Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Trotter employing rightwing tricks

New blog, old crap from Chris Trotter (1). In the latest piece on Bowalley road, he borrows a trick often used by rightwing apologists for violence and militarism. Criticising Keith Locke's call for condemnation of Israel's current incursion (2), Trotter writes:

Hamas is anything but secular and quasi-socialist, and its dedication to the elimination not only of Israel, but of the entire Jewish people, is unequivocal. In the words of its own charter:

The Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree.

The last time people talked about the Jews in this way, they were wearing brown shirts and jackboots. And the fate they had planned for the Jewish people gave new meaning to the word disproportionate".

Which is why I find it so hard to respond with any degree of positivity to Keith Locke’s call for New Zealand to stand up and be counted among the outspoken opponents of what is happening in Gaza.

Were Hamas a secular and socialist organisation dedicated to the creation of a secular and socialist state of Palestine: a state where all those with an historical and/or religious attachment to the Holy Land; Jews and Arabs, the followers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all the people of the Book – could live together in peace and harmony; well, then I might feel differently.

But it isn’t. (3)

What he is doing here is deliberately conflating the murderous terrorists of Hamas and the hapless Palestinians of Gaza. The latter are sufferring for the crimes of the former, and Trotter says this is okay because he doesn't like Hamas. Nerither do I. But I don't see why innocent people should suffer - massively and en masse - because Hamas are a bunch of murderous terrorist jackals.

This conflation of the criminal and the innocent is what apologists for pre-emptive violence usually do. The Israelis are doing it now, as they bomb the Gaza strip. The West did it when we bombed Afghanistan and Iraq, we'll probably do it again if we bomb Iran.

(And the fact that Hamas are not 'secular and quasi-socialist' does not make them fair game, as Trotter seems to imply. What sort of world does Mr Trotter live in, where its okay to attack - literally - people whose politics don't match yours. Probably, a world inhabited by the men in brown shirts and jackboots he mentioned.)

The anger being directed at Israel isn't about the violence being inflicted on Hamas, but on the Plaestinians in Gaza as a whole - colelctive punishment for the crimes of a select few. usually, this is justified by claiming that the terrorists are give support by the population, so all are complicit - yes, even the little children - and have lost whatever right they had to expect to be distingushed from the terrorists.

It's a rubbish excuse, a pathetic attempt to justify disproportionate, indiscrinate and criminal violence. It is disgustsing when the aplogists on the right use it. It is even more disgusting to find Trotter doing their job for them.

Because it isn't about Hamas, it is about the rest of the Palestinains. They aren't guilty or complicit, any more than the people murdered on the 11th of September were responsible for the actions of the USA government. When apologists for the Israeli government's terrorism in Gaza use this line of defence, they are using the same argument that Bin Laden and his ilk used to justify that mass murder. So the people currently trying to defend Israel's actions are using terrorists' logic.

This would, of course, be the same logic that Hamas would use whern they pack off a teenager with a Semtex vest to blow up a restaurant - all Israeli's are culpable for the crimes of the few. It's wrong when Hamas says it, it is wrong when Al Queada says it, it is wrong when the rightwing apologists for Israel say it and it is still wrong even when Chris Trotter says it is okay.

And it makes me mad because Trotter should know better. he isn't an troglodytic rightwinger dragging his knuckles along the ground, nor is he a ideologically closed off drone spouting whatever he's told to spout. He's capable off working it out himself, even if it wasn't for the legion of people pointing out the truth to him. So why isn't he?

My hunch is he's has taken this line in his continuing effort appear iconoclastic fearless in his challenging of leftwing shibboleths. But he's putting his preening and ego in front of the obligation to be honest and tell the truth - trying to use the suffering of the miserable refugees in Gaza TO MAKE HIMSELF LOOK GOOD. And that is low.
1 - "Disporportionate Response," posted by Chris Trotter on Bowalley Road, 10th of January, 2008. (http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com/2009/01/disproportionate-response.html)
2 - "NZ Govt fiddles while Gaza burns," by Keith Locke, 2nd of January, 2008.(
http://www.greens.org.nz/node/20472)
3 - Trotter, op. cit.

2 comments:

Gary said...

Given that the Israelis have demonstrated a desire to avoid civilian deaths as much as possible, are you able to tell us how many of the deaths are of Hamas supporters/terrorists, and how many are unassociated civilians. Then perhaps you could tell us how you would propose the Israelis attack those responsible without injuring or killing anyone the terrorists are hiding behind.

It is easy to be critical, I'm interested in knowiing how much of the detail you have. By the way, this does not mean I support everything that Israel does, nor do I wish for any innocent civilians to be killed. I really am interested in your ideas as to how they can avoid that against an enemy who hides behind women and children and does everything it can to injure innocents.

lurgee said...

Given that the Israelis have demonstrated a desire to avoid civilian deaths as much as possible

I'm not being facetious, but if they wanted to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible, they wouldn't have engaged in a full scale military operation. They might be making an effort to avoid killing and injuring civilians - though that is debateable, given that they've managed to hit the UN several times now and the reports of refusing to let the Red Cross attend casualties and the (albeit unconfirmed) reports of IDF soldiers shooting at civilians (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7828536.stm)

I know it is a warzone and bad things happen in warzones, even with the best intentions. But if they were genuinely interested in not causing civilian casualties, they would have found some to avoid a conflict. There was a ceasefire, it could have been extended if ther had been dialogue. As it is, it looks like this has been planned for a very long time, with the intention of putting it into effect when the six month ceasefire ran out. Ditto Hamas, of course. Don't ever think I'm supporting Hamas.

are you able to tell us how many of the deaths are of Hamas supporters/terrorists, and how many are unassociated civilians.

That's very difficult to answer. What do you mean by a Hamas supporter? Again, not being facetious. I imagine a lot more Palestinians are Hamas supporters now than three weeks ago.

As for casualties, the ball pack figure is about a thousand, of which we're told about half have been judged to be combatants. How many of these combatants are actual Hamas militants, and how many were simply men holding guns, perhaps trying to protect their families or homes, is again unclear. But my totally random hunch would be that less than half the current 'combatant' figure would be actual Hamas militants.

Then perhaps you could tell us how you would propose the Israelis attack those responsible without injuring or killing anyone the terrorists are hiding behind ... I really am interested in your ideas as to how they can avoid that against an enemy who hides behind women and children and does everything it can to injure innocents.

The answer is quite simple, and I've already given it - don't attack them. There's a humanatarian reason for this, and a strategic one. The humanatarian one is obvious and I won't waste your time with it.

The strategic one is pretty straight forward - don't attack Gaza, because that is what Hamas wants you to do. And the first rule of war is sure don't do what you enemy wants you to do. Hamas is getting exactly what it wants out of this - pictures of dead and injured Palestinian children on TV, a new generation of Palestianians full of rage against Israel, and alienated from Fatah. They might have lost the odd Hamas bigwig, but that isn't a problem - there will be plenty more recruits now, with so many Palestianians looking for revenge, and any Hamas officials who get killed can be described as martyrs, touching on all the religious mumbo-jumbo as well.

So my solution would have been to avoid this conflict. Ideally, the steps would have been taken years ago - at least some settlements in the West Bank would have been dismantled, more engagement with Fatah and trying to encourage Hamas to keep on the political path. Some real effort to address the problem of the refugees - reparations, a South African Truth and Justice style commission to look into the crimes of both sides.

Of course, for this to have happened, the Israeli government would have needed to be genuinely interested in reaching a just peace. I don't think they are, because giving back land on the West Bank would be political suicide for them.

So the situation continues to fester, neither side willing to break the cycle. We've been here before, we 'll be here again.