Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Spring into action

As discussions flit across the internet in preparation for a new convoy I am reminded how bizarre it is that within 18 short months I have become someone to whom heart monitors, dialysis machines, dental chairs and ventilators get offered on a regular basis.  While at the outset of collecting aid for Gaza in autumn 2009 I would have turned down very little of people's kind and well-meaning donations of the UK's second-hand or just-about-to-go-out-of-date surgical consumables I now have a different perspective.  How is it that the world watches while Israel receives $3billion annually in military aid from the US to spend on brand new technology, such as the pilot-less drones which apparently may have had a role in the "mistake" that Goldstone now refers to the obliteration of Samouni family members in Gaza, while civil protestors and people of conscience scrabble together to deliver second hand items to Palestinian hospitals.  It is an insult to humanity and to Palestinians that this is the state of affairs and I wouldn't blame anyone in Palestine for saying thanks but no thanks to any of these well-meaning donations.  Its another sign of the corporatised, unequal consumer-mentality of our society here that some of our private health providers make enough money to toss fully functioning, sterilised, expensively made equipment into the trash at the passing of some meaningless sell-by date. But then the big pharmas wouldn't have it any other way would they?  Ensuring that the rules-insurance-contracts that are standard in the health industry allow for plenty of forward profit-planning I've no doubt whatsoever.

Oh yes... p.s. Israel normally comes up with some other projects to require funding on top of the standard $3 billion annually received directly in cash at the start of the fiscal year and did I forget to add they also now estimate requiring a further $20 billion apparently due to the added risk of 'Arab uprisings' this year.

This latest road convoy is specifically aimed at supporting the Samouni children in an education initiative  to provide a space and some resources to assist learning for the many of them who are part of the surviving family - Samouni Family Community Centre and Classroom.  The past month has seen Gazans reeling from not only the recent bombardments and shootings that killed several Palestinian civilians there, including children, but also last week the murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni.  The brutalising and de-humanising effects of the occupation are manifest.  For a link to the sort of work Vik would take part in view a short report completed by him by way of thanks for a journalistic award he won, it includes clear footage of the Israeli military firing live ammunition at fishermen and farmers with International Solidarity Movement witnesses.  Friends from the movement are mourning and shocked at this murder and also that of Juliano Merkhamis in Jenin refugee camp just a week or two earlier.  I had the privilege of sitting and watching the film Arna's Children (link is to the trailer) which Juliano made telling the true story of a handful of children who took part in his mother's drama education workshops in Jenin who when Juliano returns have become inevitably into the armed resistance struggle as young men with claustrophobically sad result.  Snapshots of the Freedom Theatre where he worked show a vision of creative activists in Palestine realised.

This year it has been hard to keep abreast of the news, in January we had the release of the new Palestine Papers and wikileaks documents exposing what we all knew really - that the US is a dishonest broker in peace talks and Palestinians have no partner for peace, MEMO hosted a great evening about it.  Then the massive popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt faltering and turning into something else in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria.  The conflict in Libya has divided not only the Libyan country itself between east and west but also London-based activists, analysts, lawyers and civil opinion, for example the CPGB-ML position describes Britain's intervention as another imperialist war - while 'An Arab in the British wilderness' tries to debunk the myth surrounding the Libyan 'revolutionary' that is Gaddafi.  There were two Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 passed in quick succession in March both explicitly referring to 'responsibility to protect' civilians in Libyan Arab Jemiyrah.  Resolution 1970 is the first resolution to have the unanimous vote of the Security Council in imposing non-military measures on Libya, Resolution 1973 was passed by 10 votes for and five abstensions - no veto.  So now we are at war again.  Hmm isn't it funny how things happen when there isn't a VETO.  Yes the U.S. has vetoed no fewer than 43 resolutions and counting against Israel meaning that they have exercised the veto right more than all the other veto Permanent Member states put together - on behalf of Israel.  This twisted relationship is undermining the world's system of international law - slow and immature though it still is.  The duplicity of the West is thrown into relief again when we consider the lack of response to civilian massacre in Gaza during Cast Lead and this has led to calls for No-fly zone over Palestine.  As I've said elsewhere - I am interested in the least dead and felt confused and uninformed about Libya, with one Libyan friend telling me 'thank god for the no-fly zone resolution' and another inviting me to join a peace delegation from the West (Tripoli).  I'm erring towards the writer of this blog however I may well be wrong - but I can't help thinking the imperialists of the West were quite happy with the way things were with Muamar before the demonstrators took to the streets.  Nevertheless it certainly can't be said that the decision to deploy forces would have been carefully planned and thought through - not like the carefully planned interception of the Freedom Flotilla by Israel (!).  If you instruct soldiers what do you expect?  Cups of tea?  Anyway having to complete academic exercises has meant no trip for me to North Africa this time... It was quite fitting that at the time my university assessment presentation was titled 'responsibility to protect is humanitarian intervention by another name', if you really want some boring punishment you can read the notes that accompanied what I said (n.b. this is an academic exercise and not particularly interesting!).

So back to action - I have been trying to track down the whereabouts and state of the lorry I drove to Istanbul last year so it can be put into use again for the Samouni project.  A helpful English local I found online living in Bulgaria has even gone as far as visiting the lorry park and he tells me its there!!  but looks a bit sad and unloved.  Plans are afoot to revive very soon.

OMG (and friends will know I NEVER use that acronym) I have just seen Richard Lightbown's excellent article about the BBC Trust's response to complaints about Panorama's 'Death on the Med' I am really feeling so incredulous about the Trust's conclusions I'm going to have to stop now. 

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