So the first couple of months of Tony Abbott’s reign have surprised no-one who paid any attention to Australian politics for the preceding two years, and a lot of people who thought they could get away without paying much attention at all. He’s started off by trying to make as many unpopular decisions as possible before people wake up, but maybe now they’re starting to rise. Not that we haven’t said that before.
I’m not going to write about everything Tony Abbott does, because that would be too depressing, but now and then he does something so ridiculous that I feel need to say something. In the week or so there have been three such issues, but I didn’t write about the first two (Sri Lanka and Indonesia) because I was lazy, busy, and had just read a satirical article somewhere on the internet about people who comment on a topical issue and talk about the fact that they’d cared about this issue all along but didn’t say anything because no-one was listening. Which was pretty much my position.
So, to this week, and Israel.
Mention the Israel-Palestinian conflict in most of the world and you’ll hear criticism of the powerful, expansionist Israeli state and sympathy for the Palestinian cause. Mention it here in the US, Israel’s strongest (and at times only) ally and you’ll likely hear the opposite. Mention it in Australia and nine times out of ten you’ll hear something like this:
It’s very complex. These people have been fighting for thousands of years. It never stops. It will never stop. I don’t know if anything can be done about it. It’s just too complex a problem.
A cop-out, basically. Baddies vs baddies, in other words (not that Abbott would ever describe Israel as baddies). Sure, the problem is complex, old and difficult to solve, but nothing is impossible. The global community has been trying to solve this problem for decades, often hindered by the US.
These maps show how land is distributed in Palestine these days, and how it has changed since the creation of Israel:
Not a fun place to live if you’re on the Green side. As you can see the Palestinians have lost almost all of their land and many of the pockets of land they still have are cut off from each other.
So what are we voting for here? Or not voting for, as it happens?
The UN resolution calls for ”prevention of all acts of violence, destruction, harassment and provocation by Israeli settlers, especially against Palestinian civilians and their properties”.
Shit, preventing violence against civilians? Perpetrated by settlers who have stolen and continue to steal huge swathes of land and natural resources that would have been the building blocks of a Palestinian state? Sounds like we need a little bit more balance here, sounds like a terribly complex problem.
Meanwhile settlement continues on a daily basis, those little green pockets getting smaller and further apart. Fried chicken.
So why would we abstain? Who knows? A little bit of ingrained racism, a little bit of misguided love for the USA, a little bit of the government not knowing what it’s doing? Probably a bit of all of the above. Whatever it is, it’s not a proud day to be an Australian.