Moment of moral truth


Jan EgelandAs we write this editorial, United Nations relief coordinator Jan Egeland has condemned the destruction caused by Israeli airstrikes in Beirut as a 'violation of humanitarian law'. Meanwhile the website of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leads with his proclamation to the Members of Knesset: "This is a National Moment of Truth".

If the microphone had been left on during a conversation between George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, we might have heard words of praise from the US President - "Nice work" perhaps. What we did hear in the actual electronic gaffe was equally disturbing. As The Observer put it on Sunday, "When Tony Blair offers himself as a Middle East peace envoy, he is casually rebuffed by the American President between bites on a bread roll". Bush tells him: "Condi is going". A moment of truth.

This is a National Moment of TruthThe effort to evacuate Australians was a distraction for Australia's leaders. Still, Alexander Downer was was quick to justify Israel's actions: "They are trying to destroy Hezbollah, which is trying, in turn, to destroy Israel". That was before we heard the UN's Jan Egeland describe the results of those efforts as a "violation of international humanitarian law". We expect to hear Downer develop his view during the course of the week.

In this issue of Eureka Street, Andrew Hamilton identifies the cost as the diminishment of humanity of both the agents and the victims of the violence. He says humanity also requires a certain standard in the conditions of daily life for the citizens of a country. Human dignity suffers in the face of poverty and insecurity, in various measures, in Lebanon, Palestine and Israel.

Israel 'would accept' peace forceIn another article, Muath Amayreh of the Australian National University regrets that Israel's actions will cause a deviation in the attempts of many Arabs and Muslims to understand the Western World. In fear, he is moved to quote the response of the prophet Kahil Gibran when asked about good and evil: "When good is hungry it seeks food in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead water".

This edition also sees the welcome return of Anthony Ham, a Eureka Street contributor of many years standing who looks at some of the poorest nations of the world; Jack Waterford, who gives us his take on events in Canberra in his Capital Letter; Morag Fraser, former editor, on the images that have stayed with her in a week of madness and bloodshed, and Brian Matthews, author, critic, and sage, who spins his globe of memory, and is surprised at what he finds.


This is the sixth online issue of Eureka Street. Changes have been coming thick and fast for the magazine, and there are more to come. We have been taking on board the comments and criticisms of our readers, and have been working towards making a better site since the day we pressed the publish button for the first time. Some of the changes we have made, or will continue to make, have and will include easier access to the PDF of the edition; a Breaking News section, which will continue to grow into one of the central features of the site; an archive of the work of our cartoonist, Chris Johnston; and an ever-growing archive of back issues.

Some of the articles in Eureka Street will soon be locked. When this occurs, only our subscribers will be able to access all of our archives, the PDF of the edition, and every article we publish in each edition. We will continue to work to provide material for both our casual readers and our subscribers, but there will soon be some articles that cannot be accessed by non-subscribers. All subscribers, if they have not been provided with a password, will receive one in the coming weeks.



submit a comment

Existing comments

The poll above: Australia should make the first move as we can be really responsible only for ourselves. If not Australia, the United Nations, ceratinly not USA or UK who have done only harm in the Middle East for too long.
Toni Pride | 25 July 2006

The Editor

Dear Sir / Madam,

Qana, or Cana, in South Lebanon is likely to be the Biblical town where, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding feast.

Last night, Qana was defiled, when neither water nor wine flowed, but the blood of 54 innocent civilians, 37 of them children, their lives extinguished by the Israeli bombs they sought refuge from at the basement of a residential apartment.

Will those avowedly Christian-minded leaders like Bush, Blair, and even Howard, now blink at the notion of an immediate ceasefire? If the Geneva Conventions (esp re the protection of civilians during times of war) and the UN Charter don't make much sense to them, how about some elementary New Testament morality and compassion?

S. Partoredjo
S. Partoredjo | 31 July 2006


Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up