Daily Archives: December 28, 2008

It’s time for every person in the world who cares for human rights…

…to condemn the attacks on Gaza. This is Gaza. Note the scale.


Barack Obama, show yourself a statesman… Speak out.*

I will not add my analysis, which is not worth a bean, but rather an article posted in the US Jewish magazine Tikkun – very much an Obama-style outfit.


A Press Release from The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

December 27, 2008

Let’s be crystal clear. Israel’s massive attacks on Gaza today have one overarching goal: conflict management. How to end rocket attacks on Israel from a besieged and starving Gaza without ending the impetus for those attacks, 41 years of increasingly oppressive Israeli Occupation without a hint that a sovereign and viable Palestinian state will ever emerge.

Indeed, the Occupation, in which Israel controls Gaza under a violent siege which violates fundamental human rights and international law, is not even mentioned in Israel’s PR campaign. Speaking to the international community, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni insists that no country would tolerate its citizens being attacked, a seemingly reasonable statement were it not for Israeli sanctions on Gaza supported by the US and Europe – sanctions that preceded the rocket fire on Israel – or the fact of Israeli Occupation in general. Solely focusing on the rocket attacks conceals the political policy that led to them: "The Hamas government in Gaza must be toppled," Livni has said repeatedly. "The means to do this must be military, economic and diplomatic."

The responsibility for the suffering both in Israel and Gaza rests squarely with successive Israeli governments, Labor, Likud and Kadima alike. Had there been a genuine political process (remember, the closure of Gaza began in 1989), Israelis and Palestinians could have been living together in peace and prosperity already for 20 years. After all, already in 1988 the PLO accepted the two-state solution in which a Palestinian state would arise on only 22% of historic Palestine, alongside the state of Israel on the other 78%. A truly generous offer.

In Israel, however, the effort is to hide its preference for control over peace. Framing its attacks as a response to rockets from Gaza, exploiting an immediate trigger to effectively conceal deeper political intentions and policies, does that. It also conceals Israeli violations of the cease-fire. The fact that the rocket attacks could have been avoided altogether through a genuine political process means that the people of southern Israel are being held hostage by their government as well. Their suffering, and the suffering of the people of Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories, must be placed squarely at the feet of the Israeli government.

Israel cannot expect security for its people and political normalcy as long as it occupies Palestinian lands and continues its attempt to impose its permanent rule over the Palestinians by military force. We call on the Israeli government to end its aggression immediately and enter into genuine political negotiations with a united Palestinian leadership. We call on the international community to end its sanctions on Gaza immediately in accordance with international law, initiate an effective political process to end the Israeli Occupation and bring about a just peace – which reflects the will of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

And there I leave it.

Next day

* Realistically, there is not a lot Obama can do right now, though it will be interesting to see how his administration handles the situation from late January onwards. I leave the statement from that Israeli group for the record as evidence that the current Israeli government’s approach is not the only one that has been on offer.

Paul McGeough is informative on what game is really being played: All-out battle for political control.

AS GAZANS hunkered last night, with corpses scattering their living nightmare, there was little comfort to be taken from the fact that the war inflicted on them in the weekend had more to do with political strategy in Israel than with military tactics in Gaza.

The timing of the expiration of a six-month truce that had held shakily between Israel and the elected Hamas government in Gaza has proved doubly opportune for the Israeli political establishment.

First, the US president-elect, Barack Obama, is obliged to watch from the sidelines as Israel’s disgraced outgoing Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, uses the last days of the Bush presidency to have another shot at imposing their will on Gaza.

Second, public disquiet with the Olmert Government’s handling of Hamas in Gaza means that Olmert’s two coalition colleagues who have their eye on the national leadership need to show what they are made of…

On the other side, this story has its own disgusting charm as well: Egypt says Hamas not allowing wounded to leave Gaza.


Posted by on December 28, 2008 in Israel


The Blood of My Brother: A Story of Death in Iraq (2005) ****

This amazing documentary begins a new category series “Best viewing 2009,” keeping in mind I rarely go to the movies and mostly watch DVDs borrowed free from Surry Hills Library. The category will also mark notable TV. The Blood of my Brother is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. To quote the Internet Movie Database, linked at the head of this paragraph:

THE BLOOD OF MY BROTHER goes behind the scenes of one Iraqi family’s struggle to survive amidst the carnage of the growing Shia insurgency. Nineteen-year-old Ibrahim dreams of revenge when his brother is shot and killed by an American patrol. With scenes of fighting and death on the streets of Baghdad, this is the closest most viewers will ever come to being in Iraq; kneeling in prayer amidst a thousand Muslim worshipers, feeling the roar of low-flying Apaches, riding atop a sixty-ton tank, driving with masked resistance fighters to attack American positions, fleeing the threat of an overwhelming response, the blood in the street, a tank on fire, or the cold, distant stare of a dead Iraqi fighter. Written by Andrew Berends

That’s the director, and the movie’s own website is here. 

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For anyone who was there, whether as a US or other soldier or as an Iraqi on the ground, the film may well be quite traumatic, as even this trailer indicates.

For those of us who, like me, have merely seen much about the war in the news or on other documentaries, it is a salutary experience. It is as near as you could possibly get to being there. What I admire most is that no-one is demonised. There are sympathetic sequences of the US soldier’s viewpoint, but of course the principal viewpoint, as the summary indicates, is a Shia Iraqi family’s. And this is in the thick of the worst part of the worst part of the war.

One witnesses, without the film maker intruding his commentary, the full range of emotions. One is a fly on the wall in al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. One is left very conscious of the culture behind that, and of how alien it must have been to the US soldiers confronting it, but one gets deeper into what it is like to inhabit that world and that world-view than one could possibly get from the seconds of footage one normally sees, and yes it is very strange (to me) and very frightening, but such is the genius of this documentary that it really remains human. As I said, no-one is demonised – not by the film maker anyway.

This reviewer raises some interesting questions about the film; I would give it a higher rating.

One over-riding question that arises while watching Andrew Berends‘ 2005 Iraq-set documentary The Blood of My Brother is, how did an American filmmaker get access to all of this, short of joining Sayid Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army himself? Several reviewers have already commented that much of the footage here puts Western media coverage to shame, and it certainly does. We see inside a mosque during prayer time with hundreds of men lined up shoulder to shoulder; we watch Shia insurgents get charged up and then battle an American tank and an Apache helicopter (feeling oddly mundane compared to scenes from Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down); and we view badly wounded civilians inside an Iraqi hospital, including young children and elderly men. It seems clear that Berends has a viewpoint he wants to get across, although his goal appears to be more humanitarian than political…

That last point is I think the great strength of this film.

One can’t help thinking, however, about how superficial the success of the whole affair, so far as it is even remotely successful, will prove to be. Possibly much the same will prove true of Afghanistan.

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Posted by on December 28, 2008 in America, best viewing 2009, dvd, film and dvd, Iraq, Islam, terrorism, USA


Post about the weather…

Fear not, something more substantial comes next! But it has been a warm Sunday, around 30C, with no storm warnings today. Yesterday was a different matter.

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Yes, that is rain you can see, as I peer out my back door late yesterday afternoon. The afternoon storm is a common feature of the Sydney summer.

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Posted by on December 28, 2008 in local, personal, Surry Hills


Visitor #300,000

Worth noting, I think.

This is of course Sitemeter for all the Ninglun/Floating Life sites

(except Blogspot and English/ESL)

and counts back to July 2001.

Visit #275,000 was on October 24th, 2008.

Mind you it hasn’t quite happened yet. At 8.30am we were on 299,950*. But my guess is by about 2pm we’ll be there. I’ll try to catch who the visitor is.

* Added 10 by 9am…



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Posted by on December 28, 2008 in milestones, site news, site stats