Monday, August 4, 2014

The politics of Jesus - Monday 4 August 2014

It is remarkable that the beginning of the First World War one hundred years ago (today, re Britain's declaration) is being remembered against a tragic series of conflicts which arguably are a continuation of that war: Gaza as a reaction to the State of Israel which came into being as a reaction to the Holocaust which occurred in a defeated Germany prone to the rise of Naziism; fighting in Syria and Iraq which to some degree reflects the way boundaries were drawn in the Middle East at the conclusion of the war; civil war in Ukraine reflects a series of changes for that region since WW1 (borders, demographic change) though such changes have been ever present through that part of Europe. (Postscript: much better said by Robert Fisk here).

Yet we can be grateful that much peace also abounds. Europe, for instance, since 1945 has worked out its differences in political forums rather than in trenches. Commitments to all regional wars by modern 'great powers' reckon with the dangers of dragging the globe into another world war. Despite profound mistakes about regional intervention (Iraq, Libya,Afghanistan), some ability to not intervene is being seen in respect of Syria.

From another perspective the collection of intelligence about the world and its hotheads is a vital part of maintaining as much world peace as possible.

If there is one politician in New Zealand right now who makes me want to gag, it is Russell Norman speaking against the government's involvement in the 'five powers' agreement whereby we take our place in world intelligence gathering through listening in to phone communications around the world. I am all for it on the Christian basis that the maintenance of peace is always preferable to going to war.

On the specific issue I have heard Norman attack with special vehemence, that this activity constitutes some infringement of privacy, as a Christian I say with Jesus 'for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known' (Matthew 10:26). If I am walking in the light then I have nothing to fear from surveillance. If I wish to see my children and grandchildren live lives freed from the fear of war I have every reason to support my government in playing its part, modest though it is, in the global task of preventing the spread of terrorism.

It is quite odd that the Green Party of all parties should be so opposed to intelligence gathering. Surely it is the least violent means of defending one's country from enemies?


Anonymous said...

“…Gaza as a reaction to the State of Israel which came into being as a reaction to the Holocaust”

The State of Israel owes neither its legitimacy nor its origins to the 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which was simply a non-binding expression of international opinion - yes, greatly influenced by the Holocaust. As we all know, the Arabs nations rejected this 2-state plan and went to war against it.

Israel’s legal and historical legitimacy in fact go back to the binding decision made at the League of Nations’ San Remo Conference held in April 1920, at which Britain became the Mandatory Power for Palestine. All 51 nations of the League of Nations voted in favour of this agreement which gave Jews living in Palestine and all over the world the right to return to, settle in, and re-establish their historical links with the land. The Mandate for Palestine was part of a much larger and internationally supported mandate system – e.g. Syria (Muslim majority); Lebanon (Christian majority – how things have changed); Iraq (Muslim majority). Under the system, European powers were to act as trustees until the new nations gained democratic maturity.

In 1922, Britain suspended the mandate on land east of the Jordan in order to establish another Muslim majority state (today’s Jordan). This area was closed to all Jewish settlement from 1921.

No other mandated borders have ever been questioned: When Syria invaded Lebanon, no-one accepted Syria’s ‘pre-Mandate’ argument. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, no-one accepted Iraq’s ‘pre-Mandate’ argument.

There is no border dispute between Gaza and Israel – Israel unilaterally withdrew every single Jew from Gaza in 2005. It’s called ‘Land for Peace’ and it works this way – Hamas gets the land and Israel gets neither the peace nor the promised international legitimacy. The real problem is that Hamas’ constitution clearly states that the land currently occupied by the 'Zionist entity’ is actually a Waqf (an inalienable trust or endowment) consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. The conflict will not end until Israel ceases to exist, or the Palestinian Arabs’ desire to create a robustly free society is greater than their desire to destroy Israel.
Lucy Eban

Anonymous said...

I think your comments regarding Russell Norman are 'spot on'. It seems to me that when you look beyond the Green Party's facade of love and peace and harmony with the environment, you find an organisation which is intent on deconstructing the society we have and building something entirely different in its place. In this paradigm, traditional friends are your enemies and your enemies are only enemies because you haven't been nice enough.

The Greens are also, in essence, profoundly anti-people ...they fight vehemently against desperately needed job creating industries on the West Coast in order to protect a few snails ... and without pausing for breath, they propose a Nazi-like solution for disabled pre-birth babies.

Lucy Eban

carl jacobs said...

A couple of things.

Intervention in Iraq was necessary. That is a separate issue from his the post-war situation was handled. But there was no mistake involved in the intervention itself.

If you choose on principle to adopt a policy of non-intervention, then you accept the consequences of that choice. Bad things will happen and nothing will be done about it. There is no option of "Non intervention unless I thinks it's a really important humanitarian concern."


Jean said...

Hi Lucy

I think "Hamas gets the land" in respect to Gaza is an oversimplified statement. Hamas is not representative of all Palestinians living in Gaza including christian''s.

Also the conditions imposed on those in Gaza such as only being allowed to venture so many metres out to sea, being confined to living in the most populated area in the world and having access to goods such as food and education 'across' the border only on an intermittent basis is not consistent with a free state.

There is of course the West Bank where Palestinians live but are not allowed to dig wells. They have to collect rainwater (most get water from aid agency tankers). Israeli's are allowed to dig wells. In fact what was a fertile land in this area is no longer as the river which passed through was purposely diverted around the area.

There is little doubt Hamas and many Muslim adherents wish to reclaim Israel and the violence both physical and complicit is not one-sided. But as the African proverb says:

"While the Elephants fight it is the grass underneath that suffers" - it is no wonder Jesus wept for Jerusalem and it's children.

Let's pray for our christian brothers and sisters both Palestinian and Jewish and all those on both sides who seek peace.

Andrew Reid said...

I agree with you in principle that intelligence gathering is a worthwhile activity, including sharing that intelligence with like minded allies. Jihadist groups are global in their scope and activity, so our intelligence gathering also needs to be global.
What worries me is the degree to which intelligence agencies are going beyond monitoring people with a reasonable likelihood of being involved in illegal activities to monitoring all communications "just in case". Just because God knows the things we do in secret does not mean the intelligence agencies have the same right. We entrust government with the power to monitor communications in order to prevent illegal activities and protect us from attacks, not to do blanket gathering of personal communication and information. There is very little evidence that this blanket intelligence gathering has contributed to any successful prevention of criminal activity.
I live in a country (Egypt) where the govt has recently issued a tender for all sorts of online and social media monitoring, and there are no limits on intelligence gathering. What this leads to is ultra-powerful, unaccountable intelligence services and a police state where any criticism of the current regime is treated as treason. Do we really want our countries to head in the same direction?

Andrei said...

Yet we can be grateful that much peace also abounds. Europe, for instance, since 1945 has worked out its differences in political forums rather than in trenches

LOL not only have you forgotten the history of the 1990s you don't seem to be up with current events either.

Yugoslavia my friend was bombed in 1999 into non existence supposedly on "humanitarian" grounds.

But the devil was always a convincing liar.

And as much blood is flowing in the Donbas as it is flowing in Gaza as we speak.

Peter Carrell said...

Fair point, Andrei: I should have defined the area of Europe which has avoided trenches and bombs.

Fair point, Andrew: however the point could be made that monitoring of social media seems to be something that many people.

Fair point, Carl: but I think it still an open question whether toppling Saddam was wise, but that is in hindsight. At the time I was keen to see him go!

Jean said...

I agree with Andrew re security information. To limit the degree of intelligence gathering or put some parameters around it would be sensible.

A government/state allowed unfettered access into the privacy of it's citizens lends itself to the possibility of control of personal behaviour and arrest without trial, rather than monitoring. It is more in line with the activity you would expect in a dictatorship not democracy.

Yes social media is monitored by a lot of means but most of those collect data such as which sites you visit in order to say customised advertising or see how popular a page is, they rarely collect conversations.

While I have no problem with being transparent in what I do, I still value privacy for the purposes of confidentiality and freedom.

Jean said...

Hi Lucy

That Hamas controls the land in Gaza is unfortunate especially for the other 'dissidents' who live there, or try to amongst such horrible circumstances.

Actually my information re water in the West Bank came directly from a first hand accounting by the then head of UNICEF's operations of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (a Kiwi/Italian). I can see no personal or professional reason for him to have deviated from the facts.

I agree information and facts are important along with understanding. They are also difficult to ascertain outside of being directly involved.

Blessings Jean

Anonymous said...

Hello Lucy – thanks for your post on the Green Party and their proposed cull on yet-to-be-born disabled babies. Hitler had a phrase “useless eaters”, it’s more than possible that fiscal pragmatism is part of the Green’s motivation. It costs a lot of money to save snails and whales and when you have dismantled the mining industry and turned Fonterra into one of those ‘f’ words your mother told you never to use … well, I guess you are pretty keen to find some cost saving devices. Hey presto! Women’s Rights + cost cutting par excellence. Cull the useless eaters before they get big enough to become cute and smiley and before anyone has had enough time to find out who they’ve missed.

There is a big emphasis on inclusion at ADU so I thought you’d have got a lot more support for your post.

Susannah Sarau

Andrew Reid said...

Across the ditch, it looks like Australia is heading the same way.

Peter Carrell said...

Not only has Tony stolen one of our women to be his wife, now he is stealing all our ideas!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucy and also Susannah.

I don't usually read here but a friend told me about your comments regarding the Green Party and abortion - You're both right to take the stand you do, this is a huge issue for NZ

Jon Clayton

Michael Primrose said...

Hi Peter,

Tony Abbott has in fact let the cat out of the bag in his normal inimitable style. Whilst the standard line, to sell data capture to the public, is that this is all about terrorism and protecting the populous, he inadvertently admitted today that

"Speaking a short time later on ABC radio, Mr Abbott said the proposal was "absolutely critical" for agencies fighting terrorism but also said the data would be used "in crime fighting more generally".

"All we want is for the telecommunications companies to continue to keep the person sending the information, the person to whom the information is being sent, the time it was sent and the place it was sent from," he told ABC Radio."


"It's not what you're doing on the internet, it's the sites you're visiting, it's not the content, it's the sites that you've been," he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

It won't really matter whether you are as pure as Caesar's wife, the point is that the Government wants the ability to track where you are going on the Web, just in case, sometime in the future it decides that it might need to monitor what you have been doing.

Then it will not be a good time to be speaking out against anything the Government does.

Michael Primrose, Christchurch