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West weak while Palestinians pay

By Greg Barns - posted Tuesday, 6 January 2009

In Australia you can go to jail for donating money to a cause like Hamas, which runs the lives of 1.5 million Palestinians on the Gaza Strip.

However, it is not an offence for you to support organisations in Israel, which actively disrupt the lives of Palestinians by ripping up their olive groves or financing illegal settlements in areas of clear dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hypocritical? You bet.


The Australian government, be it Liberal or Labor, like successive US administrations of any hue, is tied to a policy of supporting Israel at almost any cost. The plight of the Palestinians is given patronising lip service by Canberra and Washington.

If an Australian politician is invited to an Israeli function they will fall over themselves to be seen there. The same goes in the US. But if you suggest to those same politicians that they actively and consistently support Palestinian organisations or causes they will go weak at the knees and find any excuse to be out of town on that day.

There is no way any Australian or American politician should be supporting Israel's disproportionate use of force against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is an organisation with limited resources and munitions, while Israel has one of the best funded armies in the world.

The result of its Gaza offensive is untold suffering to innocent men, women and children, while the Hamas leadership remains in hiding underground.

Perhaps the most abject failure of the fracas in the Gaza has been that of the man whom so many thought - foolishly in this columnist's view - would shift US policy towards the Middle East onto a more just and humane plain.


Last week Mr Obama, in a scene eerily reminiscent of his predecessor George Bush, stayed on the golf course and wouldn't say boo while Palestinians were being remorselessly attacked by the Israelis.

Some of us are not surprised by Mr Obama's weakness last week. He, like all candidates for the US Presidency, actively courts the powerful pro-Israel lobby in the US. In fact, he did so very publicly after it became clear he would win the Democratic nomination.

Mr Obama was at pains to show the American electorate that he was not anti-Israel and now he is compromised hopelessly.

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First published in the Hobart Mercury on January 5, 2009.

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About the Author

Greg Barns is National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

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