Wednesday, 20 August 2014

from 50:50 Inclusive Democracy

An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts

Writing in the Guardian, Adam Horschild called World War One the ‘War of Unintended Consequences’. He’s right to do so.  The most heavily armed nations are most likely to resort to war. Yet most, if not all wars result in upheaval and serious negative consequences for the societies and leaders that rely on military force, whether or not they are officially deemed to have won or lost. Think of recent wars from Vietnam to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, from the US/NATO war in Afghanistan to Iraq, and Israel’s devastating and ill-judged war on the Palestinians in Gaza.

In order to prevent wars as well as make peace, we have to continually work on disarmament and address the causes of conflict.   Those who keep investing in armaments and prioritising the making and selling of weapons generally get rewarded with more wars.  And quite often the inhumane weapons developed for their own use spread to others, fuelling unanticipated conflicts that come back to haunt their makers.

Gay conservative Christian in discussion with Pastor

US Pastor Scott Lively has told Christian singer Vicky Beeching that she has “given in to a lie” by coming out as gay.
The Christian singer-songwriter came out as gay this week, saying: “God loves me just the way I am”.
Channel 4 News invited Scott Lively – who is known for his extreme anti-gay views, and supporting Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – to talk with Beeching following her decision.
Speaking with the singer, he said: “I have a lot of sympathy towards Vicky herself, my sister was a lesbian, and in fact I was the person that she came out to as a teenager, and I was the person that she turned to later when lesbianism had almost destroyed her.
“She became a Christian and overcame lesbianism, and so I have a lot of sympathy for people who struggle with the challenge that Vicky is facing, and I am very sorry to here that she has given in to the lie that she is a homosexual, instead of trying to overcome the challenge that is in her life.
“It’s a false premise. There’s no such thing as a gay person. It’s an identity you adopt.
“Vicky, God has the power to help you overcome your homosexual inclinations.”
Ms Beeching retorted: “That is pretty much what I’ve been raised to believe, and I think psychologically that’s actually very damaging for people because it makes you feel like you’re fighting against yourself.
“I feel like many conservative Christians, maybe Scott too, would agree that it’s actually a kind of demonic thing… that I’m being controlled by the devil.
“We need to accept our orientation as a God-given gift, rather than a battle between who you’re made to be and who you are.”

Monday, 18 August 2014

Gaza: What does the future hold for the children? By Kevin Connolly, BBC News, Gaza

The conflict is the most deadly military operation to have taken place in Gaza since the second Intifada (photo caption)
For children in Gaza, living through war must seem like an habitual part of life. Is it possible to imagine what the future may hold for them?
A day will come when the area around the seaside hotel we use in Gaza will be flooded with tourists, and they will marvel at the distant horrors of the past.
It has happened on the Mediterranean before - look at Sicily and Tunisia after World War Two - and one day it will happen here. But it will not be any day soon.
Tourists will find Gaza waiting. The half-finished building next door already has signs offering pizza and ice cream, even though there's no pizza, no ice cream and no-one to buy them anyway.
Nature has certainly done its bit. Nowhere is evening more beautiful. The sun smears the surface of the sea with copper-coloured light as though it had skidded across the waves and come to a halt on the horizon. It is at this time of day that the half-built building teems with life.

The United Nations says it is sheltering more than 250,000 internally displaced persons in their Gaza schools (caption for photo)
Refugees from other parts of Gaza are living there, one family to a room. They probably calculated Israel would not bomb a building next to a hotel full of foreigners.
The adults are quietly impressive. Women scurry between the entrances to different staircases on the hot, flat roof carrying huge kettles of boiling water. At the sound of naval gunfire they barely raise an eyebrow or spill a drop.
The children fizz with energy and curiosity, singing out their names across the gap between the buildings and demanding to know ours.
They quickly learn to wait until we are on air using the balcony's portable satellite dish, before shouting across. They know that our desperate requests for quiet then have to be mimed, much to their amusement.
I find myself worrying what the future holds for them.
Gaza is cursed by history and geography as surely as it is blessed by nature.
If you are a six-year-old in Gaza, you have already lived through three separate wars - the ugly and brutal confrontations with Israel which flared in 2008, 2012 and again this year. It is as though Gaza is a kind of junction box where the dysfunctional neural wiring of the Middle East fused a long time ago.
At present, the UN puts the current death toll of Operation Protective Edge at 1,975 (caption for photo)
British imperial forces seized Gaza from the Turks in 1917 during the closing stages of World War One, one of those victories that made the Holy Land Britain's prize - and its problem.
Gaza was first bombed from the air 97 years ago in a grim and dangerous overture to a century which is ending as it began.
Israeli tanks first appeared here in 1956 as part of the disaster of the Suez crisis. Although Israel returned the land to Egypt the following year.
In the Six Day War of 1967 Israel came back and has occupied Gaza - or controlled life inside it - ever since.
Just as Gaza appears to have bent in every hot, historical wind to blow across the deserts here, it now seems that almost every crisis elsewhere in the modern Middle East makes life a little worse.
Gaza is run by the Islamist militant organisation Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
At one point, Hamas appeared to be navigating the treacherous cross-currents of the Arab Spring effortlessly. It seemed able to count, at different points, on the support of Syria, Egypt and Iran - all powerful regional players.
An Israel air strike that appeared to target four boys playing on a Gaza beach sparked worldwide condemnation (photo caption)
Now, through a combination of misjudgement and misfortune, it can count on none of them.
This is a desperate time for Hamas.
Without allies - and especially without a regime in Egypt prepared to turn a blind eye to weapons smuggling - the organisation suddenly seems friendless.
It does not have enough money to pay the salaries of government workers in Gaza and will struggle to replace the thousands of rockets it has fired at Israel in recent weeks.
In times of peace it has no diplomatic cards to play against the Israeli government. When violence flares, as it has done this month, it can at least demand concessions in return for agreeing to stop again.
These confrontations are hopelessly asymmetrical. Many of Hamas's rockets are out-of-date or home-made, compared with Israel's powerful and sophisticated weapons.
Damage to infrastructure in Gaza has been catastrophic: a power plant, schools and hospitals were hit (photo caption)
And yet, decisive victory seems to elude Israel, just as it eludes Hamas. The fighting will probably end in ways which are ambiguous and unsatisfactory, just as it has in the past.
That will be tough on the civilians of southern Israel, who will almost certainly find themselves running for their air-raid shelters again in future.
But it will be tougher still for those children on the roof next door. They have no air-raid shelters and very little chance of escaping to the wider world as long as Israel and Egypt maintain strict controls on all movement across Gaza's borders.
So these thoughts do not end with some neat aphorism which offers a little hope for the future. You just wonder how long it will be before those children, who have lived through three wars, find themselves living through a fourth.
And you wonder what will become of them.

This is also moral clarity - for me
both give a serious appraisal of the current situation by established authors.  Mine is not and I am not qualified.  My contribution is, sadly, a very minority plea for:

peaceful co-existence and tolerance (an unacceptable word in the circles that I move in because you must not tolerate evil!);

normally, non-violence in the spirit of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr (all three are now seen as rip-roaring successes and Gandhi is even getting a statue in Parliament Square, London);

keeping within the UN Charter, the Declaration of Human Rights and the normal accepted standards of what is lawful; (Israel comes over to me as being dismissive of the UN and every resolution against her over the decades.  In recent years, its attitude towards its great friend, financial backer and ally, the US is not much better - even disrespectful, at times)

and using a UN peacekeeping force when that is voted on in the UN.

I write because Israel is in our sphere of influence.  She is one of us, in being a Western nation in the heart of the Arab Middle East.  We support each other.  In addition, most of my Christian friends have a natural affinity with Israel that makes them solidly behind her and in supporting her in her latest war.  A few of my church friends do have reservations about Israel's aggression and conduct in her latest war.  Therefore, I think I can be constructively critical about ourselves in the spirit of this quote:
"What is wrong with the world?  I am.  Yours truly,  GK Chesterton"  In other words addressing the plank in our own, Western eye, first.  "We are the chief of sinners" and not the Muslims, Palestinians, Arabs.  Here goes:

The war objective was to stop the rockets from Hamas that still, incessantly land in fields or get shot down by Iron Dome.  Therefore, mutual ineffectiveness.  Mutual incompetence.  Mutual incomprehension.  One-sided slaughter.  (And, one sided laughter off stage - the 's', for 'smart' is missing from 'laughter'.  In other words, Israel needs to be a lot smarter.)

In other words, both sides are as bad as each other but, the side that my family, friends and church support is the side that is least smart, easily does the most slaughter, for many weeks and, in supposed self-defence!

I am told that Hamas has intimidated or killed the gullible Gazans and used them as shields.  Even so, that is no excuse for Israel's killing, by missiles and bombs, of any non-combatants when the poor quality Hamas rockets only seem to cause casualties in Israel after Israel has gone in, by almighty firepower, to wipe out all the rocket launching sites!

Hamas has certainly killed informers.  The IRA did the same.  Ian Paisley and Martin Maginnis, after many decades of mutual hatred, violence and killings, became known as the Chuckle brothers.  There is hope, then for Israel and Palestine; and, for Netanyahu and Abbas to become the new Chuckle Brothers.  Learn, O Israel from N Ireland's example - please.

Fortress Israel's right to defend itself, when no country is anywhere near to attacking and invading her, should be by Iron Dome and, through talks with 'terrorists'.  Certainly not by war that has been the hallmark of the 'Christian' West for 1700 years and copied by the Jewish 'West' since about the 1920s when more Jews started returning to the Holy Land.

The trigger for the war was the killing of the three Israeli teenagers near Hebron, on the other side of Israel from Gaza.  But, it is Gaza that gets it in the neck!  Why should the wrong half of Palestine be destroyed to the tune of £4 billion, and those not involved be punished by all the slaughter in a war that, if it must, should have been waged on the West Bank?

Mark arch apologist Regev, Israeli government spokesman, maintains, "Hamas is trying (my emphasis) to kill our people."  As if that is a good enough reason for actually killing over two thousands Gazans and rising!  You only attack, O Israel, weak enemies like Hamas.  What a shameful, cowardly act by people who benefit from my country's - the UK's - full support and armaments.

Yet, British men and women (I expect this includes Christian believers) are manufacturing armaments that are sold and/or subsidised and are sent to Israel to continue the horrific deaths for non-combatants.  When Israel is not formally at war, Palestinian terrorists are routinely wiped off the earth by the IDF and Mossad (motto:  "For by wise counsel thou shalt wage thy war").  So, why this third, ineffective, Gazan war, now that is so immoral and counter-productive?

It seems, from what I have not been told by even Israeli patriots, that not a single Hamas rocket has ever killed or injured a single Israeli before or between Israel's three wars on Gaza.  But, over the three wars, this further unwarranted, lethal and illegal response from Israel must have killed or injured tens of thousands of Gazans.  Therefore, Israel's behaviour reminds me of the 'N' word that dares not speak its name.  But Peter Ustinov did.  He said, "The Jews were the first victims of the Nazis and the Palestinians are the second."  Israel's behaviour is certainly so typical right wing, 'righteous' behaviour to obliterate 'evil'.

Israel's nuclear, like even their conventional, weapons are a fat lot of use in stopping the nuisance, noisy Hamas rockets from flying over.  But WMD would be so useful to you in the genocide you appear to be engaged in.

Israel's obsessive security fears leads it down the blind alley of thinking only of a military solution that never comes.  All party talks of give and take by all, seems way out of reach for Israel because 'you must never talk to terrorists' (Netanyahu).  You must never ever sup with the devil.  And that is all there is to it.  Hence, O Israel, you live in constant, paranoid yet unreasonable, fear of annihilation.  An unhappy State and state to be in.

Most of my Christian friends side with Israel because she has a special place in God's heart and is crucial in Yahweh's plans for winding things up in the end days.  Never mind the one-sided nature of our side's wars with Gaza.  Never mind our 21st century wars with other majority Muslim nations.  It all heralds Armageddon and Christ's return.  Although, for the State of Israel all these wars get them absolutely nowhere but, for the Church of God, it gets them closer to the Second Coming - and, the end of the world for the lot of us.

Our Western (Christian/Jewish) wars on Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza in this century, alone were all on Muslims or, irreligious or secular Muslims like Saddam Hussein.  No wonder there is now an almighty backlash from the young, macho, shocked and very hate-filled Muslims we have helped radicalise and fuel with violence.  We have taught them far too well.  We have violently opened the Pandora's Box of horrors on innocents of all faiths and of none.  "What is wrong with the world?  I am.  Yours truly,  GK Chesterton"

Non-violence has only ever been spoken, in my hearing, not by anyone supporting Israel but by one Palestinian MP in an interview on the 'Today' programme on 17 July 2014.  Six times he mentioned 'non-violence' and said that Hamas "is ready for a two state solution."  He said, "Equity for all; no-one to be killed; and no double standards."  (Bagooti, a one time Fatah Presidential candidate)

The life of an Israeli is, of course, very many times more valuable than that of a Gazan who elected the terrorist gang, Hamas.  They are dispensable.  The life of an American or a Brit is worth even more than an Israeli!

With complete impunity, we can kill and injure many thousands of Gazans for simply having the temerity in targeting Israelis, even though not a single Israeli was ever hurt by the rockets, before we declared the all out war on Gaza to teach them a lesson.

War is a living, breathing hell of horrors
Israel was born out of violence and terrorism to overthrow, in 1947 the British imperial force that conquered Gaza in 1917.  Since Britain withdrew and independence was gained in 1948, Israel has engaged in numerous wars with its neighbours - all in legitimate self-defence, you must understand.  The three most recent were in 2008, 2012 and this year - all against Gaza.
  1. When is Israel going to live in peace with ALL its neighbours?  Well done for living in peace with those countries that you do do.  Now, go one country better.  Can you, O Israel?
  2. When, after three wars, will Israel finally achieve its war objectives and stop the Hamas rockets having to be shot down by Iron Dome?  Three wars and still the Israeli taxpayer has to fork out for the rockets having to be shot down.  Quite disgraceful.  So, in accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures of tit for tat, over 2,100 Palestinians died horrific deaths and thousands more suffer appalling injuries and hundreds have their homes destroyed.  Mostly non combatants for Gazans but only five Israeli non combatants died.  More like tit, tit, tit ... for tat.
  3. What a wimp you are, Israel having to rely on only Iron Dome to defend yourself from pretty useless Hamas rockets.  Relying on Iron Dome would satisfy natural justice and international law.  That will never do.  So you go for all out war, yet again on poor defenceless Gaza.  Real nations, like the United States of Aggression and the United Killers - whoops, Kingdom always defend themselves by going to war to knock out for ever the annoying Hamas rockets or to wipe out governments that don't comply with the wishes of themselves, the big boys.  After all these years of trying, O Israel you have not succeeded but you do, of course, try your best to be a good Western ally and to follow our example!  We succeeded in Afghanistan and Iraq to get our way by violence, of course.  When will our ally, Israel succeed in Gaza?
  4. For me, I am ashamed that my country's name, UK stands for United Killers/Better Together because, we have waged war in every single year for, at least, the last 100 years.  2015 may be the first year since 1914 when we are not killing foreigners somewhere around the globe!  (The Guardian 12 February 2014 - four page spread of evidence)
  5. Today, 24 August marks the 200th anniversary of our attack on the USA and our burning down of the White House and other buildings in Washington.  As with Israel attacking Gaza today, also for the most dubious of reasons.  So, 1814 the USA; 1914 Germany; 2014 Gaza; 2114 ?
  6. Oh dear!  So many excuses from Israel for so many innocents accidentally on purpose slaughtered, when it was all the Gazans' fault for electing Hamas or not allowing the innocents to escape to UN shelters and schools or, for being in the UN shelters at the time the IDF missiles landed!
  7. But never mind.  Every Israeli is so apologetic, indeed, heart broken for every non-combatant killed or injured, explaining that this was far from their intention.  Yet, the killings, injuries and destruction continue.  Most inexplicable!
  8. When will normal service resume in Israel and Palestine with Mossad and the IDF conducting extra judicial assassinations to bump off terrorists in Gaza?  At least, this would leave the non combatants, the women and children well alone, who only get killed when Israel is warring on Gaza.
  9. A very good point from Charles, "Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state?"  Could it be that they have been destroyed by Israel and their missiles and army in one of their wars?  Or, could it be that it was hardly worth building when Hamas knew the IDF would soon be along, again to destroy it all.  Surely not?  Perhaps, too, it shows the depth of hatred that many Palestinians must have for Israel.  No point in building nice new motorways and railways when there is still no unbreakable peace agreement with Israel.
  10. Yet, Muslims and Jews, all have Abraham as their father!  Revenge is so sweet for all of us but those who are religious are meant to be so much more righteous than the irreligious.  What happens, in fact, is that Israel's furious response in slaughtering the innocents in Gaza, is tit to the square of 77 for tat!
  11. What was Israel thinking of when it withdrew from Gaza without it being part of a long term peace with justice settlement with all the Palestinian factions/groups?  For me, the so well meaning withdrawal was such a serious mistake that it proves how incompetent the government was at the time - at least, with that stupid decision.  Gaza was even part of the Promised Land, too.  How can you, Israel, know better than the Almighty and give away an important part of the Promised Land and not even trade it away for peace?  O, you dear, idiotic, incompetent, disobedient ungodly Israel!
  12. Yet, I am trying to get read one of Linda's books, 'Israel, God's Servant: God's key to the redemption of the world' by Torrance and Taylor.  How can Israel be God's poor suffering servant when she is killing so many of His creation, even if they are not citizens of His Chosen Nation, Israel?  They are still children of Abraham, like themselves.
  13. When three wars have still failed to stop the rockets from the military wing of Hamas, do you not think it would be sensible for Israel to change this failed and useless military strategy and actually to try talking directly with Hamas military and/or political representatives?  Aha!  But that would mean compromise and Israel can't possibly compromise with evil - of course not.  In fact, this week (19 August 2014) talks are taking place in Cairo.  It only took many thousands of casualties and three wars in six years to get the right wing, righteous government to break every principle in the book and talk to terrorists, albeit indirectly!
  14. Do you think that it would be a good idea for Israel to try and get inside Hamas thinking to understand where they are coming from?  Why is Israel so hated by Palestinians?
  15. Yesterday, I played back more than once to make sure that I heard it correctly, the BBC foreign correspondent, Kevin Connolly, say on 'From Our Own Correspondent': "These confrontations are hopelessly asymetrical.  Many of Hamas rockets are out of date or homemade where Israel's missiles are powerful and sophisticated."  Do you personally believe that this is a mistake or a lie?
  16. Connolly graphically put it like this: "It's as though Gaza is a kind of junction box, for the dysfunctional neural wiring of the Middle East fused a long time ago." Again, he said, "In the war of 1967, Israel came back and has occupied Gaza or, controlled life inside it, ever since."  Are you maintaining that Kevin Connolly is lying?  He said that, now Israel and Egypt maintain strict controls on all movements of the people in Gaza.  Is this wrong?  Connolly's was a dispassionate and beautifully crafted piece.  It began with a vision of what Gaza will, one day look like and with a touch of amusement, too; went on to contain much realism and ended on a message of hope.  His comments started and ended with the delightful, scurrying and laughing children of Gaza.  I recorded it.  It is only five minutes long.  I would love you to hear it.  I will attach it to this e-mail.
  17. War is a living, breathing horror of hell for the non combatants.  Therefore, Israel's right to defend itself from rockets that, from what I hear and read, kill no-one before and not during one of Israel's three wars on Gaza, should only extend to using its powerful and sophisticated Iron Dome .  Do you understand why I am maintaining this position that killing a total of over 2100 and injuring thousands more is somewhat over the top for disturbing the peace and quiet of Israel's leafy residential areas?  In other words, in this scenario, you only have the right to defend yourself by the very effective Iron Dome and not by killing Gazans.  Is this fair and reasonable?
  18. Does not moral clarity demand that when you know your enemy is using non combatants to help protect them and that therefore, for every one combatant wiped off the earth, you are also wiping off another truly innocent soul that, therefore, you should rethink your policy of warfare and try non-violence and talking?  "Jaw, jaw and not war, war", as Harold Macmillan once said (and not the ubiquitous Churchill, as I thought!)
  19. Or, does killing children ensure that they cannot possibly turn into terrorists?  Is this what it is, really all about?  At present, the UN puts the current death toll of Operation Protective Edge at 1,975 on 18 August 2014.
  20. Don't you understand that there was protection for Israelis before this further war?  The Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.  Now, with this immoral and unnecessary war, Israelis who were not dying before are now dying.  That is tragic, if it were not so comic  - and incompetent by your foolish government.
  21. I see Israel as the 52nd state of the USA, with the UK as the 51st.  In other words, when I see my side, my own beloved nations, doing such illegal and immoral and unnecessary things as attacking, invading and occupying first Afghanistan, then Iraq and, now, Gaza on three occasions, I do get very concerned.  The horrors for those innocents who are targetted simply never impinges on our consciousness.  Out of sight, out of mind.
  22. Do you understand why people who think like me shake our heads in sorrow and view Islamic State and all the other Muslim horrors as a backlash for all our misdeeds and odd massacres of Arabs during our wars in just this century, alone?  We really are setting a very poor example to the young, pumped up, macho Muslims when they see NATO, made up of mostly traditional Christian nations, like the USA/UK, acting with such impunity and aggression on and in Muslim nations since the Christian Crusade - whoops, War of Terrorism (WoT) - started on the 7 October 2001.  That WoT was also a brutal and barbaric over-reaction to 9/11, in my opinion, even if it was to bring Western democracy, the pursuit of happiness and freedom to the poor pagan and benighted people of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Desmond Tutu said it was a criminal act and not a declaration of war.  Our subsequent War of Terrorism was illegal in going for regime change of a government that had nothing to do with 9/11; and, of course as we now see, it was disastrously counter-productive.
  23. Like readers of the 'Jewish Chronicle', do you also view money given to the thirteen aid agencies of the Disasters Emergency Committee, as going to Hamas?  Did you wish that the DEC appeal had not been put out on the BBC or placed in the Jewish Chronicle?
  24. Having read every word of Charles' article, why does Israel continue to play into Hamas's hands and to allow itself to so easily get provoked and, so violently, too?  This time, it is Israel that is like that sleeping giant in 'Gulliver's Travels' that gets all wound up in string and confusion.  Or, is might is right Israel, the Goliath and weak, pathetic Gaza, the ill equipped boy David?
  25. But, I hear you say, 'Israel is a Western, democratic and free country that has an established body of law.  If I criticise Israel for its foreign policy, I am an anti-Semite.  If you are not for us you are against us and the full weight of the Israeli State will drop on you like a ton of bricks.'
  26. According to Melanie Philipps, if I assert that Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem and brought up in Nazareth, was a Palestinian Jew, as I do, I am an anti-Semite.
  27. I heard Melanie say on the 'Jeremy Vine' show on 17 June, "Iran can be useful to us if it is in Iraq killing people we want killed."  Unfortunately, Melanie morality does not chime with moral morality.  But it does chime with too many of my Bible believing Christian friends at my church!
  28. Do you take on board that, for the small minority like me, we see Israel like this:- as having an obsessive and compulsive fear that it is about to be wiped off the face of the earth by Muslim extremists and jihadists.  Yet, it is Israel that has WMD and the mightiest of modern military weapons to protect her!  How can she possibly be exiled, once more, from Yahweh's Promised Land?
  29. Israel's taxpayers should certainly be paying for the destruction of buildings and infrastructure that they are responsible for and that was entirely uncalled for when, between the wars, they were killing Hamas terrorists by extra-judicial assassinations, anyway.  Then, they were more likely to be the men of violence that were being killed.  For the third time, my own side, my friends and brethren who should know better, are killing innocent Gazans who, like yourselves, O Israel, want to be left in peace and quiet. 
  30. Can iron Israel not laugh in derision at such an implausible notion as Hamas and Hezbollah being able to extinguish the nuclear armed State of Israel with its even more powerful financial and military backers, the US,UK, EU and NATO?  Make friends of your enemies, O iron man Israel.  You did with Jordan and Egypt, years ago.  Then, you will get your long wished for "sustainable quiet for the people of Israel" (Israel's ambassador to the UK) from the noise of rockets being shot down by Iron Dome.
  31. So many of my Christian friends pray only for the peace of Jerusalem, as they are commanded to do in the Jewish/Christian scriptures.  What about the peace of Gaza City and the other 190 world capitals?
  32. Please, let's have ALL of Israel having quiet from the noisy Iron Dome working overtime as the war proceeds apace.  But when will Israel wipe out, for ever, the pretty useless Hamas rockets that was the reason they went to war, yet again, on the 8 July 2014?
  33. Now, war over on Tuesday 26 August 2014.  Fifty days of futile, pointless and barbaric killings of mainly children and men and women who had no wish to harm a single Israeli.  One Jerusalem newspaper called it a dismal draw and Netanyahu's popularity poll rating dropped as the war continued.  Anyway, it was well worthwhile, of course, giving the evil Gazans a good drubbing, if only to show them who was boss.

“When the strong doesn’t make victory, he is defeated, and when the weak is not defeated, then he won,” explained Hamza Ismail Abu Shanab, an analyst and the son of a senior Hamas member killed by Israel in 2003. Article in Haaretz: 'Hamas Emerges Buoyant Despite Bloodshed and Devastation in Gaza' by Jodi Rudoren on 3 Sept 2014

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The best museum in the UK, forgotten and in the back of beyond!

We both visited the Judge's Lodging in Presteigne on Thursday.  This was the most remarkable museum I have ever visited and much better than any NT property, especially for the genuine lighting and sheer number of hands on artifacts you could pick up and examine.  The gas lighting was impressive, as was every room in the basement, especially the cells and, the great ending with the court room and its real, dramatised 19th century case.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Why don't the Palestinians just leave the Promised Land and go and live in the surrounding Arab nations?

Old man Abraham has much to answer for!  He gave up ever getting a son by his lawfully wedded wife, Sarai and took her servant, Hagar for a son to be born.  This was Ishmael, that became the father of the Arab family of humanity.  Later, Isaac was born to Sarai, after all and Isaac had a son called Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.  Thus we had the people of Israel, becoming the Jewish family of humanity.

Yahweh promised to Abraham not only the Promised Land but also that his descendants would be a blessing to all the other nations of the earth.  The first promise has been fulfilled more than once (1948 most recently) and the second promise, in my opinion, has yet to be kept.  The land promised by God to Israel in Joshua 1 v 4 has never been fulfilled, however.

I believe I am right in saying that the Palestinians were originally called the Philistines who lived in Gaza.  Their Goliath was defeated by the Israeli shepherd boy, David who later became the second king of Israel in the millennia leading up to the birth of Christ.  Hence, Gaza became part of the Promised Land that, according to biblical teaching, was always intended by Yahweh to be for the Jews, only.  They have had it and lost it, in the past.

Dennis Neville, who lives in Halesowen and who knows more about these things than I do, wrote to me:

"Before 1948 there was no state of Israel so I think you are better to talk in terms of Jews and Arabs. The Arabs were in the majority during this period and there is a historian (very controversial) who claims that they are descended from the people who lived in Palestine at the time of Jesus and have a closer link to them than European Jews."

For me (not Dennis), that is not controversial but a very reasonable thing to say because it seems likely that up until 1948, Arabs have occupied the land now called Israel in greater numbers than the Jews.  Was there not a dispersal of the Jews from the Promised Land after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70?  (I must check on this)  Then, in the 13th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries in Europe, there were periods of persecution of the Jews that, in this century in France and the UK, we now call anti-semitism.

It appears that most of my conservative evangelical Christian friends feel that the plight of the Palestinians is not a justice issue at all.  They feel that the Arabs and Jews have been at each other's throats since time immemorial and you just have to leave them to it!  In fact, it seems from what I can gather, that for many centuries, Arabs and Jews lived together in peaceful co-existence.  Arabs and Christians less so.  If anything, the Arabs who are, traditionally, a nomadic people were in the majority in the land now called Israel.  In the last 1400 years of Arab Islam and Christianity, there have been periodic bouts of violence between Muslims and Christians.  The most obvious were the Crusades, initiated by the Christians to get Jerusalem from Islam.  Has that city has been fought over for centuries by all the three great Abrahamic faiths and by the Romans?  I would like to know.  Interestingly, it seems, up until the Christian persecution of Jews in Europe, Judaism was much less expansionist and aggressive than the other two faiths.  With the formation of Israel, the Jews have learnt violence to follow the poor example of Christianity (from 300 AD) and, to a lesser extent (especially, when compared the Christian West's wars of the 20th century) of Islam.

For reasons of fairness, Jerusalem I think, needs to be divided between all three of Abraham's descendants.  The problem is, the Jews want the lot, with the support of the Bible believing Christians.  Hence, east Jerusalem is now being lost by the Palestinians as the Jews take it over, as well as the West Bank with the constant encroachment of Jewish settlements.

It seems that Dennis is saying that because Jews have settled, over the centuries all over the world but mostly in Europe and, latterly America, that the land now called Israel was actually populated by mainly Arabs or Muslims - until the 1914-18 war when, in small numbers to begin with, Jews started to move to Palestine to join the Jews there.  (Source: book 'God's Servant, Israel' by Torrance and Taylor)  The USA has a very powerful Jewish/Christian lobby that strongly influences White House policy towards Israel.  Since about 1945, American Presidents have had to tread very carefully over anything to do with policy that affects both Jews and Christians.  For example, Presidents must be church going, theists and always end their speeches with 'God bless America'.  An atheist or agnostic President has been unheard of in recent decades, I believe I am right in saying.  Since 1945, America has been mostly godly and capitalist.  Their great enemy, USSR and now Russia, godless and Communist.  A clash here of ideology and theology!

In 2005, Gaza was given away by Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, in a gesture of, I suppose, goodwill or even magnanimity.  The problem was, he did it without getting a long term peace and security agreement with the Palestinians who lived in Gaza and in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).  For many centuries, the Palestinians lived in Palestine (now Israel).  Israel's was a unilateral gesture that was not appreciated, one little bit by the Palestinians.  Perhaps, Sharon did it to make it easier for him to put the fast expanding Israeli population into more settlements in Judea and Samaria.  The problem is, the West Bank was gained by an act of aggression (Israel's victorious 1967 Six Day War) and aggressors are not meant to profit from their aggression, under international law.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Teaching Hamas a lesson by killing Palestinians when we don't want to or mean to!

Dear Christian friends

Job done?

I have just heard on your disliked BBC that the first Hamas rocket since the 72 hour ceasefire was fired into Israel (and, yet again, shot down by Iron Dome).  This was after three or even four wars on Gaza and, after four weeks of bombing and shooting and killing or injuring two to three thousand Gazans in just this latest war, alone.

Israel had the right to defend itself in this way because of the thousands of rockets that, not one of you has been able to furnish me with the facts of Israelis killed or injured between and not during each of the Gazan wars.  The war objective was, yet again, to prevent your hated Muslims from firing rockets into Israel and inconveniencing but not, apparently from any news channel even Fox News, of having even one Israeli being injured!

In fact, it seems, the driver for this latest war by Israel was the killing of the three Israeli teenagers that were not even kidnapped in Gaza but were near Hebron, on the West Bank.  The 'i' newspaper, on the 17 June quoted Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, "This event will not pass without Hamas paying a heavy price" for the kidnapping.  More Palestinians were arrested but, it may have led to the attack on Gaza without the discovery of the killing of the three boys - but, that was the last straw.  Without, possibly, any criminal investigation to see if it was a civilian crime, rather than an act of war, it led to more warring on Gaza under the deception of "Israel has the right to defend itself".  This is totally unacceptable for any nation to behave in this way but, especially when it refuses to talk directly with its enemies to get a long-term peace with justice for both sides agreement.

All this illegal and immoral behaviour by the Jewish/Christian power bloc sets a very bad example to the Muslim power bloc and simply ups the anti.  It ups the hatred and revenge.  By revenge, I don't mean tit for tat but wiping out a nation, if at all possible, to exact revenge for a tooth taken out!!  Such is the mad, insane, criminal disproportionality that the American/European nations (that includes Israel) exact from the 28 June 1914 assassinations, through to the War of Terrorism on Islam (Bush Jnr called it a 'Crusade') started on 7 October 2001, to the June 2014 killing of three West Bank Jewish boys, without the perpetrators being brought to a court of law for justice.

From our track record over these last 100 years, the non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr have been very much more effective!  Perhaps, the followers of the Jesus Christ of non-violence might also follow His fine example.  The principled and pragmatic Prince of Peace!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

On the ground from Paul Mason of Channel Four

Sit down with any Palestinian over the age of 50 on a street in Gaza and, if you’re British, you’ll soon be discussing Arthur Balfour.
It was in November 1917 that the Conservative foreign secretary promised the leader of Britain’s Jewish community that Palestine would be a Jewish homeland.
“It’s all your fault,” is a line I’ve heard – delivered reasonably calmly. Though nobody’s around to remember, people who remember the expulsion of their grandparents by the Israelis in 1948, and Balfour’s promise, are very capable of joining the dots.
British imperial troops had spent the best part of 1917 fighting through Gaza, against Turks dug in to defend the road to Jerusalem.
In the past few days, I’ve been speeding up and down the same roads and towns they fought through: Rafah, taken in January 1917; Khan Younis, seized by the Brits and ANZACs in March.
In Gaza City, the capture of which triggered discussions leading to the Balfour Declaration, you can see today the same military means deployed – gunboats and air strikes.
So, events in this corner of the Mediterranean today are just the latest in a complex pattern of cause and effect set off by the first world war.
I’ll try to visit the British war cemetery on Monday. Last time I sped past it two days ago, Israeli Merkava tanks were bracketing the civilian road with shell fire, so we’ll take a view.
Surveying the hand-drawn maps of the British Eastern Expeditionary Force, it’s a reminder that all wars create “facts on the ground”.

History of Gaza

The Allied victory shattered the Ottoman Empire, and brought British and French imperial rule to Palestine, Lebanon and Syria between the wars. The Balfour declaration brought Zionist settlements to Palestine. The Holocaust and the Israeli armed struggle against the British after 1945 created the nucleus of Israel, with the mass expulsion the people here remember as the Nakba – the catastrophe.
Today, Gaza’s human geography is ranged around refugee camps created then, that became towns: the Beach Camp, just up the road from my hotel near Gaza City’s fishing port; Jabaliya where they shelled a school; Khan Younis, Al Burj, where I picked up a Palestinian journalist with her two-year-old child and we had to sing nursery rhymes as shells whizzed into the fields around our car.
Wars create facts and the ones created today, tomorrow, will be created on top of the ones created by a British empire that promised things it could not deliver.
For Balfour promised “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.
By the time Britain had to make good on that promise, in 1948, it was too weak to do so.
That’s why my British face and accent do not go down universally well here, among those who know their history.
Balfour made his promise in the year Russian workers seized power and stopped the war, led by a party – the Bolsheviks – containing many Jews. The explicit aim (of Balfour) was to rally Zionist Jews to the Allied cause, and away from the revolutionary movements that were sweeping Europe.
Today, British foreign secretaries don’t do declarations anymore. They consult their inboxes, where they hear widespread angst from ordinary Brits over what the Israelis are doing to Palestinian civilians.

War ‘is never worth it’

Meanwhile, British education secretaries tell us that the “war is hell” meme, that which unites so much of Britain’s popular memory of the 1914 war, is anti-patriotic.
My response to that, with the smell of death on my clothes and pictures of shattered bodies fading too slowly from my mind – we never show the worst on TV but we film it, for the record is this: war is utterly futile. It is never worth it. Not even for the noblest empire or the most just resistance movement.
Sometimes, it is forced on you. If you have to do it, do it humanely and with mercy and finish quickly. But don’t revel in it.
Too many people – and not just the leaders here in Israel Palestine but the ordinary people – do revel in it. Our forefathers, for all the “pro patria mori” rhetoric (for one's country), did not revel in it. One hundred years of war, betrayal, genocide and the failure of secular ideologies have brought us to this point.
I’ve been saying this all week but I’ll repeat it: I don’t have a message for Cameron, Netanyahu or Obama. But I will offer them full access to our unedited camera tapes.
I would play them on a widescreen cinema unedited without pause. Nobody would be eating popcorn.
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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Westminster Abbey remembrance service on 4 August 2014

We love to remember our glorious wars - well, the ones we win, anyway

Monday's Christian remembrance service in Westminster Abbey, made no mention of loving one another.  Certainly, no mention of loving our enemies and no mention of those who followed their conscience in 1914, followed the life and teaching of Jesus Christ instead of their God, King and Country and refused to kill.

The remembrance service was heavily represented by the armed forces personnel in the congregation and with their contributions in the order of service.  Yet, they were the ones who brought the conflagration and the carnage.  All those serried ranks of soldiers in the congregation with their patriotism, imperialism and militarism who brought ten years of ruinous world war.  They drew the map of the Middle East to the present boundaries.  Boundaries that have brought only disputes and conflicts since the West (actually, Churchill) saw control of the Middle East for oil as "the prize for the venture was world mastery itself."  (quoted in 'The Prize: the epic quest for oil, money and power' - Daniel Yergin's Pulitzer Prize-winning book)

General Sir Richard Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff or, war maker in chief and a committed Christian, read Isaiah 2 v 4 about how Israel's Yahweh "shall judge between the nations and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."  Fine words but read by quite the wrong person, to give me the impression of hypocrisy.

For me, the new lie:
"... gave the most that man can give - life itself for God, King and Country; for loved ones home and Empire; for the sacred cause of justice and the freedom of the world.  They buried him among the kings because he had done good toward God and toward His House." (inscription on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior)

"The old lie: How sweet and honourable it is to die for one's country"

Monday, 4 August 2014

4 weeks of violence from the fourth mightiest armed force in the world

You must nuke Hamas and the Palestinians, Derek as you want to wipe them off the face of the map.

So far, in three wars on Gaza you have failed to remove them from power and failed, even to stop their rockets having to be shot down by your Iron Dome.  So incompetent, you have failed to stop the Hamas rockets in four weeks by one of the top four most powerful and mighty armed forces in the world.

In this latest war, in four weeks, you have blown up UN shelters, hospitals and schools and you have killed and injured vast numbers of men, women and children who have wanted your country, Israel, left in peace by Hamas soldiers.  Perhaps, nearly all of them did not want their rulers, democratically elected, to fire rockets into Israel. The vast majority, who are not Hamas soldiers, have also wanted their own strip of territory to be left in peace by you and your brethren - and they have all just wanted the human right to live and, to live uninjured.  Now, with only the killing of some Gazans and not the lot of them, many more of the survivors will have been radicalised into becoming Hamas supporters and soldiers to get their tit for tat revenge on your country.  Your stupid policy of all out, counter-productive, conventional war on Gaza has been like the many-headed serpent in Greek mythology that, as you cut off one head, immediately half a dozen more appeared.

You have killed Gazan children in the belief that some of them would have become terrorists if they had lived.  For you and the Israelis, getting a good end justifies using evil means.  Despicable behaviour.

You and your friends, Derek, have failed to abide by your own Jewish/OT ethics of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  An eye has been exacted in revenge for a tooth.  A life has been taken in revenge for an eye - actually, not even a tooth for most of the Gazan lives wiped out.  Quite immoral and very foolish.

You and your compatriots have been so incompetent that, since 2005, you have failed to return to Gaza to dismantle the rocket launching sites and you have failed to fill in the terror tunnels going over the border into Egypt.  You have been so blind that you failed to notice that tunnels from Gaza were being built under your very noses.  Should it not have occurred to you that Hamas would have been very likely to have been doing this?

You and your soldiers failed to twig that all you had to do was to surround the terror tunnel exits in Israel and then take pot shots as each and every Hamas soldier as he/she popped a head out. 

You and your colleagues are so foolish that you have failed to act more intelligently, in the ways I have suggested here and, thus, you have all received and continue to receive the opprobrium of world opinion.

You Israelis even, I believe I am right in saying, unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2005 without talking to even one Gazan, let alone any representative to bring about a permanent peace settlement.  Again, I am sorry to have to say it, but this must be the most idiotic incompetence by you all.  Gaza could have been part of a 'land for peace' settlement with the Palestinians.  But, you cynically gave up Gaza, it seems, to take Judea and Samaria like Russia annexed Crimea as western Ukraine had come under the sphere of influence of the West.  You gave up a tiny scrap of land to help yourselves to the much larger West Bank.  At least, Russia had given Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 on the understanding it would remain within the Russian sphere of influence.  Your country's behaviour has been far, far worse than the Russians.  Do the Israelis, Jews and Christians not have a story about that in the Old Testament?

You have brought the state of Israel into disgrace, Derek.

Be done with it.  Simply nuke your enemy in the knowledge that no other Middle Eastern country has WMD and so there will be no retaliation, whatsoever.  The West will immediately replace the nuclear missiles used, so you will not be out of pocket, either.

If you cannot be shot of Hamas in less violent ways, as I have thought up here, then you must use your nuclear weapons.  What is the point of having them if you are not prepared to use the damn things?  Not even Iran has them, so you will be SAFE, Derek.

All the best in your violent - and so far futile - endeavours against the Palestinians.