The following letter took me about 5 minutes to write. I’m copying it here because I believe it’s an important issue. I will let you know if I receive a response!
Dear Co Op,
I am writing to express my disappointment at your decision to boycott products from Israel and Israeli companies.
The Israeli – Palestinian conflict is far from simple and there are many wrongdoings and injustices on both sides. By boycotting one side and not the other you are making a political statement and also giving weight to an extremist position and argument.
Should we not be supporting the people on both sides? Governments and powers may be wrong and unjust, but surely you don’t want either the Palestinian or Israeli people to suffer?
I’d like to draw your attention to an often overlooked fact: By boycotting Israel you are harming the Palestinian people.
Did you know that a large number of Palestinians make their living from the companies and geographical regions you are boycotting? I would urge you to overturn your decision and instead buy from both Palestinians and Israelis. Demonising one side by refusing to buy from them solves nothing.
I take no pleasure in complaining and I’m a regular customer of your stores.
I feel boycotting your store is as meaningless as your boycott of Israel. Just because your board or members may not agree with the Israeli government, that gives you no right to harm the Israeli and the Palestinian people by cutting off their work.
And just because I disagree with your boycott of Israel, I’m not going to harm your individual workers by not buying from your shops and in turn effecting your profits and their wage packet!
I look forward to reading your response.
Thanks very much,
The year started with New Zealand’s South Island being struck by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Less than three weeks later, Japan suffered a quake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale – the worst to hit the region since records began. A massive tsunami followed, killing 16,000 people.
Looking west, the developed world witnessed huge disasters as a series of tornadoes ripped through the heart of America in May and Hurricane Irene struck the Caribbean in August.
Monsoons battered much of Asia throughout the year and heavy flooding left more than a million people homeless.
But it’s not just the weather that has been dramatic.
“Money Makes The World Go Round”
If such a statement is true, then we can expect to witness the earth being thrown off its axis and plummet into deep space during 2012. The financial crisis is more or less, a global one.
Sadly the Western world – especially America – doesn’t seem to understand the simple principle that you can’t borrow money forever.
If I lent you a million dollars every day for 2000 years, you still wouldn’t be anywhere near the amount of debt the US government is in. The National debt has increased by $3.94 billion per day since 2007.
Natural disasters and unnatural debt. But to top it all off, as 2011 draws to a close, the very people responsible for disseminating these important news stories are corrupt!
The Hacks Have Been Hacking!
As if to prove to the public that they will sensationalize anything they can get their hands on, the UK press has spent the last 6 months sensationalising the very story they are caught up in. Millie Dowler, Ian Blair, Steve Coogan. The question is not “who’s phone has been hacked?” but “who’s phone hasn’t been hacked?”
So if that great staple of British democracy (newspapers) is under threat and Levison is serious about the government regulating the press, where can we look for inspiration in these dark times?
Arab Spring- Unprecedented Phenomena
When a 23 year old fruit seller by the name of Mohammed Bouazizi had his business shut down by a corrupt Tunisian police force, everything changed.
Inspired by Buddhist monks, Bouazizi set himself on fire. This is surely the most tragic form of protest imaginable, yet it turned out to be the most effective.
Within months, all of Tunisia was in an uproar. The Tunisian’s righteous indignation at an oppressive regime was adopted by their Arab neighbours in Egypt, Libya and now Syria.
The West loves democracy, and Obama and Cameron have been acting like excited kids at Christmas as the news of toppling dictatorships reaches our shores. They loved it so much, they joined in the fun and started taking out dictators, who only a few months ago we were more or less friends with.
Many European politicians worship democracy, and are pleased it is coming to the Middle East. But as the great Winston Churchill once said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.”
The situation in Iran is hotting up. The country has been hanging homosexuals and threatening to nuke our only true and dependent ally in the Middle East (Israel) for years – but we didn’t care. Oh no, it wasn’t until the Iranians attacked the British embassy in Tehran that we all started paying attention.
To summarise, there have been wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, nations rising against nations, an increase in lawlessness (look at the London riots if you don’t believe me) and an all round lack of love and respect.
No wonder Harold Camping decided to pronounce, “the end is nigh”.
Here’s The Hope
Right now you’re wondering where the hope is, right?
I dare you to spend a few moments thinking about what Christmas means, because ultimately the true message is one of hope.
Jesus was born during similar times to our own. Both then and now, the world had gone totally mad! 2000 years ago, the King was issuing orders to kill all the baby boys in town. Oppression was everywhere. Yet some ordinary and mainly working class Jews discovered the greatest man who had ever lived and had their loves totally transformed for the better. They dedicated the rest of their lives to spreading this “good news” about Jesus.
Now one quarter of the world worships the Jewish messiah. Perhaps it’s fair to say us Christians are able to celebrate Christmas better than any other group of people. Maybe we understand the meaning better than anyone else. But we won’t like to think like that, because the point of the Christian faith is this news about Jesus isn’t just for a select few people…it’s for everyone. And that’s why we’re happy to let the whole earth join in and celebrate Christ-mas with us.
This isn’t dull, meaningless theology. Jesus offers hope now. His message of hope wasn’t just offered to some shepherds and wise men in a stable. The message was never only for a chosen select few. His message is eternal and inclusive. As relevant today as it was then. Hope has come.
While we eagerly await a coming time where there will be no more floods, tsunamis, famines, earthquakes, financial crisis, corrupt politicians and journalists…Oh yes, such a time is coming. But the hope of the Christian message doesn’t start when we die or when the world ends. It’s already here.
What is this message of hope? Click the above picture for more info, or click here for some music. Both should help answer that question.
While in Israel I met a young man named Liran. I shared some of his story with you in this post. Liran has very kindly sent me a poem he wrote (originally in Hebrew, but now translated). I believe the poem was featured in a national newspaper in Israel, and rightly so. It gives you a little insight into how young Israelis feel. I post this on the day of the Jewish New Year and as the UN deliberates over whether to create a Palestinian state.
I am the generation by Liran Shamriz
As I write this, I’m cruising at 30,000 feet somewhere above Turkey. Flying “no thrills” on Easy Jet means there’s no Wifi on board, so this won’t be posted to my blog until Saturday night.
This (Friday) morning started with a conversation. I can’t remember her name, but my friend Mike “reliably” informs me she was called “FIT”. We’ll call her JP (Jewish Princess – I’m not being rude. They are her words). Growing up in the UK, her parents wanted to protect her and look after her (hence the name). It was a comfortable upbringing, but JP always wanted a very different lifestyle.
What’s it like being blind?
I have a couple of friends who are blind or visually impaired and I have often tried to imagine what life must be like for them. I even convinced myself that I would be able to empathize with their position, if I thought long and hard about the challenges they face. It turns out experiencing what blind people face, just for one hour is a much more effective method!
Dialogue in the Dark will change your perceptions of what it’s like to be blind. On arrival, our group put our mobile phones, watches and anything else that emits light into a locker and stepped into total pitch black darkness. Our guide was a blind man who walked and talked us through a series of challenges, including working out where we were, getting on a boat and ordering a drink in a bar.
I was in secondary school (year 7) when 9/11 happened. (Read my memories of the day here.)
I’m conscious that we are now entering an era where people will grow up with little background knowledge of what caused 9/11 and what its effects have been. What were ‘current events’ are now past events. Journalism is turning into history.
The next generation’s understanding of what happened on September 11th 2001 will be similar to my understanding of what happened on December 7, 1941. And if you don’t know what happened on that date, that just proves my point!
Even though ten years is a very short time in historical terms, 9/11 will now be taught as history. But what happened on that day in New York still has very real and very significant ramifications for not just Western society today but our perceptions of the Middle East, Islam and Terrorism.
Radical Islam is still violent, messy and filled with dictators like this nutter who would like to nuke Israel and create a second Holocaust. That’s not hyperbole…just so you know. Apparently it’s not politically correct to link radical Islam with violence or terrorism…which just proves people have forgotten what happened on 9/11 already. (Also see here)
I believe George Bush was right to launch a ‘War on Terror’. What president would stand back after the dust had settled on 9/11 and say: “Well maybe if we talk to the people behind these attacks, we can have world peace”? In a perfect world, great. But in case you hadn’t noticed, this world isn’t perfect and some people will never back down on their views. Followers of radical branches of Islam have been so indoctrinated, nothing will stand in the way of them and suicide attacks.
While Bush was right to go about doing something to protect America against future attacks, his methods were widely criticised. He will be remembered as a heavy handed president who invaded countries and turned a blind eye to interrogations (or its less popular name “torture”). Obama on the other hand, will be remembered as a “wishy-washy” character who gave in to pressure from Muslim nations, never really spoke out and won a Nobel Peace Prize for nothing but good intentions.
How do you deal with a radical? Obama has been talking to them, with limited (if any) success. Bush shot them, which although successful, still (rightly) makes us a little uncomfortable. Having said this, Bin Laden was caught and killed under Obama’s watch, not Bush’s. But generally speaking, Bush was more “gun(g) ho” than Obama is being. The point is, our view of Islam is massively important. It effects politics.
Much is made of 9/11 changing the world. But we should remember it has been the ensuing decade which has really changed the world.
The United States is built on Judeo/Christian principles. These beliefs include the idea that life is precious. Suicide bombers laugh in the face of this idea. This week we must remember America as it mourns and commemorates. We must also remember what caused 9/11. Radical Islam continues to be a threat, even today.
Terrorist attacks are becoming increasingly likely and dangerous as Radical Islam spreads. The fact that America has not been attacked since 9/11 is in many ways remarkable. It’s easy to criticise governments, but we should all acknowledge that the Americans have stepped up their defenses, and should be applauded for it. I often wonder how many attacks have been prevented in both the US and UK that we never hear about. Although the teachings of radical Islam will never fade, Al Qaeda may soon be history. If we do finally see the end of the hateful organisation that started this war, it will be for the good of the world, not just America.
September 11th 2001 changed the world. But the last 10 years and the wars we have seen in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya prove 9/11 was about more than just one day. It’s defining the politics of a generation. The question we must all ask ourselves now is: “How will we respond to radical Islam?” It’s a question Israel has been asking itself for decades and there are no easy answers.
Well it’s been a long year, but my dissertation was handed in a couple of weeks ago and I’m now making it available for you to download, read, pass on and do whatever you want with. It’s presented as a PDF.
The title is
“A Critical Evaluation of The Guardian’s reporting of the Israel/Palestine situation”