Wednesday, 31 December 2008
In the dark hours of the Israeli massacres in Gaza, it is good to know of the groups in Israel who oppose these horrific actions. Among these, pride of place in my opinion, goes to the Shministim, the young Israelis who say NO to conscription in the Israeli Army.
The Shministim are not the first refuseniks in time but they are especially inspirational.
Reading through their testimonials is a boost to any human who espouses non-violence. They suffer jail terms for their refusal. This is not easy in any country but especially so in iron-fisted Israel where the word "traitor" is easily thrown around at people who act out of conscience in a way that is not complicit with the beliefs of the IDF and the State.
These young teenagers of the Shministim are a light of hope shining in the midst of the darkness that is the State of Israel.
As an introduction please look at the video below and listen to what they say:
(there are four speakers aged 18, 19, 19, 19)
"We are Shministim ...
We are Israeli Conscientious Objectors
That means we refuse to serve in the Israeli Army
Because they are occupying another people, the Palestinians
Palestinian kids like us can't get to school because of checkpoints
Many Palestinian kids get arrested for no reason
A lot of them have been killed or their homes demolished
The Government says this policy is keeping us safe
But denying Palestinains their basic human rights put us all in danger
It's against my personal beliefs (x2)
It's against my basic values
It's against my values
That's why we are Conscientious Objectors (x3)
That's why I am a Conscientious Objector
We are Shministim (x3)
I am a Shministit
We are being jailed for refusing to serve in the Army
We need your support
Please sign the letter
and tell all your friends
Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, - everyone
We all need to stand together against violence
no matter who does it
Take a stand with us for peace
and refuge for children like us everywhere
Sign the letter today (x2)
Please sign the letter today"
The names are: Sahar Vardi, Yuval Oron-Ofir, Omer Goldman and (I think) Miya Tamarin.
Link to sign the letter: http://december18th.org/
I am sick and tired of their excuses for these multiple murders and as a pacifist I have been wondering what non-violent people can do to stop such brutal aggression so far away from the scene of the heinous action.
With the remembrance of the US bombing of Iraq burned in my mind, the monster demonstrations worldwide that tried but failed to stop it, the millions of words spoken and written, the non-violent direct actions resulting in protracted court appearances and imprisonment for so many brave people, still ongoing after all these years, I was looking for some faltering request from people in Gaza. Something that would say "This is what you can do. This will help us." I have heard their cries and to some extent felt their pain but I was hoping for a request from them that might be possible to fulfill and that might help to stop their suffering.
Two hours ago a heart-rending e-mail came from a non-violent group not in Gaza itself but in Palestine.
Here is the e-mail
"To all free people of the world,,, to all who call for freedom and Justice……
To all who have a living conscience,,, to all who love Peace,
The hearts of the children of Palestine are calling to you, the screams of the bereaved mothers are calling your consciences.
We are wondering how the world sleeps while the children of Palestine are been cut into pieces, forgive us, our eyes are full of tears and our hearts are saddened by the criminal actions of the Israeli occupation that are beyond our imaginations.
It is also hard to see the support of the governments of the world for such war crimes, which are giving permission to Israel to commit more crimes.
We are calling upon you all on the following:
1- To continue your demonstration in front of the Israeli embassies and your parliaments not just as an emotional reaction
2- A serious boycott to Israel at all levels and work to ask the Israeli ambassadors to leave your countries
3- To work towards having the Israeli war crimes put before war crime courts
4- We call upon all popular committees in Palestine to organize more demonstrations on a daily basis
5- We call upon the Israelis who refuse the occupation to demonstrate in front of their war ministry"
Maybe some answers lie in there
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Immediately, the harshest of sanctions were placed on him. Among these, he was forbidden to approach the immediate vicinity of Israel's borders or foreign embassies,forbidden to leave Israel, forbidden to speak to foreigners or foreign journalists, and he had to report any change of residence to the authorities. Over these past four years he has been arrested several times, had his living quarters raided, had property confiscated, was held overnight and by day for questioning, prevented physically from attending Christmas night Mass in Bethlehem, and harassed generally.
Today's court appearance is one of many dozens of such appearances. Today, it appears that the three judges showed a certain amount of openness and sympathy to the lawyers who robustly criticised the inhuman conditions placed on Vanunu's freedom. However, it will be their judgement in September that will be of import, rather than their apparent attitude in the court.
If they do not grant his appeal, Mordechai faces another six months in prison on top of all that he has suffered to date.
He has another appeal lodged in the Supreme Court against the sanctions that have been renewed by Israel year after year since his release. This case will not be heard for a month or two.
Friday, 13 June 2008
Lost by 53.4% to 46.6%
It was a day when Irish radio and television did not distinguish themselves. for most of the day RTE radio sounded like a wake house. then on both TV and radio came the whingeing, petulance and arrogance of bad losers.
The no campaigners were inavariably taken to task by presenters with barely concealed anger. they were repeatedly challenged to provide Taoiseach Brian Cowen with a blueprint with which he could approach his colleagues in Europe. The bias of many RTE presenters, so obvious throughout the campaign ,was now translated into an attack on the winners, their motives, their campaign, even their finances.
It looks as if the Establishment has not received the message that the electorate had tried to pass on to them. One of these, in my opinion, was that arrogance in high office is unwelcome, and that people honoured with the right to represent others must not take the people who elected them for granted. That they should shed that arrogance which makes them believe that election to the Dáil every five years gives any Government a mandate to act ruthlessly, pushing the favoured agenda of a few.
It was that kind of arrogance that (during the campaign) caused one prominent member of Government to describe the No voters as Loolahs and (on today's Radio) two other pro-Yes people to declare that the vote of the people reflected class division.
Aligning themselves with the already establised arrogance of the Government parties (Fianna Fáil and the Green Party) in pushing this opaque Treaty on their voters with a minimum of real, well thought-out reasons for doing so, will have done nothing to help the Fine Gael and Labour Parties.
The win for the NO vote should be a salutary lesson for those who walk or swagger in the corridors of power both in Dublin and in Brussels.
Early indications from around the country are that the Lisbon Treaty will be defeated in the referendum with a resounding NO vote.
If the trend continues, it will be an amazing result. The three major political parties Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour went on an all out blitz of postering and propaganda to ensure a Yes vote. Also supporting were the two minor Government parties - the Greens and Progressive Democrats. The only political party against was Sinn Féin. The anti-war movement, left radical groups, and right radical groups aso opposed. Libertas, new on the block, was one of the latter.
At 11.20 RTE announced that it appears that only three constituencies in the country have the appearance of having a Yes majority. The final result might be 55% to 45%.
The unexpected No vote will be interpreted in many ways - a No to an unexplained and almost unreadable treaty, anger with an arrogance of power, dismay with obfuscation, annoyance at the partiality of much of the mainstream media and a genuine suspicion on the part of the man and woman in the street that "this crowd" are up to no good.
The Irish Commissioner in Europe, Charles McGreevey, while supporting Lisbon, admitted that he had not read it and that anyone who did must be insane. The hint of forcing Ireland to increase military spending did not go down well.
There are sore losers on the Pat Kenny show already - including Pat himself - who usuaually can hide his anger and disappointment better than he is doing today. An avid No campaigner, Patricia McKenna, who broke ranks with her party leaders, is especially singled out for attack.
But the result appears, even while they speak, to be a NO verdict from the Irish people. This, in spite of reports (at noon) that there may be a chance, although a very slender one, of a Yes victory.
Whatever the outcome, those who tell us so often that "the people have spoken" after they patch together a Coalition of losers, must accept the democratic will of the people. This time, not as in an election, the people will have spoken.
Saturday, 10 May 2008
After his eklection Brian Cowen visited Áras an Uachtaráin returning to name his new Cabinet in the Dáil.
THE NEW CABINET
Taoiseach: Brian Cowen
Tanaiste: Mary Coughlan
Finance: Brian Lenihan
Health: Mary Harney
Transport: Noel Dempsey
Justice: Dermot Ahern
Foreign Affairs: Mícheál Martin
Arts, Sport and Tourism: Martin Cullen
Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs: Éamo Ó Cuív
Social and Family Affairs: Mary Hanafin
Defence: William O'Dea
Environment, Heritage and Local Government: John Gormley
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources: Eamon Ryan
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food:: Brendan Smith
Education and Science: Batt O'Keeffe
Chief Whip: Patrick Carey
Minister of State for Children and Youth Affairs: Barry Andrews
Attorney General: Paul Gallagher
MARY HARNEY has retained Health, although it seems that three quarters of the population are clamouring for her to go. Her agenda is to privatise Health, a move that will make life easier for her Department from which she has already shucked off a lot of responsibility. Under her, the prospects for Health are not rosy.
BATT O'KEEFFE is the new Minister for Education and Science replacing MARY HANAFIN who has been moved sideways to Social and Family Affairs although she had expressed a desire to remain in Education. His first performance on Radio after his appointment was disappointing and sounded negative, - apparently his plans will be to save money even at the cost of providing schools and relieving over-crowding in classrooms. Disappointing for me too was the fact that he made no mention of the curse of bullying that is rampant at present in Irish schools with 40% being bullied according to the latest survey.
CHIEF WHIP THOMAS KITT lost his job to PATRICK CAREY and promptly announced that he would not stand for election again. This was the first chink in the armour of the new Government. There were rumours that frantic efforts were being made to make him change his mind.
SURPRISE RETENTION was MARTIN CULLEN (see Archive). SEAMUS BRENNAN had already signalled that he would not be available because of ill health.
THE NEW CABINET is not very different from the old but there is a new leader, BRIAN COWEN, who may give it a new direction. Every new leader must be given a chance to show what stuff they are made of. The blessing given to Mary Harney's programme is not promising. The good relationship with Stormont will continue and the Peace Process, such as it is, will not be endangered, it may be strengthened. As the Celtic Tiger diminishes, two important portfolios have been entrusted to Tanaiste MARY COUGHLAN (Enterprise, Trade and Employment) and BRIAN LENIHAN (Finance) - and the country will be watching.
ON FRIDAY a new challenge was thrown down publicly to the entire Cabinet on the question of the use of Shannon and other Irish airports by US aircraft suspected of involvement in "extraordianry rendition". A letter in the Irish Times, signed by 32 people, mostly Irish, reports that the signatories have decided to form a People's Inspection Team and from now onwards are recruitng active lay inspectors to aid the Irish Government and Garda in thoroughly inspecting aircraft landing at Shannon airport and suspected of involvement in extraordinary rendition.
GREEN PARTY Ministers are expected to remain silent on this and other green issues such as the destruction of Tara of the high Kings and its environs, Corrib Gas, export of live animals etc (See Archive) Two camps of protestors at Rath Lugh and Tara Hill have been ruthlessly sacked in the past two weeks alone.
DERMOT AHERN is another Minister (at Justice) who will be closely watched. Not only did crime not abate under his predecessor (Brian Lenihan) but there are signs that the house of Justice itself (with all of its trappings) needs urgent reform. It will be interesting to see if this will happen.
WHETHER OR NOT this Government will give us the better Ireland that is so badly needed will depend on where its members place their loyalties: Will their loyalties be given to Party, colleagues and friends or will loyalty be given first of all to Conscience and Country.
THEY HAVE THEIR CHANCE
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
ONE-SIDED REPORT OF CASE INVOLVING JUDGE
This morning, the report of a case for defamation in several national newspapers failed to cover in a fair manner much of what happened in Dublin Circuit Court yesterday but gave a one-sided account which favoured the Plaintiff (a Judge) and denied the Defendant fair reportage. Journalist Ray Managh wrote a lopsided piece pubished in most morning newspapers in one form or another. In all cases the reports make no mention of the case for the Defence but publish at length the Judge's remarks and the Prosecution's case. This report tries to redress the balance in the interests of fair reportage. Any errors are regretted and are entirely the reponsibility of the author
Presiding Judge: Matthew Deery, President of the Circuit Court
Plaintiff: Judge Patrick Brady, a District Court Judge
Witness for the Prosecution: Judge Michael White
Defendant: Kevin Tracey, representing himself (a lay litigant)
Witness for the Defence: Karen Tracey: wife of Kevin
Mentioned in the proceedings but not present in Court: High Court President Judge Joseph Finnegan, recipient of the letter of complaint, District Court President Miriam Malone who received the letter from Judge Finnegan for investigation.
BEFORE THE CASE WAS HEARD:
Kevin Tracey asked Judge Deery, in order to avoid bias or the perception of bias, to have the matter taken out of the Circuit Court and transferred to the High Court with a jury, because the actions of another Circuit Court Judge, Michael White, would be central to the case.
Judge Matthew Deery refused this request. He commented that no juries could sit on defamation cases in the Circuit Court since 1971, and said the Plaintiff could take the case in whichever court he wished.
Again to avoid bias or the perception of bias, Kevin Tracey requested the President of the Circuit Court, Judge Matthew Deery, to step down (recuse himself) from hearing and adjudicating on the case in the Circuit Court. The actions of another Circuit Court Judge Michael White, would be central to the case. Judge Matthew Deery refused this request without explanation.
A request that the matter be struck out or dismissed as vexatious and frivolous.was also refused by Judge Deery.
(In the course of the trial, Kevin Tracey again asked the Judge to recuse himself on the grounds that he was making the Prosecution's arguments for them but the Judge again refused this application without giving reasons)
Judge Deery first refused Mr Tracey's requests in the "list court" where cases are assigned by the President in the morning to a panel of three judges. Participants are advised that all applications must be made in this court.
When the President later allocated the case to himself, before the case came to hearing, Mr Tracey repeated his applications in this court of hearing, before the same Judge, adding to his reasons for the applications this time that the presiding Judge himself, Judge Deery, had received a complaint from him ( Kevin Tracey) that was indirectly associated with the case, a complaint which Mr Tracey said was never replied to. Again to avoid bias or the perception of bias. This application was yet again refused by Judge Deery
THE PROSECUTION'S CASE:
A case in which Judge Michael White had been defendant, and Kevin Tracey the plaintiff, had come before Judge Brady in the District Court about 4 years ago.The letter written by the Defendant to Judge Finnegan had to do with that case. In the letter, the Defendant had stated that Judge Brady had allowed Judge Michael White, (known to him)) to enter his room and remain there during the case. This letter was read out in court. The letter had also stated that when Mr Tracey mentioned the presence of Judge White in Judge Brady's room, Judge Brady had threatened him with contempt of court and called the Garda to remove him. He had referred in the letter to the Judge's behaviour as "appalling" and "disgraceful". Mr Tracey had eventually withdrawn the inference that Judge Brady might have discussed the case with Judge White but had refused to withdraw the allegation that Judge White had been in his room. (For fuller coverage see printed mainstream media accounts)
Judge Brady gave evidence that Judge White had not entered his room.
As prosecution witness, Judge White gave evidence that he had not entered Judge Brady's room
Neither Judge Joseph Finnegan nor Judge Miriam Malone, who were the recipients of the letter, appeared in court.
THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
Kevin Tracey pleaded that for defamation to occur there must be three ingredients, all of which must be present before a statement is deemed defamatory
1. it must be published,
2. it must refer to the complainant and
3. it must be false.
1 He denied that his letter had been published but said that it was covered under qualified privilege and was fair comment.
He reminded the Court that this was not a letter published in a newspaper but a private complaint to a person in authority, intended to be seen only by him, and, until now, seen by only two people, apart from the plaintiff.
He said that it was not defamatory to make a complaint to a person in order to seek redress.
He had made a complaint on this matter four years ago to the President of the High Court (at the time of the incident) without getting a result.
2. He accepted that his letter referred to Judge Brady.
3. He stated that the complaint was true.
Kevin Tracey gave sworn testimony that he had seen Judge White enter Judge Brady's room .
Karen Tracey gave sworn testimony that she had seen Judge White enter Judge Brady's room. Several times, under intense cross-examination from Eoin McCullough, SC, she reiterated; "What I am saying is the truth. I saw Michael White going into Judge Brady's room".
JUDGE DEERY'S JUDGEMENT
Judge Deery had heard Kevin Tracey and Karen Tracey swear that they saw Judge Michael White enter Judge Brady's room and had heard Judge Brady and Judge White swear that this did not happen.
Judge Deery accepted the word of the other two Judges and awarded damages of €17,500 and costs to Judge Brady against the lay litigant.