Wednesday, January 7, 2009

For and for

At first sight the Foreign Minister’s statement that the
Government will not take sides in the Israel-Palestine
conflict is open to derision. It echoes Walter Nash’s
infamous statement about the 1951 waterfront dispute,
namely, that the Labour Party was neither for nor
against the workers. At the same time it's very hard—I
would venture to say impossible—not to feel anguished
sympathy with the people of Gaza, as the fire of war
rains down on them. I find it too simplistic, however,
to side with those demanding a unilateral withdrawal
by Israel. I agree, in fact, with Foreign Minister Murray
McCully when he says it’s pointless arguing over what’s
a proportionate or disproportionate response; and I
note that the Labour Party’s view, as expressed by Phil
Goff and Helen Clark, is essentially the same as the
Government’s. If you believe, as I do, that both Israelis
and Palestinians have the right to their own nation
states, side by side, then the only thing worth arguing
about is how to get them both to the negotiating table
as fast as possible. But so long as Hamas is pledged to
destroy the state of Israel, that is going to be very
difficult. I can see why Israel wants to smash Hamas: it
may be brutal but it makes sense from their point of
view. And the fact that of all the Arab nations only Iran
and Syria unequivocally support Hamas suggests that
even in the Islamic sphere Hamas is too extreme for most.

Over the years of Middle East conflict my sympathies
have always tended to be with the Palestinians but I am
beginning to think that Hamas is not the way but the
stumbling block to their salvation—just as extreme
Zionism is to the Israeli cause. Green MP Keith Locke
says McCully has to do more 'than a general call on both
sides to cease fire.' I disagree. That's the best thing we can
do right now.

1 comment:

Leonard Cohen (as told to Clive Simmons) said...

Oh listen, ye sons of Abraham who war without end over the Holy Land. We are very large beings wheeling through existence and we aren’t even shaped the way we appear. You catch the lint of another’s being on your wheel, and they do the same. You get tangled up inextricably, and although we don’t often know what to do with it, love is the only redeeming possibility for human beings.