Salaam = Shalom

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

18 November 2012


Below we publish the text of a letter sent to the White House today by Dave Bradney, a retired journalist and former Green Party activist, who lives in west Wales (a subordinate part of the United Kingdom).

“Dear President Obama

 The people who run the State of Israel, and the people who vote them into office, are cruel, heartless bullies.


They take away people’s land, cram them into a sh**hole, make sure the rest of the world can’t help effectively, and when some of their victims raise a puny hand in angry protest – as is inevitable and wholly predictable – they joyfully label them as aggressors and stomp all over them. And you give them $3bn-$5bn each year to assist with this.


Every few years the Israeli “Defence” Force lays waste to another neighbouring country, and I am sick to the heart with witnessing this again and again. I ask you: for god’s sake (or for God’s sake if you like), when are you going to put a stop to this? It is in your power to do so, and you no longer have anything to lose electorally.


That could be the first step in a process of rehabilitating the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world. Or would you prefer it that everyone continues to hate you?


Yours sincerely,


Dave Bradney”

Mr Bradney has asked us to point out that his letter “was written as an angry outburst, not as a standard text”.

Readers are free to adapt it, he says, to suit their own points of view. He adds:

“Something snapped in me during the 2006 Lebanon War, at the sight of the IDF systematically pounding and trashing the south of Lebanon for week after week while the rest of the world just sat and watched. I had always prided myself on taking an even-handed view of situations, but I simply fell off the fence on the Palestinian side and I intend never to climb back on. No amount of suffering justifies this type of massively disproportionate behaviour. NB: I am not religious, and I am not a pacifist.”




Mr Bradney is clearly referring to Israel’s ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip by land and sea. The Israeli attack on the Palestinian enclave has now lasted for five days. Israel is responding to rockets fired at Israeli towns and settlements by Palestinian militants from Gaza.

According to a BBC report this evening, since Israel launched its “Operation Pillar of Defence” on Wednesday 14 November 2012, the death toll in Gaza has reached 69, including women and children. Palestinian officials say that a number of people are still missing under rubble and that the total of those injured since Wednesday is now 560.

Three Israelis were killed in a rocket attack from Gaza on 15 November 2012. Other Israelis have been injured by  Palestinian missiles, although, given the imbalance between the combatants, the casualty toll in Israel has been far lower than in Gaza.

Despite the massive bombardment, Palestinian militants are fighting back with the continued launch of rockets into Israel.

US President Barack Obama said today that Washington was “fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself”.

Echoing his master’s voice, British Foreign Minister William Hague said the Hamas movement which governs Gaza bears “principal responsibility” for the current conflict.

However, the most chilling remark of the day is attributed to Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper quotes him as saying that the goal of the operation is “to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years”.

Israel has called up 75 000 reservists and its troops have massed at the Gaza border. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting today that the Israeli Defence Force was “prepared for a significant expansion of the operation”. This is taken to be the threat of an invasion of Gaza by land.

Antigone1984 fully endorses Mr Bradney’s comments.

We would also like to make the following points:

1. There are a number of free-wheeling jihadi groups, beyond the control of Hamas, that have been attacking Israel from Gaza for some time. At this point in time, it is not clear to outside observers which of these groups are responsible for launching the current barrage of rockets into Israel. Hence,  the attempt by Washington’s poodle, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, to place the main blame for the current escalation of hostilities on Hamas cannot be substantiated. Reports from Gaza have suggested – correctly or otherwise – that, in the past few years, Hamas has been at the forefront of attempts to rein in the less disciplined elements in the other jihadi groups. What is not in doubt, in any case, is that the attacks on Israeli from Gaza have escalated exponentially, as might have been expected, in retaliation for the Israeli bombardment.

2. What we are witnessing now is an attack by the Goliath of Israel – a nuclear-armed power back to the hilt by the United States and its biddable satellites – on the David of Gaza – a dirt-poor virtually defenceless Third World bantustan. Israeli’s reaction to the provocation from largely makeshift rockets launched from Gaza is wholly disproportionate.  This does not mean that we think the Palestinians have a right to launch rockets willy-nilly into Israel. We do not.

3.  Hardly surprisingly, given their form, the United States and its acolytes have responded to the flare-up with a knee-jerk apologia for the Israeli action. Many liberals throughout the world still cling, against all the evidence, to the naïve belief that somehow Obama is a good guy doing his best to sort out intractable problems in the interests of what is right and what is fair. Harvard dissident Noam Chomsky got the measure of Obama early on in his first presidency. “He’s worse than [George W.] Bush,” he told a TV interviewer. Peace in the Middle East is dependent on a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet until the United States and its pawns adopt a more evenly balanced position between the two sides, hostilities will continue indefinitely. Israel has repeatedly used overwhelming force against its enemies in the region and where has this got it? It is no safer today than it was in 1948. “Give peace a chance” is a suggestion that the Israeli cabinet would do well to ponder instead of threatening to stoke the fires further with a land invasion of Gaza.

4. With the emergence of the Arab Spring and the destooling of a number of dictatorial Arab governments in hock to Israel, the political die is now loaded marginally more favourably than in the past in the direction of the Palestinians. The big question is how the Muslim Brotherhood President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, will react to the Israeli bombardment of his fellow co-religionists in Hamas, who are also members of the Brotherhood. Will he walk the walk as well as talk the talk or will he turn out to be all sizzle and no beef, like most of his predecessors?

5. We have another thought. There is no love lost between Hamas, whose writ rules in Gaza, and Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, whose Fatah movement controls the West Bank. In the past, Abbas has shown himself to be much more willing to accommodate Israeli and American interests than his counterparts in Gaza. Could the current Israeli action be intended to take out the Hamas leadership, thus paving the way for a takeover of Gaza by Fatah?

6. The facts on the ground are changing as we write. Let us hope against hope that better counsels will prevail and that we shall soon see the day when “salaam” and “shalom” mean the same thing.


 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


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