DAY 99 Nearly there?

August 29th, 2014 § 0 comments

Way back in December 2012, during the last Israeli aggression, my posts were much shorter, I wonder why. And I allowed myself a little reflection, in post 3, on whether the recent ceasefire meant peace. What it is to have acquired a history as a chronicler.

This particular war has been particularly mean and vindictive, with its repeated ‘truces’, with the constant claims that schools, hospitals and tomato purée factories are legitimate targets. (See Hague Regulations article 23 (g) and Fourth Geneva Convention article 147 for destruction of property ‘not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly’, for example. Grave breach, so a war crime.) And the mountain of dead civilians, men, women and children.

ghoulThe Ghoul family (Rafah)

But then, according to some commentators, there are no ‘innocent civilians’ in Gaza – they are guilty of having elected a Hamas government, and seem to be supporting it even now. This doctrine seems hard to square with the above conventions. In an attempt to address the situation, Richard Falk and Akbar Ganji have argued for Israel to be recognized (in a term borrowed from John Rawls) as an ‘Outlaw state’. But what would follow from that? There is no court which punishes outlaw states.

I had a report from a young friend with a sad but familiar tale: despite an excellent Ph.D. in disordered systems

nnano.2011.40-f4at my own college, he found himself unemployable. (Except at McDonald’s, and he was getting varicose veins.) After six months on JSA, being offered various deadbeat schemes which were supposed to improve his prospects, he did what any self-respecting healthy young man would have done, went off and enlisted with the Islamic State. He doesn’t understand the attitude of his job advisor who, far from being pleased that he’d found himself an occupation, threatened to get him wiped out by a drone – as if that kind of decision is within the remit of the humble employees of the DWP.

Fighters of  al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant parade at Syrian town of Tel Abyad(I’ll call him ‘Bert’ to protect his identity.) He likes the travel, although the pay hasn’t been so good up to now, nor the food; but he welcomes the news that the IS is now planning the conquest of Rome, as he has always wanted to go there and likes pizza.

Plus ça change; and in case you’re becoming too depressed, as I was, let me recommend that you read the opening chapter of Marc Bloch’s magisterial (have I used that word lately?) ‘Feudal Society’. This whisks us back to the year (roughly) 700 when Western Europe, at the time pretty uncivilized in any case, was constantly being overrun by a) Saracens, b) Hungarians and c) of course, Vikings. As Bloch points out – indeed ibn Khaldun had noted it long before – these hordes of human locusts soon, like Ulugh Beg of Samarkand, succumb to the decadent lure of the city and build mosques and observatories and stock exchanges. It’s just a matter of la longue durée. If you can survive in Aleppo or Rome for two hundred years, you’ll find life is pretty much like a Mozart opera, with Western prisoners singing the praises of humanitarian Islamic rulers.

Well, on account of all these human rights abuses, I’ve managed to get a bit of voluntary work with anyone who will let me. They smile tolerantly at my HR Law qualifications, and ask how good I am at fundraising. (Not.) As you can imagine, I spend most of my time on the internet, and as everyone agrees, it’s amazing how much rubbish there is out there – I don’t mean spam, simply timewasters posting their pigheaded opinions in the belief that someone will listen. (I’m a fine one to talk.) To take a random example, I was at the Dalston Jazz bar the other evening, Dalstonpicking up on the vibe and avoiding the kangaroo; since I quite enjoyed it, I thought I’d check out the other 200 online reviews. Very variable – samples:

1) this place is TERRIBLE! Please do not even think about going here for dinner it’s the worst food I’ve ever eaten. We were also the only table in there and after eating I know why. Drinks were standard but music was awful too, thoroughly ripped off!

2) This is definitely my favorite place. My favorite place for live music that I found. It’s a pretty small place and gets packed easily,so go early for sure.its a really cute atmosphere. The waitress are really attentive and on top of getting you drinks . Without the owner the place will not be the same. He is artist ;the decoration is out of this world . Being a artist myself I am inspired when I am in the Dalston Jazz bar. Rustic and raw . The food is homely and spiritual . Thank you Dalston jazz bar.

3) Very unfortunate to have experienced this place – one of the most disappointing and disastrous evenings out in years! If you ever see a deal on the likes of Living Social, Groupon, et al, leave well alone, even if it’s free.

Tell me what you think. I also – like you? – waste hours on Twitter; I start with Donatella (@DRovera) who is always in the most dangerous bit of Iraq – to check she’s still alive. Same with various people in Gaza (@Mogaza, etc), you find out about bombings etc quicker than on aljazeera and in more detail. But then I get on to really idiotic feeds like AskIslamicState, with questions like ‘Do you happen to know when the DFS sofa sale is likely to end?’ or ‘What do you think about structuralism? Or are you more of a post-structuralist kind of person?’ Is reading this garbage how I was meant to spend my declining years, and me with a Kindle? (No, that’s a rhetorical question, not aimed at the Islamic State.) Rather than the dangers of Alzheimer’s Disease, I’m seriously afraid that I – and many others – will suffer rotting of the brain from daily exposure.

But we can now move on to the serious political issues. It’s time for the Scots to decide, and they are up against an enemy (England) no less ruthless than the Islamic State, who (still England), if you remember, had William the Wallace hung, drawn and quartered by Edward I in 1305. I’ll spare you the details, you can watch Braveheart like everyone else. So let’s have a poem from Scotland’s Jackie Kay:JackieKay


If ye went tae the tapmost hill, Fiere

Whaur we used tae clamb as girls,
Ye’d see the snow the day, Fiere,
Settling on the hills.
You’d mind o’ anither day, mibbe,
We ran doon the hill in the snow,
Sliding and singing oor way tae the foot,
Lassies laughing thegither – how braw.
The years slipping awa; oot in the weather.

And noo we’re suddenly auld, Fiere,
Oor friendship’s ne’er been weary.
We’ve aye seen the wurld differently.
Whaur would I hae been weyoot my jo,
My fiere, my fiercy, my dearie O?
Oor hair micht be silver noo,
Oor walk a wee bit doddery,
But we’ve had a whirl and a blast, girl,
Thru’ the cauld blast winter, thru spring, summer.

O’er a lifetime, my fiere, my bonnie lassie,
I’d defend you – you, me; blithe and blatter,
Here we gang doon the hill, nae matter,
Past the bracken, bothy, bonny braes, barley.
Oot by the roaring Sea, still havin a blether.
We who loved sincerely; we who loved sae fiercely.
The snow ne’er looked sae barrie,
Nor the winter trees sae pretty.
C’mon, c’mon my dearie – tak my hand, my fiere!
Jackie Kay
Finally, for my friend and any others who may find themselves enlisting: here’s the classic ‘Johnny I hardly Knew Ye‘. It isn’t going to be over by Christmas.

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