Ceasefire, weekend links and an extended worst tabloid article of the weekend.
The cynicism of this is obvious. This was always a war of Israel's choosing, and now it's ended it in the same way. It leaves Gaza devastated, 1,200 of its citizens killed and over 5,000 injured, and Israel has to all intents and purposes completely got away with it. It's thumbed its nose at the UN, mocked world opinion and made the world's media seethe, even while they reported all of the Israeli government's open propaganda and treated it as gospel. The siege seems unlikely to be lifted, Gaza's tunnels which helped those trapped in the territory to live have been destroyed, and all the funding to rebuild will once again have to come from international donors. How much more does it have to take before we declare Israel to be a rogue state, which is what it has quite clearly become?
On that thought, we may as well keep the theme and go with other comment on Israel and Gaza. A piece a couple of days old but still superb is Flying Rodent's channelling of the spirit of Ehud Olmert, Back Towards the Locus reports on a local protest, while Robert Fisk, Deborah Orr and DD Guttenplan on his reluctance to join last Saturday's march provide the MSM comment.
Elsewhere, Mr E, the Heresiarch and Jennie Rigg all mourn John Mortimer, Derek Draper rather ruins any pretence that LabourList is anything other than a stitch-up by his attitude towards Tim, the Bleeding Heart Show comments on the Tories' Low Carbon Economy green paper and Laurie Penny relates another meeting with our glorious Work and Pensions minister, James Purnell. In the papers, there's little of note other than Matthew Parris on speaking out before it's too late, and Howard Jacobson ruminating on the difference between a silly lad and a murderous racist.
As for the worst tabloid piece of the weekend, we truly are spoilt for choice. There's the Mail's charming description of the murder trial of Meredith Kercher, which it calls the "Foxy Knoxy show" on its front page, despite Kercher's own parents' attempts to have the trial held behind closed doors to prevent sensitive evidence being published and to retain their dead daughter's dignity. It seems remarkable the difference between the Mail's attitudes to trials in this country, which it seems hardly likely to have described in such terms even if someone as supposedly "glamourous" as the always referred to by nickname Amanda Knox was in the dock, and ones taking place abroad. It's almost as if it seems to imagine that because it's happening in Italy that Kercher's parents either have no feelings or inclination to see what the media at home is saying, let alone what Kercher's friends think about the way the media has reported her death.
The Mail though is notorious for not caring about things like intruding into grief. Any paper that was would surely have not published today's truly revolting comment by Amanda Platell, who of out all the other things she could have written about chose to focus her main energy on the tragic death of Rachel Ward, who died of hypothermia after apparently falling into a river. According to Platell, rather than this being a tragic accident, it's instead indicative "of the lives of many middle-class young women". Variously, her death seems to have been down to the following facts: firstly, that she was middle class, and therefore should have known better than to have been taking part in such working class pursuits as going on a skiing holiday and drinking whilst on it; secondly, that her friends abandoned her when she decided to go back to where she was staying on her own, therefore it's their fault too; and finally, that it's actually neither her own fault nor her friends' fault, but rather the fault of equality:
Sadly, in a world where women have fought for generations for equality, where they insist on their independence, where drunkenness and debauchery are actively encouraged, you can’t really blame a young man for failing to act chivalrously.
Yes, Rachel’s death was tragedy — but it was an accident waiting to happen.
There you are then girls - you weren't fighting for equal rights, you were in fact fighting for the right to die alone in a freezing river, because Amanda Platell says so. What a despicable cunt.
Amazingly, that isn't the worst tabloid piece of the weekend. Peter Hitchens has a reasonable effort too, claiming that "poverty is a lie the left uses to destroy the middle class". Good, but no cigar. No, the award must instead go to Julie Burchill, who writes a quite wonderful defence of George W. Bush in the Sun. Strangely, in her case for what a brilliant president he's been, the words "Iraq", "Afghanistan", "Abu Ghraib", "Guantanamo", "rendition" and many others which you can fill in yourselves don't make an appearance. No, instead Burchill concentrates on how he brilliant he's been for Africa (half-true, he has massively increased aid but also insisted on abstinence programmes to deal with AIDS), how brilliant he's been for black people, thanks to his promotion of first Colin Powell (who was ignored and sidelined and so enamoured with the Republicans that he endorsed Obama) and then Condoleezza Rice, doing so much that apparently without those two Obama couldn't have won the presidency, and finally how he signed "the Worker, Retiree and Employer Act which allows the rollover of pensions from a dead gay person to a partner without tax consequences — as has always been the case for straights". No mention of how he opposes gay marriage and how when asked whether he thought homosexuality was a choice answered that "he didn't know". With friends like Julie, who exactly needs enemies?