Archive for June, 2007


RIP John Inman

June 25, 2007

John Inman, who played the engaging and overtly gay character of Mr Humphreys in the 1970’s British sitcom Are You Being Served (at a time when it wasn’t that easy to do it), has died at the age of 71.

The Guardian marks the occasion with the sourest obit I can remember ever reading.

This is the sort of thing that failed to amuse the The Guardian’s obituarist:


The suicide of a nation

June 17, 2007

I’ve spent a lot of the weekend hunting around the blogosphere looking for posts on the current situation in the Gaza Strip. I’ve seen death porn videos, rampaging looters, murders, shootings. The little Palestinian statelet has imploded, and no-one seems to know what to do or what will happen next.

It’s easy to reach judgements from afar, and even easier to make a fool of yourself prognosticating about a region you’ve never visited. But it seems to me that the nation-that-would-be-Palestine has effectively committed suicide.

Economically, Palestine is already non-viable. In March, the newly-appointed Finance Minister of the Hamas/Fatah government, Salam Fayyad (recently appointed PM by President Mahmoud Abbas, following the catastrophe in Gaza), told Newsweek:

How long can you survive if the sanctions continue?
On our own, we bring in $15 to 20 million per month—compared to a need of $160 million per month. Survival depends on how successful we are in bridging the gap. Clearly, you can’t go long with 10 percent of what you need. That’s all we have control over—just 10 percent of our need. I’m a realist, and one cannot look at that as a sustainable situation.

The territories can generate just 10% of of the revenue they need to sustain themselves. All the rest is provided by donors: the US, the EU and the Arab states.

This exposes the long-masked reality of the Oslo Accords: they were just a huge bribe, intended to get Arafat to say, at least in English, that the PA recognised the existence of Israel. (In Arabic, Arafat said things very different.) But it also established the territories as eternal dependants, reliant on outside aid for salaries, infrastructure, education and health. There is very little of a self-sustaining indigenous economy to provide jobs, livelihoods and sustenance for the millions in the territories. On these figures, they will be perpetual beggars at the tables of the world. Such will be the true legacy of Oslo.

But bad as the situation of the Palestinians is in economic terms, in moral terms it is far, far worse.

For a generation, and certainly since the first intifada, Palestinians have been weaned on a diet of hatred, violence, suicide-aspiration and genocide. A poignant witness to this is Daryl Jones, an Australian aid worker who went to Jenin in the hope and expectation of assisting the Palestinians in their struggle, only to find, when she opened her eyes, that they systematically brainwashed their children into becoming agents of indiscriminate death.

Her tears in this video speak volumes, as she recounts how dreadfully she allowed herself to be deceived.

It is impossible to build a state on this basis. If you indoctrinate a generation, starting at kindergarten, to aspire to murder, to feed them from the fountains of race hatred, and then, when they’re old enough to be of some use, you put guns in their hands and bombs in their pockets, you get — well, you get what happened in Gaza these past few days.

The brutality has been beyond belief. As liberal Israeli blogger Yaeli said, reluctantly posting one of the vilest of the death porn videos:

….if I hear one more word about Israeli brutality. Our soldiers have never, ever, ever done anything even remotely in the ballpark of something like this. Not in Gaza, not in the West Bank, not in Lebanon, nowhere. We do not kidnap people from their homes and then throw them alive off rooftops. We do not intentionally try to kill little children. We do not kick people to death in the streets and we do not kick them to death in private. We play in a whole different playground folks. And we sure as hell don’t treat our fellow citizens in this way. For those who want to claim that Israel is the most horrible, violent and oppressive regime in the history of the planet, this video invites you to get some perspective.

I know the Israelis are no angels, and have been guilty of acts of aggression and stupidity. But they never did anything like this.

These bloody hands had just dismembered two
IDF reservists (Ramallah, 2000).

Nor do they teach their children like this.

To valorise and emulate that deed.

If you grow children to be murderers, then that’s what they will be.

It may be wrong, or fanciful, to say this: but I think the Palestinians have just dealt themselves the greatest moral defeat they ever could have suffered — one more far-reaching, I suspect, than the military humiliation of the Six Day War. They have proved to the world and to themselves that they cannot do what the Israelis have done: they can’t create their own nation. Even with the Arab states behind them (sort of), most of the rest of the world on their side, the UN as their echo chamber, and an endless purse of money to spend which they never even had to earn, they still can’t do it.

The Palestinians cannot build a civil society while their collective moral compass pulls them inexorably toward hatred and violence. Whether there’s much prospect of that changing is hard to say, but all the portents look bad. Palestine as so far constructed is a criminal swamp and a rage for destruction — a rage whose weapon is their own children, whose minds have been warped into homicidal and genocidal delusion, and whose deaths in the service of death serve as a general template for the Palestinians’ own national suicide.


Update: It may be my weakness for metaphysics, but this analysis by Fouad Ajami struck me as absolutely true right down to the bone.

(Hat tip: Meryl Yourish.)

Oh, and some heart-breaking irony.


Women at war

June 17, 2007

Sorry to be sexist and all, but if you were a coward like me, who would you rather surrender to?

Hamas freedom fighters —

— or Israeli oppressors?


Women in art

June 17, 2007

Yes, I know it’s been around for a while but just in case you haven’t seen it yet.


Ms. Vakaivosavosa returns

June 16, 2007

Excellent Fijian blogger

Ms. Vakaivosavosa,

who went off the air a few weeks ago due to the kind of pressures bloggers find themselves under in various parts of the world, is back – and on WordPress.

Go visit.

A great voice from the South Pacific.


Sir Salman

June 16, 2007

Salman Rushdie has been knighted.

Having a bit of a problem as I do with the imperial honours system, I don’t know if this is the best reward for being a great writer as well as one of militant Islam’s most courageous and indomitable adversaries.

But congrats, Sir S.

One thing I will always remember from his work is the concept of the


which is a

Process Too Complicated To Explain.

(from Haroun and the Sea of Stories, one of his best books).

A most convenient alibi for almost anything.

Update: Here’s an irony: in 1989, Mr Iqbal Sacranie, of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs, said of Rushdie:

Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him .. his mind must be tormented for the rest of his life unless he asks for forgiveness to Almighty Allah.

Iqbal Sacranie was knighted in 2005 for services to the Muslim community. The persecutor was rewarded before his victim.


3 or 4 things you should know about Asterix

June 16, 2007

And they’re all bad.
Check them out.

He’s —

But, worst of all, he’s —


The gall!