Tags: Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Turkey
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The Israeli attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla was an act of lethal stupidity. Lethal for its victims, stupid for Israel. It might be well, therefore, to remind the Jewish people of their own history.
Two years after World War II, a rustbucket American steamship renamed Exodus 1947 sailed from France with 4515 Jews on board. Most were Holocaust survivors, bound for a new life in the Promised Land, then the British Mandate of Palestine.
The British refused to accept them as immigrants and stopped the ship off the Palestine coast. Three people were killed when the Royal Navy boarded it by force and sailed it to the port of Haifa. The Exodus 1947 Jews were eventually sent back to occupied Germany, of all places.
// This was a priceless propaganda coup in the fight for an independent Jewish homeland. There was a tremendous international outcry. The novel Exodus, by Leon Uris, a bestseller based on the story of the ship, and the 1960 Hollywood film of the same name, starring Paul Newman, cemented the idea of Israel in the Western political and cultural imperative.
Some of this ought to have occurred to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, when he ordered the commando assault on the Gaza flotilla. Evidently not. Beneath that silvery, Harvard-educated veneer there lies an unprincipled thug addicted to the use of Israeli military might and impervious to world opinion.
Endlessly repeating the errors of history, Israel now engages in a savage repression of the Palestinian people and their right to a homeland of their own. The policy platform of Netanyahu’s Likud party makes no bones about it.
”The government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River,” it reads. ”The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”
The blockade of Gaza is a human catastrophe. It has created a ghetto of despair for 1.5 million people. Just this week the International Committee of the Red Cross reported again that: “Gazans continue to suffer the effects of siege-induced poverty and warfare.
“The closure imposed on Gaza three years ago and the effects of Israel’s military operation in the Strip in January 2009 are crippling the entire economy. Humanitarian aid alone cannot address the massive needs in Gaza, where civilians are paying the price of the blockade and ongoing hostilities.”
Writing in The New York Times on Wednesday, the Israeli novelist Amos Oz stated the bleedin’ obvious, that no idea has ever been defeated by force. Israelis should understand this better than any people on the planet but, tragically, they do not.
AT LONG last there are encouraging signs that the state government is getting its act together. The exciting new policy of showering favours and buckets of money on multi-millionaire horse breeders in the Hunter Valley is a great leap forward and a surefire election winner.
As the Herald reported last week, the government is believed to be offering as much as $160 million – plus another $50 million in loans – to fund a shotgun marriage for Sydney’s two race clubs, the Australian Jockey Club and the Sydney Turf Club.
This will be music to the ears of the stud owners and their media friends who, as everyone knows, have been battling along on the smell of an oily rag for years, never sure where their next million is coming from. And that’s not all. There’s been the recent $2 million upgrade for the airport at Scone, and the decision to block plans for an open-cut coalmine in the valley, helpfully announced on the day of the Scone Cup last month.
And it doesn’t stop with horseracing. We’ve also had the wonderful news of $45 million of taxpayers’ money to be pumped into the V8 Supercar race at Homebush Bay over the next five years, $10 million more than was originally set aside for this globally admired project.
Of course there will be the narks and whingers. We will hear endless complaints from the do-gooders – people caring for the disabled or the mentally ill, mothers working two jobs to afford childcare, single parents in rundown public housing, elderly folk waiting years for hip replacement surgery, and so on.
This special pleading should be ignored. For too long Labor governments have been obsessed with supporting grassroots battlers. It’s high time the rich and powerful were properly looked after.
This new direction appears to be a joint effort by Kristina Keneally and her Minister for Lunching, Ian Macdonald. They are worth every airline upgrade they are offered, and more.
What the bloody hell were they thinking?
The new commercial that Tourism Australia released this week is terrific, a marketing triumph. If you were flogging margarine or pizza or laundry detergent, that is. Or if you were trying to con the punters into believing, say, that some rapacious bank is actually all warm and cuddly.
As an ad to sell Australia around the globe it’s crap. There’s no other way of putting it. It’s hokey, it’s dumb, it’s a toe-curling embarrassment. Worse even than that Lara Bingle “where the bloody hell are ya?” clunker.
Take the slogan, for a start: there’s nothing like Australia. Gosh, I wonder how many thoughtful hours went into that stunning concept, how many fine minds tossed it around, ran it up flagpoles, etc. Imagine the litres of coffee drunk, the ferment of creative endeavour and argument around the agency boardroom table long into the night.
How vacuous can you get? There’s nothing like South Yemen, either, but that’s hardly an enticing reason for buying a ticket and leaping on a plane.
Then there’s the plonking da-de-da jingle. It reminds me of something we used to sing at primary school, a ditty about a little red fire engine, if I remember correctly. And why on earth did they get it sung by people who can’t sing?