Urgent Action for School


 

Khan al-Ahmar school, built in 2009 with mud and used tyres, serves more than 150 students (aged 6-15) from five villages who have no other access to education.

Khan al-Ahmar is one of nine Palestinian Bedouin villages on the Jerusalem to Jericho Road, in the occupied West Bank. Its families were evicted from the Negev Desert in 1952 to make way for an Israeli town. They live in abject poverty and are denied basic amenities; including fresh water and have suffered constant removal by Israel. They are now threatened with the imminent demolition of their homes and the school that serves the ninety-two children of the scattered community.

In July 2018, the Israeli military began demolishing the village. It was halted, pending High Court hearings. Demolitions take place daily as part of Israel’s plan to clear Palestinians from the area, to make way for Jewish-only settlement expansion. To the east of Khan al-Ahmar lies the settlement of Maale Adumim and, to the west, the settlement of Kfar Adumim. These Israeli Settlements are illegal under international law – which is being ignored by Israel and the current Trump administration in the USA.

Israel is determined that the families will be removed from the village and offered two sites, one of which is next to a festering Israeli rubbish dump. The other is near a sewage treatment works. “Forcible Transfer of people under occupation is a serious breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The deportation of or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory constitutes a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute.” (Amnesty International)

The British government has condemned these proposals; it should no longer stand idly by while Israel flagrantly ignores international law. It is time to take real action. It’s time for the UK government to end its complicity in Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian rights.

The Israeli High Court decision on September 5th 2018, was that demolition is feasible in seven days time. That means the school and village may be demolished. The area will be declared a closed military zone.

Urgent action is needed

 

Freedom of Expression? Depends on Where You Live.


 

With all the fuss and palaver around the current hyperbole surrounding the UK Labour Party and the virulent accusations of anti-Semitism being made against its leader Jeremy Corbyn, the world is overlooking some of the more sinister aspects of Israeli behaviour.

Let’s take the case of Mordechai Vanunu; born 14 October 1954 and also known as John Crossman. He was an Israeli former nuclear technician and peace activist who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel’s nuclear weapon programme to the British press in 1986.

Because of this, he was subsequently lured to Italy by a female member of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, where he was drugged and abducted. He was secretly transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors.

Vanunu spent 18 years in prison; more than 11 of them in solitary confinement. Released in 2004 he was subjected to a number of restrictions on his speech and movements. Since then he has been subjected to a series of arrests, because it was alleged he had violated those restrictions by giving interviews to members of the foreign press – and had tried to leave Israel. He claims to have suffered physical abuse at the hands of the authorities and intimated this was linked to his having converted from Judaism to Christianity.

In 2007, Vanunu was sentenced to six months imprisonment because it was claimed he had violated his parole. The sentence was considered unusual when a suspended sentence was the most that was expected and Amnesty International released a press statement on July 2 2007 stating that “…The organisation considers Mordechai Vanunu to be a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release…”

In May 2010, Vanunu was again arrested and sentenced to three months in jail on a charge that he had met foreigners in violation of the conditions of his 2004 release from jail. Vanunu has been internationally acclaimed as a whistle-blower – but Israel condemns him as a traitor. Daniel Elisberg has referred to him as “…the preeminent hero of the nuclear era…”

Shortly before his scheduled release, Vanunu remained defiant under interrogation by the security service, Shin Bet; in recordings of the interview made public after his release, he is heard saying “I am neither a traitor nor a spy. I only wanted the world to know what was happening. He also said “We don’t need a Jewish state. There needs to be a Palestinian state. Jews can and have – lived anywhere, so a Jewish state is not necessary…”

Vanunu was released from prison on 21 April 2004 when surrounded by journalists and flanked by two of his brothers, he held an impromptu press conference, but refused to answer questions in Hebrew because of the suffering he said he sustained at the hands of the State of Israel and told how Israel’s Mossad spy agency and the Shin Bet security services tried to rob him of his sanity by keeping him in solitary confinement and stated, “You didn’t succeed in making me crazy…”

Vanunu also called for Israel’s nuclear disarmament – and for its dismantlement as a Jewish state. He indicated a desire to completely disassociate himself from Israel; initially refusing to speak Hebrew and planning to move to Europe or the United States as soon as the Israeli government permitted him to do so.

Following his release, Vanunu moved to an apartment in Jaffa, but after his address was published in the media he decided to live in St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. Here he receives visits from sympathisers, defying the imposed conditions and prohibitions that remain in force surrounding his release by giving interviews to foreign journalists.

The Spectre of Abuse Is Still With Us


I have been contacted by a young mother who knows her six-year-old daughter is being abused by her father and older step-brother. She is not being helped by the very authorities that are supposed to be there to do that. This is where, we the internet community can help.

I have re-posted and re-blogged the SOS from the unfortunate young mother in the hope that the story will reverberate throughout the internet/Wordpress blogs and Facebook pages of my online friends.

This abusive husband and father has spawned an equally abusive eleven-year-old son who is perpetuating the abuse and trauma he suffered at the hands of his father. He is abusing his six-year-old stepsister; behaviour that is being actively condoned by their father when the little girl is taken on visits that she does not want, but have been so ordered by the courts. 

It must stop. We must stop it. Please help by copying and reposting on your websites too.

Toni Maguire wrote a book, Don’t Tell Mummy. It was all about the same thing – only the mother in that story did nothing; she deliberately let her daughter suffer abuse and trauma. This young mother – mrswrongchoice – is desperately trying to help her child. We must not let her cries fall on deaf ears.

The Spectre of Sexual Abuse


The spectre of sexual abuse being prevalent in yet more aspects of the daily life of our young people, is one that hits at the foundation and heart of modern culture, but it is time to look hard at what we call ‘human-nature’.

Sexual abuse and exploitation is as old as time itself and no one is able to explain why humans should perpetrate such vile acts upon the young of the species.

Psychiatrists and psychologists have tried and therapists attempt to deal with victims and perpetrators. All admit their success rate falls short of expectations – but it is necessary for them to try.

Nevertheless, while politicians wring their hands and the legal fraternity rake in the money bags, little is being done. The will to succeed and the necessary funding to train psychiatrists from already qualified doctors, as well as psychologists and therapists from suitably qualified candidates, must be regarded as every bit as critical as those of Brexit and immigration. Experts are in short supply as are designated premises; purpose-built premises are almost non-existent.

From past experience, I am afraid the current revelations will prove to be another storm in the proverbial teacup – debated hotly by our politicians for an all too short period; tossed around by the popular media, and then dumped on a back burner.

Meanwhile, the victims will continue to cry in vain for justice. They may end up in exactly the same way as the families of the Aberfan disaster in 1966 who were ignored by Lord Robens, chairman of the National Coal Board, and backed by Lord Tonypandy – then George Thomas MP – at the Welsh Office, told to pay for the clean up themselves from the disaster fund. Robens accepted no responsibility for the disaster – having ignored all warnings, and arrogantly proceeded to travel to America aboard the ‘Queen Mary’ where he later delivered lectures on ‘Health & Safety’. This injustice was not rectified until 2007.

Fifty years is a long time to wait for justice. Too many victims of sexual exploitation have gone to their graves still waiting. I believe many more may do the same unless those with the power to do so determine that events must move more surely – and more swiftly so justice can be delivered.

The Lure of Those Old Papers


Have you ever been tempted to tackle a little DIY and begun by spreading those long-out-of-date newspapers to protect the carpet and anything in the surrounding area that might get splashed or messed up before you make a start? Well you might guess where I’m coming from, or going to, when I tell you that I’m still in the process of trying to de-clutter by emptying shelves of lever-arch files that are crammed with outdated material relating to defunct organisations that ceased operations years ago.

It was decided that all paperwork relating to the matters of which I speak should be kept for five years and then destroyed. Just as well, because I was deeply committed to my final year of study with the Open University, I delayed any action; I wouldn’t have had time for my studies if the current rate is anything to go by. This brings me back to the beginning of this blog and the irresistible urge to read the old papers that I’m having to look through in order to shred what is sensitive and dispose of the remainder without problem.

At the start of the millennium following the 1997 election, there was a renewed vibrancy to the campaigning movement among older retired people living on their state and professional pensions. Here in Wales, Wales Pensioners represented many individual groups throughout the country. Like their counterparts in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales Pensioners were affiliated to the NPC National Pensioners’ Convention. Groups held monthly meetings and hopes were high when, in 2002, the newly devolved Welsh Assembly set about appointing a Commissioner for Older People.

Indeed, hopes were so high, representatives of different groups dared to believe they might be in danger of duplicating responsibilities so Wales Pensioners disbanded as a campaigning body believing they now had a champion for the cause of all pensioners in Wales.

What a damp squib that turned out to be. Ruth Marks’ was eventually appointed as the first older people’s champion but her contract was not renewed at the end of her first year. Although, as a graduate of Common Purpose she went on to bigger and better things and another commissioner was appointed,  the Welsh pensioner movement was hoodwinked and demoralized because, although much was promised, little or nothing was delivered.

The papers I was entrusted to keep and eventually dispose of are now being sorted. They are reawakening old memories, but I think they are better left dormant and the paperwork shredded. Times change, and we move on.

Contemplating moving house


 

September at Nonam

I have embarked upon the de-cluttering of eighteen years in one place because I want to sell my present house with its large garden and many rooms. It has just got too much to manage. I recently returned from four weeks in Sri Lanka to a wilderness of a garden.

I had left it early in August in the care of the handyman who has helped me with the autumn pruning for several years, but returned early in September to be told that the perverse British weather had prevented him doing more than cut the grass twice and attempt to prune some leylandii.

The fact that the clippings and cuttings remained on the ground in damp heaps waiting for me to pick up and pop on the compost heap, could have had something to do with the fact that M thought I was returning later than I did, but it did mean that I had to set to work sooner than I had anticipated – and am still hard at it five weeks later, although the end is now in sight for this year.

I console myself that the exercise is good for me when I come to the end of the day feeling a mite tired, and that I am a very fortunate octogenarian to still be able to enjoy working in the garden wielding secateurs and sawing or lopping wayward tree branches.

On the days when rain threatened to stop play, I doggedly worked at emptying the contents of several large lever-arch files; shredding sensitive material before consigning it and non-sensitive printed ‘stuff’ to the recycling bags.

Using the pedometer app on my android phone, I discovered I’d walked 2.5 miles in one day simply walking to and from these work stations in my den. Cutting down time spent in front of the computer – and all but one of those crafty alcoholic snifters that somehow felt so necessary now and again, I have shed fourteen pounds – and feel the fitter for doing so.

 

Why That Break With the EU?


The greatest enemy of any organisation such as the EU is corruption and the bigger the organisation, the bigger the problem. The concept of the EU was magnificent – it just got too big, and too many people jumped on what has become a gravy-train for invisible parasites. Immigration was the weapon of those who wanted to stir up hatred and fear – it obviously succeeded if the degree of vitriol towards those who wanted to leave is anything to go by. The EU must reform. Individual countries will not be able to sustain the mounting year-on-year increases as the extravagances of MEPs and EU commissioners demand gigantic budget increases while resisting all attempts to curb expenses OR audit the accounts. It is little reported that the audit has failed to be signed off since before Neil Kinnock became a commissioner – and that was before Blair became PM of UK in 1997. The EU sacked the Swedish accountant because she refused to sign off the accounts as they did not balance – they have NEVER balanced since. Quite frankly, countries do not require platoons of civil servants to accompany MEPs nor the armies of representatives from every country that populate the Emerald Cities that Luxembourg and Brussels have become. Each country could cut its contingents to single figures and get the work done more efficiently.