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What’s changed about me?

by Irfan Yusuf 

Some readers may not know this. Others will be shocked to find out. But despite the stress it may cause some of you, I will make a political admission.

Yes, folks, it’s true. I spent 10 of the best years of my life as a card-carrying member of the NSW Branch of the Liberal Party of Australia.

Now before any lefties out there read any further, check to see your private health insurance is all paid-up. Because I’m about to tell you that I was a factional warrior for the NSW Right of the NSW Libs. Yep, I was a proud conservative. Small “c”, as you can all see. But conservative all the same.

So what’s changed about me? Actually, not much at all. I may have grown a few years older since my membership lapsed. I have a few more grey hairs. I’m no longer going out with the delightful lass who recruited me to the Party. Last time I was weighed, it was clear I’d shed a few kilos.

But ideologically speaking, I am still pretty much the same. I still believe that if it ain’t broken, there’s no bloody point trying to fix it. I believe in the invisible hand. I’m still having a love affair with the free market.

In fact, the main reason I allowed my membership to lapse was simple. I saw the conservative wing being overrun by a bunch of feral ex-lefties for whom being small “l” liberal was only a means to further their careers in the political sex industry.

There was a time when the NSW Liberals were run by a faction called the “Group”. I found many people in the Group quite obnoxious. Many were snotty-nosed private-school educated dimwitted kids of rich North Shore and Eastern Suburbs parents.

(I can’t exactly talk. I went to St Andrews. But then, this article isn’t about my schooling, is it! Read on.)

A large reason so many people were in the Group was because you had to be in the Group to get ahead. And to progress. Sorry, that was lame.

What’s even lamer is that as soon as John Howard won the election in 1996, a whole host of Groupers decided to join the NSW Right. Just a few months before, these same people were sticking needles into voodoo dolls with glasses, big eyebrows and not much stature that looked like something off a Mr Sheen bottle.

What made things even worse was that this group of Groupers exposed their real politics. And believe me, it wasn’t pretty. Here’s a sample.

I was talking to a journo from the Canberra Press Gallery who was doing a story on the influence of religions in conservative politics. The journo told me of a conversation with Young Liberal National President (and former NSW Grouper) Alex Hawke.

“He didn’t say much. Apart from telling me that Muslims need to learn to fit into mainstream Australia or leave the country.”

This was the same Hawke who, hardly a few years earlier, had used Group support to stab his own branch president in the back. And this political assassination was carried out on the eve of the same President appointing him to replace her on the throne.

So if I haven’t changed, if I am just as conservative as before, why aren’t I rushing to renew my lapsed membership? The answer is simple. The conservatives are no longer conservative. They’re just feral.

What proved that more than anything was the response of allegedly conservative commentators and politicians to events following the London terror attacks on 7 July 2005.

For instance, that former pin-up boy for the Group Dr Brendan Nelson decided the time had come to lecture certain independent schools to teach “Australian values” or ship out (or was that shove off?). I’m not sure how the schools would ship out – the first fleet isn’t exactly in prime condition.

I always understood conservative governments to support the rights of parents to choose whether to send their kiddies to a state school or an independent one. Many schools Dr Nelson referred to have been in existence since the mid-1980’s, back in the days when Dr Nelson was declaring that he had “never voted Liberal” in his life.

I remember sitting on the preselection in which Dr Nelson defeated sitting MP David Connelly by less than a handful of votes. Hardly a week before, the good spin-Doctor kept me on the phone for over an hour, waxing lyrical about the importance of multiculturalism and how he would love to have a more inclusive Liberal Party.

Even today, my many family members and friends in Dr Nelson’s electorate continue to receive his literature with the original Nelson logo “Bradfield – put your heart in it!”

But after July 7, Dr Nelson’s spin had changed. He now could see votes and popularity (and perhaps even the keys to a large white mansion in Kirribilli) in telling Muslim-managed independent schools to put a sock in it.

Nelson is a typical ex-Grouper who has suddenly decided to switch to the Right. He isn’t the only one. At least a third of today’s “Howard loyalist” MP’s from across the country are former small “l” liberals.

On the intellectual front, there is Keith Windschuttle, a former Marxist who suddenly moved to the far-right. In 1988, the 3rd edition of his The Media: a New Analysis of the Press, Television, Radio and Advertising in Australia (a Marxist critique of Aussie media) was published. Within 15 years, Windschuttle decided that the notion indigenous Australians were the subject of a genocide was a huge left-wing conspiracy.

Windschuttle’s analysis of the Cronulla riots, published in The Australian on November 16 2005, is so typical of the neo-(or rather, pseudo-) Conservative analysis that denies and denigrates the multicultural status quo of modern Australia.

Winschuttle labelled the Cronulla incidents as “multicultural riots”. His analysis of the Cronulla riots painted a confused picture of Lebanese migrants, with the dividing line being religion.

He claimed that Lebanese Christians were more Australian than Muslims because the Christians had produced a NSW Governor and a Wallabies captain. He then asks: “How Australian can you get?” before virtually denying Australianness to the Muslim proportion of Lebanese Australians.

One wonders which Australia Windschuttle is living in. Had he followed ARL football, he may have heard of Hazem al-Masri. Had he read the October edition of the Australian Financial Review Magazine, he would have seen Ahmed Fahour’s name amongst 4 others considered as the most powerful figures in financial services.

Mr Windschuttle described the drunken rioting as merely “mass retaliation” to the “Lebanese assaults on the Cronulla lifesavers”. He then went into an explanation about the causes for one former headmaster from Punchbowl Boys High School bringing what appeared to be a Workers Compensation Claim for stress against the NSW Department of Education.

Mr Windschuttle conveniently fails to mention other “ghetto” schools such as Granville Boys High School, a school with almost equal if not greater proportion of Lebanese Muslim students. This school has produced at least 2 partners of major Sydney commercial law firms and 1 partner of a major insolvency firm, not to mention other people prominent in business and professions.

Somehow Mr Windschuttle is able to extract from this mass of confused information some kind of coherent theory on why our multicultural status quo is to blame for the Cronulla riots. Despite trying to push as many facts as possible into his diatribe, Mr Windschuttle neglects one important point – exactly how does one define multiculturalism? And perhaps more importantly, exactly what is Australian culture?

To presume that Muslim cultures are a monolith and always different from the cultures practised by other Australians involves generating a mythology whose creation requires a rush of blood to the head. Some writers appear to have generated this blood flow by plonking their heads firmly into the sands of Cronulla beach.

Yet this “heads-in-the-cultural-sand” approach is so typical of ex-Marxists masquerading as conservatives. For these people, anything the Left supports is bad, even if it’s right and consistent with the best conservative thinking has to offer. I guess in some cases, there is a fine line between socialism and national socialism.

Of course, real conservatives realise that multiculturalism is the status quo. That explains why real conservatives, people like Jeff Kennett and Malcolm Fraser and John Hewson and Tim Fischer, don’t waste their time with the badly reconstructed Marxists and lefties that now seem to dominate allegedly conservative discourse.

And it also explains why so many small “c” conservatives are doing plenty of soul-searching before deciding whether to renew their membership.

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The Best Laid Plans...

See Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel [extract]
Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.


According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, "the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism."

"The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer."

"They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it," he said.


The Israeli Embassy press office referred UPI to its Web site when asked to comment.

Not This Guy Again!

Michael, this is what ?.. the third time or fourth time you have quoted this nobody? The second nobody I mean.

Your point is ..?

What hamas stands for

"Hundreds of women at a Hamas election rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah cheered when they heard about the (suicide bombing) attack"

The right of return

Will, first on the refugee issue, since it is now fresh in my mind. I recall reading a few years ago an article by (I think) a senior legal negotiator for the Palestinians. It set out the following suggestion. (As best as I can reconstruct it - and I'm probably reading some sub-text of what was actually in the article.) It seems to me both reasonably just, and pragmatic - and not so far off the Taba negotiations.

The right of return is inalienable. It cannot be negotiated away, and is not limited by time or anything else. It is extinguished when the refugee ceases to have that status, as determined by the relevant UN instruments. Even after extinguishment, the (former) refugee may have entitlements to compensation essentially on a common law style basis.

Therefore all Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their former homes in Israel.

However, as a practical matter, Israel could not absorb the sudden influx of all the refugees exercising that right. Particularly given the necessity of providing housing and infrastructure, determining property rights, compensation and so on.

Therefore there needs to be an organized process for refugee return. The process would have a quota (XX) per year. That quota should be as high as possible, given reasonable constraints on finance, staffing, the construction of housing and infrastructure etc.

Next, the Palestinians trade some justice for pragmatics: The quota shall also take account of the Israeli desire to maintain its identity as a Jewish State. This cannot be part of a formal agreement, because it would compromise the right of return. It can, informally, be part of the calculation of XX.

The result is that XX is in the tens of thousands - 50 or 60, from memory. The alternative for the refugees is resettlement in the new Palestine (or elswhere). That would extinguish their claim.

What follows is my analysis.

To make it work, there needs to be a reasonably promising and attractive Palestinian state (a big ask), and appropriate compensation for property, so that the majority of refugees will choose that option. Otherwise the time stretches out into the never-never. It is likely that many refugees will prefer the resettlement option, regardless, if it is perceived as a fair option. That should be factored in.

The problem is the numbers. I haven't tried a detailed comparison of the Taba positions, but my impression is that the main issues are "XX" and "5 Years". "Capped" would be a problem in the formal agreement, too, on the basis that it implies difficulties (Israeli identity) beyond the right of return. XX should be negotiable if there is, in fact, a number that fits the requirements.

That leaves us with "5 Years". It appears once on each side.

The Palestinians want it as the time in which to lodge a declaration of intent. That is negotiable, but in the context of the scenario above should give them time to evaluate the emerging Palestine. That probably means three or four years at least.

The Israelis want it as the time for the dissolution of UNRWA. The problem for the Palestinians is that that would effectively extinguish the status of any remaining refugees (I think), unjustly and contrary to international law. So it is not negotiable. I, with my limited understanding, agree with them.

What remains is a matter of confidence. The Palestinians (rightly) cannot accept the extinguishment of refugee staus by time. The Israelis (reasonably) cannot accept an unlimited right of return. A formal agreement would require that, as long as there are remaining refugees, they have the right of return. It would also require that the Israelis can be confident (whatever the formal text) that there is a reasonable end point.

I was going to end there, but I notice that I've arrived at the issue of finality, and have by accident been discussing one of the issues from your other post. So I will go on a little further.

The Palestinians cannot, and should not, formally agree to an end date. That is, basically, what the "inalienable" is all about. It is up to the parties (including the international community) to find an agreement that the Israelis (and the Palestinians) can have justified confidence will lead to a (reasonably) just peace. The formal terms of such an agreement cannot, unfortunately, impose an end date.

I'll respond to your other post as soon as I can. It requires thinking about, and maybe some research. Maybe today, more likely later, but in any case by early next week.

Re: The Right of Return

Thanks for that Mark Sergeant. The resolution of the refugee issue is one of the remaining thorny "crunch" issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israelis cannot, and in my view, should not, accept a "blanket" right of return for all the Palestinian refugees AND their descendants. This is a total deal breaker for the Israeli side.

The question is how to address the rights of the original refugees in a way that respects Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. (What I have put in italics is one of those axiomatic, "we-hold-these-truths-to-be-self-evident"-type statements. That's my starting point. Many people don't accept that axiom, but in my opinion that's a position that leads nowhere. It is also a whole 'nother discussion.)

I agree that something like the Taba formula will have to form the resolution to this issue, and your analysis touches the key points. Although the Palestinians may not have to agree to an end date, they will have to agree to some limit, eg an "end-generation" beyond which they will not be entitled to claim refugee status. For example, in one model refugee status (under standard UN definitions) would only apply to those who actually became refugees in 1948 (the 1967 West Bank case is slightly different as I understand it because those refugees left from Jordanian-annexed territory, not June 4 1967 Israel). However, their families could apply for settlement in Israel under normal immigration procedures.

Note that the Taba formulation included a $30 billion fund for resettlement or compensation.


Will, I think I was referring to the Israeli side of the barrier. On consideration, that's not such an interesting question, because one way or another it will end up part of Israel. Even if it isn't built as a future border. That means the settlements on the Israeli side will also be part of Israel. So the real question is about the rest of the settlements.

Opinion polls have been reporting for years that a majority of Israelis would prefer to get out of the West Bank. But the settlements just keep growing. It is one of those issues were a majority go one way, but have higher priorities. A numerous, vocal, organized and aggressive minority go the other way, and for them it is the top - or only - priority. The poor pollies rarely bite the bullet. In this case doing so could turn out literal, as well as metaphorical.

Gaza was a tiny step. Making the barrier into a border will appease a large proportion of the rest. It will still leave a hell of a lot of unhappy people to be moved inside the new borders, if they can be moved. What are the numbers? Will they move?

Just to add to the confusion, here is another version of the maps, from mideastweb.org. They make my head ache! Not only are they all based on partisan versions (and that includes the Ross versions) of what took place over various meetings, they are all badly designed. Maybe it actually reflects the complexity of the negotiations. I don't think I want to be a peace negotiator.

The only map that is simple and clear is Ross's version of "Clinton Ideas for Palestinian-Israeli Peace Settlement, December 2000", on the link above. The trouble is, in the commentary it says "Likewise the zones of temporary Israeli control are not shown." What are they, and how temporary?

On the Dennis Ross book, here is a review by Avi Shlaim. He doesn't mention Taba, but here is what he says about Camp David.

The Barak-Ross version of the collapse of the Camp David summit is simplistic, selective and self-serving. It is also contradicted by Ross's own account. If he and Barak didn't think that Arafat was up to doing a deal, why did they convene the summit and pressure Arafat to attend it? Didn't the intimate relationship with the Israelis cast some doubt on America's claim to be acting as an honest broker? Was there no basis for Arafat's suspicion of an Israeli-American conspiracy to corner him at Camp David? Arafat has many faults, but he has demonstrated his ability to make historic choices, notably by opting for a two-state solution in 1988 and by signing the Oslo Accord in 1993. By contrast, Barak had been unhappy about the accord with the PLO; he abstained in the cabinet vote on the 1995 Oslo II agreement; and he had never been a member of what Yossi Beilin calls "the peace mafia" in Israel. The most fundamental cause of the failure of the Camp David summit lies not in Arafat's psychological makeup but in Barak's package. On the one hand, he offered only limited concessions on Jerusalem and the refugees, and on the other hand he insisted on an absolute end to the conflict. He insisted that the Palestinians sign on the dotted line that they had no further claims against the State of Israel. This remorseless insistence on finality was in fact part of the problem, not the solution. Peace by ultimatum did not work.
Will, I'll refer you to a 40-odd year history of those pollies feeding that "numerous, vocal, organized and aggressive minority" and refine my "reasonable" question. Would a Taba settlement be "very close" to reasonable on grounds of justice and/or pragmatics?

Would you agree that the Palestinians (most of them) have given up on justice, and are hoping for a pragmatic solution?

Re: Justice, maps, and refugees

Mark Sergeant, I should have added the joint statement issued at Taba (from that same MidEastWeb site):

Israeli-Palestinian Joint Statement

27 January 2001

The following is the official text of the joint statement released at the close of the Taba talks by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as published in the Jerusalem Post (Jan 28, 2001):

"The Israeli and Palestinian delegations conducted during the last six days serious, deep and practical talks with the aim of reaching a permanent and stable agreement between the two parties.

"The Taba talks were unprecedented in their positive atmosphere and expression of mutual willingness to meet the national, security and existential needs of each side.

"Given the circumstances and time constraints, it proved impossible to reach understandings on all issues, despite the substantial progress that was achieved in each of the issues discussed.

"The sides declare that they have never been closer to reaching an agreement and it is thus our shared belief that the remaining gaps could be bridged with the resumption of negotiations following the Israeli elections.

"The two sides take upon themselves to return to normalcy and to establish [a] security situation on the ground through the observation of their mutual commitments in the spirit of the Sharm e-Sheikh memorandum.

"The negotiation teams discussed four main themes: refugees, security, borders and Jerusalem, with a goal to reach a permanent agreement that will bring an end to the conflict between them and provide peace to both people.

"The two sides took into account the ideas suggested by President Clinton together with their respective qualifications and reservations.

"On all these issues there was substantial progress in the understanding of the other side's positions and in some of them the two sides grew closer.

"As stated above, the political timetable prevented reaching an agreement on all the issues.

"However, in light of the significant progress in narrowing the differences between the sides, the two sides are convinced that in a short period of time and given an intensive effort and the acknowledgment of the essential and urgent nature of reaching an agreement, it will be possible to bridge the differences remaining and attain a permanent settlement of peace between them.

"In this respect, the two sides are confident that they can begin and move forward in this process at the earliest practical opportunity.

"The Taba talks conclude an extensive phase in the Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations with a sense of having succeeded in rebuilding trust between the sides and with the notion that they were never closer in reaching an agreement between them than today.

"We leave Taba in a spirit of hope and mutual achievement, acknowledging that the foundations have been laid both in reestablishing mutual confidence and in having progressed in a substantive engagement on all core issues.

"The two sides express their gratitude to President Hosni Mubarak for hosting and facilitating these talks.

"They also express their thanks to the European Union for its role in supporting the talks."

My comment that the Taba talks were "very close" to a reasonable offer was my own opinion, but also reflects the perceptions of the two sides, as the joint statement shows.

There were (and are) still significant differences, particularly on the resolution of the refugee issue. See the repective positions on refugees at the bottom of that same web page.

Re: the maps. It's not just you; they give me a headache too. Try them in Hebrew or Arabic for a right-to-left headache ;)

Re: Justice?

Mark Sergeant writes, "I think I was referring to the Israeli side of the barrier. On consideration, that's not such an interesting question, because one way or another it will end up part of Israel."

Some of it probably will. How much, is the question. And will the settlers go without a fight? Probably not. But the Gaza pullout was significant in breaking the deadlock between the settler movement and mainstream political consensus in Israel.

I agree with your point that:

"Opinion polls have been reporting for years that a majority of Israelis would prefer to get out of the West Bank. But the settlements just keep growing. It is one of those issues were a majority go one way, but have higher priorities. A numerous, vocal, organized and aggressive minority go the other way, and for them it is the top - or only - priority. The poor pollies rarely bite the bullet."

Importantly, the idiosyncracies of the parliamentary system in Israel make it diffcult for anyone to form a coalition without minor parties. On one side these include the settlers and their allies. That is why the Gaza pullout and formation of Kadima are significant.

But an analogous situation exists on the Palestinian side. A minority (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) holds politics hostage. Easy to do given the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority and the dominant Fatah wing.

I agree on another point: their singlemindedness (the messianic settlers and the "drive the Jews into the sea" militants) makes these minorities wield disproportionate power.

Regarding Shlaim's view of Camp David, the insistence on "finality" at that point in negotiations is regarded by many analysts as a tactical blunder by Barak. Having said that, at some point the Palestinians will have to accept that whatever deal is agreed upon will be final, and they won't be able to keep coming back for bites of the apple. This got to be more of an issue at Taba, where Arafat was offered a better deal than at Camp David, and really had to face the fact that sooner or later he would have to "close" a deal.

So I disagree with Shlaim's assertion that "The most fundamental cause of the failure of the Camp David summit lies not in Arafat's psychological makeup but in Barak's package." It's a bit of both in the case of Camp David.

Finally Mark asks, "I'll refer you to a 40-odd year history of those pollies feeding that 'numerous, vocal, organized and aggressive minority'"

Again, this begs the question, the minority on which side of the conflict? The "feeding" has been happening on both sides. On the Arab side longer than 40 years. The incitement against Israel in particular and Jews in general that is rife in the Arab media and educational systems is still going strong, despite it being a requirement of the Road Map that this incitement be stopped.

"and refine my 'reasonable' question. Would a Taba settlement be 'very close' to reasonable on grounds of justice and/or pragmatics?
Would you agree that the Palestinians (most of them) have given up on justice, and are hoping for a pragmatic solution?"

Well I suppose it depends on what you mean by "justice." For many Arabs and Westerners alike, even to this day, "justice" means the elimination of Israel. This position, even if viewed as "just," leaves very little to talk about, doesn't it? So to the extent that Palestinians have given up on this understanding of "justice," I would say yes, and a good thing too. But not everyone has given up on the elimination of Israel, as Amnon Rubinstein's essay A World Without Israel points out.

If "just" means two states side by side, then it's the details that need to be ironed out,and at least there's a basis for discussion.

And of course the same question can be asked of Israelis: would you say that most of them "have given up on justice, and are hoping for a pragmatic solution?"

So to me the question is: is there a solution which addresses both sides' aspirations for justice, and meets a requirement of workability (pragmatism)? In my opinion, the Taba agreement came "very close" indeed.

Will Howard, Gaza and Kadima

Will Howard, Gaza and Kadima are important, but shouldn't be over-rated. The scale differences between Gaza and any significant West Bank evacuation mean that the Gaza pullout is not much more than symbolic and budgetary. Kadima has potential, and certainly appears the best hope on the Israeli side, but it's too early to tell what the product of that potential will be. Sharon offered the possibility of a de Klerk resolution, but given his history it was still a long shot. And it looks like he's out of the picture.

There is a minority among the Palestinians analogous to the hard line settlers, with Hamas the most prominent. But Hamas is a bit different, as well. It is a political organisation in a way that the settlers (and their political offshoots) aren't. It is showing signs (Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel from manifesto) of being capable of moderating it's words and actions in response to the wishes of the majority of Palestinians. Its core political objective, a Palestinian State, can, if it has to, accommodate the Israeli State. As a mass political party with a long and justified reputation for good works among the Palestinian poor, its interest is in advancing the interests of the Palestinians. In practice, that means the two-state solution, on the best possible terms. If things progress well, the "drive the Jews into the sea" militants will be themselves squeezed out. If things go ill, they will be in charge. There doesn't seem to be any comparable movement among the hard-line settlers.

I don't have any evidence for that thesis, beyond news reports (On ABC News Radio this afternoon they played a BBC interview with a Dr Brendan O'Duffy comparing Hamas with the IRA - not online that I can find.) and this impression: Throughout the second intifada there were periods of relative calm. Weeks, sometimes months, of "not many killed". Still the usual humiliations at checkpoints etc, but relative peace. To the point where sometimes there would be talk of peace and a resumption of negotiations. Often, it was broken by the Israelis targeted killing of a "terrorist" - often along with their family and neighbors, or passers-by. Overall, those opportunities for negotiation were broken not by the Palestinaians (including Hamas) but by the Israelis and the IDF.

It makes sense too. The Israelis are, overwhelmingly, in a position of power regarding the Palestinians. They need only negotiate on their own terms. The Palestinians have only the strategies of the weak, and one of those is negotiating for the best you can get, as long as it is something you can live with.

The closest to a just solution would be a single state, living at peace. As a matter of numbers, that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish State, but not necessarily as a Jewish homeland. But that is not possible for the vast majority of Israelis, and given the history and the animosity on both sides, the chance of "living at peace" in a single state is neglible.

So the two-state solution is necessary. The borders should be, fairly closely, the '67 Green Line. That would be the just solution according to international law. The West Bank settlements have simply been the government sponsored appropriation of Palestinian lands, and should be evacuated. In practice, the large settlements near the Green Line will not be evacuated. So the practical solution is something like the Taba negotiations. The justice of that depends mainly on fair exchange for equivalent land elsewhere and a reasonable contiguity for the Palestinian borders.

I was not impressed by Amnon Rubinstein's article. It reminds me too much of those webdiarists who think that opposition to the Iraq war necessarily implies support for Saddam.

Consequently, all these eradicators, whether they are Israeli, Jewish or distinguished professors, are objectively - if one may revert to Marxist terminology - biological anti-Semites.
I haven't read any of the books he mentions, and can't say if he characterises them accurately. I did track down the debate that inspired Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, and two of the contributions: from Avi Shlaim and Melanie Phillips (both small PDFs). Phillips says this in response:
Professor Shlaim tells us he is not opposed to Zionism, merely Israel’s policies post the 1967 occupation of the territories. He cannot get away with this. For this is not what the motion says. Let me remind you of the title - that ‘Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews’. But Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
But she is missing out on the "today" in the motion. Shlaim is talking about today, and the distorted (as he sees it) Zionism of today:
By Zionism today I mean the ideological, ultra-nationalist settlers, both religious and secular, and their supports in the Likud-led government. These settlers are a tiny minority but they maintain a strangle-hold over the Israeli political system. They represent the unacceptable face of Zionism. Zionism does not equal racism, but many of these hard-line settlers and their leaders are blatant racists. Their extremism and their excesses have led some people to start questioning the legitimacy of the State of Israel, its very right to exist. And it is these settlers who also endanger the safety and wellbeing of Jews everywhere.
Will, you may dispute Shlaim's idiosyncratic definition, but I think you'll agree about the settlers. You may also agree that his argument raises important issues. I think Amnon Rubinstein is close to branding him a "biological anti-Semite" - and therefore not having to consider his arguments.

Would I say that most Israelis "have given up on justice, and are hoping for a pragmatic solution"? Yes. I'd say that most, on both sides, want peace and let the justice fall where it may. For the Palestinians, justice is rather more important, as it is their lands at issue in the practical settlement. Pragmatics is on the side of the Israelis.

Bryan Law: "Jay White and C

Bryan Law: "Jay White and C Parsons, the problem with your phony material on the "peace activist" is that you don't know or understand anything about us."

So you will soon be protesting outside the Iranian Embassy then?

Hamish: Bryan, Jay and C, I've let some complete bullshit pass from all three of you. Can we get back to content now? If you haven't got anything helpful (to other 'Diarists) to say, in the way of new information or well-constructed criticism, shut up.


Apologies Hamish.

I'm offended by the caricatures of peace activists put forward in these pages.  They are ahistorical, uninformed, and calculated to mislead and de-rail discussion of the issues.

Still, it's wrong of me to respond in kind.

Apologies all.

History repeating itself as a farce

Bryan Law: "Jay White and C Parsons, the problem with your phony material on the "peace activist" is that you don't know or understand anything about us."

Yeah, you got us there. I'm just making haphazard guesses based on the sort of things you guys are saying about Iran and equating it with the kind of rhetoric "peace acivists" in the 1930s were using when Hitler was threatening to re-militarize the Rhineland.

Just because it's like the supine, dithering, blinkered delusional codswallup they trundled out back then, delivering Hitler one easy propaganda victory after the other, I'm assuming that if you're doing the same thing today then you must be "peace activists" too.

Stalinists under the bed

C Parsons, I believe I understand your debating style now.  Let me try it.  It would run like this:

Both Jay White and C Parsons have an "a" in their name. This is reminiscent of the destruction by Stalin of the kulaks during the 1920s, followed by Beria and the Soviet Security State. This means democracy in Iraq is a smokescreen behind which rural workers are being kidnapped and forced to work for IKEA.

All you KKK democrats are the same. Hey, this really works!

Oops, I almost forgot. Jews, Jews, Jews.

C Parsons...

C Parsons: "You are unquestionably the very epitome of the modern  "peace" activist as I understand them".

Yep the same type that previously supported Stalin, Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot amongst others. What hope is there when many of these people cannot learn from the evils of the past. I hope they do not add another one to the list.

The term "Peace activist" for many of these people is a insult to the English language. They hate peace and they also hate democracy.

The problem is

Jay White and C Parsons, the problem with your phony material on the "peace activist" is that you don't know or understand anything about us.

Fortunately your views have no influence and are disconnected from reality. Beam them up Scotty.

Was it legal?

Justin Wilshaw. I've refreshed my memory and done a bit more research. I've found these documents helpful:

I won't attempt to argue in detail. It would take to long, and these documents have already done it better than I could.

On the argument that breaches (10 years after) of 687 "revive" the authorisation of 678. From Williams & Hovell:

The context of the Resolution, and the specific language of the authorisation, clearly tie the use of force to the liberation of Kuwait. This Resolution does not authorise the use of force against Iraq to address the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. To interpret the language of Resolution 678 as authorising the use of force in the present circumstances would set a dangerous precedent. It would suggest that authorisations by the Security Council can be regarded as a ‘blank cheque’ to use force against a state even a decade or more later without further action by the Security Council. The idea of a ‘blank cheque’ is inconsistent with the legal framework established by the UN Charter.
Singh & Kilroy give more detailed analysis and reasons for a similar conclusion at Paras 12 - 17. According to Goldsmith at P10 this argument "is not widely accepted among academic commentators". He does accept it, though with a qualification: it is for the UNSC to determine whether a breach of Iraq's obligations under 687 has occurred.

The pure revival argument has little support. We are one step from the clear and unambigous language of 678.

The finding of breaches by the UNSC in 1441 satisfies Goldsmith's qualification. Majority opinion is still that 678 cannot be revived. (It's a best guess - as far as I know there is no relevant research.) That's two steps.

Given that Iraq had substantially complied with the WMD provisions (it's not hindsight. Scott Ritter and others were saying it at the time as loudly as they could), and the fact that the intelligence was "sexed up", the factual finding of "material breach" in 1441 is also brought into question. It's not another step, but it does undermine the force of 1441.

If you accept that 1441 revives 678 (which most don't), there is still another step. In 1441 the UNSC affords Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations...". Significantly, it warns of "serious consequences" rather than using the traditional formulation of "all necessary means". It sets up new procedures, and, finally, it "Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Goldsmith goes into this in a lot of complicated detail. He has to, because he has to find a way through it contrary to the natural reading, which requires a return to the UNSC with evidence, and a further ("all necessary means") resolution.

He comes to the conclusion (happily, for the COW) that they can get away with just one further step (that's four, by my count): there must be evidence that Iraq has failed to take the "final opportunity". Happily again, the evidence does not have to be determined by the UNSC, but can be sufficient for Member States to act on their own initiative. Which is what they did. Again, the majority view is that war with Iraq required a further "all necessary means" resolution.

A final note on Goldsmith. He is very equivocal on the legality of the war. True, he concludes it is legal, but not with confidence, and he is very clear that it could be properly found to be illegal. He emphasises (P29) the need for "strong factual grounds". Here's an interesting analysis.

On Blix, it was up to the UNSC to determine whether his reports where sufficient to find a further material breach. They didn't. My understanding is that Chirac has denied ever threatening to use the veto, but it isn't relevant because the US never had better than 6-9 in favour of a war resolution. On the politics, if you have the USA on one side and France on the other, both with carrots and sticks, which way do you jump? Apart maybe from francophone Africa, it will be the USA every time.

"Iraq had 10 years to comply. They didn’t." Actually, all the evidence points to the fact that the WMD programs stopped in about 1992. Cleaning up the remains was essentially complete by 1998. what was left? Accounting discrepancies.

Justin, you write: "Member states may institute a war without the approval of the UNSC if they feel another state is a threat to them". It's a different argument. It's also factually correct, in that they may well. Doesn't mean it's legal, though. For it to be legal it would need to meet the tests for self defence. Does the Iraq war? Read Yoo's paper and see how far you go along with him.

It is a shame that Saddam is gone. If he was still there, we could sic him onto Iran, just like we did last time.

Re: Was it legal?

Thank you Mark Sergeant, for posting those links on the issue of legality/illegality of the 2003 Iraq War. Whether we ultimately end up agreeing or disagreeing on the question, those are important sources for us all to consider.

Good Night and Good Luck

Dear Homo Sapiens,

You may not like this but sadly I must inform you that owing to the ongoing pressures of creation I accidently uploaded the beta version. Unfortunately this beta version obviously contained quite a number of coding errors which possibly accounts for your arrogance, stupidy and collective insanity.

I do intend correcting these coding errors however it may take a few million years (or so) for the debugging process to be completed. In the mean time please feel free to continue with the psychologoical  and physical destruction of your species and your planet. It would appear this gives many of you a feeling of extreme accomplishment.

As it was not my intention to inflict my beautiful planet with such a destructive and bloody minded species I sincerely appologise. In the mean time I think I will have a little kip for the next few thousand years or so so that I can get my shit together.

Yours universally,

The (not so) Intelligent Designer

PS. Bloddy hell, no one is perfect.

Seriously, I do feel a little sorry for dear Craig Rowley. I feel he is fighting a loosing battle trying to get us to have informed, productive and good natured discussions. If Webdiary cannot achieve this then what hope is there. Rather than trying to humiliate and riducule one another maybe we should have a go at pooling our collective “intelligence “ and try to find common ground to foster intelligently designed solutions for the problems that we currently exploit as a catylist for our ongoing point scoring and in some cases utter stupidity.

Just because you feel you have won a silly little arguement does not mean you have learned anything at all or made this world a better place for our children and granchildren. Ego trips are simply ego trips that lead us to a destination called Narscism.

If anybody is willing to do this then please wake me up from my kip and I will be willing to contribute and do the very best I can with the tools available. I will also refrain from entertaining my own deluded personality as the above would indicate. I need help. You need help, We all need every little bit of  help we can get. What about it?

Cheers all,

Good Night and Good Luck

The Iranian Fuhrer needs the bomb for peaceful purposes

Damian Lataan, thanks for the cross from Bob Wall's web site.

I think it shows the level of sophistication and insight we have all come to expect from Bob and you, too, Damian.

Now, just a minor point.

The reason the UN seals were placed on the uranium enrichment centrifuges in the first place was to assist inspection agencies monitoring Iran's compliance with its international treaty obligations.

Not to prevent energy-starved Iran from generating electricity.

Russia has offered to enrich uranium on Iran's behalf in the meantime.

Iran turned this offer down, for reasons that should be obvious - it needs more enriched uranium than necessary to generate electricity.

It wants to make an atomic bomb to wipe out Israel, it's stated objective.

I was also struck by this comment from your cross-post article;

"Presently, Iran poses no threat to either its neighbors or the United States."

Apart from the threat to "wipe Israel off the map", of course.

And assuming it doesn't develop the nuclear weapons - or the long range missiles it is currently working on.

Note, too, Damian's comments about the threat that Israel represents to Iran.

Take for example his outburst below on January 14, 2006 - 8:52pm:

"US And Israeli Warmongering Against Iran Increases."

Anyway,  keep up the good work, Damian.

You are unquestionably the very epitome of the modern  "peace" activist as I understand them.

More Iranian Nuclear News and Death Of Bin Laden - Again

I hope Bob Wall doesn’t mind. I’ve taken the liberty of re-posting an article here which Bob originally posted over on the ‘Irises’ thread. Since I’m sure there are not too many right-wingers visiting there, they would have missed this important piece of information about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In other news, bin Laden apparently is dead – again. Today’s The Australian carried the story of bin Laden’s death which was reckoned to have occurred in April last year. In this story in the NYT (subscription required for full article) he was reported to have died in December 2001. Like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq), bin Laden seems to have as many lives as a cat. A Western propagandist’s dream come true.

I’m not sure if the US is ready to kill off these two characters just yet. I think the US may have a few more ‘jobs’ for them to do!

al-Zarqawi & bin Laden - dead or alive?

I think it's no longer relevant whether these two individuals are alive or dead. There are people willing to act in their name, and in the name of the al-Qaeda movement. This is why I refer to the "Zarqawistas" in Iraq. I suppose the analogous label would have to be "bin Ladenistas." The two names are symbolic of a doctrine that has now taken on a "life" of its own. I use "life" loosely because all this movement has to offer anyone is death.

The Scooby Doo moment. Finally.

Michael Coleman: "Bravo Sid Walker. I wouldn't take any notice of character assessments made by C Parsons. CP has a history of lies and misrepresentation on Webdiary in pathetic attempts to score debating 'points'. “

Finally, the Scooby Doo moment.

A couple of “peace activists” peel off their rubber masks to reveal, what? Sid Walker defending the neo-Nazi “historian” and documented liar David Irving. And Michael Coleman cheering him on.

What indeed was Irving’s Holocaust denial if not “a history of lies and misrepresentation”?

Anyway, the Iranian Fuhrer, “peace activist” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has announced his intention to hold a “scientific” conference to see whether the Holocaust “actually took place”.

Iran’s official newsagencies are even bragging of the support their Fuhrer is getting from Holocaust deniers in Australia.

“An Australian-based analyst of Middle East issues, Mohammad Hejazi, called for a conference to be held in Tehran on the matter, to give the world top revisionists, who believe that Holocaust has been exaggerated, a chance to express their relevant opinions.”

Hamish: it remains Webdiary policy that we do not publish material denying the atrocities of Hitler's Nazi regime, though anything published to date will stay. Sid, if you persist in wasting editors time by posting comments that you know are unacceptable, you will be banned.

Making Martyrs of Fools

Gandhi wrote: "Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees fit. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of the truth."

I have no interest in defending the views of those who deny any of the crimes committed by the Nazis. However, I reiterate: Everyone in a free, democratic society should have a right to hold and argue any view so long as they do not directly advocate violence against others.

When the law punishes debate, fools become martyrs.

Thanks for facilitating debate

I agree Michael and thanks for your earlier support. Free speech is the foundation for much of what's best about our civilization, IMO.

But I'd also add that what the crimes of the Nazis actually were is at issue. One doesn't wish to be an apologist for anyone's crimes - but it is nice to be able to discuss them. Freely. How interesting that there's such a vicious campaign - in western society as a whole - to close down debate on that topic.

BTW, Hamish, I note your warning. It's puzzling, because it makes it sound as though I've pestered WD with repeated posts in recent days that were unpublished and caused the editors annoyance. In fact, all my posts on this thread have been published, so far. Many thanks to the editors!

I would like to avoid being banned by Webdiary if possible. I must say the very fact my acceptability is in doubt speaks volumes about the general bias of debate in the west on topics of high sensitivity to Zionists.

May I re-iterate a suggestion I made to Margo during her watch. Why not ban ALL mention of the 'Holocaust'? Make it a compete no-go area on Webdiary.

Then threats by Zionists against WD might subside - while at the same time the pernicious consequences of allowing purely one-sided debate on that topic would be avoided.

Hamish: No Sid. Please comply with our very clearly stated editorial policy, or refrain from posting.

Those Bloody Zionist Threats Again

Then threats by Zionists against WD might subside -

Hamish, has WD received what in any way could be described as threats and that could be said to be from "Zionists" ? Even if we used the, shall we say, very broad definition of the term Zionists obviously intended by the author of this charming little allegation?

Hamish: no.

Is your editorial policy on Holocaust denial the result of threats or pressure from Zionists?

Hamish: no.

If so, could you please provide details of this? If not could you say so please? Otherwise this allegation is left hanging in the air unanswered. Perhaps we should consider the pernicious consequences of allowing these things to pass by in silence.

Zionists threats?

I'm a strong supporter of Israel (thus I suppose a "Zionist" in some sense), and I have only encouraged Sid at every step. That is because I think fresh air and sunshine are the best disinfectants for the type of material he posts.

But I respect Webdiary's policy on the H-word, and I do agree it's a topic you would only want to touch very carefully.

 Damian Lataan “An

Damian Lataan: “An unrepentant rogue state with a history of sponsoring terrorists seeks to develop weapons of mass destruction.”

Yes this statement is correct. It is also worth noting Germany seems to agree. Hopefully other European nations have gained the same sort of wisdom since the emerging democracy in Iraq and equally are more willing to help make the world a safer and better place.

My concern with western left thinking is the scant regard it gives to individuals. It has a collective view and because of this is often to willing to over look many of the worst abuses of people. For example one only has to look at its overt support for Sadaam and its now support of the KKK terrorist and religious racists operating in Iraq.

The President of Iran would be by the standards of normal people considered a fanatic and lunatic hence the left's attraction to him.  Seriously they should not be urging him on. If and when he does acquire nuclear weapons I have no doubt he will seriously contemplate attacking the Israeli State. Any attempt at this would I believe bring about the destruction of his nation on a huge scale.

This is something the left should think seriously about when supporting people such as this. For the pitiful attempt at winning some moral points (unlikely) they could well be doing this over the bodies of thousands maybe hundreds of thousands of people.

For this reason I think this is one lunatic and despot the left should at least avoid this time. I really hope they do!

Good vs Evil

Karen, Haven’t you being paying attention?  It’s all about good versus evil. Bush isn’t crazy because he’s consulting with the Christian God, who only gives good policy advice. Allah, on the other hand, is working for one of those ‘axis of evil’ countries, so it should be obvious that he’s formulating bad policy.

Is anybody else just a little concerned about all the ‘faith-based’ foreign policy going on? A few lines from Bob Dylan come to mind:

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war

Damian Lataan...

Damian Lataan says, "the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made it quite clear – yet again – that Iran’s interest in nuclear technology is purely for energy purposes."

He has also made it quiet clear he wishes to wipe Israel of the map. Although this is only average compared to most dictators the left likes to cosy up to he can now consider himself part of the club.

Racists, killers and various levels of scum have always attracted the left movement. Its a proud tradition so in a way congratulations Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I am also a believer that Australia should be looking into nuclear technology for "energy purposes".

Imminent invasion?

For those predicting imminent military action against Iran, consider this:
commentator Amir Taheri notes in his essay Of Western Media Hype and Iran, that:

"The United States has decided to invade Iran and change its regime. The invasion will start on March 19 with bombing raids against 'sensitive targets' in Iran by the US Air Force operating from Turkey, the Mussandam Peninsula, and the island of Massirah.

This is the gist of a number of articles, news items and "strategic analyses" published in the Western media over the past two weeks.

Wow! But is this really true? Since journalists should not engage in fortune-telling, we cannot offer a definite answer.

What we can do, however, is to recall the fact that this is not the first time that reports about an 'imminent invasion' of Iran by the United States hit the Western media.

Last year the New Yorker magazine published a lengthy article detailing what it claimed was an American plan to invade Iran. Quoting the usual 'senior sources speaking on condition of anonymity,' the magazine even fixed date for the invasion for June 2005. It reported that units of American Special Forces had already entered Iran from Afghanistan and were engaged in unspecified operations without being detected. Well, we know that there was no June invasion."


Will Howard, what about the West Bank Settlements - and the area behind the wall? If they are not annexed, will the Israelis leave when requested?

Regarding Taba, do you consider that this map accurately reflects the offer? If not, can you refer us to an online map that does? Was it a reasonable offer?

Wall: 6: something resembling a wall (as in appearance, function, or effect); especially : something that acts as a barrier or defense.

Maps of Israel-Palestine

Mark Sergeant asks, "Regarding Taba, do you consider that this map accurately reflects the offer? If not, can you refer us to an online map that does?"

No maps were ultimately published from the Taba negotiations, but a number have been drawn by putting into map form some of the proposals I mentioned in my earlier post. Some have been made available by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. I can't absolutely vouch for the accuracy of these. If someone else has a better source, please post it.

Re: Annexed

Mark Sergeant asks "what about the West Bank Settlements - and the area behind the wall?"

Do you mean the area on the "Israeli" side of the wall or the area on the "Palestinian" side? (By the way, I'm not interested in quibbling over the terminology of the security barrier. In some places it is literally a wall in others more of a fence.)

"If they are not annexed, will the Israelis leave when requested?"

Good questions all, and my crystal ball is a bit foggy looking at that issue. It's worth noting that most Israelis favor getting rid of most of the settlements remaining in the West Bank, and current political thinking in Israel and elsewhere suggests that with or without Sharon, his new Kadima party has tapped into a groundswell of opinion that wants disengagement from the Palestinians.

Personally I hope they jettison the settlements ASAP.

"Regarding Taba, do you consider that this map accurately reflects the offer? If not, can you refer us to an online map that does?"

I'm not 100% sure about that particular map, but it does represent my best understanding of the overall pattern of the offer made at Taba. Namely, Israel would retain corridors linking to the settlement blocs at Ariel, Maale Adumim, and Efrat. (The Geneva Accord has more blocs being ceded).

I will point Webdiarists to some sources that represent what both sides acknowledge they agreed to at Taba. I stress this because it's easy to dismiss one side's account as lies or propaganda, so I look for points of agreement.

1) See the EU so-called "Non-paper" on what was agreed to or not at Taba (see in particular the sections on annexations and land swaps). The intro notes: "This EU non-paper has been prepared by the EU Special Representative to the Middle East Process, Ambassador Moratinos, and his team after consultations with the Israeli and Palestinian sides, present at Taba in January 2001.

Although the paper has no official status, it has been acknowledged by the parties as being a relatively fair description of the outcome of the negotiations on the permanent status issues at Taba. It draws attention to the extensive work which has been undertaken on all permanent status issues like territory, Jerusalem, refugees and security in order to find ways to come to joint positions. At the same time it shows that there are serious gaps and differences between the two sides, which will have to be overcome in future negotiations. From that point of view, the paper reveals the challenging task ahead in terms of policy determination and legal work, but it also shows that both sides have traveled a long way to accommodate the views of the other side and that solutions are possible.

2) See the Clinton Framework, based on the "minutes of former U.S. president Bill Clinton's comments at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian representatives at the White House on December 23, 2000, as given to Ha'aretz by Palestinian sources."

In these notes Clinton says "Based on what I heard, I believe that the solution should be in the mid-90 percents, between 94-96 percent of the West Bank territory of the Palestinian State. The land annexed by Israel should be compensated by a land swap of 1-3 percent in addition to territorial arrangements such as a permanent safe passage."

3) See the Geneva Accord, negotiated as an unofficial example of a final status agreement. This agreement was negotiated by Israeli opposition MK Yossi Beilin and Palestinian official Yasser Abd-Rabbo. Both these figures had been heavily involved in the negotiations leading up to and including Taba.

Significantly, both sides in the Geneva Accord agreed that their starting point had been the Taba talks conclusion. In particular, the Geneva Accord contains the following key points:

* Palestinians give up Right of Return of Palestinian refugees. Israel gives up sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, and evacuates Ariel, Efrat, Kiryat Arba, Ofra, Elon Moreh, Bet El, Eli Har Homa, the Hebron settlement and many others.

* Access to the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif would be regulated at the discretion of the Muslim Waqf committee as at present.

* Israel gets to keep the wailing wall, the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus and the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem, as well as Ma'aleh Edumim (Maale Adumim) and the Gush Etzion settlement block and settlements around East Jerusalem.

* The implementation of the accord will be overseen by an international committee, which would also ensure access to holy places, and security will be the responsibility of a multinational force."

4) See the Nusseibeh-Ayalon Agreement of 2002. Very similar in broad outline to the Geneva Accord.

5) See Dennis Ross's book The Missing Peace. Ross was long-time MidEast negotiator under the Bush I and Clinton Administrations. He was (and is) trusted and respected by both sides. He also doesn't, in my view, spare any side criticism for all their respective missteps and blunders (and their are many all around). See in particular the maps in that book.

Ross also discussed the book in an interview at the Carnegie Council in 2004. The interview covers the highlights of the book and Ross's view of the peace process.

In this interview Ross notes "I wrote the book because there is no region in the world that is more consumed by mythologies than the Middle East. I wrote the book to shatter the myths. I wrote the book to require everybody to face up to reality: you make peace on the basis of reconciling needs, and not on the basis of perpetuating mythologies. I wrote the book to reveal some of the myths, to talk about the realities, and to focus on what each side will have to do to adjust to reality."

One myth, in Ross's view is that "The Palestinian negotiations didn't make any concessions or compromises. They did. It is true that we didn't hear any of these from Arafat, but it is not true that they made no concessions."

Another is that "what was offered to the Palestinians was something that no Palestinian could have accepted. A mythology developed that the Palestinians were offered a state that couldn't have been viable, territories that were totally divided and surrounded, settlements interspersed throughout the Palestinian territories, no independent border with Jordan as an example in the West Bank, and something that by definition no Palestinian could accept."

"For the first time, I present maps that compare what the Palestinians were offered with what Arafat says he was offered.

"Arafat says he was offered cantons, small, isolated Palestinian islands, completely divided up by Israeli roads and settlements and surrounded by the Israelis — completely untrue. He says he wasn’t even offered 90 percent of the West Bank — completely untrue."

According to Ross "the principles that guided the way the borders should be drawn and determined by the two sides, based on the percentages were:

* Contiguity of territory for the Palestinians, non-absorption of Palestinians into Israel. All the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would have become Palestinian, and it would have been the capital for the Palestinian state.

* An international presence to provide security for the Palestinians, and deterrence, and to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

* A right of return for Palestinian refugees to their state, not to Israel.

In a two-state solution, it’s a right of return to their state that makes perfect sense. If you want a two-state solution, a right of return to Israel means you want a one-state solution. There will not be a Jewish state of Israel if there is an unlimited right of return for Palestinians to Israel. * We also offered a $30 billion fund for the Palestinian refugees for compensation, on the one hand; and for resettlement/relocation/ rehabilitation purposes, on the other."

Finally Mark asks "Was [Taba] a reasonable offer?"

Tough question. Whether you think it was "reasonable" or not very much depends on your point of view. I think it was reasonable or at least very close. Mark I hope this response goes some way toward answering your questions. Meanwhile I will look for online maps of the territorial compromises the sources I cited refer to.

More Warmongering From The Neocons

“An unrepentant rogue state with a history of sponsoring terrorists seeks to develop weapons of mass destruction.”

No, this is not a grab from some neocon rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, but does it not sound very familiar?

It is, in fact, a grab from some neocon rhetoric in the weeks leading up to an attack on Iran. It comes from the latest edition of the neoconservative comic Weekly Standard and was written by arch neocon warmonger William Kristol, the comics editor, just the other day.

Meanwhile, the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made it quite clear – yet again – that Iran’s interest in nuclear technology is purely for energy purposes. Bush, however, always eager to do the bidding of the neoconservatives of Washington and their colleagues in Israel, continues to ratchet up the ante. Even the Washington Post were able to see the similarities in the rhetoric:

“In using the phrase "grave threat," Bush invoked the same language he used before launching the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and he highlighted in particular the danger to Israel.”

One wonders now where the Lying Tyrant Howard and Australia stands in all this. Is the deployment of further Australian SAS forces and troops to Afghanistan, which adjoins Iran’s border, significant in the light of Bush’s increasingly warlike rhetoric? Howard has been unusually quiet on the matter.

Australians should demand there be no more war and, if there is, that we should have no part in it!

Now he means it, now he doesn't

Damian Lataan says "the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made it quite clear – yet again – that Iran’s interest in nuclear technology is purely for energy purposes."

OK, I think I'm getting the hang of this. 1) When Ahmadinejad says Iran just wants nuclear technology for energy, he's serious, sincere, and truthful. 2) When Ahmadinejad says Iran wants to "wipe Israel off the map" it's just talk. Riiiiiiiight.


Damian Lataan: "the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said yet again – that Iran’s interest in nuclear technology is purely for energy purposes."

Apparently you believe him when he says this. It's a bit like believing that the Labor Party would get rid of the GST if elected. For goodness sake wake up, your hatred of Bush and Howard are clouding your judgement.


Is Bush's claim that he speaks to God any less crazy than the "bathed in a white light" leader of Iran?


It's heartening to know that there are so many expert fellas around.  Experts on past, present, and in one case, future. This debate has uncovered so many delusional, status-quo loving, debater-baiting nonsense, I cannot possibly respond to it all.

I have always considered myself a left-wing, socialist, pinko, nutter but have not voted Labor federally since Kimbo turned out to be such an equivocating, right-wing bore. This is the reality - lots of attitudes about what is "right and good" have changed since Gough may or may not have used a curse word. As we move towards a purely individualistic consumer society obsessed with youth and plasma screens, we seem to be losing touch with humanity. Left/right, socialist/fascist - all terms used to further divide humans from humans.

I am totally anti-war, yet status-quo-ers always say shit like "what would you do if threatened?" The world is, and has, by and large, been run by psychopaths and men with borderline personality disorders such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (the psychopaths who hide it better).  Men have been stuffing things up for women, children, animals, plants, for many millenia now. And before the chauvinists jump down my throat, maybe women wouldn't do any better. Who the hell knows? My point is, men are still doing it. I wish they'd all stop pulling their egos and find another way of being.

To address a few points.

Merely calling someone black or Jewish or whatever is not racist, just as calling me a woman is not sexist. When other appelations are connected it's another matter. So let that be.

You're all wrong because not one of you tries to come up with alternatives. Egypt and Jordan and Syria were being mean to Israel so what else could they do but annex more Palestinian territory?

Ask all the dead Iraqis if it makes any difference whether they were killed by Saddam or COTK soldiers.

This left/right stuff is crap. Most the stuff you all are arguing about is crap. It leads nowhere. It offers nothing but amusement (although a couple of contributers are tres boring (you know who you are).

I don't have any solutions - wish I did.  However, while psycho-men continue to kill each other over religion, clothing, skin colour, money, land, etc there prolly won't be any.

This won't be verbatim accurate so don't flame me.

God destroys dinosaurs. God invents man. Man brings back dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth! Yay.


"Egypt and Jordan and Syria were being mean to Israel so what else could they do but annex more Palestinian territory?"

In the 1967 War, Israel was capturing Jordanian, Egyptian, and Syrian territory. Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem at that time, and in fact had unilaterally annxed both (it only gave up that sovereign claim in 1988). Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. Both the West Bank and Gaza were designated by UN GA Res. 181 to be incorporated into the Palestinian state created by the 1947 partition of British Mandatory Palestine. They were not under Palestinian sovereignty, though they should have been.

Egypt and Jordan had occupied these areas since 1948, and not once had ever offered them to the Palestinians for a state. The Israelis have gone much further than either of these two states in this respect, having made an offer of a state at Taba in early 2001. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (captured from Syria), but no other territories. Israel has ceded the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.

US And Israeli Warmongering Against Iran Increases.

History – together with the lies – repeats itself. While the Iranians tell the world they want to get on with their peaceful nuclear energy program, which they are quite entitled to do, Bush tells them that the time for ‘negotiations’ has passed.

Now, where have we heard this before? Is the world really going to fall – yet again – for this garbage from Bush and the right-wing Israeli warmongers? According to the Guardian report, Bush reckons: “A nuclear Iran, … would be a threat to global security”.


Sound familiar? This without a skerrick of evidence that Iran is even seeking nuclear weapons! There is even less evidence than the Lying Tyrant Bush, Blair and Howard had before invading, occupying and plundering Iraq. And not to mention that the Israelis do have nuclear weapons as, of course, do the US.

The real threat to global security is the US and the right-wing Zionists of Israel. Is the world really stupid enough to fall for this garbage again?

Enough is enough!

Lies repeating themselves?

Damian Lataan says: "History – together with the lies – repeats itself."

You mean statements like this, Damian?

"I reiterate that the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies has extremely close links to the Washington Institute of Near East Policy"

You say there is not "a skerrick of evidence that Iran is even seeking nuclear weapons!"

As I have pointed out previously, there is evidence of Iran seeking nuclear weapons, though not definitive proof, according to the IAEA. [I don't know exactly how much a "skerrick" is, but I presume it represents a non-zero finite quantity].

Do you know something the IAEA doesn't?

Please, share with us your extraordinary insight.

Have you been talking to the President of Iran, so as to have some special insight into his thinking? So that you know his "Wipe Israel off the map" statements are just talk (I sincerely hope you are right)?

For that matter, how do you have so much insight into Netanyahu's state of mind, so as to know he's a nuclear-armed loony? Been talking to Bibi's shrink? Very naughty (on his part) - that's a violation on doctor-patient confidentiality.

You need to start thinking before you post the word "lies." I assume you're not trying to "hoodwink" Webdiarists now, are you? Damian...?

Al Qaeda Job Application Forms??!!

Webdiarists wanting a little light relief from the tedium of having to read the deceit and lies the right-wing are writing here might like to take a look at this piece from the Miami Herald yesterday.

Prosecutors actually expect people to believe that wannabe ‘al Qaeda terrorists’ have to fill in application forms!

If your application is successful don’t forget to inform Centrelink. They may even be able to help with relocation expenses!

Just Wondering

I wonder if Adolf Hitler was ever charged with war crimes.  A quick google does not help. Can anybody enlighten me?

If Hitler was not charged and convicted of war crimes does that make him any less a criminal?

More Lies From Downer

Alexander Downer deliberately lied to the Australian people – again – when he said that it could not be confirmed if Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen who had wrongfully been suspected of being a ‘terrorist’, had been held in Egyptian custody.

According to this report in today’s SMH, Downer (and Ruddock) were well aware that Habib had been in Egyptian custody and, furthermore, were well aware of this at the time he was in Egyptian custody. In the light of their deliberate lies both should immediately resign.

I'll have a go, Justin

I'll have a go, Justin Wilshaw, though the formatting will be a nightmare. Also, I'm doing it from memory. If required, I will attempt to provide substantiation. I would welcome comment from someone with legal competence. Bob can speak for himself.


In 1991 UNSCR 678 authorised the use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait. UNSCR 687 was the ceasefire resolution. Ceasefire is the key word. It was not an end to hostilities. The Security Council imposed continuing obligations on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and to allow monitoring.

This argument is incorrect because:


This is not incorrect. However it should be noted that the explicit purpose of UNSCR 678 was the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait. UNSCR 687 imposed conditions on Iraq that go beyond the purpose of UNSCR 678. It is arguable that a breach of these extended conditions cannot be referred back to UNSCR 678.

687 SUSPENDED the use of force of 678 but did not terminate the use of force. UNSCR 1441 found that Iraq was in breach of resolution 687, and warned of serious consequences should they not comply. As they did not comply, and allow inspectors back in the view is that they were in breach of 687.

This argument is incorrect because:


Iraq did allow inspectors back into Iraq. That shoots down your argument as it stands. We'll take it that there was a failure to comply with UNSCR 1441 anyway. That raises another problem. If you read UNSCR 1441 then it is apparent that it cannot be complied with in it's literal terms. So we are. legally, talking "best efforts" or "substantial compliance". Which is, actually and with hindsight, pretty much what we got. So the breach of UNSCR 1441 is arguable.

And "the view is that they were in breach of 687"? UNSCR 1441 decided that Iraq was in breach of 687. (Given the absence of WMD, that is arguable, if you can find a court that can deal with facts.) It supercedes UNSCR 687. You're talking about a breach of UNSCR 1441. Whose view? Your view, and mine, don't count. Neither does that of the USA. The only view that counts in this context is that of the UNSC. They didn't form a view. They had advice from Blix and El Baradei, and declined to find Iraq in breach of 1441.

And as such hostiles were resumed as 687 was only a CEASEFIRE.

This argument is incorrect because:


At this point I'll refer you to my post on Welcome to Armygeddon. The argument is that you can't use a long chain of ambiguous connections to justify deprivation of liberty - and, a fortiori, agressive war.

Further, it is the business of the UNSC to determine breaches of its resolutions. The USA, or any other state, may form an opinion. Without the endorsement of the UNSC, that's all it is - an opinion. Opinions do not legalise an agressive war.

Resolution 1441 called for Iraq’s IMMEDIATE compliance.

This by Hans Blix, from the same document you quoted (we're not selective quoting are we Bob?):

"...these initiatives 3-4 months into the new resolution cannot be said to constitute 'immediate' cooperation. Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance."

This argument in relation to 678, 687 is invalid because:


It isn't invalid, it's irrelevant. It refers to UNSCR 1441. It was up to the UNSC to determine the compliance with UNSCR 1441. They had Blix's advice. Despite the blandishments of the USA, the UNSC declined to find Iraq in breach of UNSCR 1441.

Unlike its endorsing of the impossible UNSCR 1441, it is one of the UNSC's better moments.

Just a comment: Justin is essentially reproducing Goldsmith's opinion. The one that he didn't believe in until told that the war was going to happen, so give us (the military) an opinion that we can use, just in case we end up in court.

Further: Someone quoted the US commentary on UNSCR 1441. They failed to quote these comments, from other permanent members:

The representative of France welcomed the two-stage approach required by the resolution, saying that the concept of "automaticity" for the use of force had been eliminated. The representatives of China and the Russian Federation stressed that only UNMOVIC and the IAEA had the authority to report violations by Iraq of the resolution’s requirements.
"The representatives of Mexico, Ireland, Bulgaria, Syria, Norway, Singapore, Colombia, Cameroon, Guinea and Mauritius also spoke." Unfortunately, we don't know what they said. I suspect they weren't in support of the USA's position. We do know that the USA was trying to convince (bribe?) them to support a war resolution, but failed.

And have a look at Chapter VII. Can it be seriously argued that the USA's attack on Iraq is covered by it?

PS: I think I have it figured out. I didn't have much trouble with the formatting. I will provide my technique on request.


Mark, again, thanks for your response. I note that Bob still has not responded in any way to my repeated requests. He didn’t even say “I agree with what Mark said”. Anyway, Mark, Bob will be happy you have now posted an argument. This will allow him to “copy and paste” it in the future.

In regards to your points and they are particular well made, I note that UNSCR 678 also called for member states  "to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area." UNSCR 678 also called on Iraq to comply fully with 660 "and all subsequent relevant resolutions."

It therefore arguable that 687 which added a list of demands in addition to those of 660 (namely the destruction of WMDs), can be refered back to as the wording of 687 allows for the both the upholding of peace and security in the region and also makes mention of subsequent relevant resolutions.

In regards to 1441, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I draw your attention to a number of statements made by Hans Blix in regards to Iraq’s compliance with 1441. These in his official report to the UN on 3/7/03:

...these initiatives 3-4 months into the new resolution cannot be said to constitute "immediate" cooperation. Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance.

Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons programmes. Only a few new such documents have come to light so far and been handed over since we began inspections. It was a disappointment that Iraq's Declaration of 7 December did not bring new documentary evidence.

So we have Hans Blix in his statement pointing out that he felt Iraq was not in immediate or relevant cooperation of the resolution.

I would not call these a long chain of ambiguous connections. You have only two dots to join.

A ceasefire agreement, that demanded Iraq comply with Weapons inspections

  1. An inspection resolution(1441) warning of “serious Consequences” if Iraq didn’t comply (see Hans Blix comments above)

Further, it is the business of the UNSC to determine breaches of its resolutions. The USA, or any other state, may form an opinion. Without the endorsement of the UNSC, that's all it is - an opinion. Opinions do not legalise an aggressive war.

Not necessarily. Member states may institute a war without the approval of the UNSC if they feel another state is a threat to them.  

Blix’s advice was that Iraq wasn’t in compliance with the resolution. For Political reasons the UNSCR was never going to authorise action. The French had already said they would vote “no” or veto regardless what the reports said. Iraq had 10 years to comply. They didn’t.

Imagine if we were still mucking around with them now about compliance, and instead of just having the Iranian issue at the moment we had Iran and Saddam to deal with. You can’t tell me that with Iran being very close to having the parts for a bomb, that Saddam would have been playing passive good neighbour.


Justin: "I note that Bob still has not responded in any way to my repeated requests."


"Submitted by Justin Wilshaw on January 13, 2006 - 9:14pm.


I will not let this go Bob, you have continued to raise my “fundamentally flawed” opinion on Webdiary without ever engaging why it is “fundamentally flawed”."


"Submitted by Justin Wilshaw on January 12, 2006 - 5:53pm.

Here it is a different way:

The no fly zone didn't form part of my argument as to why the war was illegal. I think you mentioned this at 7:35pm on the 13/10 and I responded to this mention at 10:27 pm of the same evening."
They are  your own words, Justin, and guess what - you contradict yourself. No need to say anymore.

You're quite mad

Bob, what on earth does your post of 12:55pm on 16/1/06 mean?

You still have never, ever responded to my argument on why the war was illegal. You just waffle on about everything but. Mark Sergeant had to do the work for you. Probably because you are incapable of doing it yourself.

Bob's "Copy and Paste" % for the last post: Out of 129 words only 18 were Bobs. 86%

Close on a new record Mr "Copy and Paste."

Hamish: I'd just like to note that not only is the style of Bob's contributions very welcome and a real resource to other 'Diarists, but we'd love to see more Webdiarists following issues, albeit from their own point of view, by reviewing and extracting material from all over the web. It is one of the great benefits of the internet, and potentially very helpful to others. Have your point of view Justin please, but think about how you can explain it well to the rest of the community here. Sledging is boring and helps nobody.

I understand your point

I understand your point Hamish, but it is quite annoying when contributors don't post their point of view, but just post large blocks of other peoples work.

In a thread like Irises, which no one really contributes to, this may be useful but in general threads, it's very annoying, doesn't address the points on hand and lowers the quality of that contributors post.

Remember Hamish, I didn't give Bob the Title Mr Copy and Paste, that was another 'Diarist, so I'm not alone in my thoughts. Additionally three other diarists have mentioned in this thread that Bob also engages them, but doesn't debate them.

I have my point of view Hamish on the legality of the Iraq war. Bob continuously raises across multiple threads as my "fundamentally flawed opinion" yet never posts his viewpoint on it. Instead he just copies and pastes others posts. That frankly, is crap.


Mark, thank You for taking the time to reply.

You raise some intreresting points. I would however like to get to bed, I've been up and online debating since 9:30am.

I'll be back possibly tommorow, more likely Monday and Ill respond to your points then.

I would say though that after I posted the original argument I did realise that Iraq had allowed inspectors back into Iraq. I meant that the inspectors were not satisfied with Iraq's compliance. I have left the line as "As they did not comply, and allow inspectors back in the view is that they were in breach of 687." to stop anyone ( Bob in particular) from claiming that I am changing my argument as I go.

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