The blog of Eric Lee - web design and internet consulting for the trade union movement. Debate on Gaza War - now online

programs20090121191143906.jpgLast week I was invited to appear on Press TV - the Iranian-backed satellite news channel. It was supposed to be a debate on Gaza, with Jeremy Corbyn MP moderating. The show is now available for viewing online here. Today I donated my fee for appearing on the show to Magen David Adom - Israel's emergency medical service.

Tomorrow I will be debating at Imperial College London. Here are the details:

Title: Israel/Hamas: Who is the aggressor?

Sponsor: ICU Political Philosophy Society

Date/time: Thursday, 22.1.09 19:30

Venue: Clore Lecture Theatre, Huxley Building,
Imperial College - South Kensington SW7 2AZ

Other participants include:

Chris Doyle, Directory, Council for Arab and British Understanding
Husam Zomlot, Senior Political Advisor to the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission to the UK


PressTv are using Microsoft Silverlight, not very smart for Linux users

Eric, have you got another copy of the show?

oh, well I'll install Moonlight and see if that works :)

PressTv are using Microsoft Silverlight, a bit of pain for Linux users

Eric, have you got another copy of the show?

oh, well I'll have to install Moonlight and see if that works :)

I hadn't heard of Moonlight before - thanks for the tip. However, after installing it, I've gotten it to display the first frame of this video, but no more. I wonder why ...


I sorted it, basically you need moonlight and the bad & very bad codecs from Gstreamer

it should display the full video, right click looking at sources, then click on the .wmv stream, which brings up totem (or your other video player), and plays the video directly.

I didn't realise that Jerry Corbyn was hosting a show on Press TV?

You did very well at Imperial - at very short notice

I just have looked at a few of your entries and you are entirely ridiculous. Nazi raids on Britain as a precursor for a few inferior rockets that kill almost nobody in Israel? SHAME SHAME SHAME. Did Britain respond with a 100:1 ratio massacre? SHAME SHAME SHAME

I found this page because of some 13-yr old article about how the Norwegian Communists and Soviets are really bad because they were not anti-German for 2 months. But do you understand that where I live, Bergen, west coast, was BOMBED BY THE BRITISH, ostensibly to prevent the Germans clean access to the port harbour but in fact destroying far more of the historical district than the Germans ever attempted! This was a token attack on Norway without ever attempting to fight the Germans even in the adjacent seas. The British imperialists were not innocent and would have loved Hitler if he had gone after the Soviets first! The British ruling class has exacted massive suffering on mankind. Everything is not the fault of communists, radical Muslims, and anti-Semites.

Thanks for these comments, Thomas.

A couple of points in response:

First, the Communists in Norway (and everywhere else) were not pro-German for two months. They were pro-German for 22 months. Until the Germans invaded the Soviet Union that is. This was not a minor error. It serves as an illustration of the character of the Communist Parties, which did whatever served the interests of Soviet foreign policy -- not the interests of the local working class.

Second, as I pointed out elsewhere, the V1 rockets were notoriously ineffective. Even though 10,000 V1s were fired by the Nazis against Britain, they caused around 6,000 deaths. By comparison, one day's bombing of Dresden in February 1945 caused four or five times as many deaths as all the V1 rockets caused.

The Allies did not make the calculation you and others are making now, saying that if the Nazis fired 10,000 primitive rockets at us killing 6,000 innocent civilians, a proportionate response would be to fire 10,000 primitive rockets back, or to kill precisely 6,000 innocent Germans.

Instead, the Allies proceeded with the task at hand: to destroy the German ability to fight, and with regard to Dresden in particular, to ease the progress of Konev's and Zhukov's armies which were closing in on Berlin. That is proportionality: you use the force necessary to achieve the object, and no more.

Finally, a word about the bombing of your city, Bergen. I can't comment on the specific attack - you probably know much more about this than I do. I can say that using weapons with were both incredibly lethal and remarkably inaccurate, the Allies managed to kill far more innocent civilians during the Second World War -- including civilians of allied countries, such as Norway and France -- than happens today.

Still, most people would consider the Second World War a "just" war on the Allied side, and looking back, I think most of us -- including the citizens of Bergen -- welcomed the German defeat in 1945.

Israel's use of weapons which are far more accurate, and its efforts to avoid civilian casualties (which you've almost certainly heard nothing about) have meant that instead of tens of thousands of civilians dying, the numbers were far, far smaller.

Hamas' claim that only 48 of its fighters died -- and that Israel killed more than 20 civilians for every actual fighter -- is ludicrous. If it were true, either the Israeli air force and army would have the worst aim in the world, or Hamas fighters really are protected by divine intervention (but civilians are not), or the Israelis were behaving like Nazis, deliberately trying to kill Palestinian civilians, especially children. (Why do I fear that you probably agree with that last statement?)

Still, every death of an innocent person is to be condemned, and the only way to guarantee that this doesn't happen in future is for Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement on peace -- an agreement on two states living within secure borders, side by side. Right now, Hamas is an obstacle to that peace, as it proved by unilaterally ending its cease-fire with Israel and launching the rocket barrage last month that compelled Israel to react with lethal force.

Let us hope that Hamas' defeat opens up the possibility of the renewal of a peace process in the region and that no further innocent lives need to be lost.