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Promised land a hollow promise

By Greg Barns - posted Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Israel is a society without a moral compass. Its ethically defensible capacity to defend itself is one thing but that has been replaced now by a vengeful desire to kill and maim innocent men, women and children.

Israel is fast becoming a failed state.

The Lebanese people have done nothing to deserve the wrath of the Israeli political and military establishment. They are innocent bystanders, in the same way millions of Poles were in World War II when, sandwiched between the Soviet Union and Germany, they suffered immeasurably.


That Israel has lost its direction as a nation is evident from the way its political leaders are prepared to pursue a crazy and ultimately futile strategy to destroy Hezbollah. Remember that Israel went into Lebanon in 1982 to deal with its enemies - and left in 2000 with its tail between its legs, mission unaccomplished.

As Timothy Naftali put it last week, after 18 years of occupation, Israel was not able to destroy Hezbollah or “through local proxies provide a successful political alternative”.

Not that the government of Israel seems to care. It will go on bombing and destroying until the pressure of world opinion forces it to let up. As Nafatli observed: “Israeli generals have said that [Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert's Government assumes it will have a week to do as much damage as it can before the pressure from the international community gets too heavy to resist.”

Such a cynical attitude is rife throughout the Israeli Government. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini told the New York Times on July 19 it was inevitable innocent people would get hurt or die as a result of the activities of the Israeli defence force. “It's difficult to target like a surgery. Unfortunately, civilians sometimes pay the price of giving shelter to the terrorists,” she said.

Really? Such a blasé attitude on the part of Ms Livini presumably justifies the Israeli Government shooting and imprisoning a 15-year-old girl who sought to resist an Israeli soldier seeking to body-search her as she entered a mosque; and, of course, it's OK for the Israeli military to drop a 500 pound bomb on a house in the middle of the night in Gaza, killing a family of nine.

As former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison wrote last week, Israel has the trappings of democracy, to be sure - its elections are vigorously fought and it turns its governments over regularly. The media is feisty, as are the opponents of the warriors who run the defence and political establishment.


Yet it is, as Israeli novelist and musician Gilad Atzmon says, “a racially oriented democracy”. Atzmon pithily observes: “As far as the Israeli political game is concerned, the rule is very simple - the more Arab blood you have on your hands, the more you are suited to get on with your governing job.”

As Christison, who has spent the bulk of her adult life immersed in studying the Middle East, says: “A nation that mandates the primacy of one ethnicity or religion over all others will eventually become psychologically dysfunctional.”

Atzmon isn't the only Israeli who abhors what has happened to his country. Fellow countryman Michel Warschawski wrote a book a couple of years ago that ought to send a chill down the spine of anyone who believes real democracies are comfortable with the idea of multi-ethnicity. Writing in 2004 in Towards an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society, Warschawski says Israel has become a “gang of hoodlums” who run a society “that no longer recognises any boundaries, geographical or moral”.

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First published in the Hobart Mercury on July 24, 2006.

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About the Author

Greg Barns is National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

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