Monday, August 21, 2006

It Didn't Last Long

Today is my first day back after my holiday! Where did the time go? Did I acheive what I wanted to do with my time off?

I've come back to over 400 emails in my inbox - 95% of which I've immediately deleted. Lots of new things happening, while at the same time, no real change. It's great to be back!!

Mind you, I did have a pretty good time while being off. A number of good long bike rides and a trip to London to see my sister. I've even made a start on getting my vinyl LP's down to the PC and onto CD. Some of these records head back to a misty late adolescence when a whole new 'adult' world was starting to open up.

My only question is; - why is it that time at work drags, while my time on holiday has just flown by? Is God having a joke? I feel so depressed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I Was That Child

I was the child who would lie on his back
And wave to the trees, and the trees waved back
Long days in the sun.
I was the boy with his jar and his net
Bringing tadpoles home, his clothes all wet
Nature was fun.
I was the lad who was far too tough
To be caught enjoying this nature stuff,
All kaftans and rice.
I was the youth who enjoyed the thrill
Of discovering man has the power to kill.
Not very nice.

We all need the trees and the birds and the bees
And the frogs and the flowers
And the choice can be ours
But we're taking too long to decide what its worth
Remember, we've borrowed the Earth

Of course, there were times when the truth shone through
With the setting sun, or a sparkling dew
Beautiful sight
And now I'm a man who is happy to cry
When the swifts return to my favourite sky
Screaming in flight.
When I'm an old man with time to spare
How much of my wildlife will still be there
Its vanishing fast.
Will there still be larks in the summer sky
And returning swifts that can still make me cry
How long will they last?

We all need the trees and the birds and the bees
And the frogs and the flowers
And the choice can be ours
But we're taking too long to decide what its worth
Remember, we've borrowed the Earth

We're in danger of losing the earth.

Words: Chris Baines; 1987

Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm On Holiday!

As of today, I am officially 'on holiday'!

Some would say that is a pretty permanent situation as far as I'm concerned, but don't listen that sniping. At work, just like a swan, I may look calm, quiet and perhaps not doing very much, but there is a lot going on underneath!

My Bike

For two weeks I escape the boss, the customers, the hassle of systems that don't work, other departments that don't work and colleagues that don't work! For two weeks my emails can pile up. For two weeks the whinging and whining of my staff will be someone else's problem. For two weeks I don't care. For two weeks, I don't have to catch the same crowded, smelly train to work staring at the same bored looking group of commuters. (The last is not quite true as my train's regulars are a bit of a jolly bunch and most of us do chat to pass the time.)

That Pint Hit The Right Spot

What am I going to do with this golden opportunity - nothing, as far as possible. Some bike rides, some walking, a trip down to London to see my sister and some work of my own on the computer.

The only downside to all this is that it's only for two weeks!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Anti-Semitic Or Justifiable Criticism

When attention turns to the Middle-East and the methodology of violence presently being purportrated, discussion very quickly starts to follow an egg-shell strewn path.

Let me, as clearly as I can, nail my colours to the mast. I have no time for extremism of any kind. The mess in the Middle-East is as much our fault, by that I mean the Western International community, as it is the participants presently wreaking havoc, death and misery to thousands in South Lebanon and Gaza.

In the early 20th Century, after the fall of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, Palestine was mandated to the British, while Syria and Lebanon were mandated to the French. In November 1917, before Britain had conquered Jerusalem and the area to be known as Palestine, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration. The declaration was a letter addressed to Lord Rothschild, based on a request of the Zionist organisation in Great Britain. The declaration stated Britain's support for the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine, without violating the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities.

The British Mandate contained Jordan, Gaza and the "West Bank". Because no other peoples had ever established a national homeland in "Palestine" since the Jews had done it 2,000 years before, the British "looked favourably" upon the creation of a Jewish National Homeland throughout ALL of Palestine. The Jews had already begun mass immigration into Palestine in the 1880's in an effort to rid the land of swamps and malaria and prepare for the rebirth of Israel. This Jewish effort to revitalise the land attracted an equally large immigration of Arabs from neighbouring areas who were drawn by employment opportunities and healthier living conditions. There was never any attempt by the British, to "rid" the area of what few Arabs were there or those Arab masses that immigrated into this area along with the Jews!

During the years of the Palestine Mandate, from 1922 to 1947, large-scale Jewish immigration from abroad, mainly from Eastern Europe took place, the numbers swelling in the 1930s with the notorious Nazi persecution of Jewish populations. Palestinian demands for independence and resistance to Jewish immigration led to a rebellion in 1937, followed by continuing terrorism and violence from both sides during and immediately after World War II. Great Britain tried to implement various formulas to bring independence to a land ravaged by violence. In 1947, Great Britain in frustration turned the problem over to the United Nations.

After looking at various alternatives, the UN proposed the partitioning of Palestine into two independent States, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish, with Jerusalem internationalised (Resolution 181 (II) of 1947). One of the two States envisaged in the partition plan proclaimed its independence as Israel and in the 1948 war expanded its territory to occupy 77 per cent of the territory of Palestine in defiance of that resolution. Israel also occupied the larger part of Jerusalem. Over half the indigenous Palestinian population fled or were expelled. Jordan and Egypt occupied the other parts of the territory assigned by the partition resolution to the Palestinian Arab State which did not come into being.

In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the remaining territory of Palestine, until then under Jordanian and Egyptian control (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). This included the remaining part of Jerusalem, which was subsequently annexed by Israel. The war brought about a second exodus of Palestinians, estimated at half a million. Security Council resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 called on Israel to withdraw from territories it had occupied in the 1967 conflict which, again, Israel has failed totally to honour.

In 1974, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and to return.

Events on the ground, however, remained on a negative course. In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon with the declared intention to eliminate the PLO. A cease-fire was arranged. PLO troops withdrew from Beirut and were transferred to neighboring countries after guarantees of safety were provided for thousands of Palestinian refugees left behind. Subsequently, a large-scale massacre of refugees took place in the camps of Sabra and Shatila.

In September 1983, the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, which was widely attended, adopted inter alia the Geneva Declaration containing the following principles: the need to oppose and reject the establishment of settlements in the occupied territory and actions taken by Israel to change the status of Jerusalem, the right of all States in the region to existence within secure and internationally recognized boundaries, with justice and security for all the people, and the attainment of the legitimate, inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

In December 1987, a mass uprising against the Israeli occupation began in the occupied Palestinian territory (the intifadah). Methods used by the Israeli forces during the uprising resulted in mass injuries and heavy loss of life among the civilian Palestinian population.

A peace conference in Madrid convened in October 1991 led to a "land for peace" agreement and Israeli recognition of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the development of Gaza and limited parts of the West Bank as Palestinian homelands. Israeli distrust of the PLO and it's leader Yasser Arrafat, along with the PLO's apparent inability to control Hamas, led to a deterioration of relations culminating in Israel sealing the border to Gaza and the building of a security wall in 2000 - 2001. At the same time, Israeli re-occupation of the West Bank started in defiance of UN resolution 338.

When one looks back over this history of hatred and violence, one is left with the feeling that Israel developed a rod for its own back. I have only skimmed the surface and highlighted a few of the more significant events, but weak British leadership in the 1930's and 40's allied with significant support from America under tremendous pressure from its indigenous Jewish population meant that Israel was allowed to become, almost, unfettered in it dominance and power. It's military might supplied by the US and the tacit encouragement it gets through lack of any real criticism, along with the lack of International support for the Palestinians, means Israel feels it can throw its weight around with impunity.

Israel's bully-boy tactics over many years has turned friends into enemies and enemies into terrorists. If only it could have learnt to live with neighbours instead of dominating them, and the International community had stood up to the fledgling Israel, then the history of the Middle-East could have been a lot different. Israel has stoked up a lot of anger against it, and until it recognises that, they will never find the peace and security it says it seeks.

Its most recent tactic of bombing and shelling indesciminately, only means that more terrorists will be created, and peace and security will be even more difficult to attain.

Maybe that is what the Israeli government actually wants - a state of war to perpetually exist. As Bush has discovered, it provide a wonderful opportunity for repression and atrocity