War is no longer played out in the mud, with feet rotting inside damp boots and trenches collapsing. It’s no longer hit or miss, a deadly sort of chaos. It’s surgically precise, now. Bombs dispatched by computer. Targets ‘pinpointed’ by hovering drones. It’s clean.
That’s what Israel’s army would have you believe, anyway.
War has changed, is changing, quickly. Technology is shifting how the game is played – and making it more like a game at the same time. It’s about hardware, not the softness of fallible humans.
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It’s even less useful than #protestbyhashtag. Last night the Max Brenner outlet in Parramatta, Sydney, was again the target of a small but loud anti-Israeli protest.
As Tel Aviv went into emergency mode due to missile attack from Gaza, people holding Boycott Israel signs marched on the spot people generally go to for hot chocolate 14,000 kilometres away.
They managed to pull off the double whammy - by being both pointless and offensive. There’s an interesting piece on The Conversation about the anti-Semitism of these ongoing Max Brenner protests.
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You know things are getting pretty grim when you have to put your dog on Valium to cope with stress.
Or plant gum trees around your home to obscure it from terrorists firing rockets at you.
Or build bomb shelters in the local school so your kids don’t get blown to pieces in the playground.
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Imagine you spent hundreds of years dreaming about and then building your dream home in a promised land. Then imagine that this dream materialised into none other than the house of God on earth, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Now imagine there was a terrible tyrant who exiled you and your entire people from that land. After being in exile for 2000 years, a situation arose where it became possible for you to return.
As you see your beautiful home, which evokes a deep memory of your ancestor’s connection to a holy land, you notice that someone else lives there now. They have developed their own stories and connections to the land and its olive groves, rolling hills and pristine springs. What should you do?
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One can’t help but compare the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to that of a cat with nine lives.
They seem to die over and over again with no resolution, but how long until their luck runs out, the blood boils over and the Gaza region breaks out in all out war.
Since the establishment of the state of Israel, crisis points have come and gone and the populations of Jewish and Palestinian peoples have found no peace. Unfortunately this time will be no different.
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The simplest possible outcome of the investigations into Israel’s deadly raid on an aid convoy would be failure to prove any of the Palestinian activists on board had links to terrorist networks or other violent radicals. At least it would make an open-and-shut case that Israel used disproportionate force by sending commandos onto the flotilla - but the early indications are this finding is unlikely.
If Israel can establish, as its officials have suggested, there were weapons on the convoy or that some of the activists had links to terrorists then it will be immediately able to throw a cloak of legitimacy around the operation, in which nine people were killed and one Australian was shot in the leg.
The international Palestinian activist movement must recognise the political risk of fraternising with extremists. If it turns out some unsavoury characters or cargo were on board, we are back to the familiar Middle East merry-go-round of blame.
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Britain’s expulsion of an Israeli diplomat is a lesson for Australia to stop handling Israel with kid gloves.
Israel has made clear that it does not respond to gentle persuasion or constructive criticism from its friends, nor does it listen to the quiet language of international law.
Israel is willing to abuse the trust of its friends by defrauding their passports, assassinating people on foreign territory, and approving new settlements on Palestinian land on the eve of peace talks.
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