Ed, by now, the UN Secretary General has managed to comment very sensibly on the fairly appalling actions of Israel in recent days. Why have we said nothing on this? In 2006, when the Lebanon business flared up, Ming took a very sensible and proactive stance in calling for Israel to call off its grossly disproportionate and aggressive campaign. Surely this is an equally obvious situation in which we can be pretty clear in opposing the cosy consensus view of Labour and the Tories, which broadly supports the (typically fatuous) US-Israeli line that goes something like the following quote.
Last night, the US called for an end to the violence and said it regretted the loss of life in the Gaza Strip. ‘There is a clear distinction between terrorist rocket attacks that target civilians and action in self defence,’ White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
Actually, when you have responded to 1 death and 5 injuries at the hands of terrorist rockets from Gaza with bombs that have killed over 100, and many innocent children and other civilians amongst them, as well as denying medical care to many innocent Palestinians, I don’t see the distinction Mr. Johndroe is trying to make. Only an amazingly militaristic, aggressive and paranoid mind could call this “self defence”. This becomes obvious when you listen to the statements of some within the ruling Kadima party who are presumably driving this, for instance:
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit: “The heads of Hamas must pay the price. Hamas doesn’t understand any other language; the problem is we are talking to them in English instead of in Arabic. They only understand [the language of force]. The situation at present doesn’t make sense; every other country faced with rockets on its citizens would go in and destroy the area. We should warn the [Arabs in Gaza] in advance, give them a day’s notice, and then wipe out a neighborhood. We should also hit their leaders, regardless of who or what they are.”
Opposing this kind of thinking looks like a no brainer to me, especially in light of Israel’s bomb attack on the office of the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Whatever we may think of this man, his party was democratically elected by the people of Gaza, and it is not Israel’s place to remove him by force. Isn’t the word “Democrat” in our name?
When Ming was leader, we all welcomed calls for him to be “the pinstripe radical”, for our party to “rattle the cage of British politics”. It seems perfectly in line with that aspiration to me to speak up about this issue. And yet I see no comment from you (or anyone else) about this at all on the party website. I know you are busy with the Lisbon treaty stuff right now, as you told some of my fellow bloggers the other day. But this shouldn’t be a difficult issue. I, and I’m sure many others would appreciate it if you could make a bit of noise about this. After all, the Lisbon treaty circus is all very well, but it’s not likely to actually sway many voters. This might.