Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
Game number one
: the Israeli Parliament votes to leave standing synagogues in the former settlements in Gaza. These are settlements in which every house has been effectively demolished and all civic buildings reduced to mere shells. So why leave the synagogue buildings intact?
Well, one can understand why a Jewish state would hesitate when faced with the task of demolishing sites of worship. However, what future did they imagine for these buildings? These are not simply religious buildings, to be respected by people of all faiths. They are the symbols of an illegal military occupation, a land grab legitimated before the fact by theology and after the fact by the presence of militarised settlements on the ground. The synagogue buildings were always going to be destroyed as the Israeli Army withdrew, so why did the Israeli Parliament vote to leave them standing?
Well, it allows them to avoid the necessary, but unpopular task, and to then to paint the Palestinians as barbarians
. Okay, we get the message. These people are barbarians, worthy of collective punishment
. Oh, yes, and the wider ethic and religious groupings to which they belong are the enemy within
and blah, blah, blah. I wish these sentiments were confined to the further reaches of the US blogosphere, but unfortunately, what once was extreme is slipping closer to mainstream thought. And, as it becomes mainstream, we do not think it extreme.Game number two
: In a week when Tony Blair is at the UN pressing for non-proliferation, John Reid
defends the upgrading of Britain’s (non-independent) nuclear arsenal, an act which is, let us not beat around the bush, proliferation. We are increasing our capability to cause nuclear destruction. But, despite this, what shocks me (okay, it does not shock me; it ought to, but we live in a political climate of ‘utterly destroyed brains’
) is the justification for this breach of the spirit of the NPT
. He argues that we will continue to need a nuclear arsenal and develop new weapons as other nations have, or will develop nuclear weapons. Well, if I have heard a better argument for
the proliferation of nuclear weapons it is hidden in a bank vault someway. MAD
here we come, again. With the logic of John Reid*
, who can dispute the very necessity of nuclear weapons for every single nation on earth? MAD will keep the peace, surely?
Of course, all this doublethink on the proliferation of the machinery of human destruction takes place in a week when Britain hosts one of the world’s largest arms fairs selling to all manner of nations, few of which could be described as bastions of freedom, democracy and/or human rights. An arms fair policed at public cost suppressing protest through use of ‘emergency anti-terrorist measures’, for an arms industry has its research (into the question; ‘how can we kill more people, more quickly for less money?’) funded by the public purse, that corrupts the governments of the developing world using subsidy granted from the public purse.
What games are these? I tell you what. These are not cricket, though they will all end in piles of ash.
*An early version of this post levelled the charge of MADness at Charles Clarke. I was confused, it seems, between authoritarian, right-wing New Labour bruisers.