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.

A Family Affair

As a voluntary visitor of some fifteen years, I have recently had the harrowing experience of hearing about the traumatic abuse of a very vulnerable adult now in her sixties. It is the first time she felt she could trust someone with her story.

Her doctor persuaded her that she was a writer and only she could tell her story. I persuaded her that if she was capable of writing it down, it would be a kind of catharsis. When she phoned me to tell me that she had used pages from the exercise books I’d bought for her; that she wanted me to collect them at once and “…please get them out of my house…I never want to see them again…” I went to see at once, and spent over an hour trying to calm her and convince her that her story needed to be told – as she wanted, so that others might gain strength from her experiences.

Her story is heartbreaking to read. Most of the perpetrators are dead, although some family members are still alive, and for this reason the victim divulges no names. The fact that the main perpetrator was her mother’s brother and that the abuse started in the victim’s cot adds to the horror, but that that violation was never acknowledged by the victim’s family who blamed her; vilified her; and told her that she was ugly; that she smelled foul, and that no one would believe her – adds to the nightmare.

As in a recent BBC documentary, children have the right to expect their family to protect them – not be the abusers whose abuse destroys any chance of them ever entering into any kind of adult relationship; especially when that abuse persists – even into the victim’s teens, and precipitates their seeking freedom by opting to go to a college far from the home in the hope that the abuse will end.

This is yet another story of a child abused, traumatised and victimised by those who should have been her champions. There was no one there to help her stand tall, yet she did manage to forge a career as a librarian until ill health forced her early retirement. Now she is the broken victim of the state benefit system, but trying to maintain her independence and dignity as best she can while coping with local authority bureaucracy.

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.

House-Moving and All That

Having decided that at eighty, a house move must be tackled sooner rather than later, and with my house on the market, I have embarked upon the essential de-cluttering that downsizing means. The first stage of clearing shelves of files containing news, views and events that took me on the campaigning trail sixteen years ago has been under way for a few weeks and large spaces are now appearing.

The amount of paperwork has been staggering. A great advocate of filing and keeping records, I now realise this is a two-edged sword that is proving hugely time consuming. I was prudent to tackle it now, rather than wait for a buyer to happen along. Who could have foreseen that getting angry over other people’s problems would result in shelves crammed with so many black lever-arch files that once emptied, would pose the question, ‘…what do I do with the remains?

The immediate problem was solved after making some local inquiries; the files and their hundreds of multi-punched plastic pockets found good homes, but then the contents of those plastic pockets needed attention; many contained sensitive material so caution was needed before disposal. This meant looking through and reading everything so nothing confidential could fall into the wrong hands.

Now that doesn’t sound too onerous, and though the reading has been superficial, the content has raised many ghosts. I have been hag-ridden by the spectres of those who have had to live with the consequences of the injustices dealt them by circumstances and life in general.

Some of the cases were won by our little group, others we lost. One case took two years before the local health board issued a written apology for the neglect that caused the death of a family’s elderly father. Letters to the minister at the Welsh Assembly, the health Ombudsman, the chair of the local health board had all come back disclaiming responsibility and making excuses as to why they could not be involved in an individual case – but after a public enquiry had found in favour of the plaintiff – all capitulated and an apology was issued.

The prolonged pain and stress of that family would have been so much less had the apology been issued by the hospital in the first place. Just saying “Sorry – we’ll make sure this never happens again” would have sufficed.

Looking through my notes has made me realise that a simple apology on the part of the official body concerned could have saved so much pain for the victims in most of the cases. Why are the words, ‘I’m sorry’ so difficult to say?

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.