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From Abu Ghraib to Werribee (it's not that far)

Stephen Smith is a regular Webdiarist. His last piece was 9/11 – fear on film.

By Stephen Smith

"This is a soft fascism, like the consumer landscape. No goose-stepping, no jackboots, but the same emotions and the same aggression." - J G Ballard – "Kingdom Come"

‘The DVD that disgusted a city’ was one of the news headlines in the shocking case of a DVD produced and sold in Melbourne’s outer west by the self-styled "teenage kings of Werribee". What at first looked like a Jackass-style prank posted on YouTube, police are now investigating as sexual assault involving up to 12 youths. Sadly, amid the media storm, the trauma goes beyond that of the victim. Students from one of the district schools named by the media have had passers-by spit at them in the street. This degree of public hate contains an irony we shall examine.

For it appears that the public’s consumption of news media about the whole incident is part of a cycle of action and reaction. Here, it is the ‘bent’ turn of consumerism that is precisely the problem. For what lies on the other side of easy blame is a desensitisation to violence in our midst.

After all, the most compelling aspect of the DVD is that its makers see it as a commercial product – a consumer item.

In a sense the ‘Werribee 12’ have become independent of the mass media. With their cameras they are the new media; and they produce and distribute their own content. Although they are backyard media producers, what we see in their product is very much a reflection of the perverse direction of consumer culture. It has an obsession with violence, and in particular, ritual humiliation. While the technology is new, the values on display are not.

Bullying and abuse are a part of the dark side of the Aussie mateship myth. Here, it includes a dose of humiliation as part of its ritual. What has changed is that digital and mobile phone cameras allow the sharing of images beyond the initial group involved. On YouTube the three video clips by the Werribee teens were uploaded more than three months ago and had accrued more than 9,000 viewings. With access to the site’s endless stream of content, we can only wonder how the YouTube audience can distinguish fake from fear in the reactions exhibited by the ‘subject’ (victim).

This dilemma has also been seen in another much publicised clip that turned up on YouTube. In it, Australian soldiers in Iraq pointed a pistol at the head of a fellow soldier dressed in Arab headdress. John Howard said that the soldiers needed to "let off a bit of steam". Writing in The Australian, Greg Sheridan was even more tolerant of what he saw as a natural part of Australian ritual. "It’s not surprising that, like any group of spirited young men, they get up to some silliness", he said. "Just spend some time around any football club, or a Year 12 on muck up day."

The problem with such excuses is how web users perceive these gonzo style clips. In viewing clips by the Werribee 12 or the Aussie Diggers in Iraq, the context is unknown; and it may not be so clear as to where play acting or skylarking end and abuse or assault begin. Clips from the Werribee DVD had existed on YouTube for months and as one posting on The Age web forum commented:

"It's just another digital piece of information that will make its way through the huge world wide web to the point that the initial crime is devoid of a human reference."

Images become their own justification and consumption of them requires no context. We no longer allow ourselves to reflect upon what images might depict. Instead, the media transfers violence into images that we consume with no other thought but how such desire might be next gratified. To this extent, a critic in the UK, Paul Taylor, has observed:

"Everything becomes a potential image for the voyeuristic gaze and less and less is ruled out on grounds of taste or any other consideration."

With this aspect of culture in mind, let us return to the offending DVD.

First of all, what the camera seeks is to capture shots as ‘souvenirs’ of the event. They choose their victims so that fear or humiliation captured on film becomes a trophy for the group and its admirers; and it is a way of instilling respect (or fear) among their peers.

The world, as Marshall McLuhan famously said, is a global village. The vile acts portrayed on the DVD and its souvenir element is reminiscent of the Abu Ghraib photos. Yet this is not a direct comparison - we do not suggest a simple 'copy cat' style. What links them is the way in which the media has desensitised the torture at Abu Ghraib, and further, how commercialisation became part of normalising it.

In consuming these Abu Ghraib photos, as they first appeared, does this imply consent for what has taken place? We are revolted more by the images themselves rather than by what they depict.

As we now realise, the Abu Ghraib photos created a dilemma for how we consume news content. A moral threshold is crossed. The horror of what we see is normalised by the way in which later associations take place to transform the images into a consumer product. In the case of Abu Ghraib, one such transfer took place in the glossy pages of Vogue Italia. (Discussion of the images in the photo shoot also occurs here.) Once absorbed into consumerism, this association also invites us to change our moral outlook. In her response to Italian Vogue, Joanna Bourke makes this comment in The Guardian:

"The most disturbing thing about these photographs, however, is that they have taken their inspiration from the torture photographs taken in Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq. The visual titillation of suffering, dogs primed to attack people, and women who inflict pain - these have become some of the most common images of the war on terror. In these fashion photographs, we see how those images of torture have been translated into consumer products. Torture has not only become normalised, it has been integrated into one of the most glamorous forms of consumer culture - high fashion."

The group known as the Werribee 12 may not stand at the top end glamour of consumer culture. But at $5 a pop their DVD is just another mindless item for their mates to consume. Just as at Abu Ghraib - where US soldier Lynndie England was only the most direct perpetrator - we need to look further up the ‘chain of command’ in the case of this DVD from suburbia. We need to realise how violence has become part of consumerism. It seems that such measured doses of violence are now an inescapable part of our culture. In this respect we must face the possibility that consumerism has become what amounts to ‘soft fascism’. In this state we now enter a society that craves the image but at the cost of a loss of care and responsibility for the type of reality being represented.

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Maybe read the newspapers before quoting them

Roslyn Ross quoting the Toronto Star;

"The resulting diplomatic void has been filled by China and Russia, now resisting U.S. calls for their imposition of sanctions against North Korea and Iran, respectively."

Ironically, Roslyn, it was North Korea and Iran which insisted on one-on-one dialogue with the USA over their nuclear programmes, and George Bush who insisted on multi-party talks.

In the case of North Korea, it was the USA which insisted that China, Russia, South Korea and Japan, have a role in discussions with Kim Jong Il's regime over his bomb, with particular emphasis on Chinese involvement as North Korea's main ally and immediate neighbour.

If it had been left up to China, probably nothing would have been done.

It was the left-leaning element in the West which pushed Bush for one-on-one talks, a morally and politically bankrupt course, which Bush and Rice were wise to resist.

The return of North Korea to six-party negotiations - and their apparent cancellation of a second bomb test - obviously vindicate that stance.

As regards the Ayranian Supremacist State of Iran, the world's entire diplomatic community is calling on it to abide by international conventions, not merely the United States.

And with regard to Human Rights, are you seriously suggesting that Russia, let alone China, represent some paragon that the USA should emulate?

There just doesn't seem to be any limit to the gibberish you are prepared to peddle on this blog, is there?

Here endeth the Iraq lesson

From the Toronto Star, The End of the Necons, as America stands incompetent and morally bankrupt as a champion of human rights:

Excerpt: An America, too, whose diplomatic influence has cratered, due not only to the unilateral belligerence with which America went to war in Iraq, but also the incompetence subsequently exposed in almost every particular of its Iraq occupation: intelligence breakdowns; acrimonious relations between the civilian and military U.S. occupation leadership; rampant theft by contractors; and the failure to provide Iraqis with security, power, fresh water and other essentials even now, 43 months after the invasion. The resulting diplomatic void has been filled by China and Russia, now resisting U.S. calls for their imposition of sanctions against North Korea and Iran, respectively.

There also is the blighting of America's self-image as a champion of human rights, with U.S.-sanctioned torture of terrorist suspects Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Canadian citizen Maher Arar, and countless other detainees at Guantanamo Bay, at the network of covert CIA detention centres across Europe and the Middle East, and at Saddam Hussein's notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, reopened by U.S. forces to warehouse thousands of Iraqi citizens rousted from their homes in random sweeps. Bush's repeated lie that "America does not do torture" merely compounds the current distrust of the United States.

My pal the psychopath

Marek Bage: "Naw, nothing friendly going on here."

Or here, either.

A dubious verdict says law professor

Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, in the International Herald Tribune,  refers to the ‘dubious verdict’ in Saddam’s trial.

Excerpt: The American stage managing of this judicial process in Baghdad has been evident to close observers all along. It always seemed legally dubious to initiate a criminal trial against Saddam, while the American occupation was encountering such strong resistance by Saddam loyalists, especially as the U.S.-led invasion was widely regarded throughout the world as itself embodying the crime of aggressive war, a crime for which surviving Nazi leaders were charged and punished at Nuremberg after World War II.

The cost of this political opportunism by the United States goes beyond the narrow circumstances of this trial. No one doubts that Saddam and the other defendants were substantively guilty of crimes against humanity when they killed 148 civilians in the town of Dujail back in 1982 after a failed assassination attempt; collective punishment is an international crime whatever the provocation. But the potential contribution to building a legal tradition of accountability applicable to political leaders has been undermined in this instance by the circumstances and auspices of the this tribunal - and by the way the prosecution proceeded.

Blown to bits by your venality

Simon Warriner: "Yes, using retarded kids is beyond the pale, and so is cluster bombing the bejesus out of an area you are about to return to its rightfull owners whose kids will get blown to bits by your venality."

Hamas, which is going into a coalition government of 'National Unity' with its enemies al-Fatah from today, decided on a fitting gesture to signify the completion of its egregious and miserably failed term in office - it gulled a teenaged girl into blowing herself to bits with a bomb yesterday.

Details of the incident were reported on SBS World News last night.

The girl recorded her farewells and read out her testament in a television studio rigged up by Hamas with neatly lettered placards covered in Islamist slogans before she set off to an Israeli checkpoint.

An Israeli soldier was lightly injured in the explosion which blew the girl to smithereens.

Additional television footage recorded her mother being overwhelmed with well-wishers at her house. Some appeared to be laughing and smiling.

Not the mother, though.

She was blanched, unblinking and clearly in shock.

Talking about Fatah, they're the 'moderates' in the coalition with Hamas.

That says something, doesn't it?

Hey? Can anyone remember the details of the Fatah massacre in a Jewish kindergarten, I think at Eilat?

At some time in the 1960s? Or early '70s?

I recall the incident which occured when I was a child and was trying to find a mention of it in the web?

The closest I got was this Z-mag item complaining because the New York Times had the gall to report a separate attack on another Israeli kindergarten.

I think it's highly indicative that a massacre of actual toddlers (and their teacher) which foreshadowed the Beslan attacks by so many years seems to have faded now from popular memory.

Perhaps it's to help keep alive the myth that the conflict between the Arabs and Jews somehow just started with the outcome of the Six Day War.

 

Child Murder

I think it's highly indicative that a massacre of actual toddlers (and their teacher) which foreshadowed the Beslan attacks by so many years seems to have faded now from popular memory.

There have been many that could qualify:

Nahariya/Avivim School Bus Attack, 1970

The terrorists knew the schedule of the bus and were able to ambush it. They fired on the bus, killing the adults instantly. The bus driver continued until he himself was shot. Then the bus crashed, injuring many of the remaining children. The attack caused the death of 9 children (aged between six and nine) and 3 adults, and left 19 others crippled for life.

-Kiryat Shmona (or Quirat Shemona), 1974

On April 11, 1974, a team of three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command penetrated the Israeli border town of Kiryat Shmona from Lebanon. Although they had apparently been instructed to take hostages, they instead entered an apartment building and killed all eighteen residents they found there, including nine children. 

Ma'alot (or Maalot), 1974

On May 15, 1974 (Israel's Independence Day) a group of 11th grade students from Safed (Tsfat) were on a field trip to the Golan, a full day of hikes. That night, the children were housed at a school in Ma’alot where they slept on the floor. During the night, three Arab terrorists dressed as IDF soldiers attacked the school, killing the guard and some of the children. Some of the children escaped by jumping out of a window on the second floor and the rest were held as hostages.

The Knesset met in emergency session. Although Israel’s policy forbid negotiation with terrorists, the plight of the children forced an exception. By 3:00PM a decision was reached to negotiate, but the terrorists refused a request for more time.

At 5:45PM a unit of the elite Golani brigade stormed the building. All of the terrorists were killed in the assault, but not before they took the lives of 21 children. There were a total of 26 victims, including several people murdered by the terrorists on their way to the school the night before.

And so and so on.

From about 1970 the PLO carried out attacks specifically targeting schools and children houses, kindergartens, school buses and the like

I found it curious that when the Australian and international media reported the Beslan terrorist atrocity, they also reported that terrorism had entered a new phase of depravity. It was the "first time" terrorists had ever deliberately targetted school children, they said. Apparently murdered Jewish kids still don't count.

For all the Roslyn Ross's out there who can't wait to post in the usual ugly propaganda about "Palestinian children shot neatly in the head" and so on.  Save the post. We've heard it so many many times before. Repeating this stuff yet again does not make it any less dishonest and irrelevant than the last time. 

LATTERDAY WILLING COALITION HELLFIRE ON KIDS

It’s only moral equivalence and they’re only gooks….

Yes, m'Star Spangled Geo. But hardly a first, no matter how cruel.

Our glorious allies, while waging their barbaric and attempted genocidal war of aggression against Vietnam, really pulled out all stops, bombing, napalming and machine gunning schools, nurseries, orphanages and hospitals – even a leprosarium – with relentless and deliberate hillbilly glee.

As they and their drooling nazi-style allies always have had, and still do.

One wonders why poor old drug-addled Dubya of the Alabama/Texas Air National Guard chickened out on Vietnam service. He could have had sooooo fun!

It’s well documented, including in Vietnam War - International War Crimes Tribunal – 1967 by ABRAHAM BEHAR (Summary Report on the Bombing of the Civil Population of the North)

“We [Dr Behar’s teams] personally witnessed the bombing of the city of Thanh Hoa, on 20 January 1967, and in this particular case we personally contributed testimony. While we were in Thanh Hoa, a group of five to eight aeroplanes attacked at noon. From our shelters we watched the bombing which lasted about ten minutes, then we saw a second smaller wave of planes return five to ten minutes later and bomb for about the same length of time. We were able to reach the spot only a few hours later - this time lapse being due to security measures - and were therefore able to ascertain the real nature of the target. This bombing was aimed solely against a district of Thanh Hoa located about five miles from the Ham Rong bridge, the only possible strategic target in this area. We saw the entire area in flames and completely destroyed; and we also saw the little district hospital demolished by incendiary bombs. On the very spot we saw the craters made by missiles and rockets. By questioning the witnesses we learned the function of the second wave of planes: this second wave machine-gunned the rescue teams and the wounded who were being evacuated from the burning hospital.”

“…we can cite certain characteristic examples, for instance, that of the leprosorium of Quynh Lap, the largest centre for the research and treatment of leprosy in the DRV; its construction was begun in July 1956, and was completed in 1959. This leprosorium was situated far from all inhabited areas. This is easily understandable on medical grounds, since one must gather those suffering from leprosy, including the contagious patients, in an area far from any town inhabited by non-infected persons. The leprosorium of Quynh Lap was for this reason in an isolated coastal area in the district of Quynh Lap in the province of Nghe An. It consisted of 160 buildings and could care for up to 2,600 patients. In the last five years, more than 5,000 lepers had been cared for, and more than 1,000 of them had been sent home as cured.

“The first attack was 12 June 1965, at 8 P.M. Numerous American planes flew over and dropped hundreds of bombs and rockets on the leprosorium; they came back several times to drop more bombs. In these raids, 139 patients were killed, 9 doctors and members of the staff were killed and 100 other persons were wounded.

“The [DRV] Ministry of Public Health published on 16 May 1966, another statement pointing out that these buildings constituted a leprosorium. Between 1965 and 1966, the leprosorium of Quynh Lap has undergone thirty-nine [my italics] attacks. We are emphatic that this leprosorium is situated in a completely isolated area, far from strategic routes, town, industrial centre, or military or so-called military targets. The Quynh Lap leprosorium, we must also point out to the Tribunal, is internationally known among the medical fraternity who practise in tropical diseases, and it was well and prominently marked with the sign of the Red Cross.”

The Commission also detailed numerous attacks on schools, day nurseries and orphanages, and also of repeated blows against seminaries, churches and pagodas.

It remarked that a pattern of deliberate attacks on civilians was a clear mode of the American warfare on Vietnam.

Yes, it’s moral equivalence, m’Geo, m’Jay. But it’s alright - the kids, lepers, patients and other helpless civilians were all communist sympathiser gooks..And it was alittle country and so very far away.

Anyway they all deserved to die every bit as much as Lebanese, Palestinian or Iraqi islamofascist terrorist sympathizers.

And they all are, aren’t they? Who was it who said “Rats breed lice”?

And look what the sympathizer lice just did as part of the US 2006 mid-term Congressional elections. They have just ripped Donald Rumsfeld’s nuts right off and fed them to the dog, the islamofascist bastards.

And by they way, Abraham Behar’s name sounds a bit Eastern Mediterranean to me. He’d better not try to come to Cronulla. Or Kirribilli.

Ignorance Trumps Falsehood

Mr. Lyvers. You don't know what you're talking about.

The U.S., having decided that an Iranian victory would not serve its interests, began supporting Iraq: measures already underway to upgrade U.S.-Iraq relations were accelerated, high-level officials exchanged visits, and in February 1982 the State Department removed Iraq from its list of states supporting international terrorism.

The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support.

The above quotes can be found here. I also recommend that you look into what is called Iraqgate. You may be surprised at what you learn. 

Although it is a stretch to call Saddam Hussein "Washington's best friend" during the period, there can be no doubt that he was being courted a very high levels. To imply otherwise is either ignorant or "being deliberately deceptive for propaganda purposes".

Ignorance And Falsehoods

Marek Bage,  you don't know what you're talking about. With respect.

These are the comments to which Mike Lyvers was responding:

...let’s not forget that when he committed some of the worst of those crimes he was regarded as an ally by the United States..

.So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world...

No one denies that there was a tilt in favour of Iraq when it looked like Saddam might very well lose the opportunistic war he launched against Iran. Not just by the US but by the entire West including France and the rest of Europe. Not to mention Russia. There was a cold-blooded reason for this. A victory for the mad Ayatollah over Iraq was perceived to be a probable catastrophe for the world -probably correctly. It was also thought that the Butcher possibly could be  controlled and Iraq reformed after the war. (Incorrectly, in my opinion at the time)

The "tilt", at first clandestine but later an open secret, may not have been the bravest and most ethical of all foreign policy decisions of the 20th Century. But it was hardly confined to the US and it certainly did not mark any "friendship" with Bagdad from anybody.

To now re-write history to assert that Saddam was Washington's best friend in the Arab world is much more than "a bit of a stretch". It is an utter falsehood as Mike says. As it turns out the utter falsehood is Robert Fisk's with Roslyn Ross merely quoting and adopting it. But an utter falsehood nevertheless. 

One hell of a Tilt.

Mr Pahoff writes;

No one denies that there was a tilt in favour of Iraq...

Naw, nothing friendly going on here.  

 

Timeline Needed

A silly stunt I agree. But the attack on Iran was not until 22 September 1980 so the meeting had nothing to do with the "tilt".

Saddam had  been in power only a few months and had yet to commit the worst of his crimes. 

And even if the State Department had anything to do with this piece of foreign policy making by local priest and Detroit mayor, as some have claimed, who was President at the time?

Ah yes. Jimmy Carter. Nothing more needs to be said on the subject. 

Now western justice is an oxymoron

While no-one denies that Saddam Hussein should have been tried for his crimes, but in a proper court, not a kangaroo one, let’s not forget that when he committed some of the worst of those crimes he was regarded as an ally by the United States. Why should Saddam be tried for crimes and those who aided and abetted him, by commission or omission, not be tried? Good question.  It was the Americans and Brits who supplied the gas he dropped on the Kurds. But of course that would be real justice not the oxymoronic version the Americans have come up with and her toadying allies have supported.

No wonder many Iraqis consider Western justice to be a joke!

First Saddam and now Rumsfeld says Norman Solomon.

Excerpt: Saddam Hussein has received a death sentence for crimes he committed more than a year before Donald Rumsfeld shook his hand in Baghdad. Let's reach back into history and extract these facts:

* On Dec. 20, 1983, the Washington Post reported that Rumsfeld "visited Iraq in what U.S. officials said was an attempt to bolster the already improving U.S. relations with that country."

* Two days later, the New York Times cited a "senior American official" who "said that the United States remained ready to establish full diplomatic relations with Iraq and that it was up to the Iraqis."

And for all those who supported Saddam during his worst atrocities, Robert Fisk writes:

So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas--along with the British, of course--yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.

Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't be a more just verdict--nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned man.

But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope--don't we?--to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under Saddam.

And, in the words of Iraqi blogger, Riverbend:

Excerpt: Execute the dictator. It’s that simple. When American troops are being killed by the dozen, when the country you are occupying is threatening to break up into smaller countries, when you have militias and death squads roaming the streets and you’ve put a group of Mullahs in power- execute the dictator.

Everyone expected this verdict from the very first day of the trial. There was a brief interlude when, with the first judge, it was thought that it might actually be a coherent trial where Iraqis could hear explanations and see what happened. That was soon over with the prosecution’s first false witness. Events that followed were so ridiculous; it’s difficult to believe them even now.

The sound would suddenly disappear when the defense or one of the defendants got up to speak. We would hear the witnesses but no one could see them- hidden behind a curtain, their voices were changed. People who were supposed to have been dead in the Dujail incident were found to be very alive.

Judge after judge was brought in because the ones in court were seen as too fair. They didn’t instantly condemn the defendants (even if only for the sake of the media). The piece de resistance was the final judge they brought in. His reputation vies only that of Chalabi- a well-known thief and murderer who ran away to Iran to escape not political condemnation, but his father’s wrath after he stole from the restaurant his father ran.

utter falsehood from Roslyn Ross

"So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world."

Complete and utter B.S. Saddam was never even remotely close to being "Washington's best friend in the Arab world" - on such a list Saddam only moved one step ahead of dead last in the days when Kaddafi was having his terrorist stooges bring down airliners. As usual, Roslyn either has no idea what she is talking about or is being deliberately deceptive for propaganda purposes.

It's not what you say. It's who you are when you are saying it.

Simon Warriner: "Just so we know ,the source of your info, I am assuming this would be the same O. North that was caught selling weapons to finance a particularly nasty war in Nicuragua without the approval of congress."

What are you suggesting now, Simon?

That the Al-Fateh web site was written by Oliver North?

This puts me in mind of people who, when shown some outrageous piece of Islamist twaddle from Iran or Ba'athist propaganda from Syria reproduced on line the the MEMRI site, attack the MEMRI site for being pro-Israeli.

As if that altered things.

It wouldn't matter if Beelzeebub or Baal themselves pointed to the Al-Fateh website?

It's a Hamas website that encourages kids to commit suicide bombing attacks against civilians. Admittedly, nothing unusual about that these days.

Would you have preferred it if Hayley Mills had pointed it out? Or maybe Pee Wee Herman?

 

 

The Israeli army and the art of war

Simon Warrinder, as your earlier posting suggests, the Israeli army has created a tourism spin-off from its wars. Yes, a chilling example of how violence may appear normal to our way of life. It's all part of the 'Infowar'. At its most bizarre, it even turns to philosophy and urban theory to soften its image.

The extracts below are from a piece by Eyal Weizman, an architect, writer and Director of Goldsmith's College Centre for Research Architecture. You can read his article at nettime or here.

He points to a military fascination with French theorists such as Deleuze and Guattari. Indeed, as far as the military is concerned, urban warfare is the ultimate post-modern form of conflict.

Weizman uses this example of an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attack on the city of Nablus in April 2002.

During the battle soldiers moved within the city across hundreds of metres of 'overground tunnels' carved out through a dense urban structure. They used none of the city's streets, roads, alleys or courtyards, or any of the external doors, internal stairwells and windows, but moved horizontally through walls and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors.

If you still believe, as the IDF would like you to, that moving through walls is a relatively gentle form of warfare, the following description of the sequence of events might change your mind.

A Palestinian woman identified only as Aisha, interviewed by a journalist for the Palestine Monitor, described the experience: "Imagine it - you're sitting in your living room, which you know so well; this is the room where the family watches television together after the evening meal, and suddenly that wall disappears with a deafening roar, the room fills with dust and debris, and through the wall pours one soldier after the other, screaming orders. You have no idea if they're after you, if they've come to take over your home, or if your house just lies on their route to somewhere else. The children are screaming, panicking. Is it possible to even begin to imagine the horror experienced by a five-year-old child as four, six, eight, 12 soldiers, their faces painted black, sub-machine-guns pointed everywhere, antennas protruding from their backpacks, making them look like giant alien bugs, blast their way through that wall?"

This is the new soldier/architect's response to the logic of 'smart bombs'. The latter have paradoxically resulted in higher numbers of civilian casualties simply because the illusion of precision gives the military-political complex the necessary justification to use explosives in civilian environments.

Here another use of theory as the ultimate 'smart weapon' becomes apparent. The military's seductive use of theoretical and technological discourse seeks to portray war as remote, quick and intellectual, exciting and even economically viable. Violence can thus be projected as tolerable and the public encouraged to support it. As such, the development and dissemination of new military technologies promote the fiction being projected into the public domain that a military solution is possible in situations where it is at best very doubtful.

When the military talks theory to itself, it seems to be about changing its organisational structure. When it talks theory to the public, it seems to be about projecting the image of a civilized and sophisticated military. And when the military 'talks' to the enemy, theory could be understood as a particularly intimidating weapon of 'shock and awe', the message being: 'You will never even understand that which kills you.'

The Age of Darkness

Simon, as the saying goes, 'the first casuality of war is truth.' It has always been so. Governments lie because they tell themselves that it is in the best interests of the people.

One imagines that there is less guilt involved when a reasonable person can define a war as both necessary and just and therefore, with less guilt you get less denial and a greater level of honesty, although not as much as anyone would wish. The First and Second World Wars, give or take, could be supported, in the main, in a way in which the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan cannot and the wars to maintain occupation in Palestine and Chechnya cannot.

With unnecessary and unjust wars, and this is taking the position that the average person is not stupid and even though they may tell themselves one thing, they know when what they are doing is wrong, unjust, unfair, or barbaric, there is a heightened need to deny the reality of that which one does.

When unjust wars such as that which Israel has waged against the Palestinians in order to continue their colonisation of that country, go on for a long time, that level of denial becomes dysfunctional, if not psychotic. This means that the best of people can defend the worst of things. The average Israeli does not want to know what is being done in their name and if they find out, will quickly defend the worst of war crimes and human rights abuses because they define only themselves as victim.

One imagines that the Israeli soldiers who are responsible for the daily human rights abuses and the war crimes need massive levels of denial in order to function.

The same sort of thing happens in Iraq although the dysfunction in American thinking is less embedded because the war has only been going on a brief time and because it is a very long way away. But the Americans too, after 9/11, define themselves as 'victims' and this enables them to support the unsupportable, justify the unjustifiable and to believe what the military tells them so they do not have to face the reality that they are guilty of war crimes and appalling human rights abuses.

Americans and Israelis do not see the terror on children's faces, the wilful and savage destruction of people's homes and lives, the rubbled streets so reminiscent of Europe in World War Two, the thuggish behaviour of many of the soldiers..... not all...... but probably most because the miliitary seeks to dehumanise the enemy in order to make it easier for ordinary men and women to kill.

The Israeli soldiers have been even more debased because they have been waging an unjust war for so long and this has also impacted upon the society as a whole where the capacity of the average Israeli to relate to the humanity of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular is almost zero.

The American war against Iraq is, if you like, less 'personal' for Americans and the ability of the American government to continue to wage a brutal and unjust war is limited in a way in which it is not limited in Israel. After all, the Israelis have been persecuting the Palestinians for decades so there is nothing new in it. Children have grown up learning that Arabs are inferior, that Palestinians are the enemy, that they are 'vermin' and something which should be eradicated.

The Americans on the other hand may have easily tied the enemy tag to the Iraqis but the truth is that they are not actively colonising the Iraqis (economically yes, but not actively as in Americans believing that they should be able to take the land from Iraqis in the way that Israelis believe they should be able to take all the land from the Palestinians) and this means there is a limit to the war which will be imposed by the American people when they have had enough bodies coming home.

Israel is different. Any resolution will have to be imposed upon Israel because it will not come from the people no matter how many bodies come home in bags.

The awful reality is that however much people may become blind and deaf to the suffering of others, however much compassion they may lose and their conscience in the doing, it is always exacerbated by war and long wars are even more destructive in their ability to debase the culture and society of those who wage them.

Human beings have retained a capacity for cruelty which is easily unleashed and energised whenever they feel threatened and are given a focus for that fear. Israel has taught us just how easy it is for a Hitler to come to power and Iraq is repeating that lesson with the Americans. The finger has been pointed at the Germans for decades but the reality is that the finger points at all of us. Any of us can do these same things, or rather, allow these things to be done to others.

Look at how Australians turned away from the shameful reality of what we did to the asylum seekers, and what we are allowing to be done to an Australian citizen, David Hicks. We betray the very principles upon which our world stands by not fighting against these injustices.

It is because human beings are so flawed, so often weak, so fearful, so selfish, that we need those basic principles of civilization and democracy to be defended. Without them we revert to an age so Dark we would destroy ourselves.

Just another outpouring of hatred from Roslyn

"When unjust wars such as that which Israel has waged against the Palestinians"

Who has waged war on who, Roslyn? Are you aware of ANYTHING  concerning the history of Israel and the Arabs? Anything at all? Time for you to start googling I suppose, and dredge up some neo-Nazi type web sources that suit your view of things.

"the capacity of the average Israeli to relate to the humanity of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular is almost zero."

How dare you. You know nothing whatsoever about the "average Israeli" nor what it is like to live with the unrelenting racist hatred and murder directed at them almost every day from Islamic fascists in the surrounding region. In terms of ability to relate to humanity of one another, the Israeli Jews are far, far better to the Arabs than the other way around, as has been proved time and time again. Arabs enjoy way more rights in Israel than in any Arab country, and have equal rights under the law with Jews, for starters. But you know that.

I could go on but why bother dealing with what is transparently just another pile of blatantly anti-semitic drivel.

The role of women in society - and cross dressing

There was some amazing follow-up to this bizarre incident involving Hamas gun-men hiding behind women human shields in a gun fight with the IDF outside a Mosque.

SBS-TV's broadcast of the German DW-TV news on Saturday 4 November (both German and English language editions) featured video overlay clearly showing one of the Hamas heroes fleeing the Mosque dressed as a woman.

He was bustled into a wating vehicle (which looked like it could have been an ambulance, even though he was running un-aided and appeared not to be injured).

He then fled the scene.

He was assisted by other men (not cross-dressed on this occasion).

Also, ITV footage shown on Jim Leherer's Newshour programme broadcast Saturday afternoon included images of men mixing with the women outside the Mosque including, bizarely, a video-crew.

While the heroic Hamas guys were fleeing, women were left crouching behing sand dumps and blocks of masonry, two being killed and others wounded.

You can see why the political Left is so keen to support Hamas.

Roslyn Ross "But you don't want perspective, you want playground definitions of good and evil, right and wrong, them and us and I leave you to it".

Except, of course, Sheik Hilaly's sexist comments were adamantly denounced by Muslims, too.

There's really no need to defend him by a withdrawl into cultural relativism. And if he was Jewish, you wouldn't bother.

Solomon Wakeling: "Nevertheless the feminist reaction to O'Shanes comments was quite viceral, almost "politically correct" in its intensity and her views cannot therefore be attributed to feminists as a class."

I don't recall any feminist reaction to Pat's remarks. I suppose there must have been some.

Some important questions

Malcolm Fraser's speech at the Law and Justice Foundation on October 31 is well worth reading for anyone who missed it.

Fraser talks about the Howard Government using the 'Muslim issue' a la Tampa for the next election and the dangers this poses for Australia.

He says there are some important questions for Australia:

There are some important questions for Australians.

Why the Australian Government is the only western government as I am advised which has accepted that the Military Tribunals provide a reasonable standard of justice for its own people? A situation which the United States, the founder of those Military Tribunals, does not accept for its own American citizens. It is one of the great wonders of Major Mori, Hicks’ Marine lawyer that the Australian Government does absolutely nothing to achieve a fair trail and that it parrots American defences of the military tribunals, from notes sent to it by the Pentagon.

We now have a growing number of people who appear not to matter to those in authority. I probably should have said at the beginning that I call this Who matters, how many. Not only David Hicks, Cornelia Rau, Vivien Alvarez Solon. Not only our indigenous population who’s problems seem low on the government’s agenda, but increasingly refugees or potential refugees. We know the government sought to excise all of Australia from our migration zone. In the process the government would have broken a promise made only last year to keep children out of detention. This time it was going to be detention in some off shore prison. Out of sight, and the government would have hoped, quite out of mind.

Late Twilght For Mal

Many years ago I mistakenly believed that the Rule of Law was absolute and that all people in positions of political authority would respect that law and worked to protect the rights of all Australian citizens. I now know that to be naive and incorrect. I applaud therefore the work that you have done and the purposes you serve.

Coming from the guy whose own political career featured as its highlight the closest thing to a coup in Australia's history, this is a bit too rich.

What is Mal hoping to achieve by coming out with all this stuff now? Redemption? Beyond my gift, I'm afraid. 

Sinking, sinking, sinking

Roslyn Ross "But you don't want perspective, you want playground definitions of good and evil, right and wrong, them and us and I leave you to it".

Bit like you and the rights of Israeli citizens, no?

The lie of moral relativism. There is no right or wrong only perspective. The complete kit of any moral charlaton.

There is a wrong and there is a right. Inside the Catholic Church there were perpetrators of sexual abuse and protectors of those abusers. These people were wrong and deserved earthly punishment. There is no sense of perspective to be had.

Equally it is the same case for Hilaly and his supporters. Women are not "pieces of meat". It is not for any other person to decide outside of the women if she is "asking for it". To think in any other way is wrong. It it should be condemned as such. Finding the equivalent crime does not take away or excuse the crime under attention.

The truly disgusting part about the moral relativist and their sense of "perspective" is just how arbitrary it really all is. How much sense of perspective has Rosyln Ross ever brought to the table when discussing the "crimes" of Israel? How much moral equivalence?

Therein endeth the lesson.

Silliness and subtlety

Geoff, posting references and notes which are relevant to the position debated and the article quoted makes sense.

Posting references, as you have done, which relate to nothing, merely makes you look foolish.

Jay, life is grey. It is not black and white and not either/or. I stated quite clearly that Hilaly deserved condemnation but that does not prevent me, or anyone else applying intelligence, to look at what underlies his words and actions.

Seeking to understand why he said what he said does not automatically mean one ignores what he said. But there's probably a subtlety there which eludes you.

The point, which you seem determined to miss, is that the major religions are still, inherently sexist. They may not use the words which Hilaly does but they still treat women as second class citizens.

But you don't want perspective, you want playground definitions of good and evil, right and wrong, them and us and I leave you to it.

The Obtuse And The Asinine

"Geoff, posting references and notes which are relevant to the position debated and the article quoted makes sense."

Ahuh. At least I've read a few of my references. And had a quick look through a number of others at one time or another.

I'll bet the house you've never seen so much as the title page of any of yours. Nor have the "authors" of that website you dug up who cite them.

Therefore I do not accept for a second that you are in a position to know what is relevant and what is not. Nor are the fraudulent anonymous "authors" so full of references and themselves.

The nonsense of moral equivalence

Roslyn Ross: "Hilaly is not the problem".

Actually, he is the problem. He and those of his ilk. Rightly, many Muslims have spoken out against his words. I congratulate those Muslims and I am proud to live along side of them. By attempting to deflect attention away from him and his words, by finding a moral equivalence, you shame these people and you shame yourself.

Hilaly deserved to be flayed (non-violently of course), and he was. The same way the Catholic Church was flayed, and rightly deserved to be, over child abuse going back decades.

There was no finding moral equivalence in that episode. There was no pulling out the quotes of Muslim, Jewish or any other religious leaders. One either supported that behaviour from the church (which was wrong) or one did not (which was right). Pure and very simple.

On the St Augustine issue. If he were to make the same quotes today he would be rightly flayed. In the age we live in I doubt he would, but one will never know. If he did make such statements and I was asked if he would make a good "Australian citizen", my answer would be NO.

I have no time for your defence. You are standing on quicksand and the more you wriggle about the more you sink.

And a bigoted Archbishop too!!!!

Geoff:  You might like to substantiate your claim that my discussion of the inherent misogyny in religion is a form of bigotry! The 'fear and hatred' of women in religion is well known and has been the subject of numerous books, none of which I would expect you to have read. The article I cited was relevant to the point I was making but it is hardly the only such article available.

 

By the way, the Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, was quoted in Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald making the same point. I guess he’s a bigot too for saying :

 

“the divinely sanctioned world view authenticated by the selective use of scripture …. Keeps women in subjection.”

 

He compared Sydney diocese’s refusal to ordain women priests with some Islam thinking that repressed women.

 

You said: You have produced a number of quotes purporting to be of Christian and Jewish religious origin to make out some spurious equivalence argument to dilute the significance of the ugly and dangerous nonsense spewed by that clerical lunatic, and others of the same ilk, just a few days ago.

 

The quotes were to support my claim that misogyny is present in all religious teachings, particularly the Big Five. They are relevant because Muslim bashing gets no-one anywhere and creates only more division in society. If you had read my post properly I also said Hilaly should be condemned for what he said, but of course, your mind went blank at that point.

 

When we have a problem which needs to be solved, taking a mature, rational and reasoned approach is going to get us further than simply jumping up and down playground style and pointing fingers.

 

Hilaly is not the problem. The misogyny inherent in Islam is the problem but, to understand that misogyny and to see it in perspective, one needs to understand that misogyny is inherent in all religions, most particularly in those which are practised in fundamentalist form.

 

My first response to Hilaly was to seek to understand it. I happen to believe that governments need to be judicious about immigrant selection. I don't think any people who follow fundamentalist religion, and that includes Christian, Jewish, Hinduism and Islam, are going to fit into a secular society like Australia. The very nature of their beliefs and the closed system in which they operate means that they and their children can never belong.

 

But, I would make the point that this applies not just to Muslims, who are being singled out at this point, but to any fundamentalist religion which requires its followers to live in a way which is incompatible with the values and lifestyle of the greater community.

 

You said: no matter how many centuries ago these words were supposed to have been said, to bolster a truly dishonest claim that this is moral equivalence.

 

The moral equivalence, if you can comprehend the distinction, is that Hilaly said what he said because of the beliefs inherent in his religion. Those sorts of beliefs are still found in other religions it is just that people are not taping the fundamentalist Christians, Jews or Hindus.

 

You said: And of course even the "quotes" are vicious fabrications. In the entire vast realm of cyberspace

 

Really? Then how do you account for the comprehensive Notes and References from the authors. You might like to do some reading.

 

Notes

 

[1] As well as Muslims and Buddhists, Jews and Muslims, etc. For disagreements within each, see below.

 

[2] For example, Hunsburger (1995): "Those, who make the strongest claim to being 'true believers' of Christianity (and possibly other major world religions), and who reportedly follow traditional religious teachings most scrupulously, are also those who tend to be the most intolerant of their fellow human beings". See also Armstrong (1993, p. 49); Brown (1988, pp. 98-99); Batson, Schoenrade, & Ventis (1993); Donahue (1985).

 

[3] For example Article of Religion #18 of the Book of Common Prayer (1968, p. 619): "They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth..."; see also Hunsburger (1995, p. 124) and Moore & Kramer (2000).

 

[4] Admonitions against women (their beauty, their voice etc) are rather common in the Wisdom Literature; e.g. in Ecclus. 9:8, also in Prov. 5:3-6; and in "The words of Ahikar", cca. 7th century BCE. See pp. 270-275 in Winton (1961).

 

 

[5] A notable exception is Eccl. 7:26: "And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her?". Merkin (1987, p. 403) writes of its author: "his distrust of women's wiles verges on virtual misogyny". Ben Sirah, whose Book of Wisdom belongs to the Apocrypha, also has a lengthy attack on women, culminating in "For from garments cometh a moth, and from women wickedness". (Ecclus. 42:13).

 

 

[6] Hassan (1991) makes a similar attempt vis a vis Islam, interpreting the Koran so as to take off its misogynic edge.

 

 

[7] For example, Power's (1995) analysis of Augustine ("one of the men who made the West", p. 5). According to her, "...Augustine legitimated a situation where violence of men to women became progressively more acceptable" (p. 229).

 

 

[8] Milne (1989): ..."the biblical text itself is structured as male mythology; Trible (1990, p. 95) who describes as "scandalous" the translation of Deut. 32:18 "God who gave you birth" by the Jerusalem Bible as : 'God who fathered you; c.f. Tappa (1986, p. 101): "...Christianity has been captured by a patriarchal system... Patriarchy has created God in man's image".

 

 

References

 

 

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Al-Hashimi, Muhammad Ali (1996). The ideal Muslimah, 3rd ed. (Tr. by Nasiruddin Al-Khattab). Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: International Islamic Publishing House.

 

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Armstrong, Karen (1986). The Gospel according to woman : Christianity's creation of the sex war in the West. London: Elm Tree

 

Armstrong, Karen (1993). A history of god. New York: Ballentine.

 

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Batson, C. Daniel, Schoenrade, P. & Ventis, W. L. (1993). Religion and the individual: A social-psychological perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.

 

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By the way, I did link the article. I also explained why I had not linked it in the first place. I truly had not thought you lot would get hysterical about a few religious quotes. There you go.

 

You said: I can't speak for C Parsons, Roslyn Ross. But I can say for certain I haven't learnt anything more. There is not a single thing about this issue, and about you, that I didn't know already.  

 

What a remarkably well informed man you are. Perhaps we could have a discussion on Karen Armstrong's views on misogyny in religion. Or the Laws of Manu and how they impacted on Hindu women? What are your thoughts?      

 

 

Wow! A Whole Bunch Of References? That's The End Of It Then

Yeah? Well I can quote a few notes and references too.

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Fraser, R. (1968). Work: twenty personal accounts. Harmondsworth, Penguin books in association with New Left Review.

Fraser, R. (1968). Work. Twenty personal accounts. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books in association with New Left Review.

Freedman, H. (1935). The Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nezikin, Sanhedrin vol 2. London, The Soncino Press.

Freedman, M. (1988). Leeds Jewry: a demographic and sociological profile. Leeds, Freedman.

Freedman, M. (1995). Leeds Jewry. A history of its synagogues. Leeds, M. Freedman.

Freedman, M. (2002). Leeds Jews in the 1901 Census: a demographic portrait of an immigrant community. Leeds, Freedman.

Freedman, M. (2003). Chapeltown and its Jews. Leeds, Freedman.

Freedman, R. O. (1984). Soviet Jewry in the decisive decade, 1971-80. Durham, N.C., Duke University Press.

Freeman, G. (1979). Diary of a nazi Lady. New York, Ace Books.

Freemasons (1974). Lodge of Israel No 1474, Centenary Meeting (1874-1974), the Warwickshire Peace Memorial Temple, Clarendon Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Freud, S. (1942). Totem and Taboo: resemblances between the physic lives of savages and neurotics. Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Friedhoff, H. (1988). Requiem for the resistance: the civilian struggle against Nazism in Holland and Germany. London, Bloomsbury.

Friedlander, A. H. A. H. (1973). Leo Baeck - teacher of Theresienstadt. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Friedlander, G. (1917). Jewish Fairy Tales. London, Robert Scott.

Friedlander, G. (1949). Laws and customs of Israel: compiled from the codes Chayye adam ("Life of man"), Kizzur shulchan aruch ("Condensed code of laws"), in four parts. London, Shapiro, Vallentine and Co.

Friedlander, M. (1937). The Jewish religion. London, Shapiro, Vallentine, and Co.

Friedman, J. (1947). The redemption of Israel. London, The Catholic Book Club.

Friedmann, G. (1967). The end of the Jewish people? London, Hutchinson and Co. Ltd.

Frojimovics, K., and Komoróczy, Géza. (1999). Jewish Budapest: monuments, rites, history. New York, Central European University Press.

Front, N. C. O. T. N. (1965). Brown Book, War and Nazi Criminals in West Germany. London, National Council of the Natonal Front of Democratic Germany.

Frumkin, J. G., Aronson, G. (Gregor), and Goldenweiser, Alexis, (1966-69). Russian Jewry. New York, T. Yoseloff.

Fukuyama, F. (1992). The end of history and the last man. London, Penguin.

Fund, J. N. (1929). Palestine Bazaar. Manchester, Massels The Printers.

Fussell, P. (1989). Wartime: understanding and behavior in the Second World War. New York: Oxford, Oxford University Press.

That was easy. I could go on. Those are just the "E"s and "F"s.

And my notes and references all reckon that your notes and references are a complete crock.

Pat O'Shane

C Parsons, I think it is a purely factual statement to say that some women do lie about Sexual Assault. I have heard from those who practice in the area that it can be common in Family law, especially in bitter custody battles. I think O'Shane's comments were ill-advised and, grudgingly accept, that it created an implication that she was biased. I think what she ought to have said in defence of Geoff Clark was that he was entitled, like anyone else, to the presumption of innocence (and also, as she did in fact say, that this does not therefore mean that the women are lying but that they had a rebuttable presumption of a bona fide claim). Nevertheless the feminist reaction to O'Shanes comments was quite viceral, almost "politically correct" in its intensity and her views cannot therefore be attributed to feminists as a class.

I cannot for the life of me see the connection to Hilaly. These comments were made more than a year ago and they do not address the issue of whether women invite rape by their dress. I expect as a feminist Pat O'Shane would be rightly apalled by such an opinion attributed to her.

The moral high ground

Simon Warriner: "The torture and genocide of a people was presented as holiday infotainment for the world tourist, along the lines of "see what we are up against, aren't we doing it tough"

Perhaps The Burnie Advocate could give equal time to Hamas?

Maybe it could reprint highlights of the Hamas constitution (Article 7) calling on Muslims everywhere to kill Jews wherever they find them?

Maybe tourists could visit some bomb factories? Or take part in a rocket attack on a Jewish settlement?

Maybe the tourists could hide behind some Palestinian women for safety to better experience the frisson of combat?

Or tie a bomb to a retarded kid and nudge him toward an Israeli checkpoint?

It's important that people know why we support the Palestinian Authority in all of this?

 

C Parsons

C Parsons, thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote. In response: 

"Perhaps The Burnie Advocate could give equal time to Hamas?"

No, the Advocate need not give time to Hamas, but some space for Pilger, Fisk, and a number of others who are not parroting the Israeli line would be a refreshing change.

"Maybe it could reprint highlights of the Hamas constitution (Article 7) calling on Muslims everywhere to kill Jews wherever they find them?"

Yes, that would be a good thing, but only alongside a comprehensive list of UN resolutions that Israel has ignored or had vetoed.

At what point does someone fighting for freedom from oppression become a "terrorist", or go from being a terrorist to being feted around the wold ala one Nelson Mandela? Is the recruitment of the latest nutbag to the Israeli cabinet any different to Hamas's ridiculous and ultimately counterproductive call to arms?

"Maybe tourists could visit some bomb factories? Or take part in a rocket attack on a Jewish settlement?"

Or maybe they could visit a predator drone assembly plant in America and then watch as it blows the life out of someone the Israeli's decide is to be killed without giving that person the opportunity to hear and refute the evidence against themselves, and kills half a dozen innocent bystanders whose only crime is to be born to the wrong parents?

"Maybe the tourists could hide behind some Palestinian women for safety to better experience the frisson of combat?"

And hiding behind women is any less honorable than politicians hiding behind soldiers hiding behind big, very expensive hunks of steel supplied by the American taxpayer while they destroy whole streets as collective punishment.

"Or tie a bomb to a retarded kid and nudge him toward an Israeli checkpoint?"

Yes, using retarded kids is beyond the pale, and so is cluster bombing the bejesus out of an area you are about to return to its rightfull owners whose kids will get blown to bits by your venality.

War is war, nothing else and certainly not entertainment.

Did I say anywhere that I supported the actions of the Palestinian Authority?

By any measure, the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israeli state is an unequal one. For it to cease one side needs to say "enough". Which one should say it first ? I do not know.

But that was not the point of my posting, my point was to illustrate consequences of the complete lack of moral focus in our community. It is this lack of moral focus that contributes to the occurrance of act of the sort committed by the kids above.

Reading the comics....

Simon Warriner: "Yes, using retarded kids is beyond the pale, and so is cluster bombing the bejesus out of an area you are about to return to its rightfull owners whose kids will get blown to bits by your venality."

"Lebanese Hizbullah guerrillas fired cluster rockets into civilian areas of northern Israel during the recent war, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Thursday."

Simon Warriner: "War is war, nothing else and certainly not entertainment."

"Islamic terror group Hamas has launched a new Web magazine for kids that praises martyrs while encouraging children to follow the example of committing suicide for the "cause."

Complete with cartoon characters and other pictures demonstrating the "heroism of Palestinian children," the online magazine, titled Al-Fateh, promises "pages discussing Jihad (holy war), scientific pages, the best stories, not be found elsewhere, and unequalled tales of heroism." The webzine's editor hopes it will be read by "our beloved youth, the leaders of the future."

You'll just love the cartoons on the front page...

You'lljust love the cartoons on the front page

C Parsons. I followed your links, interesting cartoon, but sorry I dont read Arabic.

Interesting source,

Jon E. Dougherty, a policy analyst with Freedom Alliance, a group founded by Lt. Col. Oliver North, is the author of "Illegals: The Imminent Threat Posed by Our Unsecured U.S.-Mexico Border."

Just so we know ,the source of your info, I am assuming this would be the same O. North that was caught selling weapons to finance a particularly nasty war in Nicuragua without the approval of congress.

My original point stands, and is arguably reinforced by your post, the use of the activities of war as entertainment is morally reprehensible.

Cafe au lait

A rendezvous? That was worth a little smile.

Led by example

I was treated to an article in my local paper "The Advocate" in Burnie, Tas two Saturdays ago. In the travel section was a full page effort promoting "behind the scenes tours of Israel's anti Arab military machine. A more slickly written peice of propoganda I have never seen. It must have appeared elsewhere because a collegue mentioned it got a comment on that journalistic molehill that is the Sunrise program on 7.

The torture and genocide of a people was presented as holiday infotainment for the world tourist, along the lines of "see what we are up against, aren't we doing it tough"

If this is what passes for a holiday, should we be surprised if some of our youth think that denigrating a mentally disadvantaged school mate passes as entertainment.  

We have been led to a place where the banality of evil is passed of as entertainment, and we are the poorer for it. Shock and awe is not a movie, it is people's homes blown to the shithouse, kids ripped limb from limb and the dust made toxic for an eternity by depleted uranium.

All this based on a proven series of lies, then we witness Israel drop tens of thousands of cluster bombs on Lebanon in the dying days of an assault that was as justifiable as a kicking I once witnessed a gang member give an old man for spilling his beer in a public bar.

And we wonder why our boys think humiliating a girl with diminished mental capacity is entertaining.

Those who would claim they know what is best for this nation need to explain how supportting tyranny and mass murder of non combatants is acceptable behaviour and why we are doing it. Protecting us from evil terrorists is not enough. One wrong does not and never has justified another. Especially when the other side of the arguement has decided that turning themselves into human handgrenades is an acceptable option.

Anyone with half a brain knows that adding fuel to a fire will not put it out, only the removal of fuel, oxygen or heat will do that. As adults and parents we have a moral responsibilty to lead by example. The example being set our children is one of bullying leaders, spinless, souless and incompetant journalism and a vacuous public obsessed with sport, the latest toys, and any threat to their ability to enjoy the previous two items. I despair for our kids, I truly do.

The trouble with principles

Simon, good post. I think there are many reasons why people have become 'immune' to atrocities and human rights abuses.

The level of violence in movies, the introduction of 'reality' television, which is of course, not the least bit real, but staged and masquerading as reality, the deterioration of standards in the media where a 'good story' matters more than the truth (to some degree this has always existed but only in the gutter press..... now the so-called reputable media are operating by gutter press standards); the sensationalising of stories which means that issues and actions are divided into their most sensational aspects, ie good and evil, right and wrong, good and bad; and the trivialisation of issues which results from economic constraints imposed by a world which believes profit for the shareholders matters more than a quality product.

People are busy and they are almost 'drowned' in information in this day and age which makes it easier for governments and media to reduce issues and actions to simplistic levels.

Most people are focussed on their own lives and because those lives are so relatively secure and comfortable they don't think too much about core principles ..... those principles which underpin our modern, democratic and relatively civilized world.

And, when it comes to the Palestinian/Israeli issue many people are not only disinterested, they are ignorant as to the brutal realities of Israel's foundation and the barbaric realities of its occupation and colonisation programme. There is probably a little more interest than in say, Sudan, because a white face is always worth more than a black one ..... what was the old saying in journalism? A hundred dead whites will always make the front page before a thousand dead blacks, or browns.

We have also been affected by the American culture of aggression which permeates television, movies and advertising. The American myth is one of fighting, by any means, fair or foul, to triumph, and, when you do, you take revenge on anyone who has thwarted you along the way. I remember sitting through countless teenage movies with my kids (I believe you need to know what your kids are watching), and this was in the 1980's, and being horrified by this ever recurring myth in schoolyard America.

Anyone who is different is picked upon. Too smart, too dumb, too black, too fat, whatever, is singled out for persecution. It's almost a playground sport, but, in the movies, the victim rises to a position of power and triumphs over all, taking revenge as he or she wills.

There's probably more of this sort of attitude at work in Australia than there was twenty years ago and our kids and the kids who came after then, have been immersed in a culture, not just of intolerance, but of enjoyment of persecution of those who are weaker..... or those who can be persecuted.

I think this follows through in the demonisation of the asylum seekers (regardless of the fact that just about all of them were subsequently allowed entry ..... after the required amount of persecution and suffering of course), and now the demonisation of Muslims.

There's no denying that fundamental Islam is problematic for secular societies and more so because the numbers are greater than say the equally problematic fundamentalist christians, jews and hindus, but there is also no denying that government and media are singling them out in a 'them' and 'us' way. Yes, they should assimilate, as much as they can, but demonising them won't do it..... banning all religious schools would be a start, or at least demanding that religious schools accept children of other religions and make the teaching of religion optional would be a start.

But, back to the points that you make. I think they reveal how vital it is for people to be reminded, or taught, about those principles of justice, rule of law, human rights and democracy which underpin our modern world and which are threatened whenever we choose to ignore them.The reality of the Israel issue is that if these principles were applied then Israel would be subject to international sanctions and boycotts until the occupation ended and redress was made to the people dispossessed at the time of Israel's creation. Needless to say, the same approach would apply to all others guilty of transgressing those basic principles including Australia as an invader and occupier.

But that is the trouble with principles, they have to apply to everyone.

From Werribee To Murwillumbah

And, it is news to me that every 'quote' has to be linked on Webdiary. Many are not, but given that Geoff and C.Parsons are keen to learn more. Here is the link.

No Roslyn Ross. It's only when you come out with your bigotted nonsense that you have an obligation to link. So that all can see for themselves the way your mind operates. Come to think of it, that's all the time.

You have produced a number of quotes purporting to be of Christian and Jewish religious origin to make out some spurious equivalence argument to dilute the significance of the ugly and dangerous nonsense spewed by that clerical lunatic, and others of the same ilk, just a few days ago. Even if the quotes are accurate, what kind of a person could possibly regard them as in the slightest bit relevant?

The spiritual leader of Australian Muslims makes some appalling comments about rape victims being uncovered meat? So what is your first response? To troll the internet for something equally obscene, no matter how obscure and unknown, no matter how many centuries ago these words were supposed to have been said, to bolster a truly dishonest claim that this is moral equivalence.

And of course even the "quotes" are vicious fabrications. In the entire vast realm of cyberspace, the only reference to these "quotes", in the context you have claimed, is on this one website. You found it. You failed to link it until after C Parsons had. You have given not the slightest piece of information about who is behind this site, this secondary source,  whose material you have lifted to make your case. 

And you continue to post here, without apology, without apparent embarassment and without retraction or correction, even though your stuff has been exposed for what it is more times than I can remember.

I can't speak for C Parsons, Roslyn Ross. But I can say for certain I haven't learnt anything more. There is not a single thing about this issue, and about you, that I didn't know already.        

 

The merging of all faiths

C Parsons if St Augustine is Jewish my good ole sunday school teacher has lot to answer for! What else was he lying about?

Perhaps where not the only ones that go to heaven? Maybe we should just all sit in a room by ourselves, pull the curtain across and pretend nobody else made it?

I will have to have a word to St Peter. He's a Hindu, no?

Stuff happens

Richard:   Thanks. Stuff happens. It gave the boys a bit of fun I am sure making the most of the mistakes thinking they were mine.

I probably should have thought of posting the link as it is an interesting article. Daniela Kramer is an Israeli social sciences researcher from Oranim-School of Education of the Kibbutz Movement  and Michael Moore is Associate Professor of social psychology at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The religious quotes came from their article which is titled Women are the Root of All Evil: the Misogyny of Religions, which is an examination of selected writings of the five major world religions.

I guess at the time of writing I thought the 'quotes' were interesting enough rather than the article itself although clearly some Webdiarists are keen to learn more.

Welcome Home

Hi Margo, good to see you on deck.

Hi Michael. How is Tully and how is YOUR drupal? I'm visiting David in the course of rendezvousing with Noel Hadjimichael about his current passion - educating future citizens about how our democracy works through student parliaments in schools. Very Exciting.  David is showing me how the back room of the site works - I suppose I'm putting my toe on the deck to see how it feels.

Super, Thanks For Asking

Margo, Tully is doing pretty well, all things considered. As far as I know, there are only a few places in town with tarps still covering roof damage. Innisfail still has a few hundred roofs to rebuild. Unlike the rest of the nation, we in the coastal wet tropics are dealing with too much water rather than too little. Since TC Larry 'kissed' us in March, we've had over 2 metres of rain and very few dry periods.

IMHO, drupal is a very good platform. My drupal site has run all year without any problems. We use it at work for informal knowledge capture and collaboration. Of course, it doesn't have anthing like the traffic load of Webdiary. Having total control of the hardware and system software means I don't have to deal with any nonsense handed out by the likes of our friends at OnSmart.

Enjoy your time with Noel. And stay well.

Lord, make me pure...but not yet!

I'll drink to that, hey St Augustine.

Margo: Hi Phil. I've just published my first comment in the new system! And it was easy!

Ullo

Margo, wonderful to see your candle still gives a lovely light...

Margo: Hi Phil. I'm into kharma these days, so thank you, I think! 

Asleep at the wheel.

Bloody hell.  Fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours and missed Margo's appearance.  Great to see you back, ma'am !

Margo: Hi Richard. I tried to log in to your blog to say thanks for keeping the dream alive but I couldn't work out how to register. Some things never change between me and technology....

 

Margo's First Comment

Real easy Margo. And thanks.

Margo: Hi Geoff. Great to meet you, at last, on Saturday. The best breakfast in the Tweed, I'd wager.

Hi Margo

Good to see you back.

Hope you are still off the ciggys.

Sheik Rattle and Roll

Geoff Pahoff: "Typically, you [Roslyn Ross] have not provided the links to the sites from which you have lifted these "religious quotes".

She Googled a website in a vain effort to look knowledgeable.

She then cherry-picked the bits that speak poorly of Judaism. And is too poorly educated to realise that St Augustine wasn't Jewish.

Thus endeth the lesson.

 

Misogyny is deep-seated in society. So is racism.

Roslyn Ross, quoting St Augustine;

"Augustine (354-430): "It is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman, "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a woman."

But other Jewish religious writings are more specific."

Saint Augustine wasn't Jewish.

He was born, raised and educated as a Christian.

But don't let that get in your way of your daily dose of gratuitous Jew baiting.

Solomon Wakeling: "Bringing out Pat O'Shane as if there were any connection here is baffling."

See Roslyn's comment below about how misogyny is deeply seated in our society.

Like St Augustine, Pat O'Shane was raised a Catholic.

She is a noted feminist and left wing activist. Yet she still manged to suggest that women lie about sexual assault.

This must be because of the Jewish influences that worries Roslyn so much.

I'm just being helpful in explaining the moral underpinnings of the left wing of the women's movement.

 

The post was published

The post was published incorrectly and text was transposed out of place. I have no idea why. I have asked for it to be corrected and published as I wrote it and as it was posted, whereby it is clear that all references to St Augustine were as a Christian mysoginist. 

And, it is news to me that every 'quote' has to be linked on Webdiary. Many are not, but given that Geoff and C.Parsons are keen to learn more. Here is the link.

http://www.secweb.org/index.aspx?action=viewAsset&id=203

Richard:  I was  just fixing the original post as you wrote this, Roslyn.  I didn't publish the first one, so have no idea what happened. Sorry ! 

Misogyny is deep-seated in society

If Abu Ghraib has indeed pushed people over a 'moral threshold' as to what is or is not acceptable, it is only because it taps into a deeply entrenched misogyny in the society.  

 

And more recently, while considering the uproar over the Australian Imam's comments in regard to women, we need to look deeper than the surface to understand what is going on.  

 

The reality is that while Hilaly's comments should rightly be condemned, such attitudes are a part not only of Islam but of all religions and simmer beneath the surface of secular society as well.

 

Kim Beazley touched upon this and he is right. Thirty or forty years ago women were said to be 'asking for it' if they were raped, and forty or fifty years ago, a child out of wedlock was such a shame, for a woman, not a man, that parents and society in most cases forced her to have the child as secretly as possible and to give it up for adoption.

 

Hatred or fear of women, which is what it is all about, has been part and parcel of all religions for millenia ..... at least since the patriarchal age when God 'became a man.'

 

Christian teaching says: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (I Cor 14: 34, 35).

 

In the words of Augustine:

 

Augustine (354-430): "It is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman."

 

The Jewish morning prayer, for men is brief and totally misogynistic:

 

"Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a woman."

 

But other Jewish religious writings are more specific:

 

"Women are said to have four qualities: gluttony, obedientness, laziness, and jealousness. Rabbi Yehuda says: wrathfulness and loquaciousness. Rabbi Levi says: also stealing and harlotry" (p. 488-489, # 110).

 

And, in the same vein as the Muslims, Jewish teaching says:

 

"Anything a man wants to do with his wife, he shall do. It is like meat that has come from the slaughterhouse; wants to eat it salted, he eats it. Roasted--he eats it. Boiled--he eats it." (p. 491, # 165).

 

Hinduism's Mahabharata teaches that:

 

 'women are the root of all evil' 

 

And
India
's other great religious work, the Ramayana is in full agreement, saying:

 

"women are impure by their very birth, they blight all virtues, their nature is to be vicious, fickle and sharp-tongued.  "

 

By all means let us condemn what Hilaly said but in order not to be hypocrites we need to remember that Islam is not alone in its attitudes toward women and that all religions are still tainted with this ancienty hatred and fear.

 

Even the Christians, who have had their enlightenments and reformations still have a Pope who refuses to treat women as equals and maintains that only men may be priests ..... despite the clear evidence that Jesus accepted men and women as equals and that women acted as priests in the early years of the Christian Church.

 

Not that religion has ever let facts or justice get in the way of power and subjugation to serve its own ends.

Richard:  Apparently this comment wasn't posted correctly the first time.  At Roslyn's request I've repaired it. 

 

Links Please

Typically, you have not provided the links to the sites from which you have lifted these "religious quotes". Even though you are citing page numbers. Of what?  Please provide the links. In accordance with WD ethics and basic decent standards of civil discourse that everybody  would clearly understand.   

Response

Mike Lyvers & Jay, actually I do find that quote hard to believe but I assume it has been verified. She doesn't appear to have paid very close attention to Hilaly's comments, as he was clearly stating that it was the woman's fault, not merely that there was increased likelihood. I stand corrected, anyhow.

C Parsons, yes but Omran specifically distanced himself from the idea that women invite rape. Bringing out Pat O'Shane as if there were any connection here is baffling.

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