Monday, May 30, 2016

occupied territories...

This is the name of a book* written by Garth Hewitt (the founder of the Amos Trust: “a small, creative Christian human rights agency that works with vibrant grassroots partners around the world”). I briefly acted as one of its volunteers at Greenbelt perhaps 10 years ago and again met Garth and his wife Gill on Iona in 2012 when they attended a conference to discuss the division of the West Bank, the encroachment of Israeli settlements and the impact on the lives of Palestinians.
It's a powerful, profound, thought-provoking book and one that I think deserves to be read by anyone who cares about peace, dignity and justice in this brutal, greedy world we live in.
Again and again, I found myself underlining passages from the book (frequently quotes from prominent academics, politicians or church leaders), so I’ve collected just SOME of them together – as a reminder for me and, perhaps, to provide others with food for thought. In no particular order (I hope Garth doesn't mind me quoting from his book - believe me there are LOTS more extracts I could have included!):

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“We need to create a new reality in the Holy land, a new structure where every person that lives here – that was born here, Israeli, Palestinian, Jew, Christian and Muslim, is honoured for who they are so their history and their past is respected”.
Sami Awad, executive director of Holy Land Trust, 2013.

“But this is the frontline. The wall and its offspring road are here and growing, the beautiful valley is being ripped in two. And then there is the ‘tunnel house’. A family has the ‘right’ papers to prove they belong to this land but they (the Israeli army) put them on the ‘wrong side of the line’. The ‘solution’ is to literally wall them in to their own private prison at a cost of $1million. It is obscene. It is obscene that these people in this village are being brutally shown by the wall, the settlements, the demolition orders, the soldiers and the bottomless budget that we want what is yours but we do not want you. We will dehumanise and humiliate you and make simple things so difficult. We will make your life so intolerable that you will leave… How can the world stand by and let this happen?”
Nive Hall, Amos Trust’s operations Manager at the Cremisan monastery.

“It involves difficult decisions and tough choices. However, the choice is not the support for Palestine against Isael or vice versa. Rather:
·         It is a choice for justice, against oppression; for human and political rights, against dispossession.
·         It is a choice for freedom, against an occupation that denies freedom.
·         It is a choice for equal human dignity, against racism and discrimination.
·         It is a choice for non-violent resistance, against the violence that perpetuates a cycle of hatred and recrimination”
“Time for Action”, Kairos Britain – following “The Iona Call” conference, 2012.

“I wonder… if having financial services and arms manufacturing at the core of your country… corrupts you morally?”
Alexei Sayle, The Metro, April 2013.

“As I write this, the richest people in the world are meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Of this meeting Aditya Chakrabortty says ‘More than 2,500 business executives and bankers will converge on the highest town in Europe for the annual World Economic Forum. For the next five days Davos will, it is safe to say, boast more millionaires per square foot than anywhere else on the planet’. He points out there is a basic membership and entrance price tag of £45,000 (approx. $74,000), but then adds: ‘The real business lies in private sessions with industry peers and amenable politicians and access to those start at around £98,500 ($161,600). And this is what makes Davos so fascinating: it is the most perfect case study of how practitioners of free market, globalised capitalism give the public one explanation for what they are doing and why, while privately pursuing the complete opposite. On the one hand there is an event attended by Sharon Stone, Bono and a slew of tame academics (14 Nobel laureates this week alone) the message being, “we are open to anyone”. On the other hand, there are those secret meetings off limits to anyone not in the £100K club… From its inception, the whole point of Davos has been to promulgate the gospel of free market fundamentalism. Earlier generations would have known what to call Davos set of wealth extractors and rip-off merchants’”.
Garth Hewitt, “Occupied Territories”. Aditya Chakrabortty: “An Action-Packed Thriller Is About To Unfold In Davos, Switzerland”, The Guardian, 21 January 2013.

“The greatest threat to world peace is not from nuclear weapons and their possible proliferation, it is from drones and their certain proliferation… Drones are now sweeping the global arms market. There are some 10,000 said to be in service, of which a thousand are armed and mostly American. Some reports say they have killed more non-combatant civilians than died in 9/11. I have not read one independent study of the current drone wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa to suggest these weapons serve any strategic purpose. Their ‘success’ is expressed solely in body count, the number of so-called ‘al-Qaeda linked commanders’ killed… Neither the legality nor the ethics of drone attacks bear examination… It is hard to imagine a greater danger to world peace”.
Simon Jenkins, “Drones Are Fool’s Gold: They Prolong Wars we Can’t Win”, The Guardian, 10 January 2013. 

“The world must urgently set goals to tackle extreme inequality and extreme wealth. It is now widely accepted that rapidly growing extreme wealth and inequality are harmful to human progress, and that something needs to be done. Already we hear the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report rated inequality as one of the top global risks of 2013. The IMF and The Economist agree. Around the world, the Occupy protest demonstrated the increasing public anger and feeling that inequality has gone too far.
In the last decade, the focus has been exclusively on one half of the inequality equation – ending extreme poverty. Inequality and the extreme wealth that contributes to it were seen as either not relevant, or a prerequisite for the growth that would help the poorest, as the wealth created trickled down to benefit everyone. There has been great progress in the fight against extreme poverty… (But) we cannot end poverty unless we end inequality rapidly.
That is why we are calling for a new global goal, to end extreme wealth by 2025 and reverse the rapid increase in inequality seen in the majority of countries in the last twenty years”.
Oxfam: “The Cost Of Inequality: How Wealth And Income Extremes Hurt Us All”, 18 January 2013

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron”.
US President Dwight D Eisenhower: “The Chance For Peace” speech, 16 April 1953.
Note*: “Occupied Territories” (Garth Hewitt), published by IVP Books, 2013.
Photo: part of the wall surrounding Bethlehem.

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