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Life Politics & Current Affairs

Black Dog

black dog

Following the death of Robin Williams, it’s been truly moving to see the outpouring of compassion, empathy and understanding with regard to depression.

I clearly underestimated the well-informed nature and generosity of spirit of the average person in the street.

Which is nice because now we can all look forward to an immediate cessation of the attacks on and sanctions of ‘benefit scroungers’ suffering from exactly the same condition, right?

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Politics & Current Affairs

Israel: You Only Sing When You’re Winning

israel

They say you should never meet your heroes. As a man in his forty-seventh year, I reckon I’m a little long in the tooth and too world-weary to have heroes anyway.

Having said that, there are those who once were but are now simply people I admire and respect. Usually for the integrity, honesty and high-quality of their work. Mainly writers – both fiction and non-fiction writers – and would include people like Mick Wall, Seumas Milne, John Harvey and David Pratt. To name just a few. Some of these I’m proud to call close friends and their work and their friendship enriches my life.

Charles Shaar Murray, who I won’t insult by introducing here, is also someone who I’ve grown to hugely respect. Obviously the man’s work is an important part of our cultural landscape and is as innovative and influential as anything by, say, Lester Bangs and, for the most part, superior to that of most of his contemporaries. Certainly enough there for a writer to admire and respect.

However, there is a further reason. CSM consistently displays great humanity on wider social and political questions. A Jew himself, he consistently defends the Palestinian cause and has been principled and consistent in his unsparing critiques of Israel.

It was, then, as disappointing as it was disgusting to see the man insulted to a particularly appalling degree by none other than Nick Cohen.

Cohen has certainly been no hero of mine and his previous makes it a cast-iron certainty that he never will. His bizarre insistence that the left is anti-Semitic, his support for the invasion of Iraq and his US apologia place him in a political space somewhere to the right of Blairite fundamentalists. Which, as you might have noticed, isn’t really how I roll.

Even so, to brand CSM a “… fascist-loving fucker” during a Facebook exchange, earlier today, was unworthy even of the red-baiting Islamophobic Cohen.

On one level, it’s just Facebook though, right? Not a medium renowned for inculcating sober and reflective contemplation of weighty geopolitical issues. On the other hand, however, Cohen’s outburst is typical of the increasingly hysterical denunciations meted out to those who oppose the brutality, immorality and illegality of the Zionist terror state. They’re desperate to make Jews synonymous with Israel; ergo any criticism of the latter is de facto anti-Semitism. Look no further than the Zionist outrage currently levelled at the hapless members of the Tricycle Theatre Company.

Notwithstanding the discomfort and upset caused to the Charles Shaar Murrays and Tricycles of the world, in one sense all this is actually good news. The increasingly shrill protestations of Israel’s apologists are because the mask has slipped. They’re losing the PR war and they know it. When even natural allies like Boris Johnson are forced into making criticisms of Israel’s literal and figurative overkill, you know the tide is turning.

You only sing when you’re winning and you’re not singing anymore.

Not singing but whining.

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Politics & Current Affairs

When Pigs Fly

Good evening and here is the news from the BBC.

Talks between Palestine and Israeli militants are entering their second day.

But Likud, whose armed wing continues to bomb Gaza, says there is no agreement and there is a big gap between the two sides’ positions.

The armed wing of Likud – the Israeli Defence Force – has warned of renewed fighting if Palestine does not end its resistance to the blockade of Gaza’s port. Four weeks of fierce fighting between Palestinian forces and Israeli militants has claimed more than 1,900 lives.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State told the BBC, “The armed wing of Likud – the Israeli Defence Force – is a terrorist organisation and Palestine has the right to defend itself. We support that right. Meanwhile, we are hopeful that progress can be made by continuing dialogue over the next seventy two hours.”

The issue of human shields continues to cause controversy. BBC reporter, Jeremy Bowen, recently returned from Gaza, said, “I saw no evidence of Palestinian forces using Israelis as human shields.” By contrast, Israeli militants have been condemned for their use of human shields. Recent photos of a captured Palestinian teenager, handcuffed to the bonnet of an IDF vehicle, drew statements of condemnation from several world leaders.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said, “Any organisation which exploits and abuses civilians in this way is a terrorist organisation and until such people renounce violence and these heinous acts there can never be a lasting peace.”

In other news Oceania is still at war with Eurasia.

Israeli_army_using_Palestinians_as_human_shields

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Politics & Current Affairs

The Moral High Ground

As a writer, I have an almost instinctive objection to the old cliché, a picture paints a thousand words. Sometimes, though, one encounters just such a picture. This example, by Peter Brooks, which appeared in The Times on August 1st, justifies every letter of that trite and hackneyed old saying. No further explanation is required.

the moral high ground

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Politics & Current Affairs

If Nottingham Were Gaza…

IMG_3702First published by the Nottingham Post, July 2014. Photo by Sue Paterson

The County of Nottinghamshire consists of approximately 835 square miles and houses a population of around 785,000 people.

Gaza, on the other hand, comprises only 141 square miles yet is home to nearly 2 million souls. It is the most densely-populated land-mass on the face of the earth. The occupants of Gaza – their captive status barely qualifies them as residents – exist in a desperate world of poverty and squalor. Food and adequate medical provision is in dangerously short supply and in every way the contrast between Gaza – in reality, the world’s largest open-air prison-camp – and our own County of Nottinghamshire could not be greater. Gaza is ‘home’ to 800,000 children who are being shelled, shot and bombed by the world’s 4th largest military power. Civilian deaths on the Gaza strip are horrific; over eighty percent of all deaths are non-combatants.

One wonders how Nottinghamshire residents would feel were they to find themselves evicted from their homes, their possessions and belongings stolen or destroyed, herded into Mansfield and prevented by force from leaving only to suffer the terror of bombs dropping upon their children as their schools, hospitals and playgrounds explode around them?

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Nottingham, with our colleagues across the UK, are not prepared to remain silent while this indiscriminate slaughter continues.  For the last couple of weeks – joined by hundreds of Nottinghamshire residents – we have been protesting outside the BBC premises on London Road at the biased and inaccurate media coverage of the continuing massacre on the Gaza strip. Our members have been involved in meetings, petitions, protests and other activities, all designed to publicise the plight of the Palestinians and to raise awareness of the brutality of Israel’s continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian land and its murder of Palestinian civilians.

This Thursday we will be marching from the BBC headquarters at 5.30pm to the City Council chambers on the Market Square. We will be presenting an official demand that the City Council boycotts all Israeli goods and services. We will demand our elected officials listen to the people they purport to represent and do the right thing for the people of Palestine.

There are those who say that we have little chance of the City council joining our fight. They say that the UK’s support for Israel, and given our political class’s all-out austerity attacks on its own people, means that our politicians are fatally compromised and will not help. Again, we disagree. We believe that Nottingham Councillors are made of sterner stuff. We believe they will do the right thing and stand with us, on the side of the Palestinians. We believe they will join the boycott, along with their colleagues in other local authorities around the UK. After all, who among our Councillors would disagree with Desmond Tutu when he said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”?

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Politics & Current Affairs

Gaza: Resistance is Not Terrorism

IMG_3724

Photo by Sue Paterson

Despite the avalanche of propaganda from Western media outlets, not least the disgraceful coverage by our own BBC, attempts to paint Palestinians on the Gaza strip as aggressors and terrorists are failing. Instead, growing revulsion at Israel’s continuing bombardment of the most densely-populated area on earth is almost palpable. Good and long overdue. However, an insidious and dangerous alternative philosophy is emerging, one that, in its own way, is just as damaging to the besieged and beleaguered Palestinians as the unashamed brutality and war crimes of the rogue terrorist state of Israel.

Liberal pacifists are the new enemy of Palestine. Those who, while opposing Israel’s state terror, are just as quick to apportion equal blame to the Palestinian cause. “Oh, both sides should stop the violence,” these worthies cry. On the hard left, too, there are those who say Hamas are terrorists and that socialists should have no truck with ‘clerical fascists.’

Such views are unacceptable and unwittingly or not, place the supporters of such sentiments firmly in the imperialist camp and render them apologists for continuing Zionist slaughter.

Violence does not exist in a vacuum. It is not an abstract, moral question. One should not allow pro-Israeli propaganda to neuter our critical faculties and turn us into political Quakers. The fact is that violence is neither objectively good nor bad; as with most things in life, context is everything. So let’s look at that context… [read more]