Talking points for 2 May

Good morning, the big story today is Condoleezza Rice’s trip to London and the Middle East. Here’s the State Department transcript of her briefing to reporters on the flight over. This is what stood out for me:

It also helps if the international community actually pays its pledges to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. So it’s not just a matter for Israel, although, obviously, Israel has a very important responsibility, probably the lead responsibility, in helping to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. But it’s a shared responsibility. And by the way, it’s a responsibility that is shared by the Palestinian leadership itself.

Do you agree with her assessment of the responsibilities for improving the life of Palestinians?

What about the global financial crisis? Is it over? The Bank of England seems to think so. Do you?

In Zimbabwe, the opposition Movement for Democratic change is reportedly contesting the (leaked) official election results in deadlocked all-party talks. Would you accept the official results and welcome a runoff?

As you’ll have noticed, we’re on Twitter, but let’s hope it never comes to this – an American graduate student helped free himself from an Egyptian jail by using his mobile phone to tell friends he was “arrested”.

11 Responses to “Talking points for 2 May”

  1. 1 Mark Sandell
    May 2, 2008 at 10:49

    Is there a mood of militancy among Chinese communities around the world after the protests surrounding the torch ? I read this article earlier this week about Chinese students in U.S. universities and this comment piece from John Pomfret on the Washington Post site and this e-mail arrived at the BBC this morning…from someone calling themselves..”sam”

    I have just come from the centre of Hong Kong where I held a sign reading: “Don’t Torch Tibet” above a Tibet flag during the Olympic torch relay. I joined another protester, a German, who was carrying a Tibetan flag and whom I met today for the first time on Nathan Road on Kowloon side of the city (I am British and both of us are residents in Hong Kong). When the torch passed I shouted ‘Free Tibet’ and boo-ed. This incensed several flag-waving Olympics’ supporters who started shouting “ET – go home!” Once the torch had passed, the crowd – numbering in the several hundreds – then began to collectively shout at us and the atmosphere got very tense. My self and Arne (the German fellow protester) stood our ground but eventually several Hong Kong police formed a cordon around us and advised us that “for our safety” we should leave the area. The sight of us leaving brought a triumphant cheer from the crowd while scores people continued to follow us and taunt us. I replied that Hong Kong is a free country and that free speech is a right.

    Might it be good to hear from Chinese people around the world to find out if they feel that it’s time to fight back against what they see as media bias?

  2. 2 VictorK
    May 2, 2008 at 11:26

    Ms Rice’s comments are absurd.

    The Palestinians have the sole responsibility for managing and improving their lives. That’s part of what sovereignty means, which is what I thought their ‘struggle’ was supposed to be about. If they don’t then they should be content with being annexed to whichever state they expect this burden to fall on.

    The Palestinian problem is not an international issue (however much international interest it may generate) and so there can be no reasonable expectation that ‘the international community’ (i.e. the West) should be making pledges or putting down money to support it. People who oppose Western interference in the affairs of non-Western peoples should realise that aid is as much a matter of interference as sending in tanks. If a Palestinian state is viable it should stand on its own without the need for financial support. If it isn’t (pointing to the need, perhaps, for the West Bank to be incorporated into Jordan and Gaza to be absorbed by Egypt) then the sooner that’s known the better. No state has a right to be supported by the people of another state gratis.

    But if responsibility for improving the lives of Palestinians has to be shared, why shouldn’t it fall to the Muslim world, and in particular to the rich Gulf States? They tell the world loudly enough that the Palestinians are their ‘Arab brothers’ and their ‘Muslim brothers’ and they certainly take a passionate interest when it comes to sharing Palestinian hatred of Israel. But when it comes to solid, practical measures to help the Palestinians all that fraternity stops short of their bank accounts.

    Ms Rice speaks for the mistaken and failed foreign policy of the Bush administration, which consists of half-hearted military aggression to secure impossible or incoherent objectives, appeasement by subvention (‘winning hearts and minds’ by lavishing US taxpayers’ money on non-Americans), a dogmatic and fanatical attachment to utopian visions of universal ‘freedom and democracy,’ and a lack of respect for other ways of life and forms of government, both of which the Bush administration thinks itself entitled to unilaterally destroy for the sake of high-minded ideals and good intentions.

    They’ve learned nothing from their failures in Iraq and Afghanistan (cost to date $3 trillion) and seem bent on repeating all of those errors in Palestine. Leave it to the Palestinians and Israelis to sort out, one way or another. Everybody else: keep your money and mind your own business.

  3. May 2, 2008 at 12:20

    Look at what is happening in Palestine. All those mutilated, dead, homes and infrastructure collapsed. The majority of those that can, work in Israel. The situation resembles the USA’s South and The Jim Crow Laws. Palestine has been mistreated as a poor red headed step child and whipping boy.

    The people of Palestine want a better Palestine. The anger and resentment still lingers for those suffering who lost a loved one, home and occupation. Natural but wrong they lash out anyway they can to have others to feel the same way they do.

    These blockades and Mafia type depicted crimes to weaken a opposition is not well thought out. Those not involved with violence are brought into the criminal fold.

    You can not have peace unless,”The World rebuilds Palestine and Israel.” Wars and violence is never going to do it, only freedom, justice and compensation.

  4. 4 Brett
    May 2, 2008 at 12:30

    Do you agree with her assessment of the responsibilities for improving the life of Palestinians?

    After all, they are their prison guards.
    So, yes, if they are going to brick them into a collectively punished ghetto, then yes, they have a responsibility for improving the lives of the Palestinians [should they chose to accept that responsibility is an entirely different story].

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  5. 5 Alec Paterson
    May 2, 2008 at 12:49

    It is quite clear that the Palestinians prefer victimhood to statehood, except on the ashes of Israel. They have demonstrated that for 60 years, beginning with their rejection of the United Nations decision to establish a Palestinian state in 1947, because it would have also created a small Jewish state next door. They declared war instead. The embraceof victimhood, of martyrdom, of blood and suffering, is the Palestinian disease. They are offered their own independent state. They are given all of Gaza. And they respond with rocket attacks into peaceful Israeli towns — in pre-1967 Israel proper.

    Where else in the world are there people living in refugee camps for sixty years. The 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries were absorbed by Israel. Where have the billions on aid given to the Palestinian Authority gone? Where is the accountability? Hamas receives funding on a large scale from Iran, Saudi Arabia,the Gulf States, UAE, Syria, the US based Holy Land Foundation, the Jerusalem fund operating in Canada, and the European arm “the al Asqa Foundation” Other funding is obtained from drug smuggling and money laundering. Why should I as a taxpayer help to fund this web of terror and global jihad.

  6. 6 Nick in USA
    May 2, 2008 at 13:47

    What pledges has the international community made to the Palestinians? I’m not doubting her on this, I just don’t know what they are. Other than playing the role of a mediator between the two sides, I don’t see how the international community owes anything to the palestinians. They need to change their way of thinking and make the best of their situation. That’s the only way things will change for them. If they refuse to learn from the past and decide to keep making the same mistakes over and over, then the international community cannot help them.

  7. 7 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 13:54

    Let’s not forget, the Palestninians didn’t “resort” to terrorism, they began with terrorism, and resorted to talking ONLY when they realized they weren’t going to be able to destroy Israel. It’s hard to sympathize with people that kill olympic teams, throw wheelchair bound passengers off cruise ships, and blow up restaurants.

  8. 8 Matt Jernigan
    May 2, 2008 at 14:11

    Did the Tibetans miss their chance to elevate themselves above China? Should have they instead escorted the torch to China as a symbol of peace as if to say, “We brought the torch to China without protest. What will China now bring to us?”

  9. 9 John LaGrua/New York
    May 3, 2008 at 04:25

    Steve ,it would help if you knew your history ,there is a wealth of material by emminent scholars on the conflict in Palestine .Start with Ilan Pappe a well respected Isreali scholar ” ,The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”recently published .Opnions should be the result of informed thinking .there is no substitute for getting the facts straight.

  10. 10 Alec Paterson
    May 3, 2008 at 09:50

    John LaGrua,

    Ilan Pappe’s claim to fame is part of a self serving myopic view of Israel. His book about ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is full of errors and misinterpretations that are aimed to serve his ego and get him on the lecture list as the “controversial Israeli Jew” who tells the world the truth that was concealed so far. Many criticized him including Benny Morris, but the more criticized Pappe turned the tables to his receptive audience accusing the critics as interfering with free speech, academic freedom and alike. He made sure that his opinions will be distributed in the radical left circles.
    Pappé bases his accusations against Israel not on substantiated facts, but on Palestinian narrative. He freely distorts the truth to conform with his ideology. Thus he attests to Israeli army-perpetrated massacres that never occurred. He promotes the myth of a 1948 massacre of the villagers of Tantura, claiming that the Israeli academic establishment is conspiring to repress the information, and he continues to propagate the lie that Israeli committed a massacre in Jenin in 2002 despite copious refutation (including United Nations reports) of the bogus claim. As in the Tantura case, he suggests there is a conspiracy to cover-up the Jenin “massacre”:
    Pappe stated “Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers”. That says it all about this so called expert.

  11. 11 John in Germany
    May 4, 2008 at 09:42

    What a screwed up world, we heard that if the agricultural land in some African countries was properly used, there would be a definite decrease in the need for assistance. We heard that aid from the international community is being blatantly misused. Should we worry?. sadly Yes, because the hunger,and sickness still exists, and those that misappropriate our funding, don’t give a damn for there own people, and our mighty power, does nothing.

    Political intrigue, power grabbing, complete lack of interest in the poor, (except when media is near). The bad boys know this, and cleverly use it in thier power games.

    Poor old Ken he was good, is the other man better?, No. Mr Prime Minister you have a lot to answer for, but it is not to late. Be more decisive, don’t dither, you are the Boss. I as an ex-pat cannot even vote, but i feel for my Country, what ever happens.
    So be firm, you have What it needs.

    John in Germany

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