Monday, January 05, 2009

Why the EU will never have political union

You only have to watch the EU's divided reaction to what is happening in Gaza to understand that there will never be a common foreign policy.
  1. The Czechs, the leaders of the official EU diplomatic visit, called Israel's move “defensive”, before rapidly withdrawing the remark.
  2. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, a member of the EU mission, criticised Israel unequivocally for choosing to “dramatically escalate” the crisis.
  3. France, which is about to relinquish the EU presidency, called for a ceasefire
  4. Gordon Brown called for an immediate ceasefire.
  5. The Dutch Prime Minister said Israel could not be condemned as long as Hamas was firing rockets.
And after all this, is there anyone in the EU who still believes in political union?

Was Israel's attack motivated by the forthcoming elections?

There have been several cynical news reports about Israel's attack on Gaza being motivated by the forthcoming elections. They may well have been, but is that particularly surprising given that Israel is a democracy? Ever since Israel left Gaza back in 2005, the southern end of the country has been bombarded by thousands of Hamas rockets. Israel's government, like any democratically elected government has a responsibility to defend its citizens... or face being turfed out of office.

In fact you could easily argue the opposite, that Israel has done relatively little up till now precisely because there were relatively few votes to be found in Sderot and Ashkelon. Had Tel Aviv been in the firing line, Israel may well have acted earlier.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Give the BBC some credit for its coverage of Gaza

There's nothing that irritates me more than Alexie Sayle and all the other "I'm-Jewish-and-I'm-ashamed-of-Israel" celebrities who pop up at anti Israel rallies. Their only acknowledgement of their Jewishness is on occasions such as these.

So it was heartening to see the BBC giving airtime to an alternative point of view. Paul Kaye, a British comedian lost his mother in law to a rocket attack from Gaza and was interviewed in reaction to an earlier interview with Alexei Sayle. Sayle had been protesting together with the STWC against Israel's operation in Gaza.

Gaza isn't Guernica

Bianca Jagger, Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, and all the usual suspects gathered on Saturday to condemn Israel's bombardment of Gaza. The anti-war movement have forgotten about Iraq and Afghanistan, Palestine is new the flavour of the month, with the bombing of Gaza being compared to Geurnica. As far as the anti-war movement are concerned, Hamas fighters also count as civilians, hence the STWC's ludicrous claims that Israel has murdered 400 Palestinians. (Presumably, they also view the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as civilians).

An uninformed BBC viewer could easily draw the same conclusion as many of the TV reports fail to distinguish between combatants and civilians. Nevertheless, it's important to remember that regardless of your political views, every civilian death is a tragedy. There is nothing biased about the media focusing on the human cost of war. It's a reminder if ever one was needed that civilians are always the biggest casualty of armed conflict.