Behind the Israel-Hamas conflict

It’s a fortnight since President Barack Obama was re-elected to the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has started to feel the heat.

On the eve of the election, “Bibi” went to the UN General Assembly in New York and produced his ludicrous poster at the rostrum depicting the supposed time line for Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons.

It was a direct criticism of Obama himself and a public assault on the United States, Israel’s chief military, economic and diplomatic sponsor for the past 60 years, in front of the world’s leaders.

Netanyahu then directly intervened in the presidential race siding with Republican Mitt Romney and lending support to the GOP candidate in the hotly contested state of Florida with its large Jewish population.

 The ultra-Zionist scaremongering and the tens of millions of dollars given to the Romney campaign by casino tsar Sheldon Adelson failed to stop Obama’s re-election.

Then interesting developments began in the Middle East. First, a stray artillery shell from Syria hit an Israeli military base in the occupied Golan Heights. No one claimed responsibility.

Then Hamas, which has begun to receive massive secret payments from the CIA as well as limited recognition from conservative Arab states, broke from its leash and resumed firing rockets from Gaza onto Israeli towns.

Israeli’s retaliation against Syria and Gaza has united all Syrians, government and opposition, against their arch-enemy in the Zionist state, led to the withdrawal of Egyptian diplomats from Tel Aviv and re-united the Arab regimes, left and right, into a bloc against Netanyahu’s regime.

A few months ago the swaggering Netanyahu was telling the world he was on a countdown to launch an air strike against Iran, with or without the backing of the US, the Europeans or anyone else.

He’s not saying that anymore. He’s too busy crawling to the White House, offering craven apologies for his pre-election behaviour and pleading with Washington for support.

It is an object lesson in how Washington deals with those who dare to mock its authority, derail its objectives and subvert its self-interest. Without putting any “boots on the ground”, Washington can sit back and watch the Israelis and Hamas pound each other into exhaustion. That’s a win-win for Obama.


In the past decade, the Republic of Ireland has held three official inquiries into sex abuse.

1. Retired Supreme Court judge Frank Murphy’s inquiry into the diocese of Ferns, County Wexford, which reported in October 2005.

2. Justice Sean Ryan’s report into sexual abuse in religious-run institutions which reported in May 2009. (Ryan was interviewed on ABC TV’s Lateline).

3. Justice Yvonne Murphy’s inquiry into the archdiocese of Dublin which reported in November 2009. (The one I referred to last week).

The cumulative impact of these three reports has been to end the Catholic’s traditional grip on Ireland’s public life and bring it to heel. The Vatican is so miffed that it has broken diplomatic relations with Ireland.

It should be remembered that the republic’s original constitution, crafted by its first President Eamon de Valera, officially recognised the “special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens” while acknowledging people of other religions.

The “special position” clause was removed by referendum in 1972 while a fierce campaign (led by the church) to make Catholicism the state religion was defeated.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s sudden conversion to a royal commission took the ALP, the Coalition, the Greens and the general public by surprise.

It looked dangerously like a desperate government producing a headline-grabbing initiative to divert attention from its own political crisis and the quagmire of controversy surrounding Ms Gillard’s role in a 20-year-old scandal with her old law firm, Slater Gordon.

But what would normally be dismissed as wanton political opportunism cannot be treated with such blunt cynicism.

A genuine social crime has been ignored/suppressed for generations and therefore the commission deserves conditional support.

 It will be very expensive for all of us, very traumatic for some of us and very divisive in the Australian community.

Ms Gillard is now being lobbied with such intensity by the organised churches, her own backbench, government and vested interest lawyers and Treasury, that the whole enterprise is heading for a debacle like the mining tax – a tax which fails to raise any revenue.


The Irish Government inquiry into sex abuse in the Catholic archdiocese of Dublin was provoked by a television documentary called Cardinal Secrets, produced and directed by journalist Mary Raferty.

(The Australian inquiry was triggered by television too – an ABC Lateline interview with Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox by Emma Alberici).

Ms Raferty’s 2002 film caused a sensation by accusing the Catholic hierarchy and the authorities of concealing widespread sex abuse of children in schools and church homes.

When Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy’s report into the archdiocese was delivered in 2009, Ms Raferty wrote: “What emerges more clearly from the report is that priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals had the greatest difficulty in telling right from wrong.

“The organised, premeditated pattern of secrecy and concealment of crime is worthy of the world’s most notorious criminal fraternity.” (Irish Times, November 29, 2009)

The uncompromising Ms Rafferty delivered a grim reflection on the two-volume report:  “There is onw searing, indelible image to be found in the pages of the Dublin diocesan report on clerical child abuse.

“It is of Fr Noel Reynolds, who admitted sexually abusing dozens of children, towering over a small girl as he brutally inserted an object into her vagina and then her back passage.

“That object is his crucifix.” 

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