Only the peoples' representatives can come to the negotiating table. It is they, not us in the peace movements, who can resolve the issues. Our proper role as persons or organisations wishing to act in solidarity is to assist the parties to come to the negotiating table, not to attempt to do the negotiating on their behalf or for them by proxy.
If we are to assist in bringing the parties to the negotiating table, it does not help to further blur the issues by adding our own painful emotion to the mix by taking sides. This has the effect of magnifying the painful emotions involved thus making it more, not less, difficult to come to the negotiating table.
Taking sides by adopting slogans or statements that carry the suggestion that Israel or Hezbollah is the sole culprit in the present conflict is thus not helpful to securing a non-military solution.
For example, slogans suggesting that Israel is the sole culprit in the current violence carry the suggestion that Israel and Israelis are a uniquely belligerent people and/or that the Jewish culture is a uniquely war-mongering culture. This has the added effect of fueling a particularly virulent strand of anti-Jewish prejudice which abounds in the community at large and which we have seen demonstrated by the actor, Mel Gibson, when he was reported recently to have said that, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
A just solution is possible to the conflicts between the Israeli, the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples but can only come when the peoples' representatives come to the negotiating table with a commitment to achieving a good life for all the peoples involved, not for one people seeking profit, privilege and advantage at the expense of the other. Only in this way can nation states finally emerge that truly respect each other.
Their negotiations will be long and will involve concessions about things long held as important by one people or another, things that are bound up with great emotional attachment based on old battles and injustices. However, we in the Australian Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) recognise that if past injustices are accepted as sufficient reason to oppress and kill others, then there never can be an end to war and oppression.
Here in Australia, we have significant communities of Lebanese Australian and Jewish Australian citizens. If we are to avoid importing the ethnic tensions out of the Middle East into the Australian context, it is doubly important that, for our rallies and other events focusing on the conflict across the Lebanon/ Israel border, we avoid the perception of partisanship in our framing of slogans and statements.
In light of these considerations, WILPF (Australia) believes that we in the peace movement need to adopt slogans for our rallies and marches that are likely to have the effect of assisting the overall situation to move forward, slogans that are constructive and helpful to the situation overall and capable of assisting the process to move towards a negotiated, non-military solution. Slogans that carry blame and pain have the opposite effect.
At the recent Rome Conference convened by US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, put forward a 7-point plan for which he had managed to get the backing of Hezbollah.
This plan involves an immediate ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners between Lebanon and Israel with a pacification of the common border.
The plan also calls for the Lebanese Government to exercise full sovereignty over its southern regions and the UN Security Council to put the contested Shebaa farms area under United Nations jurisdiction. The plan also includes an expanded UN role to reactivate the 1949 armistice agreement with Israel. Although Hezbollah initially rejected his plan, Mr Siniora was finally able to achieve their backing for it.
Despite some withdrawal of support for the 7-point plan since the bombing of Qana, WILPF believes that this plan from the Lebanese Government would still constitute a good beginning for genuine negotiations.
(Australia) calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire so
that negotiations can begin.
..."Between 1999 and
late 2001, more than 2000 asylum-seeker children were dispatched mainly
to the desert detention camps. The average stay was more than a year.
Some were detained for three years; one child for more than five. In
these camps, the already traumatised children - most of whom had fled
from Saddam Hussein or the Taliban - witnessed scenes no child should
ever see. They saw adults slashing their wrists, sewing their lips,
starving themselves, beating their heads against walls, trying to hang
Declaration of Human Rights
See also the website
about the Australian detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island, PNG
and abandoned asylum seekers in Indonesia: