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Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Friday, August 04, 2006

Christian Aid and its strange bedfellows

Writing my last post, I had 31 July and 1 August in my head, and what came out was 31 August. One of those early warning signs of approaching senility, I expect. So anyway, normal service is resumed earlier than advertised.

I must say that I return to my topic with a heavy heart. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs, the death and destruction on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border is appalling (as, of course, it is in other conflicts of infinitely less interest to the media). There's fine writing at the usual locations on my blogroll: notably from Norman Geras, Harry's Place, Mick Hartley, Melanie Phillips and Stephen Pollard. Shuggy supports the charge that Israel's actions are disproportionate without giving any quarter to the Hezbollah apologists. Even if I don't wholly agree with him, it's a lucid and brave post. Engage, meanwhile, is keeping tabs on the global anti-Semitic backlash.

So there's plenty to read without my adding my contribution. A longer and more philosophical post is in the pipeline. For now, a word on Christian Aid.

CA have joined forces with other NGOs to demand an immediate ceasefire, i.e. for Hezbollah to hang on to both its illegally acquired hostages and its illegal apparatus of terror. That's not just my interpretation. An open letter to Tony Blair makes rather explicit the concern that Hezbollah should not lose the war it started:-

'The present policy looks in danger of placing the UK Government in the uncomfortable position of only calling for a ceasefire once one side in the conflict has achieved its military objectives.'

I don't imagine that it looks particularly uncomfortable viewed from Haifa.

It's curious that a 'call for an immediate ceasfire by all warring parties in the Middle East' makes no mention of Iraq - part of the Middle East, if my atlas is to be believed - where, of course, the insurgents have deliberately murdered not hundreds but many thousands of innocent civilians (and, yes, some of the occupying forces have done their bit too). Is the prospect of the insurgency being forestalled in achieving its military objectives perhaps rather less comforting than is the case where Israel is concerned?

CA's co-signatories include War On Want, once headed by George Galloway and still apparently dancing as much to the gorgeous one's political tune as their charitable status will allow (matches on 'Darfur' on WOW website: 1; matches on 'Palestine': 148). Also, remarkably, the Muslim Council of Britain. This 'moderate' outfit's equivocal (to put it kindly) line on terrorist attacks on Israel is by now notorious. Their website is currently headlining a statement by Salma Yaqoob who, when not busy on the MCB's Central Working Committee, is a leading light in Respect and thus committed to uncritical support for the Hezbollah 'resistance'. She is, I believe, tipped to succeed Respect's current leader (yes, him again), who has gone a step or two beyond uncritical:-

'I glorify the Hizbollah national resistance movement, and I glorify the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah'

Can you imagine CA issuing a joint statement with a Jewish organization which had comparably extreme connections?

One other thought. Responding to a call from the Pope, the monks whose hospitality I was enjoying prayed for peace in the Middle East every day last week - and rightly so. They did not (at least not when I was around) pray for peace in Darfur, Kashmir, Chechnya, Sri Lanka or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I'm not for one moment suggesting any form of bad faith or prejudice on their part. The point is the media's power to shape our perception of reality, from which even their, dare I say cloistered, world is not exempt. Is Lebanon far and away the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today? Of course - for every reporter or cameraman in Darfur there are dozens, probably hundreds, covering Lebanon. I am on TV, therefore I am... As Hezbollah understand very well.

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