather than the entirety. For example I would not be surprised if the reply were something along the lines of:

    “I think you’ll find it’s closer to 50,000; but even so, I sleep with the knowledge that we have helped to make the lives of ordinary Iraqis better and toppled a ruthless dictator.”

    Or some other self-justifying nonsense. Like idlex I think it is hardly in Blair’s style.

  55. Yes, I misread it the first time (broken telephone mode) and I’m putting it down to shock (though not much awe).

    New Statesman isn’t the most backwater periodical and if these statements are untrue, defamatory or have been misrepresented significantly, I’m sure we’ll hear of it. Alternatively, maybe he was just caught on a bad day.

    Incidentally, I think it sounds JUST like Blair. He always dives into statistics if he’s cornered on a point of delinquency and, in this instance, I don’t think he thought it through before reacting with his usual B.S.

  56. Unlike Hizbollah, Mel, Israel is not trying to kill civilians.
    Bald statement, no supporting evidence (anywhere)

    Apart from a pint of tequila, I don’t know what got into Mel Gibson when he decided to favour the Los Angeles police with an anti-Semitic rant.
    I don’t know what whacko religious convictions inspire the Aussie heart-throb, or whether he genuinely believes that the “f—— Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”.
    But whatever Mel was having the other night was powerful stuff; and, you know what, my impression is that a lot of folks across Britain are secretly having a snifter of the same. Across the country there are sober people who would never dream of calling an LA police officer “sugar tits”, or swinging like an ape from the bars of their cell. Yet these people seem to share the essentials of Mel’s analysis of the Middle East.

    Amusing but largely irrelevant.

    Come on, Blair! they write from their wisteria-clad redoubts. Come on, Straw, Cameron, Hague, and you, too, Boris Johnson! When are you all going to stop poodling and call a halt to Israeli murder? American-made Israeli helicopters are pounding villages, killing hundreds of women and children – and our politicians do nothing but wring their hands.
    Very true, damn good question. Unfortunately it begs an answer which you fail to supply.

    Look at Blair, they say with real disgust: out there in Hollywood, touting for his next job while Beirut blazes, and we all know who runs Hollywood, eh, hmmm, know what I mean? It’s a gigantic conspiracy, Boris, they say, and it is high time you did something about it.
    And they would be right.

    And believe me, if I thought it would make a blind bit of difference, I would. I can see that the Israeli strategy seems to be disastrous, and is turning terrorists into martyrs. But then I don’t live in Haifa, or any of the places rocketed by the Hizbollah maniacs. These are not my relatives being killed, nor the relatives of my angry correspondents; and let us imagine that I did “denounce” Israel in full, free, frank and ferocious terms. Let us suppose that news of this stunning démarche were to reach the ears of some Katyusha victim, or some grime-streaked soldier of the Israeli Defence Force.
    Your first sentence is simply a rather lame excuse to cover up the fact that you can’t be bothered or you’re too scared of losing your job. If we all took that view, i.e. not to stand up and be counted if our friends and family aren’t involved, we’d all still be living in caves (mud huts and tents requiring more social organisation and constructive criticism). And what if your words DID “…reach the ears of some Katyusha victim..”? You have adequately demonstrated in the title that you are happy to make unsupported and unjustifiable statements; why change the habits of a lifetime?

    Never mind the mild hilarity at discovering that some obscure Tory spokesman had “denounced” Israel. If I were an Israeli, I would be astounded that any member of the British Government or Opposition felt able to criticise Israel at all.
    Very good point. As ‘Wobbly’ has suggested, the British government aren’t quite the ‘poster government’ for keeping civilians out of bomb zones. That’s not the point however, the entire country was mislead along with the government by Blair and his spinning Jeremy. The majority of British people weren’t in favour of the invasion anyway. This is not, apparently, the case in Israel where, currently, the ‘vengeance’ enjoys popular support.

    This is a country responding, however incompetently, to direct aggression against its own people from a neighbouring failed state. It was only three years ago that we, the goody-goody British, invaded a sovereign country thousands of miles away that presented absolutely no direct threat whatever.
    I would REALLY like to be a fly on the wall when you make that ‘failed state’ comment to anyone Lebanese. Beirut has been flattened (by Israel coincidentally) three times now in the last decade and, since the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, pretty much rebuilt their economy and the city. I doubt that Britain could match their industry if the situation was reversed. I’ll let ‘direct aggression’ comment slide for now because I haven’t finished my research on the events which really led up to the Israeli ‘retaliation’.

    We, the smug British, have been responsible for what is now a full-scale civil war, and in case there is still some ass out there (such as Blair) who says this is not a civil war, let me point out that Iraqi civilian deaths are now averaging 800 a week, and the monthly casualties for June approached the levels of the American Civil War, one of the bloodiest in history.
    Yup, spot on, full marks, I hop you stand up in the Commons and say the same thing one day when you’re a big boy.

    Our strategy – Jack Straw’s strategy – for Iraq has proved to be pure carnage, and for him to criticise Israel’s strategy is laughable. All of which, of course, makes my friends even crosser. Yes, they hiss, but then we shouldn’t have gone near Iraq. It was our fault for poodling to the Americans, and we all know why the Americans wanted to invade Iraq, hmmm?
    In the circumstances, Mr Straw’s comments are indeed laughable; however, if he were to publicly admit that he had, under orders from Blair, made a terrible error in his handling of Iraq, we might allow this criticism if only because his advice would be derived from legitimate experience. As to why the Americans wanted to invade Iraq, your guess is as good as mine; Maybe Bozo Bush just wanted to impress his Dad.

    It was partly about oil, but it was also Israel, wasn’t it? It was the old Jewish lobby, eh? they say, beginning to rev up like Mel in the cell. To which I can only wearily respond that, yes, I suspect that it was a bit about oil, and, yes, I have no doubt that the Israelis were happy to see the back of Saddam Hussein.
    Reasonable speculation, bit light on evidence as usual.

    But the only reason I supported the war was because I persuaded myself that it would be in the long-term interests of the people of Iraq, and, though that hope now looks pitiful, it has not quite died.
    It must be on life support then.

    And whatever the frustrated ravings of Mel Gibson and my correspondents, I do not believe that all the problems of the region can be traced to Israel, and nor do I believe that if Britain were to spurn Bush, snub Condi and “denounce” Israel, we would make the slightest difference to the fate of southern Lebanon.
    Israel certainly contributes significantly to the problems and is a constant irritant to the local regimes. The US wasn’t very happy about Cuba if you remember the missile crisis. Israel is a FAR greater danger to nearby Middle Eastern countries than Cuba was to the US and that little affair came close to starting WW3. Again, you’re trying to excuse yourself by saying any criticism from you wouldn’t make any difference. How do you know unless you try it? Extremely unconvincing argument I’m afraid.

    Of course anti-Americanism wins votes, especially if, like Jack Straw, you have a seat with a lot of Muslims. But show me how it works, this proposed spanking new “independent” British policy on Israel? Presumably we join France and Germany in their vapourings. Presumably we join the European Commission in encouraging the pouring of further squillions down the gullets of the brutal and corrupt Palestinian government.
    Now Boris old boy, you really are treading on thin ice. I now challenge you to spend a month in Palestine without a team of Israeli bodyguards to actually see where the brutality and corruption exists. I’ll be happy to go with you. I’m not going to lecture you on this point but the evidence is utterly overwhelming and you’ve either ignored it or you aren’t interested.

    Then what? Then nothing. The real problem in the region is not Israel, but what it represents to the Islamicists who surround it. The difference between Israel and her neighbours is that Israel is a capitalist democracy, with all the freedom and tawdriness that entails. They don’t give a monkey’s in Teheran about the fate of the poor Palestinians. Israel incarnates everything the mullahs hate, not least the spectacle of liberated womanhood that they find so appalling and so shamingly tempting.
    Israel provides a focus for the resentment of a Muslim civilisation that finds itself materially and intellectually humiliated by the achievements of America and the West. Indeed, Israel provides a convenient proxy target for people in this country who loathe the Yo-Blair way America bosses us around, and who resent our enclitic status: not so much the parrot on America’s shoulder as the monkey in the pocket of an organ-grinder who is himself controlled by a vast Zionist conspiracy.

    This sounds like a re-spun and slightly less tawdry version of Bush’s “they don’t like our freedoms or our democracy” Let’s face it Boris, our much vaunted democracy just landed us in a war we didn’t want and in the US the patriot act means everyone’s liberty is pretty much at the pleasure of the prevailing administration.

    Well, let me remind Mel and all his secret British sympathisers of two last differences between Israel and the Islamicists. Whatever the hideous shambles of the past few days, it is still true, in principle, that when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit.
    I would sincerely like to see you demonstrate that statement in court. There are a number of excellent links in the comments here which, even if they don’t demolish this argument, certainly cast a very dubious light over it.

    That is a moral difference that needs to be dinned into the skull of every saloon-bar strategist currently denouncing Israel. Finally, Mel, if you want to get wasted on tequilas and sheilas, you’re much better off in Tel Aviv than Teheran.
    Simply drivel

    Boris you are an utter buffoon and it saddens me that someone who comes across as a fairly affable and easy going sort of chap is in fact a right wing prick. It seems Michael Howard had your number after all.

    By the way, I’m Jewish (not one of the “self-hating” ones mind you) and I think the Israelis are behaving appallingly as do a number of my friends in Israel.

    Good day to you sir, and may the Lord have mercy on the shrivelled husk which is your soul (as you peace loving Christians say).

    2/10
    See me.

  57. Well troops, shall we declare victory?

    Looks like the opposition has shot their bolt…and fallen well short of hitting any particular target, let alone making an effective strike.

    So tell me, does Cameron have a blog?

  58. Declare victory if you will raincoaster, I’m still with Boris on this one!

    There simple fact of the matter is that Hezbollah needed disarming, and nobody else could/did do it. Israel stepped up to the plate and I’m glad.

    It is of course agreed, I think by everyone including Boris, that Israel has been conducting the invasion with either extreme ineptitude or highly immoral deliberate targetting.

    However, the motives for this invasion were sound, and we should be trying to pursuade Israel to be more humane in their conduct, NOT asking for a complete and unconditional ceasefire.

  59. ‘Stepped up to the plate’?

    What do we think this is, Jack Target? A game?

    I’ll offer you another ‘simple fact of the matter’, since you’re so keen to reduce an incredibly complex situation to saloon-bar table-thumping:

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  60. Jack T, I think you have misunderstood both me and Boris.

    Check the headline and tell me again how you determine that Boris agrees with the premise that Israel has been conducting the invasion with either extreme ineptitude or highly immoral deliberate targetting. I’m looking, but I’m seeing the opposite, as in this:

    it is still true, in principle, that when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets

    .

    Hezbollah does need disarming, and they’re not the only ones. However, the 200+ strikes on Israel in the past 24 hours indicate that perhaps the approach taken by Israel has been less than effective.

    A ceasefire, which Hezbollah itself has called for, would at least have prevented those from falling, as it would have prevented the deaths of the Syrian farm workers north of Beirut and the ongoing deaths in largely Christian central Lebanon.

  61. There simple fact of the matter is that Hezbollah needed disarming, and nobody else could/did do it. Israel stepped up to the plate and I’m glad. (Jack T)

    And has Israel disarmed Hezbollah? Not that I’ve heard.

      JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Several rockets landed in or near the Israeli city of Hadera on Friday, Israel’s Channel 2 television reported, causing no casualties.

      The strikes marked the deepest distance that rockets fired by the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbollah had landed inside Israel since the start of fighting between Israel and Hizbollah on July 12. Hadera is about 80 km (50 miles) from the Lebanese border. (reuters 4 Aug)

    Can Israel disarm Hezbollah? Not that I’ve heard.

    I wouldn’t have minded if Israel had actually set out in the first place to disarm Hezbollah, but it didn’t. It started out – and continues – devastating Lebanon, leaving Hezbollah largely intact. Now Christian areas of Lebanon are being bombed. What the hell’s this got to do with disarming Hezbollah?

      There are reports of attacks on Christian neighborhoods and major roads and bridges in Beirut on Friday. What is going on with these heightened attacks?

      It seems to show that there is an expansion of the air war on the part of the Israelis into the northern part of the nation. What is catching some people off guard is that the targets of these attacks are traditionally Christian areas. (msnbc 4 Aug)

  62. From Cold Desert yesterday (note that pictures are on the site, so if you want to see it, go to the site. Italics and bolding by raincoaster):

    I usually prefer to write my posts at the end of the day; however, today sounds different. I woke up and I was surprised by the news that my Delirious has posted in her blog.

    Oh, the joys of finally falling asleep from exhaustion at 5 am to the sound of planes and bombs in the distance only to wake up two hours later to this:

    Maameltein highway bombed

    Update 7.45: The bridge leading to Casino du Liban was just bombed too.

    Casino du Liban and Maameltein are located north of Beirut. Now I wonder why did Israel target the Maameltein highway and Casino du Liban bridge?
    Of course, if you ask the IDF, they will tell you that Hezbollah fighters, since the war started, are spending their nights in the casino gambling and watching some sexy night shows before they return early next morning to the Lebanese southern border to resume launching their rockets. Maybe the IDF is right, I mean, when you pass all your night in the Casino, you start your next day full of energy to continue fighting, no? (Of course bold Arabic coffee might be required.)

    Any person, with little common sense, can realize from this that Israel is not after “Khezbollah” they are after the Lebanese economy and tourism and Lebanese civilians. It is well known how much Casino du Liban makes money for the Lebanese government. It is well known the Maameltein is an area that attracts tourists. This reminds me of a joke that they once asked a tourist about the capital of Lebanon, and he replied, “Maameltein.” So please, cut this sh** about IDF being after “Khezbollah.”

    Below is a post by Lazarus.

    Hezbollah poses an existential threat to Israel
    It’s really pretty easy to understand.

    Hezbollah has killed 500+ Israeli civilians (depending on the sources), while Israel has killed less than 30. Hezbollah has destroyed most of northern Israel – people had to run for their lives and got bombed by Hezbollah while driving away. Hezbollah has shelled buildings and bridges all over Israel, targeted red cross ambulances, various trucks, has created the siege of Israel in which not enough fuel reaches the people and hospitals, and has directly caused over 700,000 displaced israeli civilians.

    Oh … wait … something seems wrong in the above.

  63. I wonder to what extent the present disaster is a consequence of the fact that none of the leaders of America, Britain, and Israel, has a single iota of military experience between them, and yet all of them share a simplistic belief in the efficacy of military action.

    Blair has been a consistent advocate of military action. He wanted much more in Kosovo than he got from Clinton, and apart from Iraq, he is reported to have wanted military intervention in Darfur, Zimbabwe, and various other places.

    Bush is reported to have been an advocate of an Iraq war since 1999, if not earlier. He felt that his father missed the chance to march on Baghdad in 1991 when Saddam’s army was defeated. And when he went ahead with the Iraq war in 2003, he disregarded military advice that he needed an army at least twice the size of the one he actually used.

    Ehud Olmert, equally devoid of military experience, and a novice Israeli Prime Minister, responded to Hamas kidnap raids on June 25 by destroying the infrastructure of Gaza, and has now responded to a similar Hezbollah kidnap raid by destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon.

    In every case, these wars have been launched by militarily inexperienced civilians, with an almost religious faith in military power, attempting to demonstrate their ‘strength’, very frequently against the advice of their own military.

    It therefore seems reasonable to suppose that, if they had some military experience, and some idea of the limitations of military power, or had listened to military advice, most likely none of these wars would have been started.

  64. As a follow-up to ‘raincoaster’ re Human Rights Watch, here’s Amnesty:

    Israel: IDF inquiry into Qana a whitewash

    The investigation carried out by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) into the air-missile attack on Qana was clearly inadequate and reinforces the need for the urgent dispatch of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC).

    “We cannot allow any investigation into the events in Qana to be a whitewash. What is needed here is an independent investigation which can look at all credible reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law taking place in this conflict. Any investigation needs the capacity to cross borders and talk to survivors of the attack as well as to the forces involved,” said Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “It is not enough that the Israeli army investigates themselves. Israel has a history of either not investigating civilian deaths, or conducting similarly flawed inquiries.”

    The results of the IDF investigation state that the IDF “operated according to information that the building was not inhabited by civilians”. Yet survivors of the attack interviewed by Amnesty International researchers in Qana shortly after the bombing, stated that they had been in the building for some two weeks and that their presence must have been known to Israeli forces whose surveillance drones frequently flew over the village.

    Amnesty International declared that issuing warnings to the civilian population to leave the area does not absolve Israel of their responsibilities under customary international humanitarian law. Intentionally launching a disproportionate or indiscriminate attack, or intentionally directing attacks at civilians or civilian objects is a war crime. Amnesty International stated that the concept of ‘free-fire’ zones is incompatible with international humanitarian law.

    All AI documents on Israel:
    http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maae2qGabsnGVcjCmTZb/

  65. Errrm..knock, knock? Boris? Anyone home?

    It seems a bit much taking the stance that Hezbollah are a bunch of murdering scumbags when they seem to be the people who are a) winning the battle militarily b) gaining more and more international support for their activities and, most significantly, c) the people offering a ceasefire.

    In the spirit of peaceful negotiation and debate therefore, I propose a vote to offer Boris a ceasefire if he promises to have a look at this matter more carefully and so produce another, one hopes, slightly less glib and jingoistic analysis of the situation in the ‘hol(e)y land’.

  66. I honestly can’t remember a single post in which the comments have been so one-sided. And against Boris, too. This is a real anomaly.

    Wobbly, in the spirit of peacekeeping (or -establishing) I shall second your call. But until I hear it from Boris, I’m assuming the flamewar is still on. It may not be flamethrowers, maybe more like a crowd standing on the sidewalk, trying to light up Big Ben with sparklers, but it’s quite a bit more fire than I’ve ever seen ’round these parts. It’s just that we so incredibly polite.

    Except me, of course.

  67. Yes idlex/raincoaster et al, the situation is indeed dire. It is unfortunate that someone with Boris’ oratorical skills has chosen to use these talents in support of an entirely unworthy cause.

    What many people have forgotten is that the IDF launched a vicious attack on Hamas (in Gaza) just prior to the start of this whole debacle. They are still in the process of ‘subduing’ the population looking for their lost soldier and have cut a swathe of destruction through Gaza in total violation of article 4 of the Geneva Convention. Not that that would bother them very much; I believe Israel still holds the record for ignoring UN resolutions. Saddam Hussein was an amateur by comparison.

    Now it’s all very well talking about Hezbollah terrorists but Hamas are a democratically elected government of the Palestinian Authority. Just because the US doesn’t like the victors of a democratic election, it doesn’t stop it being a democracy. In point of fact the Americans are just pissed off because their puppet didn’t get in as they expected.

    It is also odd that, when examining ‘who started it’, many ‘saloon-bar strategists’ insist it was Hezbollah because they crossed the border into Israel etc etc etc. It seems odd that everyone forgets about the ties between Hamas and Hezbollah whereby their attack on Israel can be seen in a slightly different light, i.e. support for a neighbour and ally under attack from a violent and despotic regime. Let’s not forget that Germany didn’t attack Britain in the Second World War. Germany invaded Poland, with whom we held a treaty of mutual protection, and so Britain felt obliged to declare war on Germany. That doesn’t stop people saying ‘Germany started it’ though.

    Anyway Johnson. As a result of your abysmal performance on this last essay I’m giving you lines and some after hours reading. Write out 1000 times “Possunt quia posse vedentur” Also, read the following document before talking about the ‘corrupt and brutal’ Palestinian regime. There are a number of others when you’ve finished reading this.

    http://web.amnesty.org/pages/isr-index_2-eng

    I would also instruct you to read ‘Politicide’ (By Prof. Baruch Kimmerling (to whom I am distantly related) who is the Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Like myself he is Jewish and a stalwart opponent of the current militaristic regime in the process of destroying Israel. He is also labeled a ‘self-hating Jew’ by his political opponents) If you or your PA would send me a contact address, I will send you a copy. Further reading may also include ‘Zionism, the real enemy of the Jews, Vol. 1’ (Hart)

  68. To quote Boris

    ” Well, let me remind Mel and all his secret British sympathisers of two last differences between Israel and the Islamicists. Whatever the hideous shambles of the past few days, it is still true, in principle, that when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit.

    That is the moral difference – – – – ”

    The UN post wiped out on 24 /07/2006 – with the loss of four UN personel was hit by a laser guided cruise missile .

  69. Yeah, sure. Have you ever tried writing to an MP? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred you’ll get shrugged off.

    I’m hacked off now. This isn’t really a blog at all – it’s a shop window. Real bloggers aren’t afraid of dialogue.

  70. Thank you raincoaster, I will despatch the aforementioned document in all haste lest the erstwhile Member for Henley loses control of his wisdom once more.

    And, may I say Mr Johnson, you have added an entirely unexpected dimension to the office ‘Member of Parliament’.

  71. And raincoaster adroitly steps into Melissa’s shoes.

    Have you ever tried writing to an MP? (Mark Gamon)

    Quite frequently. In my experience they will reply fulsomely if they agree with you, but not if they don’t. I think what they then do is take all the letters with which they agree, and show them to the whips, party leaders, media pundits, etc, and say, “Look at all the letters I’ve got agreeing with me about X!” The rest are binned.

    In my experience, most MPs don’t regard themselves as representing anybody, but rather as having been elected to voice their own mostly foolish opinions.

    Speaking of which, isn’t it good to know that Bush has already gone on holiday, and Blair is only delaying his for a day or two. I wonder who he’s staying with this time. Cliff? Silvio? Augusto?

  72. “The UN post wiped out on 24 /07/2006 – with the loss of four UN personel was hit by a laser guided cruise missile.”

    Made in the USA.

    And after an Irish UN officer had contacted the IDF no less than 6 times to say that missiles were falling dangerously near the UN post.

    Good god, Boris, where have you been? Under the bed?

  73. I read all this with rapt attention in the hope of learning more about a subject of which I am largely ignorant. I am neither Jew not Muslim and have no axe to grind except for a loathing of genocide for whatever reason.

    Like many of you, I suspect, I have never met an extremist from either faith, let alone visited these war zones. When Metro says I am “abdicating my moral authority” by not wading in with yet another opinion, he fails to understand that some people do not want to pontificate on subjects outside their grasp. The only contributors who have taken a measured view of this terrible business are Idlex (as usual), Raincoaster and Boris himself, who is receiving all the flak. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

    When the discussion turns to a subject on which I have first-hand experience – like how NewLab is irreparably destroying our own country – I will gladly pitch in.

  74. I take back what I said… It’s becoming ever more obvious to me that even if Israel had the opportunity to use a sound motive for the attack, they are clearly going well beyond the limits of said motive, and intentionally too.

    I remain completely baffled as to why they are doing it, but join everyone else now in condemnation of Israel’s actions in Lebanon.

  75. Looks like there is a bit of a firestorm in the Tory party over this war after all. Details in the Times article.

    Lord Kalms, a prominent member of the Jewish community, accused William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, of behaving like an “ignorant armchair critic” for criticising Israeli attacks on Lebanese army units and public buildings, and the high civilian death toll. He said that Mr Hague’s remarks were not just unhelpful, they were “downright dangerous”.

    Dave is still on holiday, as is Boris.

  76. “Speaking of which, isn’t it good to know that Bush has already gone on holiday, and Blair is only delaying his for a day or two. I wonder who he’s staying with this time. Cliff? Silvio? Augusto?” – idlex

    You can probably cross Sharon off the list but I still wouldn’t bet on it.

    Isn’t it extraordinary that we actually take comfort in the fact that the leader of our country and that of our most powerful ‘ally’ have gone on leave during a time of international crisis? The implication being that they’ll do less damage if they’re not holding the reins. Can you imagine similar sentiments being expressed about Winston Churchill or even Margaret Thatcher (during the Falklands punch-up)? It’s bizarre.

    Time for a no confidence vote soon I guess.

  77. Errr… Wobbly…

    It’s no comfort. If Bush and Blair are on holiday that leaves Cheney and Prescott in charge. You choose.

    Margaret Thatcher, on the other hand… If she’d taken a holiday at the right time, we might not have sunk the Belgrano.

  78. I remain completely baffled as to why they are doing it, but join everyone else now in condemnation of Israel’s actions in Lebanon. (Jack Target)

    Welcome to the club, Jack. Maybe even Boris is changing his mind as well.

    For myself, I was appalled from day one of this business, as soon as I saw footage of bombs falling on Beirut airport and a road flyover. It seemed absurd then, and it seems absurd now. As did the justification, which was that it ‘exerted pressure on Lebanon to act against Hezbollah’. Quite how Lebanon could have acted against Hezbollah while it was being systematically dismantled was as beyond me then as it is now.

  79. “It’s no comfort. If Bush and Blair are on holiday that leaves Cheney and Prescott in charge. You choose.” – Mark Gammon,

    Fair comment (the stuff of nightmares actually) Sure, I agree; their alternates are even worse, if that’s possible, but that’s my point really, i.e. we should have confidence in our government or, if not, surely we should get rid of them?

    Yeah, I know, bit tricky with ‘parliamentary democracy’ but I would like to hear more muttering about votes of no confidence.

    I heard this morning that shit-for-brains wants another year in the chair. I just hope it’s connected to the mains.

  80. “Lord Kalms, a prominent member of the Jewish community, accused William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, of behaving like an “ignorant armchair critic” for criticising Israeli attacks on Lebanese army units and public buildings, and the high civilian death toll. He said that Mr Hague’s remarks were not just unhelpful, they were “downright dangerous”.” (extract from Times article posted by raincoaster)

    What I’d like to understand is precisely what does Israel have to do before its supporters in Britain and around the world say “Hang on a mo’, that’s a bit much guys!”? I mean, do they have carte blanche to do anything whatsoever in defense of ‘the fatherland’ without fear of censure or criticism? Where’s the line?

    When I argue with the wife, I take the view that I’m right! If I didn’t think I was right I wouldn’t be arguing would I? But, regardless of this monomaniacal perspective, during the ‘post mortem’ I am forced to conclude that it takes two to tango and that no position is 100% incontravertible.

    I, unlike some, don’t enjoy angry confrontation and most of the time I’ll go out of my way to avoid it. Unfortunately, for better or worse, sometimes tempers flare and angry words are exchanged. Subsequently our better natures regain control of the situation and, having examined the vehemence underlying one’s position, negotiate some sort of compromise. I generally find that if neither party is entirely satisfied, the settlement is probably fair.

    My principle here being that few people actually fight for nothing; there is always some issue of legitimate dispute. The very fact that Israel attracts so much negative attention from its neighbours in the Middle East is surely prima facie evidence that they are doing something to cause these vexatious incidents.

    It seems foolish that Britain and the UN allows the US to arrogate all significant decisions and policies pertaining to this region to itself when, demonstrably, these schemes have been utterly ineffectual for decades. If the current situation is representative of the ‘roadmap to peace’ I can only conclude Dubya’s got it the wrong way up.

    There’s much more to this conflict than meets the eye and it’s high time that it was investigated properly. I’ve been through a lot of the documentation links posted here and, either everything except the media is seriously biased against Israel or they really do need to answer for some serious violations of international and humanitarian law.

    I think it’s important to keep an open mind though.

  81. ‘My only hope is that the world makes it to the end of the Bush idiot presidency without too many more wars’ (Idlex)

    Now hang on a minute, forget all the spin and propagander that you get over here. Bush just tells you straight what he’s gonna do – he’s allright in my book.

    Before he got elected he siad he was going to run the economy based on tax cuts – he cut taxes after being elected and is still holding to that policy.

    After 9/11 he asked every country ‘are you with us or against us’ even Colonel Gadaffi wasn’t stupid enough to say ‘against you’ hence he is not a subject of the War on Terror. Saddam wrote a long letter basically saying ‘up yours’ – now he’s gonna hang. The Iraqi people have democracy and a choice whether they wanna be with us or against us.

    I’m not sure what the Ayatollahs said but they became part of the ‘axis of evil’ (see below)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axis_of_evil

    American conservative politics seems to have moved beyond spin – remember when Donald Rumsfield was asked why he was dropping cluster bombs in Afghanistan? He replied ‘to kill them’. I’d rather our politicans were to the point like that.

  82. Stephen L…

    ‘to kill them (and safeguard the region for some of my shady business interests)’ would surely have been a more accurate answer…

  83. Wouldn’t it be nice if David Cameron got back from leave and made a statement along the following lines.

    “I am not the Prime Minister of Great Britain, but I have high hopes of one day achieving this exalted office. Until that time, whilst I may sway the incumbent government’s policies, I am only able to influence our government and not implement policies of my own. However, even though I do not enjoy governmental pre-eminence, I offer, on behalf of Britain, my deepest condolences and sympathies to the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine. I would like to add that I hope that we can work together in the future to rectify and repair relations between Britain and the Middle East.

    Insofar as Britain was the last nation to govern the territory of Israel and Palestine prior to resolution 181 of the United Nations, I consider the difficulties in Israel and Lebanon to lie, to a certain extent, at our doorstep. As a consequence of this historical obligation I feel it behooves any British government to do its utmost to expedite peace in this region; even if such actions may strain our relationship with our allies, the United States and Israel.

    To this end I call for impartial international re-assessment of the activities of Israel in the occupied territories of Palestine and a similar examination of its recent military activities in Lebanon. I also recommend that Britain withdraw diplomatic relations with Israel until the leaders of that country comply with all outstanding UN resolutions and rectify any officially recorded abuses of humanitarian rights in the occupied territories and Lebanon.

    I recognize that this statement will cause anger and dissent in the ranks of the elected members of my party and those many members of the Conservative Party in the community. I further recognize that this standpoint may cost me the leadership of this party. Regardless of these dangers, I am no longer prepared to stand by and, through inaction, condone the chronic and intolerable abuses being perpetrated in this region. I can no longer, in all honour, sit in silence while such transgressions persist without any word of condemnation or action from the international community.

    If this standpoint causes me to lose electoral votes, so be it. The votes it costs are well spent in raising public awareness of the gross violations of international law perpetrated by the Israeli government daily. In the event that sinister influence causes me to lose my leadership and perhaps my seat in the house, I trust that my replacement will take up this issue with the same desire for investigation, reconciliation and, ultimately peace.”

    I may even vote for him.

  84. And Mark,

    Since when was defence a shady business? Looking at your website you seem to enjoy your freedom, playing music, writing whatever you please. You wouldn’t have all that if Hitler had won the war, if the USA hadn’t stopped Stalin swallowing Europe or under the Taliban, whom I believe banned music. Too damn right we ‘overthrew’ them.

  85. SteVen L:

    Exactly how much research have you done into profits from the weapons/war industry?
    And ‘reconstruction’?
    And how oil affects what happens in the Middle East?
    Or Afghanistan?
    Do you know where the Caspian Sea is?
    What makes you think that anyone in Afghanistan is ‘overthrown’?
    How do the Iraqis have ‘democracy’ when the counry is falling headlong into civil war?
    How do the people of Iraq have a choice about anything at the moment?

  86. Steven L – sorry for spelling your name wrong. No disprespect intended.

    No apology, however, for questioning Rumsfeld’s motives in getting into Iraq. Please do a little digging into his corporate associations before you hail him as a champion of freedom. And please don’t describe invading a foreign country, however base its leadership, as ‘defence’. That’s exactly what the Israelis are doing right now, and it’s doublespeak.

    Re Hitler, I hear what you’re saying, to some extent. Hitler had to be stopped, and the Allies did so. However, I seem to remember we waited until his offensive behaviour became intolerable before we went to war.

    In the case of Stalin, I’m a bit baffled. Exactly WHEN did the USA fight a war with Stalin?

    As for the Taliban, who banned music (and who I incidentally despise for doing so): I never questioned that they were a force for evil. I’ll repeat: it was Rumsfeld’s motives I was worried about. Cheney’s, too, if you’re asking.

    When the Germans invaded Poland, we went to war to protect a sovereign people who had been invaded by a fascist state that threatened to overwhelm the whole of mankind. A bit like the FIRST Gulf War, come to that, which I consider a largely just war, despite the Bush connection.

    That’s not what we did in Afghanistan or the Second Gulf War. And it’s what we’re singularly failing to do in the case of the Lebanon. In fact if you apply the logic of the Second World War to the current crisis, we should be declaring war on ISRAEL.

    I’m not advocating that – merely pointing out that this situation is much much more complicated than we can possibly imagine.

  87. Even if we accept that Israel does not deliberately target civilians or UN officials, we can surely say that it is deliberately destroying the infrastructure and economy of Lebanon. Those roads and bridges weren’t accidently bombed. It has also told almost 1 million people to leave their homes or accept the consequences. It has also blockaded the ports and airports of an entire country. Are these not crimes?

  88. “American conservative politics seems to have moved beyond spin” Steven_L

    They’ve also moved beyond the limits of justifiable international behaviour.

    You should take a proper gander at Hitler’s election promises and propaganda. He kept a surprisingly high number of his pre-election pledges too.

    The side effects of his brutal ‘honesty’ were somewhat more unfortunate and not entirely dissimilar to Bush’s.

  89. I’m a bit confused now. I thought the Bushy rules were ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists’. So how come these draft UN proposals seem to require Hezbollah’s cooperation?

    Sounds like the rules have changed to ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists unless Israel squeals like a stuck pig’

    Or perhaps ‘We don’t negotiate with people we call terrorists on TV but quietly recognise that they, incoveniently, have elected officials in the Lebanese government like Hezbollah and Hamas’

    Or maybe ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists but Israel decides who the terrorists are and they’ve changed their mind about Hezbollah because terrorists can’t fight and these guys can’

    What was that song the people on the demo were signing yesterday? “Two four six eight, Israel is a terrorist state”

    Can we negotiate with them too?

  90. Hot off the conspiracy presses.

    Israel’s military is partially financed by Saudi Arabian oil money. This keeps the House of Saud off the radar with the Saudi population. the Mullahs bang on about Israel’s abuse of the Palestinians and the Saudi royals can carry on snorting, smoking, drinking and whoring (my sources tell me that the House of Saud makes the largest single order for Johnny Walker Blue label in the world).

    These investments into Israel are administered through the Bush family and are divested to Israel under the guise of US aid. It’s a very well kept secret but, when Osama discovered this conspiracy, he fell out with his family and took up his current role as liberator.

    Ever wondered why the Washington Saudi embassy has American guards and police and why the Saudis (who have a bigger and better equipped military than Israel) have never attacked Isreal?

    It’s a big plot which has been set up and perpetuated by the Bush administration dating back to Bush senior.

    In return for the ‘investment’ the Saudis have a promise of a bolt hole in the event that the Saudi poulation turns nasty and the US guarantees to protect their assets if they ever have to get out quick.

    This is why Israel doen’t want peace. If there’s peace, they lose the ‘investment’ so they have to beat up the Paelestinians every now and again. Didn’t anyone wonder why, just after Hamas basically agreed to recognise Israel, a gun boat blows up a family of Palestinians picnicking on a beach?

    If it goes quiet, they lose money!!

    Shhh, Keep it quiet.

  91. Boris,

    Imagine that some Islamic terrorists are lurking amid the good people of Henley on Thames. The first thing that Sir. Ian Blair of the Met does is to bomb Henley Bridge. Then he knocks out the power station and craters the road to London. His next move is to drop leaflets over Henley telling all honest people to leave before midnight when the serious bombing will get going. Not everyone manages to meet his deadline – the taxi fares are extortionate. In the morning the people awake and find that several rockets have landed on an apartment block, and that numerous women and children have been killed “by accident.”

    How would you feel?

  92. Good point Hugh, but you forget that Sir Ian also needs to take out the hospital, the police station and any inconvenient UN observers in Henley even if they’re on holiday or have broken down.

  93. And the petrol pumps.
    And then bomb Red Cross vehicles right through the red “+” on their roof.

  94. Never mind, impeach_bush.

    In brief, Cole’s notion is that this is all part of an attempt to bring the entirety of Middle East oil under direct US control (which is what I personally always thought the Iraq war was all about). Bringing Iran under US control is the next stage. But Iran has these Hezbollah proxies operating in Lebanon, and so these have to be neutralised first. The key line in Cole’s piece is: “Destroy Lebanon, and destroy Hizbullah, and you reduce Iran’s strategic depth.”

    If he means that by destroying Lebanon, Hezbollah will also be destroyed, I think he’s got it all wrong. Hezbollah, we are told, is funded by Iran, not Lebanon, and so destroying Lebanon won’t affect Hezbollah. It will just make it a bit uncomfortable. All of which will be offset by the new recruits and money and arms that will pour into Hezbollah’s coffers in response to Israel’s attack on Lebanon. Rather than weakening Hezbollah, the destruction of Lebanon will strengthen it.

    They should have learned this from Iraq, where the destruction of Iraq has provided a hotbed for insurgents and terrorists in a way that it never was before. Israel is now in process of recreating another Iraq in Lebanon, and a whole new set of ferocious enemies on their doorstep. It is about to replace a secular, Western-oriented Lebanon with a fundamentalist Muslim Taliban-style state which will make Hezbollah look like pussycats.

    Nope. Israel’s war on Lebanon is not going to destroy Hezbollah. It’s going to make it far stronger – increasing rather than decreasing Iran’s ‘strategic depth’, and making it all the harder to yoke Iran to the US.

    Another dumb neocon plan bites the dust.

  95. I almost begin to feel sorry for Boris. But not until I hear him take it back (more vigorous phrase replaced here).

    We can discuss the US any old time, and as you’re possibly aware, as a Canadian whose ancestors looted and burned the White House I have a great deal to say on that subject, BUT I think the key to this discussion is to remain focused.

    I agree it is difficult when the only dissent is coming from the MSM. Here in Canada, most of our media outlets are owned by the Aspers. It is no exaggeration to say that this one, vigorously Jewish and Zionist family owns the national debate, except when it comes to blogs.

    Which is one reason I don’t read the papers here, except the Globe and Mail.

    I’m actually pleased and surprised to see the orthodoxy and its counterargument have made it into the mainstream media, often in the same outlets. The Times? The Independent? The Guardian? All have reported both the “roll over for glorious Israel” and the “WTF are they doing” positions. This is good news.

    Susan, if you’re jobhunting with Cameron you can use me as a reference, although if you’re half as clever as you seem you know better! That is a simply brilliant statement you crafted. How sad that you’re the only one signing it.

    Perhaps we should make it more of a general petition? “We, the commentors of the State of Blogosphere…”

  96. We, the commentors of the State of Blogosphere (raincoaster)

    This is one reason why I reject all the notions upthread that Boris should descend and actually post here. Boris’ job is to post up a few stupid ideas, and let us lot shoot them pieces.

    It signifies the decline and fall of any blog, when any blogger descends to actually arguing his case, mano a mano with his various contenders.

    I speak from experience.

  97. Hmmm, interesting comment idlex. I disagree, but that’s a discussion for another time and place.

    After I finish replying to my comments.

    I’d certainly read any blog you wrote, and am now off to check Google Cache for aforesaid.

    Now I just want to point up a section of the excellent article in the Independent posted by (too lazy to scroll up, bear with me):

    Look at the events leading to the crisis on Israel’s other fighting front, Gaza. Gaza is Palestinian territory, occupied by Israel until last September and still dominated by Israel’s military might. On 25 June, Palestinian fighters crossed into Israel, attacked an army post and returned with their captive Cpl Gilad Shalit.

    Like many, Mr Blair sees this as the start of Israel’s (not Palestine’s) “crisis in Gaza”. The action was widely reported in our media as being “an escalation” by Palestinian “militants”, and Israel’s aggressive response was only to be expected. What Mr Blair and other observers will not admit is that the day before Cpl Shalit’s capture, Israeli forces went into Gaza and kidnapped two Palestinians whom Israel claims are Hamas militants.

    Tony Blair should put himself in the Palestinians’ place for a moment. Israel kidnaps your citizens from your territory and no one takes a blind bit of notice. A tit-for-tat raid justifies an onslaught that has cost more than 140 Palestinian lives, many of them civilians. Whose “arc of extremism” is in action here?

  98. Johnson’s a Yank.

    Expecting sense out of him is like expecting a vampire to donate blood.

    Make a meaningful sentence out of the following words:
    Neocon Boris fascist is warmonger a Johnson.

    George Bush has been dead for ten years but Death’s too scared to tell him.

  99. Looks like it’s next stop Iran for warmachine USA.

    They’ve got it surrounded, it doesn’t matter if Iran stops its uranium enrichment program, Saddam didn’t have WMDs but it didn’t stop Powell and Blair saying he did. I note Iran are being cited as the cause of the Lebanon issue with increasing regularity because of “I’m a dinner jacket”‘s comments about wiping Israel off the map.

    I can almost hear the speech now:

    “My fellow Americans, the time has come to put a stop to the Iranian terrorist regime sowing discord throughout the Middle East.

    They have, through their proxy Hezbollah, attacked our good friend and ally, Israel, and have continued to ignore UN resolutions in stopping their nucular enrichment ambitions.

    We, the american people have no option now but to stamp our authoritye on this situation and bomb the bastards flat and grab their oil like ma daddy told me.”

    Wonder what the Chinese and the Russian Federation will have to say about it?

  100. Idlex – I beg to differ. I’ll argue/debate with ANYONE who cares to visit my blog, and have done. I don’t consider myself in decline. Not on that front,anyway…

  101. Apparently Mel is talking to local Rabbis asking for forgiveness… or more likely his publicist is and Mel is just down the off-ie.

    The deliberate killing of unarmed combatants is murder. The deliberate killing of combatants is war.

    Wobbly: I don’t hear any head of state other then the Iranian’s calling for the total destruction of another state. Iran also wants to aquire nuclear technology. The what-ifs are unthinkable.

    “When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came

  102. “Wobbly: I don’t hear any head of state other then the Iranian’s calling for the total destruction of another state. Iran also wants to aquire nuclear technology. The what-ifs are unthinkable.” Lennie Briscoe

    Give it a few weeks and we’ll see.

  103. Someone (impeach_bush I believe) asked me some questions. I’ll try to answer.

    Exactly how much research have you done into profits from the weapons/war industry?

    None, finance goes over my head, being British though I do know a bit about the history of war and a bit about defence technology. If Iran doesn’t climb down I can see their air force getting ‘raptored’ (see below)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F22

    And ‘reconstruction’?

    I’m no authority on this, am busy applying for jobs at the moment so will not be reading about it in any detail for a while. Iraq’s oil revenues at current price should provide enough dough to get them sorted out in the next decade though.

    And how oil affects what happens in the Middle East?

    This is a bit ambigious, I see the world as 6 billion people making decisions, not controlled by underground sludge.

    Or Afghanistan?

    Look, the Taliban needed taking out they were medieval thugs – look how they treated their women.

    Do you know where the Caspian Sea is?

    Yes, geography is not usually my strong point but I know where the Caspian sea is, it borders with Russia I believe.

    What makes you think that anyone in Afghanistan is ‘overthrown’?

    We’ve taken their capital city and installed a new democratically elected government recognised by the UN, sure Russia left with their tale between their legs but the red army are rubbish.

    How do the Iraqis have ‘democracy’ when the counry is falling headlong into civil war?

    They have a democratically elected government. They could change their gun laws for example and make it a capital crime to have an AK47 or RPG after some sort of amnesty say.

    How do the people of Iraq have a choice about anything at the moment?

    Fundamentally the insurgents could just put their weapons down and learn to behave like civilized human beings. The good people of Iraq need to decide whether they want to become a functioning democracy, an extention of Iran, a terror state or a war-zone I guess, sometimes you have to fight for freedom, it doesn’t just happen. We live in a globalised community, rogue states that harm the interests of their own people should be subject to regieme change if you ask me. It’s a tough call but I side with the neo-cons on this. In the UK we depend on other countries for some of the things we need to keep our country functioning, other countries depend on us for things. The British people wouldn’t just cut another country off for the sake of it we wouldn’t steal another countries land or resources. Imposing sanctions or going to war is serious business.

    What gets me with you lot is the amount of internet tittle-tattle you are all quoting as sources. I don’t pretend to be supersmart or have all the answers but if you want to argue with me can you please at least use proper sources if any. Thank you

  104. raincoaster/mark gamon. I was speaking from the experience of encountering ‘star’ bloggers, not of blogging myself.

    Star bloggers usually write excellently and at length in their main blog, but often disappointingly hopelessly in their comments. I think that this is because in their main blog they oratorically declaim, whereas in comments they must converse or argue, and the ability to do one does not always entail an ability to do the other.

    Boris can write whole witty declamatory essays at the drop of a hat. Whether he can engage in debate or conversation is unknown (to me at least). And I don’t see that he’s under any obligation to do so.

  105. What gets me with you lot is the amount of internet tittle-tattle you are all quoting as sources. (Steven_L)

    What, you mean Boris?

  106. In a huff now. (Mark G)

    Ha.

    By star bloggers, I’m thinking mostly of American political bloggers like Kos, Josh Marshall, and the like, who get about a gazillion hits a day, and who actually meet up together at conventions like the Yearly Kos, and stuff like that.

    I don’t know how many hits Boris gets, but I bet he’s nowhere near those guys.

    Perhaps raincoaster and your good self are, unknown to me, up there with the stars – or will be very shortly. I am very far from omniscient.

    As for me, raincoaster said today that she’d read a blog of mine. But I don’t think I could write one, because I tend to write in response to things I read. Which makes me more of a commentor than a blogger.

  107. I should add that I do have a huge sprawling website, but it’s not a blog. It’s a collection of essays about an idea. About once every six months, I get an email from someone about it. And this is quite enough.

  108. Interesting (in terms of demonstrating Israali stupidity anyway)

    The army planned to hit strategic infrastructure targets and symbols of the Lebanese government, Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz newspaper reported.

    A senior General Staff officer said: “We will continue hitting everything that moves in Hizbollah – but we will also hit strategic civilian infrastructure.”

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1229895,00.html

    I though this was a ‘war on terror(ists)’, so how come it’s now a war on Lebanon?

    Maybe they need to add a few RPMs to the spin.

  109. ‘the taxi fares are extortionate’ (High Fraser)

    It’s called profiteering Mr Fraser, shows you how some people treat their fellow citizens doesn’t it.

    As for your ‘Imagine that some Islamic terrorists are lurking amid the good people of Henley on Thames. The first thing that Sir. Ian Blair of the Met does is to bomb Henley Bridge’ comments above think again.

    This is why we have a security service and an anti-terrorist squad. We do our best to control the terrorists within our own borders. Some people have drawn the same analogy to the IRA, saying it would be like us bombing Dublin. This is rubbish, the IRA did not fire missiles from the Republic or Ireland into the UK. Everyone knows Syria arm Hezbollah but Israel has not launched an attack on Syria, but on Hezbollah, a terrorist organisation operating from inside Lebanon. If the Lebanese government cannot stop Hezbollah then Israel are perfectly entitled to fight back.

    But Like I have said before some criticism of their methods may be well placed.

    Interestingly, I was in London when this all kicked off. One night I was queuing up to buy some cigarettes in an Earls Court convenience store, an afro-caribbean woman was arguing with the Asian shop keeper about the war. The afro-caribbean woman was saying ‘it is Iran, it is all Iran’ and the shop keeper was saying ‘no it is Bush, it is Bush’.

    One thing I don’t want to happen above all other things is for the war to spread to this country. Lets hope the debate stays democratic.

  110. Having watched the unspeakable Benjamin Netanyahu on BBC1 Sunday morning justifying Israel’s present actions in the Lebanon by comparing them to the ‘Churchill’s policy’ of area bombing, Dresden, et al, I suddenly found myself beginning to understand Nazi Germany’s policy of the final solution. Most certainly I can now understand and sympathise just how much the Arabs must hate the State of Israel.

    In 1939 – 1945 Britain was fighting for its very life. It was bombed, rocketed by a vast industrial nation; and, incidentally, was fighting to save the Jews and others from Nazi atrocities. And, news for you Benjamin, it was not ‘Churchill’s policy’. It was Allied policy. The USAAF (as it then was) also carried out blanket bombing as much as the RAF.

    Both British and American flyers fought against a nation which could defend itself. Our flyers fought and died. Not like your cowardly murderers-from-the-sky who are killing people whilst enjoying total safety with their American advanced technology and materiel support.

    And the Boris’s of this world and the Blair’s think all of this OK.

    Politicians, I s–t them.

  111. Melissa said that Boris gets about ten thousand hits a day, which puts him easily in the “star blogger” category. I have yet to break a thousand.

    *sniffles*

    I agree that the ability to craft beautiful essays isn’t the same as the ability to make interesting comments, but I don’t think that writing beautiful essays is the same thing as blogging.

    At. All.

    I don’t really think of this place as a blog; it’s a place for Boris to recycle his essays and get some coverage in the blogosphere and some street cred as a blogger, but it’s not really a blog. Pretty much everything here has been published on paper somewhere else first.

    And I do consider it the mark of a good blogger to reply eloquently and promptly to the comments.

  112. Boris, you are absolutely right. But people will just blame the history of the area. The world is in a mad place right now, millions preferring to die for a cause the rest of the World cannot truly understand. but never mind. when they are all gone the World will still be here. Its in our nature to destroy each other, even when in peace. Just seems sad and pointless at the time. Boris for King.

  113. I don’t like the war and I disagree with the conduct of the Israeli government and army however Israel is not in the wrong, Palestine and all the other undemocratic shite holes that are around Israel are. If you look at the map you will see how tiny Israel is, why can the Jews not have at least this small piece of land? Why can’t they have at least one nation. There are loads of Islamic nations.

    All this ‘Israel is evil’ business is crap. Hell I am a Hippy and a Pacifist but even I know that Israel is in the right but making a few wrong decisions.

    I am sick of all the Anti-Semitism…….oh wait I forgot Jews are evil people. We should put them in Death Camps and make Mel Hitler Gibson and his moronic fathers the Führurs of the Western world.

    A.

  114. Mark Gamon

    We are more or less shut up for August and it is ghostly quiet in the Commons around this time—- hence the quiet.

    Boris has responded briefly to comments before but I cannot pressure him when he is on a well deserved holiday in Central America can I mate?!

    Keep on side won’t you, star blogger

    Melissa

  115. “I suddenly found myself beginning to understand Nazi Germany’s policy of the final solution.”

    *Cough* Fascist *Cough*

    I can’t believe people died fighting for people like you….

    I would hate to live in a Communist or Fascist country which people like you make me think this country will become. If so I will be the first in the Revolutionary line………..mind you as it will be a peaceful Revolution I will get shot dead by the Commies or Fascist you agree with.

    Oh no wait, you are right we should all exterminate Jews. I know we can round them all up and release one once in a while for a hunt, that would be a good sport.

    COME ON EVERYONE LETS BURN SYNOGOGUES!!! JEWS MUST DIE!

    What rot! People like you should be ashamed of yourself. How can anyone agree with the Holocaust. You are to put it bluntly, a freak.

  116. What raincoaster said

    >:
    August 3, 2006 03:51 PM | permalink

    Well a Boris did post a very funny comment on that Haaretz article. But our Boris only talks to Vicus, to Melissa, and to God.

  117. My respect for you has risen. Boris ,thank you for speaking out against the mutterings of anti Jews who are not brave enough to come out of the closet.

    “An excellent post, and “… when Israeli rockets kill civilians, they have missed their targets, and that when Hizbollah rockets kill civilians, they have scored a deliberate hit.” really hits the nail right on the head.”
    I totally concur with the above quote. Hizbollah are willing to use children and women as shields to hide their wickedness. They use homes as a base to fire from. I have friends in Israel who will verify this. After all ,seeming followers of the Koran are willing to send young boys,children as suicide bombers, to blow themselves and others up, with out any thought to the young lives they have corrupted. I also have friends who are decent,good people who are followers of the Islamic faith who believe that Israel has a right to a homeland. Do not forget there are all faiths living there ,not just Jews and they have and can live in harmony. Hizbollah are cowardly murders who do a disservice to Islam in their intent to destroy Israel.

  118. I can’t decide: Is that incredible egotism, atheism, or the world’s best example of sucking up?

    And thank you, Melissa. All compliments gratefully accepted. Does our Boris talk to Haaretz, I wonder?

  119. Perhaps someone can tell me why one of the world’s minority religions has a right to a state of its own?
    Just because people of the same religion lived there 2000 years ago is not a valid reason. How about if a group of modern druids suddenly demanded to seize Wales as a Druid homeland? That’s pretty much what Irgun, Ben-Gurion and his Stern gang terrorists did to form the so-called ‘country’ of Israel.

  120. Melissa said that Boris gets about ten thousand hits a day, which puts him easily in the “star blogger” category. I have yet to break a thousand. (raincoaster)

    Outfits like Kos get 100,000+ hits per day, so if Boris is a star, they must be megastars.

    he is on a well deserved holiday in Central America (Melissa)

    And I will be on a well deserved holiday myself in a day or two.

  121. Ah, but among British blogs, he’s way up there. There are very, very few blogs that get over a thousand hits a day; of 50.6 million on Technorati, Boris’ blog is ranked 3,858 (786 links from 472 blogs) not too scruffy.

    Kos, IMHO, has been coasting for a good while now.

    Although he DID link to me once *swoon*.

    I prefer Jesus’ General.

  122. As Hizbollah shoot and scoot, thus cleverly drawing Israeli fire down on “innocent civilians”(not to mention UN observers)our chattering classes all shout about war crimes.The BBC has loads of commentators telling us that this will “radicalise moderate muslim opinion”. Can anyone show me any moderate opinions being expressed by muslims? All I can see is any semitic and anti western racism expressed in terms that would result in prison sentence if used by a white Christian or Jew about any other race or creed. Where is any that daft legislation against incitement to religious or racial hatred when it is our democracy and way of life that is under attack? Just listen to what the neo mediaeval nutters are ACTUALLY saying about us. Wake up guys the enemy is at the gates and you are offering them tea and sympathy.

  123. ‘Not like your cowardly murderers-from-the-sky who are killing people whilst enjoying total safety with their American advanced technology and materiel support’ (Pip)

    I understand where the sentiment comes from Pip, but war is war. If a load of crazed kids armed with AK47s, RPGs and Iranian rockets are trying to murder your citizens, or your armed forces and they are in another country the idea of war is that you go and kill them before they get the chance to kill you.

    It’s not nice to think about on civy street I know, but it’s how war is. As for the ‘enjoying total safety’ good governments will always try to ensure that they have the defence technology that allows the highest level of safety for their armed forces. After all, think British army, some of my mates are in it, they are prepared to die so that we can blog, drink beer, have a cushy life etc. Don’t we owe them the best defence technology should they have to actually go to war?

    No sane person in Europe actually likes going to war, it’s just something that has to happen every so often.

    You can’t reason with these terrorists, you just have to kill them.

  124. Well said Steven_L, although I don’t fully agree with your last sentiment. Whilst appeasement is folly when dealing with terrorists I think that allowing numbers of members of such organisations the possibility of surrender is a policy always worth considering. Don’t make it too easy for the godfathers!

  125. “You can’t reason with these terrorists, you just have to kill them.”

    Like the IRA for example?

    You seem to quote Bush non-stop, Steven.
    How can you say that you can’t reason with Hezbollah (I assume that’s who you mean?) when they are already part of the parliament and government of Lebanon?

    Ah … I see Jack R has arrived and weighed in. This should be fun.

  126. Quote from Steven L.
    “You can’t reason with these terrorists, you just have to kill them.”

    I doubt if you’re a historian, but the leader of the Albigensian crusade against the Cathars in the 14th century made the immortal comment ‘Kill them all, God will know his own”. I thought we’d got above that in 2006.

  127. We’ve stopped the IRA bombing us and kiling our policemen now. Most people implicate them in that £22m bank robbery and some people describe them as the world best organised criminal organisation.

    So I guess killing them would have recruited more IRA terrorists (probably true) keeping them inside would have led to more bombs going off / more sectarian violence (probably true) and now we just let them act as organised criminals (and probably watch them like hawks).

    The difference in Lebanon is that Hezbollah are attacking another sovereign state. That sovereign states wants them out of the picture, who can blame them.

    As for my last statement, that just sums up what an average infantry man would tell you, that’s how they have to think, that’s war. How do you think Hezbollah’s terrorists think, have you ever heard how these jihadists talk?

    The horrible thing about the current conflict is that Lebanon were experiencing good economic growth, were making good progress to becoming part of the European Economic Area in order to develop their exports. Lebanon is not rich in resources, it’s main exports are food and tobacco. It also had a booming tourist trade, even the timeshare touts had moved in (with a bit of luck… no I won’t say it)

    Before this conflict they had 18% unemployment nationally, in the poor agricultural areas in the South this would have been higher. So you have masses of unemployed youth being handed rockets by agents of jihadi terror and being taught to hate Israel and the US.

    It’s a horrible situation, I’m not saying the Israeli response is doing any good either, but I can understand given their location and history why they are so keen on defending themselves. This type of unemployment cannot be sorted out overnight, Europe were helping, The Iranian and Syrian have basically all but wiped out a young generation in my view all the further their cause; the destruction of Israel and an increase in hatred against the West.

    As for collateral damage raincoaster if it was the UK at war I’d answer ‘the minimum necessary to win and minimise our casualties’.

    In hindsight maybe the EU should have done more to help Lebanon before this started, but did anyone see this coming? I didn’t.

  128. http://www.chomsky.info/whatsnew.htm

    Open Letter by Noam Chomsky

    Lebanon solidarity letter:

    The US-backed Israeli assault on Lebanon has left the country numb, smoldering and angry. The massacre in Qana and the loss of life is not simply “disproportionate.” It is, according to existing international laws, a war crime.

    The deliberate and systematic destruction of Lebanon’s social infrastructure by the Israeli air force was also a war crime, designed to reduce that country to the status of an Israeli-US protectorate.

    The attempt has backfired, as people all over the world watch aghast. In Lebanon itself, 87 percent of the population now support Hezbollah’s resistance, including 80 percent of Christian and Druze and 89 percent of Sunni Muslims, while 8 percent believe the US supports Lebanon.

    But these actions will not be tried by any court set up by the “international community” since the United States and its allies that commit or are complicit in these appalling crimes will not permit it.

    It has now become clear that the assault on Lebanon to wipe out Hezbollah had been prepared long before. Israel’s crimes had been given a green light by the United States and its ever-loyal British ally, despite the overwhelming opposition to Blair in his own country.

    The short peace that Lebanon enjoyed has come to an end, and a paralyzed country is forced to remember a past it had hoped to forget. The state terror inflicted on Lebanon is being repeated in the Gaza ghetto, while the “international community” stands by and watches in silence. Meanwhile the rest of Palestine is annexed and dismantled with the direct participation of the United States and the tacit approval of its allies.

    We offer our solidarity and support to the victims of this brutality and to those who mount a resistance against it. For our part, we will use all the means at our disposal to expose the complicity of our governments in these crimes. There will be no peace in the Middle East while the occupations of Palestine and Iraq and the temporarily “paused” bombings of Lebanon continue.

    Tariq Ali
    Mona Abaza
    Matthew Abraham
    Gilbert Achcar
    Etel Adnan
    Aziz el-Azmeh
    Nadia Baghdadi
    John Berger
    Timothy Andres Brennan
    Michaelle Browers
    Noam Chomsky
    Alexander Cockburn
    Dan Connell
    Mahmoud Darwish
    Richard Falk
    Eduardo Galeano
    Irene Gendzier
    Charles Glass
    Yassin al Haj Saleh
    Emilie Jacir
    Assaf Kfoury
    Elias Khouri
    Yitzhak Laor
    Ken Loach
    Jennifer Loewenstein
    Karma Nabulsi
    John Pilger
    Harold Pinter
    Richard Powers
    Tanya Reinhart
    Eric Rouleau
    Arundhati Roy
    Sandra Shattuck
    William Thelin
    Gore Vidal
    Howard Zinn
    Stephen Zunes

  129. “You can’t reason with these terrorists, you just have to kill them.” Steven_L

    No doubt Hizbollah and Hamas say exactly the same thing about the Israeli government.

    That’s the problem isn’t it really? Seems to me Steven that you are symptomatic of this brutal philosophy.

  130. A list of all the tunes
    Ending with Steven Zunes
    Including Harold Pinter
    Thought he died last winter
    And there’s good old ken Loach
    Still chewing on that Roach
    I also see John Berger
    Still b*****ing the verger?
    With that man John Pilger
    There’s no one more bilger
    And salute Tariq Ali
    Of leftist mind ballet
    And hairdresser Gore Vidal
    So Soon he does bridle
    Alexander Cockburn
    Port gives me the heartburn
    Hi Arundhati Roy
    Trifles truth as a toy
    There’s aweet Charles Glass
    Home stonethrowing must pass

    I’m drained! Mac and jaq where are you versificators when I need you?

  131. What a load of crap.

    Got any arguments or is your repertoire entirelylimited jingoistic gainsaying?

  132. Kos, IMHO, has been coasting for a good while now. Although he DID link to me once *swoon*. I prefer Jesus’ General. (raincoaster)

    I think Kos has become like a huge department store where you go in and get lost and can’t find your way out. Jesus’ General is, well, amusing. Billmon is my current favourite, if only because he’s one of the few US bloggers commenting on Lebanon.

    And, Jack R, I must say I have much the same response to anything signed by Tariq Ali and John Pilger, even if I happen to agree with much of the statement they have signed. They’re all so insufferably self-important. I really just don’t care what they think. The mere sight of Tariq Ali has my hackles (whatever they are) rising.

  133. Dr Prion

    You dissing me man?

    idlex

    Chomsky did some good stuff on grammars but otherwise I can’t think of anything good to say about this list, except that fortunately it is in alphabetical order and not ability. Had TA come top even given the underwhelming competition in such a list I would have ended it all, much to Dr P’s delight. Hey Dr P didn’t they ask you to sign it?

  134. Susan,

    You’re right, the main problem in the world is peoples attitudes to each other. Thankfully in the UK Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Aetheists etc all manage to live in relative peace with each other and debate things diplomatically.

    If you read my post below that one you will see the point I was making was that defence is necessary, if for sake arguement Europe had never agreed never again to go to war with each other and a terrorist organisation in France was firing missiles into Kent that the French government was powerless to stop what would your reaction be? Let’s invite them over the channel for a cup of tea and a chat?

    Back to people’s attitudes, I saw a documentry (it was either on BBC or ITV) from Palestine (I don’t recall whether it was Gaza or the West Bank) where Palestinian children were being taught that they should aspire to be ‘marytrs’.

    How can you justify this kind of attitude coming from a privelidged Western background (I assume)? Israeli children are not taught that the best thing they can do is to kill are they?

    This kind of indoctrination of innocent children is evil. It is widely publicised that Hamas, the elected government of Palestine, advocate the destruction of Israel, a soveriegn nation recognised by the UN. The British have done some shameful things in India during our history, but the Indian government do not teach their children to come over here and kill us do they? They educate their children, and many come here as young adults to further their education, to work with us, not against us.

    There is no snap solution to the worlds problems, to expect a solution within your lifetime or my lifetime is probably optimistic. All we can do is keep working at it and be civilised to our fellow human beings.

    When people become indoctrinated to kill indiscriminatly they cease being human in any meaningful definition of the word.

  135. Melissa – since you’ve been so sweet about it, I forgive Boris his absence unreservedly. I’m off to Cornwall for five days meself tomorrow.

    Of course, when he does get back, he’s going to find a lot of comments to read. I’d be genuinely interested to hear his response.

    (Back onside. Is that a cricketing term. Oh no, football. Boris knows a LOT about football I know ;))

  136. “We have discovered how to hit the Jews where they are the most vulnerable. The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win because they love life and we love death.”

    “If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”

    Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah

    When are you people going to wake up?

    Hizbollah is part of the government of Lebanon, its stated aim is the destruction of the State of Israel, it has attacked Israel on numerous occasions since the pullout. I am surprised Israel has waited this long to root out the manifest threat on its border.

  137. It’s frightening isn’t it Gabriel. I’m not sure about Hezbollah being part of the Lebanese government. Can you back this up with some evidence?

    I though of Hezbollah as a bunch of disillusioned unemployed kids taht had been indoctrinated with hatred; a militant wing of the preachers of hate in Terehan.

  138. One other quick point. 400,000 (yes 400,000 Never Again? more like Never Mind) black muslims have been killed by arab Muslims over the past 3 years in Darfur. Nothing has been done, Blair’s been on many holidays during the period and I don’t think there’s been an outcry about that.

    But the (complete lack of) reaction from Muslims has been most telling. I guess cartoons are enough to keep them occupied until Israel fights a war with genocidal maniacs.

    One further further point
    “And then bomb Red Cross vehicles right through the red “+” on their roof.”

    P.S. Boris, i hop you are a “right wing prick” it would be nice to think not everyone in the tory party is on Komrade Kameron’s wavelength.
    Yeah because aerial misslies often create small holes in the roofs of cars with no other damage. The things people will believe in order to demonise Israel, it’s a joke.

  139. Another point (there’s so much stupidity on this thread!) If the U.S. only cared about oil they’d tell Israel to get lost, thus instantly improving their relations with all the oil producing countries. Kind of like what China, Russia and the E.U. do.

  140. In case anyone’s interest in Hizbollah’s prisoner swap, reearch Samir Kuntar. Ask yourself why would such devout Muslims care about the release of a child murderer? (I mean Mohammed only had sex with kids after all)

  141. I don’t think you’re doing your cause any favours making bold statements about uncertain mythical / historical events Gabriel.

    What interested me in you link was that a stated aim of Hezbollah was Israeli withdrawl from the Golan heights. This is land that is disputed between Syria and Israel is it not? Is what we are seeing then a war by Syria against Israel by proxy. Bush did say in that famous conversation with Blair that ‘they need to get Syria to stop Hezbollah doing this shit’.

    Should a UN resolution then not be looking at condemning Syria for passing arms to Hezbollah fighters?

    It looks like Iran have no intention of suspending their Uranium enrichment either. I can’t help thinking the real enemies of the people of the middle east are Syria and Iran when I read these things from reliable sources.

    I my experience of Muslims in the UK they come here for a better education for their kids, reliable healthcare, better prospects, to escape kangeroo justice by ignorant barbarians and the last thing they want are things like ‘honour killings’ in their new homeland.

    Of course these are the integrated good muslims who respect humanity and speak to the indegenuous population.

    I think of the introduction of hardcore Sharia justice in part of the muslim world as medieval and barbaric.

    It would be like if Israel introdi

  142. oops

    introduced a crime and punishment system as is written exactly in the old testament in the book of Exodus. Interpreted literally this would mean that is an Israeli farmer had a dangerous bull in his field and did not repair a broken fence and a terrible accident occurred and the bull gored someone that the farmer would be put to death.

    Of course Israel do nothing of the sort, they are a democracy.

  143. And while you’ve got my attention Gabriel I would like to refer to your statement ‘it would be nice to think not everyone in the tory party is on Komrade Kameron’s wavelength.’

    For someone sounding very pro-israeli and anti-islamic to the point of some distaste I cannot condone your uncouth attack on the leader of Her Majesties Opposition.

    We are one of only two countries that are supporting Israels right to defend herself against what you call a ‘state attack’. I would be worried if a 39 year old well educated man was not interested in important issues such as the environment. Our country does not exist to blindly support Israel nor does our offical opposition.

    Guess what, we don’t actually rely on Israel to defend our naion, our defence is sured up by our defeat of Hitler, our membership of the EU, our excellent security services and our membership of NATO.

  144. ho hum, more self-righteous Israeli-apologetic mendacious codswallop from Steven Latrine and Jack Rumsfeld,

    I assume you are broadly sympathetic to the great Zionist cause and the racist, chauvinistic policies of the government of Israel towards Arabs particularly and non-Jews generally? Israel is everyone’s number 1 scapegoat, you infer. if Israel was dealt with appropriately after having been found guilty in the court of public opinion, it would have completely decayed under the weight of justly imposed sanctions from the world at large.

    Israel’s reprehensible behaviour toward Palestinians including collective punishment, imprisonment without trial, torture, targeted assassinations to mention just a few, should have resulted in the kind of sanctions that I am sure you personally were (presumably) happy to see visited on the innocent population of Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands of infant deaths. What I find amusing is that you Zionist apologists equate support for the Palestinian cause and the people brutalised by the Zionist experiment, to complete agreement with the methods employed by Hamas and Hezbollah, vis-à-vis, retaliation against the people of Israel on a like-for-like basis, to which you attach the euphemism, “terrorism”. Because terrorism is what “they” do isn’t it?

    The mindless murder of a 12-year old Palestinian girl by an IDF Colonel, oh no, he’s one of ours you say and he wears an IDF uniform so whatever he does is justifiable. How about Baruch Goldstein, that inbred-racist that machine gunned dozens of Palestinians to death in a Mosque in Hebron and was only stopped by someone crushing his skull with a fire extinguisher, his actions shouldn’t be construed as terrorism as he was carrying out God’s work. The latter’s miserable grave is visited by thousands of Jews every year and the site was turned into an official cemetery by the town’s Mayor. What about Goldstein’s rabbis and teachers that spewed the religious racism into his head, is that hate speech or is that only when Imams do it?

    You and those like you are incapable of separating your admiration for all things Israeli from your responsibility as a human being. You see when I listen to that devious individual Netanyahu, I see him for what he is a Zionist Josef Goebbels. You, on the other hand, swallow his every word without question. Ramsey, I care not for Islam and view it with the contempt that I do Judaism or Christianity, as being pointless monotheistic garbage and I wish that it would all disappear and leave the world to sensible people that have no use for religious racism, bigotry, childish beliefs in real estate bequests from some imaginary fire-breathing tyrants, genital mutilation and thoughts of racial purity.

    The day Israel has formally complied with all outstanding UN resolutions starting with 242, come back and talk to me; and, because that won’t happen, the real world should take all Israel’s guns away because it can’t be trusted to behave properly and dismantle the political entity and hand it back to the Arab majority that lie within its borders.

    When the Israelis can handle real democracy on a one man- one vote basis instead of the meaningless sham currently in Israel, come back and talk to me.

  145. idlex, you seem to have a fairly balanced view and appear (unlike Steven L) to have investigated this region’s history to a certain extent.

    Please explain to me why these people persist in the view that Israel can do no wrong.

    Am I just a couple of wheels short of a bike or is it because they have no clue about what the Israelis do in the name of security?

    Have you people read NOTHING about this region or is it the same uninformed, shoot from the hip bullshit you hear from incipient Hitler youth types?

  146. To cut to the chase Phil, in case you hadn’t realised there is a war on. I’m on our side (i.e. the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

    After 9/11 Bush said that there was going to be a ‘war on terror’ and asked quite openly which countries were ‘with us or against us’ looks like we picked the right side to be on and much to the detriment of the long suffering people of various hideous governments around the world certain countries decided they were ‘against us’. It’s as simple as that. As for pulling our troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan etc. would you like to be the last unit out? These things are best left to the military, not a load of civilians who like to massage their consciences.

    As a young working class Brit a good few of my mates are in the infantry, my loyalty is to them, our boys, no-one else.

  147. Well, I have taken the time to read this entire page and it’s taken me a little over half an hour.

    First I have to say that I’m rather disgusted, yet not surprised, at Boris’s ignorant and narrow-minded views about the current situation in Lebanon and in Israel.

    Let me explain why I felt the need to comment. My aunt lives in Israel with her Palestinian husband and her three children, all of whom are above the age of 20 and have dual nationality (Israeli/British) and who describe themselves as Palestinian Israelis. My aunt works for a humanitarian organisation and has spent the best part of 30 years right in the middle of the Israeli/Palestinian difficulties.

    Every time I see any of them, I am subjected to the most horrific stories of Israel’s (rarely reported) violence and cruel treatment of anybody it disagrees with. Being of Jewish descent myself I can assure anyone who fancies accusing me of being anything other than a reasonable human being that I care not for race, religion or colour, other than to say that none should be used as a weapon. However, after watching the current situation in Lebanon, I am sad to report that yet again, Israel is being the “Abused Abuser” and “Bullied Bully” and is flaunting it’s position as WW2 “survivor” as a right to persecute and mistreat other peoples. With immunity.

    If America is the boisterous puppy with big teeth and no brain and Britain is the once glorious and terrifying but now senile old tyrant, then Israel is the child that was abused over and over and never gained respect for itself or anybody else.

    I hope people understand what I am trying to say. I don’t have a great education but I have tried my best to explain how I feel about this. Whatever H’zbollar has done/started/caused, does this give a supposedly “civilised” nation the right to deliberately throw bombs onto innocents?

    JEWS IN WW2 WERE INNOCENT…..”99%” OF MUSLIMS ARE INNOCENT…ALL CHILDREN ARE INNOCENT…….ISRAEL IS NOT.

    PS..I truly wish for Bush and Yo Blair to be tried for war crimes.

  148. Steven, how do your friends in the military feel about the situation? I was born and raised on bases and in my experience, it’s the chickenhawks on the sidelines who are always most eager to go to war. The real army spends much of its time saying “what the hell are we doing here?” when aforesaid chickenhawks send them somewhere.

    The military advised against engagement in Iraq, too. They will serve, but they serve at the mercy of a government whose priorities do not necessarily include placing human life ahead of political expediency.

    I don’t think it’s telling tales out of school to let you know that Metro is ex-army. Scroll up and see what he has to say, or just check his blog here.

  149. Here is another infantryman’s point of view, this time from Israel.

    ANOTHER IDF OBJECTOR JAILED
    Lebnanews speaks to the second Israeli refusnik of the 2006 conflict

    In 1982, it took over half a year for Israeli officers and soldiers to begin refusing draft and orders to enter into Lebanon. In the beginning of the Al-Aqsa intifada, several months elapsed before the first letter of defiance was handed in. But in 2006, three weeks into the war, First Sergeant Zohar Milchgrub is entering imprisonment today (Sunday) for refusing to be drafted to a reserve force set to enter Lebanon . He is the second Israeli soldier in a week to become a conscientious objector to the new war. We spoke to him after the anti-war rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

    Our first question would be to which part of the army you belong.

    An ordinary infantry combat unit.

    When did you first decide to refuse to draft?

    I made the decision to refuse further service during my active service in the IDF. It was very clear for me that i won’t be heading back to the Occupied Territories. The decision to refuse to serve in this war was as natural as refusing to serve in the Territories.

    Would you say that the approach of the Israeli public to this war is different to its approach to the occupation?

    First of all, the pro-war sentiments and the exhilaration in the media have definetly had their effect. Society is following the call without any qualms or reservations. Even people who consider themselves to be on the Left, my own family.

    Are people more motivated to serve in Lebanon than in the OPT?

    Absolutely. A close friend of mine is in Lebanon with his unit as we speak. You need to remember that the breach of [Israeli] sovereignty, the raid over the border, all this was very problematic. However, we need to be looking at the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that Lebanon is a country that we should be talking to. If we have even the slightest hope of ending all of this, we need to speak to Lebanon , and we need to speak even to Hezbollah. We really do believe that this is possible – proper Lebanese sovereignity on all Lebanese lands and a peace agreement with Lebanon which, God willing, will be linked somehow to peace agreements with Syria and with the Palestinians.

    How is the Left camp in Israël responding to the war?

    I don’t want to speak in the name of the entire Left – and, anyway, I think the real Left are the people here, at this rally. Sadly, people on the Israeli Left need to see casualties before they start demonstrating against the war.

    Israeli casualties?

    Well, I wouldn’t want to say that they don’t care about other casualties, but there is a greater sensitivity to Israeli casualties, which is a great pity. Nevertheless, we see people joining and our numbers growing every week – this is a part of an ongoing war: people are beginning to sober up from their illusions.

    How long do you expect to spend in prison?

    As less as possible, maybe around a month. If the war won’t be over until then I’ll leave the country. I was planning to commence studies in Germany this year.

    Some of our readers would doubtlessly want to write to you, and you will not be able to respond to them from prison. Would you like to say something to them now?

    Even before I committed the actual act of refusing to serve, I emailed all my friends all over the world – in Germany , in Italy , in the States and even in Japan. I told them that what I am going to do in the nearest days is thanks to that wonderful support they’ve always given me. Almost immediately I got numerous responses of encouragement and solidarity. This is very important to us: we may like think we can do anything on our own, but the international support is wonderful and I’m deeply grateful to all those who support us.
    Dimi Reider, Tel Aviv

    Letters to Zohar and his fellow objectors can be posted on http://july2006.forumco.com/topic~TOPIC_ID~38.asp or emailed to alteriamo at gmail.com. All letters will be printed and delivered to prison no.6

  150. Raincoaster, they are too professional to discuss it with civilians outside of immediate family. I know for a fact that some them have tried to get out of active service and been persuaded to stay to the end of their tour though.

    Before the Iraq invasion my feelings were that we should not commit our troops, vote with the US in the Security Council and afford them logistical support.

    The day we went in all I can do is support them. Now what I want for them if they are staying to see it through is best kit (many are having to buy their own) and the best air support (i.e. British pilots in the Raptor and Eurofighter).

    I think our UK priorities should be to lobby the US to sell us the Raptor and to divert spending from social engineering and pubic sector non-jobs to upgrade the kit levels at at least the level of US soliders.

  151. Dear My MP,

    I must say I was flattered that a letter to you Boris as my MP would produce an article in The Telegraph. Several days later I thought I might respond. I dont have an organ like yours so I am reduced to using my MP’s web page . I thought it was silly of Boris to suggest that the chat in the Waitrose car park in Henley is subliminally anti semitic ( the Mel Gibson stuff ). Perhaps only drunks write to their MPs, perhaps only ….. I was a bit surprised by the bit about it being bonkers to ask an opinion former ( Boris )who writes in the National Press to criticise the government because no one would listen to him and it wouldnt make any difference. Help…, why write an article on the subject then ..to pay the school fees , why be an MP ? But then the article got heavy .If being critical of the government of Israel really makes me an anti semite I plead guilty. Best get that over with quick . Sorry, but if something is wrong then a silly slur about anti semitism even from my esteemed MP wont deflect either me or the truth.

    Perhaps I am being touchy but I felt patronised with the insinuation that your constituents arent well informed . In fact my views are entirely supported by my MP’s organ – The Spectator this week . Fascinating,there was a diatribe of venom from Melanie someone supporting Israel – all opinion and not a single fact . But also a simple article full of facts and truth by Fergal Keane. Read it for yourselves and take a view.. and well done Boris for publishing both, I thought both helped the cause . Hopefully we can, in time, get our honourable member get to grip with some facts and even think about things when he reads his own organ . I give him a bit of colour – my friend who lives in Jerusalem tells me what a little of what is going on. A vignette. There is a policy of the Israelis called Greater Jerusalem, this involves ensuring that anyone who leaves the East bank never comes back. How very original! I dont mean they emigrated but then wanted to come home – I mean they visited another part of Palestine even briefly – even a part in Israeli control but then are refused reentry. So Mum is sick in Bethelem, you visit but you can never go home . It doesnt matter if you have children , a sick parent etc. How odd this drip , drip, drip policy has become so rigourous in the last two weeks. It is of course about the lebensraum of the extreme Israelis. It is simply land clearance, a clearance of Palestinians from their land to build greater Israel. Given the policies of Israel I am amazed that in our country any informed person thinks it is odd that the Palestinians voted for Hamas or that as a result of the past two weeks support for Hizbollah has risen hugely even in Christian Lebanon ( source … this week’s Spectator)

    I was interested that Boris’s organ the Spectator published some facts today. Ratio of civilian deaths 20:1 Lebanon : Israel. Every death is a tragedy, but are we so wrong in the Waitrose car park when we say we dont like supporting a policy of revenge and intimidation by Israel? |Are we so silly to feel that using Prestwick to reinforce Israel is wrong and we want no part in it ? Are we so silly when we ask our MP to open his eyes ears and brain and then use his voice and pen in defence of what is right?

  152. You aren’t on my side Steven. You’re a bumptious fool who hasn’t even taken the time to look into this matter except perhaps a perfunctory look at Israeli propaganda.

    I’m ashamed to be British right now; it actually makes me feel nauseous when I consider that the world may believe that ALL British people are sabre rattling psychos like you.

    Speaking as someone who is waiting for the results of an interview with the Royal Engineers, I am not impressed in the least with ‘your mates in the military’. Whilst following orders is a prerequisite of of a stint in the army, leaving your conscience at the door isn’t. I made my feelings on this issue abundantly clear and these views were not met with criticism in the least.

    This is an example of Israeli propaganda:
    1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_day_war
    On the one hand, Israel fired what is considered the first shot “in a pre-emptive attack on Egypt’s airforce” Jordan in turn attacked the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Netanya. At the war’s end, Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day.

    2) http://www.science.co.il/Arab-Israeli-conflict.asp
    The Arab nations initiated four wars against Israel:

    * 1948 War of Independence
    * 1956 Sinai War
    * 1967 Six Day War
    * 1973 Yom Kippur War

    Israel defended itself each time and won. After each war Israeli army withdrew from most of the areas it captured (see maps). (see Camp-David Accords). This is unprecedented in World history and shows Israel’s willingness to reach peace even at the risk of fighting for its very existence each time anew.

    Where I come from, we call this sort of thing lying. Politicians call it spin.

    Unfortunately, halfwits buy into it.

  153. [Ed: apologies for the delay]

    Well Phil, I wish you luck in your application to the Royal Engineers, and give a hearty thanks you haven’t got your heart set on a career in the diplomatic corps.

    I tried to post this earlier, but it went poof in some strange internetty fashion, so here goes:

    Here is an interview with a conscientious objector in the Israeli Defence Forces.

    ANOTHER IDF OBJECTOR JAILED
    Lebnanews speaks to the second Israeli refusnik of the 2006 conflict

    In 1982, it took over half a year for Israeli officers and soldiers to begin refusing draft and orders to enter into Lebanon. In the beginning of the Al-Aqsa intifada, several months elapsed before the first letter of defiance was handed in. But in 2006, three weeks into the war, First Sergeant Zohar Milchgrub is entering imprisonment today (Sunday) for refusing to be drafted to a reserve force set to enter Lebanon . He is the second Israeli soldier in a week to become a conscientious objector to the new war. We spoke to him after the anti-war rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

    Our first question would be to which part of the army you belong.

    An ordinary infantry combat unit.

    When did you first decide to refuse to draft?

    I made the decision to refuse further service during my active service in the IDF. It was very clear for me that i won’t be heading back to the Occupied Territories. The decision to refuse to serve in this war was as natural as refusing to serve in the Territories.

    Would you say that the approach of the Israeli public to this war is different to its approach to the occupation?

    First of all, the pro-war sentiments and the exhilaration in the media have definetly had their effect. Society is following the call without any qualms or reservations. Even people who consider themselves to be on the Left, my own family.

    Are people more motivated to serve in Lebanon than in the OPT?

    Absolutely. A close friend of mine is in Lebanon with his unit as we speak. You need to remember that the breach of [Israeli] sovereignty, the raid over the border, all this was very problematic. However, we need to be looking at the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that Lebanon is a country that we should be talking to. If we have even the slightest hope of ending all of this, we need to speak to Lebanon , and we need to speak even to Hezbollah. We really do believe that this is possible – proper Lebanese sovereignity on all Lebanese lands and a peace agreement with Lebanon which, God willing, will be linked somehow to peace agreements with Syria and with the Palestinians.

    How is the Left camp in Israël responding to the war?

    I don’t want to speak in the name of the entire Left – and, anyway, I think the real Left are the people here, at this rally. Sadly, people on the Israeli Left need to see casualties before they start demonstrating against the war.

    Israeli casualties?

    Well, I wouldn’t want to say that they don’t care about other casualties, but there is a greater sensitivity to Israeli casualties, which is a great pity. Nevertheless, we see people joining and our numbers growing every week – this is a part of an ongoing war: people are beginning to sober up from their illusions.

    How long do you expect to spend in prison?

    As less as possible, maybe around a month. If the war won’t be over until then I’ll leave the country. I was planning to commence studies in Germany this year.

    Some of our readers would doubtlessly want to write to you, and you will not be able to respond to them from prison. Would you like to say something to them now?

    Even before I committed the actual act of refusing to serve, I emailed all my friends all over the world – in Germany , in Italy , in the States and even in Japan. I told them that what I am going to do in the nearest days is thanks to that wonderful support they’ve always given me. Almost immediately I got numerous responses of encouragement and solidarity. This is very important to us: we may like think we can do anything on our own, but the international support is wonderful and I’m deeply grateful to all those who support us.

    Dimi Reider, Tel Aviv

    Letters to Zohar and his fellow objectors can be posted on http://july2006.forumco.com/topic~TOPIC_ID~38.asp or emailed to alteriamo at gmail.com. All letters will be printed and delivered to prison no.6

  154. http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1230189,00.html

    They even justify hitting refugee camps.

    Let’s actually look at what happened in this war.

    0) An Israeli gunboat blows up a family of Palestinians having a picnic on a beach in Gaza. no apology, no investigation, just the usual rhetoris about ‘they were militants’

    1) Israel go into Gaza and pick up two Hamas (alleged) militants. No warrant, no due process, no ‘extradition’ given that Gaza is supposed to come under the control of the Palestinian authority. The Palestinians (justifiably) consider this to be kidnapping.

    Test: Would the UK be prepared to have had US troops walk into Britain, pick up the Nat West Three and ship them back to the US?

    2) The Palestinians kidnap Cprl Shalit so they can swap him for their two boys.

    3) IDF goes into Gaza boots and all, blows up the power station and various bits of infrastructure and ‘kidnap’ half of Hamas’ senior politicians who are members of the democratically elected government of the Palestinian authority and recognised by the UN.

    4) Hamas start throwing missiles back at Israel. (Who could blame them, they’ve been, in terms of UN agreements, invaded)

    5) International community, as usual, does nothing. Hizbollah decide, unilaterally, that they need to support the Palestinians. They are at a disadvantaged because, although Hizbollah have seats in the Lebanese goverrnment, they are considered a terrorist organisation.

    6) Ehud ‘Murdering scum’ Olmert, has an apoplexy and wishes to demonstrate that he’s as hard as Sharon on these Arabs. Issues orders to flatten Lebanese infrastructure. In other words he decides to punish Hizbollah by punishing the Lebanese community.

    7) The rest is history.

    I appreciate that this may be a little complex for you Steven, so let me draw an easier to follow analogy.

    Imagine a school bully constantly picking on a small kid (Gaza). Another kid takes a swipe at the bully but is too quick to allow the bully to land a return punch so our bully starts taking random swipes at friends of the second kid using the excuse that the second kid is hiding behind them. The school board (the UN) call for an immediate halt to this behaviour but are ignored. The biggest teacher in the school (the US) who has a pet poodle (the UK) cheer on the bully even though every other teacher is calling for the whole thing to stop.

    Sadly it’s the UN who should bear the responsibility for this carnage because they were midwife to the birth of the monster that is Israel.

  155. By the way Steve, regarding my quote from the wikipedia earlier:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_day_war
    On the one hand, Israel fired what is considered the first shot “in a pre-emptive attack on Egypt’s airforce” Jordan in turn attacked the Israeli cities of Jerusalem and Netanya. At the war’s end, Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day.

    Palestine (West bank and Gaza) didn’t attack them at all, the Israelis just thought it was an opportune time to walk in and grab the lot.

    Par for the course given that 20 years prior, like Hamas and Hizbollah, the Israeli leadership were on the MI6 terrorist list.

    Shame they haven’t grown out of it.

  156. What frustrates me about Boris’ attitude or lack thereof and people like Steven L who so eagerly buy into the unsophisticated propaganda from the Whitehouse and Downing Street and spun through media which has been ordered (structured not compelled) to present justification for unjustifiable acts, is they MUST at some point or level feel that peace would be a better option. Now if we consider the main problem in this region, (well it was until the US invaded Iraq), the Jewish question, because it’s the same question that Theodor Herzyl agonised over in his “The Jewish State”. Is it right to force millions of indigenous people to move to create a home for Jews that refuse to be assimilated into their host environment in Europe and elsewhere? The answer must be no. However the ‘facts on the ground’ are that millions of Jews are in Palestine now and we need to deal with that reality. Forget a two-state solution, it won’t work. However a one-state solution will. Bring back all the displaced Palestinians that want to come and have a true democratic country that we can all be proud of. Now I realise that a lot of Jews won’t like the idea, but tough! But how can any none-Jew who really wants to see peace in Israel/Palestine argue against this, apart from the point of view of cultural/racial/religious prejudice? The world would be a lot better off with a new Israel/Palestine and the US could carry on giving it $4bn a year to develop ALL the country’s infrastructure as opposed to funding the Zionist killing machine.

  157. I can see that Phil and I won’t be going on that walking holiday together now.

    I would like to have the time to be critical of Israel. Like all other democratic states it is not without blemishes. However given the vitriol thrown against it the criticism would have been lost.

    Israel has elections in which all citizens of voting age (5.5 million Jews, 1.6 Arabs and others) participate. Isreali courts rule against the government on defence matters. Again I stress the fact that, pace Chomsky and the Chompers, this current conflict was initiated by Hizbollah, not a bunch of latter day Che look alikes (and he was a nasty little s**t as well)!), but a well trained terrorist organisation under the direction of its theocratic paymaster Iran.

    I suspect that nothing Israel does would satisfy Noam and the Knowalls, but every time the Israelis make a concession the Islamists take it as a sign of weakness and seek more. When they pulled the settlements out the repsonse was, apart from a little fraternal bloodletting between Hamas and the PA, the use of the reoccupied land for launching rockets against Israel. When negotiations conceded nearly all that the PA seemed to demand, dear Yasser walked out and cranked up the violnce again.

    No other nation has received anything like the condemnation of the West’s bien pensants (Chomsky and the Logic Choppers in English) and the payroll voters of the UN despite human rights abuses differing in quality not just quantity from those in Israel.

    Does Israel have a right to exist? If not then by all means let us stop all support for them. In such circumstances it may well cease to exist, no doubt going down fighting (we really can’t handle Jews who do that can we Mel?). The UN will be a cleaner place not having to worry about this minute stain in the Middle East and can get to debate newer charters of human rights, with special exemptions regarding those of women, gays and any remaining Jews for those countries whose religious backgrounds demand it. No doubt Noam will be invited to address the general assembly.

    Steve_L – I don’t like the competition. I am the number one big mendacious egg on this blog and you sir are a young whippersnapper! Desist!

  158. Phil

    Just when did wikipedia get to be a font of knowledge?

    And why do you only mention Steve_L? I demand to be recognised explicitly by yourself as another Zionist patsy!

  159. “Again I stress the fact that, pace Chomsky and the Chompers, this current conflict was initiated by Hizbollah”

    Jack R, this is patently wrong. You’re prepared to completely ignore what happened in Gaza?
    Sheesh …
    And pretending to use humour to get your point across doesn’t work.

  160. idlex, you seem to have a fairly balanced view and appear (unlike Steven L) to have investigated this region’s history to a certain extent. Please explain to me why these people persist in the view that Israel can do no wrong. (Phil)

    I try to be balanced, but I’m not sure if I succeed.

    I think it really all finally comes down to a sense of guilt about the Holocaust/Shoah. Even if you aren’t German, you’re still complicit, simply by having allowed it to happen.

    I still remember vividly a Jewish friend of mine saying, “Let’s tell some Jewish jokes,” and I thought he meant tell jokes about Jews, and I replied: “No. I feel too guilty.” And yet I’m English and was born after the war. I found it very surprising, and very revealing, that I came out and said that. And probably he did too.

    My guess is that a lot of people feel like I do, and they’ll bend over backwards to forgive Israel for everything and anything it does. Which is generally what I do. Although I’ve been finding it more and more difficult over the past few years.

    And I think the flip side of this coin is that Israelis look back at the Holocaust/Shoah and are ashamed that their people did not fight to defend themselves against the Nazis. And this makes them highly inclined to fight more or less anyone, sometimes in situations where others might think better of it.

    I don’t think this is going to change until either a couple of thousand years go by, or else Israel commits an atrocity of equivalent scale as the Holocaust/Shoah.

    And the latter could happen. As I see it (rightly or wrongly), Israel has just committed a terrible crime against Lebanon. I think it’s pretty much the worst thing they’ve ever done. And that crime could well become far worse over coming weeks if Israel continues to refuse to allow food and fuel and medical assistance into that stricken land, and tragedy turns into disaster.

    If that happens, I suspect you will find that these people will no longer persist in the view that Israel can do no wrong.

  161. peachy bush

    Which conflict do you think I meant?

    What of all the things that happen in Gaza have I ignored?

    Will I be more successful if I stop pretending and really use humour or should I desist from even trying for the real thing as well as pretence?

    raincoster

    Good point – I forgot my ancient Cretan ancestry there and the problems inherent. Maybe it accounts for pretending!

  162. Ramsey, as your knowledge is based on something other than wikipedia, can you please enlighten me as to exactly what “concessions” are made to Palestinians? How is giving something back that which is stolen, a concession? The settlements you refer to were completely destroyed by Israel when they left in an act of petulant meanness. What they could have done was leave them in tact as a good will gesture (with the exception of the synagogues of course.. although I could think of a use for those), let’s face it a lot of Israelis are still living in houses stolen from Palestinians during periods of ethnic-cleansing, which is by and large ignored and allowed to go on un-commentated on because quasi-intellectuals like you are too stupid to assess the situation fairly and do the right thing, which is not sticking your pompous head up your undoubted ample backside, but using your admittedly limited intellect to bring this grave injustice to an end.

  163. “Just when did wikipedia get to be a font of knowledge?”
    Jack Ramsey

    What sort of a question is that? The wikipedia, is a source in the same way as Sky News, CNN, Haretz, Al Jezeera and the United Kingdom Parliament web site. I find that often Wikipedia entries give a more balanced view than many others because, if it demonstrates bias in one particular direction, it’s usually edited by someone from the opposing faction. Consequently the perspective expressed tends toward the factual truth without a particular leaning to one side or the other.

    I note you use the indefinite article (a font of knowledge). What else is it then. A font of rubbish? a font of bollocks? A font of water?

    I have not criticised your somewhat longer posting because it’s just a long stream of irrelevant, pro-Isreali drivel which casts no more light on the present situation than anything else you’ve posted on this matter. It certainly doesn’t provide any compelling reason as to why current Israeli action is justified or why their activities in recent years are justified.

    So, given that you exhibit the demeanour of an intelligent and well read man, I can only assume you don’t care or you aren’t interested in the truth. As I said about Boris, your mind’s made up, I won’t confuse you with the facts.

    I find it disturbing when you pro Zionists ask for evidence and then, when it’s provided, start arguing about the sources. How much evidence do you actually want? I would also like to see some of yours to defend your own position. I note these sort of things don’t get posted much because it’s either spin from the Israeli propaganda machine or it’s totally fictious (Like my excerpt from the Israeli web page above)

    Perhaps you could add some legitimate criticism of fact rather than the arbitrary, childish gainsaying you exhibit in this forum.

    “And why do you only mention Steve_L? I demand to be recognised explicitly by yourself as another Zionist patsy!” Jack Ramsey

    I do although I called you Jack Rumsfeld (“ho hum, more self-righteous Israeli-apologetic mendacious codswallop from Steven Latrine and Jack Rumsfeld). In fact I hold you rather more contemptible for you views. Steven_L has childish sympathies for Neo-conservativism probably symptomatic of some sort of inferiority complex or “short-s**t” syndrome. You (on the basis of postings on other subjects), on the other hand, give the impression of examining an issue on its merits rather than on preconceptions. I therefore find your support for this hideous regime unconscionable and surprising.

  164. “My guess is that a lot of people feel like I do, and they’ll bend over backwards to forgive Israel for everything and anything it does. Which is generally what I do. Although I’ve been finding it more and more difficult over the past few years.” idlex

    There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Israel stirs up anti-semitism in other parts of the world to give themselves carte blanche to perpetrate crimes in their own territory with impunity.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that the holocaust happened with the consent and complicity of the Zionists. “One Cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Poland” ….Izaak Greenbaum (one of the founders of Zionism) Have a look at the link.
    http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/antisemitism/holocaust/index.cfm

    By the way, I want to make it absolutely clear I am not anti-Jewish in the least. Ramsey once made a point that “because you’re anti-Zionist doesn’t mean that you’re not anti-Jewish”.

    Well here are is a Jewish site to illustrate that he may be wrong.
    http://www.jewsnotzionists.org

    (You see Ramsey, I support my arguments)

  165. Good lord, and just when we were reaching a point of agreement.

    Melissa, please wake up and post my comment. That guy will have served his sentence by the time the damn thing pops up on the blog.

  166. Why real Jews don’t support Israel. It is an abomination:

    FIRST – Because this is diametrically opposed and completely contradictory to the true essence and foundation of the people of Israel, as it explained above. Because the only time that the people of Israel where permitted to have a state were two thousand years ago when the Glory of the Creator was upon us. And likewise in the future when the Glory of the Creator will once more be revealed, and the whole world will serve Him. Then He Himself (without any human effort or force of arms) will grant us a kingdom founded on Divine Service.

    However, a wordily state, like those possessed by other peoples, is contradictory to the true essence of the People of Israel. Whoever calls this the salvation of Israel shows that he denies the essence of the People of Israel, and substituted another nature, a worldly materialistic nature, and therefore sets before them, a worldly materialistic “salvation.” And the means of achieving this “salvation” is also worldly and materialistic i.e. to organize land and army.

    However, the true salvation of the People of Israel is to draw close to the Creator. And this is not done by organization and force of arms. Rather, it is done by occupation to Torah and good deeds.

    SECOND – Because of all of this and other reasons Torah forbids us to end the exile and establish a state and army until the Holy One, blessed be He, in His Glory and Essence redeems us. This is forbidden even if the state is conducted according to the law of the Torah. Because arising from the exile itself is forbidden, and we are required to remain under the rule of the nations of the world, as it explained in the book VAYOEL MOSHE. And the Holy One, blessed be He, has warned us that if we transgress this injunction, He will bring upon us (may we be spared) terrible punishment.

    THIRD – Aside from arising from exile, all the deeds of the Zionists are diametrically opposed to the Faith and the Torah. Because the foundation of the Faith and Torah of Israel, is that the Torah was revealed from heaven, and there is reward for those who obey it and punishment for those who transgress it. The entire People of Israel are required to obey the Torah, and whoever doesn’t want to, ceases to be part of the Congregation of Israel.

    FOURTH – Aside from the fact that they themselves do not obey the Torah, they do everything they can to prevent anyone they get under their power, from fulfilling the commands of the Torah. They do this both with force and with trickery. Their claims to freedom of religion are lies. They fight will all of their strength to destroy the Faith of Israel.

    Yossie BZ (Jewish)
    South Africa

  167. All right, but calm the heck down. You gotta realize we almost had Jack R, and his Jewish cousin too!

    “Israel is not perfect…they have done bad things…” You gotta build on this. Jeez, did you never pass Machiavellian Comment String Manipulation 101? How did you get your license?

    Okay, here is the story of an IDF defector. I got it from Cold Desert, which got it from Lebanews.

    ANOTHER IDF OBJECTOR JAILED
    Lebnanews speaks to the second Israeli refusnik of the 2006 conflict

    In 1982, it took over half a year for Israeli officers and soldiers to begin refusing draft and orders to enter into Lebanon. In the beginning of the Al-Aqsa intifada, several months elapsed before the first letter of defiance was handed in. But in 2006, three weeks into the war, First Sergeant Zohar Milchgrub is entering imprisonment today (Sunday) for refusing to be drafted to a reserve force set to enter Lebanon . He is the second Israeli soldier in a week to become a conscientious objector to the new war. We spoke to him after the anti-war rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

    Our first question would be to which part of the army you belong.

    An ordinary infantry combat unit.

    When did you first decide to refuse to draft?

    I made the decision to refuse further service during my active service in the IDF. It was very clear for me that i won’t be heading back to the Occupied Territories. The decision to refuse to serve in this war was as natural as refusing to serve in the Territories.

    Would you say that the approach of the Israeli public to this war is different to its approach to the occupation?

    First of all, the pro-war sentiments and the exhilaration in the media have definetly had their effect. Society is following the call without any qualms or reservations. Even people who consider themselves to be on the Left, my own family.

    Are people more motivated to serve in Lebanon than in the OPT?

    Absolutely. A close friend of mine is in Lebanon with his unit as we speak. You need to remember that the breach of [Israeli] sovereignty, the raid over the border, all this was very problematic. However, we need to be looking at the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that Lebanon is a country that we should be talking to. If we have even the slightest hope of ending all of this, we need to speak to Lebanon , and we need to speak even to Hezbollah. We really do believe that this is possible – proper Lebanese sovereignity on all Lebanese lands and a peace agreement with Lebanon which, God willing, will be linked somehow to peace agreements with Syria and with the Palestinians.

    How is the Left camp in Israël responding to the war?

    I don’t want to speak in the name of the entire Left – and, anyway, I think the real Left are the people here, at this rally. Sadly, people on the Israeli Left need to see casualties before they start demonstrating against the war.

    Israeli casualties?

    Well, I wouldn’t want to say that they don’t care about other casualties, but there is a greater sensitivity to Israeli casualties, which is a great pity. Nevertheless, we see people joining and our numbers growing every week – this is a part of an ongoing war: people are beginning to sober up from their illusions.

    How long do you expect to spend in prison?

    As less as possible, maybe around a month. If the war won’t be over until then I’ll leave the country. I was planning to commence studies in Germany this year.

    Some of our readers would doubtlessly want to write to you, and you will not be able to respond to them from prison. Would you like to say something to them now?

    Even before I committed the actual act of refusing to serve, I emailed all my friends all over the world – in Germany , in Italy , in the States and even in Japan. I told them that what I am going to do in the nearest days is thanks to that wonderful support they’ve always given me. Almost immediately I got numerous responses of encouragement and solidarity. This is very important to us: we may like think we can do anything on our own, but the international support is wonderful and I’m deeply grateful to all those who support us.
    Dimi Reider, Tel Aviv

    Letters to Zohar and his fellow objectors can be posted on http://july2006.forumco.com/topic~TOPIC_ID~38.asp or emailed to alteriamo at gmail.com. All letters will be printed and delivered to prison no.6

  168. I’m no good at manipulation, I prefer facts.

    I don’t want to trap someone into agreeing with me, I’d prefer them to understand why my view on Israeli terrorism is the correct one morally and factually. You must admit I’ve got JR on the ropes. If this was in a boxing match, the ref would have stopped it.

    On the other hand I’m always willing to learn. Do you give lessons?

    On that latter point, I’m also willing to learn that Israel is the cuddly teddy bear of the world and that it only wants to live in peace with its neighbours and sends nauseatingly sweet birthday cards to its political and ideological opponents.

    Unfortunately I have not seen anything, apart from the mindless (I use the word in its most precise meaning) verbal garbage spewed by the likes of Ramsey, which lends one iota of credibility to such a view.

  169. Very interesting, Yossie BZ.

    I didn’t know that there was a Jewish school of opinion that totally condemns Israel’s very existence.

  170. The first thing you need to learn, sweetie, is that nobody will listen to you unless they want to. You have to make them want that.

    This is why Boris will always have a career as a writer, no matter what he writes; we read it because it’s just so damn good. Even if it’s wrong.

    People won’t listen to your facts, and they will actively oppose them (regardless of proof) and they will, even more cuttingly, consider anything you say to be automatically worthless IF they feel you’re turning from the facts to attack them.

    If you focus on what is actually going on, rather than on who disagrees with you and how you can hit them, you may actually change some people’s minds. It works better that way, trust me.

    Ferinstance, my first post in this thread…not a stellar example of remaining focused. But I did recover and besides, I’ve never been naive enough to think that Boris skims through the comments over his morning coffee, searching for life-changing debate.

    When you find people willing to debate, it’s a good idea to debate them. If you can do that dispassionately, you’ll get a bit of street cred which is just another way of saying people will pay attention. If they’re not paying attention in the first place, you’re never going to change their minds.

  171. For one thing, debating whether or not Israel should exist is a complete red herring; it is one of those “bleed off the heat” side issues. We won’t solve that in this thread. But we can come to a better understanding of the moral imperatives that relate to the war in Lebanon. And perhaps, to some agreement about a course of action.

    That would be enough.

  172. But raincoaster, it’s bizarre!

    About four years ago I had much the same view as Steven_L, Ramsey etc. i.e. poor old Israel really do get a bum deal. Palestinians are always blowing up on buses; Israel’s the only proper democracy in the region blah, blah, blah.

    Then, one day, I was in a coffee bar with a friend of mine and there was a CNN news broadcast about a Palestinian suicide bomber who had just gone off on a bus and rubbed out something like 5 people.

    Naturally I went into my post 911 ‘poor Israel’, pschotic Islamic extremist rote at which point my ‘mate’ looked at me like I’d crawled out of the muffin he was eating.

    “What they’ve neglected to mention” he said, “was that yesterday, some IDF soldiers shot three kids playing football because ‘they were too close to an IDF inspection point’. Where do you get these bullshit ideas from?”

    I then realised that I knew next to nothing about this region, it’s history or even what the antagonists in this unfortunate little bun fight were actually fighting over. And I spent some considerable time in rectifying this omission.

    I can guarantee that for every suicide bombing performed by Hamas or the PLO there are ten instances of Israeli brutality, collective punishment or SERIOUS discriminiation against Arabs and Palestinians.

    Let’s take this one about ‘the security wall’
    “The construction of the fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories violates international law and is causing grave human rights violations. Israel’s legitimate need to secure its borders and prevent entry to people who may constitute a threat to its security do not justify the building of such a fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories, as security measures could be taken on Israeli territory, between Israel and the Occupied Territories” (Amnesty International)

    A lot of this information doesn’t get out because of Israeli censorship and US media support. The current censorship regarding the landing sites of Hizbollah missiles precludes journalists from saying “A rocket struck a Haifa school today and killed two children.” They are not allowed to add that “the army base next door was hit by eight rockets and two storage buildings were destroyed.”

    It’s spin and lies.

    My point is raincoaster, that I am passionate about this issue and, even using a less than mainstream organ such as this one, if I can convince ONE person just to have a proper look at this issue it’s worth while.

    Then that person may convince someone else and before long there will be a critical mass and, I hope, international sanctions against Israel.

    When these sanctions are imposed and Israelis start behaving like responsible people not spoilt children, the situation which rectify itself on its own exactly the same as in South Africa.

    Enjoyed the video by the way.

  173. I’ve never said that Israel shouldn’t exist.

    That’s another of those stupid ‘You’re with us or you’re against us” cliches that spin junkies like Steven_L enjoys. Another one that irritates me is “If you’re against Israel you support terrorism” I’m sure the Isrealis LOVE that last one but it’s utter crap. Another perenial one is that “If you don’t support Israel you are anti-Semitic”. Well Yossie’s post dismisses that one pretty effectively.

    Israel has a perfect right to exist as granted by the United Nations in 1947. They do not, however, have a right to antagonise and bully their neighbours and people who are under their protection (occupied territories)

    If they continue to do so they are no better than the Nazis they (allegedly) created Israel to escape from.

  174. Well you see, I paid attention. Believe me, I wish you all the success in the world.

    It is not necessary to remove our hearts before using our heads; they work best together.

    If we stay focused on the facts we can eloquently express how we feel about them as well as the reality of the situation.

    And, given that I’ve pointed people here from the Guardian, Comment is Free, and Iain Dale’s blog today, it is going to be far more effective if we’re more personal about what we express and less personal about who we’re talking to.

  175. Two Palestinian women sitting on a park bench watching their kids play football (near an IDF outpost in the only park in Gaza and the bench is ****ed)

    One says to the other, looking at the kids, “don’t they blow up quickly these days.”

    Boom boom!!

  176. The enthusiasm of people like Ming Campbell & Clare Short for saying that when Jews accidentally bomb civilians it is a war crime is quite obscene. They were among the most enthusiasitic for deliberately bombing civilians in Yugoslavia. They are pure racists.

  177. Well we could all slump into dire Cartesian doubt.

    As it happens I used to be rather anti-Israel. I knew and know many Moslems from UK and around the world.I sympathised with their attitudes. But I began to feel that maybe there was more to the story than wicked USA backs wicked Israel. I also noticed that my Muslim friends and indeed my leftist friends didn’t mind the odd bit of straightforward anti-Jewishness. So I started reading as well.

    The story of modern Israel is shows all sides of humanity. No doubt there are msny arrogant Israeli Jews whose attitude to Arabs is despicable. On the other hand I keep coming back to the fact that under the law in Israel Jews, Arabs and others enjoy the same rights except for some aspects of working in security. The life expectancy of Arabs in Israel whilst less than that of Jews is significantly greater than that of arabs in the surrounding countries.

    You have, I believe, conceded Israel’s right to exist. What do you want Israel to concede before you are happy with the situation. If it makes itself helpless against the neighbouring states then that is not really a right to exist.

    As far as I can see, and maybe you see better, the PA under Arafat did its best to sabotage any peace plan that seemed likely to work.

    In the absence of any peace plan that is not based on wishful thinking I don’t see I have any alternative but to support Israel.

    Amongst other books I have read on the subject is Alan Dershowitz’ Case for Israel. Dershowitz has been critical of Israel on human rights and other matters.

    Now I could relate that it was a balanced account but clearly I can’t prove that not with the resources at my disposal. In true lawyer fashion it takes a number of accusations and then responds to them. I think it is likely to be near to a balanced account because it is consistent with being so. Of course this proves nothing.

    Now you refer me to websites. Websites are great for this type of thing, discussion heated or otherwise, but how do we judge the quality of information? Just because people can amend wikipedia as they want doesn’t mean it is truth convergent. In fact I suspect there are many zealots on both sides of any conflict spending a good deal of time getting their stuff on the websites.

    That’s enough for now.

  178. Take 1 ball bearing from the first
    2 from the second

    50 from the 50th

    Now weigh all the ones you have taken
    The fractional amount of grams will tell you the answer.

  179. “You have, I believe, conceded Israel’s right to exist” Jack Ramsey

    Yes, but your subsequent argument is specious at best. I want Israel to behave fairly to Palestinians whose territory they occupy. Hezbollah’s acts of aggression are directly related to Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

    And it’s not enough for now. I, and others have pointed you to a number of newspaper articles which support my own view, that Israel is effectively a terrorist state. I, and others, have also posted links to other sources which also support this position.

    Given that this is a web blog, I can’t post wholesale chunks of books or magazine articles without infringing copyright (unless Boris or his web admin would like to give me express permission to do so)

    I merely aired my own views on Wikipedia entries and a brief explanation to support my view that this provides a more impartial perspective than most other sources. Your views on convergence are pure hot air and prove nothing either way. Please bring on your own sources.

    You see, one of the interesting things about being right is that it’s generally easy to prove because one only has to tell the truth; Zionist apologists have the more difficult task of having to tell convincing lies. It’s to this that I attribute your inability to shoot me down on any point I’ve made thus far; I’m only telling the truth.

    I also infer that you are a supporter of inter alia, Israel’s human rights abuses and two tier democracy. Or was the Amnesty International documentation also biased or untrue? Are there any sources or periodicals which express anti-Israeli sentiment which aren’t biased in your view?

    How many witnesses and opinions does it need? Give me a number? Who actually has to say something to convince you that Israel is actively causing the trouble in this region because of its own actions and selfish implementation of anything which favours Israel.

    Would you like documentary evidence of the simple fact that, to the IDF, Palestinians are regarded as less than cattle perhaps? Would that satisfy you?

    I’m not arguing with you Jack. I’m using you to demonstrate how foolish this pig headed notion is that the Israelis can do no wrong.

    If anything I now feel pity for you.

  180. Mel Gibson put to you Jack “enlighten me as to exactly what “concessions” are made to Palestinians?” I’d be interested in an answer to this too.

    If by concession you mean things like “Ariel Sharon’s brave withdrawal from Gaza” Where is the concession in relinquishing something you weren’t supposed to have in the first place? And what on Earth is brave about giving something back to the people you took it from?

    The West Bank is Palestinian territory. Why then are vast Jewish enclaves being created and walled off from the rest of the West Bank? Even though this is a contravention of the Geneva convention, why are the Israelis allowed to get away with it and why do you support infringements such as this? Or is this more anti-Israeli propaganda. We can go and have a look at them if you want. How about ‘a walking holiday’ through the West Bank?

    Why can the Israeli government impose ‘Israeli only roads’ in the West Bank on which Palestinians are not allowed to drive in theoretically their own country?

    The reason to the latter quesiton is simple. Israel wants the benefits of land ownership within the West Bank without the inconvenience of a Palestinian voting majority. Democracy! don’t make me laugh.

    Your views are absurd and unsupportable Jack. I can only conclude that you are drunk when you make your ridiculous assertions.

  181. I’d also like to ask you Jack, why the Israelis can demolish the houses of alleged Hamas supporters in the West Bank without any due process? i.e. a decision is made in the IDF about who is a militant and then, a bulldozer is despatched to the offender’s house (or that of any known friends) and it, and any nearby neighbour’s houses are just knocked down.

    That’s pretty fair isn’t it? Fancy trying to get away with that in Bradford?

    Or what about Arab members (the few there are) in the Knesset who, in the event that they speak out against government policies in the West Bank, have their citizenship revoked and are expelled from the country.

    How can you have your citizenship revoked if you were born somewhere?!?!? These are just more examples of Israelis making up rules to suit themselves regardless of any resolution of the UN, Geneva Convention or international law.

    They are simply a law unto themselves AND THEY DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR THIS.

  182. I won’t even mention the number of children killed by the IDF for gross criminal acts such as standing too close to an IDF outpost or ‘looking at an Israeli colonel in a funny way’ or even (very serious one this) ‘being in the wrong place at the wrong time as covered by the shoot anything Palestinian that moves Act, 1947’.

    How, unless there is a tacit agreement that Palestinian life is worthless, has the IDF managed to kill over 750 children in the last 5 years (http://www.ifamericansknew.org/) and is it any wonder that the Palestinians and their allies are somewhat PISSED OFF about this state of affairs?

    Answers please Jack.

  183. Have I demolished your illusions yet Jack? If not I think you owe it, not to me, but to the Palestinian and Lebanese people to explain why not.

    I mean it Jack, please explain.

  184. Jack, you don’t like Web links so, sod it I’m just going to post stuff now. If I get banned fine, I’ll consider it a victory. If nothing else it would demonstrate that Johnson is a mealy mouthed hypocrit.

    B’Tselem
    Excerpts from “Through No Fault of Their Own”
    November 15, 2004

    “During the course of the al-Aqsa intifada, which began in September 2000, Israel has implemented a policy of mass demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories. In that period, Israel has destroyed some 4,170 Palestinian homes.

    “The IDF carries out three types of house demolitions. Most are carried out in the framework of what Israel calls ‘clearing operations,’ which are intended to meet what Israel defines as ‘military needs.’ These operations take place primarily in the Gaza Strip: along the Egyptian border, which passes through Rafah and its refugee camps; around settlements and army posts; alongside roads used by settlers and IDF forces; and in the northern part of the Gaza Strip […]

    “The second type of demolition are administrative demolitions of houses built without a permit. These demolitions take place in Area C in the West Bank, where Israel retains authority over planning and building even after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and in East Jerusalem. […]

    “The third kind of house demolitions are those intended to punish the relatives and neighbors of Palestinians who carried out or are suspected of involvement in attacks against Israeli civilians or soldiers. These punitive demolitions are intended for the homes in which these suspects lived. However, in many cases, adjacent homes are also destroyed.”

    Aren’t they just the loveliest people? They just want to be nice and those Palestinans are simply queuing up to have their houses knocked over.

    Hope you took note of this Jack: “Area C in the West Bank, where Israel retains authority over planning and building even after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority”

    Hmmm, deuced odd, what? They exercise planning permission in a foreign territory wherein the population don’t exercise a vote? doesn’t sound very democratic to me.

    Reason: It’s not! Their democracy is a sham and you and Steven_L are dim enough to fall for it.

  185. OK Phil I’ll risk my prejudices. Direct me to a website of your choice or even Wikipedia to support your statement

    “Or what about Arab members (the few there are) in the Knesset who, in the event that they speak out against government policies in the West Bank, have their citizenship revoked and are expelled from the country.”

    Interesting observation that “You see, one of the interesting things about being right is that it’s generally easy to prove because one only has to tell the truth”. Now you are correct insofar as a genuine proof depends on truth. However it is also quite easy to appear to prove that you are right if you have a consistent web, some of which is not true. In your case your simplified view of good/bad Arab/Israeli has missed out whole swathes of stuff about the anti-Jewishness amongst graet sections of the Arab nations and their leaders even before Israel was set up. And I don’t think I need a website to remind you that the Iranian president has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Or the (non)-rights and treatment afforded Jews in many Arab countries.

    Now I realise from your comments you think I’m a booze befuddled mendacious old toss pot. Of course this might explain why I think it is somewhat more complicated to find truth and right. This does not make me a relativist, far from it.

    Many thanks for your pity. I’ve put it up on the shelf alongside the calumny and scorn. They all go nicely together.

    God, nearly 5 o’clock and I’m only on the second bottle of whisky!

  186. Re the Land grabbing in the West Bank:

    60+ new Jewish-only settlements have been built by the Israeli government on confiscated Palestinian land between March 2001 and July 11, 2003.

    International humanitarian law prohibits [an] occupying power [from transferring] citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Fourth Geneva Convention, article 49). The Hague Regulations prohibit the occupying power [from undertaking] permanent changes in the occupied area, unless these are due to military needs in the narrow sense of the term, or unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population.

    The establishment of the settlements leads to the violation of the rights of the Palestinians as enshrined in international human rights law. Among other violations, the settlements infringe on the rights to self-determination, equality, property, an adequate standard of living, and freedom of movement.

    The Israeli administration has applied most aspects of Israeli law to the settlers and the settlements, thus effectively annexing them to the State of Israel…This annexation has resulted in a regime of legalized separation and discrimination. This regime is based on the existence of two separate legal systems in the same territory, with the rights of individuals being determined by their nationality.

    The areas of jurisdiction of the Jewish local authorities, most of which extend far beyond the built-up area, are defined as “closed military zones” in the military orders. Palestinians are forbidden to enter these areas without authorization from the Israeli military commander. Israeli citizens, Jews from throughout the world and tourists are all permitted to enter these areas without the need for special permits.

    Hmmm, is that apartheid I smell Jack?

    Still not heard anything. I’ll take it as capitulation.

  187. God, nearly 5 o’clock and I’m only on the second bottle of whisky! JR

    Very funny Jack. However, still a complete absense of any reasoned argument demonstrating that my comments are untrue or giving an alternate plausible explanation which would support your view that Israel is behing reasonably in its own defense.

    Stick to drinking not argument you seem better suited to it.

  188. Phil

    Take it easy man! You won’t be doing anyone any favours if you cardiac now.

    Have you been at the cooking sherry?

    If you can please send me a URL for the stuff about demolition.

    Deep breathes!

  189. Phil

    I don’t want to be picky but I did ask the following

    OK Phil I’ll risk my prejudices. Direct me to a website of your choice or even Wikipedia to support your statement

    “Or what about Arab members (the few there are) in the Knesset who, in the event that they speak out against government policies in the West Bank, have their citizenship revoked and are expelled from the country.”

    Sorry about the whisky comment. I didn’t mean to annoy you.

  190. I don’t drink, and am extremely fit so your cardiac concern is noted but entirely unnecessary.

    No, I’m not going to put up any more links until we’ve dealt with the current issues. There are ample links already posted here, read those first.

    Secondly, you have lead me to believe that you have done some research on these issues “…So I started reading as well…”. Surely your research has lead to to the views you openly express here or is this an admission that you really have little knowledge of the matters at hand and your expostulations were largely the result of the hot air of unfortunate misconception?

    Anyway, I’m still waiting for you to knock down the points I’ve already raised before we address new ones.

    Surely you can justify your position to some extent?

  191. M

    I’m sorry – I can’t find the question. Please try again.

    I’ll take it that “oi lard-arse” is a jovial greeting in your part of the world

  192. ‘Reason: It’s not! Their democracy is a sham and you and Steven_L are dim enough to fall for it.’

    Democracys a sham in Bangladesh too mate, but the last thing we want in January is China to take over, their cricket team are coming on leaps and bounds. Democracy is a sham in the UK if you’re Lib Dem too mate. Democracy might be a sham but it’s better that living in Iran or North Korea.

    Now back to the War on Terror.

    Did none of you people study the Great War of WWII at school? When war starts and the major powers troops become committed and stretched other countries use the opportunity to further their own national interests through the military. Hezbollah want to bump off Israelis, Iran want more supporters and Israel want to bump of Hezbollah, it’s as simple as that.

    The real war is happening somewhere else – Iran. Iran are surrounded by US and to a lesser extent other coalition troops.

    On the West front we are in Iraq (which took about 15 years to secure) and over the Persian gulf they are now shipping the Eurofighter (well whats ready of it) to Saudi Arabia.

    The the North we have air bases on horrible dictatorships such as Uzbekistan, but they are allies in the War on Terror don’t forget, Iran is the ‘axis of evil’.

    To the East we have troops and airbases in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    To the South is the Persian Gulf and we have a large assembly of aircraft carriers, submarines, battleships etc.

    Iran are completely surrounded and the F-22 Raptor and Eurofighter are off the production line.

    Of course places like Israel and Sri Lanka are going to start kicking off, with the UN trying to stop US neo-conservative unilateralism, Western troops over stretched etc. they are not going to have a problem furthering their wars are they?

    Give it 50 or 60 years when my grandkids are at school learning about the US – Iran war I think it will be taught something like that.

    You’ve all fallen for Boris’s spin if you ask me

  193. From link : http://nakba48.org/?p=139

    “Two days after the news conference, Abu Tir and Abu Arafa were kidnapped by Israeli forces, along with a third of the Hamas cabinet. Four days later, Israel revoked both men’s citizenship and residency rights in Jerusalem. As the Jerusalem Post headline put it: Shin Bet foils Hamas-Jewish meeting.

    An even more accurate headline might have been the one Israel National Radio’s Arutz Sheva website ran a few days later, pertaining to another story: The peace process is a bigger danger than Hamas.”

    If the link is a bit too long for easy digestion.

  194. and another thing… is Mel Gibson really talking to me or is someone pretending to be Mel Gibson?

  195. ‘They [Israel] are simply a law unto themselves AND THEY DESERVE TO BE PUNISHED FOR THIS’ (Phil)

    Are you suggesting we declare war on them Phil? If you are you’re a bigger muppet than I thought.

  196. “Democracys a sham in Bangladesh too mate” Steven_L

    Well that’s as relevant as always Steven. (by the way it’s Democracys) As to your comment about “Democracy might be a sham but it’s better that living in Iran or North Korea”. surely that’s a matter of opinion, perspective and dependent on where one fits in the food chain in those regimes. An Iranian friend of mine (female) says the stuff on US TV is far from the whole story. I’ve never been there and so can’t comment. for that matter I doubt that you have either making these observations as well founded as I have come to expect from you.

    ‘Democracy’ in Palestine, however, under the tyrannical heel of the Israelis is probably somewhat WORSE than either of the places you’ve mentioned for the reasons I’ve expounded above.

    None-the-less, you haven’t raised a single issue or point which unseats my position on the Middle East issue under discussion even by allusion.

    I really can’t see what point you’re making in the last sentence, it’s just gobbledygook to me.

  197. ‘That’s another of those stupid ‘You’re with us or you’re against us” cliches that spin junkies like Steven_L enjoys. Another one that irritates me is “If you’re against Israel you support terrorism” I’m sure the Isrealis LOVE that last one but it’s utter crap’ (Phil)

    Phil, when did Bush say ‘if you’re against Israel you support terrorism’? It’s YOU that’s spinning mate. Bush simply said that the USA was going to start a ‘War on Terror’ then asked a simple question of every country: are you ‘with us or against us?’

    France said ‘with you’ but would not commit troops, fair enough, France’s own decision. Libya said ‘with you’.

    ‘Against you’ was perhaps the stupidest thing any world leader could have said. Look whats happening to Saddam.

    Bush doesn’t spin, the WMD in Iraq bollocks that Colin Powell presented to the UN was just an ‘up yours you bunch of kleptocratic morons we’re going to invade whatever you say’.

    You guys are too used to listening to Blair and co, they spin, US neo-cons don’t.

  198. Now hang on, dismissing Bangladesh as irrelevant is a bit much. I happen to like the Banglasdeshis a lot – lovely people, would quite happly swap a few more white folk for some more Bangladeshis.

  199. “Are you suggesting we declare war on them Phil? If you are you’re a bigger muppet than I thought.” Steven_L

    Thankfully your views hold little interest for me.

    Why does everything devolve to ‘war’ for you? Why do you have these infantile black and white views of everything? “You’re with us or against us”. Grow up for Christ’s sake!

    No I am not suggesting we should declare war on Israel. I am suggesting that we should remove diplomatic relations and impose sanctions against them until they mend their ways. In much the same way as Britain has done to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Iraq etc.

    If they are punished in some way by the international community they will stop behaving as though they can do anything they like.

    It’s that simple.

  200. “Phil, when did Bush say…”

    He didn’t it was some White House gadfly commenting on the current crisis on CNN. I can’t quote you a reference so I retract the imputation if that will make you happier.

    Bush doesn’t spin!?!

    Steven, you are going to get some serious flak from other people on this blog about those ill chosen words.

    Not from me though. I couldn’t give a monkey’s about Bush, I’m only concerned with stopping Israeli abuse of the Palestinian people.

    And I’ve just been told to get off this terminal so any further abuse will have to wait until tomorrow.

    G’night

  201. My foreign policy would be:

    No country is allowed to play football with Iran until the Ayatollahs step down on letting women watch and join in wearing whatever they want.

    All UK football hooligans to be forcibly deported to Somalia by parachute.

    For every hooligan we deport another cricket loving Bangladeshi whose house has been washed away is allowed to come and live here, they get a free bat and pads on arrival.

  202. Lard arse I thought you’d gone. My question was..”an you please enlighten me as to exactly what “concessions” are made to Palestinians? ” – Do you require a lot of time to answer this? and no cheating wikipedia is off-limits to you!!

  203. Steven_L, are you a real person or are you just pretending to make these silly statements?

    I don’t find it particularly funny when you belittle the deaths of hundreds of people, including many children, in Lebanon.

    I wouldn’t wish war on anyone but I almost hope one bad enough would break out so evil little villains like yourself can be drafted and so you are introduced to the horrors of war first hand.

    You should be ashamed of yourself you wicked little boy.

  204. Susan,

    I’m not belittling anthing, I made plenty of serious posts spelling out my views when this started on under the other article a few weeks ago.

    I was just telling you how I see the war – USA v Iran, this is just a spin off if you ask me.

    Do you expect me to do something about it? Thats what we have politicians for, you guys voted in TB, and he is following our foreign policy to the letter.

    I’ve said before I feel very sorry for the good people of Lebanon. I’ve said before that I view Hezbollah fighters as a bunch of disillusioned unemployed poor kids that have been indocrinated by the poison that spurts from the mouth of the Ayatollahs.

    The point I’m making about Bush, whether you like him or loath him he is the President of the United States, they are our strongest ally.

    The EU was doing some wonderful work in Lebanon before this started, it started with Hezbollah fighters launching an attack on Israel. So the EU has suspended projects and evaculated. France are taking the lead for the EU as Lebanon is an ex French colony – if France wasn’t so selfish about it’s own farmers and had done more to help Labanese farmers and unemployment in the first place this might not have happened.

    As for the Israel – Palestine problem I think they are as bad as each other if you must know my honest opinion. Jews and Muslims don’t fight in this country, why they do over there is anyones guess, the 2 state solution will never work. I actually agree with whoever is posting under ‘Mel Gibson’ that a one state solution is the only real answer. Look at European history, when they separated East Prussia from Germany.

    I also think the rest of the the Lebanese people would be better off if Hezbollah were wiped out.

    It comes down to Shi’a aggression if you ask me, aggession against Israel, who are well armed and perfectly able (with the help of their US allies) to defend themselves against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran if it comes to it.

    War is pointless, we did away with in Europe in 1948. These middle-eastern governments are free to make the same kind of agreement between themselves if they want to. to be honest I don’t think they do want to, they want to play ‘land-grab’ with each other – so be it!

  205. Ben

    I read your post, it misses the point. The US neo-cons want to take over Iran.

    Nothing I can do about it mate.

    Iran could despense with the Ayatollahs, given women rights, suspend their uranium enrichment, abolish capital punishment, introduce a proper constitution (like Bangladesh did after their war with Pakistan for instance) and start behaving in a manner that gives the US no excuse to take over their country.

    Peace in the middles east would lower the price of oil, US consumers would be happy, the middle east would be happy, everyone would be happy.

  206. Blimey Jack! You seem to have stirred up a great deal of opposition…

    There is something that I would like to add to the conversation. As those who noticed my initial posts will know, I began this on the Israeli side. However, I believe that Israel’s current actions cannot be justified anymore with any excuse that they have given, or any that I can think of. This is further evidence of that:
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/96E5DD7F-E30B-4E15-90F0-3C3E177F5571.htm

    It seems that two days before Israel decided to unilaterally create a massive buffer zone within Lebanon, the Lebanese government promised to send 15000 troops, working with as large an international force as possible, into Southern Lebanon.

    To me, the fact that Israel refused to accept this exceptional offer really does put any blood remaining to be spilt on their hands.

    Also if it is true (and I haven’t yet found/been given evidence of it) that Israel kidnapped even one member of Hamas in Gaza without an extradition agreement from Palestine’s elected government, then that is wrong. We should not be judging them by different standards from those we judge everyone else. We can hardly fault Hamas but not Israel for doing almost exactly the same thing.

  207. Phil, if people got banned around these parts for posting copyrighted words, I think I’d have to be taken out and shot.

    Steven, please. I think I have a greater day-to-day familiarity with the Great American Truthiness Machine, and I must say that when you remark

    You guys are too used to listening to Blair and co, they spin, US neo-cons don’t

    you are simply, completely, and perfectly incorrect.

    Not only do they spin, but when the CIA or other agencies hand in a report they don’t like, they just keep sending it back until they rewrite it to say what the Administration wants. I refer you to this fine article in Vanity Fair about the NORAD tapes, on 9/11.

    I will dig out some more in the course of the day, but rest assured that this assertion that the neocons don’t spin will be in flames by tonight and, hopefully for those dedicated to truth, forgotten by tomorrow.

  208. Here’s a quote from the intro:

    The story of what happened in that room, and when, has never been fully told, but is arguably more important in terms of understanding America’s military capabilities that day than anything happening simultaneously on Air Force One or in the Pentagon, the White House, or NORAD’s impregnable headquarters, deep within Cheyenne Mountain, in Colorado. It’s a story that was intentionally obscured, some members of the 9/11 commission believe, by military higher-ups and members of the Bush administration who spoke to the press, and later the commission itself, in order to downplay the extent of the confusion and miscommunication flying through the ranks of the government.

    The truth, however, is all on tape.

  209. And when in doubt, there’s always James Wolcott for a refreshing dose of calling it like it is. The actual piece is link-studded, so you might want to check it out on his blog rather than this one:

    Dry Eyes, Girded Loins
    Posted by James Wolcott
    Digby notes the fungus spread of the right wing’s new talking point regarding the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon: the scenes of civilian casualties are staged photo ops by Hezbollah intended to prey upon the squeamish consciences of the Western media. Therefore we shouldn’t be guiled or swayed by shots of limp, dead children in grieving arms. They’re just propaganda props, bloody ragdolls served up for camera consumption (“The Palestinians, and by extension their rollicking sidekicks around the Muslim world, are the masters of dead-child porn”), and that pretentious quack Shrinkwrapped, for one, refuses to mourn the dead children in Qana, because that would only serve to weaken the will, milken the coffee, and soften our resolve to See This Through: “Our mourning, the appeal to the best within us, is a weapon that our enemy uses to weaken our ability to fight. The Arab propaganda machine, schooled in the ways of Goebbels, aided and abetted by fools in the Western media, are doing all they can to create the illusion of moral equivalence and stop the Israelis from their systematic destruction of Hezbollah’s terror capabilities.”

    Yes, the warbloggers have taken their extra-strength Krauthammer fortitude pills this week, and it’s matters nil whether the civilian casualties in Lebanon are innocent victims or Hezbollah crash dummies, for they shall not be moved nor distracted, their eyes shall remain fixed on the horizon, intent on victory.

    So when word came of an Israeli strike on a farm warehouse in northeastern Lebanon that killed over thirty Syrian Kurds who were loading fruits and vegetables on to trucks, I wondered how long it would take for the Pajamas Media droogies to starting hanging ironic quotation marks about the Lebanese “farm” and its “workers.”

    Didn’t take long. That moral paragon Roger L. Simon immediately poked his head right through a hole in the boardwalk, ironic quotes dangling from his ear lobes:

    “Another Israeli ‘massacre’ is being reported this morning, this time of ‘farmers’ on the Syrian border, according to Reuters. Will this be Qana II? The media sharks are undoubtedly circling. What we hear at first will not likely be accurate – the casualties in Qana have been officially reduced from a high of 57 to 28 to no great notice – but death in double digits is death in double digits. No matter too after several weeks of war that the number of ‘civilian’ dead on the Lebanese side is still only about a third of those who died on 9/11* – and those occurred in minutes and were deliberate and not collateral. This is supposedly brutal carnage committed by Israel, if we are to believe the press.”

    But of course we’re not to believe the press, not even the press that corrects the number of dead in the Qana strike, just as it corrected the death toll on 9/11, and post-Katrina. We’re only supposed to believe the Israelis and their sympathizers in the press and the blogs, everyone else having it in for them.

    After delivering one of his trademark beats-me, your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine shrugs (“No one really knows what is happening and how it will turn out”), Simon nevertheless urges everyone on the boardwalk to stand firm and let Israel bomb whatever it needs to bomb with our anxious blessings: “…it strikes me that we are now at a moment that is going to take great courage on the part of the Israelis on both military and diplomatic fronts – and great courage in the latter from the US, because Israel has no choice but to continue in the face of what will undoubtedly be mounting negative public opinion. This is a time for all friends of freedom to hold their noses and pray. It is not the moment for second-guessing. It is a moment for pressing on.”

    Pressing on, even if destroying bridges prevents humanitarian aid from reaching Lebanon and leaves daughters “screaming their grief” over their slain father:

    “Standing there this morning, hearing the tale of the poor dead man Joseph Bassil, a Christian who was taking his early morning exercise under the bridge as was his custom at 7.15am, a supposedly safe area, when it collapsed on top of him, killing him instantly, with a sound to end all sounds said it all. No Hizbullah, no trucks filled with arms, just attacks on Lebanon’s civilian population and the nation’s infrasture. Is Lebanon just to be made into another prison like Gaza, is this the aim of these senseless attacks? It is as every single Christian Lebanese resident of the area told me this morning, terrorism perpertrated by the state of Israel in league with America to sow fear and dissent amongst the population. Muslim, Christian, Palestinian, UN, mother, child, it seems Olmert-Peretz-Halutz and the military industry complex alongside the US does not seem to care. Is Israel fighting Hizbullah or fighting Lebanon? From here the answer is quite clear. And I just heard 20 plus Lebanese were killed in an air raid in a village in the Beqaa on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Congratulations pilots in your planes, it’s so easy to push a button and drop a bomb and kill innocent farmers. Tell me this is not clearly a war against the Lebanese people?” (from Beirut Live)

    *What idiotic moral yardstick is this? Lebanese civilians weren’t responsible for 9/11, neither was Hezbollah, so why draw the analogy? Is 3000 dead the Roger Simon cut-off point for how many civilians it’s acceptable for Israel to kill?

  210. Israel is a fascist, terrorist state, that has systematically dismantled Palestinian society and culture for 60 – 70 years, using violence, murder, ethnic cleansing and torture to pursue its ends of completing the stealing of all Palestinian land. On top of this it has repeatedly been the aggressor in conflicts in the region. I don’t agree with targeting civilians in retaliation to the Israeli murder of civilians, but I can assure you that most Hezbollah rockets are aimed at military installations in northern Israel, but due to strict military censorship in that country, you don’t get to see anything other than the strikes that hit civilian property. However the IDF does, and has always had a policy of targeting civilians and collective punishment, since its founding, which incidentally was as a result of terrorism.

  211. Phil

    I have just followed your URL. Certainly one in the eye for me. I didn’t know that there were Hamas members of the Knesset.

    However since Hamas is dedicated to destroying Israel I think the Israelis may have been a little over liberal in allowing them to stand in the first place.

    Mel

    You asked me under M and I couldn’t find it. Despite your bottomist abuse I’ll get back to you as soon as i can.

  212. Gawd, I have GOT to remain on message (even when I’ve had a bottle of Zinfandel).

    Ignore the above, unless you’re about to watch the whole thing and take a lesson from it.

    Putting the F in Freedom indeed.

  213. Now what about these terrorists that wanted to hijack our planes today.

    Under the Human Rights Act we can have the death penalty at times of war.

    Does anyone think we should bring back the death penalty and execute them? Our over-liberal courts might let them out one day.

  214. Or should they be sent to gutanamo bay?

    I don’t trust our courts to keep these people of the streets forever.

  215. ‘According to BBC sources the “principal characters” suspected of being involved in the plot were British-born. There are also understood to be links to Pakistan’ (BBC, today)

    At least Pakistan is on-side in the War on Terror and sharing intelligence with us.

  216. Never mind, John Prescott isn’t on holiday, I’m sure he’ll sort everything out. No doubt Galloway will come out of the woodwork soon and say that it is all our own fault.

    Now back to my original statement ‘you can’t reason with these terrorists, you just have to kill them’ can you guys see where I’m coming from yet? They want to die for pete’s sake, they were planning on blowing up their own hand luggage over the middle of the Atlantic!

    Take them out I say.

  217. Steven, Gitmo isn’t a British internment camp. Would you send British citizens to a foreign internment camp PRIOR to a trial?

    If so, prepare to enjoy Cuban hospitality yourself, for there are no protections against your being sent there as well. Bring sunscreen.

  218. Phil, your posts make a fair sized crowd all on their own but I have yet to see you post up any alleged activity of Israel’s we, NATO & our allies have not done to a larger extent to Serbs.

    I may be doing you a disservice in thinking that you have not put up as many posts calling for NATO countries to be “punished” but if not why would you think Jews deserve special treatment?

  219. “Phil, your posts make a fair sized crowd all on their own but I have yet to see you post up any alleged activity of Israel’s we, NATO & our allies have not done to a larger extent to Serbs.” Neil Craig

    I’m unaware of the issues you have highlighted and probably a thousand other transgressions Britain and her allies perpertrate daily. If Britain is guilty of such things I a) bow to your superior knowledge and, in the event that your allegations are true, b) support your call to have the offenders dealt with as international law and ethics demand.

    I do know, incontravertibly, that the Israeli nation (not Jews, as you suggest) is certainly guilty of such offenses and I hope, given your commentary, you also support the view that natural justice must prevail in this matter.

    The situation in the Middle East, alone, requires massive and constant research; If I took up another banner I would end up not presenting my views coherently or accurately on any of these issues.

    I know this is a poor excuse but it is, unfortunately, a truthful one.

    P.S.
    I will get back to Steven_L’s post shortly. I’m in the middle of something right now and his comments require (and deserve) my fullest attention.

  220. While I’m here, I see Jack’s response is still notably absent.

    In case there is any ambiguity Jack, the questions put to you currently comprise:

    1) What are the concessions you claim have been made by the Israeli government to the Palestinians?

    2) What is the justification for the occupation of the West Bank?

    3) Why do you think the Israeli government can ‘arrest’ Palestinians in Gaza without any legal process?

    4) Do you accept that the issues of segregation and two tier system enforced by Israel in the West Bank constitute a form of apartheid?

    5) On what basis do you justify and support the Israeli murder of civilians in Palestine and Lebanon?

    6) How do you explain the inordinate number of children killed by the IDF in Paelstine over the last six years?

    7) On what basis under international law can a person’s citzenship be revoked from their place of birth?

    8) On what basis do you support the documented examples of Israeli collective punishment including the demolition of houses belonging to alleged supporters of Hamas radicals?

    9) Are you on any scheduled drugs or controlled substances?

    Answers please Jack.

  221. Raincoaster,

    I don’t have any terrorist sympathies or involvement in plotting against my own country. For all their faults the Labour government would not send me to gitmo.

    Some of these Brit born terrorists like the July 7th bombers actually want to bring down our country from within. Thankfully we have world class security services and an excellent anti-terrorist squad at the met.

    People looked at me funny like I was some sort of racist when this Israel – Lebanon stuff kicked off and I said that I didn’t’ want to be blown up in the morning my some lunatic that thinks the Grand Ayatollah is the best thing since the holocaust’.

    Looks like I was right after all – this country has a small population of traitors living here – we need to weed them out and lock them up forever. We need some sort of offence that covers this new kind of treason and carries life without parole as a manditory sentence.

    These people were going to indiscriminatly murder plane loads of peace loving people, Brits, Americans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, they wouldn’t have even cared who was on those planes.

    What gets me the most is the amount of people in the UK who would never dream of murdering someone who actually hate the USA so much they sympathise with Bin-laden, I hear it all the time.

  222. ‘If Britain is guilty of such things I a) bow to your superior knowledge and, in the event that your allegations are true, b) support your call to have the offenders dealt with as international law and ethics demand.’

    Our ememies don’t respect international law or ethics Phil. You might be a good person, you might be horrified by what you see happening in the world and reading what you say I have no doubt this is the case.

    The world ain’t a rosy place Phil, I wish it was too, if we start trying to prosecute ourselves for defending our freedom we are actually fighting on the side of those who want to destroy our freedom and replace it with a barbaric medieval regieme.

    Would you rather live in the free world and fight to extend freedom to the oppressed or live under psychopaths such as the Taliban with people like Bin-Laden and the Ayatollah dictating what you can and can’t do with your life based on their own warped opinions?

  223. It;s Thurday night, Jack might be down the pub, that’s where I’m going soon too, I’ll try and answer for him.

    1) What are the concessions you claim have been made by the Israeli government to the Palestinians?

    They pulled back out of occupied territories, the terrorists saw this as a sign of weakness and attacked

    2) What is the justification for the occupation of the West Bank?

    Defence of Israeli civilians from the terrorists

    3) Why do you think the Israeli government can ‘arrest’ Palestinians in Gaza without any legal process?

    Because those concerned are terrorists

    4) Do you accept that the issues of segregation and two tier system enforced by Israel in the West Bank constitute a form of apartheid?

    Don’t know enough about it, I think the treatment of women in the Arab world is as bad as apartheid though

    5) On what basis do you justify and support the Israeli murder of civilians in Palestine and Lebanon?

    It’s not justified, any innocent civilians killed in war is a tragedy, but the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist

    6) How do you explain the inordinate number of children killed by the IDF in Paelstine over the last six years?

    Can’t explain this

    7) On what basis under international law can a person’s citzenship be revoked from their place of birth?

    Dunno, but I’d quite happily revoke British citizenship from those Brits who went to Afghanistan to fight against us and those British ‘Muslims’ (or Islamic fascists and Bush quite rightly called them today) who plot terrorism against us

    8) On what basis do you support the documented examples of Israeli collective punishment including the demolition of houses belonging to alleged supporters of Hamas radicals?

    ‘collective punishment’ this term confuses me a bit, it is a bit anti-jewish I think trying to argue that the Israeli government persue a policy based on passages from the Old Testament. The Koran has a few nasty comments about Jews too, most Muslims reject these ideas in practice, most Jews do not believe in ‘collective punishment’.

    9) Are you on any scheduled drugs or controlled substances?

    This ‘question’ doesn’t really do you any favours.

  224. Phil, Lardarse is amking that up about the arrestees being knesset members and secretly being Hamas MPs simultaneously. Muhamed Abu Tir is the Hamas MP and doesn’t get invited too often for a bacon & cheese buttie in the Knesset canteen! Khaled Abu Arafa, is the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem and if he is a member of Hamas or the Palestinian Govt it’s news to him. Wouldn’t that be a first though, being an MP in 2 countries at once? Imagine John Prescott being a member of the French Parliament as well. But then again, why should we put up with him on our own? But regardless of Lardarse’s sloppy research, you’re right how can you have your citizenship revoked in the country of your birth. Sounds a bit 1930’s Nazi Germany to me!

  225. “3) Why do you think the Israeli government can ‘arrest’ Palestinians in Gaza without any legal process?

    Because those concerned are terrorists” – Steven_L

    The real problem I have with this is a matter of terms. You call these people terrorists, but what does that actually mean?

    Before actually looking at that of course, is that our system of justice theoretically holds true to “innocent until proven guilty”, as opposed to “guilty until proven innocent”, or in this case just “guilty”. As such, if these people have not been given due process and tried by an impartial court of law, then they have not been proven guilty, and are thus by definition innocent. Hence, what is really happening is that Israel is imprisoning innocent people. This is of course a depressingly common practice these days and Israel is by no means the only culprit, or the only western one.

    But back to the definition of terrorist, what shall we say?
    – That they kill innocent civilians? Israel does too.
    – That they do so indiscriminantly? Israel appears to be doing so too.
    – That that kidnap Israeli soldiers? Israel kidnaps Palestinian militants which is essentially the same thing.
    – That they are enemies of Democracy? Hamas is an elected government of course…
    – That they use terror to intimidate sovereign nations into submission? Well look at Israel in Lebanon. Or Gaza for that matter.

    What it really boils down to is the fact that for some reason we judge ourselves in the west less harshly than arabs. My favourite case of this hypocrisy was Iraq, where we go in against UN resolutions and the wishes of our people on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction; not only finding none but using some ourselves in the fighting! Why is there one rule for us and another for countries we want to invade?

  226. Oh and incidentally I am not throwing stones only at Israel, in fact I think far more go to the UK and US. In fact Israel does operate in a unique environment, with many enemies and close borders to many unfriendly states. George Bush on the other hand calls people enemies to world peace, while at the same time the USA deploys more than twice as many troops abroad as all the other countries of the world combined.

  227. For Steven_L and ‘clever’ Jack R (both of whom need to read more):

    Published on Tuesday, August 8, 2006

    Israel Responded to an Unprovoked Attack by Hizbullah, Right? Wrong

    The assault on Lebanon was premeditated — the soldiers’ capture simply provided the excuse. It was also unnecessary

    by George Monbiot

    Whatever we think of Israel’s assault on Lebanon, all of us seem to agree about one fact: that it was a response, however disproportionate, to an unprovoked attack by Hizbullah. I repeated this “fact” in my last column, when I wrote that “Hizbullah fired the first shots”. This being so, the Israeli government’s supporters ask peaceniks like me, what would you have done? It’s an important question. But its premise, I have now discovered, is flawed.

    Since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, there have been hundreds of violations of the “blue line” between the two countries. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) reports that Israeli aircraft crossed the line “on an almost daily basis” between 2001 and 2003, and “persistently” until 2006. These incursions “caused great concern to the civilian population, particularly low-altitude flights that break the sound barrier over populated areas”. On some occasions, Hizbullah tried to shoot them down with anti-aircraft guns.

    In October 2000, the Israel Defence Forces shot at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on the border, killing three and wounding 20. In response, Hizbullah crossed the line and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers. On several occasions, Hizbullah fired missiles and mortar rounds at IDF positions, and the IDF responded with heavy artillery and sometimes aerial bombardment. Incidents like this killed three Israelis and three Lebanese in 2003; one Israeli soldier and two Hizbullah fighters in 2005; and two Lebanese people and three Israeli soldiers in February 2006. Rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel several times in 2004, 2005 and 2006, on some occasions by Hizbullah. But, the UN records, “none of the incidents resulted in a military escalation”.

    On May 26 this year, two officials of Islamic Jihad – Nidal and Mahmoud Majzoub – were killed by a car bomb in the Lebanese city of Sidon. This was widely assumed in Lebanon and Israel to be the work of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. In June, a man named Mahmoud Rafeh confessed to the killings and admitted that he had been working for Mossad since 1994. Militants in southern Lebanon responded, on the day of the bombing, by launching eight rockets into Israel. One soldier was lightly wounded. There was a major bust-up on the border, during which one member of Hizbullah was killed and several wounded, and one Israeli soldier wounded. But while the border region “remained tense and volatile”, Unifil says it was “generally quiet” until July 12.

    There has been a heated debate on the internet about whether the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah that day were captured in Israel or in Lebanon, but it now seems pretty clear that they were seized in Israel. This is what the UN says, and even Hizbullah seems to have forgotten that they were supposed to have been found sneaking around the outskirts of the Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab. Now it simply states that “the Islamic resistance captured two Israeli soldiers at the border with occupied Palestine”. Three other Israeli soldiers were killed by the militants. There is also some dispute about when, on July 12, Hizbullah first fired its rockets; but Unifil makes it clear that the firing took place at the same time as the raid – 9am. Its purpose seems to have been to create a diversion. No one was hit.

    But there is no serious debate about why the two soldiers were captured: Hizbullah was seeking to exchange them for the 15 prisoners of war taken by the Israelis during the occupation of Lebanon and (in breach of article 118 of the third Geneva convention) never released. It seems clear that if Israel had handed over the prisoners, it would – without the spillage of any more blood – have retrieved its men and reduced the likelihood of further kidnappings. But the Israeli government refused to negotiate. Instead – well, we all know what happened instead. Almost 1,000 Lebanese and 33 Israeli civilians have been killed so far, and a million Lebanese displaced from their homes.

    On July 12, in other words, Hizbullah fired the first shots. But that act of aggression was simply one instance in a long sequence of small incursions and attacks over the past six years by both sides. So why was the Israeli response so different from all that preceded it? The answer is that it was not a reaction to the events of that day. The assault had been planned for months.

    The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “more than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and thinktanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail”. The attack, he said, would last for three weeks. It would begin with bombing and culminate in a ground invasion. Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, told the paper that “of all of Israel’s wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared … By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board”.

    A “senior Israeli official” told the Washington Post that the raid by Hizbullah provided Israel with a “unique moment” for wiping out the organisation. The New Statesman’s editor, John Kampfner, says he was told by more than one official source that the US government knew in advance of Israel’s intention to take military action in Lebanon. The Bush administration told the British government.

    Israel’s assault, then, was premeditated: it was simply waiting for an appropriate excuse. It was also unnecessary. It is true that Hizbullah had been building up munitions close to the border, as its current rocket attacks show. But so had Israel. Just as Israel could assert that it was seeking to deter incursions by Hizbullah, Hizbullah could claim – also with justification – that it was trying to deter incursions by Israel. The Lebanese army is certainly incapable of doing so. Yes, Hizbullah should have been pulled back from the Israeli border by the Lebanese government and disarmed. Yes, the raid and the rocket attack on July 12 were unjustified, stupid and provocative, like just about everything that has taken place around the border for the past six years. But the suggestion that Hizbullah could launch an invasion of Israel or that it constitutes an existential threat to the state is preposterous. Since the occupation ended, all its acts of war have been minor ones, and nearly all of them reactive.

    So it is not hard to answer the question of what we would have done. First, stop recruiting enemies, by withdrawing from the occupied territories in Palestine and Syria. Second, stop provoking the armed groups in Lebanon with violations of the blue line – in particular the persistent flights across the border. Third, release the prisoners of war who remain unlawfully incarcerated in Israel. Fourth, continue to defend the border, while maintaining the diplomatic pressure on Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah (as anyone can see, this would be much more feasible if the occupations were to end). Here then is my challenge to the supporters of the Israeli government: do you dare to contend that this programme would have caused more death and destruction than the current adventure has done?

  228. Steven_L, I can’t argue with you. It’s akin to debating with a five year old; lucid communication seems impossible. You answer questions with non sequiturs and irrelevancies.

    I find your responses to those questions above, frightening and depressing; I think you, and other people like you, are dangerous, cruel and brutal.

    He’s a better question for you Steven. What is the difference between your views on justice and international diplomacy and those of the third Reich?

    It’s a rhetorical question Steven, I don’t really expect an answer.

  229. And I think I’m correct in saying that the Republicans were expected to do badly in upcoming US elections. Directly because of the mayhem and tragedy in Iraq. But Iraq has been nicely shoved out of the news – by Israel’s assault on Lebanon.
    Suits Bush down to the ground, n’est ce pas?

  230. I’m sorry raincoaster, this ‘polite debate’ thing isn’t working for me.

    I mean, look at this prick Steven L, half the stuff he says doesn’t even make sense. How can you argue with an imbecile like that?

    Let’s take the least facile comment he makes:

    2) What is the justification for the occupation of the West Bank?
    “Defence of Israeli civilians from the terrorists” (Steven_L)

    Statements like this defy analysis! There’s nearly as much crap in this single sentence as in the entire Bush administration! Is Steven_L Sacha Baron Cohen? This stuff is Ali-G level stupidity. I might think it was socratic irony but I doubt Steven could spell that let alone know what it means.

    And what’s all this reflected machismo about ‘his mates in the military’ and warlike rhetoric? Overcompensating inferiority complex?

    How about
    4) Do you accept that the issues of segregation and two tier system enforced by Israel in the West Bank constitute a form of apartheid?
    “Don’t know enough about it, I think the treatment of women in the Arab world is as bad as apartheid though” Steven_L

    He can’t even understand a simple concept like “two wrongs don’t make a right”! I mean, is that retarded or what?

    So what would you do? I mean, he’s obviously either a total nutcase; not a real person (i.e. a faked up blog personality) and may well be a left wing, sociology professor in real life or a complete moron that can just about use a computer and nearly has the hang of simple grammar.

    The answer to 8) nearly made me spit my coffee out laughing! I mean, there are things in my fridge that know what collective punishment means.

    Anyway, I humbly beseach your advice in dealing with this halfwit.

    Phil

  231. Phil, while I’m flattered that the thread started out with pleas for responses from Boris and has now advanced(devolved?) to pleas for responses from me, I’m afraid I’ve already given you my best tips.

    I’ve been arguing successfully with Steven for a number of months, actually. It can be done. And it can be done without any measurable increase in blood pressure on either side.

    Why not trying to divorce yourself from the personal outcome here and go for the big picture? As in, forget about changing Steven’s mind; prove your case. Source it well, state it clearly, and make sure the whole thing hangs together securely and then don’t worry about it when someone “doesn’t get it.” Because quite a number of people aren’t able to hear any but a certain range of notes.

    Somebody actually accused me of being anti-Lebanon on Iain Dale’s blog yesterday. No matter what you say, some people will take from them only what they were looking for. You’ll exhaust yourself trying to take ownership of their comprehension and agreement. Just let it go.

    Gawd, don’t I sound like Oprah?

  232. Damn dog woke me up barking at a hedgehog. Right where shall we begin.

    ‘Steven_L you really are a twat!’ (Mel Gibson)

    Gee thanks Mel, any chance of a signed photo?

    ‘The real problem I have with this is a matter of terms. You call these people terrorists, but what does that actually mean?’ (Jack Target)

    Jack, in a ‘War on Terror’ the other side (i.e. those that said ‘against you’ are the terrorists) The reality of the ‘War on Terror’ means that the UN is pre-occupied trying to stifle US neo-conservative and Israeli uni-lateralism and that US forces are over-committed. Don’t expect Russia or China to do anything other than keep selling arms to the Ayatollahs either. Therefore those ‘allies in the War on Terror’ have their own ‘terrorists’ to fight. In the case of Israel the Palestinians and Hezbollah are the ‘terrorists’. In Sri Lanka (I notice none of you even blink an eyelid that the Sri Lankan civil war has been raging for about 50 years and has kicked off into full swing again, personally I’m more bothered about that that the Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese put together) the Tamils become the terrorists, get it yet?

    ‘For Steven_L and ‘clever’ Jack R (both of whom need to read more):’ (Impreach Bush)

    Maybe it was planned, maybe the Israelis do want to inflict generations of ‘collective punishment’ on the Arabs. To be honest I agree with my 93 year old grandmother who has lived through 2 world wars on this one, she said ‘let them fight it out amongst themselves’. My main foreign policy concerns are as follows:

    1) Lack of kit for British troops in the field.
    2) Problems with the Eurofighter and getting our sticky fingers on the F22
    3) The Sri Lankan civil war (ending it)
    4) Possibility of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh leading up to their elections in January

    The ‘War on Terror’ was the Americans Idea, we (Blair)
    offered to go the Middle East and try to sort it out but Bush said no.

    ‘What is the difference between your views on justice and international diplomacy and those of the third Reich?’ (Phil)

    Didn’t they want to take over the world, kill everyone that disagreed with them and everyone that wasn’t white? I don’t support that policy for the UK.

    ‘I mean, look at this prick Steven L, half the stuff he says doesn’t even make sense. How can you argue with an imbecile like that?’ (Phil)

    Take Raincoasters advice above I guess.

    ‘And I think I’m correct in saying that the Republicans were expected to do badly in upcoming US elections. Directly because of the mayhem and tragedy in Iraq. But Iraq has been nicely shoved out of the news – by Israel’s assault on Lebanon.
    Suits Bush down to the ground, n’est ce pas?’ (Impreach Bush)

    War in the Middle East and a $100+ barrel will suit him down to the ground.

    ‘Statements like this defy analysis! There’s nearly as much crap in this single sentence as in the entire Bush administration! Is Steven_L Sacha Baron Cohen?’ (Phil)

    No, Steven is my real name, and he is far funnier than me, even when I’m on form. Phil, I am not G W Bush, I am not American. What you have to understand about
    US politics is that the leaders of the political parties have to get more votes than each other to get into power and run the show how they think it should be run.

    Now, Bush’s ‘base’ are rich Americans that support the Repubican party. His core vote are a load of Southern born again Christian types that somewhere along the line forgot that the idea of the religion is that Jesus taught us to forgive each other. They like to shoot big guns and like politicans who talk slowly and simply to them. Most of them don’t have passports and can’t point to Iraq or Iran on a map.

    If you look at the map and ask the question ‘hmm where is the US army these days?’ you will see it is in a big circle around Iran. Just like in the 1st gulf war when Saddam fired his Scuds at Israel, Iran are attacking Israel through Hezbollah if you ask me. Bush doesn’t talk crap because he’s stupid, he’s actually quite clever if you ask me, it’s his voters that are ‘Southern’ to put it politely.

    As for analysis, Bush doesn’t require any, he is talking to ‘Southern’ people. Some lunatics fly planes into the pentagon, the military (who live in the pentagon) decide to go get them. So Bush says to the ‘Southern’ people that there is going to be a ‘War on Terror’, asks who ‘Is with and who is against us’ and then announces who the ‘Axis of Evil’ are (the opposition in laymans terms I guess).

    You see it’s not that hard to make sense out of at all, a 5 year old could understand.

  233. OT: Interesting bit in the Guardian today.

    Hats off to the helmetless member for Henley, meanwhile, plainly determined to staff his office in his own endearing mould. “Office of Boris Johnson is looking for a bright, motivated, highly literate individual as a researcher,” runs the ad on the Westminster website w4mp. “Send CV plus two 500 word sample essays, one being on the role of British universities, the other either on A Trip in a Space Ship, A Country Ramble or The Taj Mahal.” That should sort the wheat from the clever, charming but ever-so-slightly crazed.

  234. It’s a Westmnster job by the look of it, even more expensive and you got to face the rat race. Salary ‘to be discussed’ always a warning sign.

  235. ‘Office of Boris Johnson is looking for a bright, motivated, highly literate individual to come and work in the House of Commons as a Researcher. Job will involve researching legislation and Bills going through the House, compiling briefs and reports, speech writing, drafting articles, policy formulation and general parliamentary wonkery’

    Highly literate counts me out, I need the spellchecker. Mind you even if did write his speeches they are so blue in Henley he’d still get elected.

  236. They’re so Tory there he’d get elected even if I wrote his speeches.

    At least it’s not one of those bullshit internships that pays zero; yet another reason so many professions are staffed solely by people who come from money.

  237. Tell you what though raincoaster, considering how much they go on about local government non-jobs have you seen the amount of policy positions advertised on that w4mp site?

  238. Anyway, whatever possessed the man whilst rambling through Central America to suddenly decide on Wednesday that he needed someone to draft his articles? You reckon he’s decided to stay over there or something? Or has Melissa absconded?

  239. It’s too early to read the guadrian, coffee’s not even brewed.

    Raincoaster, you fancy a competition? We each write a 500 word essay on ‘A trip in a spaceship’ and post it on here?

    While to cats away……

  240. You’re on this blog and you haven’t had your coffee?
    Whew … that’s enthusiasm. Even if it’s misdirected. 🙂

  241. I had to smoke some cigarettes, buy some more cigarettes, read the cricket news then check up on the blogosphere – I’m between jobs and the dog woke me up at an ungodly hour.

  242. Why don’t write something to sell? You can use your advance to fly me over to Vancouver and check out your book club.

  243. Sir,

    Will the Americans leap to the aid of the man-made destruction in the Lebanon (mainly using American supplied bombs) with the same alacrity as they did following the tsunami and will they and/or Israel pay for that damage?

    After all a lot of the Lebanese infrastructure was paid for by our taxes in the form of Overseas Aid to which Boris Johnson has contributed.

  244. Steven_L, i put myself through the torment of reading your last [lengthy] post, and feel compelled to report that I can appreciate that you, as an individual, rightly feel inferior to others, and so feel the need to dress in your mother’s underwear and play ‘pull engine’ with the other little tossers you call friends. Notwithstanding, we, the grownups, live in another world, wherein people like would be put to death, if we had our way, as a result of you serving no useful purpose other than as a example of ejaculatory incontinence.

  245. Well, I was supposed to go on holiday yesterday, 10th August, flying out of Heathrow. I’d got about half way there when the radio informed me I may as well have just stayed in bed.

    By the time I got back, and turned on the box, there was saturation coverage of the thing. John Reid held a press conference in which, rather stunningly, nobody said anything of any significance whatsoever.

    As the afternoon wore on, and the wall-to-wall coverage on BBC News 24 and Sky continued, I began to get a bit bemused by it all. After all, nothing had actually happened. No planes had been downed. No distraught relatives were blubbing into microphones. No pundits were declaring that this was worse than 9/11.

    We were told that a plot to commit ‘mass murder’ had been thwarted, and some 24 British muslims had been arrested. Perhaps they did thwart a plot, but they haven’t produced an iota of evidence that they have. Not one jot or tittle.

    By evening, I was getting quite alarmed. A tremendous fuss was being kicked up about something that didn’t happen, and by a police force whose record so far is to have shot one innocent Brazilian, and dismantled the house of another suspect without finding any evidence of any terror links. My bet is that these 24 suspects will be released in a few months time, no shred of evidence being produced to show they were terrorists at all. The most telling tidbit of news was that Blair had discussed the threat with Bush on Sunday – which suggests that maybe they’d decided Thursday was a good day to have this non-event. This may explain why Heathrow somehow or other had thousands of clear plastic bags, complete with handle holes, stocked up in advance.

    And I began to notice that there wasn’t any news about anything else. Thursday was one of those days when a vast media firework display effectively wiped out all other news. I began to wonder if there was something else that happened yesterday, of far greater importance than Heathrow. Did anyone notice anything else happening yesterday? Did they start bombing Iran? Have the stock markets crashed? Has John Prescott exploded?

    I was just wondering. Somebody else may have noticed something significant that actually did happen yesterday.

  246. The other thing that got me was that they were urging people to stay calm and vigilant. All I could think was that the government, police, and media would have done well to have heeded their own advice.

    And what the hell was I supposed to be ‘vigilant’ about? Can anyone tell me?

  247. Idlex, I’m glad you can stay so calm about it, this stuff makes me paranoid. (Steven_L)

    This is probably because, unlike you, I have very little belief in anything I’m told these days.

    I have absolutely no faith whatsoever in anything that either Blair or Bush or any of their minions have to say about anything, and have not had any faith for well over three years, since they lied their respective countries into an unnecessary and now disastrous war in Iraq – a war which I am quite sure has served to vastly increase terrorist activity globally.

    So much for the ‘War on Terror’ in which you have such a touching faith.

  248. I should add that what began as a collapse of faith in Blair has, over the intervening 3 years, extended to become a collapse of faith in a Labour party that has kept Blair as leader, and in a Tory party which hasn’t provided a credible opposition party. I should add into this a loss of faith in the UK intelligence services, and the UK police, and the UK media.

    And the collapse of faith in Bush has expanded to first become a loss of faith in the the entire corrupt Republican party and fawning US media, and now a loss of faith in the Democratic party as well, as the Leibermans and Clintons (both of them) continue (much like UK Tories) to support US government foreign policy.

    And now, in Israel, Olmert and Peretz and Halutz’ assault on Lebanon have brought a loss of faith in Israel, and the IDF, as well.

    It seems to me that we are being governed by delusional fools who think, and act, in simplistic terms of ‘the struggle between good and evil’, or ‘democracy versus terror’, or some other similar bilge, as they lead us deeper and deeper into conflicts and entanglements which are only making everything progressively worse and worse.

    And worst of all, as far as I can see, in a time of deepening crisis, there’s no sign of any politician with even a trace of integrity or humanity or simple common sense in sight. This is far more deeply worrying to me than anything that a two-bit outfit like Al Qaeda may or may not do.

  249. At a time when we hear the word “democracy” thrown around willy-nilly, I take exception to 4% of the world’s population (USA) effectively dictating what happens to the rest of us, through money and military might. I wish to god that Europe would stand up and be counted.

  250. The Practical Uses of Terror (from the Cato Institute):

    Only traitors try to make us afraid of terrorists
    In this mind-blowing, exhaustively researched Cato institute paper by Ohio State University’s John Mueller, the case against being afraid of terrorism is laid out in irrefutable logic, backed with credible, documented statistics about terrorism’s risks. From the number of fatalities produced by terrorism to the trends in terrorism death to the fact that almost no one has ever died from a military biological agent to the fact that poison gas and dirty bombs in the field do only minor damage — this paper is the most reassuring and infuriating piece of analysis I’ve read since September 11th, 2001.
    The bottom line is, terrorism doesn’t kill many people. Even in Israel, you’re four times more likely to die in a car wreck than as a result of a terrorist attack. In the USA, you need to be more worried about lightning strikes than terrorism. The point of terrorism is to create terror, and by cynically convincing us that our very countries are at risk from terrorism, our politicians have delivered utter victory to the terrorists: we are terrified.

    Much of the current alarm is generated from the knowledge that many of today’s terrorists simply want to kill, and kill more or less randomly, for revenge or as an act of what they take to be The shock and tragedy of September 11 does demand a focused and dedicated program to confront international terrorism and to attempt to prevent a repeat. But it seems sensible to suggest that part of this reaction should include an effort by politicians, officials, and the media to inform the public reasonably and realistically about the terrorist context instead of playing into the hands of terrorists by frightening the public. What is needed, as one statistician suggests, is some sort of convincing, coherent, informed, and nuanced answer to a central question: “How worried should I be?” Instead, the message the nation has received so far is, as a Homeland Security official put (or caricatured) it, “Be scared; be very, very scared — but go on with your lives.” Such messages have led many people to develop what Leif Wenar of the University of Sheffield has aptly labeled “a false sense of insecurity.”

  251. And here’s Guido’s take on the situation, with which I happen to substantially agree (amazing how the far lefties and the far right meet at the back of the Mobius strip of politics):

    “It’s the Wolf! It’s the Wolf!”

    Facts:

    The tangible support of the U.S. and tacit support of the U.K. for Israel’s thrust into Lebanon has caused a political backlash for Bush and Blair.
    In Afghanistan a woefully under-equipped and politically mis-directed British military intervention is in tatters, the death toll is rising and British forces have been forced to reduce their risk in the face of rising casualties. Tory critics are angry.

    In Iraq senior U.S. military figures are openly describing the situation as one of increasing insurgency on the path to full-scale civil war.

    Political unease and outright opposition to the “war on terror” is rising. Even from people, like Guido, who supported the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Blair might be on the beach in the Carribbean but he is in a danger zone politically. The coming Labour party conference is the focus of malcontents and a source of instability. Thatcher and Gorbachev had coup attempts launched against them when they were out of the country. His internal opponents are now drowned out by the scare.

    Bush needed a security scare. Rove spins “the Democrats are soft on terror.”

    Time for a terror boost…

    The cast : an ongoing long-term investigation into terror suspects. Extras : thousands of held up holidaymakers.
    Gimmicks : this time it is liquid bombs, following on from the previous Ricin, Red Mercury and Anthrax Powder scares.
    Show date : silly season when the media is desperate, prior to party conference and the symbolic 9/11 anniversary.
    Playing : all news channels, front pages

    Ask yourself, why now? Do you really believe that a huge terrorist conspiracy was underway?

  252. I have faith in our Steven.

    He smokes cigarettes.

    And therefore he treadeth in the path of enlightenment.

    And he’s seen through Blair. All that remains is for him to see through Bush as well. I can see the appeal of Bush as a guy who does what he says he’ll do. I’d simply ask Steven what Bush has ever done that has ever been what he’d said he’d do. For me, the killer was when Bush declared, two years back, that he was no longer interested in Osama bin Laden. I mean, the heck!!

    I give big extra plus points to smokers (raincoaster will never get them). We smokers increasingly recognise each other, and with our little brown stars on our lapels, and see a kindred rebel spirit.

    Therefore my disagreement with Steven verges on the utterly trivial.

  253. Hey, when smokers die we get their stuff. So in that light, I’m hardly anti-smoking. Just do it furtively, in back alleys and smoking rooms in palatial private homes, and don’t submit me to the stink or I’ll sue your ass and get your stuff without the waiting period.

  254. Decent Job Going

    There’s what looks like it might be a reasonable job going in Boris Johnson’s office. Full details over at John Wilkes’. Rumours that Mrs. Johnson will be involved in measuring applicant’s tottiness are as yet unconfirmed.

  255. Idlex, Raincoaster, Impeach_Bush,

    I understand how the past-its-sell-by-date third term New Labour government is making you lose confidence. It is becoming cringeworthy watching every cabinet re-shuffle, watching Margaret Beckett representing the UK in such distinguished company last night was also cringeworthy. She couldn’t even get the Rural Payments Agency working so how on Earth she is expected to broker peace in the Middle-East is beyond me.

    As for Bush, many US citizens are losing confidence in him, not just over Iraq, they think he’s ruined their economy. I have talked on more than one occassion to Americans in London who were saying that he had ruined their economy. When I asked how they were quoting the low price of the dollar as the only evidence of this, whinging on about how exchange rates and how much they were effectively paying for hotel rooms and bottles of beer.

    As a working class Brit I find the high price of the pound means that every man and his dog wants to come here and work, effectively keeping wages low. I put this to them, along with the fact that the low dollar helped their manufacturing and exports and our manufacturing was suffering. Our steel industry suffered under Bush’s first term not least because of his illegal trade restrictions. Middle class Americans saw the point but were more interested in having a strong dollar for their vacations.

    I have qualifications and can get a job where I am not competing with migrant labour, working class tradesmen and unskilled workers in London are becoming furious, even becoming racist, about the flood of cheap labour. The strong pound and our porous borders are causing mass dissillusion here, in the USA the middle classes are worried about another Vietnam in Iraq and the lack of purchases power their holiday dollar has.

    Iran’s regieme aren’t stupid, neither is Putin. It was Putin that increased arms sales to Iran is spite of US pressure not to in response to being snubbed (or not included) when G W Bush announced the ‘Son of Star Wars’ missile defense programme. I’m sure Iran see’s lack of confidence in the governments of the UK and USA as a massive opportunity to further it’s interests in the region through what Blair described as the ‘arc of extremism’, which includes terrorists, sponsored by Iran throughout Iraq and Lebannon.

    The Blair government has a terrible record on lots of domestic issues in my book, but is anyone saying that he and Bush should seriously surrended to what I see as Iranian and Sh’ia aggression? It is worth asking yourselves what the other great powers, Russia and China have done to help the Middle-East. Russia turned Arghanistan into rubble a few decades ago, has sold hundreds of times more weapons to the region that the UK and USA put together and is supplying nuclear equipment to the Ayatollahs. Where are Russian and Chinese calls for peace in the Middle East? They are the ones that profit the most from arms sales and war there if you ask me. High oil prices increase the value of Russia’s gas and oil exports. If Iraq does descend into full scale civil was who do you think will be supplying the arms to the Iranian sponsored Sh’ia militias? Was it OK then to just leave Saddam torturing his own people until the day that Iran decided to cause the spark of civil conflict?

    I still think the Middle East are better off without Saddam, the people there would also be better off without having to live with armed militias. It is not Blair and Bush causing these civil conflicts. It is well documented that Syria sponsor Sunni terrorism and Iran Sh’ia terrorism. They both gang up to further their interests against Israel, whom the Arabs want to destroy.

    There might be dissillusion at home with both Blair and Bush but are we going to sort ourselves into little gangs, arm ourselves and go round in the night murdering our fellow citizens? Of course we are not, well the vast vast majority of us will not resort to terror tactics nayway. As for the fraction that do thank God for our wonderful security services and friendship with the USA.

  256. Great link to the Cato Institute, raincoaster.

    …don’t submit me to the stink or I’ll sue your ass…

    What’s the name of that perfume you use, raincoaster?

    And don’t tell me you don’t use any, or else I will quite literally sue your ass.

  257. Chanel 19, Allure, and Gardenia Passion, thanks for asking. Everyone knows
    A) all of those smell marvelous and
    B) none of them hang about on the clothing of those who don’t get excessively interpersonal with the perfume wearer and
    C) Canadians never wear too much perfume. We wouldn’t want anyone to notice us.

    And no, none of them cause cancer.

  258. Uh, on re-reading one is left to wonder, one is, where, exactly, you Britons put your perfume…

    I think what we have here is the difference between two hemispheres.

  259. Dear “phil”,

    You make some valid points ( Just like Steven_L ), but then you go and undermine them by resorting to childish abuse.

    Take some friendly advice, compose yourself, calm down, stop being so agressive and as raincoaster rightly suggests try and view this argument in terms of the bigger picture.

    radsoft.

  260. all of those smell marvelous (raincoaster)

    Marvellous to you, maybe, but not necessarily everyone else. It’s an entirely subjective matter, just like with tastes in music or art or literature.

    And what makes you think you can fill up a room with Allure with impunity?

    Incidentally, I’m fairly sure they’ll ban candles next. All you need to do is hold a piece of paper above a candle flame to see the amount of soot that gets deposited, and how much pollution they generate in confined spaces. Far worse than cigarettes, and they burn for hours.

    So no more candlelit dinners, and no more Roman Catholic church services. OK?

  261. Idlex,

    Have you noticed, due to the unfairness of tobacco duty, us smokers cannot afford to enjoy a nice cigar more than once in a blue moon?

    Do you think we should tax Cuban cigars in the same penalising manner as cigarettes?

    If I’m still smoking when the public place ban kicks in I’m going to start making an effort to go to Spain more often to do some shopping.

    What would persuade me otherwise is a reduction on cigar tax. Not the ‘Hamlets’ of this world but proper Cuban cigars. I’d maybe even consider giving up cigarettes and managing on the odd cigar now and again. Seen as a good cigar costs at least £6 I can’t afford to do this. Seen ans I’ve smoked since I was 13 years old (half my life now) it is difficult to envisage life without ever smoking again. You can’t really do ‘the odd cigarette’ they come in packs of at least 10. I’m too young for a pipe and roll-ups are inconvenient and tacky.

    I’m not sure how they could define law the difference between proper rolled cigars and ones that are 2 or 3 leaves stuffed with shredded tobacco for tax purposes but surely that would help people who want to quit ciggys but not to dispense entirely with the pleasures of smoking?

  262. I didn’t really understand Steven’s post, so I’ll start with the first line instead.

    I understand how the past-its-sell-by-date third term New Labour government is making you lose confidence

    It’s not a matter of sell-by dates. It’s that Bush and Blair (and now, it seems, the Israeli government as well) live in fantastic and delusional worlds in which the application of shock-and-awe levels of violence is somehow supposed to produce peace and democracy, or in which they are ‘the forces of good’ fighting against ‘the forces of evil’, as if all this was God versus Satan, or something.

    I’m sorry, but I reject this sort of idealistic nonsense out of hand. I want to see hard-headed realists running our governments. Unfortunately, it seems that the entire political establishment – left, right, and centre – has swallowed this heap of manure, and it’s only the people they represent who seem to have the ability to see it for the c*ap that it actually is.

    I guess that this is probably because political culture exists within its own self-reinforcing bubble, largely detached from the view on the ground. For myself, I am now so utterly disenchanted with all politicians that I’d like to see every last one of them ejected from office, because that seems to be the only way for realism to intrude into what is otherwise their crazed political fantasy world.

  263. I hardly ever smoke cigars myself, Steven, though I have fond memories of spending almost an entire day smoking a cigar of Churchillian dimensions.

    We are currently in the middle of an absurd, puritanical witch hunt against smoking, led by, among others, people like raincoaster. In time, I’m sure sweet reason will prevail. And if it doesn’t, then sooner or later raincoaster is going to find herself ejected from restaurants for wearing Allure.

    Or for not wearing a hijab. Because our own homegrown puritans are not essentially different from the Muslim Taliban.

  264. Idlex,

    I’ll try a different angle. When this sorry Lebanon affair kicked off I came to work on Monday morning and found Boris’s blog, or his article about the sale of peerages, had been hijacked by a big argument over the age old Arab / Israeli war. I stuck my oar in the interweb, siding with Israel, with UK and US foreign policy. As the weeks went on more and more posters starting asking Boris to comment on the war that ensued. Now we’ll probably never know what David Cameron or the Editor of the Telegraph said to Boris before he wrote the above, but that’s besides the point really. Boris stuck his oar in the water and went off to Central American leaving us the above to blog and debate about.

    The war went on, the blog went on and now at last the international community has agreed on something. What gets me now is that we have become so disillusioned with the Blair government, so disillusioned with the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, that normally level headed serious political commentators are starting to suggest the unthinkable. It is being suggested that our government is embroiled in a conspiracy of epic proportions to terrorise us into supporting the War on Terror. People are suggesting that despite the serious harm it would cause to our economic interests the Blair and Bush have calculated the Heathrow thing over their cellular telephones. All I can stay to that is this; what rot!

    I loathe the attack on my personal freedoms as a smoker and on some of my childhood friends rights to chase foxes with their dogs. We are nine years into New Labours class war and creation of a client state. I sometimes feel stupid for wanting to work, as I would be just as well off on the sick. However, all domestic issues aside we live in Western Europe, have a good government (in comparison with most other countries) and live in a country of good people, a tiny minority of which are violent thugs. Sitting in the office that Monday morning reminded me of sitting in a different office on September 11th 2001.

    I was 21, was horrified and surprised by what I saw, I became equally horrified by George W Bush’s proclamation of their being a ‘War on Terror’ in response. What we have to remember though is not just the victims in New York, someone, somewhere took out an entire wing of the Pentagon. We’ve all heard the conspiracy theories, that it was Bush’s idea, that it was the Zionists, that it was all an excuse to sniffle Iraq’a oil from under Saddam’s nose, even that it was just an excuse to get Saddam. My view is this; common sense dictates that the USA have a good government that look after their people and defended the freedom of Western Europe against fascism and communism, that rebuilt Germany and Japan. There is no way they would take out their own military HQ.

    You talk about the political climate surrounding the War on Terror as ‘as if all this was God versus Satan, or something’. You have to understand that it is political suicide in the USA for a president to say he doesn’t believe in God or not to relate such issues to Christianity. Christianity is also big business over the pond and ‘church ministers’ churn out countless publications about the subject. I was horrified before the Iraq invasion to see a ‘sermon’ advertised on a Sky TV channel entitled ‘God don’t give big oil to foolish people’, after the sermon you could buy the book with your credit card. On this side of the pond could you imagine anyone buying such a publication for any reason other than to laugh at the Yanks? They were all hands in the air, praise the Lord, I want a copy, hundreds, maybe thousands of them.

    I’m no longer a Blair fan but I do feel for him having to sell the UK the ‘War on Terror’ in the same cowboy style ‘with us or against us’, ‘weapons of mass destruction’ manner that works in the Southern states. If Blair had the option back then I’m sure he would have rather sold us the idea that Saddam was a war criminal. He could have argued that Iraq was in danger of a civil war sparked by Iran because of its weakened state, that the Iraqi people deserved the chance to rebuild their country following decades of war, oppression and sanctions and that it was impossible with Saddam in power. We might even have bought it, I never saw a British Iraqi opposing the war.

    In my view the biggest danger facing the UK is that understandable and perfectly normal democratic opposition to our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan turns into an actual opposition of free market capitalism, democracy and the freedom it brings us. Unfortunately for us smokers over sixty per cent of the electorate don’t smoke and are insensitive to the ‘brown star on the lapel’ feeling we smokers share now. Laws such as this can be changed, fox hunting can be made legal again. My biggest concern is that the attack on our personal freedoms such as this are pushing ordinary pro-freedom and democracy Brits into supporting the anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists, the anti-capitalists and worst of all the Islamic Fascists Bush described the other day; the ones that planned to blow up our Airliners and murder us indiscriminately

  265. ‘Hey, when smokers die we get their stuff. So in that light, I’m hardly anti-smoking’ (raincoaster)

    Check out the self-declared communist! Oh, what a botch! I thought communists didn’t believe in competing for ‘stuff’ with each other? In reference to our conversation on your book club blog – you need to read Animal Farm again!

  266. Not too much I disagree with there, Steven. But…

    My view is this; common sense dictates that the USA have a good government that look after their people and defended the freedom of Western Europe against fascism and communism, that rebuilt Germany and Japan.

    On this common sense assumption (and it is common sense) that the US has a ‘good government’, I beg to differ. It’s perfectly true that the USA rebuilt Germany and Japan 60 years ago. But what any state did 60 years ago is not necessarily a guide to what it is doing today. There was a kind of American pragmatism and realism that operated back then, which is almost entirely absent from the present Bush administration. The following quote from Without A Doubt by Ron Suskind in the New York Times in October 2004 remains, for me, one that sums it all up:

      In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

      The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” (emphases added)

    I think that goes to the heart of the Bush presidency too, some 4 years after it was originally said. These people think that they can create reality, and there’s no need to study or learn anything. They are at best Romantics, or Idealists. What they certainly aren’t are old-style American pragmatists with their feet planted firmly on the ground.

    And whatever they do will be a disaster. And indeed, everything they have done has been a disaster.

  267. One last thought on raincoaster’s Allure.

    If it’s perfectly OK to sprinkle or spray yourself with some aromatic, without so much as a by-your-leave from those who will have to put up with it, then I think I’ll start manufacturing my own.

    And then people will come up to me, and say, “Hey, what’s that great stuff you’ve got, idlex?”

    And I’ll just smile broadly and say: “Golden Virginia.”

  268. idlex, you’ve obviously never heard of Tabac Noir. I gave it to my grandmother, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. It’s too bad my mother didn’t live to attend the party; she was the only smoker in our large family. She’s also the only one who died at 45.

    From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. Nothing there that’s incompatible with putting your stuff into the communal pool when you pop off; you’re not planning on taking it with you, are you?

  269. Here, don’t say I never did nuthin’ for ya.

    Smoking in public
    June 23, 2005 | 116 comments

    Butt out – social ostracism is working

    I just don’t have the willpower. I try and I try, but I can’t seem to get the habit. My smoking problem is that I simply can’t take it up. Every time we go away, I pack this pathetic cigar, and every time I imagine myself firing it up at the end of dinner, and having a damn good smoke. I see myself as a more humane version of Saddam, glorying in my Cohiba, savouring the aroma of the world’s finest tobacco, rolled on the thighs of whatever virgins there are left in Havana.

    And then dinner comes to its close. The crickets are crying triumphantly. The pousse-café is drained and it is time for the combustion and inhalation of this stonking great courgette. I ease it out of its case, and pinch it delicately between forefinger and thumb. I sniff one end. I sniff the other end. I take out my box of England’s Glory (also specially packed), and prepare to strike a match.

    And then what happens? I don’t know. I am overcome by some sort of akrasia, a weakness of will. Instead of striking that match, I find myself using it to pick my teeth, and the cigar is slipped quietly back into its silo, ready for the next holiday, so that it is drier than a relic from Tutankhamun’s tomb.

    What is it with me and smoking? I am afraid it is partly a sense of guilt. The trouble with smoking is that it is not popular, and children in particular seem to be against it. There is a strident, ideological edge to their denunciations, rather like the pre-pubescent cadres of the Khmer Rouge. After a while their moralising is enough to drive the staunchest libertarian to throw in the towel and go for the whisky.

    Then I have this dreadful politically correct homunculus that squats somewhere in my limbic pathways. He is a miserable sod, this daemon, but he knows his stuff. As soon as I reach for that cigar, I can feel him tapping his feet and reminding me that 114,000 smokers are killed every year by smoking. “One person in four dies from cancer,” this creep reminds me, and he goes on to point out that lung cancer is especially nasty.

    That, I am ashamed to say, is what stops me from smoking: a combination of social pressure and a pathetic terror of death – and I can imagine the snorts of derision from the serious smokers of this world as they read this. Wimp! they say. Milquetoast! Call yourself a freedom-lover! Call yourself a risk-taker! I hang my head before these brave souls. That is why I want now to reassure all smokers that in one way I am on their side. It is precisely my continued failure to take up smoking that leads me to oppose a ban on smoking in public places.

    Consider what happens to my will – my decision-making procedures – in that terrible moment between picking up the cigar and putting it down again. On the one hand I want nicotine. I want that life-enhancing buzz, and the luxurious sensation of smoke dribbling down from one’s nostrils. I want that slow spread of pleasure through my brain-pan. On the other hand, I don’t want to be a nuisance, and I don’t want to die, and I am afraid the second set of desires beats the first set, more or less every time. By a combination of guilt, and the unforgettable picture I once saw of a smoker’s lung (imagine a cricket ball made of stilton), I have been socialised into becoming a non-smoker.

    In other words, I have exercised a reasoned choice, and across the country people are doing the same in ever-growing numbers. The habit has declined hugely in the past 30 years, from roughly half the population in 1974, to roughly a quarter today; and that change in the numbers means, of course, that the majority is now in a perfect position to tyrannise the minority.

    It is extremely difficult, statistically, to contract a cancer from passive smoking – far more difficult than contracting HIV, and no one is going to ban HIV sufferers from having sex. But the general disapproval of smoking is so intense that the trumped-up fears of passive smoking are being used to drive smokers into ever tinier reservations, like poor, deluded redskins bullied from their ancestral hunting grounds. Airlines, hotels, railways, cinemas, pubs, even JD Wetherspoon, has now banned smoking, and I have to admit that I don’t entirely regret it. As soon as you go into a non-smoking pub, you notice the improvement in air quality. The change is happening, and the persecution of smokers seems unstoppable.

    The question, therefore, is why does Labour have to legislate, to accomplish that which is already being accomplished by the market? Why does the law have to scurry in this cowardly way to ban that which is already on the way to complete ostracism? A ban on smoking in public places would not only take away discretion from the many establishments that want a smoking clientele – people who want to enjoy a legal substance in perfect understanding of the risks. Above all, a ban on smoking in public places substitutes the discretion of the state for the individual will, in a way that is morally sapping.

    If this stuff is legal, then people should be left to make up their minds. They have the facts. We can all read the cartons. If there is one thing wrong with us all these days, it is that we are so mollycoddled, airbagged and swaddled with regulations and protections that we have lost any proper understanding of risk. As long as tobacco is legal, people should be free to balance the pleasures and dangers themselves, as I do with my unsmoked Cohiba.

    The slow strangulation of smoking is being accomplished by the millions of decisions of society at large. We don’t need the state to butt in, not least because one day soon I might decide to have a peaceful smoke after lunch in my office, and I want that freedom, too.

  270. I support your article on the Middle east crisis. Since Blair took power in 1997, this stance is the first I have agreed with.

    Many people in Britain have no idea of the historical context of this dispute between the arab countries and Isreal. They rely too much on the European media to form thier opionions without knowing the historical facts of the situation Isreal find itself in.

    The fact that isreal, a jewish state is in a land once occupied by muslims is the main reason for thier problems with it. It is a belief that once a land has been conquered by muslims it can never be given back to a non muslim people.

    This means that while the jews are in Isreal they will never have peace with thier arab neighbours. As the Iranian president said they will not finish till isreal has been anihilated. This is what the west has to understand. Because this policy will one day threaten the entire western civilization.

    No matter how hard Isreal try for peace, the arab neighbours dont want it.

    Im am pleased for one Blair got it right, and had made a stand for what he beleives, it is up to all people who beleive in democracy to also make a stand

  271. Cold Desert in Beirut is reporting that the Israelis hit the power station today, knocking out all publicly-supplied electricity in the city just five hours before the ceasefire is to begin.

    But gosh no, they’re not targeting civilians.

  272. she was the only smoker in our large family. She’s also the only one who died at 45. (raincoaster)

    My uncle was a pretty heavy smoker. And he died aged 23.

  273. idlex, let’s not get into this. My mother died over the course of two years of illness, during which she begged me to kill her. I hope that you’ll be spared the same pain. Please don’t take cheap shots about this.

  274. ‘I think that goes to the heart of the Bush presidency too, some 4 years after it was originally said. These people think that they can create reality, and there’s no need to study or learn anything'(Idlex)

    I think there is every need to study them and learn what exactly they are doing. If we don’t study and learn we don’t understand then we are the one who do not have our feet planted firmly on the ground.

    Raincoaster,

    If I can interurpt you anti-smoking rant for a moment … We have what is called a free market, if bar owners and restauranteurs want to ban smoking that’s fair enough. That is their free decision, what we don’t need is the government to manipulate the free market for us. If there was a big market for non-smoking pubs then they would be opening left right and centre. Think of all those poor lebanese tobacco farmers, if we all quit they would fall into the hands of extremism. Also I pay huge taxes on my cigarettes, over 80% I believe, I don’t pay ths to be criminalised. They can’t even stop the tide of counterfeit cigarettes that fund terrorism entering our country.

    ‘As the Iranian president said they will not finish till isreal has been anihilated. This is what the west has to understand. Because this policy will one day threaten the entire western civilization.’ (Bryan Wood)

    Well said, glad to see another person who recognises who the enemy of the free world really is – the Ayatollahs and their extremist cohorts.

  275. Well said Mr Johnson, I personally believe Israel has every right to defend itself against Hezbollah. Israel’s actions have led to many innocent lives being lost it is true, but they were not the targets. The blame for Lebanese deaths lie with Hezbollah for starting the crisis with their wreckless attacks against Israel’s civilians.

  276. I think Hezbollah should be applauded for their wreckless attacks. After all, absolutely nothing gets wrecked by wreckless attacks.

  277. Apologies, I of course meant reckless, I hate this keyboard, it’s a laptop and I miss keys more frequently than with a regular computer.

  278. What does anyone think about the letter sent to the Prime Minister by British Muslims (full text below).

    ‘Prime Minister,

    As British Muslims we urge you to do more to fight against all those who target civilians with violence, whenever and wherever that happens.

    It is our view that current British government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad.

    To combat terror the government has focused extensively on domestic legislation. While some of this will have an impact, the government must not ignore the role of its foreign policy.

    The debacle of Iraq and now the failure to do more to secure an immediate end to the attacks on civilians in the Middle East not only increases the risk to ordinary people in that region, it is also ammunition to extremists who threaten us all.

    Attacking civilians is never justified. This message is a global one. We urge the Prime Minister to redouble his efforts to tackle terror and extremism and change our foreign policy to show the world that we value the lives of civilians wherever they live and whatever their religion.

    Such a move would make us all safer.’ (end)

    Personally I take this as meaning we need to change our foreign policy to secure an end to violence against civilians in the Middle East.

    I think someone quoted Bill O’Reilly a few weeks back touting the idea of having a 7pm curfew in Iraq, if you break it you get shot.

    We could also trash the Iranian air force, this looks like a threat to civilians in Iraq and our troops should civil war break out.

    Then there is the state sponsored insurgencies in Iraq by Syria and Iran. Regieme change in both countries might help end the carnage.

    But I doubt it in all honesty. I think what they were getting at was that they want us to have a foreign policy more like Russia’s towards the Middle East where we do not openly support Israel’s right to self defence and instead sell lots of weapons to dodgy Islamist regiemes like the one in Teheran.

    Or maybe they want us to be more like the French and sit on the fence whilst various Arab militias fight it out amongst themselves?

    Then what about the Arab militias in Sudan and Darfur? They are killing innocent muslims based on their ethnic origin, should we start dropping cluster bombs? What about arming the opposite side like we armed the Muslims in Bosnia, we do have some pretty good kit these days that we could give them.

    No I think what they really want us to do is to denounce Israel and try to get sanctions on them so that their Arab enemies have a better chnace of wiping them from the map.

    I don’t know what they want us to do in all honestly because they never suggested what our foreign policy should be other than to ‘do more to secure an immediate end to the attacks on civilians in the Middle East’ and to ‘redouble his efforts to tackle terror and extremism and change our foreign policy’.

    Well come on Muslims of Britain, what are you guys saying our foreign policy should be? We are listening, we will listen, we value free speech and democracy, bring your ideas to the table. That letter is just a load of codswallop, it suggests not one actual policy.

  279. I agree with the letter. It has always seemed perfectly obvious to me that 7/7 was very largely a response to the unjustified war on Iraq, and that Anglo-American foreign policy is what drives British Muslims to terrorism.

    In response, people like Blair say that 9/11 preceded the Iraq war, so it can’t have caused 9/11. In this they neglect to mention some 100 years of Western interference in the Middle East. We go invading and bombing these peoples, and then act stunned and amazed when they contrive to hit back at us.

  280. i wish to remind the brits that we (the israelis) were under a british mandate and your government vowed to establish a jewish state in the Balfour Declaration. Now we are protecting our country from extremists who pledge to destroy Israel.

  281. Hezbollah is using WW2-vintage Katyusha rockets which are lucky if they land in the right country. Even if they wanted to (which they don’t, I am not defending Hezbollah), they couldn’t avoid hitting civilians with them. Hezbollah has killed 42 Israeli civilians

    Israel, on the other hand, is using the world’s most sophisticated smart bombs courtesy of America. Israel has killed over 1,000 Lebanese civilians. Targeting weapons on civilian residences is a war crime.

    Boris, unless you’re seriously suggesting that these bombs have somehow missed their targets by several miles, I find your position on this issue irreconcilable with the facts.

  282. …government vowed to establish a Jewish state in the Balfour Declaration… israeli reader

    Arthur Balfour, the then prime minister, wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild (the Balfour declaraion) stating that he favoured the creation of a Jewish state in the British mandate territories. Should we call Tony Blair’s opinion that Saddam Hussein had WMDs ‘The Blair Declaration’?

    Hardly a vow by the government, simply the opinion of one man who, like Tony Blair, held himself in the utmost esteem and probably, like Tony Blair, thought he WAS the government.

  283. It’s an interesting letter, Steven, and thanks for posting it.

    I wonder who, exactly, wrote it. Just as with Christianity, there are many organizations within Islam, some with hidden agendas and some stocked with people who want nothing more than to do good for the world and their duty under god as they see him. The source matters when we’re trying to interpret the letter in context.

    That said, the letter seems very sensible to me. Terrorism is an international issue and it didn’t arise in a vacuum, or overnight. If you really want to trace current Muslim extremist resentment to its roots, you could do worse than look at the deal the Americans had in Saudi Arabia. Essentially all mineral rights in the Kingdom belonged to the US until the Seventies, when they suddenly reverted to the Saudis and instantly OPEC became the bad guys. The Saudis, who have been leaders in Islam because (among other reasons) they hold two of the three sacred sites, have a very strict interpretation of Islam, and their relationship with the West during the period of exploitation was not the warmest, to say the least. There is and was a great deal of resentment there, both because of economic advantage-taking and because of cultural differences which were exacerbated because the Americans were always over there, looking for oil.

    Anyway, a very long-winded way to say that yes, foreign policy will be the key to preventing terrorism in the future. Not because anyone’s hoping Tony Blair is going to wipe out the Jews or the Muslims or whatever, but because welcoming emergent Muslim states as true nations rather than refusing to recognize them AND supporting the evolution of Afghanistan and Iraq will essentially cut the legs out from under any terrorist group.

    (that is probably the longest sentence I’ve ever written. Does it make sense?)

  284. Guido (and I) look a bit smarter today than we did two days ago, when everyone was calling us paranoid (among other choice words)

    From BoingBoing:

    NBC: Hair-gel terrorists posed no risk last week
    An anonymous “senior British official knowledgeable about the [hair-gel bombers]” told NBC that there was no threat to airplanes last week, that the terrorists had been under surveillance for over a year, and that UK government didn’t plan on arresting these guys until they’d surveilled them a while longer, but moved when they did because of US pressure:
    In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports…
    The official shed light on other aspects of the case, saying that while the investigation into the bombing plot began “months ago,” some suspects were known to the security services even before the London subway bombings last year.

    Link

  285. ‘Not good enough, Steven. You can do better than that’ (Idlex)

    I am presuming you want my analysis rather than just a few points designed to stir up discussion Sir.

    Maybe Blair will understand the letter, or the point it is making, better than I do. After all it is written in ‘new-labour say something that sounds good without actually committing yourself to any meaningful stance’ doublespeak.

    It suggests that we change our foreign policy, presumably towards the Middle-East, but does not give one meaningful proposition or suggestion of what we change our foreign policy to. It sounds like a cross between a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury condemning war and some drivel from John Prescott’s old department, stating the direction in which he thinks we should be moving without any hint as to which road to take.

    So is the letter a religious statement condemning war full stop (like one would expect the Pope to make) or a political statement from community leaders and Muslim MP’s? The term ‘Muslim MP’s’ brings me nicely to our next conundrum.

    When was the last time in British politics that MP’s were classified by their faith? Statements condemning war and suffering from Christian ministers are commonplace in today’s world. We have had anti-war statements about foreign policy from ‘Liberal Democrat MP’s’. When have we ever had a statement from a faith group of MP’s that synthesises religion and politics? More to the point in our secular society do we welcome this kind of joint statement?

    If the statement is religious why are politicians putting their name to it? If the statement is political why does it not make any meaningful suggestions as to change in British foreign policy? What are the logical changes to British foreign policy that follow from the condemnation of current foreign policy?

    Are British Muslim leaders and ‘Muslim MP’s’ suggesting we become neutral like Switzerland? Withdraw our forces are ignore the Middle-East? Are they suggesting we alter our stance towards Israel? The letter mentions the ‘debacle in Iraq’ and highlights a ‘failure to do more to secure an immediate end to the attacks on civilians in the Middle East not only increases the risk to ordinary people in that region’.

    Hang on a minute, in Iraq the attacks on civilians are Muslim on Muslim. Arab on Arab, Sunni on Sh’ia and vice-versa. Without any meaningful world-wide leadership within the global Muslim community are they now turning to Tony Blair, a Catholic, to call Muslims to peace with each other?

    NATO have established a new democratic forum for Iraqi people to discuss their greavances with each other. The Iraqi government has called on the insurgencies to lay down their arms, as has NATO and the global community.

    Is it not Muslims that are failing to live in peace with each other. Saddam was a Muslim, he committed acts of genocide and torture. The Ayatollah is Muslim, he calls for the destruction of another soverign nation.

    Large areas of Afghanistan and North East Africa are controlled by Muslim warlords. Reports indicate that genocide is taking place in the Sudan, Muslim on Muslim genocide.

    What exactly do they want us to do? Where is the Muslim leader who can call upon Muslims worldwide to put down their arms and start talking like we have been doing in Europe for 60 years?

    This letter is hypocritical nonsense from my point of view.

  286. In my humble opinion Saddam calling himself a Muslim is like saying Hitler was a Christian.

    But the stop-the-war lot wanted to leave him in power. British Iraqi’s were almost all praising Bush and Blair for getting rid of him.

    It’s not Bush and Blair killing Iraqis or starting a civil conflict though. It’s Muslims savaging their own kind.

    Now what do they want us to do in Iraq? Just pull out and leave Iraqis to the mercy of Iranian and Syrian influence? A flood of Russian and Chinese weapons from Iran and Syria will roll into the country. More people will start dying. At least US and UK troops are better equiped than the insurgents. At least we have air supremecy. If we pull out Iran will have air supremecy over Iraq.

    There will be a likelihood of attacks against Israel from the Iraq / Iran arc of extremism. If this involves air power what then? Do we take out Irans air force or just let them fight it out?

  287. Steven, hold on and back up. Hitler was not Christian. He was like, really, really not a Christian.

    You seem to be saying that Saddam was a Muslim because he fought other Muslims. Please calm down and start posting sourced information.

    I really have trouble responding to anything else you’ve said when I can’t trust the foundations of your argument.

  288. I’m saying Saddam called himself a Muslim, I don’t think anyone who watches any news channel will deny he tried to brush himself off as a Muslim, he prayed as a Muslim in front of his people.

    What I am saying is that all the sectarian violence in Iraq is Muslim on Muslim. Bush and Blair are the loudest political voices calling for an end to sectarian violence in Iraq.

    All Christian leaders are calling for an end to Sectarian violence in Iraq. Every time ordinary decent Iraqis queue up to join their police force and help bring stability to Iraq they risk becoming the victims of terrorism perpetrated by the insurgents.

    Are these insurgents British? Are they American? Are they Christian? I find it hard to think of them as good Muslims but then again Bin-Laden describes himself as a Muslim and he orchestrated September 11th, the worst terrorist attack the world had ever seen, an act of mass murder.

    What about the Ayatollahs, are they calling upon Muslims to put down their weapons? Last thing I heard they want Israel wiped off the map. They seem to be calling upon Muslims to take up arms much like Bin-Laden is.

  289. Here is an interesting link. It’s about the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Declaration_on_Human_Rights_in_Islam

    Perhaps all the Muslim community leaders and Muslim MP’s and other influential Muslims worldwide could call unanimously for all Muslims to follow this declaration.

    Perhaps moderate British Muslims could unite under this declaration which prohibits ‘honour’ killings, prohibits kidnap and torture, prohibits acts or terrorism and murder.

    Perhaps they could forge closer links with European authorities based on a mutual respect for human rights and the synthesis between the European Charter on Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam?

  290. Interesting response to the letter in the Guardian today.

    Either right or wrong

    Oppose British policy on its merits – not because it makes us a target

    Roy Hattersley
    Monday August 14, 2006
    The Guardian

    I have been an opponent of the American occupation of Iraq ever since I realised that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction only existed in Tony Blair’s imagination. And I am equally opposed both to Israel’s disproportionate response to Hizbullah’s rocket attacks and to the prime minister’s support for the assault upon Lebanon. What is more, I have no doubt that tacit acceptance of the slaughter in Beirut and Baghdad makes this country a target for al-Qaida terrorists and provides the friendly hinterland of sympathisers in which all urban guerrillas need to take refuge.

    That being said, I still regret that the letter sent on Friday to the prime minister by leaders of the Islamic community implied that the increased threat that Britain’s foreign policy guarantees is in itself a reason for changing the government’s position. The reason policy should be changed is the simple fact that the policy is wrong. To demand a shift because it will reduce the risk of suicide bombing is to diminish the case for altering course from a matter of principle to a question of self interest.
    If Israel were waging a just war against Lebanon, and the prospect in Iraq was progress towards the liberal democracy that George Bush glibly promises, the dangers would have to be accepted with good grace. Unless, that is, we believe that Britain can withdraw from the rest of the world, secure in what WH Auden called our “tight little right little island”. If we are to follow Robin Cook’s lead towards an ethical foreign policy, Britain must be more engaged in international affairs, not less. Our foreign policy must be measured against moral criteria, not the risks of more explosions on the underground, horrific though that prospect is.

    There are already too many siren voices arguing that the tragedy in Lebanon is “nothing to do with us”. Commentators who ought to know better are urging Britain to let the Israelis and Lebanese “get on with it” as if they were louts outside a bar, engaged in a brawl that all sensible people would hurry past. Nato intervention actually halted Balkan genocide after the break-up of the Yugoslav federation.

    When it is right to go in we should accept the consequences. Arguing that we should pull out to save our skins is a diversion from the central issue. It also enables supporters of the wrong policy to strike heroic postures – bear any burden, accept any hardship, face any foe. So we should when our cause is just. In the case of Iraq and Lebanon our cause is beyond justification. That is the only issue and the only argument.

    There is a second reason that the letter is a matter for regret. It will be interpreted by the mendacious and malicious as proof positive that Muslims in general have at least a sneaking sympathy for people who hope to blow up airliners in mid-flight. That is, of course, palpable nonsense. But the alienation of young Muslims is a subject that has to be discussed with care. No informed person doubts that it is happening. It began long before they were offended by Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses almost 20 years ago. But it usually results in no more than rejection of the society that has shown them, and their religion, so little respect. The Muslims I know, and used to represent in parliament, often feel undervalued. But their attitude to suicide bombing is no different from that of the nominal Christians who live next door.

    When the signatories to Friday’s letter meet the prime minister they should not spend much time on the increased threat that our foreign policy attracts. They ought to discuss the merits and the morals of his attitude towards Beirut and Baghdad. Does he still think that the creation of a democracy in Iraq is more likely than civil war, and how does he justify an intervention that results in more murders each day than during Saddam Hussein’s regime? And why is Israel given carte blanche to occupy whichever parts of its neighbours’ territory it chooses? The answers are bound to reveal that Britain is on the wrong side of the argument. That is the important thing to be said about our policy towards Iraq and Lebanon.

  291. In other news, due to the uncertainty of the situation in Beirut, I’ve been made an authorized member of Cold Desert. This way, if Ahmad has to flee or loses power, there will still be at least one blog post a day on the situation in Lebanon, and hopefully I can try to continue to steer a fact-based course on the blog, rather than a dogmatic one.

  292. Steven_L would like to respond openly to Mr Roy Hattersley’s letter in the Guardian.

    ‘I have been an opponent of the American occupation of Iraq ever since I realised that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction only existed in Tony Blair’s imagination’

    What a morally fundamental statement, it’s akin to saying ‘right Tony was wrong about Saddam having weapons that could polish of other countries people in 45 minutes, never mind what he wanted to do to his own people, lets run away’.

    ‘And I am equally opposed both to Israel’s disproportionate response to Hizbullah’s rocket attacks and to the prime minister’s support for the assault upon Lebanon’

    Not one mention of what started this sorry affair. Like I have said above; when a load of crazy AK47 and RPG toting young men start launching Iranian made rockets at the citizens and armed forces of your nation, from another nation, military force is an acceptable answer. He can’t even bring himself to capitalise ‘Prime Minister’.

    ‘What is more, I have no doubt that tacit acceptance of the slaughter in Beirut and Baghdad makes this country a target for al-Qaida terrorists and provides the friendly hinterland of sympathisers in which all urban guerrillas need to take refuge.’

    What rot, Tony Blair offered to go to the Middle East and try to negotiate a solution. Bush wanted Dr. Rice to go instead. If British Muslims don’t like our foreign policy then they should join political parties, stage peaceful protest or write to their MP. If they harbour terrorists they are terrorists and traitors, simple as that.

    ‘If we are to follow Robin Cook’s lead towards an ethical foreign policy, Britain must be more engaged in international affairs, not less. Our foreign policy must be measured against moral criteria, not the risks of more explosions on the underground, horrific though that prospect is.’

    Now the cat comes out of the bag. A great parliamentarian the late Mr Cook might have been, but do we blindly follow his legacy caring not for the reality of our national security and economic interests in a fast changing world? ‘Moral Criteria’ is subjective. By this one can only assume that Mr Hattersley means his own personal moral criteria.

    ‘There are already too many siren voices arguing that the tragedy in Lebanon is “nothing to do with us”. Commentators who ought to know better are urging Britain to let the Israelis and Lebanese “get on with it” as if they were louts outside a bar, engaged in a brawl that all sensible people would hurry past.

    Blair offered to help at the G8 summit. Bush didn’t want him there. All G8 leaders agreed it was Hizbullah’s fault. Bush was overheard blaming Syria, he would know he is President of the United States, not a labour backbencher rebel MP.

    ‘Nato intervention actually halted Balkan genocide after the break-up of the Yugoslav federation.’

    Here we have the golden goose. If Mr Hattersley were running the show he would bomb Israel and arm Hizbollah. That was President Clinton’s strategy, arm the Bosnian Muslims and bomb Serbia. Would he really order UK pilots to bomb another democratic free nation? Would he really hand weapons to an Iranian sponsored terrorist organisation? Well, Iran did have a revolution remember, they favour a socialist system of government. This really begs a few questions of those on the left of the Labour party.

    ‘When it is right to go in we should accept the consequences. Arguing that we should pull out to save our skins is a diversion from the central issue. It also enables supporters of the wrong policy to strike heroic postures – bear any burden, accept any hardship, face any foe. So we should when our cause is just. In the case of Iraq and Lebanon our cause is beyond justification. That is the only issue and the only argument.’

    So, lets have some analysis of Mr Hattersleys new foreign policy shall we. We bomb Israel, the USA take out the RAF and bombs us. We pull out of Iraq, it descends into civil war and revolution. Is this what he really wants? This is as frightening as Bin-Laden’s foreign policy.

    ‘There is a second reason that the letter is a matter for regret. It will be interpreted by the mendacious and malicious as proof positive that Muslims in general have at least a sneaking sympathy for people who hope to blow up airliners in mid-flight.’

    No Mr Hattersley, not many people will interpret it this way. I support Blair’s stance and Boris’s analysis. What worried me about the letter is that Muslim community leaders, Muslim faith leaders and ‘Muslim MP’s’ have got their heads together and effectively synthesised religion and politics in the letter you refer to. They are grouping together under the banner of Islam to try and directly influence British foreign policy. I have to ask myself where their first loyalty is, to Islam or to Queen and country? Their duty to Islam should be nothing more than spiritual, not political, this is the danger we patriotic Brits see in this worrying trend the ‘letter’ establishes.

    ‘But the alienation of young Muslims is a subject that has to be discussed with care. No informed person doubts that it is happening. It began long before they were offended by Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses almost 20 years ago. But it usually results in no more than rejection of the society that has shown them, and their religion, so little respect. The Muslims I know, and used to represent in parliament, often feel undervalued. But their attitude to suicide bombing is no different from that of the nominal Christians who live next door.’

    It was suggested in the Sunday Telegraph that young Muslims feel alienated by the grey, hierarchical structure of Islam in Britain. As a young atheist I know how they feel. I feel alienated by a tired, grey cabinet that doesn’t listen to my concerns as a young working class Brit. I feel let down by a government that seems to want to place those who can’t be bothered to work on an equal footing with those who want to work. In my experience young Muslims are hardworking people. Maybe young Muslims don’t want to be ‘equalised’ by you and your left wing colleagues. All the young Muslims I’ve worked with certainly don’t. They want to compete, lots of them also want to come out and drink with me, this is only possible if you let them sleep on the sofa so they don’t get thrown out of home for having a few lagers. Muslim intolerance of atheism and liberalism is a huge problem blighting Britain today.

    ‘When the signatories to Friday’s letter meet the prime minister they should not spend much time on the increased threat that our foreign policy attracts.’

    What? I am hearing you correctly? If any of them know anything about terrorist threats within the Muslim community I hope they will be discussing it with the police!

    ‘They ought to discuss the merits and the morals of his attitude towards Beirut and Baghdad. Does he still think that the creation of a democracy in Iraq is more likely than civil war, and how does he justify an intervention that results in more murders each day than during Saddam Hussein’s regime? And why is Israel given carte blanche to occupy which ever parts of its neighbours’ territory it chooses’

    Merits yes, morals? He we go again, he seriously wants the cabinet to start discussing the synthesis between politics (British foreign policy) and religion (Islamic interpretation of British foreign policy). Is this how we make foreign policy decisions in a secular society? Saddam was a war criminal; he committed genocide against Muslims. That is how we justify the intervention in my book. These murders he talks about are being committed by terrorists. They are legitimate targets of UK and US forces in Iraq, forces that are there to protect ordinary decent Iraqis from full-scale civil war. As for Israel, she, like no other nation on Earth is surrounded by hostile neighbours that want to destroy her very existence. As a freedom loving democracy we have a moral obligation to defend Israel, her sovereignty and her freedom.

    ‘The answers are bound to reveal that Britain is on the wrong side of the argument. That is the important thing to be said about our policy towards Iraq and Lebanon.’

    Are they Mr Hattersley, are they indeed?

  293. From wikipeida’a entry for Roy Hattersley:

    ‘He is the author of many books including novels, biographies and also the diaries of his dog, Buster. Hattersley is also a convicted criminal, having been fined £75 after Buster killed a goose in one of London’s royal parks. Hattersley pleaded self-defence on behalf of Buster’

    The man can’t even control his dog, now he wants influence over our foreign policy at a time of war! Incredible!

  294. I would like to point out to raincoaster that Britain is not in fact a Nazi society. If it were, we would have rounded up all resident Jews and gassed them. Why would we do that to a people who have contributed more to Culture and the Arts in this country over the last century than any other group? We would also have saved ourselves a considerable amount of fighting in the second world war.

    The real problem of course is Islamofascism, which is much bigger than anyone apart from other extremist groups is prepared to admit. Britain’s biggest problem is its over tolerant, self-loathing, p.c. middle class who feel that it is only safe to discriminate against WHAMs (courtesy of Bron. White, heterosexual, middle class males). Actually, that’s not entirely true. That was Britain’s biggest problem until that led to our new(ish) biggest problem, which is, in fact, that 50% of the Muslims in this country feel disaffected enough to admit to an ‘Anglican’ newspaper that they tolerate attempted genocide. This, of course, is not their fault. The blame lies squarely with middle class Britain. We are, after all, the only racist slave drivers in the world. Oh yes, and even though we fought them, raincoaster has kindly given us another reason to hate ourselves by kindly pointing out that we are Nazis. Yes. What next raincoaster, are Jews really Muslims?

  295. I don’t call them ‘middle classes’ I call them the ‘chattering classes’ because thats all they do. They don’t know what they are talking about half the time either, you go to a nice pub in a well to do area and end up wanting to strangle everyone in it.

    Wanting to stay in your native country has become a mugs game. I mean I have to live and work here the next 40 years, if this lot stay in power another 4 years, eroding society and the good work ethic we used to have with their PC victim culture, positive discrimination

    (which is an oxymoron, I’m white, male and engish, I don’t mind sharing houses with foreigners or ethnic minorities, so why do they always advertise for their own at a time when it’s hard enough to afford a roof over your head)

    and lowest common denominator education policies, I can’t see myslef wanting to stay here either.

  296. I would like to point out to everyone who didn’t understand the illustration in my blog that it’s predictive, not portraitive, and that it’s from V for Vendetta. The idea was…to get you to think about fascist tendencies (like the government attempting to pass legislation to allow them to lock people up for three months without even charging them) and where your countries may end up if they don’t change direction.

    You could have gotten the V for Vendetta information from the floater, if you’d paused rather than flown off the handle.

  297. Raincoaster,

    Post some stuff to argue about, this blog is tailing off into obscurity.

    I’m sure you can find something topical and provocative.

  298. Busy looking for a job. But I posted a half-dozen definitions of fascism under the Coalition flag on my blog, if that helps.

    Including one by old Benito himself.

    Besides, from what I hear we’ll get a good Boris post soon enough. I’ll have to stop calling him a Turko-American and start calling him a recovering American.

  299. Thanks. Seriously, I did NOT give him the job posting. Did you see that Steven won his “Doublespeak like a Labour Party Press Release” contest? I’d say hire the lad! He knows the enemy. [Ed: sure does ;)]

  300. I dunno what I’m gonna do with my prize though raincoaster. I have to pick up my tickets at the door, they are only worth a fiver each, so no point selling them on ebay.

    I aint got the cash to paint Edinburgh red. Anyone want to trade 2 tickets to ‘The Third Wing’ in Edinburgh for a £10 Threshers voucher? (or a £10 note for that matter)

    You raincoaster? Looking for a job? What brought that on? The first deadline for the jobs I’m applying for isn’t until the 21st August, then they got to interview, pull their fingers out etc. No bar jobs to keep me busy, all the sixth form leavers beat me to it!

    The students don’t start arriving in the ‘toon’ for another 3 weeks or so. Luckily my student card says ‘expires 2009’ thanks to an administrative bungle, so at least there’s freshers week to look forward to.

    Melissa can’t you get something new for us to argue about? [StevenL have been wondering about a quiz actually and questions such as – what should Boris concentrate on in the next parliamentary session…. What single thing could we do to revitalise and keep interest revived on the site – yes even in quiet August….answers asap…Ed aka Melissa]

  301. Raincoaster, I would like to point out that I did not ‘fly off the handle’.
    “‘V’ for vendetta” is an ‘idealistic’ (not my ideal) left wing film designed to appeal to the same people who think that Michael Moore is some sort of new Messiah. (i.e. Morons). Left wing pish designed to appeal to the very people I criticised in my last post. (The middle class ones, that is!) If you enjoy defacing beautiful edifices, scratching nice cars and beheading statues, this is the film for you. On the other hand, if you are normal, intelligent and decent, Batman is an entirely preferable option.
    All the best,

    S.W.

  302. Normal, intelligent, decent people watching pap like Batman and keeping their heads out of politics, foreign policy and difficult questions about Iraq, Lebanon and the “War on Terror” is precisely what Bush and Blair prefer.

    BTW, a friend of mine said recently that the electorate is just as responsible for declaring wars as Prime Ministers and Presidents. In a democracy, that sounds reasonable – in theory. But we vote a political party into power without any mention of war, and when the question arises, we are not offered a referendum. I’d be very interested to know – had a referendum been held in the UK pre-March 2003 – if the UK would have gone into Iraq at all.

    Those who actually took to the streets must be only a fraction of the numbers who were against the invasion.

  303. Referendum on going to War, are you barking mad?

    Let’s think, Hitler invades Poland so we advertise for volunteers to man a referendum, start printing ballot cards, send everyone on the electoral register a reminder that they need to register to vote by proxy or post, start organising the logistics etc. etc.

    Next thing you know he’d have sacked York you lunatic!

    Or should we have had a referendum on the Israel / Lebanon crisis. Looking at the standard of comment on this blog we’d have voted to Bomb Israel or arm Hizbollah. By now every single RAF Tornado and Harrier Jump Jet would have been ‘Raptored’ and London would be on fire.

    Then what about all the dodgy postal votes in Bow and Bethnal Green?

  304. How about a ‘mock referendum’ on Irans nuclear ambitions.

    Here we have a world leader reported to have called for Israel to be wiped off the map, working for a regieme that has called the USA ‘the Great Satan’ and refuses to deny saying that he had 52,000 suicide bombers ready to strike.

    Do NATO:

    a) Take out their air force then bomb their nuclear facilties

    b) Launch a few cruise missiles at choice targets to see if we can get them to the negotiating table

    c) Ask for a UN resolution demanding they stop and authorising the use of force

    d) Ask for UN resolution ruling that they may only use their nuclear technologies for fuel generation

    e) Hold peace and reconciliation talks in a neutral country with Iranian leadership

    f) Ignore it completely, they have no missile technology in range of the USA or UK and are unlikely to have for some time

  305. In related news, the ratio of arrests to convictions under the Terrorism Act 200 is more than 41 to 1.

    Stolen from Horse Badorties, who put it in a comment on Guido’s blog.

    The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Statistics provided to the Home Office by the Police on arrests and charges from 11 September 2001 until 31 December 2004 under the Terrorism Act 2000 are on the Home Office website. (These are compiled from recent police records and are therefore subject to change as cases go through the system.)

    Key Facts and Statistics

    Police records show that from 11 September 2001 until 31 December 2004, 701 people were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000.

    Charges

    119 of these were charged under the Act. Of these, 45 were also charged with offences under other legislation.
    135 were charged under other legislation. This includes charges for terrorist offences that are already covered in general criminal law such as murder, grievous bodily harm and use of firearms or explosives.

    Convictions

    17 individuals have been convicted of offences under the Terrorism Act

    Other Information

    The following table gives the outcome for those not covered above:

    Outcome

    Transferred to immigration authorities 59
    On bail to return 22
    Cautioned 7
    Dealt with under mental health legislation 7
    Awaiting extradition 1
    Returned to prison service custody 1
    Released without charge 351

  306. Cross-posted from my blog, where I am arguing with Steven.

    The reason the descent into fascism matters more here is that Britain was the birthplace of modern representative democracy, and the US is the flag carrier. If they repudiate those values to save their cheap skins, they have betrayed not only their founding principles and their people, but the entire world.

  307. Don’t worry so much Rainocaster, Tony Blair is going to save the world, history, and God, will judge him.

  308. “Referendum on going to War, are you barking mad? …
    Next thing you know he’d have sacked York you lunatic!”

    Steven:

    That’s clearly not the kind of situation I was referring to. I’m talking about invading preemtively a sovereign country which has not attacked you: i.e. Iraq.
    Don’t you think that there was plenty of time (and brouhaha) for a referendum before “Shock and Awe”? Hmm?
    I was simply speculating (out loud) as to how many people, exactly, were in favour of that invasion. And whether the electorate in total is now accountable — as my friend suggested. Because the UK is a democracy.

  309. Yes, we are the British, we are accountable. Saddam used to TORTURE people. We don’t TORTURE people. Imagine being TORTURED TO DEATH. Can you imagine anything worse than being TORTURED TO DEATH?

    And no we probably wouldn’t have voted in favour of going to war, we’d have probably thought ‘I’m all right Jack, sod the Iraqis’.

    At least the new Iraqi government do not torture people to death.

    If you think about it, if Saddam did have weapons of ‘mass destruction’ that could have been launched in 45 minutes we would never have parked half the British Army on his doorstep. It’s common sense really.

  310. I would like to remind ‘impeach_bush’ that we did not invade (in the Oxford English Dictionary sense) Iraq, we went in to liberate the people from an oppressive regime and a dangerous dictator, who has revealed himself (beyond any argument) to be psychotic in his ongoing court case.
    The only reason that we have not left Iraq already is the same reason that we are in a ‘severe’ state of alert in this country at present. -Not the other way around!

    Why don’t you just admit that Bush, although verbally morose, is one of the very few world leaders with the mettle to tackle what is (and obvious to anyone with an iota of grey matter) a very serious problem? If we don’t deal with it now, it will become very difficult to fix later. Don’t be like Ralph in the Sound of Music… Open your eyes!

  311. “Can you imagine anything worse than being TORTURED TO DEATH?”

    You don’t have to shout, Steven. Being tortured to death is probably much like this:

    A former CIA contractor was found guilty on Thursday of assaulting an Afghan prisoner who later died in a case that raised new questions about the treatment of detainees by U.S. interrogators …
    During a trial that started on August 7, prosecutors said Passaro beat Abdul Wali so badly he pleaded to be shot to end his pain. Wali died of his injuries two days after the interrogation in June 2003.

    http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2006-08-17T153232Z_01_N17289380_RTRUKOC_0_US-AFGHAN-USA-CIA.xml

    Don’t you think?

    ———-

    “If you think about it, if Saddam did have weapons of ‘mass destruction’ that could have been launched in 45 minutes we would never have parked half the British Army on his doorstep. It’s common sense really.”

    Which proves what?

  312. we went in to liberate the people from an oppressive regime and a dangerous dictator”

    Funny … I distinctly remember Blair talking about WMD and 45 minutes. Before the invasion. And it was an invasion. There are not two definitions. It was a preemtive attack — on the basis that Saddam had weapons that were a real and immediate threat to the UK. Which he didn’t. And Bush and Blair knew as much. Lies lies lies.

    “Why don’t you just admit that Bush, although verbally morose, is one of the very few world leaders with the mettle to tackle what is (and obvious to anyone with an iota of grey matter) a very serious problem?”

    Bush took a baseball bat to a dandlelion head – and whacked the seeds all over the world. The great thundering ass! He and his cronies should be in the Hague.

  313. You don’t have to repeat yourself.

    Regime change was necessary in Iraq. I bet if Bush and Blair had used the arguement that Saddam was a war criminal and was murdering his own people the electorates of the USA and UK would have said ‘so what?’.

    Like Mr Wallace says, Bush has the nerve and the determination to tackle the problems of the Middle East and the problem of international terrorism. Sanctions against Iraq were not sustainable. Iraq now has the chance to rebuild and Iraqis the chance for lasting peace.

    Unfortunately the regimes in Iran and Syria seem to want to stifle democratic progress in Iraq. Are they afraid of the competition? Perhaps further regime change is needed. Look how the French have behaved. They are only committing 200 troops to Lebanon and after all that fuss they made. Bangladesh have committed 2,000 and they have no defensive interest in that part of the Middle East and are a poor developing country with a possibly bloody election coming up in January.

    France’s behaviour towards the NATO in the War on Terror has been appalling. If they had joined the coalition of the willing in the first place I’m sure things would be a lot better than they are in Iraq.

    What are France more interested in doing? Stuffing up the Eurofighter project and sneaking around the Gulf touting their Rafale fighter jet. France, Iran and Syria should hang their heads in shame at the suffering they have caused to the Iraqi people.

  314. Forget it impeach_bush, Steven_L and his mates are semi-literate morons with the social conscience of an incontinent chimp in a caravan.

    You’re wasting your time. Even a dimwit like Prescott understands the calibre of George W Bush but these cretins don’t. As for Johnson. His statements above show what an ignoble ass the man is in reality. Hope he loses his seat if for no better reason than being a vacuous philanderer.

    And ‘radsoft’, you’re obviously a pseudonym for one of these aforementioned ball-less ‘juankers’; the only question is which one. Jack Ramsey or PaulD would be highest on my suspect list.

    I’ve just joined the army. Next stop Iraq presumably so I’ll be able to comment on this subject with the sure and certain knowledge of first hand experience as opposed to the sickeningly belligerent rhetoric of G W Bush (and his neo-Conservative, white livered groupies).

    Nice talking to you raincoaster, although why you maintain a presence on this site of right w(h)ingers is more of a mystery.

    Phil

  315. You’ve joined the army? Wow. Good luck to you, man. I hope you never have to use half your training. And chin up: you could end up in Lebanon, if the UK agrees to send forces to support UNFIL, as they are being asked to do.

    Why do I stay here? Because, whatever its limitations, it is still the best place I know of for me to talk to people who are intelligent but who don’t think the same way I do. Nobody gains anything from preaching to the choir.

    Besides, they send me free stuff and as a socialist, I’m all about the free stuff.

  316. Did good ol’ Jack Ramsey ever return to answer those questions put to him?? I’m too tired now to read 384 comments.

    Phil: Good luck and take care. Unlike raincoaster, I don’t necessarily see Lebanon as an easy option, but better than Basra … Come back and talk to us when you can.

  317. Oh hey, don’t misunderstand me. It’s not an easy option, but Iraq is looking like a box canyon surrounded by hostiles right now. I was channelling Beckett, which is never a good idea when trying to make the best of the situation.

  318. “It’s not an easy option, but Iraq is looking like a box canyon surrounded by hostiles right now”

    Indeed … I hope Blair is proud of the general outcome. And Lebanon is not over by any stretch of the imagination — not with Israeli commandos breaking a very recent ceasefire, while the White House fiddles and refuses to condemn. I get so angry …
    Why I bother, given what Seymour Hersh has written (probably accurately) I have no idea.
    I’ll go and have a cup of tea, raincoaster. The omnipotential remedy.

  319. Thanks for the smile, TS. 🙂

    Is anyone else having trouble getting this site in the past few days? I’m not talking about this particular page (with so many comments on it).
    I mean the main site.

  320. If you can’t get on here and rant at Boris, go onto raincoasters blog and rant at her instead 🙂

  321. Portillo is quite cool but he’s got no blog, just some funky piano music. I did like the guy as a politician and and he writes well. But until he gets a blog and shows that he can take it as well as give it I’ll not be on his website.

    On the other hand if he does get a blog I’ll be the first to start pestering him.

    By the way President whats his face of Iran has a blog now. Maybe I can sort out this uranium enrichment thingy with a bit of ‘diplomacy’?

  322. Right. Cuz you’ve made such great strides over in my comments section. Is there a country you haven’t declared war on yet? Denmark maybe…but they’re on the list.

  323. LOL! The pair of you are a hoot. Thanks for sending me to bed with a laugh. 🙂
    ‘Night all

  324. ‘Is there a country you haven’t declared war on yet? Denmark maybe…but they’re on the list.’ (raincoaster)

    Denmark are not in need of regime change at present. Anyway regime change is not about war, it’s about bringing freedom and democracy to parts fo the world that only know tyranny and oppression.

    Talking of regime change, president whats his face of Iran was testing his rockets last night and the Ayatollah wants to continue his uranium enrichment. They’ve also turned away IAEA inspectors away from their enrichment facilities.

    In retrospect you can’t blame Israel for wanting to carry out this damage limitation exercise to stop Iran and Syria sending supplies and arms to Hezbollah should NATO and Israel have to go to war with Iran to destroy their nuclear facilities.

    Iran won’t have a cats chance in hell of flying over Iraqi airspace to bomb Israel without being raptored and their rocket technology is probably still out of range of Israel, so they will try to attack Israel through Hezbollah I would guess.

    Hezbollah are handing out Iranian cash to civilians in the South to buy support and loyalty. Shame the French couldn’t get off their backsides and get some troops in there. Looks like the Italians are going to have to lead the UN force after all.

  325. “regime change is not about war”

    Tell that to the 60,000 – 100,000 (or more) Iraqis who have died so far, Steven.

    And are you not aware that to attack a country in order to bring about regime change is illegal?

    “Attorney General Lord Goldsmith describes regime change in Iraq as a disproportionate response to Saddam Hussein’s alleged failure to disarm, illegal in the eyes of international law. Goldsmith stresses that in terms of legality, ‘regime change cannot be the objective of military action’.”

    — British Attorney General’s Advice to Blair on Legality of Iraq War, March 7, 2003

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/document/2003/0307advice.htm

  326. I should have explained.

    A July Harris Poll reported that 50% of Americans still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when Bush invaded that country, and that 64% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda.

    The video at the above link has the headline:

    “Bush Now Says What He Wouldn’t Say Before War: Iraq Had ‘Nothing’ To Do With 9/11”

    Cool as a breeze.

  327. But what mission was accomplished, raincoaster?

    If it was lining his and his buddies’ pockets and/or putting US diplomatic relations back 100 years, “mission accomplished!” indeed.

    Full marks to the neo-cons, shame their economy’s about to implode.

  328. Just now, prizes are for content not quantity on the ‘back from holiday’ thread so keep comming with those ideas folks.

    There were some technical probs with the site but they were noticed and dealt with.

  329. How about a ‘mock referendum’ on Irans nuclear ambitions. (Steven_L August 15, 2006 05:39 PM)

    My own preference is for option g:

      g) Make sure Iran gets nukes as quickly as poss.

    Every time some country or other is about to acquire nuclear weapons, any number of flagellant doomsayers come howling and wailing about the impending end of the world. But as soon as they’ve actually got them, it all gets forgotten. Nobody seems to be at all worried that Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

    The same will be true of Iran. The day that President IMeanJihad explodes the big one out in the Indian ocean in front of the US 6th Fleet, an awful lot of problems will go away. America will abandon all plans for bombing/invading Iran and stealing its oil. Israel will find that it at last has a nuclear counterforce on its doorstep, and will learn that it can no longer kick its Arab neighbours in the teeth whenever it feels like it, and will have to learn to negotiate with them instead. Peace will descend on the region, because once Mutual Assured Destruction has arrived, war will cease to be a viable option for anyone. Perhaps the Palestinians might even see their condition improve at last. And President IMeanJihad will metamorphose overnight into a statesman, feted in London and Washington.

    And I for one will breathe a sigh of relief. It is out of the current imbalance of military power in the Middle East that all its recent wars originate.

  330. What about those damn Ayatollahs Idlex, I reckon they have to lose the Ayatollahs before they get nukes.

  331. I reckon they have to lose the Ayatollahs before they get nukes.

    Why? That’s a bit like saying that the Soviet Union could only have nukes once it abandoned communism. Or China Mao’s Little Red Book. Or India all its multiple religions. None of these things happened, and the world is none the worse for it.

    Personally, I’m not in the least worried about the Ayatollahs. To the best of my knowledge Islam has always had them, a bit like Christianity has Archbishops. And from what I have been reading for the last four or five years, it’s not been the ayatollahs who’ve been the problem. They are generally conservatives, rather than radicals.

    And Osama bin Laden was no ayatollah.

  332. They block democratic reform on a basis that it is ‘unislamic’. Thats why.

    Before the last football world cup there was a national outcry in Iran in favour of women being allowed to watch mens football. The president backed it the Ayatollahs blocked it because women shouldn’t be allowed to see mens bare legs and arms.

    No religious theocratic regime should be allowed nukes. Add to that they stone people, hang juviniles, have no respect for womens rights, hang homosexuals and have executed people, and journalists, for daring to speak out against their fundamentalist sh’ia Islamic codes and I think the case for them not having nukes speaks for itself.

    He even claimed that ‘human rights, are a weapon in the hands of our enemies to fight Islam.’

    Anyway, the way they harp on about Israel I reckon Israel will bomb their nuclear facilities if the international community cannot stop them first.

  333. It’s called a ‘social taboo’ Steven_L.

    Britain has them too. If you go out with your dick on display the police will arrest and charge you. Iran is somewhat more conservative on this issue but not much more than, say, Victorian England. Streakers in England still get arrested. It’s just a matter of scope.

    That doesn’t make it undemocratic.

  334. “And I for one will breathe a sigh of relief. It is out of the current imbalance of military power in the Middle East that all its recent wars originate”.

    Probably one of the most ignorant and stupid comments I’ve ever heard about the Middle East.

    The article below by Alan Caruba from http://www.anxietycenter.com is more in line with reality of the situation……………

    July 26, 2006, Volume 8, No. 30

    Do it now or Do it later?

    We are beginning to see the national debate about what to do in the Middle East shape up into fairly specific sides. I call them the “Do it now” crowd and the “Do it later” crowd.

    One can cite history to support either side. The “Do it now” crowd these days are called “neoconservatives” and they are led by people like Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, a respected forum that makes ordinary Republicans look like wimps. Arguing for “Do it later” is George Wills, a respected conservative Washington Post columnist.

    It should be noted that there is also a “Let’s not do anything” or a “Let’s run away” crowd who are called liberals and/or Democrats.

    Maybe it’s just a trick of my imagination, but I seem to recall Americans of all descriptions just loving those images on television after 9-11 of the U.S. bombing the hell out of Afghanistan’s Tora Bora region where Osama bin Laden was said to be hiding or, better still, driving our tanks into downtown Baghdad. Later we found Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole in the ground.

    Perhaps the most powerful argument for “Doing it now” is the fact that it’s been five years since 9/11 and the U.S. has not experienced another comparable attack. Keeping al Qaeda on the run, killing its leaders, and playing havoc with its funding was, in retrospect, probably a good idea.

    Now the images on television are of war in Israel and Lebanon. Israel has been the subject of attacks since the day it declared its independence in 1948. It took awhile for the message to sink in, but its neighbors eventually figured out that massing armies on its borders was a very bad idea. They switched to a low-level war involving suicide bombers and rockets. Imagine how long we would patiently deal with Canada or Mexico if they were rocketing our cities and towns?

    The “Do it now” crowd is now rooting for Israel to get rid of Hezbollah in Lebanon; mostly Palestinians who took up residence there after previously losing encounters with Israel and Jordan. First thing they did, of course, was to lay waste to Lebanon with a fifteen-year civil war pitting Muslims against Christians. Having no idea what peace is, other than the total destruction of Israel, Palestinians and other Arabs are once again learning what a bad idea it is to provoke yeshiva boys.

    In Gaza, Hamas–another group of unhappy Palestinians–is also getting shot up by the Israelis. The Israeli’s “Do it now” crowd has concluded that waiting around for peace with Palestinians is a bad idea and a higher level of payback may prove palliative.

    All of which brings us to our “Do it later” crowd who advise that waiting is just as good an idea, particularly as regards Iran who everyone knows is developing its own nuclear weapons capability. By way of a reminder, it was Iranians who in 1979 invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran, seized our diplomats, and held them hostage for 444 days. It can be argued that most Iranians are being held hostage by the mullahs, but the funding and arming of Hezbollah comes from Iran.

    The “Do it later” crowd always proudly points to how we patiently waited for the former Soviet Union to implode. The problem with that argument is that we also engaged in several proxy wars with them. Owing to Red China’s intervention, the best the U.S. could achieve was a stalemate in Korea and now we are stuck with a loony dictator in the north who has missiles and nukes.

    Then there was that nastiness in Vietnam. Despite that loss the U.S. stayed busy sending troops to various places for the purpose of peacekeeping or swatting bad guys in Grenada, Panama, and Haiti. In 1983 Hezbollah blew up several hundred U.S. Marines who were in Beirut on a peacekeeping mission.

    After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, we funded and equipped Muslim holy warriors to drive out the Russians, thus helping to bring about the downfall of the Soviet Union. The Muslims, however, became al Qaeda and showed their gratitude by destroying the World Trade Center, flying a commercial jet into the Pentagon, and killing some 3,000 Americans.

    The problem with waiting for Iran to become a nuclear power is that the leaders of Iran keep saying crazy things and promising to do crazy things. Even Arabs, no slouches when it comes to crazy, think the Persian, albeit Muslim, Iranians are really crazy.

    So, while the warnings and recommendations of the “Do it later” crowd sound like a good idea, they rarely are. History is filled with examples of why “Do it now” is a better idea because failure to respond to Big Trouble almost always results in Even Bigger Trouble.

    Every generation of Americans has had to learn this lesson. The nation has always been sharply divided over questions of war. This is what we pay Presidents to decide. After 9/11, we wanted the President to punish al Qaeda and, somewhat reluctantly, we agreed to his getting rid of a murderous despot in Iraq. Then we wanted that war to be over in two weeks.

    History is rarely so accommodating. Wars tend to be very messy and this is especially true of the years after victory is declared. Militarily, we are still in Europe since the end of World War II in 1945. We are still in South Korea since 1953.

    War is transformative and, even the most cursory look back at the past half-century or so reveals that the U.S. has benefited itself and much of the world by opposing evil. Wherever the forces of evil may be and whomever they might call themselves, we still need to be able to “Do it now” because power-crazed lunatics will always find an excuse to make trouble.

    As we debate whether to “Do it now” or “Do it later” regarding the Iranian mullahs, perhaps we should recall British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who, after negotiating with Adolph Hitler, returned home to proclaim “peace in our time.”

    There is no substitute for victory

    As this is written, George W. Bush is the subject of mockery and disdain, but sixmonths after the liberation of Baghdad by American and British forces, on November 6, 2003, he reminded the nation that “Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe–because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.”

    On May 12, 1962, one of the greatest generals of World War II returned to West Point to deliver a farewell speech. Douglas MacArthur spoke as a soldier of one era to the young soldiers who would take up the duty of defending the nation. He told them, “Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be duty, honor, country.”

    “Others,” MacArthur said, “will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men’s minds. But serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the nation’s war guardians, as its lifeguards from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiators in the arena of battle.”

    Today, there is no lack of controversial issues and no lack of enemies who challenge our nation and the values of Western civilization on which it is based. Those values began 2,500 years ago with a tribe of people, the Hebrews who entered into a covenant with a God they deemed to be the creator and lord of all mankind.

    Take away the Jews and there is no Judaism. Take away Judaism and there is no Jesus and no Christianity. There would have been no Diaspora and no Renaissance, no Reformation and no Enlightenment. The only constant to which one can point is the Jews. Empires and Nations rose and fell, but always, always there were the Jews, keeping the covenant, observing the laws, lighting the Sabbath candles, reading from the Torah, and yearning to return to Jerusalem and their promised land.

    Perhaps the most astonishing thing that occurred in the twentieth century was that return, that resurrection, of Israel.

    On May 14, 1948 Israel’s independence was declared. The Arab response was war. Israel fought again for its survival in 1967 when adjacent Arab nations attacked. Again in 1973, on the eve of Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days of Judaism, Israel was attacked. Each time it successfully fought off the Arabs. In 1977, Menachem Begin became Prime Minister of Israel and in 1978 he would share the Nobel Peace Prize with President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt as the result of their peace accords. Sadat’s efforts for peace were rewarded with assassination.

    Begin was well known to those early, first Israelis. He had served in the Irgun Zvai Leumi, an organization that forced the British to relinquish control of what was then called Palestine, a name first given it by the Roman Emperor Hadrian who thought it would erase all memory of Israel.

    It remained the given name of the area when, after World War I, the British and French drew lines on the map of the Middle East to create Lebanon as a French Protectorate and Palestine as Britain’s. Other nations created were Iraq and what was then called Trans-Jordan.

    Following the day in 1948 when a provisional Hebrew government was announced, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt prepared to attack the re-born Israel. Menachem Begun went to a secret radio station in Tel Aviv. Virtually every home in the land was tuned to listen.

    “One phase of the battle for freedom, for the return of the whole people of Israel to its homeland, for the restoration of the whole land of Israel to its God-covenanted owners, has ended,” he said. “The state of Israel has risen…through blood, through fire…it could not have been otherwise…and it is compelled to fight–or to continue to fight satanic enemies and blood-thirsty mercenaries, on land, in the air, and on the sea.”

    “The first pillar of our state must therefore be victory, total victory, in the war which is raging all over the country, said Menachem Begin, eerily echoing the words of General MacArthur at West Point. “Whoever does not recognize our natural right to our entire homeland, does not recognize our right to any part of it.”

    And he reminded the new citizens of Israel; “We cannot buy peace from our enemies with appeasement.” Facing the first war of national survival, he told them that, “in this battle we shall break the enemy and bring salvation to our people, tried in the furnace of persecution, thirsting only for freedom, for righteousness, and for justice.”

    Nearly sixty years after Begin addressed his people, Israel is still the only truly free nation in the whole of the Middle East. It constitutes barely one percent of the total area occupied by its Muslim enemies. Israel’s population of 6.4 million people is equal to two percent of the combined 315 million Muslims of the nations surrounding and threatening them.

    A friend of mine asked, “Why does 98% of the Middle East’s population with 99% of the land hate Israel so much? It is a mystery that defies explanation.” It is no mystery. The reason is Islam, a religion that holds all other religions in utter contempt, but especially the Jews whose ancestors had refused to recognize Mohammed as a prophet.

    Finally, in this hour of blood and fire for both America and Israel, the words of another U.S. General, George S. Patton, Jr. are worth recalling when, on the eve of the invasion of Europe, he told his troops, “Americans love to fight, traditionally. Americans love the sting and clash of battle. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win.”

    The wavering, the calls for cease-fire, the urgings for appeasement and withdrawal are not the foundation upon which great nations are born and based.

    In Iraq, Americans must play to win and so must Israel in yet another hour of another war it must not lose. Our fates are intertwined; our destinies are the same. The issue is freedom and the battle must be joined. There is no substitute for victory.

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  335. ‘Iran is somewhat more conservative on this issue but not much more than, say, Victorian England’ (Toxic Squirrel)

    And can you imagine if we had nukes in the days of the Empire? The Napoleonic Wars would have been a bit different that’s for sure. Anyway hanging 16 year old girls ain’t ‘conservative’ it’s medieval and barbaric.

    Jeremycj,

    Nice article. The problem with ‘do it now’ is that Hezbollah are still possibly in position to attack Israeli civilians. Also Iran have an air force (however outdated) and it could be used to attack our guys on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I’d say ‘do it if they haven’t ditched their nuclear project by the time there are enough F-22 Raptors and Eurofighter Typhoons surrounding them’ is more to the point. Israel and the UK as the USA’s main allies in the War on Terror should also be allowed to purchase the F-22 to best protect their own interests from the Iranian air force.

  336. Probably one of the most ignorant and stupid comments I’ve ever heard about the Middle East. (Jeremycj)

    Thank you.

    And, after reading the utter tripe that you copied from some American moron, thank you again.

  337. Are you with us, or are you with the terrorists?

    Neither. I don’t think in simplistic, black-and-white, good-and-evil terms.

    I don’t think we’re fighting any “war on terror” anyway, because if we were we would have captured or killed Osama bin Laden years ago. And I think it is simply a distortion of language to describe Iran as a terrorist state, and part of an ‘axis of evil’. And to the best of my knowledge, even Hezbollah isn’t classified by the UN as a terrorist organisation (although the US classified them as such earlier this year). Anyway, I increasingly read the much-overworked word ‘terrorist’ as meaning ‘newly-invented enemy’. And we have newly-invented enemies everywhere these days, including, apparently, the entire religion of Islam.

    This bundling of all our newly-invented enemies into one single ‘terrorist’ entity is simply nonsensical, destructive of coherent thought, and indeed is the product of incoherent thought.

    Oh, and I don’t think that ‘we’ are particularly ‘good’, nor ‘they’ are particularly ‘evil’ either.

  338. Idlex does have a point and the fact still remains that there exists many in the Arab and wider Islamic world who just wish to destroy Israel. Their agenda is fuelled by anti-semitism, pan-Arabism, and general hatred towards the West and the values we cherish.

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