opinion piece · politics

peace is not a zero-sum game

On 13th October, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks made a speech in the UK House of Lords, about the passing of Shimon Peres and the controversial UNESCO vote that denies links between Judaism and the holy site of Temple Mount. One quote in particular struck a deep chord with me.

Shimon Peres knew that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not a zero sum game, because from peace, both sides gain; from violence, both sides lose.

Historical revisionism helps no one – least of all the Palestinians. By accepting a resolution that identifies Jerusalem and Temple Mount as a purely Muslim site, UNESCO – at the behest of Muslim countries – has turned a site that is holy to the three Abrahamic religions from a religious center to a politicised issue. Referring to Temple Mount only by its Muslim name doesn’t help the Palestinians. Why must the Jewish (and Christian) people, both Israeli and non-Israeli, be punished for the ‘crimes’ of the Israeli government?

This resolution was not designed to aid the Palestinian cause. This resolution was designed and passed with one objective only: to delegitimise the State of Israel and deny Jews historical links to their homeland. This is not pro-Palestinians; this is plain and simple anti-Semitism. For thousands of years we were told to get out of Europe and Arab countries and go back to Judea; now that we have, people deny we ever came from the Middle East at all.

Ultimately, it will not just be Israelis and Jews of the Diaspora who pay the price for this resolution. The Palestinians themselves will suffer for it, down the path. Choosing to indoctrinate rather than educate robs the next generation of fundamental tools to build a fair-minded, functioning society with strong roots. If they believe that denying Jews have any historical ties to Judaism’s holiest site, where does the line get drawn? What other historical facts and events will be rewritten for political propaganda? Choosing to indoctrinate rather than to educate sends the tacit message that historic truth is something to be feared and avoided rather than confronted, and robs the next generation of the fundamental tools to build a strong and functioning society.

The path to peace requires cooperation, communication and a willingness to listen on both sides. Peace is not a zero-sum game. Taking the Western Wall away from Jews, even if it’s just on a piece of paper belonging to a corrupt, insidious organisation like UNESCO, is not an act of peace and it doesn’t help the Two-State Solution. There is no benefit to this – not to UNESCO which has become openly anti-Semitic. Not to the Palestinians who will damage their future generations with political propaganda. Not to the Israelis and the Jews of the Diaspora who once again are disproportionately targeted, and will suffer on a worldwide stage at the hands of historical revisionism which has, in the past, been used against them.

From violence – in whatever form – all sides lose.

opinion piece · politics

much ado about auspol

In particular, the campaigning.

Australia has had five prime ministers in five years – Kevin, Julia, Kevin again, Tony, and now Malcolm. With both the ALP and the Liberals churning out disappointing leader after disappointing leader, it surely isn’t too much of an imagination stretch to say that Australians think the circus has overstayed its welcome.

The party campaigning leading up to the July 2 2016 election has been lacklustre, to say the least. On television, we are treated to Labor’s DUN-DUNNing impending doom ads that list former Liberal PMs “broken promises” (conveniently ignoring Julia “There will be no Carbon Tax under the government I lead” Gillard). The Liberals go for a more positive attempt, with Malcolm Turnbull lazily reciting his promises to the Australian people as he awkwardly strolls through a corridor and talks to a camera while bullet points appear beside him.

In the last three or four weeks, the only party making any effort to campaign in the North Sydney area has been the Liberal Party, thanks to Trent Zimmerman’s dedication and overall open and friendly personality. I have about 10 of his flyers at home – not out of any personal attention, but it seems like whenever I pass his enthusiastic team at Wollstonecraft station I find they’ve somehow stuffed several flyers into my hands without my knowledge. I don’t even know who the local Labor candidate is.

Something about this campaign period just seems very tired. Perhaps the parties know Australians are tired of catchy-but-meaningless slogans, like “Kevin 07” and “Stop the boats”. (Seriously, have you noticed that there aren’t campaign slogans this year? Malcolm dropped his Veep-inspired “Continuity and Change” slogan like a hot potato back in March.) It could be that the Liberals simply know that Bill Shorten and Richard di Natale are not serious enough threats to waste their efforts on campaigning against. Perhaps the ALP and Greens are trying to save money now so that they have a few dollars to contribute to their billion-dollar budgets in the event they are elected (ha).

Whatever the reason, the people campaigning the hardest are in fact members of the public, who promote their preferred parties by Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.  It’s hard to say what the effect of this lack of official campaigning will have. Scare campaign advertisements on television don’t tend to have the same impact as your friends on Facebook making their own impassioned cases for their preferred party; but then again, social media posts are often riddled with inaccuracies and hateful towards their non-supporting party.

Anyway. Don’t forget to vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have any right to criticise the outcome – right, Britain?

Fingers crossed that we don’t go for six prime ministers in six years. How embarrassing would that be?