At any given moment, when the bloodletting between the Palestinians and us appears to be lulling, opening possibilities for a political agreement, the “choruses of intimidation” begin to sound about the “existential threat” to the state of Israel.
These choruses can be divided into three main groups. First there are the settlers, for whom an agreement spells existential danger and an ideological-theological rift. Then there is anyone who would lose socio-economic status if an agreement were to be signed. These are cynical politicians and military personnel, the military industries and any others somehow connected to the war machine and the industry of occupation. They include “experts” and respected analysts who built their careers on explaining how the conflict cannot be solved, and the monstrosity of our enemies in the face of our purity.
There is no dialogue with these two groups, and there cannot be any. But one must systematically reveal what is behind their “patriotic” claims, which can so readily be used to whip the public into a frenzy. Indeed, it is the duty of military personnel, strategists and intelligence officers to warn, with professional integrity, of impending diplomatic steps that involve some form of security risk. These individuals must outline, alongside the statesmen, “the worst-case scenario,” and make the decision makers aware of it. (It is doubtful this was done before the decision to begin the last war.)
However, the duty of the third group, the statesmen, is totally different. They indeed must bear in mind security considerations, but they decide whether to further their policy – if indeed they have a policy – even if it involves taking risks, while weighing these against their plan’s chances of success. No scenario presented by these three groups that would involve a change in Israeli policy toward the Palestinians mentions a strategic existential threat to Israel. We must remember that any diplomatic move, particularly in the complex Israeli-Palestinian situation, involves some risk for both sides. Contrary to accepted thought, a non-policy is also fraught with dangers, and certainly does not offer a chance for change.
While Israeli leaders deliberately prevaricate and local Zionists claim the occupation isn’t the key issue to be resolved – there is no longer any justification for its continuation, hence the need to divert world attention – at least one Australian political party, The Democrats, are talking sense on issues of war and peace:
Democrats leader Lyn Allison will this week introduce a bill to stop Australia using or manufacturing cluster bombs. The Senator travelled to Lebanon in October to meet with the President, Prime Minister and Speaker for discussions about the damage caused by cluster bombs.
Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons whose use and continued possession is morally repugnant. Yet, around the world, cluster bomb stockpiles are rapidly growing, Senator Allison said. More than 98 per cent of victims from unexploded bomblets are civilians many of them children who mistake the bright objects for toys.
Israel dropped between 1 and 1.25 million cluster bombs in the course of the recent war, 90 per cent of them within the last 72 hours of the conflict, she said. The cluster bombs dropped were from old stocks, and Israel knew full well that their failure rate would be high.
The Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill makes it unlawful for Australia to develop, stockpile, transfer or use cluster bombs. The bill will be co-sponsored by Labor and the Greens, and Im hopeful there will enough agitation from the Liberal backbench to get the Government behind it, too.
When it comes to Israel/Palestine, new Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s position is little different to the Howard government.