Monday, August 31, 2009

Palestinian peace talks

The Age today (27/8) published an article: 'Truth
is the way to peace' by Jonathan Freedland from the English 'Guardian',
in which he writes: 'Peace may have stayed out of reach because for too
long we refused to confront the true causes of this war', which are more
than a century old, even then ignoring such reasons for hatred as the
favoured son dispute between Ishmael and Isaac the favoured son and
ancestor of a 'chosen' people. It is worth noting that both Judaism and
Islam have long rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah, Prince of Peace,
as well as rejecting the second commandment: 'to love thy neighbour'at.

For the history of this conflict, reference may be made to: and

While Palestinians, and Israelis generally, want to live in peace, the
sticking points are numerous.
Most Palestinians would accept Israel just as Israelis generally would
accept a Palestinian state, but Israel will not accept a Palestine with
any military capacity, which would seem to mean they would live under
Israeli rule - hardly a happy result for Palestinians.

On a different tack, Israel has the serious demographic problem of the
Israeli Arabs, with their large families, fearing Jewish minority
status. Israel proposes to make these Arabs swear allegiance to a Jewish
state, or have no vote. Palestinian prospects of freedom look dim.

In fact, the very strength of the Palestinian resistance, the
willingness of martyrs to die, now proves a substantial hindrance to an
honourable outcome to the peace process. Arab aggression, in war or
with rockets and suicide bombers, has solved nothing, only prolonging
the agony, with Palestinian losses, whether fighters or civilians,
always being far in excess of the enemy losses; as for example in the
recent Gaza Strip conflict, where rockets killed hundreds, but the IDF
killed some 3 1/2 thousand.

However, the major problem may turn out to be, again, that American
presidents' power to secure an answer to this problem is seriously
compromised by the strength of the Jewish lobby in America. The
Spooner cartoon accompanying the above article shows an uncertain Barack
Obama, with a huge 'rock' to roll away. The rock is labelled MIDDLE
EATERN/ ANTI - SEMITISM. That's wierd! In 1948 most of the Arab
population fled in terror to refugee camps. Is that any basis for
believing in a satisfactory answer at this stage without a truly
powerful peacemaker - and a really fair answer?

Underdogs – Part I


Martin Flanagan (The Age 31/8) gives a history of the fluctuating fortunes of Melbourne’s various football teams over the last seventy five years. In all sports there are winners and losers. The question: ‘Which team will be premiers?’ occupies many minds over the football season, not least those of the players themselves, and not forgetting those who tip the weekly.
However, in competitive sports, what makes some winners, and others losers, is not easy to assess the possible outcome attracts much interest, analysis – and guesswork. For many, quite a bit is at stake, and consequently the interest of the public is presently heading for the crescendo of a close final game
Captains, coaches, and of course the players, are all important but, often teams are favoured with the support of backers, wealthy or otherwise influential, which can tip the balance with an important moral support, rescuing the team from its underdog status.

Palestine – ‘Farmers’ struggle to harvest beset by a faceless menace’ (The Age 31/8).
There are places where the unfairness of the ‘competition’ is so entrenched that the underdogs have so little chance of escape that there is virtually no hope for a reasonable future. The above story – on page eight – does not appear in the Online Age, which means that, as papers disappear, underdogs’ troubles will be less and less visible for a concerned public to see.
The fact is that there are Palestinian farmers who suffer attacks form masked settlers whose homes adjoin their farms, with crops and buildings burnt, orchards surrounded by encroaching settler homes and poisoned, without any chance of protection or redress. Put simply, the Israeli settlers do as they please, with a mere token response from the IDF (Israel Defence Force, apparently there to defend the settlers!) and no settler in danger of being punished.
The settlements, without official approval, but the effective support of the Israeli government, occupy much of the Palestinian West Bank, making it virtually impossible for there ever to be a Palestinian homeland, despite the repeated efforts of America, and others over many years to make this happen.
The Palestinians are truly underdogs - a case of a religion creating a virtually insoluble problem and democracy not finding a solution.


For the history of this conflict, reference may be made to: and

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Political shambles.

'With governments like this in charge'. So runs the heading over the Age letter of 7/8 by John Gemmell,
as he fumes about government approaches to political campaign funding, stumbling water policy, public fear mongering, secrecy, and dismissal of expert opinion. (continue at

Indeed, as we see the fruitless confrontation in Canberra over climate change, with personal pride being the dominant factor hindering the kind of intelligent interaction that a believer in democracy might hope for, is it any wonder that we see discouragement rampant in the community?
We are assured in the Bible that 'the powers that be are ordained by God'. Well, that leaves us in a bit of a quandary. The comment: 'Why do we do it?' rings a tiny bell somewhere. Yes, why? In fact we do do it - we vote them in and we vote them out. That's it! That's the extent of our political engagement!
Shaun Carney writes, (The Age 12/8): 'What we're seeing is the failure of the established political parties and the political system itself to generate a discussion, a revolt - anything at all - on one of the great issues of our time.' Where is the public engagement? Indeed, where is it? That is apart from the media, which does nothing to bring opposed view together where a synthesis can operate.
The same thing applies to the experts. We get scattered views but no resolution, enabling one 'expert' (The Age 13/8) such as Dr Gordon Cheyne (Dr. of what?) to assert confidently that there is no such thing as dangerous climate change.
We need a political process that resolves problems, quickly, securely, eliminating political heat (which achieves nothing at all).
Meanwhile, suggestions are made that party campaigns should be publicly funded, so the totally corrupt practice of allowing the flow of vested interest funds to the parties (cash for a chat to a minister), can be arrested. Isn't it quite ludicrous that we should even consider lavishing public money on the parties to enlarge the very campaigns they use to fight for power, while doing nothing to increase opportunities for our involvement as intelligent participants? They just don't care about political reform, do they?
Our political process needs modernising, but not in a manner that might suit the powers-that-be. As Alfred E. Smith (a former governor of New York) once said: 'All the evils of democracy can be cured by more democracy'.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Human Beings are created equal !

Human Beings are indeed created equal Vincent Zankin (The Age 7/8), but in another sense, are made equal, before the law, by the law of the land.

Thus the refusal of terrorism suspect Nayef El Sayed to stand before the magistrate, in court, constitutes a punishable charge of contempt of court - a breach of the rule of law.

Australian law prevails throughout this land with no ifs or buts. Minority views or beliefs, religious or otherwise, contrary to existing law, cannot prevail against the Australian law.
The beliefs and practises of religions are individual but, ideally, have a separate, public role to play, assisting and encouraging believers in the growth of citizen and leadership qualities, as an outcome of their faith.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in this world - the strong and the weak. Democracy, the brainchild of the Athenians, was conceived as a way for the latter to keep the former in order.
How is it working out? It’s not.

Our media is full of the struggles of minorities for justice, or even a real hearing. This is the constant story, throughout the whole spectrum of society, both national and international. Examples are legion.
Take economics. In 2006 Nouriel Roubini was contemptuously labelled Dr. Doom for predicting in detail the process which resulted in the global financial crisis. He is now (for a brief time) famous, with David Hirst (The Age 6/8) noting his Australian visit ‘from Cassandra to super star’. His fame will, no doubt, soon be brushed aside by the ‘wisdom’ of the gung-ho ‘experts’, whose hubris caused the problem in the first place.

The work of Jimmy Carter in easing US relations with North Korea was wrecked by the aggressive George Bush, resulting in the acute nuclear weapons stand-off, which was behind the arrest of two US journalists. Now we see Bill Clinton, after a ‘soft’ independent visit to North Korea, returning with both of them.

A very real issue is that party governments of all kinds are practically impervious to the wisdom of the people amongst whom are very often those who can see the imminent danger, but live with the frustration (and helpless fury?) of being steadfastly ignored. (The policies on ‘water’ and climate change come immediately to mind.) Meanwhile the juggernaut of partisan government rolls on, arrogant, tone deaf, too weak to do what is necessary, but strong enough to juggle experimental responses to vital issues, afraid to listen.

The Godwin Grech affair is another casualty of our partisan style power structure. As a public servant, his responsibility was unquestionably to serve the new government, but the length of stay of the coalition government made him a Liberal convert with an attitude which should have disqualified him as a public servant.
(That Turnbull was willing to take advantage of his inappropriate illegal loyalties casts a long shadow over his democratic character.) None of this would have been remotely possible within a ballot parliament.

The home-birth issue is another case of threatening government dismissal of the importance of minority values. It maybe that the risks to mother and child are too great to accept. But where is the forum for all sides to be adequately heard. For a minority to lose the argument can be accepted if the process fully and fairly canvasses all the facts, without government or other dominance, and the process will permit a rerun of the issue, after an interval, if fresh facts indicate that it should be.

As I write, i have a visit from a builder. He tells me of nine months delay to get the building permits from the Council for three verandah roofs (for which he already has the deposits).

The point is that minorities make a lot of noise because they fear that without that they will never be heard. Then governments resist with more or less force out of fear.

Nothing can really be final in the affairs of the nation, other than declaring war – in which case a very large percentage free vote (90%?) ) in parliament would be essential.

We are not children, or sheep. We are not ignorant, we can think, although, by having the opportunity available to take part in active participation, we could think better and more deeply.

When will we learn that pure democracy is needed to dissipate all this fear, frustration, and anger. In view of government resistance to reasonable change, many are convinced that we should have a ‘bill of rights’ to let the courts have the government on a leash. But control could be, and should be, by the people - not the courts. Rights merely set the people against government, whereas government should be in a realistic way answerable to a confident people, with a confident voice.

Without this advance (to non-partisan government (via the ballot in parliaments), there is no chance of a successful world government. If we don’t wake up to the absolute need for change, Armageddon is a very real possibility. We are the best people to get this ball rolling, if we will only believe - and take appropriate action. Join the Secret Ballot Party - for free.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ethics etc

Dr. Lindy Edwards writes (The Age 3/ 8) ‘Ethical behaviour, it seems, is a core input for thriving economies.' In other words, community ethics must replace greed and self-interest as the foundation for economic efficiency and progress. This is not exactly surprising. The need for right living or, in other words, the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would that they should do unto you), obviously has universal application, whether in the home, at work, or, surprise surprise! - in the world of politics.
There is no doubt that private enterprise, as an important aspect of individual liberty, has an important role in the vitality of business, and society generally. But to equate greed and self-interest with 'private enterprise' is a serious mistake. They can, in no wise, be regarded as synonymous or congruent, and this misunderstanding has obviously been at the root of the recent global financial crisis, with rash investment strategies encouraged by governments, by deregulation of the financial markets.
There can be no doubt that appropriate regulation is an essential safeguard for the liberty and well-being of all, within the framework of a democracy. But parliaments are pretty much infected by partisan interests, absorbing and adopting some of their less than desirable principles and beliefs.
It is certainly clear that the behaviour in our parliaments would also benefit considerably by a more diligent understanding and application of the Golden Rule.