Responding to terrorism: a statement from Quakers in Britain

November 25, 2015

News Release: 24 November 2015


C3000 logo 3 medium.

As Parliament prepares to debate next steps in Syria, Quakers in Britain have made this statement.

The attacks in Paris on 13 November were deeply shocking and our hearts continue to go out to those killed, injured, bereaved and traumatised.

It is human nature that the closer suffering comes to us, the more acutely we feel the pain and grief. But that experience should sensitise us to the suffering caused repeatedly by acts of war and violent crime in more distant places, including Beirut, Sinai, Bamako and Aleppo. It should strengthen our determination to build a safer world together.

Terrorism is a deliberate attempt to provoke fear, hatred, division and a state of war. War – especially war with the West – is what ISIS/Daesh wants. It confirms the image they project of the West as a colonialist ‘crusader’ power, which acts with impunity to impose its will overseas and especially against Muslims.

The military actions of Western nations recruit more people to the cause than they kill. Every bomb dropped is a recruitment poster for ISIS, a rallying point for the young, vulnerable and alienated. And every bomb dropped on Syrian cities drives yet more people to flee and seek refuge in safer countries.

Our political leaders seem determined that Britain should look strong on the world stage. Quakers in Britain believe our country should act with wisdom and far-sighted courage. A wisdom that rises above the temptation to respond to every problem with military might. A wisdom that looks back at our failures in Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan and learns from experience. The courage – and strength – to think through the likely consequences of actions to find a long term, lasting solution.

The courageous response of ordinary people who refuse to give up their way of life and refuse to be driven by fear is one that politicians could learn from.

Although there are no quick or easy answers, there are things we can do, all of us together, which will defeat the terrorists more assuredly than military action. Quakers in Britain commit to playing our part in these actions.

We can quieten ourselves and listen to the truth from deep within us that speaks of love, mutual respect, humanity and peace.

We can and will refuse to be divided. By bridge-building among faiths and within our local communities we can challenge and rise above the ideologies of hate and actively love our neighbour.

By welcoming refugees, we can not only meet the acute needs of those individuals but also undercut the narrative of those who seek to create fear and mistrust.

And we can ask our political leaders to:

  • Treat terrorist acts as crimes, not acts of war
  • Stop arming any of the parties fighting in Syria
  • Observe international law and apply it equally to all parties
  • Build cooperation among nations, strengthening those international institutions which contribute to peace
  • Export peace rather than war, so that we can create the conditions the world needs to address its most serious problems, including climate change.

The statement concludes with this extract from a statement made by Quakers in Britain in 1943 (Quaker Faith and Practice 24.09):

“True peace cannot be dictated, it can only be built in co-operation between all peoples. None of us, no nation, no citizen, is free from some responsibility for this.”

Would the proposals made after the Paris atrocities actually help? And would they be consistent with the frequently asserted British values?

November 18, 2015


Now thrive the armourers

As the FT reports that US defence stocks rise after the Paris attack, one of its columnists, legal eagle David Allen Green asks these two questions following the Paris attacks, in his Jack of Kent blog:

david allen green 2- jack kent“In the aftermath of the Paris atrocities there are demands for action: dropping bombs and air-strikes, shoot-to-kill policies, more special interrogation techniques (ie, torture), less freedom of movement, more intrusion and less privacy, more powers for the security services, and so on.

“What seems to be a feature of many of these demands is that there is no attempt to explain the supposed cause-and-effect. It is almost as if the merit of the proposals is self-evident, a sign of virility: something bad has happened, and so something must be done in return.

“But each such demand raises two issues: one of practicality, and one of principle. That is: would the proposal actually help, and does the proposal conflict with the supposed principles, and way of life, we are presumably seeking to defend”.

  • Practice: ‘just doing “something” does not mean you are doing the right thing. It may make no difference, or it may make things worse’.
  • Principle: there appears to be a genuine risk that we could end up undermining – even subverting – the very principles of personal autonomy, the rule of law and freedom of expression which the West can and should be defending and asserting.

Read the article here:

More about the author:

Musings on the Trident issue: arms conversion – the transfer of resources from military to civil use

November 2, 2015

Few people will have done more work in the field of arms conversion than Steven Schofield*. He writes:

“Arms conversion, broadly defined as the transfer of resources from military to civil use, has a long historical pedigree dating back to biblical times. Turning swords into plowshares remains one of our most evocative images of peace, reflecting the universal desire to bring an end to war and to use skills for productive rather than destructive purposes”.

He recalls the post WW2 rapid restructuring of the economy when the UK and the USA demobilised millions of armed forces personnel and transferred millions of workers from military to civil production and points out that such a profound transition is not required in today’s circumstances:

“Although arms production is important in particular niches of manufacturing, it is marginal to the national economy in terms of output and employment. Should there be an unfortunate and unintentional outbreak of peace (sic), the impact of job losses would be relatively short-lived, and focused on only a few localised concentrations of arms employment such as Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria.

“Now, however, the sectors in which the specialist arms corporations might look for similar work, eg, civil aircraft, communication satellites, cruise ships, etc, already have mature civil markets served by companies that operate with a distinct set of advantages over any arms company attempting to develop products for those markets”.

Expanding on one theme which was touched on in another blog, he points out that steel, coal, textiles etc, have seen far greater job losses and serious dislocation for local communities and a range of policies have been brought into play to help localities diversify their employment base and reduce dependency on any one particular sector, albeit with varying degrees of success.

And on another theme – that of vested interest – he writes: “Nor is there any real enthusiasm and support for conversion in the trade unions, despite the occasional resolution at national conferences in favour. Instead, they have been some of the most effective lobbyists within the military-industrial complex, arguing for the retention of jobs in the arms sector and promoting all the various military white elephants like the aircraft carriers, the new Astute nuclear submarine and, of course, Trident”.

In similar vein to Jeremy Corbyn, Schofield looks for a government which will signal fundamental changes in the economy through its own research and development and procurement priorities: “Conversion then could be seen both as an investment function and as part of a new security paradigm, releasing scarce resources for new industries that will provide both employment and guaranteed, indigenous sources of energy supply. A government investment pool of £40-50 billion from cuts to military spending over a five year period would be a substantial contribution towards to generate electricity from renewable sources and as a stimulus to further investment by companies with a commitment to the range of renewables manufacturing and support services in the UK”. He concludes:

“As to the big arms production and research and development facilities, the priority should be a speedy closure and dismantlement. This would include the shipyards in Barrow and Glasgow, the aircraft manufacturing around Preston, the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston and the Devonport dockyard, with only a residual public investment for care and maintenance and decommissioning. Where those sites can be used for alternative activities, the land should be released as soon as possible and a range of policies for diversifying local economies put in place. But there should be no special consideration over and above what would normally be put in place for mainstream, local regeneration programmes. Some localised job losses are unavoidable, but assuming that macro-economic policies are in place to support these new industries, overall manufacturing employment will increase and those areas should be in a position to attract their share of work”.

Steven Schofield: January 2011. See the full report here:

*Steve Schofield completed a doctorate on arms conversion and was co-founder of the Project on Demilitarisation in the 1990s. His most recent publications include Trident and Employment: The UK’s Industrial and Technological Network for Nuclear Weapons(Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 2007); Making Arms, Wasting Skills : Alternatives to Militarism and Arms Production(Campaign Against the Arms Trade, 2008) and Local Sufficiency and Environmental Recovery (Local Economy Journal, Vol 24, No 6, November 2009, pp 439-447). He lives in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

 This profile needs updating

Academics declare mass boycott of Israeli universities despite ‘the pressures that can be put on people not to criticise the state of Israel’

October 27, 2015


c3 2 statement343 university lecturers in subjects including chemistry, mathematics and political science, from 72 institutions, including Oxford, Cambridge, the LSE and University College London are to boycott Israeli universities in protest at their “deep complicity” in their government’s “violations of international law”.

Making their boycott in an individual capacity, they said that they would not accept invitations for academic visits to Israel or co-operate with Israeli universities in any way because they were “deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land”.

They also accused the Israeli government of “intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement”.

The boycott has appeared as an advertisement in The Guardian today.

The Times’ Social Affairs Correspondent Rosemary Bennett continues:

“Speaking on behalf of the signatories, Jonathan Rosenhead, from the LSE, said that Israeli universities were “at the heart of Israel’s violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinian people . . . Israel’s ongoing oppression of Palestinians has led tens of thousands of Palestinians to take to the streets in mass protest”. In the Guardian he added: He said: “These signatures were all collected despite the pressures that can be put on people not to criticise the state of Israel. Now that the invitation to join the commitment is in the public domain, we anticipate many more to join us.

“Rachel Cohen, an employment expert and senior lecturer at City University, said that the Israeli state presented itself as an “enlightened funder of academic pursuits yet it systematically denies Palestinian academics and students their basic freedoms, such as the freedom of movement necessary to attend international academic conferences, or simply to get to lectures on time.”

“Other signatories include the philosopher Ted Honderich, professor emeritus of the philosophy of mind and logic at University College London, and Conor Gearty, professor of human rights law at the LSE”.

The letter, which – as an Israeli site says – follows one seeking to promote coexistence and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, partly to counter cultural boycotts of Israel, emphasised that the boycott was not against individuals and that the academics would “continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities”.

Ms Bennett reports that Richard Verber, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, questioned why academics were singling out Israel “in such a discriminatory fashion”. He told Jewish News: “At a time of immense, often barbaric upheaval in other parts of the Middle East, Israel remains a beacon of academic excellence and progressive thinking.”

But readers of this website could remind him of wholesale acts of barbarism, carried out by Israeli settlers and government- sanctioned military action.

Tel Aviv rally: is the wind of change in Israel-Palestine gathering pace?

October 25, 2015


Masses of those who look for peace and more evenly distributed prosperity, now able to share their news and their views online, are responding politically to the messages of Tsipras, Corbyn, Trudeau and Sanders.

israel 1

Hours ago, it was reported from Tel Aviv that thousands of Israelis rallied on Saturday for fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Activist group Peace Now — which organised the rally along with the left-wing Meretz party and others — estimated there were some 6,000 people attending. Daniel Dojon told AFP he came “because the situation is crazy. I am not talking about safety but the lack of (political) progress, the lack of hope. Israeli politicians are becoming more and more extreme.”

israel rabinOn the eve of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, demonstrators chanted “Jews and Arabs don’t want to hate each other” and “Israel, Palestine, two states for two peoples”. They gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where the Nobel peace laureate was shot on November 4, 1995 by a right-wing Israeli radical, Yigal Amir, who was opposed to the peace process and is now serving a life sentence. According to the Hebrew calendar the anniversary falls now, rather than in November.

Today, President Reuven Rivlin will host a candle-lighting tribute in Rabin’s memory and on Monday there will be a state memorial ceremony alongside his grave in the national cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.

“The path that was stopped in 1995 is very much the path that needs to be taken today,” Peace Now spokeswoman Anat Ben Nun told AFP

She said that Saturday night’s protest was aimed at the policies of the incumbent right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On the same day, in Amman, John Kerry met Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman. He announced round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel’s agreement to reaffirm Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the religious complex, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and as the Noble Sanctuary – Haram al-Sharif – to Muslims. “. . . we’ve agreed that this is a first step to creating some space in order to allow us to resume those steps and that dialogue,” he said.

israel kerry jordanJordanian King Abdullah II, right, met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 24 2015.

Though decorated for service in Vietnam, Kerry joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War organization and appeared in the Fulbright Hearings before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs where he stated United States war policy in Vietnam to be the cause of war crimes. In 1971, when the veterans gathered in Washington Mall for a week-long demonstration, he joined others in throwing ribbons and medals over a fence erected to prevent them from getting close to the front of the US Capitol.

A person standing near him recalled that he said, “There is no violent reason for this; I’m doing this for peace and justice and to try to help this country wake up once and for all.”


The best memorial to Hashem al-Azzeh – highlighting Arab Israeli peace initiatives which do not get mainstream coverage in Britain

October 22, 2015


dr hashemA couple of hours ago, as the following news of Arab Israeli peace initiatives was being drafted, a reader sent a link giving news of the death of Hashem al-Azzeh, a 54-year-old Palestinian doctor and peace activist in the city of Hebron on Wednesday.

Local media reported that he died after excessive tear gas inhalation during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. A post-mortem will be held.

Hashem has been described as Hebron’s unofficial spokesperson. Even after being sentenced by the IDF to house arrest for several years, a punishment that caused him to lose his job with the UN, Hashem continued to campaign for his people.

Last Saturday, October 17, he was quoted in Middle East Eye, describing the impunity with which settlers in the Old City have been killing young Palestinians: “The settlers feel confident that they have a free pass to kill Palestinians here,” he said. “We have asked the soldiers to help stop the settlers but they said it’s not their role and that we should leave the city.”

Hashem’s work will not end with his life. There are tens of thousands of people in Palestine and many in Israel who will carry it forward. His memory will live through them.




A hummus café owner in Israel hopes to bring people together

hummus and arab israel

We read that a hummus cafe in Israel is giving a 50% discount to tables mixing Jewish and Arab diners, in a campaign the owner hopes will bring people together as dozens of people have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence this month.

Kobi Tzafrir, the owner of Hummus Bar in the town of Kfar Vitkin, initially posted the offer on Facebook: “With us we don’t have Arabs! But we also don’t have Jews… With us we’ve got human beings! Real excellent Arab hummus! Excellent Jewish falafel!”

Givat Haviva, an educational organization promoting Arab-Jewish coexistence

The Times of Israel reports that approximately 700 Jews and Arabs held hands in a chain in the central Galilee to call for reconciliation amidst a wave of violence throughout Israel over the past few weeks. The symbolic gathering on Friday afternoon was organized by Givat Haviva, an educational organization that promotes Arab-Jewish coexistence.

arab israel human chain discussion

The group of Arabs and Jews assembled and held hands on both sides of Route 65, near the Megiddo Junction in Wadi Ara, an area in the Galilee with a large Arab population.

Organizers called the event “a symbol of coexistence and shared life, specifically at this tense period.” After the event, entitled “Choosing to Engage,” Givat Haviva held a small ceremony with discussions.

Givat Haviva issued a declaration before the event titled “Call for a Secure and Shared Life in Israel” that condemned “any attack on body, soul or property, as well as any expression of physical or verbal abuse . . . We appeal to the leaders of both peoples to refrain from incitement and the ferment of emotions. Our task at this time is to inspire calm and ensure public safety.” The declaration was signed by seven mayors of Jewish and Arab municipalities in the Wadi Ara area.

A joint Jewish-Arab demonstration against violence was set to take place in Jerusalem Saturday evening. “Arabs and Jews want to live in security,” organizers wrote on Facebook. “Real security, without occupation and without killing. We know that only with a just solution to the conflict will we be able to stop the killing and the hatred, to build a different reality. A reality of security.”

Other Arab-Israeli peace initiatives include:


Neve Shalom






Combatants for peace






Israeli peace activists return to streets (2010)

Corbyn’s stance on defence? Read James Hirst on ForcesTV website

September 23, 2015

forces tv logo

Like people on the Civilisation 3000 mailing list, Jeremy Corbyn believes in defence – not attack.

His proposed Defence Diversification Agency will redeploy defence workers and diversify their skills in accordance with the Vision For Britain 2020 – rebalancing the economy and promoting growth, not austerity and cuts.

jeremy corbyn (2)The closest external agency found which reflected his thinking comes – pleasingly – from the Forces TV website in an article headed by a larger version of this picture of the Labour leader.

Forces TV is an independent news organisation, owned and operated by the Services Sound and Vision Corporation. It was launched in the U.K. on June 10th 2014 and may be viewed here:

  • Sky Channel 264
  • Virgin 277
  • Freesat 652

James Hirst opens:

“Going to war creates a legacy of bitterness and problems. Let us be a force for change in the world, a force for humanity in the world, a force for peace in the world”. It was classic Jeremy Corbyn.

“These words came in the victory speech of the most important figure in Parliament’s second largest party.

“The Party which sent British troops into long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has just chosen its most outspoken opponent of those wars as its new leader.

“Mr Corbyn’s election gives the Government an immediate headache. It leaves their hopes of getting cross-party agreement to extend airstrikes against IS into Syria looking forlorn.

“Among his friends he counts the Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee. Dr Julian Lewis, who supports replacing Trident, told Forces TV this week how he has worked with Mr Corbyn to secure debates on the nuclear deterrent because they are both driven by strong beliefs, even though their beliefs are polar opposites.

“On his website the new Labour leader says he argues for “a different type of foreign policy based on political not military solutions; on genuine internationalism that recognises that all human life is precious, no matter what nationality.”

james hirst

Hirst (above, left) ends: “For the first time in years there is a significant gulf between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition on how Britain should relate to the rest of the world. David Cameron will now have to face Jeremy Corbyn’s alternative ideology head on at the despatch box, not from a far corner of the Commons”.


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