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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Israel: a few thoughts « Previous | |Next »
May 24, 2004

Ariel Sharon's original disengagement plan included the evacuation of the "Philadelphi Axis", the narrow buffer zone on the southern edge of Gaza, which cuts Gaza off from Egypt. (the link is a map). It involved evacuating all the settlements in the Gaza Strip along with their 7,500 inhabitants.

This disengagement plan meant that Sharon did not consider that the occupation of this territory was necessary for the security of the Israeli nation state. What is the strategic value of preserving 21 tiny Gaza enclaves with 7500 settlers ringed by 1.3 million Palestinians and prone to attack.?Presumably, the reasoning is that the Gaza Strip is a military and demographic burden, and the quicker Israel gets out of it, the better. That means the end of occupation of the Gaza strip.

Instead we have the Gaza paradox: the Israeli army moves in so it can pull out. This appears to be Sharon's way of doing things.

The common interpretation of what is going on in Israel appears to be that "the right won the elections and the Likud referendum, but the left is winning in public opinion”; that Israel will eventually leave the territories and that a Palestinian state is already a foregone conclusion.

Three thoughts.

Why return to the Philadelphi Axis? Why widen this buffer zone? The official purpose for destroying parts of Rafah is to destroy the tunnels under the Philadelphi Axis. The rational is that house demolitions in Rafah are necessary to prevent increasingly sophisticated weapons from being smuggled in under the border from Egypt.

Yet the tunnels have been there for years and, no doubt, new ones will be rebuilt. The episode indicates that the regular Israeli army is faced with opposition from guerilla fighters supported by a desperate population. That implies the military option is not the only way of dealing with the situation or working to isolate Yasser Arafat and his organization to highlight the way they have acted with such callous disregard for the interests of the Palestinian people.

From the perspective of the Palestinians, the building of the security wall by Israel can be seen as a form of concentration and encirclement. It is an ironic policy, given the experience of Israel Jews in the European ghettos. Moreover, the ongoing investment in the settlements signifies an occupation regime based on a continual movement to the other side of the line of the State of Israel. The massive investments in the territories create a new demographic reality that strengthens the occupation regime.

If Sharon is serious about his proposal to undertake a wide withdrawal from Gaza, then the military wasteland way of doing it will help to ensure the final erosion of the PA's "authority" in Gaza. This would result in the emergence there of an Islamist-led administration If so, then would not Sharon be justified in being able to hit it hard as part of the war on terror?
Update
It is disappointing that Australia/Israeli & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) is not more critical of Sharon and the Likud Right. Within Australia the Council appears to be so obssessed with the leftish critics of Israel that it cannot acknowledge the realities of occupation regime, or the 37 years of full occupation. Only Palestinians should acknolwedge realities. Nor does the AIJAC question the way that Israel's national security state continually undermines Israel's democratic ethos.

The latest example of this is the arrest of the British journalist Peter Hounam, holding him in a "dungeon with excrement on the walls" , limited to "two hours of sleep", and questioned for more than four hours by Israeli security, without being charged. Hounam said he was detained on suspicion of espionage and threatened with deportation.
May 31
Mordecai Vanunu, who took the wraps off Israel's secret nuclear arsenal, has spoken out publicly about his abduction and 11 years in solitary confinement. What real damage to state security does he represent now? Yet restrictions are imposed on Vanunu in the form of a ban against "maintaining connections or exchanging information in any way with foreign citizens". Security overides democratic freedom.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:56 PM | | Comments (35)
Comments

Comments

Sorry, Gary, but you're wrong on this one, as well. Way back in February I had detailled discussions with an IDF major general on the proposed withdrawal plan.

And, even back then, the plan called for Israel retaining control of the Philadelphi Axis in order clamp down on weapons smuggling from Egypt.

And, say what you might, the current operation has had a substantial effect on the arms smuggling trade. The going price for a single round of 7.62mmX39 ammunition is 25-27 Shekels. That means it costs at least 750 shekels to fill a 30-round AK-47 magazine. Pretty damned expensive.

If Israel were to withdraw from the Egypt Gaza border, then they wouldn't be smuggling in small arms ammunition, they'd be shipping in sophisticated anti-air and anti-tank missiles, as well as long range Katyusha rockets that would be able to hit the southern suburbs of Tel Aviv.

It's easy for you to pontificate from the safety of your Adelaide living room, Gary. But, close up things are not nearly as clear cut as it seems from your great distance. Israel has valid security concerns about terrorism emenating from the Gaza strip.

'Sorry, Gary, but you're wrong on this one, as well.'

As he always seems to be, the poor bloke. Lucky he has you around to set him straight. That's about 150 contentions Gary has raised with you and he's been wrong every time, hasn't he? Time to give up, eh VOS?

That's what you'd like, isn't it? For everyone who disagrees with you, to either convert or shut up. But if they did, who would you argue with? Who would you insist is wrong, wrong, wrong?

I just chuckle when I see that little phrase now .. 'Sorry, Gary, you're wrong again' .. I imagine it uttered in a peremptory Kissingerian basso profundo, the voice of myopia, self regarding, unreflective, assuming, free of doubt and therefore even the possibility of progress.

But then again, you could sound like John Michael Howson.

Go on, have a pop at me for 'sadly', being unable to evince awe at your bewildering mental gymnastics, and unwilling to throw my hands up and say 'OK, you win.'

Relentlessness is not reason VOS.

Neither are snide ad hominem attacks, Glenn.

'It's easy for you to pontificate from the safety of your Adelaide living room, Gary'

And where pray are you? Along with 'who are you'? and 'why aren't you willing to put your name to your drivel'?

Come on, are you perhaps on the front lines in the war on People Who Aren't Like Us.. helping some of those brave settlers, fresh out of Russia to steal some Palestinian's land? Or maybe chasing Baathist remnants in Tikrit?

Full disclosure you troll.

The ad hominen vitriol doesn't contribute to an already weak argument, Glenn. The point is that I'm not pontificating on what Israeli national defence policy should or should not be. Gary wants to tell the Israeli government what to do while staying far removed from any potential negative consequences of his advice. I think it's up to the Israelis to decide what their policies should be, given that they are the ones being blown to bits by suicide bombers and the like.

As for my military bona fides, suffice it to say that I've "see the elephant," to use a term employed during the American Civil War to denote combat experience. I've been there and done that. I know of whence I speak. I daresay you can't say the same.

Moreover, I firmly believe in the necessity of waging war on these "people who aren't like us." We don't hijack civilian airliners and fly them into office buildings. We don't bomb commuter trains in Madrid. We don't blow up nightclubs full of innocent revellers.

So, yes, people who do such things, "who aren't like us" in that respect, need to be destroyed, root and branch.

The new settlers could even have been shipped in from South America. I wonder if this was just a one off?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,770235,00.html

'As for my military bona fides, suffice it to say that I've "see the elephant," to use a term employed during the American Civil War to denote combat experience. I've been there and done that. I know of whence I speak. I daresay you can't say the same.'

But right now you're waging war from the comfort of your lounge room, is that it? A minor wheel in the 101st Keyboarders.

'Moreover, I firmly believe in the necessity of waging war on these "people who aren't like us." We don't hijack civilian airliners and fly them into office buildings. We don't bomb commuter trains in Madrid. We don't blow up nightclubs full of innocent revellers.'

Yeah that sounds about right for a your typical military meathead from the US or Israel. No context. No long view. Them and us. Either/or. Lethal binary thinking is all you appear capable of.

I take it that you would like to negotiate with Osama Bin Laden. You are naive enough to think that he's a guy who can be reasoned with?

Are you a charter member of the Neville Chamberlain fanclub?

Vos,
Alas it never ocurred to me to advise the Israeli government on how to run its prisons, gain information from the Palestinians or help develop Israel's occcupation regime.

Alas, I'm just an ex-academnic dabbling in politics trying to get Australians interested in Middle Eastern politics and they way these play in Australia with the Israeli lobby.

And judging by your comments I do not have much hope of a career path as a political advisor to the Likud Party. Sigh. I had such high hopes too.

Maybe you could put in a good word for me? They could check out public opinion to see objectivity in action.

Vos,
Here is some hard headed advice for your IDF major general mate, hot from the study in Adelaide. Since Israel is confronted by a national liberation struggle being waged by Palesinians, then this insurgency cannot be won without torture.

The reasoning is simple. Intelligence is the key to defeating the enemy in guerrilla warfare. So intelligence needs to be extracted from Palestinian prisoners. Those prisoners need to be soften up to get them talk.

Israel should say this openly. It is simply saying what any good major general in the IDF already knows.

'Are you a charter member of the Neville Chamberlain fanclub?'

Chamberlain over Hitler any day.

Ah, Gary, after a life spent in the ivory tower, all those wasted hours begining to weigh upon you? Wish you had instead spent your life in more constructive pursuits with a real life impact? A common malaise in the groves of academe, I'm told.

My discussion with the major general did not involve issues of prisoner interrogation. It revolved around the withdrawal plan from Gaza, about which you are lamentably ill-informed.

And, that dilletantishness of yours extends to military intelligence matters, as well. There are many ways of obtaining what is known in the trade as "humint," and only a minority of those methods involve physical pressure on prisoners.

As a matter of fact, the Israelis HAVE said "this" (reference to extracting info from prisoners) for years. I guess you didn't know that the Israeli supreme court dealt with this issue and concluded that torture should be forbidden. But, "moderate physical pressure," such as sleep and sensory deprivation could be used under strict guidelines in instances where a terrorist threat is impending.

So, as for honesty, the Israelis have been forthright enough to look at the sometimes unsavoury exigencies of war on an open discussion. That's where Dershowitz got his ideas on torture in "ticking bomb" situations.

And, as for the objectivity of your weblog, surely you jest. You are way out there in left field, Gary. So far out, in fact, that centrist policies appear to you like the program of Attila the Hun, incarnate.

Ho, ho, ho. Objective my posterior.

Glenn:

Of course, what you appear unable to understand is the Neville Chamberlain (and Deladier) were what allowed for Hitler to develop into the full fledged threat that he became.

The German Army in October 1938 was in nowhere near the shape to successfully prosecute a war against the Brits and French. The 19 months that separated the Munich disgrace and the May 1940 attack against the Western allies were essential in allowing the Wehrmacht to attain the strength it needed for a victorious campaign.

Moreover, when the Chamberlain sold out the Czechs, the Germans got ahold of one of the biggest armes manufacturing complexes in Europe, at Pilsen. The Wehrmacht put all those new weapons to very good use against the Poles and later the Brits and French.

The moral of the story is that appeasement always comes back to bite you in the ass, because a steadfast stand at Munich would have caused Hitler to fold like a bad hand at poker. It is very likely that he would have been deposed by a disaffected German military, and WWII wouldn't have happened.

Sigh, not that I really suppose that you will be at all interested in something as mundane as history. After all, historical fact would interfere with your grand anti-American conspiracy theories and your Judeophobia.

One last thought, Gary. You don't have much of a future as a policy adviser for the Israeli labour party, either. Excepting the far left fringe, no one in Israel appreciates foreign "chairborne rangers" such as yourself, who pontificate from afar.

The appeasement started far, far before Munich, with events like the Spanish Civil War (both by the 'democratic' countries and Stalinist USSR), where the German air force and army was allowed to have bit of a practice run. Not to mention the approval of the eugenics program by many influential people in the 'western' world and the general feeling of many that this Hitler chap was doing the right thing by getting rid of those pesky unions and socialists. Nazi Germany only became a problem when he got a bit too big for his britches.

Gary IS wrong. Opinions aside, Gary claimed that Israel planned to evacuate the Philadelphi Road. This is wrong full stop. This false statement was used to back up a good part of his argument.

Say, I reckon Truman should have nuked the Soviet Union in 1948. Who agrees it would have saved a whole lot of subsequent bother?

'no one in Israel appreciates foreign "chairborne rangers" such as yourself, who pontificate from afar.'

Lordy, your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

'So, as for honesty, the Israelis have been forthright enough to look at the sometimes unsavoury exigencies of war on an open discussion.'

That's what the Germans might have said. How darkly ironic it is that a nation that owes it's existence to a massacre of it's people elsewhere, should reproduce the behaviour of their oppressors on their own patch, dispossessing and humiliating another population, as if to assuage their hurt and fear and outrage by visiting their nightmares on others.

'Unsavoury exigencies'!! Call it what it is you coward - torture. And unless you are prepared to put the shoe on the other foot (Mr Dershowitz's deathless phrase - one he has curiously neglected to apply to the Middle East) - then you can't be part of any serious discussion on the subject.

Amazing, and disgraceful, how some Jewish people, the memory (actual or vicarious) of being trampled underfoot 60 years ago still dominating their thought, can be so inhuman as to blithely hold the reins of horses trampling all over another people; one who had the temerity to say 'no' to being dispossesed and murdered.

'But, "moderate physical pressure," such as sleep and sensory deprivation could be used under strict guidelines in instances where a terrorist threat is impending.'

If there was any sort of parity of arms in this battle, then you'd find Palestinian leaders making the same calculations as Israelis - they'd be monitoring IDF operational identities and summarily executing them in pre-emptive targeted assassinations. It would be only fair. How would you like those apples? 'Sorry Glenn, wrong again, they are terrorists, we are not.'

Increasing numbers of people are finding this an inadequate, even a racist formulation and I'd like to think it's days are numbered.

'The moral of the story is that appeasement always comes back to bite you in the ass,

Doesn't it just. Journalists and politicians the world over have appeased Bush and co from the word go, and look where that's got us. Years ago, I would have appeased you. Not worth the trouble to deal with such one-track zealots.

Not any more though. I don't know that common sense will ever pierce a hide as thick as yours, but even if I only give you a sense of the everlasting No that decent, informed people everywhere are voicing with regard to Israel, it'll be worth it.

'ivory tower' 'groves of academe' ' that dilletantishness of yours'

The usual. You neocons love to divide people up into groups; even weeny neocons like Brooks, forever classifying humans into races and economic classes and people who do this and those who don't, people who think that and those who don't. People like us, and people not like us. Maybe for a mind like yours, pejorative labels are enough to make arguments. Some of us nee more.

'Gary IS wrong. Opinions aside, Gary claimed that Israel planned to evacuate the Philadelphi Road.'

Oh that invalidates everything he said on the Middle East I suppose. Again, the return to minutiae when the general argument is too strong.

Nice to see you have a friend VOS.

'Say, I reckon Truman should have nuked the Soviet Union in 1948. Who agrees it would have saved a whole lot of subsequent bother?'

Steve, you're incorrigible. What a naughty boy you are. I'm shocked I tell you, shocked.

That's a hoot, Glenn. It's the left that is notorious for dividing people into hostile camps. Ever hear of the Marxist theory of class? Dialectial materialism and the coming violent overthrow of those nasty bourgouis plutocrats? You need to brush up on your Communist Manifesto and Anti-During, comrade Glenn.

Now to the business at hand. Once again you just don't get it, Glenn. If the Palestinians restricted their attacks to the Israeli military, that would be war, not terrorism. But the Palestinians are far too fond of suicide bombings of cafes and the execution style short range shootings of unarmed women (a reference to the murder of the pregnant Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, aged 4 - 12, a couple of weeks ago. But then, Glenn, you probably thought that the dastardly Hatuels got what they deserved, eh? That seems to be about your speed.

Moving on... Gary got his facts wrong on the Philadelphi axis. And, it isn't the first time he's been peddling erroneous material.

And, yes, being caught, in flagrante, in such a substantial inaccuracy does tend to invalidate the larger argument. If the factual foundation of your contention is incorrect, then so is your general case because it is constructed on an infrastructure (another bit of Marxist jargon just for you, Glenn) of sand.


So, you can try and minimize the import of Gary's factual error by trying to fob it off as "minutiae," but that doesn't detract from the fatal damage it does to the "general argument" which isn't strong at all.

Sorry, Glenn, but despite what Foucault, Derida and the other grand panjandrums of post-modernism said, facts do matter.

Vos,
I've re-read Sharon's original disengagement plan. You are right. I did claim in my post that Israel planned to evacuate the Philadelphi Road.'

That claim is wrong as you point out. Sharon's plan says:

II. Main points of the plan

A. The Gaza Strip

1.Israel will evacuate the Gaza Strip, including all the Israeli settlements currently existing there, and will redeploy outside the territory of the Strip. This, apart from military deployment along the border line between the Gaza Strip and Egypt ("Philadelphi Route"), will be detailed below.

2. Upon completion of the move, no permanent Israeli civilian or military presence in the areas that are evacuated in the continental expanse of the Gaza Strip will remain.

As a result, there will be no basis for the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory."

That is the relevant bit of text.

It's pretty clear. Israel had no intention of pulling out of the Philadelphi route. I missed that. Naive me. I guess my misreading of the original Sharon plan has to do with my lack of political nous.

I initially read the statement "no permanent Israeli civilian or military presence in the areas that are evacuated in the continental expanse of the Gaza Strip will remain" to mean an excavation from all of Gaza including the Philadelphi strip.

Does the mistake you so clearly point out invalidate my argument. That is you claim, is it not?

My argument had two strands. One said that the plan implies that the Gaza Strip is a military and demographic burden, and the quicker Israel gets out of it, the better. That means the end of occupation.

The other strand of my argument said that if Sharon was serious about his proposal to undertake a wide withdrawal from Gaza, then the military wasteland way of doing it will help to ensure the final erosion of the PA's "authority" in Gaza. This would result in the emergence there of an Islamist-led administration If so, then would not Sharon be justified in being able to hit it hard as part of the war on terror.

So my argument was a repetition of my general argument about Sharon's strategies: they are duplicitous.

Take the Gaza strip. If you re-re-read the above plan then a contradiction appears. On the one hand , there is "military deployment along the border line between the Gaza Strip and Egypt ("Philadelphi Route")". On the other hand the text says that no "permanent Israeli civilian or military presence in the areas that are evacuated in the continental expanse of the Gaza Strip will remain."

I presume the widening of the Philadelphi strip is part of the territory of Gaza not Egypt. If so, then we do have have a permanent military presence in Gaza by Israel after disengagment.

Sharon's strategy is duplicitous. None of the above indicates that he is serious about a two state solution. That is what you are arguing in your defence of Sharon.

If Sharon is not serious about a two state solution, then the Israel right is making a move to some form of apartheid-type solution.


Gary:

There's nothing duplicitous about it. You yourself concede that the intention of remaining along the Philadelphi axis was openly and clearly articulated. Strange sort of duplicity to lay one's intentions straightforwardly on the table.

Moreover, you err in your exigesis of the wording of the Israeli plan. It says that no "permanent Israeli civilian or military presence in the areas that are evacuated in the continental expanse of the Gaza Strip will remain."

First and foremost, the Philadelphi axis is not going to be evacuated, thus making the aforementioned quote inapplicable to that strip along the Gaza-Egyptian border. Secondly, the Gaza withdrawal is unilateral because the Israelis have lost faith that there is an honest negotiating partner on the Palestinian side. If that changes at some future point, and a Palestinian leadership arises that is willing to recognize and make true peace with Israel, then the IDF will withdraw from the Philadelphi axis.

After all, the only reason why Israel intends to stay stems from purely military concerns - the need to stifle the smuggling of weapons and ammo into Gaza. If a leadership truly serious about peace with Israel ever comes to power in the Palestinian territories, there'll be no need for an anti-weapons smuggling buffer zone, now will there? At that point the IDF will pack up and leave. Thus, the Israeli plan fails your duplicity test on the permanence charge, as well. The duration of Israel's presence along the border with Egypt will be determined solely by the duration of Palestinian bloody-mindedness.

So, once again a choice is laid before the Palestinians. But, alas, if the past is any sort of prologue, the Palestinians will choose conflict over conciliation, thus condemning themselves to more years of poverty, illiteracy and general backwardness.

It would be nice to think that a Nelson Mandela could arise from within the Palestinian community, but there's no sign of any such pragmatism yet. All we see is the continued self-destructive policies of the perennially unshaven one (Arafat).


'So, once again a choice is laid before the Palestinians.'

Sorry VOS, wrong again.(!) The man with a boot on his throat doesn't have the choice; the man wearing the boot does.

'It would be nice to think that a Nelson Mandela could arise from within the Palestinian community'

You're not quite as well-read as you think you are. The Mandela - Arafat contrast was a Likudnik trope emanating from the US a few years ago which bit the dust when a few people, lefties probably, pointed out that Mandela was passionately opposed to Zionism and has often voiced solidarity with the Palestinians.

A foolish woman wrote to the Herald a few yrs ago with the same gimmick, already tired then. I wrote a retort that was typically not published, but here's the guts of it:

'Hannah Montague (Letters, May 1, 2002) may be right that Yasser Arafat is no Nelson Mandela (who is?) but General Sharon would be very convincing in the role of P.W. Botha.

Ms Montague feels that Mr Arafat's failure to be Mr Mandela is 'the crux of the problem in the Middle East'. It seems that underpinning her unflattering comparison is an acceptance that Palestinian oppression by Israel is analogous to the oppression native blacks suffered under the apartheid regime, but unfortunately where the blacks had a noble champion, the Palestinians are stuck with Arafat. Do we draw the conclusion that although Ms Montague abhors Mr Arafat, she supports the demands of his people?

Mandela is indeed an exemplar, a global icon of decency and strength, but it is unwise for supporters of Israeli policy to allude to him. Mr Mandela's strong disapproval of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land has been consistent and public for decades. In this he joins Mahatma Gandhi who in 1946 said "In my opinion, they (the Jews) have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism... . Why should they resort to terrorism to make good their forcible landing in Palestine?" '

Yeah, Mandella is quite hostile to Israel. He was quite hostile to the Afrikaners who ran the Apartheid state, as well. But, when push came to shove, he recognized that conciliation with the Boers would be necessary to have any sort of positive future for South Africa.

I'm sure he doesn't love any of his former enemies. But that didn't stop him from seeking construction over destruction, and cooperation rather than vengeance.

Quite frankly, I don't care a whit that Mandella is still enthralled by Arafat. That's not the point. The point is that unless someone amongst the Palestinians arises to adopt a conciliatory policy towards the Jews that is similar to the ANU's conciliatory policy towards the Afrikaners, then there will be no peace.

Got that, Glenn? Are you able to comprehend this without rushing off into irrelevant tangents?

Gary:

It's equally disappointing that you seem to be so obsessed with your typically lefty hypercritical stance towards Israel that you can't recognize that AIJAC makes some very good arguments.

The occupation would have been long since ended if Arafat had accepted the Barak/Clinton Camp David/Taba deal that would have allowed for the establishment of a Palestinian state on 95%+ of the WB and the entirety of Gaza.

Why can't you understand that it is Palestinian obduracy that has prolongued the occupation?

Do facts mean nothing in your world?

Awww... Poor Peter Hounam. He missed a little bit of his beauty sleep. Perhaps next time he'll think twice about brazenly violating restrictions on communication that were imposed on a man convicted of espionage and treason.

So, Gary, it is apparently your position that journalists who violate the law should enjoy some sort of immunity because they are members of the fourth estate?

'The point is that unless someone amongst the Palestinians arises to adopt a conciliatory policy towards the Jews that is similar to the ANU's conciliatory policy towards the Afrikaners, then there will be no peace.'

Oh that'll work won't it, with Israel being run by people who make even you look moderate. A few sit-ins and some 'dialogue' eh? Should do the trick.

'Awww... Poor Peter Hounam. He missed a little bit of his beauty sleep.'

God you're a prick.

Actually, Glenn... you're the one whose polemical repertoire revolves around personal insults and ad hominem attacks. It's not much of a substitute for reasoned debate, but I suppose in your case it'll have to do.

'personal insults and ad hominem attacks. It's not much of a substitute for reasoned debate, but I suppose in your case it'll have to do.'

I'm better than you are at both, but trust you to moan about insults, as if calling a spade a spade disqualifies you from making sense. Some people deserve to be insulted.

Wow, Glenn... your delusions of grandeur approach the truly pathological. You are a legend in your own mind... and if you don't believe it, just ask you.

Again, the ad hominem vitriol that appears to be your specialty is a piss poor substitute for reasoned debate.

If you could hold your own, polemically speaking, you wouldn't feel the need to lash out in personal attacks.

No whinging here... just clinical observation on my part.

Feel free to keep insulting me to your heart's content. The more shit you shovel, the worse you and your arguments look.

'Feel free to keep insulting me to your heart's content. The more shit you shovel, the worse you and your arguments look.'

For sensible people, arguments stand or fall on their merits, notwithstanding any associated white noise such as insults or praise. Only people with an inadequately developed ability to distinguish between the two can make your mistake.

You're just a weener keyboard warrior who's too scared to tell us who he is. You love to bully opponents into submission but wail like a spoiled child when someone returns serve.

Argument! You don't argue, you declare. Your ethno-religious biases are apparently ineradicable and this seems to have sentenced you to lifelong political and ethical myopia.

If you weren't such a dick I'd feel sorry for you.

Glenn:

You begin with the eminently reasonable statement that "for sensible people, arguments stand or fall on their merits." But, from there you slide down hill in an abortive attempt to justify your habit of substituting invective and insult for rational argument.

Those who can't hold their own in civil debate are the ones who resort to the ad hominem. Personal attacks are an outlet for the frustration they feel over their inability to cogently argue their case.

You are a textbook example of this phenomenon.

Your delusions of grandeur aside, the simple fact of the matter is that your arguments have little merit. They are lacking in historical or factual foundation, and sorely deficient in cogency, logic or ethical coherenc. Face it, Glenn, if you really felt that you could present a well-constructed, factually well-founded argument, you would not feel the need to drag ad hominem irrelevancies into the discussion.

But, then, no skin off my nose. The more insults you hurl, the more superficial an intellect you appear.

So, fire away.

More of the same.

'Those who can't hold their own in civil debate are the ones who resort to the ad hominem'

If this straw keeps you warm at night, you're welcome to clutch it.

No skin off my nose.

VOS
I have introduced the AIJAC into the discussion because it fosters the erroneous and widespread misconception that the Jewish communityin Australia is politically monolithic. This is not so. It supports Likud Party policies and these are the polcies of the right.

1.The members of the Likud Party rejected by a large majority the idea of unilateral withdrawal and the dismantling of the settlements. Their opposition is paralyzing any Israeli shift to a two state solution.

2.This Likud policy is supported by the AIJAC, which is a privately run think tank.I do not know the status of its affliation to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.

3.A recent AIJAC editorial says the Palestinians to get real about the realities on the ground. Fair enough.There is nothing about the Israeli's getting realistic about realities on the ground.

4.The AIJAC accepts the general neo-con line (of the National Review) in the Middle East.

5. The AIJAC conducted a very vitriolic political campaign against Hanan Ashrawi receiving the Sydney Peace Prize in 2003.It's prime interest appeared to be doing everything in its power to demonising Dr Ashrawi in an attempt to destroy her credibility.

So it represents a right wing Israeli perspective. The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) is quite different. It is neither anti-Israel or anti-Zionist. It is closely linked with the Israeli Peace Movement and supports the creation of a Palestinian State alongside Israel.

So what Sharon has done with his disengagement plan is to force the Likud Party to lift its mask as a centrist party. It is a party of the right that is bitterly opposed to the evacuation of Jewish settlements in the territories that are located outside "the settlement blocs"; and deeply opposed to any negotiations with the Palestinians about security arrangements in the Gaza Strip.

VOS,
on the issue of the arrest of the British journalist Peter Hounam by Israeli security forces. you ask:
Is it my position "that journalists who violate the law should enjoy some sort of immunity because they are members of the fourth estate?"

It is not clear that Hounam was endangering national security. If he was breaking "the law" (a restriction or ban surely)then he could be defined as an unwelcome guest and put on the next plane back to London.

What you ignore is that democracies do not arrest journalists unless they are suspected of criminal infractions. Hounam did not commit a criminal action. So Israeli security forces once crossed the boundaries and violated accepted norms in a democracy.

Israel's claim to be a democracy is undermined by the own actions of its own security apparatus. I presume the Ministry of Justice realized this and intervened.

Ha, Gary, you are funny. I'm not ignoring anything. The Israelis arrested Hounam for precisely the reason you stipulated - suspicion of a criminal infraction. And they did precisely what you prescribe. They held him for 24 hours and slapped his ass on the next flight to London.

You say, ex cathedra, that Hounam didn't commit a criminal action. And what makes you say that? By interviewing Vanunu he clearly and unequivocally violated the post-release restrictions placed on a convicted traitor and spy. If that's not a violation of the law, I'd like to hear your definition of one.

Just because you think that Vanunu is a stand up guy doesn't mean that a sovereign Israeli government isn't within its rights to take measures in defence of its national security.

And, with all due respect, I think it's up to the Israelis to determine what does, and does not threaten their security, rather than an "ex-academic in Adelaide."

All these ipse dixits that you utter really make you appear rather presumptious and foolish, you know.