Tag Archives: violence

Israel/Gaza, Leo McKinstry and his lunatic extremist violent ideology

There is nothing special about the Daily Express’ Leo McKinstry. He is one of many journalists who will go to any length to defend Israel’s actions, however brutal, disproportionate or unjustified they may be. In his latest Daily Express column, a little unpicking highlights the extremist ideology that sits behind his words that allows for such unwavering support of a massacre of innocent Palestinians.

express
This is not the first time Hynd’s Blog has taken issue with Leo McKinstry’s writing. Back in 2012 my friend and social commentator Eugene Grant wittily quipped that if there was a fit for work test for journalists, McKinstry would surely fail it for his coverage of the debate around benefit claimants.

Fast forward two years and I have once again had the misfortune of stumbling across one of his deeply misleading diatribes. This time the case in point is the Gaza/Israel conflict – a subject that lends itself all too easily to hyperbole, hatred and crass generalisations.

Within a few paragraphs McKinstry throws out a paragraph that, although must be saluted for its invariably inventive alliteration, must also be picked apart:

“In practice denouncing the Jewish state means siding with the malevolent, murderous forces of jihadism, a stance that not only represents a complete inversion of morality but a ­suicidal disdain for the interests of western civilisation.”

Three words in and we have a problem…’denouncing’. No mainstream politician in the UK has denounced Israel. In fact the opposite, politicians have gone out of their way, even when criticising Israel’s actions, to reiterate that they are ‘friends of Israel’ – whatever that actually means.

But, even if you do ‘denounce Israel’, as some people (but not the politicians McKinstry is referring to) do, then how this then leads people to inevitably ‘siding with the malevolent, murderous forces of jihadism’ is a mystery that remains sadly locked in the inner depths of the editorial room of the Daily Express.

The vast majority of human rights organisations that are then invariably are used and quoted by the politicians McKinstry is so desperate to attack, go to great lengths to highlight human rights violations by both the Israeli actors and Palestinian ones.

Criticising one side’s human rights abuses does not act to excuse the others. This complex moral concept is, I will admit, a difficult one to grasp when smashing your fingers in fury at your keyboard.

But all this is just the tip of iceberg. Next, McKinstry offers us a journalistic lesson in the importance of context stating:

“The present conflict was started by Hamas firing rockets at Israeli civilians and since the beginning of July more than 2,800 of these ­missiles have been launched.”

That’s right, he actually says that this ‘conflict was started by’. In true playground philosophising McKinstry throws out the perpetual eight year old’s defence of ‘he started it’. Some might consider the origins of this modern conflict to stem from deep rooted differences, understandings of history, claims of land, hurt and loss through generations of war dead….but nope, McKinstry assures us it was ‘started by’ Hamas firing rockets.

Now might be a good time to remember that Hamas only officially came into existence in the late 1980’s, some 20 years after the start of the military occupation of Gaza that still, technically, exists today.

This is not to say that Hamas is not partially to blame for the present conflict, far from it. All that is being addressed here is this bonkers assertion that Hamas could solely be blamed for ‘starting the conflict’ like McKinstry suggests.

Britain would not tolerate an ­aerial assault without striking back so why should Israel?

Putting aside my own pacifist leanings for one second to glance over at what most mainstream politicians and commentators are saying…we can see that most people are not saying that Israel can’t or shouldn’t defend itself, only that it should do this in line with International Humanitarian Law. This in short says things like, try not to kill civilians, don’t bomb schools and mosques etc. Not big asks, but apparently too big for the Israeli Defence Force to comply with as the list of alleged war crimes now runs longer than one McKinstry’s titillating tabloid tirades.

But, Israel’s actions are justified by the morally bankrupt McKinstry as he implies that if Israel didn’t kill civilians, keep an entire population under a harsh military occupation and repeatedly commit war crimes then a global Islamic jihad would come and impact us all…

Instead of traducing Israel western politicians and the media should face up to the terrifying global threat of fundamentalist Islam, of which Hamas is a key part. We see that threat all over the world from the turmoil in Libya to the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, from the stoning of women in Afghanistan to the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq.

Some really concerning issues he raises, but once again, in McKinstry’s eyes we only have 2 choices to address these issues:

  • traducing Israel western politicians or
  • facing up to the terrifying global threat of fundamentalist Islam

Remember, there is no either or here. It is one or the other. You choose.

And once again, let’s not get bogged down in the specific geo-political circumstances that might have given rise to very different factions of radical Islam that now manifest themselves in violence in different parts of world…why would we want to do that…let’s instead use a term that I honestly don’t think McKinstry knows the meaning of ‘Jihad’ and suggest they are all the same.

Of course, there is an irony here. These violent forms of radical Islam are, at least in part, a reaction of blinkered extremists and reactionaries who are unable to deal with the multicultural societies the modern era has ushered in. It doesn’t take much to spot that this description fits comfortably with someone else this blog post addresses…

But that’s unfair I hear you cry, many Islamists are violent in their small minded idiocy. Well, stick with me, we haven’t got to McKinstry’s finale yet…

In a comically dire reinforcement of his extremist ideology used throughout his article that justifies any action, however brutal, by Israel, McKinstry goes onto say:

“Only by defeating terrorists can peace be achieved.”

Violence you see dear reader, is the only solution to violence. We must go to war to prevent war.

The logic of a lunatic fanatic that looks to justify Israel’s action no matter how horrific they are.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Politics

Another crackdown on the protest in Kafr Qaddum

My head started swimming and I couldn’t open my eyes. I could feel broken stones crunch beneath my feet and I knew I was moving away from the protest. For a terrifying 30 seconds I lost track of what was happening. An autopilot sense of self preservation kicked in that my conscious self had little control over. Just as my senses started to return I felt a colleagues hand rest on my lower back and lead me to the side of the street. Here I crouched in the small amount of shade offered by the shop-front from the midday sun. My stomach had tied itself into a knot and my head felt like it had split in two. Only then did I realise that I must have walked away from my colleague who was now stood in front of me with her camera in hand. I glanced up an offered what I hoped was a reassuring smile.

A few minutes earlier I had been stood at the back of a demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, a small village in the West Bank. I was there to monitor the proceedings and reporting on any human rights violations I witnessed. In the minuets preceding I had filmed a number of ‘warning shots’ being fired over the crowd and whiffed the faintest smell of tear gas. I believed I was far enough back though to avoid the worse of what was to inevitably come. I was stood on the side of the street next to a large wall that could also offer me protection, should it have been needed, from any direct fire. My colleague was nearby and I felt in control of situation.

Seconds later the Israeli army fired a volley of tear gas canisters (some directly into the crowd) that filled the streets with a penetrating thick gas. At first I stayed in position as it appeared the soldiers were aiming just for the front of the protest. As the crowd turned to run however, the tear gas landed closer and closer to me. At this point one canister landed a few yards away and filled my lungs with the gas. What happened next is a blur. I remember a man kicking the canister away down the hill but little else.

On the approach to the village earlier that day there were some clear signs that the protest was not going to pass peacefully. The Israeli Army had set up a series of checkpoints cutting off the only main entrance to village. I approached as part of a mini convoy of human rights monitors. I was travelling with others from EAPPI and the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem. As we approached the checkpoint it became abundantly clear that international human rights monitors were not being allowed into the village. Later I would find out that the same restrictions were being applied to media outlets.

I already had reasonable suspicion to believe that this week’s protest at Kafr Qaddum was going to witness an escalation of violence on previous weeks. The day before the village had seen 19 of its residents arrested in an IDF raid. “It was a clear illustration of strength aimed to intimidate us and to stop us making protest” one villager suggested. There were reports that a large amounts jewellery had also been stolen during the raid. This combined with the checkpoints only heightened our unease about the protest.

After meeting a series of other journalists, news agencies and human rights monitors who had also been turned away we decided to collectively head across the fields and enter the village “through the back door”. As the representative from B’Tselem put it, “if we do not reach the village today I am sure some very bad things will happen and they will go unreported”.

Sadly, his prediction of violence proved to be true. Both the Israeli Army and boys and young men from the village once again illustrated their willingness to take part in acts of violence against one another. Before being ‘tear gassed’ myself I saw stones the size of my fist being flung through sling shots at the soldiers who then responded with the brutality that I am coming all to use to seeing.

It is important, however distressing these scenes of violence are, that the world hears about them. Today I saw a large number of boys throwing stones before the Israeli Army fired tear gas directly at the crowd as a whole.  The obvious difference in these actions is that one was undertaken by a professional army and the other by young boys in an occupied village.

2 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Middle East, Politics, War

A not so peaceful protest

This article was posted on the Liberal Conspiracy blog.

I was stood in the middle of an escalating protest against the Israeli occupation in the village of Kafr Qaddum. The air was thick with tear gas, panic was spreading as people were running in all directions to escape. In this commotion another round of tear gas was fired directly at the crowd. I saw someone meters from me collapse. A man caught him as he was falling and lifted him onto his shoulders. As he tried to escape other men came to help carry him. After a few meters they laid him down on the ground and it became clear he had been shot in the neck by a tear gas canister. This was the second person of the day to suffer this fate.

The former legal advisor for Judea and Samaria, Col. Sharon Afek of the Israeli Defence Force stated in April 2009 that, “direct firing [of tear-gas canisters] at persons is prohibited” and that, “very soon, an explicit and broad directive will be issued that will prohibit the firing of a tear-gas canister directly at a person.” When in July 2011 the Israeli human rights group B’tselem enquired to why they were still recording multiple incidents of tear gas canister being directly at crowds, Major Uri Sagi, of the office of the legal advisor for Judea and Samaria within the IDF stated that, “we have again clarified to the forces…the rules relating to firing of tear-gas canisters at persons, including the prohibition on directly firing a tear-gas canister at a person.”

In December 2011 the death of Mustafa Tamimi was caught on camera. He was killed by a tear gas canister fired by an IDF soldier from the back of a jeep just a few meters away. This incident caused international outcry. It was raised by Don Foster MP in a letter to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and gained wide spread media coverage.

Despite this extensive history I today witnessed another two Palestinian men being hit by IDF fired gas canisters. Despite IDF regulations stating that tear gas must be fired at a 60 degree angle I witnessed them repeatedly firing directly at the crowd. Not only does this violate the IDFs own regulations regarding the use of tear gas, it also violates International Humanitarian Law by failing to distinguish between civilian and combatant.

This however was only one part of the story of what happened at the protest at Kafr Qaddum today. The IDF tactics varied between spraying chemically produced water with a awful smell (aka ‘skunk water’, firing tear gas (at the crowd) and even using dogs to capture protestors towards the front. I was told that this boy had his arm broken by the dog before being arrested. This was the first time I had seen dogs being used at protests – a potentially worrying development.

The protest is organised under the principle of non-violence. Regularly however stones are thrown at the IDF by boys from the village despite men trying to stop them. It was reported that last week that a soldier was hit in the face by one of these stones. This reality that the IDF faces however provides no justification for their continued breach of both IHL and their own regulations. We are collecting too many examples now of the IDF misusing tear gas. It is time for the IDF to start enforcing its own standards and to live up to its obligations under International Humanitarian Law

6 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Middle East, War

Extreme homophobia in modern reggae music

This article was published in Out Bristol issue 13

Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, Capleton, Sizzla, TOK, Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel are all examples of modern reggae artists who have over stepped the mark.  They are overtly homophobic.  They have the right to speak out against “homosexuals”, however unpalatable that it.  They do not however, have the right to incite violence.  There music does exactly that!

Some try and defend lyrics such as  “you know we need no promo to rub out dem homo” from Bounty Killer (aka Rodney Pryce), and “I’m a dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays” by the charming Beenie Man.  I say that these lyrics are indefensible.

It is important to point out that there is little “Jamaican” or “African” about homophobia.  There is plenty of evidence to suggest homophobia was forced onto Jamaican culture by Christian fundamentalist in the 19th century.  Indeed, the opposite can be argued to be true, that “African culture” which so many of these homophobes purport to be representing , actually saw homosexuality as quite a normal act and indeed, at times common place (This is especially true of West Africa where the majority of men were taken from in the slave trade).  These practices maintained a high level of prominence within “slave communities” in Jamaica. See Suzzane LaFont’s paper “Very Straight Sex: The development of sexual mores in Jamaica“.

Essentially, we shouldn’t tolerate this sort of hate filled music. We should certainly not listen to music that incites violence and murder against someone because of their sexuality. And finally, we shouldn’t accept their defence that it is somehow OK because of their “Jamaican” cultural heritage!

3 Comments

Filed under Music, sexuality

We are football fans, let us introduce ourselves

There is an out-dated self-fulfilling stereotype that is blighting the beautiful game.  It is the sort of stereotype that is so damaging that in other walks of life it would have been tagged “discriminatory” and yet is accepted for football fans.  This stereotype is that football fans are racist, homophobic, violent and irrational.  Take a step back and think about just how short-sighted this is.

Let’s be clear, some football fans are disproportionately racist, homophobic and violent in relation to the wider British population; although this is a dying phenomenon.  Some football fans still do cause violence, shout abuse at each other and vandalise their surroundings. This is very different however, from saying that football fans are these things.  This prejudice materialises in a number of ways.  For example it is not just an internal prejudice that people hold, it affects our everyday lives.  If you are wearing football colours it is common to be banned from pubs.  Banned! Literally not allowed to enter because you support a game! Let’s now make a massively controversial and yet interesting comparison.

Black men, are disproportionately responsible for violent crime (two-thirds of shooting, over half of armed robberies) and yet, no civilised human being would still think that Black people are violent.  There is no bar manager who would deny a Black man entry to a bar purely because of what he looks like. Sadly, I believe that people still hold irrational fears based on inbuilt racism, but it has become socially unacceptable for anyone to express these prejudices. This public consciousness is not so apparent when it comes to football fans. Not only do people believe football fans are all these things but it is OK to be openly prejudice against them.

Football fans in the UK are a very different phenomenon to the firm violence of the 1980’s and 1990’s.  There is still football hooliganism.  The difference is that they no longer hold wide-spread support amongst football supporters.  The violence is no longer seen as a source of pride.  If you hear racist abuse in the stands today it is looked down on.  Indeed, this is slowly becoming true around homophobic chanting as well.  The sad thing here, is that football followed society rather than led it.

I find it really disappointing when supporter groups like the Bristol City Supporters Trust have to put out video’s like the one at the start of this blog to point out the obvious.  Football supporters are cross generational, cross class, cross ethnicity and overwhelmingly peaceful.  There is only a minority that are interested in violence. 

When a football club proposes to build a stadium on your doorstep, you are right to be worried.  It will strain your transport infrastructure every other Saturday, noise levels will rise for a couple of hours a every other Saturday and you might (if you are unlucky) experience football related to violence.  These problems however are often over stated, and the benefits football can bring to the community, local business and to individuals are often underplayed. 

To mention a few potential benefits (the list is too long for this post but please do read this report by “Supporters Direct”):

  • Community outreach – Clubs nearly always have staff and money to invest into local schools and community centres.
  • Community cohesion – when you are on a football pitch or in the stand, normal societal divisions loose their significance (as I said football is cross class, cross ethnicity and cross culture).
  • Facilities – Often the facilities of clubs can be used by local teams, the rooms for evening education classes or the restaurant bar area for events.
  • Business opportunities – having a successful football club acts as an economic magnet for further investment in the area, from restaurants and pubs through to schools and transport.
  • “Soft benefits” – these are ones you cannot quantify, the friendships, the civic pride, the social cohesion that football can have. 

These benefits are not a given.  Not all clubs benefit their communities as much as others.  The Supporters direct report makes recommendations on how to bring about the best practice to increase the “social benefit” of football clubs.  A case lesson to learn is that it needs community involvement.  That means me and you going along and getting involved!

I still maintain that there is no force in the world more powerful than football to bring about change.  If we marginalise football (we don’t want a stadium near us), if we give only bad press, and if we continue to paint fans in out-dated firm colours then we will continue to leave this force to be moulded by regressive social movements.  It appears that the BNP understand the significance, but sadly other political movements seem to shy away from engaging.  It is up to us, as citizens to engage with our local clubs to bring about the sort of relationship we want to see.

1 Comment

Filed under Economics, Far-right politics, Football, Politics, sexuality, Sport

The African Cup of Nations in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa – there’s no comparison

I have recently read a whole series of sensationalist articles suggesting that due to the unrest and violence that has occurred during the African Cup of Nations (held in Angola), the safety of the football World Cup being held in South Africa should be questioned.  This is idiotic at best.

Angola is about 2,000km away from South Africa.  A similar distance can be found between Spain and Mali, or Greece and Iraq. Angola only gained independence from Portugal in 1975.  From there it slipped into an intense civil between the MPLA and UNITA (1975-2002).  In this time about 500,000 people were killed.  It was one of the ‘conflict theatres’ of the cold-war that lasted the longest.  This war provided one of the few significant links between South Africa and Angola; apartheid South Africa supported (along with the US) the anti-communist UNITA. 

The civil war spawned a terrible humanitarian crisis, internally displacing about a third of Angola’s population (about 4.2 million).  In 2003 the UN estimated that 80% of the population did not have access to basic medical care and 60% did not have access to safe drinking water.  The life expectancy in Angola is less than 40.

Are we completely surprised then, when the world gives a country (or terrorist movement) a media hook like the Cup of Nations that violence should ensue? The Togo football team defied organizers demands to only fly in and took a bus from neighbouring Congo.  The following attack left at least 3 people dead.  Adebayor, the ex-Arsenal Striker was left holding one of his best friends as he passed away in his hands.  This sort of attack, with its high profile football stars, filled the Western Press (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6982463.ece).

There is no doubt, that this Cup of Nations has shown some outstanding football, but this has been over-shadowed by the politics and violence that surrounds it.  Commentators have suggested that this has set a precedent for coming competitions, including the South Africa World Cup in the summer.

This is ridiculous!  Firstly, it suggests that this is a new idea (to attack a large sporting event to gain publicity – remember the Israeli athletes at 1972 Olympics?).  In this sense South Africa is no more under threat than it was before the latest violence in Angola.  I strongly suspect, this is another example of the media exploiting Europeans ignorance of geography and politics to paint these two “southern African” nations to be similar.  They have both been through turbulent recent histories, but to suggest that they share much more than this is wrong.

South Africa became an independent republic in 1961, and the government decided to continue to legislate based on apartheid until the early 90’s.  Since then, the country’s politics have been dominated by the ANC, fist with the figurehead of Mandela, then Mbeki and now Zuma.  There is still a high rate of crime across South Africa, especially for murder and rape.  One in three women questioned in a recent survey said that they had been raped in the past year (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/258446.stm).  There are clearly problems facing South Africa, especially in relation to the security issues in the run up to the World Cup; but do you:

A) Think that FIFA have not discussed this with them and are satisfied with their plans and

B) This has any connection to the violence in Angola?

What does this mean for the average footy fan?  It means you should be vigilant when travelling in South Africa.  Have a read up on the risks before you go, take sensible precautions.  Just like with every world cup, there will be a small surge in crime, especially petty.  Should you be afraid of a violent terrorist attack, I really doubt it – you are much more likely to get your wallet stolen.

This African Cup of Nations and the coming World Cup will hopefully illustrate an awkward juxtaposition between the extravagant wealth of modern football and the relative hardship faced in South Africa (and the extreme hardship faced in Angola).  Let the football be enjoyed, but let’s not forget the politics.

Leave a comment

Filed under Football, Human rights, Sport

Raging at moral hypocrisy

This morning on BBC Radio Five Live the American band, “Rage Against the Machine” landed the BBC in trouble by repeating four times “Fuck you , I won’t do what you tell me” in their rendition of their song “killing in the name of”.  There are a number of issues which make this event note worthy.  In no particular order:

  • Rage Against the Machine is widely tipped to become Christmas number one this year after a grass roots campaign to keep X-Factor off the top spot.
  • Nicky Campbell was conducting the interview (which added to serious comedy value)
  • The production team had asked the band not to swear, were surprised when they did and then deemed it so problematic that they did swear that they decided to cut them off before the end of the song

I will briefly take up this last point. 

Firstly, did they seriously expect a band (even if you knew nothing about the bands history could you not guess from the name) to not go against the orders and swear on live radio? Anyone (even Nicky) must have seen that one coming.  Apparently not, check out the surprise and panic in the reaction (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/dec/17/rage-agains-machine-singer-swears). 

Secondly, why are we so upset to hear swear words on radio? All you have to do is jump into a London cab or watch some football on the stands to hear some good old fashioned swearing! In fact, you have to do well to avoid swearing these days.  Fuck it…I would go as far as to say it’s almost impossible to go a day in an urban environment without hearing some “offensive” language.  Why do we insist on representing an alternative reality in our media and suppressing the charms of everyday life?

Let’s clarify something, I believe strongly in mediating what slips onto our TV’s and radio’s.  There is some stuff out there which is plain nasty.  What I am suggesting however, is that we have got our morals confused with tradition.  Why do we allow so much grotesque violence (for no reason other than historically violence was considered ok) and yet blackout swearing and sex? We can see this moral puzzle played out in film ratings.  Hotel Rwanda for example, follows the story of the Rwandan Genocide (in some harrowing detail) and is considered OK for a 12 year old to watch (in the UK).  If you added in some boobs and casual bit of swearing this would suddenly become unacceptable for a 12/13/14 year old to watch.  Have you ever questioned why an erect penis is an absolute taboo in film, but there seems to be no limit to the levels of violence that can be portrayed in films? Now question which one is most “normal”? If I had a choice I would let my kids see and hear swearing and sex way before the levels of violence that are normalised in our society.  I suggest the only difference is which morals have been historically acceptable?

The only shame about this whole story is that Rage and the advertising chiefs up at Sony BMG (who own epic records) know that swearing on radio will be a media money spinner!

3 Comments

Filed under Music