Is the answer to the professor’s three questions, ‘for the profit of the few’?

April 22, 2015

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Alexander McCall Smith, a British writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, who became an expert on medical law and bioethics, has expressed the feelings of the civilised ‘ninety-nine percent’.

99%-3

 One of his characters in peaceful Botswana, asks:

“How could people sleep if they knew that somebody, in their name, was dropping bombs on other people, or breaking into their homes and taking them away somewhere?

“Why did they do it?

“Why was it necessary to kill and maim other people, when the other people would be just the same as yourself – people who wanted to live with their families and go to work in the morning and have enough to eat at the end of the day?

“That was not much to ask of the world, even if for many the world could not grant even that one small request”.

George Farebrother: in memoriam

April 13, 2015

george farebrotherThe late George Farebrother, who received the Civilisation 3000 alerts was, as his close colleague described him, “a deeply committed member of the global anti-nuclear movement who was intricately involved in moves to mount legal actions against governments that possess nuclear weapons”.

That colleague, Commander Robert Green Royal Navy (Ret’d) – from the Disarmament & Security Centre in New Zealand – wrote George’s obituary for the Guardian.

He records that from 1991 to 2004, they worked together as secretary and chair, respectively, of the UK affiliate of the World Court Project, an initiative that used the International Court of Justice at the Hague to challenge the legality of nuclear weapons. After the court confirmed in 1996 that the threat or use of nuclear weapons should generally be regarded as illegal, George sustained the project virtually single-handedly until his death.

From the moment he learned about the World Court Project in 1991 he took early retirement and dedicated the rest of his life to its activities. Applying his Quaker beliefs and teaching experience, he came up with the idea of collecting individual “declarations of public conscience” against nuclear weapons, which were accepted by the International Court of Justice as “citizens’ evidence”. This characteristically inventive concept was taken up all over the world, especially in Japan, and George helped present nearly four million declarations to the Court before its historic judgment.

He never gave up trying to engage with decision-makers and their advisers, and became a familiar figure in the corridors of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, parliament and London embassies. His cogent writing, networking flair and grass roots appeal brought in enough funds to allow him to travel to key United Nations events in New York and Geneva. Constantly devising fresh ways of using the law to mobilise against nuclear weapons, he became adept at producing computerised publicity material.

In the Friend [15.4.05], George reported that one hundred and eighty eight states had ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which obliged them to negotiate their abolition. Individuals who wanted to see the nuclear­-armed states honour their legal obligations and abolish these outrageous weapons forever signed personal declarations which were presented at UN HQ in New York during the NPT Review Conference in May. The declarations also demanded the start of negotiations leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control.

The writer, who had not seen George in person for several years, was very pleased to hear news about his work at second hand from a friend, whose daughter Roslyn (below) worked closely with George during his latter years.

roslyn cook world court project

Roslyn thus gained vital experience that has enabled her to continue his work for the abolition of nuclear weapons and a treaty to ban them, as readers may see here: https://twitter.com/roslyncook.

She attended the NPT Review Conference in 2010 with George and will be attending again in April as part of the CND delegation. Currently she is involved in a project to bring 80000 voices together next year to sing for peace and freedom from nuclear weapons.

George had also been secretary of the Sussex Peace Alliance, treasurer of Peacerights, Secretary of Eastbourne for Peace and Liberty, treasurer of the Institute for Law and Peace and a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

‘Civilization has no place for drones’

April 13, 2015

Read the words of Professor Joel Andreas here: https://dronewarfare.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/civilization-has-no-place-for-drones/

Kaplan on European ‘appeasement’/refusal to slaughter

April 8, 2015

robert kaplan

This American security umbrella will not stay up for ever. Why should America defend a continent that will not defend itself?

So writes Robert Kaplan, who has travelled throughout the Arab and Mediterranean worlds, living overseas for 16 years and serving a year in the Israel Defense Forces.

revolving door people He is now based at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which describes its aims as the development of strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies. CNAS board members, founders, leaders, scholars, and interns have held or gone on to prominent positions in the U.S. government, at the departments of Defense and State; the White House; the Central Intelligence Agency; Congress; and the private sector. CNAS enjoys a strong network of supporters in all corners of the policymaking community as a result – the deplorable revolving door syndrome.

In the Financial Times, Kaplan fulminates: “No word captures the general mood of Europe better than appeasement . . . When Vladimir Putin’s Russia undermined the strategic state of Ukraine, they stood and watched”.

Noting that for more than seventy years Europe has relied on the US to guarantee its security, ‘so it can spend less on defence and more on the good life’, he adds contemptuously: ”Europe has simply no larger purpose and nothing to fight for, other than providing for the good life under welfare state conditions”.

USA will be looking east – in Asia, where American allies are willing to maintain robust, deployable militaries

The European-oriented elites that have influenced foreign and defence policy in Washington are gradually being replaced by bright young men and women — many of them the offspring of immigrants from Asia and Latin America — who bring with them different family histories and emotional priorities. He ends: “Gutsy is not a word one would use to describe Europe’s political class. And unless that changes, no US president will be as committed to Europe as his predecessors were during the cold war”.

But surely the correct word to describe Europe’s political class is (relatively) civilised.

Peace and prosperity, built with a post-war constitution as the cornerstone

March 30, 2015

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The Mainichi Shimbun recently reported that Crown Prince Naruhito, at a press conference on his 55th birthday on Monday, called for handing down history correctly, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II later this year: prince naruhito“I myself have not experienced the war, but it is important to look back to the past humbly and correctly pass down tragic experiences and the history behind Japan to the generations who have no direct knowledge of the war, at a time memories of the war is about to fade”. He described postwar Japan: “enjoying peace and prosperity after it was built with the Japanese Constitution as the cornerstone.”

“I hope this year will be an opportunity to take the preciousness of peace to heart and renew our determination to pursue peace,” he said.

He added that he was “deeply hurt” by the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and terrorism that has taken lives including those of Japanese.

As we have noted before on this site, the constitution, which has been taken to heart by the Japanese people, includes the radical Article 9:

The official English translation of the article is:

ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.(2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

British consul general to Jerusalem (2010-2014) calls for recognition of the state of Palestine in order to safeguard the two-state solution

March 20, 2015

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Over 4000 visitors to this site have searched for and found the post about countries or states recognised as neutral, including news of Ireland (one of 5 EU neutrals of varying degrees of ‘fidelity’) which has “a traditional policy of military neutrality defined as non-membership of mutual defence alliances”.

As news is coming in of shifting stances with regard to Israel and of Ireland’s concern, we find a noteworthy article in the Irish Times by Lancashire-born Sir Vincent Fean, British consul general to Jerusalem from 2010 until his retirement from the diplomatic service last year. This follows his contribution in the Telegraph last September.

sir vincent mobbedUnaware of his advocacy, and seeing him only as a representative of the British government, students protested during his 2013 visit to Ramallah

A summary of points made there (brackets contain relevant links added by editor)

Binyamin Netanyahu has driven a coach and horses through the considered policy of the international community. Peace will come in the Holy Land only when those two states live side by side in peace and security. What should we do?

Recognise the state of Palestine to safeguard the two-state solution to the long-term benefit of Israelis and Palestinians

Recognise the state of Palestine now, as the Irish Senate and Dáil have recommended (last October the Seanad passed a motion calling on the Irish Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine. Sweden, also on C3’s list of neutrals though disputed because of its arms dealing and membership of NATO, recognised Palestine last October).

The Arab citizens of Israel, 20% of the population, voted in unprecedented numbers “in droves”, said Netanyahu, and won 14 seats in the parliament of 120. They too will oppose Netanyahu’s stated policies, which risk perpetuating the unacceptable status quo or even creating a “Greater Israel” in which Palestinians inevitably will be victims of an apartheid system.

“Was [Netanyahu] just pulling our leg?”

At least things are now clear. Netanyahu will again form a coalition with the pro-settler party of Naftali Bennett and advocate Israeli illegal annexation of the Palestinian countryside, including the Jordan Valley, in the same way that Israel annexed East Jerusalem illegally after the 1967 war.

Recently Martin Indyk, secretary of state John Kerry’s chief negotiator in the valiant but flawed US peace effort of 2013-14, asked about Netanyahu “Was he just pulling our leg?” throughout that nine-month period of intensive Kerry shuttle diplomacy. Now we know. So what do we do?

We need to reject a few myths:

  • One is “We can’t want a solution more than the parties to this conflict”. Yes we can. We can and do want the just and equitable solution – two states living side by side in mutual security, with parity of esteem and mutual respect.
  • Another myth is “Leave it to the two parties to sort it out”. That was never a runner, given the vast disparity in power between them. Israel controls the land, sea and air of Palestine.
  • A third myth is that the United Nations has no role in resolving this conflict. What we need is what Kerry did not do (because Netanyahu was averse) – to agree unanimously a UN Security Council resolution establishing the framework and timeline for the two-state outcome we seek.

Certainly, we need the United States– essential, but not sufficient alone to deliver an agreed peace. We need the collective will of the UN, bringing together the US, the European Union and the Arab states, particularly Israel’s peace treaty neighbours Egypt and Jordan. Ireland, as a determined, highly credible advocate of the UN and major contributor to UN peacekeeping efforts, has a key part to play here.

Recognition of Palestine on 1967 lines is the logical step now for all states committed to an equitable two-state solution. It would:

  • Give hope to the beleaguered would-be peacemakers in Ramallah, whose readiness to negotiate is so heavily criticised by Hamas and by mistaken advocates of futile violence.
  • Signal to Israelis that there will indeed be a sovereign Palestinian state, so Israel’s leaders need to shape an agreement, not rule one out, and show to the world and to ourselves that right matters more than might.
  • Ireland, working with Sweden, France and other partners could bring the EU into play by forming a “group of the willing” – Europeans deciding to recognise Palestine now, on the basis of long-established EU policy for that equitable two-state solution.

Sir Vincent expects no more than sincere expressions of concern from London before the May 7th general election: “What the UK does then depends on how we vote – Labour, the Lib Dems, the Scottish National Party and the Greens see recognition as a Palestinian right, not a privilege. As do I”.

Lest we forget

March 12, 2015

Peter Jarman reflects on the nature of remembrance

Amongst the many events intended to keep alive the memory of the Nazi genocide of Jews, in January I attended a Holocaust Memorial Day event in York. A Jewish Quaker gave a harrowing account of her grandparents – murdered in Auschwitz.

The murder of millions of Jews seventy years ago and the plight of the survivors was terrible and cannot be forgotten.

Holocaust Memorial Day events include other genocides since then, including those in Rwanda and Darfur. However, the International Court of Justice ruled recently that the war crimes in Serbia and Croatia were not genocide, which is ‘the intention to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’.

There was a deafening silence at the York event about Palestinians whose livelihoods have been destroyed by successive Israeli governments. I heard no mention of the hundreds of Palestinian children and over 1,600 adult civilians killed during the Israeli shelling and bombing of Gaza in 2009 and 2014. Gaza: virtually a small blitzed prison enclosure with little proper sanitation or health care. Does the fate of Palestinians come close to genocide?

I felt like intervening when a person holding a lighted candle advised that British children should be taught about the Holocaust. Surely this is for adults to include in a balanced study of German history? For school pupils this could add to the stereotyping that some have about Germans – as if they were all Nazis. Roswitha, to whom I am married, was nine at the end of the war when she and her family fled from east Germany as the Soviet army invaded. When she sought to teach German at a comprehensive school in Birmingham in 1975 the kids there shouted ‘piss off, you Hun’. She, like many Germans in Britain, has borne the guilt of what the Nazis did, continually having a finger pointed at her as if she was responsible.

Her dismay over the Nazi crimes recently dominating newspapers and television came on top of the centenary of the first world war and the many war films depicting German forces on television.

Little, if anything, is broadcast about the German resistance to Adolf Hitler. Amongst the many who perished for this were Sophie Scholl and her two friends, young people, who were beheaded in 1943 for criticising the Nazi treatment of the Jews.

I am much troubled about the continual silence about what we British did during the Kikuyu uprising in Kenya in 1952-60: the ‘Mau Mau’ rebellion against the British occupying their land. We British were responsible for the torturing, killing and execution of tens of thousands Kikuyu, as related, for example, in Caroline Elkins’ book Britain’s Gulag, based on ten years’ research by this Harvard scholar. When, finally, Jomo Kenyatta, the Kikuyu leader, was released as Kenya moved towards independence in 1960, he advocated forgiveness for the sins of the British.

We British should take responsibility for remembering our crimes against humanity, like the fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945, which killed at least 25,000 civilians, and those tortured and killed in Kenya.

It took until 2013 – some sixty years later – before three or four of the surviving Kikuyu were given compensation for what was done – in our name – to them. Ought I to bear some guilt for what my forefathers did? Should these atrocities be mentioned in a future Holocaust memorial event, lest we forget?

the Friend, 13 March 2015

“We’re doing this to rescue Israel’s honor”

March 3, 2015

Last week, Haaretz reported that Israelis have been working with Mount Zion churches in recent months to repair damage to cemeteries belonging to Jews, Christians or Muslims, whether due to vandalism or the ravages of time.

graves mount zion cemetery

The first project, sponsored by the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, is the restoration of the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion [above]. The work was done by master masons – Circassians from northern Israel – with funding from the preservation society. After the gravestones were repaired, groups of volunteers — ranging from religious Israeli Jews to overseas Christians studying here — began cleaning up the cemetery and tending the greenery.

“We did this to correct, at least a little, the bad impression left by the authorities’ failure to deal with the hate crimes,” said architect and historian Gil Gordon, who oversaw the work. “They haven’t caught and indicted a single person, and the mayor is ignoring it. If you like, we’re doing this to rescue Israel’s honor, so they’ll know there are also people who care.”

armenian cemetery jerusalem

The organizers are talking with the Armenian Church about restoring its cemetery [above, before damage], and also with the Dajanis, a respected Palestinian family that has long taken care of Mount Zion’s cemeteries. Next week the volunteers are expected to begin cleaning up the mount’s Muslim cemetery. After that they plan to restore the Sambursky Cemetery, a Jewish site on the mount.

In addition to cleaning up the cemeteries, the volunteers are documenting the graves, some of them very old. They came to remind people that Jerusalem is a multicultural city where we all live, and will continue to live, side by side.

dr yisca harani“We began the project after dozens of crosses in the Protestant cemetery were broken,” said Dr. Yisca Harani (right), a historian of Christianity and one of the project’s initiators.

The volunteers, she added, “came not just to show solidarity, but to show commitment and try to remind people that Jerusalem is a multicultural city where we all live, and will continue to live, side by side.”

Once Mount Zion’s cemeteries have been restored, the plan is to create a tourist route that will cover both the cemeteries and the site’s many cultures and faiths.

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A process applied by public figures and the mainstream media to the Muslim community

February 27, 2015

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woolf institute logoDavid Bone is a former director of the Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations at the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge. His reflection was broadcast on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire on 8th February and published in the Friend, 27 February 2015.

Labels are a method of shorthand that we use to embrace a concept. They are very useful and very powerful.

However, the power of labels can also be misused and can be very dangerous. Under the Nazis in Germany we saw the word Jew come to be given extreme and negative connotations. To the German people being labelled a Jew was to be made an outcast and, ultimately, to be denied your humanity. In denying the Jews their humanity Adolf Hitler was able to legitimise the oppression and slaughter of millions of innocent human beings.

What we see today is the same process being applied by public figures and the mainstream media to the Muslim community.

Islam, a word rooted in the concept of peace – Salaam – is being persistently linked to acts of grotesque violence. It would sound farcical to talk about ‘peace terrorists’ yet we are hearing about ‘Islamic terrorists’ every minute of every day. This is deeply offensive to more than 1.7 billion Muslims across the globe and is an association that is only beneficial for Islamophobes and the depraved extremists that seek to justify their barbarism through some perverse interpretation of the faith.

This approach is only being used for Islam. When we watched the carnage in Bosnia we rightly didn’t talk about the Serbs as ‘Christianist extremists’, even though they crucified the imams and severed all but three of their fingers to represent the trinity. We didn’t because we recognised that this was not a ‘Christian’ problem. This was a problem of radical extremists hiding behind a pretence of religiosity.

The pope and the archbishop of Canterbury were never asked to account for and denounce the behaviour of those barbarians, yet we are constantly hearing calls for Muslim leaders to denounce ISIL, even after they have done so repeatedly and unreservedly.

We were all horrified to hear of the Jordanian pilot who was burned to death by ‘Islamic extremists’ – yet every established scholar of Islam across the globe, from every school of thought, agrees that such a barbaric act was wholly un-Islamic and forbidden by Shariah, which states that fire is so extreme that it is only permissible to God to use for punishment.

The impact of this on public perceptions is clear. Recently, research was publicised on terrorism in Europe. It revealed that less than half a percent of European terrorism was carried out by people who were Muslims, yet when I have asked people what their impression is, they consistently guess that it is seventy per cent or more because of the completely disproportionate coverage in the media and the emotive and bigoted language of our political leaders that promotes hatred and division.

As a community the way for us to truly combat radicalisation and extremism is to promote and ensure the mainstream understanding of the true followers of each faith.

David Bone

David Bone

The Qur’an states clearly that the sin of killing a single innocent person is equal to that of destroying the whole of humanity. It also acknowledges, in the same verses, that this is the same teaching given to Moses and Jesus uniting the Abrahamic faiths on this divine truth.

We need to work together to promote a true understanding of our own faith and that of the other faiths to build peace, understanding and a united community.

Climate change – a threat to peace

February 17, 2015

maw dvd first shotThe first shot of the MAW DVD

The Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change was produced by a team led by Stern at HM Treasury and released in October 2006. In the Review, climate change is described as an ‘economic externality’.

Instead of polarising debate, bear in mind that the steps advocated to counter climate change are beneficial in themselves – as pictured:

GWhoax (2).

Some experts called the genocide in Darfur the world’s first conflict caused by climate change, as the Scientific American reported in 2009. A major factor was a decline in rainfall over the past 30 years as the region’s population doubled, pitting wandering pastoral nomads against settled farmers for land and water.

In 2011, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), told the media: “We have enough evidence, enough scientific findings which should convince people that action has to be taken. Based on observation, we know that there will be more floods, more drought, more heat waves and more extreme precipitation events. These things are happening . . . The UN is particularly concerned about the impact of global warming and climate change on low-lying areas, especially islands”.

conflict climate change coverThis 2013 guide (cover, left) addresses the links between conflict and climate change. It includes an attractively produced 18 minute DVD which explains that conflict and climate change are linked, and can be tackled by ordinary people, communities, businesses and governments.

Colleagues at the Centre for Holistic Studies in Mumbai noted in the 80s the growing unpredictability of the climate which was affecting agriculture even then. This is described in the DVD’s opening sentences by Saleemul Huq (IIED). Other well-chosen speakers are listed on the cover opposite.

Many predict that impacts will include increasing strains on water and food supplies, civil resource wars, mass migration and international conflict.

Lord Stern, currently chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (LSE) and president of the British Academy, last year wrote: “Rises in temperature could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity . . . The risks are immense and can only be sensibly managed by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will require a new low-carbon industrial revolution . . . (implementing) a strong price on greenhouse gas pollution across the economy, which would also help to reduce emissions”.

RTCC, a news and analysis website focused on providing the latest updates and insight into global low carbon developments, reports that local conflicts over water and land are being increasingly linked to civil war and genocide in North Africa, according to the UN. A UNCCD report released at the start of February warns that an ‘Invisible Frontline’ is emerging in the Sahel region, driven by land degradation and the effects of climate change.

The positive benefits of moving to a low carbon economy listed in the cartoon shown above include:

  • clean air
  • clean water
  • healthy children
  • ‘livable’ cities
  • green jobs
  • forests preserved and
  • energy independence

The climate change impacts listed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group II, which compiled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, led to widespread agreement that fossil fuel divestment needs to end now.

Noting that the impetus for change now is seen in civil society, the speakers listed above called for the political will to see high levels of military spending reduced, with funds and expertise redirected to peaceful and constructive purposes.

When will governments hear this call and act together?

climate change cartoon 1990 2019


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