The 4.45pm Link 241

Today I link to something that I did not enjoy reading, just to illustrate a point. It is a truly poor article by one Niles Gardiner in the Telegraph.

I point out merely in passing that the first few hundred overwhelmingly negative comments were deleted by the Telegraph. But the real reason I link is the significance of the strapline:

He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.

I bet he does. He has no international diplomatic experience, no knowledge of international law and very little experience of the hotspots of the world. But he is fully armed with the set of opinions those news outlets want their readers to hear.

Absolutely anybody can write this rubbish. Just string these elements together:

Poor little Israel. Threatened from all sides. Nazi Germany. Islamic terrorism. Hamas. Anti-semitism. Brutal Jihadists. Self defence. The right to return. Only democracy in the Middle East. Self defence. Iranian President threat to wipe off map. 8,000 Hamas rockets. Alliance of liberals, commies and islamists. 9/11. Chopping off hands. Subjugation of women. Taliban. Clash of civilisations. Existential threat. Self defence.

I could churn this stuff out easily and be on Fox, Sky and BBC as often as I like. I could pick up a fat salary like Nick Cohen for a weekly column of this stuff, and pocket the Rupert Murdoch TV fees as an extra. I could sit in a think tank. I would certainly be a great deal more qualified, and a great deal more convincing, than Niles pisspoor Gardiner. I write a lot better too.

But then I am handicapped by morality.

Which reminds me. Having followed the media coverage of the Israeli action very carefully, have you noticed what seems a complete absence on TV of bona fide experts in maritime law?

Normally live news brings in “experts” at the drop of a hat to fill in the 24/7 broadcasting, but despite the fact that professors of international law specialising in the law of the sea are not exactly hard to find, no TV station has asked one about the legality of the Israeli action.

That is because the martime law community is unanimous that the Israeli action is illegal.

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241 thoughts on “The 4.45pm Link

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  • Paul

    @Michael Petek

    So you’ve reduced the world to a binary choice, the bankruptcy of moral relativism or, alternatively, morality by (presumably religious) prescription?

    That’s odd, since you don’t seem to be a moral relativist and your use of the term ‘religious nutjob’ suggests you don’t include yourself in the second category either.

    Have you not considered the possibility of morality derived from rationale thought supported by objective facts and reasoned skepticism? It has the great advantage that it permits you – even encourages you – to change you mind when you are wrong.

  • Michael Petek

    The term ‘religious nutjob’ is an epithet which has been applied to me more than once on this blog. I’ve also been called a bigot.

    In doing so, I’m no more than riposting to the outrageous and violent religious bigotry of Hamas and its vision of a divinely-sanctioned apartheid regime, first in the eastern Med, and ultimately throughout the world.

    I don’t know whether members of the Israeli government do not want to recognise the current situation as a formally declared war.

    The fact is that Israel has done so, in which case Hamas prisoners could claim PoW status only if captured in uniform.

    If not, they don’t have immunity and can be prosecuted.

    Whether lawful or unlawful combatants, they can be lawfully be killed in the heat of battle.

    The only customary law about bloackades would seem to be point 4 above:

    ‘Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective, that is to say, maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy.’

  • mike cobley

    But [email protected], why should MP change his mind? He’s got a hotline to righteousness as conferred upon the Royal House of David. That’s some solid, heavy truth, man, the kind of certainty that can be used as a sword and a shield. But from time to time, even the humble guardian of an illustrious and timeless truth needs a little, hmm, ego-boosting. And where better to get some than right here, among the pustulent gibberings of the damned. Every thread holds evidence confirming his moral stance. Bet Mickey P gets an all-over glow whenever he logs on to Craig’s site.

  • Mae

    Craig – what do you make of this news report:

    “Egypt: Gaza blockade a failure, border stays open”

    -how long can Egypt go against its paymasters

    -what are the chances of this really happening?

    -how would this impact on the situation regarding the effectiveness of the blockade in terms of the law (as we’ve heard so much about it)

  • Chris


    in the hope that a grain of rationality can be found under your rather spikey exterior… Please remember that ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ leads to only one thing…

    and that’s a world of blind people groping around for soup. If that’s your vision of the future then please leave the rest of us out of it. Try and see some of the beauty around you. There’s plenty. I know this because I’m familiar with Israel and there are wonderful people there – on both sides of the fence. The trouble is, too many of you believe the horse shit you’re fed by your leaders.

  • Michael Petek

    Chris, consider this:

    Prosecutor: ‘Hamas, you stand accused of common plan and conspiracy in the crime of aggression, in that you do conspire and plan with Iran, further or alternatively Syria, to wage war against the political independence of Israel, contrary to peremptory norms of international law. How do you plead?’

    Hamas: ‘Not guilty, M’Lud, you see Allah told us in the Holy Qur’an and the Ahadith that Palestine is Dar ul-Islam and belongs only to the Muslims, and then all these kikes, yids and hymies came here and overthrew Allah’s government and won’t submit to the Muslims and to shari’a, which says they can keep their lives and property if they agree to live as dhimmis, and they’re dirty and immoral coz they won’t just sit there and let the Muslims beat them, and the Last Judgement won’t come until the Muslims fight and kill them, and look at all those bloody gharqad trees they’re planting . . . ‘

    Prosecutor: ‘M’lud, in the absence of any proof whatsoever that the Defendant’s assertion about divine revelation has any scrap of truth in it, I respectfully move that the pleadings for the defence be struck out.’

  • Suhayl Saadi

    A very evocative, honest piece in today’s ‘The Herald’ (Scottish newspaper).

    German shepherds… the dog of choice of Hitler and the Nazis and of the Belgians in the Congo – they used to set these dogs on black people in the Congo.

    So, the Israeli armed forces also prefer German shepherd dogs – the dog of the concentration camp, the dog of mass death. How deeply, deeply ironic. How unutterably tragic.

    This clearly was a pre-planned operation, calculated to inflict maximum terror as a deterrent to future convoys. They chose the Turkish ship because they thought they would be able to get away with it, since to Israel, Muslims are like the blacks of the Congo were to the Belgians.

  • Michael Petek

    German shepherds … the dog of choice of James Belushi for his 1989 action comedy movie K-9.

    One of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

    Just after World War 2 my dad was in Austria, where he got to know a man who’d been a dog trainer in the German Army.

    He had a German shepherd dog he’d taught to weed the garden without damaging the flowers. Cried like a kid when the dog died, he did.

    Maybe the Israelis use Yiddishe Shepherds. They weed the garden and plant gharqad trees.

  • Michael Petek

    Hey, wait a moment!

    In Islam dogs of any kind are unclean. It wouldn’t matter if they were Cocker Spaniels.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I like dogs, Michael. I think they’re great pals. It’s not the dogs, it’s the humans. But the Nazis and Belgian colonists used German Shepherds to terrorise their subject populations. The Israeli armed forces use them for the same reason. Why are so defensive of Israel’s every action, Michael? I have nothing against Israeli’s, Michael, I know some. It is the actions of the state of Israel which I think are unacceptable. So, the Americans has dogs and stress positions in Iraq – remember the S and M pictures, Michael? – and the Israelis have them in Gaza and on the West Bank.

    Another uncomfortable parallel, then. You know, it’s much easier to admit the truth when it’s staring you in the face. Denial of the obvious just becomes increasingly untenable.

  • anno

    Michael Petek is not a Christian in any sense of the word. A Christian finds a way through prayer to God to understand and forgive his/her enemies. A Christian renders what is Caesar’s, unto Caesar, by conceding that state power, such as Israel wields over Palestine with the help of the US and the UK and the EU, is a different issue to religious obligation.

    When I was a Christian it was inconcievable to me to mix faith with politics as MP does by calling the Israeli occupation of Palestine an unimpeachable right. When I was a Christian it was inconcievable to me to insult victims of injustice, who had done injustice to me, without finding an excuse for their behaviour to me.

    What we have in Michael Petek is an apostate Muslim. His technique is to apply the dogmatic certainty of a faith derived from true knowledge of a true book from Allah, to swivel-eyed opinions that are derived from swizzle-eyed Zionists, or anyone else he can find who expresses his hatred of Islam more virulently than himself. His tenacity at swiping at Islam on this blog is like a swine swistle pork sword in full screw.

    World sympathy at the plight of the beleaguered Palestinians is more than he can bear. Don’t worry, when the 19 million quid over five years from this government doesn’t materialise, like the twenty billion promised by Gordon Brown didn’t materialise, he will calm down and bask in the mud of business as usual international refusal to condemn aggression against Islam and Muslims. He is only angry that a few seconds of sympathy for Muslims is being shared by the world community because of the Israeli murders.

  • Michael Petek

    I’ve seen the video clip, and I say that I don’t care whether they are Jews or not, they are blasphemers and traitors.

    Anno, a Christian is someone who believes that the Christian religion is true, and that all others are false and sinful to practise except in the points in which they agree with Christianity.

    A Christian finds his way to God by receiving baptism and living a life of repentance from sins.

    Forgiveness for enemies is the normal disposition of the Christian in a private capacity, within wide limits which Hamas have exceeded.

    Hamas can have forgiveness once they stop persecuting Christians and believe as Christians do.

    Your problem, anno, is that you don’t identify the greater injustice: the conspiracy of aggressive war, the supreme international crime, by states such as Iran, to destroy Israel totally with Hamas aiding and abetting.

    A Christian is also someone who insists that it is an evil of the most extreme kind to take up arms for the purpose of imposing Islamic rule and shari’a law: (a) because Islam is a false religion; and (b) because it is a misuse of war, the nature of which is political and not religious.

  • Chris


    you really think that religious war is acceptable?

    You’re worse than those you rail against.

    Find me the bit where Jesus (you know – that peacenik hippie from Palestine) talks about war jusified in his name. I always got the impression that turning the other cheek and trying to maintain some moral high ground was the way forward.

  • Michael Petek

    I don’t believe that war is for religious purposes, but only for limited and temporal ones. The reason is that non-submission to the true religion is not a belligerable injustice, and non-submission to a false religion is not an injustice at all.

    If only one of the belligerents decides that it is, and that he must therefore wage war to enforce religious conformity, then there is a religious war whether his enemy likes it or not.

    So the enemy must respond in kind, meeting crescent with cross. The jihad always provokes the crusade.

    I’m not in favour of starting religious wars. But if one is upon me nevertheless, then I am in favour of finishing it.

    And if Hamas want to fight from behind the women and children they take as human shields, then let them first remove their own genitals, put them in the custody of the Red Crescent, and then come back and fight like women.

    Thou hast heard that it was said:

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, and the Jews will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the gharqad tree will not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Article 7, Hamas Charter).

    But verily, I say unto thee:

    “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Jews fight the men of Hamas and kill them, and the men of Hamas will hide behind human shields. These women and children will say O Jew, O soldier of David, there is a daughter of Isma’il behind me, come and kill her.”

  • Jon

    Michael, re my points [June 7, 2010 2:11 PM], you post more religious rubbish, and fail to answer them again.

    And, digging yourself into a hole so effectively, I don’t need to lend you my JCB! Hamas need to “believe as Christians do” by believe “all others [religions] are false”. Oh dear, oh dear. Don’t the Muslims think the same of you, with each of you reaching into history to prove that your religion is truer than the other?

    How about each set of followers believing that each person finds their right religion, and that in general each person finds a religion that is most culturally relevent? A moderate Muslim then may lead a good life, and get to his heaven by following the word of Muhammed, and a Christian by reading the teachings of Jesus, and so forth.

    It is not a good idea to stoke a religious war that kills real people, Michael, people like your mother, or your father, or your brother, or your uncle.

  • Chris


    you do realise that your religion was – most likely – conferred upon you only by virtue of where you were born, don’t you?

    If, by a twist of fate, you had been born in – let’s say – Iran or Syria or Pakistan then you would be shouting the same rubbish from the other side. That should be a sobering thought for you although I doubt you possess the self awareness to acknowledge it.

    You are, most certainly, not part of the solution here and until you recognise that then peace of any kind is distant dream.

  • Michael Petek

    See my previous post, Jon. Muslims have their religion, I have mine (mine being the true one), but I don’t get noisy about it until they do it first.

    And I won’t advocate smashing the skull of anyone who doesn’t draw a hostile sword first. Today it’s Hamas. Last decade it was the Serbs.

    See the website for something really refreshing.

  • Michael Petek

    Chris, the reason I’m a Christian today and not a Muslim is that my ancestors in Slovenia missed by a whisker being conquered by the Turks.

    If they had been, they’d have become either Muslims or slaughtered.

  • Chris

    So, Michael, – as they say – ‘There but for the grace of God’ etc…

    Your post surely proves my point.

    As religion seems to be as much of an accident of birth as ethnicity then claims to have the ‘true’ faith seems a hollow boast. Various peoples fall into various religions – usually not out of choice but by genetic accident. This is surely not a valid reason to wage war on each other.

    Which God do you actually hold to be the representative of this ‘true’ religion of yours. I only ask because your attitudes seem to be rooted in the Old Testament whereas Jesus was quite explicit about his god being one of Love that superceded the hateful, vengeful God of Hebrew scripture.

    The problem always seems to arise from selective reading of texts that appear mainly to be political and social documents suited to specific moments in history otherwise you will be anti-capitalist (usury), all for stoning adulterers to death and deeply suspicious of seafood and milk.

    If you do adhere to all the supposed rules then you must be seriously confused as to whether you should Love your neighbour or beat him to death. As a Christian one would have to hope that Love would come first but you seem to forget those particular (and crucial) teachings of Jesus.

    I wish you well but I fear for the road you are on and fervently wish you wouldn’t try and drag the rest of the world to hell with you.

  • anno

    ‘It is an evil of the most extreme kind to take up arms..’

    Well I’ve got better things to do with my life than grieve at George Bush and Tony Blair harnessing the entire world’s resources to destroy Islam. Why don’t you put your case to them?

  • Michael Petek

    You are talking out of your posterior, anno. My statement was:

    “A Christian is also someone who insists that it is an evil of the most extreme kind to take up arms for the purpose of imposing Islamic rule and shari’a law:

    (a) because Islam is a false religion; and;

    (b) because it is a misuse of war, the nature of which is political and not religious.”

    That is why Hamas are doing what they are doing.

    Not to expel Israel from Gaza.

    Not to lift the siege.

    Not to change the regime.

    But to destroy the state itself, and in common plan or conspiracy with at least Iran.

    Iran is to be the principal offender in the crime of aggression.

    Anyone who aids and abets Iran is an accessorial participant.

    In answer to your question, Chris, the true God is the God who has identified Himself as the Father of Jesus Christ.

    The problem is, Hamas have decided that they don’t want His message nor His mercy. That’s why they are His enemies and that’s why the Divine Mercy stops for them until they see the error of their ways. This of course will be their undoing and their destruction.

    He who takes the sword shall die by the sword.

  • Chris

    An interesting statement, Michael. He who lives by the sword…

    You seem to have failed to answer any of the questions – although I find no great surprise in that.

    I was enquiring more about how you define your God as better, or more real, than ‘their’ God. You see, if I was having this conversation with any member of any religion whose convictions were similar to yours I would get exactly the same reply with a different Prophet inserted. And that’s the problem. I doubt that you could genuinely convince yourself (let alone me or others here) that had you been born in Iran / Syria / Pakistan / etc, you would not be screaming about Christian / Zionist aggression and oppression whilst strapping explosives to yourself and setting off in the name of your ‘God’ to slaughter innocents from the other side.

    It’s very sad really. Having spent time in the Middle East and Israel in particular it’s fascinating to note how each side views the other. The man in the street – be it in Gaza or Tel Aviv – is a lovely human being that fervently believes the other to be a monster. Neither of course are right but both are badly served by religious and political leaders who see no benefit in peace.

    Your role seems to be as cheer-leader for destruction. You might want to rethink and recast your ideas of the other as something less than human. I’ve met them and they are certainly at least as human as you or me. Sowing the nasty little seeds of suspicion and destruction is neither Christian or Muslim and cannot sustain a satisfying life. Think before you spread hatred and please, please show a little of that Christianity you claim to espouse.

  • Michael Petek

    Chris, would you please stop extending my remarks about Hamas to cover all Muslims generally.

    I’ve lived and studied with all manner of people in my lifetime, including Muslims, and I’ve got on with them fine because I never met one who is a bloodthirsty savage like Hamas and other jihadist headbangers.

    But Hamas activists are such demented fanatics that I’m not optimistic that you can pacify them any time soon except by killing a third, expelling a third and converting a third. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good many Muslims agreed with me on this.

  • Jon

    @Michael – Hamas activists are a mix of fanatics and moderates, just as is the case with the Israeli establishment. Case in point: someone recently stood up in the Knesset to threaten a “shoah” (Holocaust) against the Palestinians. But, Michael, I expect you will defend that as well. Jesus’ good work, and all that.

    You have a faith, Muslims have a faith, and “proving” that one is truer than the other is impossible. And whilst you support and cheer all manner of Israeli violence, you regard the other side as “bloodthirsty savages”. May I blaspheme at your hypocrisy?

    Your religion, which in scientific terms stands a non-zero chance of being complete hogwash, is your blindspot. You are part of the problem, not part of the solution, just as the extremist parts of Hamas are. Get the log out of thine eye!

    Incidentally, I think I am done on this topic – you don’t appear to be listening.

  • Michael Petek

    This from Voice of the Copts, Jon:

    “Contrary to earlier reports, it has now been confirmed that the Muslim who murdered a Vatican official in Turkey last week did so for religious reasons.

    “Luigi Padovese, who represented the Vatican as Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia, Turkey, was murdered last week by his long-time driver, a Muslim extremist. It was originally reported that the murderer was insane, but it is now known that the murder was carried out for religious reasons.”

    Now do you believe they’re bloodthirsty savages?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The aim of all these fixated posts on multiple threads, I sense, is to divert the subject from a critique of the Israeli attack, and murder on the ships and that state’s actions more generally in relation to the Occupied territories, to a fruitless and rotatory discussion on religion and specifically, on Islam(ism).

    It’s really very obvious, as I sense Jon has pointed-out.

    One wonders whether similar dynamics have been extant across the political blogosphere. The information war.

  • Jon

    “Now do you believe they’re bloodthirsty savages?”

    No, I don’t: the errors in your logic are appalling. It moves from “I have an example of a Muslim being a bloodthirsty savage” and becomes “All Muslims are bloodthirsty savages”, with no supporting evidence.

    I am sure there is such a thing as a selfish Jewish money lender, but you would rightly call me anti-semitic if I called all Jewish people selfish money-lenders, wouldn’t you?

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