Category Archives: World Affairs

Expression of views about events in the world today with an emphasis on Irish experience.

Hamas, “Defensive Edge” & ISIL

Nothing mitigates the tragic fact that the international community has condoned the Israeli use of massive force against a civilian population – all, that is, except an honourable list of South American countries who have recalled their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem (Brazil, Chile, et al.)  – but there is no way of bucking the fact that those heads of state have had sufficient reason for doing so in the shape of the present conflict: namely, Hamas’s thousand missiles fired, however, ineffectually, against neighbourhoods in Israel.

In principle, at least, the case for “self-defense” is a good one; and once that case has been granted, the only difficulty is know where to draw the line – if not the wider question whether any line can be drawn at all in such a fraught situation. When, in other words, does strategic intervention to disarm the neighbouring terrorist state become total war against its civilian population (albeit on the pretext that its population  is “harbouring” the terrorists who have taken military and political control. Continue reading

Gaza, 9/11 and the Golan Heights

The current bombardment of Gaza, together with the violent intrusion of Israel forces in that over-crowded region under ironic name “Defensive Edge” gives rise to stark questions as to  the justification for such an unequal form of combat  in which Palestinians civilians make up the majority of fatalities by a factor of 30 to 1 at the time of writing, when all but two of the 35 Israeli dead were members of the invading force caught in booby-trapped buildings during house-to-house raids in Hamas neighbourhoods. Deaths since the abortive cease-fire at the end of July have reflected the same unequal proportion on each side.   

"Protective Edge" - Israeli Phosphorous bombing in Gaza - July 2014

“Protective Edge” – Israeli phosphorus bom.

Meanwhile, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have both expressed concern about the civilian toll but have also declared themselves firm adherents of the Israel right to “defend itself” against attack from largely ineffective Hamas missiles.

Perhaps they are right. No missiles should be fired into Israeli by Palestinan “freedom fighters” unless they can tolerate reprisals, as they seem desperate enough to expect or compel the suffering population of Gaza to do. But that piece of political rectitude has to be qualified by several factors: firstly, the Palestinians of Gaza are living in virtual prison-camp conditions, and secondly the political question of the legitimacy of their captivity and, with it, the large-scale occupation of their traditional lands by their Zionist neighbours is – and will always remain – open to question. Continue reading

Politics v. Ethics in the Middle East

People are asking why no American or European politician is prepared to condemn the Israeli state in its brutal dealings with the Palestinian people whose historical home it occupies today – still less to demand the creation of an independent state for the Palestinian people in a territory corresponding to a significant part of the land they occupied until quite modern times, and which now comprises the greater part the territory of the modern state of Israel – a relatively juvenile formation that celebrates its 66th birthday this year.  

The Great Wall of Israel (West Bank)

The Great Wall of Israel (West Bank)

There must be a reason for this recalcitrance on the part of international politicians. That is to say, there must be a political explanation for it, since the ethical issues involved are fairly cut-and-dry.

Not alone does any geographically stable and ethnically distinct population obviously deserve to live in a country friendly to its culture and traditions  – or, at the very least, not overtly hostile to them – but the conduct of a war against them by the occupiers of their homeland in the name of ‘self-defence’ such as we are witnessing in Gaza today is practically indefensible in humanitarian  terms.

(In fact, the efficacy of the Israel Iron Dome anti-missile system means that its owners have extraordinary latitude in which to seek out a non-military solution to the underlying differences – differences which cast the extremism of Hamas and even Islamic Jihad in the light of an understandable reaction to intolerable oppression. )

Continue reading

David v. Goliath: The Palestinian Side

A Facebook friend has provided me with a link to Judith Butler’s repudiation of Harvard’s Lawrence Summers’ view, expressed in 2003, that to criticise Israel or to boycott it is ‘anti-semitic’ in effect if not in intention – and therefore unacceptable as an intellectual stance. Well, here we go again – as she correctly implies.

Gaza childhood: innocent victims of Israeli shelling moments before their deaths.

Gaza childhood: innocent victims of Israeli shelling moments before their deaths.

I am interested in the Middle East because I lived there in the 1980s – besides which, it is normal to be interested in such conflicts especially when they involve an ethical dimension, as they almost invariably do.

In this spirit I want to make the broad point that, while I have immense sympathy with Jewish people, I also believe that the State of Israel stands in great peril of lapsing into crimes of outright racism against the Palestinian people, whose historical territory it occupied in the nation-making process and which it has subsequently colonised in succession of so-called ‘anti-terrorist’ campaigns. Continue reading

Antrim Barracks: The Way Forward

We have been reading a bit about the failed attempt in 2005 to set up an Inquiry Tribunal which would ‘licence’ those found guilty of serious offences on either side during the Troubles. Ironically this was shot down by the IRA when it became apparent that members of the Security Forces would enjoy the same exemption from custodial sentences as the paramilitary groups on either side.

"Admiring the bog"

“Admiring the bog”

As matters stand, the PSNI have to pursue all clues to known murders. Following the release of the Hughes tapes by Boston College under legal duress, there appears to be a prima facie case against Gerry Adams that he ordered the ‘disappearance’ of Joan McConville – if not the killing also.

Mr. Adams has always flatly denied membership of the IRA whereas the British Government who dealt with him officially in this capacity – like the dogs in the street – know otherwise. The use of ‘denial’ and false swearing is of course an accepted ploy in Irish politics since de Valera took the oath of loyalty. Probably Peter Robinson didn’t join a gang armed and primed to ‘invade’ the Republic either. (No drink taken, of course.)  Continue reading