On Blair, Bush, And Avi Shlaim

In the midst of all the bloodshed and suffering in Gaza this week comes news that Britain’s quisling ex-prime minister, Tony Blair, is to receive the highest civilian award offered by the United States – the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[1] It will be presented by George W Bush as he leaves office, presumably in recognition of Blair’s services to the US, by selling his country down the river, lying to Parliament, and authorizing the slaughter of hundreds of British soldiers in Iraq, needlessly (and against the wishes of the British people).

Blair has been incredibly quiet over the Israeli aggression in Gaza recently, partly because, despite being the ‘Quartet’s’ man in the Middle East, he was on holiday for the first week of the conflict and seemed unwilling to cut it short for such a minor infringement as the slaughtering of a few hundred Palestinians. Besides he’s making way too much money elsewhere, either lecturing Yale freshmen on the way to combine war, politics and Christianity (and still stay in with Jesus), or, delivering the odd $100,000 half hour, after-dinner, speech to grotesquely wealthy American businessmen.

Well, it beats pretending to be the friend of the British working classes while methodically robbing them blind, doesn’t it, Tony?

2009 has begun with the usual festival of political avarice, power-grabbing, and slaughter of innocents we’ve come to expect from the scum holding the reigns. It’s all delivered with a hearty measure of self-righteousness and the feigned intellectual pomposity that makes our world politicians so endearing -at least to those stupid enough to vote for them.

All hope rests with Barack Obama, and whether he’ll really be different from all the rest. It’s unlikely. So far, all that’s escaped has been hot air, so we must wait to see if any of it coalesces into solid, common-sense, policy making. At this stage, even a mild rebuke for Israeli tactics in Gaza would be welcome, but the chances remain slim, even after Inauguration Day.

On the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in general, and Gaza in particular, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. “Hamas fires rockets; Israel invades Gaza to stop rockets,” is the limit of knowledge of every US politician I’ve heard speak on the subject – and there have been many.

Contrary to Israeli and US political propaganda, there are lots of Israelis who refuse to condone the ongoing actions of their government. Unlike most Americans, they are far better educated on the ‘big picture’.

One such Israeli is Avi Shlaim. He’s Professor of International Relations at probably the most prestigious educational establishment in the world, Oxford University in England. He served in the Israeli Defence Force and believes wholeheartedly in Israel’s right to exist.

Surely, with all the ill thought-out hot air being bandied about on the subject right now, mostly by those with their own agendas, or by uneducated louts who’d not know their David Ben Gurions from their Mossads, the opinion of Professor Shlaim should be respected?

Decide for yourself:

“How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe” Avi Shlaim, The Guardian, January 7th 2009

[1] “Blair to get US Medal of Freedom” BBC, January 5th 2009

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