Monthly Archives: December 2009

Viva Palestina!

At the time of writing a large convoy headed by George Galloway is snaking its way up through Jordan to Syria having made its way overland from the UK  to Jordan from where it was due to cross into Egypt and then journey to Gaza to give comfort and support to the suffering people there. Last year this same Viva Palestina convoy ended up handing over a large amount of aid to Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas.

George Galloway (telegraph.co.uk)

The people of Gaza’s dreadful situation is, of course, exacerbated by being under the rule of Hamas which has killed many of its own people in vicious infighting.

B’Tselem has documented that between November 2000 and August 2008 Palestians have killed 539 Palestinians in the occupied territories and that is before the dreadful attacks by Hamas on suspected Fatah activists during and after the Gaza war. 458 of those deaths have occurred in Gaza.

This year Viva Palestina has attempted the same trip but just as the convoy was poised to enter Gaza in time for the 27th December anniversary of the start of the Gaza War it was stopped. The convoy was stopped by Egypt, not Israel, due to the “sensitive situation”  in Gaza. The Egyptians would allow the convoy into Gaza but only after it has taken a circuitous route north through Jordan to Syria from where several boats will then take it back to another Egyptian border crossing with Gaza. This is inexplicable as you would think there will still be a “sensitive situation” in Gaza whichever route the convoy takes.

It just goes to show the lack of respect that Egypt has for Hamas and its Gazan subjects. There might be a siege of Gaza and although it is usually blamed on Israel the real culprit is Egypt as we now see it force the Viva Palestina convoy on this long and financially draining diversion. And this after arrests of convoy members by the Egyptian authorities and the threat of hunger strikes by other members of the convoy.

Then just when you thought the Egyptians couldn’t be more ungenerous towards their Arab brethren in Gaza they are now building their own security wall made of steel to keep Hamas terrorists out of Egypt. In February 2008 when the Gaza/Egpyt border was easily breached by the Palestinians a suicide bomber came back into Israel via the Israel/Egypt border and blew himself up killing one Israeli woman and injuring more than a dozen other Israelis in Dimona. Egypt obviously doesn’t want similar scenarios in Cairo.

Hamas (Israelnewsagency.com)

Egypt understand Israel’s plight. It knows that Gaza is trouble. Gaza is now radicalised and Hamas is the least of the troubles for the Palestinian people. There are now even more right-wing extremists on the block, The Warriors of God, who fought with Hamas in August when 27 died.

And if you look at the TV pictures coming from Gaza you will see that Palestinian women now have their heads covered unlike in the West Bank. Gaza has gone the same way as Iran. The 1979 revolution was supposed to improve the lot of the Iranian people but they have been brutally forced to bow down to Sharia the way the Gazans are having to now.

So back to those evil Egyptians. They are now suppressing the poor Palestinians the way they once suppressed the Jews until Moses led us out to the Promised Land. The only promised land the poor people of Gaza have now is Hamas, the Warriors of God and George and his band of merry men currently heading north through Jordan.

Four regimes to fall in 2010

If the world was to become a better place we would see the end of  four current regimes that heavily torment and persecute their own people:

Sudan

Flag of Sudan

President Omar al-Bashir’s regime has murdered at least 300, 000 (figure cited by the United Nations) of its own people in the western Sudanese province of Darfur in a campaign of racism where the Arab Janjaweed militia has mercilessly attacked the innocent black Sudanese citizens of Darfur. This has landed Bashir an indictment before the International Criminal Court which remains outstanding while Bashir is being supported in his genocidal campaign by other Arab states.

Islamic Republic of Iran

Flag of The Islamic Republic of Iran

Ever since the June 12 “stolen election” this regimes has used the Republican Guard and the Basij Militia to maintain control over its own people, many of whom it has murdered. The unofficial Green Movement is doing its best to oppose where it can and uses public holidays to come out onto the streets but at huge risk to themselves. Neda Soltan was shot dead as she watched the anti-government protests on June 20. Brave bloggers, like Potkin Azarmehr, keep the west updated as they post footage of  the oppression under the Khameini/Ahmadinejad regime. Is the tide turning? How long can the Guard and Basij hold up their morale as they see their own relatives, who oppose the regime, beaten up.

The ending of this regime will be a heavy blow to political Islam including the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah and will allow more fruitful talks to take place between Israel and the Palestinians. While Hamas and Hezbollah are so strong there surely can be no proper peace.

Zimbabwe

Flag of Zimbabwe

The background here is another “stolen election”. This time it was by Robert Mugabe with the election taking place in March 2008. The good news is that inflation in Zim is on the decline, but that is set against last year’s inflation figure of a mere 231,000,000%. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF Party is in “coalition” with the reformist Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change but Zanu-PF seems to dominate the coalition. Mugabe would rather continue to take white owned farms that were once run successfully and give them to people who have no experience and knowledge of keeping these farms going and so innocent Zimbabweans starve or try to flee to South Africa.  Again, opposition supporters are intimidated and beaten into submission.

Uganda

Flag of Uganda

The country that gave the world “The Butcher” Idi Amin has now given us a bill to execute homosexuals. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Uganda but this bill will actually lead to homosexuals being killed by the state (as they are in Iran).   President Museveni seems to have intervened for now to try to soften the bill but within the Ugandan government there is a wide consensus of support for it so there may be only so much Museveni can do. The Ugandan people aren’t helped by our own BBC which hosted an online debate on Have Your Say titled “Should homosexuals face execution?” which attracted 600 comments, only 200 of which were suitable for publication. The BBC then changed the title to “Should Uganda debate gay execution?”. 

 

 

 

You don’t have to be Jewish…..

…to go to a Jewish school, so our new Supreme Court has decided.

The court found that Jewish Free School had acted against the Race Relations Act by discriminating against a boy who was not Jewish according to the precepts laid down by the the United Jewish Synagogue. The boy was refused entry.

The two laws for being Jewish are that your mother was Jewish or you underwent an arduous conversion procedure that takes 3 years.

But now you don’t have anything like that, you just have to think Jewish and maybe eat a salt beef sandwich or smoked salmon bagel just to prove your Jewishness.

Technically in 20 years there could be not one Jewish person at JFS. If a local Christian, Muslim or atheist family lives close to JFS and other Jewish schools all they need to do is to maybe attend synagogue on a few occasions and then put their child’s name down for that school. There would be no such silly requirement as actually having to be Jewish to go to a Jewish school. So why have faith schools at all?

Surely, religion is a personal thing and not up to the courts. Each religion is entitled to form its own way or organising itself. To be jewish it takes three years to convert if you are not a Jew already. To be Muslim or Christian there is no such prohibitive procedure. You can just say you are Muslim or Christian and hey presto, you are.

To be Jewish it takes three years longer. That is Jewish law (or the law to which the majority of Jews subscribe).

No court should get involved in this to test this aspect, especially in what is claimed to be a multi-cultural country.

This comes on top of two other ridiculous legal rulings this week. Furst, the government has said that all produce from the West bank should be so labeled as being from the West Bank, not Israel. Why? Those settlements will remain in Israel’s hands forever. There is no way Israel will ever give them up. Even Yasser Arafat dealt with Rabib and Barak during the peace process on the basis that those settlements will stay as part of Israel and there will be a land swap.

Second, was the fiasco over Tzipi Livni, who was in government when Israel invaded Gaza last year. An arrest warrant was issued for her arrest when she was due to visit the UK last week. She obviously cancelled.

I don’t see too many arrest warrants being aimed at Blair or Brown from British courts, eventhough both Israel and Britain are doing exactly the same thing in the battles they are fighting; keeping their own innocent civilians alive against the likes of Hamas and Al Qaeda respectively.

The say things come in threes but it won’t be long before numbers four, five and six follow.

Chilling out in the Red Light District.

Last thursday night I did something I have not done for a while; visit a London gallery. There was an exhibition on about the prostitution and voyeurism of Amsterdam’s red light district. Honestly, I hadn’t intended the visit.

I was due to meet an interviewee in Trafalgar Square but the wide open space of the square allowed a freezing breeze to sweep through it. My date was late and so I tried to keep myself entertained by watching the boring set up for the annual switching on of the lights on the Norwegian Christmas tree.

Eventually, I had to get out of the cold and luckily the National Gallery, next door to the square, was open.

Normally, when I visit any capital city I head straight for its galleries and museums (if there is no major sporting fixture on), the most impressive to me of which is Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. But in London I have lost this art recently.

So I spent an intriguing twenty minutes thawing out while wandering around The Hoerengracht (Whores Canal) Exhibition. It is fashioned on Amsterdam’s Red Light District, known as the Herengracht, or Gentleman’s Canal. Adding the “o” gives you Whores Canal.

Amsterdam's Red Light District (amsterdam.info)

Amsterdam's Red Light District (amsterdam.info)


The Hoerengracht
recreates the windows and doorways of Amsterdam with mannequins crafted into prostitutes enticing you to look into the room and study more closely the scattered furniture of a prostitute’s life.

The exhibition was created by American artists Ed Kienholz (1927-1994) and Nancy Reddin Keinholz (born 1943). You get a true sense of taking an evening stroll passed Amsterdam’s windows containing semi-naked women. Unlike the reticence of being in Amsterdam for real, in the National Gallery everyone gets as close up as they can to look into the prostitute’s private cubicle. What is slightly bemusing about the exhibition are the biscuit boxes placed around over each mannequin’s face.

Apparently, the tins denote a separatation of mind and body, which allows the woman to ply her trade.

The Hoerengracht's depiction of Amsterdam's red light district

The Hoerengracht's depiction of Amsterdam's red light district

The seedy streets were a fun diversion from the wholesome carol service taking place in Trafalgar Square. Next to the The Hoerengracht are paintings of interesting scenes from 17th century Holland around the theme of “love for sale”.

The Hoerengracht idea has influenced the likes of the Chapman Brothers, Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. Tracy Emin’s My Bed is an obvious work that carries on this theme of voyeurism.

The Hoerengracht runs until 21st February 2010 at the National Gallery. Admission free.

My Bed by Tracey Emin carries on the Kienholz's voyeurism theme

My Bed by Tracey Emin carries on the Kienholz's voyeurism theme

Israeli Arab speaks sense

You can go to an anti-Israel meeting at any time of the day in London but it is hard to find an obective one that is critical of both sides; Israelis and Palestinians.

So to hear to Khaled Abu Toameh speak at SOAS was a real treat. Khaled is the Jerusalem Post’s West Bank correspondent. He is an Israeli Arab living in Jerusalem. He lives and breathes the conflict. He spoke of the uselessness and corruption of the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) and the hatefullness of Hamas. He wished that they could both be representative of the Palestinian people and want the best for them instead of both wanting to grab power for their own sakes.

khaled abu toameh

He mentioned how Fatah received $6.5bn at the start of the Oslo process in 1993 and what did Arafat do with it apart from build a casino and pay his wife $100, 000 per month to live in style on Paris.

Toameh recognises that Netanyahu has no partner for peace. Even if settlement building stops,  so what? Hamas and Fatah purely despise each other. If Israel ever pulls out of the West Bank Mahmoud Abbas will be hanged immediately due to the huge support of Hamas in the West Bank.

would mahmoud abbas be hanged by Hamas?

And as for Israel, it should talk to everyone, including Hamas. Even if Israel has to talk to the devil it should talk! So what of Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel? Israel doesn’t recognise Hamas either.

But Israel should make good on its Arab citizens. The situation is improving with Arabs at the head of medical industries and in the foreign ministry but there is room for improvement. That said, no Israel Arabs would ever wish to move to another Arab state.

The saddest thing covered is the fate of Gaza. If Abbas ever approached it he would be hanged at the Erez Crossing before getting into Gaza. Gaza is now run by Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and possibly, but not yet proven, Al Qaeda.

He knows that all those who call Israel an apartheid state are doing no one any good. He knows it isn’t an apartheid state. People who make accusations like that and speak of an Israel or Jewish lobby are just up to no good. It is a shame these people can’t do something positive.

The other interesting question he asked is who is Marwan Barghouti. He has no idea how this guy became a Nelson Mandela figure. There are 10, 000 Palestinian prisoners so why pick someone who headed the Fatah list when they lost the 2006 election to Hamas? Plus the fact he is being feted by Israel and the Americans makes him totally distrusted by the majority of Palestinians.

marwan barghouti

“I must say Zionist”

It will be interesting to see if Dmitriy Salita can beat Amir Khan tonight in their WBA light-welterweight title fight tonight in Newcastle.  Salita, is a tough New York orthodox Jew who keeps shabbat. According to Jimmy O’Pharrow,  Salita’s trainer,  “the kid looks Russian, prays Jewish and fights black”.

Salita (Timesonline)

He would follow in the footsteps of Yuri Foreman, a trainee rabbi, who on November 14th in Las Vegas beat Daniel Santos to win the WBA super welterwieght title.

Then maybe a few more people would be a little more circumspect when slagging of Jews as this man did last tuesday night as he was in his way into a carol service held in support of the Palestinians. Next time, if he isn’t careful, he might just find himself floored by a left hook. The carol service was held at Bloomsbusy Central Baptish Church on Shaftsbury Avenue and the words of this man talking into the camera speak for themselves. Have a look and listen.

You have to feel sorry for the man in a way, although few would. The professionally organised anti-Israel campaign in this country has been very careful to use the word “Zionist” but this man has let his guard down.

I am not sure he will be coming up for air for a while. Although i am sure he will be itching to attend next tuesday’s Bethlehem Now carol service along with Lauren Booth, Jenny Tonge, Ghada Karmi and Bruce Kent at The Actors’ Church in Covent Garden where hymns will be sung. The Holly and the Ivy will be replaced by The Olive and The Army (O the rampaging of settlers/And the rolling of the tanks…)

Before he is let loose once again at an anti-Israel event i hope he will be practicing his lines. Now, after me, “I must say Zionist, I must say Zionist, I must say Zionist…..”

How do you rationalise the release of 1000 terrorists?

The Israeli population is being held emotionally to ransom with Gilad Shalit still in captivity in Gaza three and a half years after his kidnapping by Hamas. Some might argue so what, there are thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. But Article Seven of the Hamas Charter contains an explicit reference to killing Jews. There is no such equivalence in Israeli ideology. Palestinian prisoners are safe from torture and death. I gather they are educated and looked after well.

Shalit in his sign of life video (Reuters)

Shalit in his sign of life video (Reuters)

At least Shalit is alive, which contrasts the fate of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. A few weeks ago a video of Shalit was made in which he was holding up a copy of that day’s newspaper. For a year after the 2006 Lebanon War no one knew whether Regev and Goldwasser were alive or dead. At the moment of exchange of prisoners the question was whether they would walk across the Israeli border to freedom or be carried across in coffins. The doors of the van opened and Hezbollah officials pulled out two coffins. One of the prisoners who walked passed those coffins the other way to his freedom in Lebanon was Samir Kuntar, who had smashed to pieces the skull of a four year old Israeli girl against a rock on a beach with his rifle butt. So back to this prisoner exchange. 1000 Palestinian prisoners will go free, many of whom are multiple murderers. Many will easily be persuaded back into more terrorist activity. And how do hundreds of Israeli families cope with the fact that the Palestinians who took their innocent child’s or parent’s life are to be freed too soon for their to have been even the semblance of justice?

Goldwasser (top left) and Regev (top right) receiving a military funeral (rightsidenews.com)

Goldwasser (top left) and Regev (top right) receiving a military funeral (rightsidenews.com)

The only way to rationalise the release of so many terrorists is this: The sacrifice of their children and parents has allowed for the survival of Gilad Shalit who will soon be freed. Without any bloody murderers to trade, Shalit would also have returned in a box.