This paragraph particularly drives home the fact that our politicians have sold out their scruples for safe seats or something similar. How could any politician worth their salt be ignorant of the situation in Palestine? Julia Gillard is our deputy Prime Minister, and there was not one word of protest from her in late December when Israel decided to unleash Operation Cast Lead on Gaza. She has recently returned from a junket to Israel (my emphasis):
With such a small Jewish population in Australia, the driving force behind our politicians' actions must be either international pressure, and/or media ownership and influence. It seems to be an area in which on the surface we should be able to remove the blinkers and do what is right, but the politicians obviously put their careers ahead of humanity.Gillard's don't-mention-Gaza stance puts Australia further into Israel's camp than any other country, including the United States. Cynthia McKinney, the former US congresswoman who was on the ship, points out that President Barack Obama called the blockade "unjust" and urged its lifting, so she, as an American citizen, was attempting to carry out his wishes.
Whilst Gillard was in Israel, the Israeli authorities committed an act of piracy by boarding and kidnapping a ship full of human rights workers, including the above Cynthia McKinney, bound for Gaza. The ship was in international waters, so it is piracy. Israel has done this a number of times. At the start of the war on Gaza they rammed and boarded a ship that I think McKinney was also on. Noam Chomsky has also stated that it is piracy. An act that breaks international law. The article continues (including the above paragraph):
A study of the transcripts of Ms Gillard's speeches and interviews, from her recent trip to Israel and Ramallah, reveals that the word "Gaza" did not once pass her lips. Challenged by a reporter to say whether she believed Israel's treatment of the Palestinians was "fair and just", she avoided the question and retreated into platitudes: "We are concerned about the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people".
This amounts to connivance with what the late Israeli political scientist Baruch Kimmerling called "politicide": Israel's desire to have the outside world forget Palestinian political aspirations to self-determination, and regard their struggle in purely humanitarian terms.
Gillard's don't-mention-Gaza stance puts Australia further into Israel's camp than any other country, including the United States. Cynthia McKinney, the former US congresswoman who was on the ship, points out that President Barack Obama called the blockade "unjust" and urged its lifting, so she, as an American citizen, was attempting to carry out his wishes.
The European Union responded to Cast Lead by shelving plans to upgrade its trading relations with Israel, and even ASEAN, through the Heads Statement of its 14th summit, identified Israel's attack as the cause of a humanitarian crisis, and called for an immediate ceasefire.
Gillard, standing in for the Prime Minister at New Year, characterised the onslaught as no more than Israel exercising its "right to defend itself" against Hamas. Hamas, she told her questioners in the Middle East, would first have to "renounce violence" if it wanted to qualify as a partner in any peace process sponsored by the "quartet" of the UN, EU, US and Russia.
The home-made rockets that Hamas militiamen fired into Israel were indiscriminate weapons, and the 20 or so deaths they caused over several years are war crimes, but all independent observers have pointed out the obvious - that pales into insignificance when compared with the impact of Israel's high-tech weaponry, which claimed 1300 lives, mostly civilians and including 400 children, and injured thousands. No stipulation from Australia, then, that Israel must also renounce violence as a precondition to have its views heard at the top table.
Israel is aware of acting within the scope allowed by international political opinion: it does what it believes it can get away with. The unexpected firmness of the White House on settlement-building had constrained its room for manoeuvre. Gillard paid lip service to a settlement freeze and a two-state solution - but her visit as the leader of a large delegation, her demeanour and above all her refusal to condemn Israeli lawlessness or call for it to cease, all conspired to send the opposite signal.
Thousands of people whose homes Israel destroyed are still without shelter, says the International Committee of the Red Cross, because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.
It is this situation that the passengers and crew of the illegally seized vessel were trying to remedy. They have vowed to send more boats. Israel should let them pass, and Australia should say so. Read more.