On October 19, 2001, an asylum-seeking vessel sank and 353 refugees drowned while on the way from Indonesia to Christmas Island.
If we are to accept the possible explanation by former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin, writing in the Canberra Times on March 26, the Australian Navy and government could at least have prevented this disaster.
Instead, in his view, they may have knowingly allowed the heavily overloaded and unseaworthy boat to leave Indonesia and sink soon afterwards. Furthermore, contrary to post-Tampa policy (intercept agressively close to Indonesia), the Navy apparently stayed far away to avoid having to come to the rescue.
Kevin suggests that the sinking of this boat on October 19 "saved Australia's faltering border protection regime. No more boats have set out from Indonesia since then although the cyclone season did not begin until December".
Are these very serious matters being investigated in the Senate inquiry? Have the media further investigated the suggestions made by Tony Kevin? If so, why are the results not published? If Kevin is right, the citizens need to know. If not, it needs to be explained why he is wrong.
Pearl Beach NSW
Israeli apartheid I
Mark Lewkovitz (Write On, GLW #489) believes I have overlooked the issues. But the central issue is the existence of the religious, apartheid-like state of Israel that oppresses the Palestinian Arab people and dispossesses them of their land.
Not understanding this truth, Lewkovitz goes on to offer a number of confusions. He confuses the physical expulsion of Jews from Palestine with the destruction of the Zionist state.
He sees the offer of 90% of the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip — less than 25% of Palestine proper) as generous.
He believes that "Arab and Palestinian terrorism against Israel existed ... even prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948". Pardon?
He thinks all Palestinian factions call for the destruction of the state of Israel. Yet, Arafat has repeatedly declared his acceptance of the continued existence of the state of Israel. Arafat (unfortunately) seems to be happy if he can be the head of a Palestinian mini-state in the West Bank and Gaza.
David Murray (Write On, GLW #489), despite his calls for socialism, seems equally confused.
The struggle for socialism needs (among other things) the highest level of class consciousness and working-class unity. Jewish workers will not attain this while they support the Zionist oppression of Palestinians.
To side step this oppression and the relative privileges that the Jewish working class gain from the existence of the Israel state is a form of economism. Jews and Palestinians will never unite and fight for socialism while one group receives privileges from the oppression of the other.
The struggle against national oppression is a key component of the class struggle and the fight for socialism, not a diversion from it.
A "socialist Israel" next to a "socialist Palestine" is an adaptation to the Zionist state. It denies the fact that the state of Israel (in any form) means the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian Arab people.
Israel's apartheid II
Green Left is almost correct with the title "'Ethnic cleansing' is Sharon's real aim""(GLW #491). Unfortunately, it's worse than that. Sharon's crazed (and ironically anti-Semitic) hatred of Arabs is actually part of his wider belief in the supremacy of the Jewish religion over others, and Islam in particular.
Sharon of course is not just an isolated and crazed individual. He is the head of a state whose existence is predicated on such religious and racist supremacy.
It is a state that first and foremost places a particular religion as superior to others and whose High Court in 1989 determined that any political party that advocates equality between Arab and Jew can be barred from fielding candidates.
It is a state where membership of a particular religion is requisite for buying, selling or renting any of 93% of the total land area.
Such a regime has as much legitimacy as the apartheid regime of South Africa. Progressive individuals should treat it with the contempt and ridicule that it thoroughly deserves.
Plane of evil
As we all know, plain-speaking President George Bush, in a recent address to the American nation, aligned Iraq, Iran and North Korea into an "axis of evil".
An axis is a line going through the Earth from one side to the other. When you draw a line between points on the surface of our globe, you're defining a plane. President George defined a "plane of evil", defined by the capitals of the countries he demonised.
So you may ask, "Where is that axis of evil?". Well, to scientists, an axis is a line perpendicular to a plane. So, it should be perpendicular to the plane of the same name.
Astonishingly, it turns out that the "axis of evil" lies in the president's own backyard! Somewhere in north-western Michigan seems to be about the spot (90.3W, 47.3N).
And where is the other end of the evil axis? Not far off the Australian territory of Heard Island near Antarctica. If Bush's deputy sheriff realised what was going on down there he'd probably have to add Heard Island to the list of Australian islands up for "excision". What are those elephant seals getting up to down there anyway?
Chris Klootwijk, John Giddings and Prame Chopra
From Green Left Weekly, May 15, 2002.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.