On my way to Palestine (again)

by ray goodlass

A good day today. I booked my flight for my next Palestine trip (a month long intensive Arabic course in Occupied East Jerusalem). I hope I don’t get tear gassed this time, and that the Israelis don’t hassle me either getting in or out, as they’ve previously done both!

We also had Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi in town, largely to visit women’s organisations, and we all had lunch with her, which was very enjoyable. Mates Gully organic café was full – it’s great to see them doing such good business!

And my Op Ed column on Abbott’s sledge g boast in the DA yesterday has had good reactions. Here’s the full column:

PM’s sledging a sign of worrying tendencies

Competition between sporting teams is sometimes promoted in terms that are unhealthily aggressive, sot I was very concerned to read that ” As tensions between the Australian and Indian cricket teams reach boiling point, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has revealed sledging was his only strength as a cricketer” (SMH)

“I couldn’t bat, I couldn’t bowl, I couldn’t field, but I could sledge, and I think I held my place in the team on this basis, and I promise there’ll be none of that today,” said the former captain of Oxford’s Middle Common Room team of the Queen’s College.”

Reactions were interesting. Some saw it as normal ‘blokey’ behaviour, others as ‘boys will be boys but thankfully some dug a little deeper, noting that his boast may explain why he was an effective opposition leader but ad absolute dud as a Prime Minister. Which is all very well if you count the adversarial combat arena that passes for the democratic process in Parliament as an appropriate way of debating important issues.

Captain Abbott & Co don’t play the issue, they play the person. That is not a civilised way to conduct the democratic process.

Others noted that if sledging was/is his only talent, he should be dropped from Team Australia. Quite.

There was also comment that it was an odd boast for the Minister for Women! Yes indeed.

What really interested me though was the point that cricket is often described as a metaphor for life, and as such reflects accurately our PM’s entire political career!

His modus operandi, and for this insight I’m indebted to Bruce Grant who wrote (SMH 2 January) “Simply put, Abbott is always spoiling for a fight,”

Examples abound. His shirtfront diplomacy was one such, and seems to be instinctive for him. He could barely wait to accuse Vladimir Putin of being responsible for downing MH17.

Another is his Anglophone values, which are very dated. True, the restitution of knights and dames in Australia is nothing more than comical, but more significant is his reversal to gunboat diplomacy. He is now even talking of increasing our ‘boys’ own adventure in Iraq.

His warrior tendencies are of the past, not the future.

True, the past is attractive for a political leader with a warrior bent,. He sees Australia as bring on the ‘winning’ side in the global wars of the 20th century.

It’s an impressive heritage, which accounts for some of the confidence, even cockiness he displays. But now  our Captain seems to be batting on the wrong side of history.

For that was then, and now is now, and the world is changing, dear Captain. Surely is it time to note, as British PM Harold McMillan so perceptively remarked about decolonisation in the 1960s, “The wind of change is blowing through Africa”. Add the rest of the world to that, Captain.

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