The anti-Israel party?

newstatesman.com' s weekly tour of the political blogosphere with your guide Paul Evans

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Eyes on Gaza

With Parliament has yet to return from recess, our MP's attention turned this week to the desperate situation in the Middle East – prompting bloggers to deliver forthright advice to their elected representatives. Nick Clegg's demand for an arms embargo on Israel, and for EU-Israel co-operation to be suspended attracted particular attention. Jonathan Fryer was proud of his party leader and believed that he had "...seized the moral high ground on this issue, while Gordon Brown and David Cameron have proved to be pathetic straw men," though for Iain Dale it was evidence of the Lib Dems becoming an "anti-Israel party".

The demarcation of sympathies between the left and right over the issue is not as clear as might be imagined. Among bloggers of the libertarian right, disagreement flared as Devil's Kitchen drew attention to pro-Palestinian rightist href="http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.com/2009/01/warning.html?showComment=1...">Old Holborn's posting of a video alleging to show an Israeli strike on Gazan civilians, which DK and Peter Risdon claim in fact shows the aftermath of an accidental explosion at a Hamas rally.

Lenin's Tomb was among the scores of left-wing blogs posting consistently on Gaza. Profoundly frustrated by president-elect Obama's refusal to issue any comment on the situation, he contended:

"Obama has spoken out on a number of issues, including the economy and the bail-out, so his sudden pretence that he is cleaving to the 'one president at a time' rule (the one that he just invented as a rationalisation for remaining schtum) is an unconvincing one."

Meanwhile, at Harry's Place, stalwarts of the pro-Israeli left, guest poster Alexander Hitchens questioned the 'moderate' credentials of MPAC UK.

Stumbling and Mumbling's Chris Dillow was a rare voice among bloggers, insisting that he doesn't care about the conflict. Yet he offers some interesting insight, tackling href="http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3649878,00.html">Adi Dvir's assertion that Palestinians hold their fate in the own hands.

He cites social science in support of his thesis that ordinary Gazans cannot realistically be expected to stand in opposition to Gaza. He concludes that: "I could find similar or worse tosh from Hamas supporters, if I could be bothered to look."

Perhaps the most thoughtful post of the week came from the Kingdom
blog
, which seeks to apply Kantian ethics to current events.

Alternative proposals for an ultimate solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict are explored, including the 'federation' approach and the fascinating idea of bi-nationalism. Well worth a read.

Around the World

In Burma, Aye Maung posting on the Burma Blogger's Network reported on the alleged rape and murder of a 7-year old girl from the country's minority Karen community, at the hands of a Burmese soldier.

"The family of the victims and the village headman urged the battalion commander to investigate the crime. However, the commander didn't take any action," she quoted a representative of the Karen Women's Organisation as saying.

Rape is regularly used as a weapon of war in this conflict zone. Don't expect to read much about the Karen people on British blogs.

Video of the Week

Too many videos circulating on the blogs this week are of acts of violence. As a foil to this, I offer you Timor by Shakira, possibly the single worst political pop song ever written.

Quote of the Week

"Opposing terrorism is a public good. And public goods are often
under-supplied by rational agents."

Stumbling and Mumbling

Paul Evans is a freelance journalist, and formerly worked for an MP. He lives in London, but maintains his Somerset roots by drinking cider.