No Man is an Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne 1624

The same is true of a family, a village, a town, a people.

Here in Australia we are accustomed to seeing ourselves as inhabitants of an island, somehow isolated from the rest of the world, but recent events in the Middle East show that we are not. The rapid polarization of this country into pro-Palestine and pro-Israel factions has been horrific to watch.  It means we can no longer stand on the sidelines and say “They have been at one another’s throats for centuries. Let them get on with it. It has nothing to do with us.”

Well now it clearly has a lot to do with us. We are not an island after all.

The bell tolls for us as Australians.

An historical background was given by Henry Ergas in the Australian recently (ErgasArticle) .  It is reasonably even-handed although his criticism of the Palestinians for  “looking backward” is a little harsh; it might be difficult to do anything  else after three generations in a refugee camp. On the bright side, it is fortunate that the major political parties  have eschewed the extremism of some of the minorities as demonstrated in the recent Senate vote (The Senate voted 56-12 in favour of condemning ‘from the river to the sea’ following Labor Senator Fatima Payman’s use of phrase).

My views are as follows:

  • The Middle East is an ongoing problem and needs to be fixed.
  • The United Nations is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
  • A consortium of nation states, not affiliated with the U.N. or Middle Eastern states , should step in as a peace-keeping force.
  • The only feasible, ongoing solution is the two state solution. Palestine must be assisted to evolve into a self-governing, democratic nation state with a rule of law.
  • Role models for this development are the various nation states which evolved from former European colonies such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.

A free market?

The most rapid and effective way of developing the industries and businesses which Palestine so desperately needs, is a free market economy, i.e. Capitalism. Muslims may be reluctant to to engage in capitalist activity because it involves the sin of usury, the lending of money for interest, which is forbidden in the Koran. Usury was also a sin in Christianity in the Middle Ages but the Christians found a loophole just in time for the Industrial Revolution. The loophole is quite simple. Usury in the Old Testament is rightly about the comfortably rich exploiting the desperately poor by lending money at exorbitant interest rates. This is not Capitalism. If I buy shares in BHP I am lending money to BHP and my dividend is the interest. BHP are much wealthier than I am and they decide the interest rate. Capitalism is hardly usury in the sense of the Bible or the Koran. The Indonesians are happy about this although they do cap interest rates.

Democracy and a free market economy would  surely benefit the new Palestine.

14 Replies to “No Man is an Island”

  1. Too many of those whose opinions I thought were worth reading have resorted to over simplification (fore or against) on Gaza and Ukraine.
    It is a relief to see BlackJay hold the line on reason.

  2. Comfortability is a universal panacea. So establishing a thriving, sustainable market economy of any kind generally makes people less reluctant to complain. This has happened in China for instance, but has not removed the autocratic management of the country. So it may not necessarily bring democracy, the other half of the solution. Sometimes it seems it is more like an analgesic.

    Democracy is a strange thing. It is known, understood, can be described in great detail quickly and accurately. However as it exists in established democratic countries, it took a long time to evolve. In ex colonial locations it was partly imported. Regardless of this clarity, transitioning to democracy in undemocratic countries takes time. A generation of old thinking and culture needs to die out I think. So patience and perseverance must be part of any implementation. Unrealistic and doomed to think it will just happen. There is one side to democracy that irks me. We all learn it provides us our given right to vote, to contribute to the choosing of our leaders. However the missing instruction is that once that decision is made by the majority, it has to be accepted. Democracy is not your right to get your way. In an honest functioning democracy, you get another chance in a few years, and if the choice indeed proved wrong for the country (electing a despot for instance) there are mechanisms for correction (in a good constitution).

    That said, I agree that a two state solution , which has never existed so the one thing never attempted, is the answer.

  3. And on BHP shares:

    The only time your buying BHP shares helps NHP is the IPO. And it is not lending, it is an equity investment. You have bought a share of BHP and are an owner. (Note you do not own part of BHP, you own shares in BHP, a fundamentally different thing. You cannot go in and use their offices or equipment for instance.) After the IPO all share purchases aid or hurt other shareholders. That said, depending on the price you pay for the shares, it may also aid or hurt BHP indirectly by affecting its market capitalisation., and therefore perceived value and prospects.

  4. No mention of the elephant in the room: religious hatred. Had there been a genuine commitment to peaceful co-existence decades ago a “two-state solution” might have been possible. In theory, perhaps Gaza (and Beirut) could have transformed itself over time into a mini-Dubai without the oil. As for democracy, they voted in Hamas, a group so fanatically committed to martyrdom and destroying Israel it went on the October 7 rampage. The situation today is hence much worse and there is no way back. If only Mohammed had ascended to Heaven from Mecca and not Jerusalem; if only there had been no Crusades, and so on. There is no quick rational solution to the irrational. If there was, we could just send a shipment of the Richard Dawkins book, “The God Delusion” and they would see the light.

    1. Alice Thermopolis, it’s a nice idea but I don’t think Dawkin’s book would work. He is not that persuasive. I doubt any Muslim would risk death, the punishment for apostacy, to follow Dawkins. More seriously though, in this context religions are just flags to which the individual shows loyalty. Issues which comprise the content of a religion, such as whether transubstantiation occurs during the mass, just don’t enter into it. If you are going to ban religion you might also to have to ban flags and anthems. When the Allies liberated Greece from Germany at the end of WWII, under the Marshall Plan they built soccer stadiums. They though this might prevent Greece “going communist” because there would not be hordes of unemployed young men hanging around with time on their hands. It seems to have worked.

  5. You are right about their need to fully admit, take to free market capitalism. However, this additional problem needs to be addressed: Israel has to be moved out of Palestine to somewhere else such as our Top End.

    1. Even if such a move were politically and logistically possible, I doubt it would satisfy Hamas.

      The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [holy possession] consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day. No one can renounce it or any part or abandon it or any part of it. (Hamas Charter, Article 11). 

      Palestine is an Islamic land… Since this is the case, the liberation of Palestine is an individual duty for every Muslim wherever he may be. (Hamas Charter, Article 13)

      In its founding charter, Hamas cites a particularly violent hadith as proof that Muslims need to fight and kill Jews:  

      The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews. (Hamas Charter, Article 7). 

      Peace is not an option for Hamas, only violence: 

      There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. (Hamas Charter, Article 13).

      1. Despite the accusations, I have seen no evidence that Israel harbours any genocidal intent towards the Palestinian Arabs who comprise twenty percent of its population and have political and religious freedom within its borders. It is ironic that genocidal intent is clearly stated in the Hamas Charter as quoted.

        1. More to myself than to others, my earlier comment, as a far out idea serving as scaffolding towards a better idea. It’s what I am good at, habitually do. In this case, this better idea:
          Israel is the West’s Ukraine . . .
          Just as Russia sees the Donbas and Crimea as vital to its National Interest, so the West sees Israel as vital to its National Interests!?!

  6. You are right about Russia’s national interest. Crimea and Ukraine surround Rostov on the Don, Russia’s only warm water port. However the West’s support for Israel is more political. Israel is the only true liberal democracy in the Middle East and the Jewish vote in the US is significant.

    1. “Rostov on the Don [is] Russia’s only warm water port”. Important to Russia, Iran and BRICS because connecting to the Volga River and Caspian Sea via a recently greatly upgraded canal.
      “The West’s support for Israel is more political.” Yes, but still very very important.
      Hence my getting the idea that much of what’s going in both places, Israel AND the Ukraine is a form of bargaining, aimed at getting a better deal serving each sides National Interests via a deal.
      Say Russia getting its way with Ukraine in exchange for more peace in the Middle East!?!?!

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