George Galloway…

•January 17, 2009 • 4 Comments

…. and I have not always seen eye to eye, but after watching his speech on Gaza in the House of Parliament he has gone some way to redeeming himself.   He brought a tear to my eye.  You fucking tell them, George.

 

Ich Bin Ein Palestinian – A Report from the London Demo, by Ali T.

•January 12, 2009 • 5 Comments
An account written by a friend of mine, Ali,  of the 10/01/09 (STWC) Gaza demonstration at London Hyde Park/Israeli Embassy.  Reprinted here with permission.

On the train from Durham to London, I had several hours to contemplate the perceived ineffectualness of protests, such as the latest I was about to attend; that many people will, as always, ask ‘how are you going to change anything?’; that it will be seen as no more than a charitable gesture.  When faced with such questions and perceptions, many of which meander in and out of the realms of apathy, I remember the words of the Jewish Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”.   Moreover, I remind myself of the reasons why thousands have decided to march in the same direction, in defiance of the same injustices and in support of a people, many of whom would doubtless extend to us the same courtesy, as human beings, should we be in their shoes and they be in ours.

What should be noted is that not only do we protest about the atrocities of the last fortnight, but the horrors inflicted upon the people of Palestine for over 60 years. In the spirit of ‘not forgetting’, it must be made clear that such atrocities are intertwined, as for generations; both oppressor and victim have remained the same, as has the indifference and support to the former, by our own governments.  While Israel plays the same old ‘victim card’, all too easily forgotten are the 250 Palestinians exterminated at Deir Yassin in 1948, the hundreds murdered at Lydda, Ramla and Eilabun in the same year, to mention but a few of many instances of ethnic cleansing.   All too easily forgotten is the subsequent sacking of over 400 Palestinian villages and the depopulation of their inhabitants.   All too easily forgotten, is the sobering fact that since the start of the last century, the state of Palestine has been gradually eaten away in the name of the ‘repopulating the rightful home of the Jewish people’.   Inevitably this has meant the systematic depopulation of the Palestinian people, who had called Palestine ‘home’ for hundreds of years. In 1917, 97.5% of the region constituted Palestinian land.   As of 2006, Palestinians could barely call 13% of the same region ‘home’.

There are some who would prefer to consign the earlier atrocities to the history books in the name of ‘fresh starts’ and disassociation.  More recent Israeli atrocities however, are far less easily consignable to the archives of shame: The 15,000 Lebanese civilians massacred in the Israeli invasion of 1982 and the 1,000 killed in the more recent 2006 conflict, roughly a third of whom were under the age of 13, according to UNICEF.  Dare the apologists and appeasers forget the Sabra & Shatila massacre in the same year of the first invasion of Lebanon, which left almost 4000 dead in its wake?  Dare they forget the massacre of 110 refugees at Qana over a decade later?  Dare they forget the hundreds butchered at Jenin in 2002?  How dare they?  The answer is anyone’s guess.  On the 2nd January 2009, the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni rejected a call for a ceasefire to allow passage of aid into Gaza and in doing so, declared: “there is no humanitarian crisis”.  10 days on, and an estimated 900 Palestinians, most of them civilians and a large percentage of them women and children have been butchered, thousands injured and the rest of the population of the concentration camp which is Gaza, denied aid and urgent supplies.  This, in the name of retaliation against a ceasefire that Israel and the Hawks in Washington and Downing Street all too eagerly claim that Palestine broke by firing rockets into its territories in late December 2008, when in-fact the ceasefire was broken by Israel on the 4th and 17th of November 2008 respectively, leaving 10 Palestinians dead, ironically the same number that Hamas have killed in the ensuing invasion by Israel compared to the aforementioned 900 killed by the IDF. How dare they?

And so we protest. At Hyde Park alone, I stood among an estimated 100,000 people in the bitter cold, some of whom clambered over the bare branches of trees to catch a glimpse of guest speakers, who included Annie Lennox, Brian Eno and the Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen.   As these thousands and more marched in the direction of the Israeli embassy at Kensington, cries of “Palestine, don’t you cry – we will never let you die” and “Free, free Palestine” drowned out sporadic bursts of religious zeal among Muslim attendees, proving that these and other act of solidarity are not part of some ‘greater battle between Islam and Judaism’, but simply an acknowledgement of atrocities rained down on the Palestinian people by an Israeli regime that does not support the best interests or wishes of her own people, let alone those who suffer in Gaza.

As night fell, following inspirational speeches by the likes of Tariq Ali and George Galloway, which marked the end of the rally at Kensington, I came to realise that such a heartfelt and passionate protest was not simply intended to call for a stop to the Israeli offensive.  Even when the bombs stop dropping, when the blood stops pouring from the heart of a nation as freely as it has for the past fortnight – every single innocent life, taken in the name of everything that is the antithesis of ‘justice’ and ‘freedom, has to be accounted for.  The indifferent and complicit, as well as the directly accountable, must answer for this genocide; and if they don’t – our collective voices should continue to rise.  The world must never forget what has happened in Gaza and easily it might.  As I stood in Kings Cross station, Sky News provided its own report on the day’s proceedings.  They, as a large portion of our so-called ‘free press’ has done, chose to focus on the isolated incidents of violence; the shoes thrown in the spirit of Muntadar al-Zaidi; the sporadic cries of ‘Allahu Akbar’, instead of that which constituted the main protest.

On the train back from London to Durham, my feelings on the outwards journey were not only vindicated, but strengthened.  That over one hundred thousand men, women and children marched in the same direction, irrespective of creed, colour, age or nationality; that the very notions of ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’, transcended such divisions, cemented for me the reality that freedom is not necessarily freedom from iron shackles, but freedom of the mind.  Such freedom gives these marching thousands moral license to paraphrase these immortal words: ‘All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Palestine, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words –  ‘Ich Bin Ein Palestinian’.”

Plymouth Protests Disgraceful BBC Gaza Reporting

•January 7, 2009 • 4 Comments

Despite the freezing cold, 50 or so people attended another protest in Plymouth at Charles Cross this evening in response to the ongoing slaughter in Gaza. Once again, it was obvious from the abundant beeps of support from passing motorists that a great many people are disgusted by the ongoing aggression of the Israeli military. After the rush hour traffic had died down, a sizeable contingent of us then headed for the BBC building on Seymour Road, to register our displeasure at the biased reporting of the British Broadcasting Corporation. For more on the BBC’s shameful one-sided reporting, read http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9307

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Read more about media bullshit and propoganda at http://medialens.org/index.php (click on ‘message board’)

Solidarity With Gaza from Plymouth

•January 4, 2009 • 1 Comment

About 40 or so people took part in a vigil today in Plymouth, to show solidarity with the people of Gaza, and to protest the inhumane bombing and invasion by the Israeli military. The turnout was especially heartening as the event was called at very short notice, with it only being organised last night on finding out that Israel’s ground forces had entered the Gaza Strip. Also encouraging was the great number of beeps of support from passing motorists, far more than I have ever heard at previous events. It is obvious that a huge number of people are outraged and disgusted with the actions of Israel this past week or so. A further vigil is planned for 5.30pm at Charles Cross on Wednesday evening.

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STOP THE KILLING. END THE OCCUPATION. JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE NOW.

Slaughter In Gaza

•January 2, 2009 • 7 Comments

I am finding it hard to find the words to describe the horror and anger I feel about the current Israeli killing spree in the Gaza Strip.  Everything about it enrages me.  As I write, over 400 Palestinians have been slaughtered in Israeli bombing raids, of which an estimated 100 are women and children, with a further substantial number being ordinary policemen and traffic cops.   In contrast the Israeli dead from Palestinian rocket attacks in recent weeks can be counted on one hand, with the total over the last eight years counting about 25.   This massive disparity in casualty figures is truly stunning, and reveals the brutal indifference of the Israeli occupation forces to Palestinian life.   In pictorial form, with full stops representing single deaths, last weeks ‘conflict’ would look a little something like this –

Hamas has killed    –  . . . . .

Israel has killed      –  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And quite disgracefully this reality is not being reflected by our mainstream media, who are generally reporting this as a conflict between two equals.  There has been a quite shameful absence of critical thinking, notably in the “impartial”  BBC, with Israeli propoganda often being relayed without question, or without balance.  This is the same BBC that challenged the Orwellian Newspeak of the Russians during the conflict with Georgia, and who routinely adopt a sceptical tone when reporting the words and deeds of other governments, such as Zimabawe, China, or Burma.   Unsurprisingly, this sceptical tone is  rediscovered when they deem to report something that “Hamas says”.

Another quite remarkable aspect of the BBC’s reporting of this atrocity is that they can hardly bring themselves to use the word ‘atrocity’!  A quick google search for “bbc gaza atrocity” brings up  two references to “atrocites” from Aunty Beeb about current events.  One is a reference from an eye-witness who  witnessed atrocities, and the other is an interview with UN special rapporteur Richard Falk who tells the BBC that  the Israeli’s are committing atrocities.  Yet the BBC do not relay this in their other reports.   This despite  ex-US  President Jimmy Carter , among others, calling the Israeli policy in Gaza “a crime and atrocity” as far back as April 2008.

Little is said of the blockade of the Gaza Strip for the last 2 years, or of the fact that Hamas won a democratic election, and is currently in control of what is, in effect, an open-air concentration camp.    And while it is often said that Israel “withdrew from Gaza” in 2005, it is rarely if ever reported that Israel remains in control of the air, and the land and coastal borders.  After Hamas’s election victory, former Israeli Prime Minister’s aide Dov Weisglass claimed Palestinians would be   put on a diet“.   Israel  only permits items into Gaza that they deem “essential,” and hundreds have died due to a shortage of medical supplies, and not being provided with permits to reach places with better medical provision.

Israel’s aerial bombardment has brought to a head the urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza.  As has been the case for months Gazans are short on blankets, cooking gas and candles, among other essential items.   And yet unbelievably, Israeli Foreign Minister  Tzipi Livni has the sheer inhumanity to claim that  there is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.” 

Seemingly to her, and those like her, Palestinians are not human.   In a different time and place, they would be untermensch presumably…

 

Being 36 – Start Wearing Purple

•November 29, 2008 • 3 Comments

I turned 36 last week.  It would seem that time goes faster as you get older.  It certainly doesn’t feel like a year since I wrote about my 35th birthday.  How did I get so old?

Anyway, I had another exceptional birthday.  You’d think nothing could come close to matching a surprise party, but you would be mistaken.   This year I had fun in a  room full of strangers, enjoying the tremendously life-affirming music of Gogol Bordello.   Again, my profound thanks are extended to the gorgeous girlfriend, who acquired the tickets, and without whose company the evening would not have been nearly half as enjoyable.

 

Spinning Plates

•November 7, 2008 • 2 Comments

I can’t believe it has been nearly a whole year since I last regularly updated this blog.  Unfortunately, I am a creature of passion, and it would seem that for the past 11 months my passions have lay elsewhere.  Sorry about that, dear reader, whomever you are.

So, what have I been up to then?  Not a great deal to be honest.  A few demo’s and actions that you can read all about over on the TP Tamarians blog, a change of job which I am sure is not very interesting, my brother has come back from the Falklands, I have read some cool books, been to the odd gig, failed to stop smoking, learnt to eat some previously unknown vegetables, and I have managed to avoid being dumped by the gorgeous girlfriend.  Truth told though, much of my online time, and the main reason for my absence from here over the last several months, has been taken up with promoting peace and understanding through the medium of Facebook, with inconclusive results.

I have been embroiled in debates and discussions with members of the Armed Forces, both US and UK, and their families and supporters.  It all started with my joining a group called “Soldiers Are Not Heroes”, which I quickly discovered was supposed to be a parody of other groups glorifying all things armed and uniformed.  Sadly, the creators of this group had no wish to build bridges between soldiers and those with strong views against war and society’s fetishisation of the military.  This group attracted hundreds of members of the Armed Forces and their acolytes, and generally enraged them, bringing, in my humble opinion, the anti-war movement into serious disrepute.  I made it my mission to try and prove that not all ‘hippies’ are wankers. 

Facebook has millions of people using it, and it would seem it is the communication method of choice for large numbers of soldiers and their loved ones.  Eventually, in a likely futile attempt to make common cause between hippies and soldiers against the mendacious bastards in government, I was driven to create my own group called SHAT for Short – Soldiers and Hippies Against Twattery.  It was to be an experiment in mutual understanding and reasoned dialogue.  88 members and several months later, here I am, wondering why I bothered my shirt. 

Successes were few, though satisfying.  Through the group, soldiers learnt of the white poppy, some army wives even took to wearing them, and there were many meandering debates with serving soldiers about Iraq, Afghanistan, Trident nuclear weapons, and the liars in government.  We talked about freedom of speech, SOCPA, Brian Haw, Russia, Iran, the neo-cons, 9/11, WMD, sanctions, the UN, rules of engagement, international law, concientious objection, the anti-war movement and of course, football.  If only a few soldiers took away the message I tried to hammer home, that anti-war activists care more about the well-being of soldiers than any number of government ministers, then my time was not entirely wasted.  Yet I fear the fruits of my labour do not do justice to the effort put in.  Which is a shame.

Still, there is always hope.  Many words were said that may reverberate in minds for a long time to come.

This song kinda sums up how I feel right now about the whole thing –

Peace out x