Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Julian Pepe - The Bravest Person in the world

BBC News - Uganda fear over gay death penalty plans

See the video attached to this BBC story.

This woman - Julian Pepe - must be the bravest person in the world. She is an openly Lesbian woman in Uganda and was prepared to speak about it on the BBC.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who is to Blame in the Israel Palestine Debate

My friend Richard Landes takes one view -Augean Stables : News Media, Arab Honor-Shame, and Operation Cast Lead: The Failures of Cognitive Egocentrism

Richard it is entirely impossible to avoid the provocation and sheer bad faith showed by every Israeli government since 1987 on land transfers etc. These in my opinion have produced the actions which Israel is now reaping. To say that is not to justify Hamas actions, but say Israel is an unfair actor also.

In Northern Ireland before 1969 the UK sat back and allowed the landed Protestant elite along with a majority Protestant urban-work force (which excluded Catholic workers from decent jobs) to establish a Protestant state, which limited Catholic but not Protestant votes to householders only; gerrymandered any still possible seat with a Catholic majority; set up a almost exclusively Protestant police force; established segregated housing and had para-National organizations and newspapers which engaged in continual efforts designed to belittle and the Catholics. [For example efforts to ban Catholic symbols, but to aggressively assert Orange symbols, such as the July marches past Catholic churches.]

Did any of this justify the 1969 Catholic Civil Rights uprising, or the response of the IRA when the British troops sent it to Ulster fired on Catholic marchers? Yes to the Civil Rights marches but no to the terrorism. The IRA had no right to bomb the center of my home city (Manchester), shoot soldiers in British pubs, or set off bombs in Ireland. But the reaction by elements in the Catholic Community can be explained - Protestant Ulster and the larger United Kingdom truly reaped what they sowed. I see precise analogies to Israel and its treatment of Palestinians here.

I would prefer a one-state solution in the area as I think states should recognize all their citizens equally. Clearly that is not desired by almost anyone there (there are too many hatreds), so a just two-state solution is the one which good people need to work for. I oppose efforts by Hamas to oppose this, and regret the collapse of Fatah. I oppose all violence by such groups. But I also think Israeli efforts to usurp West Bank land is the primary driver of the efforts of the resistance.

Israel has had the upper hand since 1967. It has been, under all parties in government, consistent in attempting to grab more and more parts of the West Bank.

It is true it has a free press, a court system, and a vital internal debate. But that internal debate is very narrow, and seems to have become much darker due to the growth of Haredi politics, religious Zionism, and the peculiarly selfish politics of the Russian immigrants.

Of course Hmas firing rockets at Sderot was wrong; of course the use of suicide bombers was wrong; but the seething violence of Palestinian politics is above all a reaction to Israeli oppression.

From my view it is Israel that is the *defining* actor and other countries and the USA need to pressure it to act better.

[Most typos corrected, I hope.]