Write On: Letters to the Editor

February 4, 2009

The conflict in Palestine

Unfortunately the present ceasefire in Gaza is no real solution to the conflict in Palestine. As long as the Israeli occupation continues and Palestinians have no homeland, the resistance and violence will go on.

More than 460,000 Israelis now live in settlements beyond Israel's 1967 borders, on Palestinian land in the West Bank that was captured during the war.

Israel's settlement policy violates international humanitarian law, which bans an occupying power from transferring its citizens into occupied territory and from making any permanent changes in occupied areas, except for the benefit of the local population or for vital military needs.

These Israeli policies and continued settlement construction are precisely the main obstacles to peace and a lasting solution to the Palestinian problem.

Israel recently revealed plans to build hundreds of new Jewish homes in existing settlements and in early January to create two new settlements in and near East Jerusalem. Yet Israel and the USA talk about a Palestinian state.

What sort of future Palestinian state is possible considering the facts on the ground that Israel has created in the occupied territory?

The West Bank has been described appropriately as a portion of Swiss cheese, the Palestinian areas being the small holes, surrounded by the larger Israeli part.

Israeli military forts and positions sit on the hilltops; Israel controls the road network and checkpoints, aquifers and other resources.

Given this situation, a viable Palestinian state cannot be built on such a minuscule area, in reality a micro, mini-state lacking any actual political, social, military and economic independence and any real resources. Yet this is exactly the kind of state that Bush, his government and Israel support and propose to set up.

The key to resolving the issue is to restore the Palestinan people's rights and give them their homeland back. This is only possible in one state for all those peoples to live in equality, whatever their religion or beliefs.

Steven Katsineris

Hurstbridge, Vic. [Abridged]

Population and environment

I usually find the contents of Green Left Weekly well thought out, but I read with some incredulity a recent piece ("Climate change: Too many people?", GLW#775suggesting overpopulation plays no part in the destruction of the global environment.

As David Suzuki famously commented, since when has the world's ecology just become a backdrop for the acting out of human ideologies?

I agree entirely that the world's economic system is completely destructive and a redistribution of resources and the implementation of alternative technologies will make a
huge difference.

In fact, no single issue alone will fix the problem — it requires a holistic approach that takes into account all factors.

But are you seriously suggesting that we can continue adding to the global population forever? The world isn't getting any bigger, and it's simple physics to suggest you can't add to a finite space indefinitely.

For 40,000 years Australia supported a population of no more than half a million. Until comparatively recent historical times Europe had no more than five million.

Move the deckchairs around on the Titanic as much as you like, but even with "stone age" technology 20 million people will not be able to survive in this country. You need to get out of the city and take a look around — almost all our water systems are gone.

Ideally we would all radically cut consumption, turn vegetarian etc. but there was barely enough resources for the indigenous peoples, let alone 40 times that.

I don't think humans have the right to place their ideologies and "needs" above the wider ecosystem and I think people like David Suzuki are correct to point out that modern man stands completely at odds with indigenous peoples in that we seem to think population isn't an issue.

Indigenous people would always take measures to make sure their numbers were tightly controlled.

I think GLW needs to take a holistic view in order to be credible, and not always choose to see things through an economic lens.

The huge irony is that the only people who benefit from rampant population growth are the global capitalist elites, who you supposedly oppose. Which makes for odd, but increasingly predictable bedfellows.

Baz Bardoe [By email.]

False accusations harm Gaza defence

I write in response to an atrocious letter in the latest Socialist Alternative magazine, entitled "No Capitulation to Racism", written by Tom Bramble, a leader of that organisation in Brisbane (see for the full letter).

Bramble makes a range of serious false accusations that directly attack specific left groups, as well as indirectly anyone on the left or in the Palestine solidarity movement with different perspectives to Socialist Alternative.

Bramble labels members of Solidarity and the Revolutionary Socialist Party "gutless wonders" for allegedly arguing "to wind [the pro-Gaza rallies] down" in a Justice for Palestine meeting. While members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance supported calls for a further rally, we utterly reject the accusations that those who raised questions over tactics are "gutless" or trying to "wind down" the movement.

At a subsequent Justice for Palestine meeting, almost the entire meeting rejected a Socialist Alternative motion for a continuation of weekly rallies (the latest rally had been one quarter the size of the previous one). The majority agreed that a schematic weekly schedule of rallies was not the most useful way to build the movement, noting that the massive Sydney and Melbourne rallies came after a longer lead-in time to ensure they were organised and built properly.

By the logic of Bramble's letter, all of us who disagreed with an endless weekly rally strategy — including the Palestinian activists, Muslim organisations, peace and other left groups present — were "gutless wonders"!

Worse, Tom's letter argues that Solidarity "capitulated to racism". The proof? Solidarity members arguing for a strategy that broadens the movement as much as possible! If this is racism, then many from the Arabic community and others in the movement are also guilty, since we continue to argue for a broad movement that is not confined to the Arabic community, in order to place the maximum pressure on the Australian government to end support for Israel.

Why did Socialist Alternative print such an emotive, lying and divisive letter by one of their leaders? It seems for Socialist Alternative, trying to portray themselves as the only "true" socialists (and winning recruits on that basis), is more important than both the truth and building the strongest, most united movement in defence of Gaza possible.

Paul Benedek

Democratic Socialist Perspective, Brisbane

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