Daily archives: April 9, 2010

Obama’s START Should Not Be Ridiculed

Obama and Medvedev’s signature of an new START treaty is a real achievement and should not be ridiculed. It will significantly reduce the number of nuclear warheads and guidance systems in the world. That is a good thing. Obama’s aspiration for a nuclear weapon free world is also a good thing.

Of course it does not do everything. It does not for example cancel the US project of a forward ballistic defence shield in Europe. It does however make ever more plain that this is an otiose project. I have come to the conclusion that it actually has no purpose at all other than to throw a nice meaty carcass to the US weapons industry lobby.

Nor has Obama tackled or even admitted the problem of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But Obama’s drive for worldwide reduction makes the elephant in the room impossible to ignore. Egypt and Turkey’s insistence on raising the issue has already caused Netanyahu to drop out of Obama’s planned nuclear conference. This further straining of the relationship between the US and Israel is a good thing, and on this issue Israel is self-imposing a pariah state status.

So I take the view that the commentators who ridicule Obama’s START treaty because of the things it did not do, have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. What it does is good, and its ramifications are still better.

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Anti-Israel Protests Not Anti-Semitic

Happily, a Scottish court has made a very sensible ruling that anti-Israel protests are not anti-semitic and thus do not constitute “racially aggravated behaviour”:

Sheriff James Scott ruled that “the comments were clearly directed at the State of Israel, the Israeli Army, and Israeli Army musicians”, and not targeted at “citizens of Israel” per se. “The procurator fiscal’s attempts to squeeze malice and ill will out of the agreed facts were rather strained”, he said

The Sheriff expressed concern that to continue with the prosecution would have implications for freedom of expression generally: “if persons on a public march designed to protest against and publicise alleged crimes committed by a state and its army are afraid to name that state for fear of being charged with racially aggravated behaviour, it would render worthless their Article 10(1) rights. Presumably their placards would have to read, ‘Genocide in an unspecified state in the Middle East’; ‘Boycott an unspecified state in the Middle East’ etc.

“Having concluded that continuation of the present prosecution is not necessary or proportionate, and therefore incompetent, it seems to me that the complaint must be dismissed.”


It seems to me the Sherrif’s withering logic is indisputable. This is a prosecution that should never have been brought; it seems to me quite extraordinary that the Procurator-Fiscal has indicated that the Crown will appeal against the Sherriff’s decision. If anybody is acting with malice, it is the Procurator-Fiscal.

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