Stop underplaying Hamas’s rocket attacks.

July 11, 2014

Those innocent lives lost as a result of Israeli attacks on perceived Hamas locations in Gaza are not the victims of just one side, they are the victims of both sides and the fact that both leaderships find it easier to hurl rockets at each other, to provoke each other, than they do to negotiate a settlement that protects all civilians in the region. They are the victims of the failures of leadership not just in Israel and Palestine, but the international community also. Too often, those seeking to highlight the plight of the Palestinians and the misery caused by occupation and bombings, try hard to underplay the misery caused by those in groups like Hamas seeking to kill as many as possible.

A couple of days ago, Mohammed Ansar posted this:

mopalestine
– I see variants of this theme all too often. The image of an apparent Hamas rocket on a barely scratched road implies a pathetically inconsequential capability from the group. When Ansar chooses a picture of a charred road, rather than a picture of dead or injured Israelis to highlight what happens when a rocket from Gaza strikes Israel, he does so consciously, the image of one rather than the other is chosen for a purpose, and so the image Ansar shared works only to dehumanise those victims of Hamas’s rockets in the past, and the recent terror inflicted upon those in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Eshkol, Sderot and more, by subtly hinting that those rockets do no real damage. Ansar then posted pictures of the bodies of victims of Israeli bombs in Gaza. This works to downplay the horrific consequences of rocket fire by Hamas (dismissed as a charred road), whilst highlighting the horrific consequences of the bombings by Israel. The political motivation of such a hideously manipulative tactic, is fuel for the fire of groups like Hamas, and when emulated on the opposite side, fuel for the fire of religious fanatics in Israel.

Contrary to Mo Ansar implying impotence of Hamas rocket fire, between 2001 and 2012, 64 people have been killed by Hamas’s rockets and hundreds more injured, whilst over 4000 in Sderot alone are treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In 2004, a nursery school in Sderot was the victim of a Qassam rocket, that killed Mordechai Yosepov, 49, and Afik Zahavi, 4. Hamas then claimed responsibility for an attack that wounded 30 and killed Yuval Abebeh, 4, and Dorit Benisian, 2 in Sderot.

In July 2006, the town of Ashkelon was hit when a rocket from Gaza struck a school – empty at the time, thankfully – and destroyed classrooms. In March 2008, again in Ashkelon, a rocket injured seven people. In May 2008, another rocket into Ashkelon hit a shopping mall, with four treated for severe injuries, 15 for minor injuries and 87 for shock. Most shockingly in Ashkelon, Iman Shefi – a Palestinian woman from Beit Lahiya – was in an Israeli hospital in Ashkelon, having given birth to two premature babies. Whilst in hospital, Hamas rockets were fired directly at it. Shefi said:

“I was scared that the rockets would hit the Ashkelon hospital where my two babies are.”

– Given the awful situation that Iman Shefi and her children (who are both safe and well) found themselves in, and being from Gaza too, she showed real class and integrity, and a sense of common cause with those affected by Hamas’s bombs in Israel when she said:

“I dream that my children will not have to go through what I have had to, that they will grow up in an era of peace. I pray that the residents of Sderot will not be angry with us. I sympathize with their suffering and don’t want them to be harmed, but we are victims as well. We have no control over the Hamas. They do as they please, in contradiction of the Quran. I do not want the Hamas in power, but I am not sure that Abu Mazen can stop the shooting.”

– Hamas do not care the heritage, or age of those they purposely hurl rockets at. The aim is to kill.

On March 18th 2010, a rocket claimed by both Ansar al-Sunna, and Fatah’s militant wing, al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades killed Thai national Manee Singmueangphon. He was working at an agricultural community in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Fifty other Thai nationals were treated for shock.

On April 7th 2011, Hamas shot a Kornet anti-tank missile at a school bus in southern Israel, killing 16 year old Daniel Viflic. On August 20th 2011, Hamas fired 64 rockets into Gaza, in which 500,000 people rushed to bomb shelters, and 38-year-old Yossi Shoshan of the town of Ofakim, and on his way to ensure his 9 month pregnant wife was safe, ended up killed. The same day, a four month old baby was badly wounded, as well as a 9 year old boy. On October 29th 2011, Moshe Ami of Ashkelon was killed after suffering serious shrapnel wounds as a result of a rocket sent from Gaza by Hamas.

Between March 9th – 15th 2012, Hamas and other groups in Palestine fired 300 grad missiles into Israel. In less than a week. 23 people were injured, 11 whilst fleeing in terror, for cover. on October 12th, the militant “Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem” fired a rocket into Israel, which exploded in the garden of a family home, and sent shrapnel into a child’s bedroom. Two were taken to hospital for acute stress reaction. A little over a month later, on November 15th 2012, Mirah Scharf (25), Itzik Amsalem (24), and Aharon Smadja (49) were killed by a rocket attack on an apartment in Kiryat Malachi. Mirah Scharf was a female emissary to New Delhi in India, and had come to Israel to give birth, when she was murdered by terrorists. Ahron Smadja was a father to an eight month old baby girl. The residents of the building were running for any cover they could find, as the rockets flew over, killing three of them.

As well as Mo Ansar, Owen Jones writing for the Guardian says:

“The macabre truth is that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life.”

– He then goes on to reverse his point:

“Israel under renewed Hamas attack”: this was last night’s BBC headline on the escalating bloodshed in Gaza. It is as perverse as Mike Tyson punching a toddler, followed by a headline claiming that the child spat at him.”

– All those killed, injured or terrified mentioned above over the years, are flippantly dismissed here as similar to the inconsequential spit of a child on a heavyweight boxer.

Let’s stop playing the “who kills the most” game, because it isn’t a game. Each civilian death must be regarded as an unacceptable tragedy regardless of which side of the border they happen to reside, for any serious discussion on peace to be workable. Each death is the responsibility of the leadership on both sides. Each death reaffirms the failures of the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, along with the international community, in coming to a negotiated settlement. The partisans who post insensitive and dehumanising comparisons like the one above, work only to provide fuel for those who seek no peaceful resolution, believing their side to be the sole victims of the aggressive opposite, when the reality is that both leaderships – for decades – shoulder the blame as the people they are supposed to be protecting continue to suffer.

Advertisements

The Blue Eyes of Saudi Arabia

September 14, 2013

Try to imagine for a second how you would react, how you would feel, and how every day would be for you and your family, if you were born with blue eyes, in a Country that not only viciously stigmatised those with blue eyes as an unforgivable perversion against nature, but that nation also tortured, and sometimes executed those caught with blue eyes.

Try to imagine, if the basis for the hate directed at you for having blue eyes, was a 7th Century book of myths. That, because that 7th century book of myths told a story of a city that God burnt to the ground for being full of people with blue eyes, even though that story has no basis in historical fact, you would forever be linked with the inhabitants of that city, and considered the enemy of God, regardless of the content of your character.

The Saudi Arabia UN Delegation made this plea to the UN earlier this year:

“Moreover, the Human Rights Council in last June condemned the Syrian regime on the violations of the Syrian people human rights. Any delay from the international community to take action means more suffering for the helpless Syrian people helpless.”

– It would seem from the rhetoric that Saudi Arabia cares deeply for applying international pressure for the sake of human rights. But it is quite simple to turn this Saudi call for action in Syria for human rights abuses, right back around to face Saudi Arabia itself. And the Delegation would be correct; any delay from the international community to take action in Saudi Arabia over its horrific record on human rights, means more suffering for the victims of the crime family that currently rules that country.

One simple paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 offers a prime example of just why politically religious folk should never be allowed power over the apparatus of a State, nor over the lives of its inhabitants especially its children, in an enlightened World. The barbaric nature of their law:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– It seems almost as if this is an attempt at an ironic art work. Because for a faith that believes their Prophet flew on a very fast magic flying horse to heaven and met Jesus, to claim to be able to speak confidently on anything pertaining to ‘sound nature’ is either an ironic art work, or the start of the most hypocritical speech in religious history. When it comes to the “unnatural”… religions have that one covered almost exclusively.

Either way, that one nasty paragraph – that completely misunderstands ‘sound nature’ – should be enough for those who profess to believe in the cause of social justice and human rights, to focus the majority of their time and efforts on freedom for Saudi Arabia. Currently, students are banned from school and university, if they are suspected of being gay. It isn’t just intense and violent homophobia today in Saudi Arabia that is the problem, it is the systematic attempts to instill into the vulnerable minds of children, that hate is acceptable. It is an attempt to poison those vulnerable minds with violent witchcraft and the acceptability of oppression rather than universal rights and biological fact.

For some odd reason, we do not treat this blatant abuse of the most fundamental rights, in the same way we would if we were to exchange the word “homosexuality” in the above, to “having blue eyes“. Both are part of a natural spectrum that we have no control over, and yet they are treated completely differently, despite being very similar. I would suggest that if the above paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks were to specify punishment for those with blue eyes, instead of homosexuality, there would be far more outrage both for the country in question, and the faith that spawned it. Here:

“Having blue eyes is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for persons with blue eyes, is death. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that those with blue eyes are to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– This paragraph, if enshrined into a Nation’s law, should not shock us anymore than when it said Homosexuality, and yet I am certain that it would. The ‘companions of the Prophet’ would be ignored as a product of their time not to be taken seriously today. I am certain that the World would act to ensure that a scientifically as well as historically untrue basis for such a law, were thoroughly discredited and pressure exerted to ensure the law never made it to any statute book, as a grave abuse of basic human rights.

But, when it is applied to homosexuality, it is often dismissed as a “cultural” difference by cultural relativists whose respect for the dignity of life and individual rights, are not universally applied and must come second when considered alongside violent Theocratic considerations. Tradition seems more important than rights. As if tradition and ‘cultural differences’ are an acceptable excuse for the fact that in the year 2000, Saudi Arabia executed three Yemen men for what it deemed the:

“…obscenity of homosexuality and imitating women.”

– By ‘imitating women’, I’m guessing they don’t mean having to cover everything with the exception of hands and eyes, and another male having ‘guardianship’ rights over her, like a piece of property, nor married off to dirty old men at the age of 9.
In 2005 over 100 men were arrested and sentenced to flogging for:

“behaving like women.”

In 2002, three men were beheaded for being gay.
In 2007, two gay men were sentenced to 7000 lashes, for being gay.
– However we dress it up; this is torture and murder and it is a flagrant disregard for even the most basic of rights; to life itself. We cannot imagine the fear that gay men and women must face every day in Saudi Arabia. Religion does not prevent homosexuality, just like religion would not prevent blue eyes. Because religion has no explanation for nature. It has unsubstantiated, tribal myths, and nothing more. And when nature outgrows religious explanation, religion resorts to violently repressing nature, instead of looking inward and accepting it might be the faith that is flawed.

Gay Palestinian men often risk their lives fleeing into Israel, where they feel far safer and respected, than in the deeply illiberal, Theocratic Palestinian territories. According to a BBC World Service Outlook report, one man fled Gaza to Israel after his family found out that he was gay. The man said that police in Palestine had beat and tortured him.

In 2011, police in Afghanistan publicly humiliated a man dressed in women’s clothes. The victim is seen on film with eyes tearing up as the officers humiliate him. The man says:

“Please have mercy, don’t make fun of me.”

In 1998 in the southern town of Kandahar, the Taliban ordered three gay men buried, with their heads sticking out of the ground, and a wall pushed on top of them by a tank… for the crime of being gay.

The Iranian Constitution states:

“Sodomy is a crime, for which both partners are punished. The punishment is death if the participants are adults, of sound mind and consenting; the method of execution is for the Shari’a judge to decide.”

– Imagine the international backlash, if that Constitution noted that “having blue eyes is a crime“. This constitutional addition has lead to 4000 gay men and women stoned, hanged, beheaded, thrown alive from tall buildings, and set on fire, as legally sanctioned punishments for being gay in Iran. But, because the precedent is set in certain Hadith, for some odd reason it takes on a form of respectability and credibility that those who aren’t Muslim, seem to feel must be respected to a degree. Why? It isn’t acceptable, and the words and deeds of religious figures that give these punishments the life they have, are also completely unacceptable.
One Hadith in question is particularly grotesque and must be condemned as such:

“Narated By Abdullah ibn Abbas : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.”

– If God creates people who happen to be gay, or who have blue eyes, and then demands stigmatising and punishment for those people, it is extremely problematic to label this God anything but a being that enjoys playing violent games with human lives, like rearing ants so that eventually you can point a ray of burning light through magnifying glass at them, and still demand that those tortured ants worship you for such ‘mercy’. This is a cruel Being with no redeeming features.

Secondly, there is no Qur’anic law or rule demanding the murder or torture of gay people (A similar thing cannot be said for the Bible). We could of course point to Sodom – in both the Bible & Qur’an – but, given that no evidence has ever surfaced to suggest this story is based in fact; it’d be like using Narnia for evidence that kids and lions make excellent rulers. And so if any law comes from the (completely unsubstantiated; as all Hadith are) words or deeds of the Prophet, I’m afraid those Muslims who endorse such man made laws, that in no way relate to the Qur’an, are guilty of a sort of idol worship, which of course is a grave sin for that particular faith. It is only through completely unreliable Hadith – reflecting the prejudices and scientific, and social ignorance of the time and place, along with the imperial structure of that particular time and place in history – that gay men and women in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations are persecuted so horrifically.

Whilst every move Israel makes is remarked upon, condemned, and watched with an unmovable eye from both Western Muslims, and a vast portion of those on the Galloway-Left whose ‘cultural relativist’ position is strangely less active when it involves Israel; the most vile regime in Saudi Arabia quietly carries out public lashings, torture and executions of anyone who doesn’t fit its very narrow vision of what it’s 7th Century book demands, with very little real anger from the rest of the World.

My position is quite simple. If your religious text claims universal and timeless truth, upon which it advocates death for any natural trait, be it homosexuality, or blue eyes… your religious text should not be taught to children, should not be allowed to influence policy, should be criticised, shamed, and satirised at every possible opportunity, and deserves not a single shred of respect. Any Nation that puts that text into political practice, must be the focus of united international condemnation from those who claim to have even an ounce of respect for the dignity of human rights and social justice. There is no acceptable excuse for the torture, and murder of anyone with blue eyes.


The Grant Shapps Embarrassment.

September 12, 2013

The Conservative Party must be thoroughly embarrassed with their Chairman this week. Grant Shapps has not only begun an ill-informed argument with an informed UN Official and international housing expert of 30 years experience, appointed by the UN, for her vital report into the horror of the Bedroom Tax, he did so with what seems to be completely invented reasoning.

Upon reading the report by the UN special rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik into the dehumanising, and poverty-inducing effects of the Bedroom Tax, Shapps said:

“It is completely wrong and an abuse of the process for somebody to come over, to fail to meet with government ministers, to fail to meet with the department responsible, to produce a press release two weeks after coming, even though the report is not due out until next spring, and even to fail to refer to the policy properly throughout the report.”

– This is almost entirely ill-informed, and wrong. Raquel Rolnik absolutely did meet with not only DWP officials, but also two Ministers to discuss the report, neither of which had any problem with her “coming over” to conduct research. Not only that, but she acted well within her remit. There is no debate. She’s right, and he’s having an ill-conceived tantrum.

Secondly, Shapps complains that she isn’t using the name of the policy properly. What he means by this is, the “Spare Room Subsidy”. A name that no one uses, because it is a brazen insult to the intelligence of the electorate. A name that isn’t actually based on anything remotely reasonable, because there is no law that grants a subsidy based on a spare room. So the manipulative name is simply what Conservatives wishing to water down the damaging effects of the policy wish to call it. The rest of us don’t. He can whinge that we’re all not willing to polish his turd, and insist that it has a “proper name” all he wants. No one has to accept that name as fact. Rolnik is entitled to call it whatever she feels it is, and she clearly agrees that it is a Bedroom Tax.

Rolnik appeared on Channel 4 news last night, and responded to equally ill-informed Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, by insisting that it is her obligation and her UN mandate to highlight those significantly harmed by government policy on housing. A much needed role. Nadhim Zahawi then complained – echoing Shapps – that she hadn’t met officials from the DWP. She responded by saying that the UK Government arranges her specific meetings during UN fact finding missions, and that she had in fact met with officials from the DWP. So, discrediting Zahawi instantly.

Rolnik then further backed up her point:

“I requested to meet with the highest possible officials, and I met with the DWP, and had more than one meeting with the ones in the DWP who are responsible.”

– It turns out she not only met with officials from the DWP, but she also met with Don Foster and Eric Pickles. Two Ministers. I predict that Shapps will next register his disgust that she hadn’t specifically spoken to the Prime Minister. He’s likely to get more absurd by the day, as his case slowly crumbles beneath him.

Shapps then unable to defend his discredited reasoning, and not willing to apologise for lying, went for the typical ad-hom attack, shamefully insulting Raquel Rolnik based on her nation of origin:

“How is it that a woman from Brazil – a country that has 50 million people in inadequate housing – has come over, failed to meet with any government minister, with any official from the Department [for] Work and Pensions [DWP] or to refer to the policy by its accurate name… She has come over with an agenda and clearly has an axe to grind.”

– Suddenly, he’s mentioning specific departments. Predictably, after being proven completely wrong, he’s now dropped his claim that she hadn’t met with any ministers. But demands she see officials from a specific department. A department that she in fact, did meet with, did request a meeting with Iain Duncan Smith. It seems the Tories don’t know what their argument is.

But when we cut underneath the surface layer, just a little, it isn’t difficult to note that Grant Shapps wants a UN report to reflect Government bias, rather than focusing on the effects felt by the most vulnerable.

Shapps’ also dropped his criticism of her conducting a report, that is actually within UN framework for her to conduct in the first place, because again, he was wrong. And I can guarantee, had her report shone a positive light on the Bedroom Tax, Shapps wouldn’t be on the ill-informed offensive that he’s now on, embarrassing himself everytime he opens his mouth.

Secondly, it is irrelevant where she is from. She is a respected member of the UN team with decades of experience around the World. She is the UN special rapporteur on housing. She knows what she’s talking about. She’s an expert. Being Brazilian is irrelevant, and to attack her for where she was born is a very weak line of attack from a Tory Chairman quite obviously losing the fight. She isn’t just “a woman from Brazil”. And perhaps being from a country that has inadequate housing, and suffering terribly for that, makes her far more able to understand the horrendous situation the most vulnerable people in any country face, when very wealthy people in very big houses conceive of such a heartless policy. It is also irrelevant where Rolnik is from, because Shapps is completely unwilling to listen to the plethora of charities and experts from Britain who register disgust and concern about the Bedroom Tax.

Shapps has since wrote a letter demanding an investigation, to……. Ban Ki Moon. The Secretary General of the UN currently working to try to resolve a crisis of unbelievable magnitude in Syria, will now have to deal with a whimpering Tory throwing his toys out of the pram for not being allowed to influence a UN report. In his letter, Shapps writes:

“I believe that the Special Rapporteur’s report has been influenced by political bias and suggest that the UN withdrawn her claims”

– Naturally he doesn’t actually elaborate on that ‘political bias’. It is eerily similar to Michael Gove’s continued insistence that if teachers disapprove of his changes, they must be Marxists. Reds! Reds everywhere! If you’re going to write a horrifically condescending letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations insisting that a respected member of his team is influenced by political bias, perhaps it would be to your credit, to prove that assertion. Otherwise, you’re just having a tantrum.

Rolnik travelled around the UK speaking to the only people that matter; those affected by the policy. Those who have been driven to food banks, and those who spend every waking hour worried about their future, and how they will afford to live. These are human lives that Conservatives like Grant Shapps would like to completely destroy with impunity. Rolnik concluded that the Bedroom Tax breached the human right to basic housing, because there are not enough smaller properties to downgrade to. And she’s correct. We all know it. Which is why it is a tax.

Earlier this year, Shapps said:

“It is wrong to leave people out in the cold with effectively no roof over their heads because the taxpayer is paying for rooms which aren’t in use.”

– People would not be ‘left out in the cold with effectively no roof over their heads’ if government policy had not, according to figures by the Department for Communities and Local Government, forced a 14% leap in households registered as ‘homeless’. The largest in nine years. Let’s not take lectures on homelessness from a Party that is responsible for rising homeless rates. A report from the same department also showed the number of people sleeping rough had jumped by a fifth, in a year.
Leslie Morphy the Chief Exec. of Crises said:

“Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.”

Similarly, the Chief Exec. of Shelter, Campbell Rob said:

“These figures are a shocking reminder of the divide between the housing haves and have nots in this country,”

Similarly, Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link said:

“This comes at a time when reduced funding has already hit services and further cuts are expected this year. Our research indicates that there are now fewer projects, fewer beds and more of our members are turning people away because they are full.”

Predictably, as with every overwhelming indication that Conservative policy is failing the most vulnerable, the Party refused to accept that the situation could ever be blamed on them. Grant Shapps said:

“the debt-laden economy we inherited is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country”.

– So, charities, The British Academy of Childhood Disability, the UN, those most vulnerable, as well as the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist and United Reformed Churches and Church of Scotland all calling these policies completely unacceptable and unjust, Grant Shapps still insists he is right, and will not be swayed by attempts to reintroduce a human aspect to the debate. The refusal to even acknowledge the damage austerity poverty-driven policies have on the most vulnerable, and his indifference toward the problem, choosing instead to try to score, weak and cheap political points, or to attack a nation of origin, should be enough to disgust anyone with even a fundamental sense of social justice.

Rolnik said:

“During these days of my visit, the dramatic testimonies of people with disabilities, grandmothers who are carers for their families, and others affected by this policy, clearly point to a measure that appears to have been taken without the human component in mind.”

– And she’s absolutely right. Conservatives tend to get very defensive when presented with the human cost of their dire policies. The insistence that cutting housing benefits for those considered to be in a house with one bedroom more than they “need”, will save £500,000,000 highlights the mentality of the party of Grant Shapps. Money first.

In March this year, grandmother Stephanie Bottrill committed suicide, after telling neighbours that she couldn’t afford to live any more. She could not afford the cost of living in her house, a home she had lived in for 18 years, because a government of millionaires decided she had too many ‘spare’ bedrooms (let’s not forget that Lord Freud, staunch defender of the Bedroom Tax, lives in a massive country estate). Grant Shapps and others like him, do not like attention drawn to the human cost of this dreadful and dehumanising policy. They wish the debate to be centred purely around money. The argument for freeing up housing, falls down because the supply of social housing is woefully inadequate. There is no other argument. The Bedroom Tax is a further attack on the most vulnerable, for no discernible reason. There is no positive to take from the policy. When this is the case, it is natural for the Conservative Party to resort to absurdities, and ad-hom abuse. You can almost set your watch by it. Shapps didn’t disappoint on this one.

It is one in a long list of embarrassments for Grant Shapps, who previously admitted to editing his own Wikipedia page to remove embarrassing gaffes, he’s changed his mind about where he was born depending on where he was standing for election, and according to his name badge at a Las Vegas internet conference in 2004, he is actually “Michael Green, a ‘multi-million-dollar web marketer’”. Whilst Shapps was inventing fake names for his dodgy business ventures back in 2004, Raquel Rolnik was focused on international housing concerns.

Rolnik is right to focus on the human aspect of the Bedroom Tax – an aspect that the utterly horrendous Grant Shapps, in his quest to apply unnecessary and heartless pressure to the lives of the most vulnerable, will never understand nor be the slightest bit concerned about. The human aspect is an aspect that has been missing from the debate on the Bedroom Tax and from the Conservative Party in general for far too long.


Palestine at the UN

September 23, 2011

Ramallah is alive today. The calls for Palestinian Statehood is quite clearly popular. Though a vote for Palestinian Statehood in the UN, I can’t help but have a few issues with. I am convinced that Palestine needs to come to terms of Statehood with Israel before it comes to terms with the rest of the World. A State of Palestine is long overdue. But whilst religion plays its role, granting statehood is hardly likely to improve the situation, if it doesn’t include the support of the hated state next door; Israel.

We all know that Israel responds disproportionately every time. We can all condemn Israel non-stop, all day. But we hear very little about Palestine and the way it is run. The question has to be, should the international community be empowering Fatah and Hamas by UN recognition?

Even if we put aside the horrifically regressive policies of the Palestinian National Authority, with its law that says anyone caught selling land to a Jew will face death immediately – though after prolonged periods of torture, let’s put to one side the fact that Hamas have been known to use Palestinian civilians as shields and civilian homes as weapons bases for attacks against Israel, let’s also put aside the fact that religious buildings that aren’t muslim are always under threat from Hamas – including a Christian club in Qalqiliya which supported local sporting clubs and educational programs, which ended up burnt by members of Hamas after they sent this threat to the local authority:

“The act of these institutions of the YMCA, including attempting to convert Muslims in our city, will bring violence and tension.”

– Leave all that aside, What worries me, is the presentation to the UN today, is from Mahmoud Abbas – a man who many seem to think is a great moderate.

Abbas is the leader of Fatah. He took over leadership from Arafat; another fundamentalist nutjob. Fatah is a political party within the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Even though the UN officially recognised the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people in 1974, and gave it the right to participate in debates in the Security Council, in 1976; its largest member Fatah still carried out terrorist attacks in which they took over and killed 11 people in the Savoy hotel in 1975 and the Coastal Road Massacre in 1978 killing 37 Israelis. To take over the Savoy in the centre of Tel Aviv, they threw grenades at anyone who came close, and threatened to kill all hostages unless the Israeli government released five Palestinian prisoners. The killings were planned by Khalil al-Wazir, the man who set up Fatah. Al-Wazir, who is viewed as a great martyr in Palestine, was not simply retaliating for Israeli aggression, he believed Jerusalem was divinely handed to Muslims, and that Israel had stole it from them. The problem here, is religious fundamentalism. Fatah hasn’t changed that.

Today, the Constitution of the Fatah Party states quite clearly:

12. Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.
13. Establishing an independent democratic state with complete sovereignty on all Palestinian lands, and Jerusalem is its capital city, and protecting the citizens’ legal and equal rights without any racial or religious discrimination.

– It wants Israel gone. How can a State like Israel really expect to support the Statehood of a Nation next door, who wish to see it destroyed? How is that responsible? To compare, as Abbas has done, and as many Pro-Palestine bloggers do, the Arab Spring to the Palestinian problem is not helpful and very short sighted. The Egyptian people do not wish the wipe their next door neighbours off the map. There is no mention of setting up a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. It wants Israel gone, and Jerusalem entirely an Islamic city. It is a religious problem, nothing less.

Whilst Fatah is not considered a terrorist organisation (as dodgy, provocative and as dangerous as its constitution is), Hamas is. Earlier this year, Hamas and Fatah announced plans to join the two parties together into one government. Incidentally, Hamas’ constitution states its goals:

Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.

Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. “Let the eyes of the cowards not fall asleep.”

– Hamas are dedicated to terrorism against Israel, not because Israel is incredibly repressive when it comes to Gaza (though i’d argue, that comes from paranoia), but because it is Jewish.
Article 31 of the Constitution of Hamas backs this up further:


Article Thirty
Men of letters, members of the intelligentsia, media people, preachers, teachers and educators and all different sectors in the Arab and Islamic world, are all called upon to play their role and to carry out their duty in view of the wickedness of the Zionist invasion, of its penetration into many countries, and its control over material means and the media, with all the ramifications thereof in most countries of the world. Jihad means not only carrying arms and denigrating the enemies. Uttering positive words, writing good articles and useful books, and lending support and assistance, all that too is Jihad in the path of Allah, as long as intentions are sincere to make Allah’s banner supreme. “Those who prepare for a raid in the path of Allah are considered as if they participated themselves in the raid. Those who successfully rear a raider in their home, are considered as if they participated themselves in the raid.”

– Hamas are dedicated to a religious war against Judaism in general, here. Article 31 reads like a paragraph from Hitler’s Mein Kempf. But it goes further. It claims the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and Colonialism were all Jewish conspiracies. We know how this sort of extreme thinking turns out.
The Charter of Hamas goes on:

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

These people are designed for war. The fundamentalists that currently control the Gaza strip seems to assume that they have a right to kill whoever they want to kill, to threaten whoever they want to threaten purely because they’re Muslim, and Israel should just let it happen. It is not all Israels fault.

Hamas member “cleric Yunis Al Astal” stated in 2008 that Rome would soon become…

an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe.”

– To recognise these people as legitimate rulers, is simply provoking more violence from both sides. To happily advocate a Palestinian state that has two parties who despise Israel simply for being Jewish, one of those parties actively promoting continuous war and murder of anyone who happens to be Jewish is a serious miscalculation of what a Palestinian state; one that we all want to see, SHOULD entail. To ignore the issues that will certainly arise from formal recognition of the State of Palestine as it stands today – a short cut by an apparently ‘moderate’ Abbas who is ready to sign a deal with the monstrous Hamas – will bring with is grave consequences.

Fatah apparently renounced terrorism in 1988 as a means to an end. That being said, they still sponsor terrorist organisations. Force 17 is about to become the private security of Abbas. In 2007 Force 17 admitted kidnapped Moshe Levi, an Israeli soldier, and setting him on fire. His burnt body was found still on fire that same day.

Whilst Fatah is not considered a terrorist organisation, its leadership asked members of al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades (a terrorist organisation deemed so by the EU, USA, Canada, Israel and Japan) to join the Council of Fatah in 2003. Later that year, the BBC found that the Palestinian Authority through Fatah had been paying the al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades $50,000 a month, to which Fatah replied with:

“We have clearly declared that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades are part of Fatah. We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group.”
“The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, military wing of the Fatah movement will not be dissolved and Fatah will never relinquish its military wing.”

– Al-Aqsa Martyrs are responsible for countless suicide bombs. In 2002, a gunman from the group (paid for by Fatah, the guys we’re now considering giving keys to a Kingdom) opened fire on an innocent Bat Mitzvah celebration in Hadera, Israel killing six and injuring 33. A celebration for a twelve year old girl. The PA publicly condemned the attack, but blamed Israel for provoking it (how one can provoke shooting up a party for a 12 year old is beyond me), but their condemnations are laughable given that they continued to fund the group every month since. This past decade the Martyrs leadership has taken to radicalising and arming young teenagers to carry out suicide attacks against Jewish people.

Abbas’s talk of the Palestinians “hope and dreams” of statehood is admirable, though I feel slightly manipulated when he says it. I feel like he is not acknowledging that the people his party supports, and is entering into government with, want Israel gone. They have an irrational hatred of Judaism. Statehood, without the compromise, and backing of Israel, without a real peace deal, is going to solve nothing, and symbolically gives groups like the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade legitimacy through a corrupt and violent government that will be legitimised via the UN.

Abbas’s speech was just anti-Israel. Netanyahu seems ridiculously out of touch with his refusal to accept the illegality and outright provocation of settlements. Though it appears that Abbas is currently meeting with Netanyahu; hopefully peace talks and negotiations will resume.

Please do not take this blog, as my unreserved support for Israel. I have intense problems with the way Israel goes about its business. The burning of trees in Nablus and the confiscation of the 20 hectres of land in Palestinian Karyut this year is an act of aggression and terrorism. The provocation of settlements and violence through settlements is nothing short of an Israeli attempt to violate any sort of peace ideal. For Netanyahu to insist, in 2009, that no new settlements would be built, only to appropriate lane in Ramat Shlomo for 1600 houses, is provocative and dangerous. That being said, Israel exists. A dangerous and provocative Israel is already a State. Is it really wise to give another dangerous and provocative State, who despise their neighbours simply for their religious beliefs, and wish to wipe them off the map, UN recognition? Is it really wise to empower terrorists, to counter terrorists? Do we really believe democracy will flourish in a country where Hamas exists? I don’t think it is.


Diego Garcia

October 8, 2010

“When the final time came and the ships were chartered, they weren’t allowed to take anything with them except a suitcase of their clothes. The ships were small and they could take nothing else, no furniture, nothing.”
– Marcel Moulinie, owner of a crop plantation on Diego Garcia.

Quite amusingly, in a story full of unamusing anecdotes, is the name of an American military base on the island of Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands of the Indian Ocean named ‘Camp Justice’. The irony of this name becomes apparent as you learn of the history of the island.

In the murky depths of British foreign policy and international relations lies a story that quite frankly shames the Country I call home.

Diego Garcia sounds like an Argentinian Football player. No one knows what it is. We haven’t heard of it. It isn’t in the news. It’s whereabouts are not known, and yet it is the sight of one of the most undemocratic, and anti-freedom forceful exiles, by the UK and US in a very very long time.

During the 1960s the US Government was searching islands throughout the Chagos for a potential military base that could be used in it’s ongoing non-war with the Soviets. They scouted many islands, and Diego Garcia was their eventual proposed location. The problem was, it was inhabited by a population that since it’s colonisation by the British; had developed its own sense of self including a unique culture and a unique language.

The inhabitants of Diego Garcia originated from around 1800, when the French owned Mauritius and the surrounding islands, including the Chagos Islands. The islands were surrendered to the British in 1814, the slave trade to and from the islands continued until around the mid 1830s, when all slaves became freed men. Their ancestors lived on Diego Garcia for about 150 years after the abolition of slavery, as free men. The island was a mixing pot of Indian, Mauritian, Somalia and Seychellois cultures, and it worked. A military film shot by US military personnell investigating the Island in the early 1960s, shows a local population who are more than happy with their lives, and are at home. Far away from Britain, far away from the United States. Far away from Western privilege, and people who know little if anything about this island, the people who inhabited it, considered it their home.

When Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in the 1960s, plans were already underway to lease Diego Garcia to the U.S and so Britain could not afford to let the Island find its independence. To counter this, the “British Indian Ocean Territory” was created especially to keep Diego Garcia under the control of the British. When Mauritius gained its independence, the Mauritian Prime Minister agreed to sell any link Mauritius had to Diego Garcia and all the islands in the area, for a measely £3,000,000. Quite ridiculously, the same Prime Minister was then given a Knighthood.

By 1966, work had begun to rid the island of its inhabitants, in order to make way for a Military base for the U.S. Firstly, all plantations were closed down so work was very scarce. The idea was to make the inhabitants leave the island voluntarily to find work. As was food, which the British stopped from being shipped to the Island. Secondly, anyone from Diego Garcia who had travelled to Mauritius for work, or to use the hospital or other health facilities were refused entry back to their homes. Their houses were left, their possessions now belonged to Britain. They were not allowed to even contact family on the Island. Thirdly, the local population had developed a sense of family that included two children, a wife, a husband, and a dog. Every family had and cherished their pet dog. Sir Bruce Greatbatch MBE, Governor of the Seychelles ordered all dogs were to be killed. John Pilger in “Stealing a Nation” notes that families of the islanders he had spoken to, had said they remember as children watching the British walk away with their dogs, and throwing them into a room to be gassed. The dog deaths was used as a warning to let the locals know that they had to leave, or they would suffer the consequences. It was a Western imperial intimidation technique.

One lady from the Island recalls:

American soldiers had already started building the base.They backed several of their big vehicles against the brick shed where the coconuts were prepared; hundreds of dogs had been rounded up and imprisoned there. Then they gassed with a tube from the truck’s exhaust. You could hear them crying.

A Mauritian lawyer acting on behalf of those evacuated, said:

They were absolutely destroyed by the fate reserved to their dogs, and many of them told me it was clear to them that if they offered any objection to the depopulation they would suffer the same fate.

A Colonial Office Memo from the time reads:

They wish to avoid using the phrase ‘permanent inhabitants’ in relation to any of the islands in the territory because to recognise that there are any permanent inhabitants will imply that there is a population whose democratic rights will have to be safeguarded and which will therefore be deemed by the UN to come within its purlieu. The solution proposed is to issue them with documents making it clear that they are ‘belongers’ of Mauritius and the Seychelles and only temporary residents of BIOT. This devise, [sic] although rather transparent, would at least give us a defensible position to take up at the UN.

A lady who had been removed from the Island told Pilger recently:

I left in 1967. My husband was very ill and I decided to take him to Port Louis to get the special treatment he needed. When we were ready to return, we went to Rogers and Company – they ran the boats – and asked for our tickets. They said they had instructions not to let us go back. They told us Diego had been sold. Diego was my bird in the sky that was taken from me. I was sent to live in a slum, in rooms previously inhabited by goats and pigs.

Clearly people inhabited the islands, and called the island of Diego Garcia; home. But to get around the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization rules, the British had to suggest that those islanders did not live on Diego Garcia, and were actually just working there, and were from Mauritius. The Head of the Indian Ocean Department in the 1960s, Eleanor Emery sent a memo to colleagues in Government stating:

We would not wish it to become general knowledge that some of the inhabitants have lived on Diego Garcia for several generations and could, therefore, be regarded as ‘belongers’.
We shall advise ministers in handling supplementary questions to say that there is only a small number of contract workers from the Seychelles and Mauritius, engaged to work on the copra plantations.

In the 1960s, the British Government used, through dodgy dealings, dog murders, and underhanded techniques to manoeuvre away from scrutiny by the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization; leased the Island of Diego Garcia to the U.S in exchange for a huge reduction on the cost of nuclear subs. The decolonisation of Diego Garcia was not known to both Parliament in the UK and Congress in the US. In 1975 the Defence Department in the UK said:

“there is nothing in our files about inhabitants or about an evacuation”.

A blatant lie to cover up the entire episode.
Throughout the 1980s, 90s and 00s, the ex-islanders brought lawsuits against the British government and that of Mauritius, demanding compensation and the right to return to their homes. All lawsuits have ended in failure for them. The House of Lords and Blair when he was PM denied any wrongdoing and stated that the islanders do not have the right to return. In April 2010, the British government set up the MPA (Marine Protected Area) around Diego Garcia, meaning that commercial fishing and other extractive industries are prohibited in the area, a clear attempt to limit any kind of commerce islanders may have restarted had they moved back, in the hope that it would convince them not to keep brining lawsuits.

British foreign secretary Michael Stewart and the US secretary of state Dean Rusk in the mid-1960s came up with the plan to lie to the World that the inhabitants of the island were merely labourers and not inhabitants, in order to advance the deal between the two Countries.

Whilst the UK directed the deportations (many who were sent away on the British boats, had to sleep in cabins full of bird shit), the US is also massively responsible. A UK 1965 Foreign Office file reads that Washington made full deportation:

virtually a condition of the agreement when we negotiated it

And Stewart himself did not do too well in covering up what he knew. In 1968 he wrote:

by any stretch of the English language, there was an indigenous population, and the Foreign Office knew it

He then advised the PM (Wilson) that to get around the UN, they should lie, with:

by present[ing] any move as a change of employment for contract workers . . . rather than as a population resettlement

In 1970, a civil servant travelled to Diego Garcia to oversee the expulsion of the last few inhabitants. When they asked him if they would receive help resettling in Mauritius and compensation, the civil servant told them that they would. Yet, the only compensation paid, was £650,000 to the Mauritius Government to offset the cost of resettlement. About £3000 per person. The Mauritius government did not use it to resettle and has said it is not their responsibility. Hence most of the inhabitants of Diego Garcia ended up in overcrowded slums, sleeping in sheds with pigs and goats.

The economy of Mauritius had no place for the inhabitants of the newly proclaimed “Camp Justice”. Their trade was copra farming, which had no room in Mauritius. Nor did the language of the new crowd, or their culture. Unemployment in Mauritius was already standing above 20%. For all intents and purposes the depopulation of Diego Garcia is surely considered a crime against humanity; and yet legally, apparently it isn’t. When America and Britain do it, it’s legal. When two Congressional Committees attempted to delve further into the matter, they were told it was all considered classified and they couldn’t look further into it.

A terrible stain on the history of Britain and America. We continually act like victims, because others “hate our freedom“. What utter shit. We aren’t victims. We are the instigators. We plant the seeds and then complain when the plant grows. There should be no military base on Diego Garcia and the people should be back home, without any American or British person in sight. There is no Cold War any more. It’s over. We should act like the apparent advocates of freedom that we apparently like to suggest we are, and get out of the area. The Bush Administration said that Diego Garcia as a base played a vital role in the war on terror. What this translates to is; We need it because we have delusions of imperialist grandeur. It is a human rights issue, and the human rights of the people of Diego Garcia were vastly undermined. There is no two sides to this story. There are those on the right side and those on the wrong side, and the wrong side happens to include the UK and US. It is not subjective because it is not justifiable, what happened on that island.

Why haven’t the media had any say on the matter? Surely this should be a bit of a scandal? I can guarantee if a Muslim country did the same, the national newspapers would be outraged. Fox News would say it is clear that Islam is dangerous, and the overly protective pro-American/British media would treat us in the West like the heroes.

Jeanette Alexis lived on the island as a child. She says:

“We were crying, we were hanging onto our mothers’ skirts crying, because although we were very young we understood that we were leaving something very valuable behind, and that was our home.”

I wonder how America would react if the British tried to tell everyone on Rhode Island that they had to all leave their homes, their dogs would be killed, they would be resettled 2000 miles away, and they would be compensation about $2000 for it. I can’t imagine it’d be so easy.