Fotos zum Bericht aus Carlisle

Hier sind weitere Fotos des Berichts aus Carlisle, Nordwest-England der heute in der taz steht, siehe

HERE ARE THE PICTURES COMPLEMENTING MY REPORT ABOUT CARLISLE AND THE WIDER THEME OF BREXIT IN THE GERMAN  INDEPENDENT LEFT OF CENTRE TAZ, DIE TAGESZEITUNG. THE LINK  TO THE ARTICLE IS BELOW. YOU WILL NEED GOOGLE TRANSLATE FOR AN ENGLISH VERSION:

LINK TEXT IN TAZ DIE TAGESZEITING (German) https://taz.de/Brexit-Hochburg-Carlisle/!5554438/

Der Berticht bezieht sich auf Recherchen in der Brexit wählenden Region des tiefen Nordens Englands an der Grenze zu Schottland

Globalverantwortung und Klimaschutz als Gegenpol zu Wirtschaftsblöcken und Segregationspolitik.

Globalverantwortung und Klimaschutz als Gegenpol zu Wirtschaftsblöcken und Segregationspolitik.

Ich habe lange von der Seite zugeschaut. Am Anfang erschien es so, als ob ich als Deutscher in London selbstverständlich zur Remain Seite gravieren sollte.

Doch das wäre nicht dem wahrhaft gewesen, was ich von Seiten der EU und seinen Mitgliedsstaaten seit Jahren beobachtet hatte: Die Politik, die manche als „Fortress Europe“ Europafestung, beschrieben hatten.

Auch wenn die Bundesrepublik viele Flüchtlinge bei sich aufgenommen hat, andere EU Staaten taten es nicht, oder sie tolerierten diese Menschen, ohne ihnen menschenwürdige Zukunftschancen zu geben. Zehntausende liegen auf dem Boden des Mittelmeers, dafür, dass Flugzeuglinien, die in EU-Länder fliegen, dazu verordnet sind, unter Drohung hoher Bußgelder, keine illegalen Migranten mitzunehmen. Stattdessen wurde so von der EU indirekt der illegale Menschenhandel angetrieben.

Dass es Flüchtlinge in den Ausmaßen gibt, wie wir es miterleben, hat viel mit wirtschaftlicher Blockpolitik zu tun und der Art und Weise, wie Kriege in den letzten 20 Jahren gekämpft oder nicht gekämpft wurden.

Der Norden, dies ist schon ein uraltes Argument, stütz sich gerne auf den Süden, den dieser weiterhin wirtschaftlich unterdrückt und ausbeutet. Die westliche Moderne begann mit der Zerstörung von Zivilisationen in Amerika, Afrika und Asien. Zuerst vor allen durch Europa und später die Vereinigten Staaten mitbetrieben, gesellen sich zum Norden heute auch China, Indien und einige kleinere Länder hinzu, die wiederum die Ressourcen und Energien anderer ausbeuten. Die marktwirtschaftliche Kurbel dreht sich weite. Jene die davon profitieren stehen größtenteils auf der einen Seite, die anderen im Süden, mit der Ausnahme von örtlichen Handlanger*Innen, die als Agenten des Nordens operieren, teilweise Mitglieder korrupter Regierungen, die mit dem Norden eine Sache machen, zum Nachteil der eigenen Bevölkerung. Indirect Rule, nannten die Briten im imperialen kolonialen Zeitalter das.  Die Mehrheit der Weltbevölkerung bleibt mit diesem System in tiefer Armut, ein schandhafter Befund für die Gegenwart.

In Großbritannien wollten manche das Diktat aus Brüssel nicht mehr hinnehmen, und als eigenes Land mit der Welt agieren können, ohne Umweg über die EU, so der Wortlaut. Es ging um Souveränität und ein limitiertes Geschichtsverständnis, welches immer wieder von Großbritannien als große weltorientierte Handelsnation sprach und das Blutvergießen und die Ausbeutung des eigenen Imperialismus und Kolonialismus, einer der brutalsten in der Menschengeschichte, einfach mal so zur Seite schob. Dieses absichtliche Ignorieren hatte große Potenz, so wie jeder Nationalismus, der sich auf die Vereinfachungen viel komplexerer Gegebenheiten stellt. So wie die Idee des Europas, das größtenteils bis heute glaubt, dass der Islam und der afrikanische Kontinent nicht gravierend zu seiner eigenen Entwicklung beigetragen hätte. Dabei gibt es kaum eine Architektur, die nicht indirekt auch auf die arabische Dominanz des frühen Mittelalters zurückgeht, und weder Holland, Portugal, Belgien, Deutschland, noch Italien oder Dänemark sind neben Großbritannien ohne ehemals koloniale Ausbeutung zu verstehen – im Fall Italiens, lässt sich das noch weiter in die millenare geschichtliche Vergangenheit dehnen.  Auch kein anderes Land ist einfach nur so groß oder wunderbar, der Erfolg Chinas beispielsweise ruht genauso auf der Ausbeutung anderer zum eigenen Profit, wie der der Vereinigten Staaten.

Und dann gibt es die Realität der Gegenwart und Zukunft. Globale Herausforderungen wie Umweltverseuchung, Artenschutz, die Erwärmung der Welt, Plastik in den Meeren, Trinkwasserverseuchung, Epidemien, Naturkatastrophen, Hunger, Waffen der Massenvernichtung, und Waffen allgemein, oft genug in den Händen menschenverachtender Gruppen, nukleare Gefahren, Abholzung und Luftverschmutzung.

Die Politik, die uns derzeit formt, ist deshalb als  reaktionäre Politik der Alten Welt zu verstehen. Sie will, so lange es eben geht, noch ein bisschen länger um sich werfen, noch ein bisschen länger so tun als gäbe es die neue Realität nicht, so wie die Autoindustrie, die noch ein bisschenlänger die dreckigen Modelle von Gestern verkaufen möchte, und Politiker die um der Industrie nicht zu schaden keine schnellen Veränderungen fordern. Noch ein bisschen länger Profit aus der alten Weltordnung machen können, den Klimawandel und anderes deshalb ignorieren, das ist es, doch was Menschen wie Trump in einem Satz zusammenfasst. Noch ein bisschen länger blind verschwenden und zerstören können solange der Rubel, Peso, Dollar, Euro oder Pfund eben noch rollt.

Was bei alle dem, dem Brexit, oder keinem Brexit, AfD oder America oder China First, dem Ruhm der EU fehlt, ist Globalverantwortung. Einfach gesagt, die Verantwortung für die Welt und Menschheit als Ganzes. Wem jedoch das Lokale, Örtliche  teuer ist – und dafür gibt es viele derzeit, nicht nur in Großbritannien wo Theresa May behauptete,  dass Weltbürger Bürger von Niergendwo sind – sollte lernen und bereit sein global besser umzuverteilen. Menschen, die Zugang zu Grundbedürfnissen haben, von Arbeit, Erziehung, gesicherter Wohnung, zu medizinischer Versorgung, sind weniger im Bedürfnis zu migrieren, ich spreche von den sogenannten Wirtschaftsmigranten genauso, wie den echten Flüchtlingen.

EU allein, Großbritannien allein, Russland allein, Amerika allein, China oder Indien allein, Brasilien gegen alle, all das löst keine der zukünftigen Herausforderungen in einer immer enger zusammengewachsenen Welt. Statt über die Geschichte der Menschheit zu sprechen, wird in den meisten Schulen der Welt trotzdem noch immer Nationalismus gepredigt, der die eigene Existenz und das eigene Wohl, den Wert der eigenen Geschichte, über die aller anderen schiebt. Wir kennen das in Deutschland, hatten es probiert.  America First übersetzt sich passend mit der Floskel Deutschland über alles. Es führte zu einer Katastrophe, die das Deutschland dieser Zeit zerstörte. Doch das Wasser steigt nicht, und die Wüste vertrocknet nicht, die Eisberge versinken nicht, noch schmelzen die Gletscher oder hungern die Menschen in einem bestimmten Land nur aufgrund eines Landes, sondern weil wir als Menschen keine gemeinsame globale Verantwortung nehmen wollen und weiterhin nur mit Konzepten der Abgrenzung und des Eigenvorteils denken,

Diese Art des Denkens ist somit die größte Herausforderung der nächsten Generation. Es geht weder um Brexit, noch um eine Armee für Europa, oder scharfe Worte gegen alles Neue in Brasilien, sondern der Armee der Menschheit, welche sich diesen globalen Herausforderungen stellt, in dem sie die Welt überall, und alles, was darauf ist,  besser schützt, und gerechter macht.

Unterschiede und Diversität machen das Leben interessanter, bringen neue Ideen auf, sie dürfen aber keine Berechtigung der Ausgrenzung, Ungleichheit oder Ignoranz sein. Die alte Art des ausgrenzenden eigenbezogenen nationalistischen Denkens ist nicht mehr akzeptierbar. Wenn aus einer Fabrik in einem verborgenen Teil der Welt Dreck ins Meer fliest, beispielsweise nuklearer Abfall, dann ist das ein Problem für alle, und Mensch und Tier.  Wenn in einem Land Menschen leben, die Millionen auf ihren Konten haben, und in einem anderen Land oder bloß in einer Unterergion Menschen, die von ein paar Cents pro Tag überleben müssen, ist das ebenfalls ein Problem für alle. Wenn ein paar Länder die Meere überfischen, und weiter Regenwälder abholzen und Plastik unsere Meere kaputt macht, ist das genauso ein Problem, der Ausbruch einer Epidemie in einem Teil der Welt, einen Teil den manche Menschen nicht mal kennen mögen ebenfalls.

Brexit Befürworter argumentierten, dass sie sich der Welt und nicht nur Europa stellen wollten, doch sie die meisten wollen es nur aus der Sicht des eigenen nur britischen Profits. Der gravierende Fehler sowohl der EU, als auch Großbritanniens, ist das Fehlen der Einsicht dass in der Welt von Morgen es nur den Profit der einen Menschheit oder den Verfall aller gibt. Doch momentan geht es eben gerade noch, noch ein bisschen weiter Alte Welt, ja teilweise ihre Re-etablierung, trotz aller bekannter Risikos und Warnungen. Das ist im Grunde auch menschlich und doch der weitere Abstieg in eine globale Katastrophe. Junge Menschen, die sogenannten Millenials verstehen das zunehmend. In Großbritannien finden Umweltschutz Aktivismus Gruppen wie Exctintion Rebellion immer mehr Anhänger*Innen. Sie sind der Gegenpol zu Alledem, sehen eine kollektive Verantwortung als Fundament, anders als die meisten heutigen Politiker.

Es ist also weder Remain, noch Brexit, weder die EU, noch America First, oder das große Russland, noch irgendein anderer Block, um den es wirklich geht. Angesteuert werden muss eine globale und gemeinsame Verantwortung der einen Welt, des einen Planeten Erde.

Extra Infos Hinkley – Cardiff

Extra Infos Hinkley – Cardiff

Ein paar Extra Infos zu meinem text

Wegen der Längenangaben mussten ein paar Teile gestrichen werden, die eigentlich in den text gehörten:   Sie sind hier aufgelistet!

EDF Statement

EDFs entgegen der taz. „Der Schlamm ist nicht anders als irgendein anderer Schlamm an der Küste und wurde gründlich von einer britischen Regierungsbehörde getestet und Experten bestätigten, dass es keine Gefahr for die menschliche Gesundheit, noch für die Umwelt mit sich bringen.  

Schiffklappe Klemmt

Der Schlamm auf dem Boot verschwindet aus der Mitte des Schiffs. Plötzlich ist eine Stimme über dem Funkgerät wieder hörbar, der Schiffskapitän des Frachtschiffs berichtet mit flämischen Akzent, dass er den Kiel nicht mehr zumachen kann, weil irgendwas da fest sitz. „Beweis, dass die den Schlamm nicht aussortiert haben, glauben Ciaran und McEvoy, denn vorgeschrieben sei, dass der Lehm vom dem Kies an Land getrennt werde. „Die Versenkung ist somit illegal!“, sagen sie.“

BBC hat nicht immer darüber berichtet

Am Ende des frühmorgendlichen Bootexkurses wartet BBC Wales mit TV-Kamera. „Die BBC hat unsere durch Crowdfunding bezahlten Aktionen lange ignoriert“, kommentiert Ciaran.

Verstrahlte Umwelt

Deere-Jones: Auch fand man nach einer Überflutung 1990 in Towyn in Nordwales im Schlamm radioaktive Partikel.

Alpha und Gamma  und Sellafield (lange Version)

Einer der Hauptargumente von EDF und anderen mit Bezug zu Hinkley, aber auch in Fragen potentiell verstrahlten Sandes in der Nähe von Sellafield, ist die Legalität der  vorgefundenen Verschmutzung. Im Bericht des staatlichen Prüfungslabors Cefas zum Schlamm Hinkleys steht, dass die im Schlamm vorgefundenen Werte unter den Grenzwerten stünden, und eine spezifischere Untersuchung deshalb nicht notwendig sei. Deere-Jones erwidert, dass es konkret bedeutet, dass sie gar nicht nach mehr radioaktiven Teilen des α-Spektrums, sondern nur nach γ-Strahlung suchten, was viel weniger Aufwand sei.  ….    So wird, was unter die Grenzwerte fällt, als niedriges Risiko eingestuft. An den Stränden Kumbriens dürfen als Folge dessen Kinder mit Segen der Aufsichtsbehörden bedenkenlos am Strand spielen. Antinukleare Aktivisten der Gruppe Radiation Free Lakeland zeigten in eigenen Untersuchungen, dass Drittel des Sandes erhöhte Strahlungswerte hat. Sellafields und die staatliche Umweltbehörde bestreiten die Tests nicht einmal. Alles liege „innerhalb der erwarteten Grenzwerte“ schrieben sie der taz.

Kikk

Dorf  nennt die deutsche Kikk Studie über die radioaktiven Auswirkungen auf Kinder im AKW Umfeld, welche von Großbritannien einfach zur Seite geschoben wurde, obwohl „weltweit akzeptiert ist, dass es keine sichere Dosierung der Radioaktivität gibt.“

A Better Song For Peace

A Better Song For Peace

Why the popular Israeli peace song Salaam was never good enough, and a simple step to make it better!

by Daniel Zylbersztajn

A version of this featured in the bi-monthly Liberal Judaism Today Nov. 2018-Dec 2018.

A Jewish synagogue congregation in North London is sitting together in the late afternoon on Yom Kippur, the highest and holiest holiday in the annual Jewish calendar, and after a themed afternoon discussion on old, and new forms of music, the likes of Avinu Malkeinu, Kol Nidre, Sim Shalom is preparing itself for a new version of a quite familiar Israeli tune.

This song is one of the more modern standards, not essentially only sung at Yom Kippur, and also not part of a religious liturgy. Nevertheless, it is found in many services and Jewish youth meetings throughout the world. The last time that song was played publicly to a UK crowd happened to be at the large Manchester Jewish protests against anti-semitism. No, it is not Leonards Cohen’s Hallelujah, sampled to old verses, but another song.

After an introductory explanation, the congregation starts to sing the familiar words and melody. But then there is a sudden change, that is the bit that is new. Was this really a Jewish Hebrew speaking congregation uttering these words? Something with that Hebrew they just sang sounded different. Surely they had a go at an older Aramaic version or something of the kind?

“Salaam” you could hear about 30 voices from the inside.  No, there could be no doubt, it was definitely not Aramaic but Arabic. Whoever listened carefully and attentively from the outside, would have thought that the old building they were passing, hosts an afternoon for Syrian or Iraqi refugees, maybe a Palestinian cultural group, perhaps?“

The Hebrew song Salaam by the Group Sheva and their now independent since time memorial dread-locked Israeli songwriter Moshe Ben Ari has become one of the most popular peace songs in Jewish circles, the Maccabeats a famous Jewish acapella group did a version amongst others.

The song expresses the hope for and self-assuring certainty of a future of peace and presumably is to be understood as a symbol of outreach. It calls not just for peace as “Shalom” in Hebrew, but for “Salaam” in Arabic. Many think of it as a modern song, that is quite progressive. After all, it is unusual to sing a Jewish song with elements of Arabic?   Explain that to the many Jewish communities who used to live for millennia in Arabic speaking areas.

The song reaches out indeed to non-Jewish and Arabic speakers, most likely imagined to be Palestinians. But in spite of its reach and acceptance, the song is missing something that it actually pretends to have, but has not. Yes, in spite of its Arabic, the song does not quite work as a peace song. If you are one of the happy go fans of the tune, read on.

Until 2010 I worked for a stretch of a total of five years as the UK press and education officer for Oasis of Peace UK, the British arm of the peace village Wahat-al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom, where Israeli Jews, Palestinian Christians and Muslims with Israeli citizenship have lived together since the 1970s. The village is based in the former no-man’s – no wo*-man’s land, that once was the border between Jordan and Israel up until 1967. It is owned and leased, literally free of charge, to the community by the Latrun Monastery. If you believe in symbolism, consider that at the foot of the monastery the State of Israel harbours its national tank museum inside the former British fortified station, which after 1949 became inhabited by Jordanians and a trouble spot, until Israel over-run the territory in the 1967-War.

Language is an important aspect to the residents of the peace village. The village, its school and other institutions are all bilingual and binational, serving the local three main faiths, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The conflict transformation centre in Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom, it is called School for Peace, is visited by people from across the region who engage there in mutual in-depth encounters with the other, sometimes for the very first time.  It operates in Hebrew and Arabic on equal terms.

In this mutual village of Jews and Arabs a  lot of thinking has been spent there on the power of language, and so it is no mistake that the original name Neve Shalom, which means Oasis of Peace,  eventually became Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam, and then the other way around Wahat al-Salaam ~ Neve Shalom, significantly the Arabic first, before the Hebrew after lots of debates.

In Israel at least, Hebrew is now the only official language, a recent change by the Netanyahu-led coalition. Before that, Arabic and Hebrew had, legally speaking, but not in practice, a more equal status.

Most Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and many in the West Bank and Gaza speak Hebrew. This is because it is not only important to get about in Israel,  it can avoid being misunderstood and get into trouble.

In the School for Peace, conflict transformation workers operate in Arabic and Hebrew on equal terms. Arabic amongst Jewish Israelis is less far-spread, although some speak Arabic due to their backgrounds. There are still many people about, who were born in Iraq, Libya or Egypt for example.  Others acquired Arabic as a foreign language, after all, it is the lingua franca in the Middle East. But many do not speak Arabic at all.

Without going further into this, It is clear that speaking each other’s language, in an area rive with conflict, being able to communicate on equal terms is the fundamental basis for any meaningful exchange to take place. In order to live or work in Wahat al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom, one must be able to speak both languages, primary children there learn both languages.

When I heard Salaam for the first time, given my years of working for the peace-village, after actually liking it, because of its aspirational wish, I actually felt it was in fact too one-sided, in spite of its reach. There is but one word in Arabic in the song, Salaam. Hence the song remains clearly a Jewish Israeli song. You would not have an Arabic speaker sing it as their own, because most of it is in Hebrew.  As said, there are all sorts of versions of the song circulating, Yonah Urfali a Jewish religious singer claims the song for a more Jewish internal purpose (see here) that appears to have less to do with seeking outreach with Palestinians, it seems. Still, it has been used in Mexico at an initiative in 2014 as a peace song for all, as it was sung in Australia at the Woodford Festival, and in Ohio during an international peace summit alongside an English translation.  There are many other versions on youtube if you care to look.

However, the question I asked my self, was, that if it was meant to be a peace song that reaches out, Jewish Israelis, Jews, in general, reaching out to Arabic speakers,  how does one allow Arabic-speakers to also take ownership of the song, and to reach out to Hebrew speakers and Jews? How does it become a regional peace song for all on both sides, and not just a song of the ambition of Jewish people and Israelis who sing it, but a song of a shared common future in peace?

Some ten years ago the Israeli singer and musical performer Shlomo Gronich released Havenu Shalom Aleinu – Ma Ana Ajmal Min Salam, an initiative in which Jewish Israelis and Palestinians performed the named peace song together in Hebrew and Arabic.  In February 2018, Jews and Palestinians sang together One Day in English, Arabic and Hebrew in Haifa.  Perhaps then, all that was needed for the song Salaam was a little translation job, to change the language around and set the main part in Arabic, and let the refrain call out for the Hebrew Shalom?

It was worth a try. I decided two Arabic, Hebrew and English speaking real peace-makers for a translation of the song Salaam into Arabic. Rayek Rizek, the Palestinian author of the biographical book Anteater and the Jaguar, published first last year, and long-term resident of the peace village Wahat al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom, who also runs the cafe at the entrance of the village, provided me with a translation. Then I had it verified independently by Raphael Luzon, a famous Libyan Jewish exile in the UK, who is likewise well known for his intense efforts in Arab-Jewish relations and exchange. Already in the translation, the song had thus been operated on by peacemakers.

There it was Salaam in Arabic, with the refrain calling for Shalom, it did not even take long. With the aid of a transliterated version, it found its way first as a modest suggestion as a future contribution for the synagogue’s newsletter. This was until Tamara Wolfson, a US-trained Cantor, who recently became the first Liberal female Cantor of Britain who serves my Jewish community, Kehillah North London, asked me to present the song on Yom Tov, because she was going to discuss musical changes and variations of well known Jewish songs.

After an explanation and a read through the Arabic, on a stomach that had been empty since the evening before, the words became finally a song, first somewhat cautiously, then stronger with the whole congregation part-taking. “Od yavo shalom aleinu – Sayati alslam ‘elayna,” Peace, will still come upon us, the resounding hope could not be clearer.

Peace requires, as the song may have intended, the involvement of more than but one side. But in its original form, the song Salaam was not yet equal. The current change may be small, as the song has not many words,  but it is still quite significant. Now it is the perfect peace song, the Arabic calling out for the Hebrew and vice versa,  and what is more, it leaves anyone singing both the Arabic and Hebrew versions next to each other marvelling at the close similarity between the languages.

If making peace were but the singing of a song, and given the official impasse between Israel and Iran, perhaps future versions will add Persian, then it can not only be sung in Hebrew and Arabic, but also in and Hebrew and Persian and in Persian and Arabic, which could extend to the Yemen conflict. Or you could imagine a Greek and Turkish and a Kurdish and Turkish version, and so on, transforming the formerly Israeli and Jewish peace song into a global peace song, where-ever it may be needed. Singing is not the hard work of peacemaking, but as the song intended, it is an aspiration, a reflective directional orientation.

Back in London, where we premiered the song, it also suited the venue of the London Islington’s New Unity Chapel in which all of this happened. The synagogue had hired the hall for one day. In the past, some 200 years ago, it was the place where Mary Wollstonecraft sparked the British women’s movement. In September as we sang it,  Europe’s first Jewish liberal female cantor was creating space for the premiere performance of the most well known Israeli song for peace to become better, through an Arabic addition.

Immediately after this session, as our Jewish congregation moved into the main hall of the building for Yiskor, the Jewish remembrance service, the room we sat in was taken up for practice by another reformer, who uses song for change, the Navi Collective, a black women’s choir, that performs freedom and resistance songs. Peacemaking and change were in the air as we approached Motza Yom Kippur, the end of Yom Kippur.

It is all about what you believe should be true! Shalom, elyna w’el kul el’e alem!

EnglishTransliterated HebrewHebrewTransliterated ArabicArabic
Peace will still come upon us,Od Yavo Shalom Aleinuעוד יבוא שלום עלינוSayati alslam ‘elaynaسيأتي السلام علينا
peace will still come upon us,Od Yavo Shalom Aleinuעוד יבוא שלום עלינוSayati alslam ‘elaynaسيأتي السلام علينا
peace will still come upon us,Od Yavo Shalom Aleinuעוד יבוא שלום עלינוSayatai alslam ‘elaynaسيأتي السلام علينا
and everyoneVe al Kulamועל כולםwaal al’jamiaوعلى الجميع
RepeatRepeatRepeatRepeatRepeat
PeaceSalaamסלאם / שלוםShalomسلام
Upon us and the whole worldAleinu ve al kol ha Olamעלינו ועל כל העולםelyna w’el kul el-alemعلينا وعلى كل العالم
Peace, PeaceSalaam, Shalomסלאם, סלאםShalom  Salaamسلام,  سلام
PeaceSalaamשלום סלאם /Shalomسلام
Upon us and the whole worldAleinu ve al kol ha Olamעלינו ועל כל העולםelyna w’el kul el’e alemعلينا وعلى كل العالم
Peace, PeaceSalaam, Shalom,סלאם / שלוםShalom  Salaamسلام,  سلام

Open Letter to Lord Hodgson on UK citizenship test

IMG_20180702_220922

4th of July 2018

Dear Lord Hodgson
on Friday I will take the citizenship test.
It is Brexit, that after nearly 30 years in the UK, made me apply for a UK citizenship.
As part of the requirement to prove my worthiness for a citizenship application, I have to pass a citizenship test.
Reading the guidance book Life in the UK was an exercise that left me speechless in parts.
I noticed that you have discussed the test recently in Parliament and that your committee found it to be lacking, if not an obstacle to citizenship. I agree.
As somebody who lived here for just under 30 years and who has acquired three UK university degrees (and half a PhD) and a vocational diploma, volunteered, sparked a functioning community group, who was a youth mentor for criminally endangered young persons, and who works as a correspondent, to name a few things, it is indeed an insult to even have to do this test. Moreover, it is a sheer travesty what is inside the book: huge omissions and shameful mistakes.
The sections on services, rights and expectations are fair enough, but the book fails:
  • because in its representation of modern Britain of the last 200 years and the figures, which it holds as important, it is narrow and almost wholly un-diverse, except in sports.
  • in the way it understates what the slave trade was about, dedicating more lines to the abolition than to what it was, not discussing adequately its range, giving no figures and that in fact it was the fundamental basis of Britain’s wealth.
  • in the way it does not look at critical aspects of Britain’s colonisation of the “ new world.”
  • in the way that it refers to the Empire as “just having grown”, rather than putting an honest recognition of how it grew, namely mostly by the barrel of the gun. Most migrants, if they come from countries once upon a time colonised, will know better, so it is disingenuine, if not deliberately misleading, given one version of events, that is explicitly hiding a truer more genuine account of history (one of my degrees is in history the other in (urban) sociology).
  • in the way that it states that the Empire was mostly “given up orderly,” but fails to mention that not all territories were given up, nor does it mention Gibraltar and the holding of the Falklands, as far as I could see, nor that there was a struggle and demand for decolonisation, if I read the book correctly.
  • because compared to its discussion of the Irish conflict, the colonial past is but a cosmetic footnote.
  • because in the World War Two section there is – and that let my jaw drop and triple check, I read correctly – no mentioning of the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews of Europe, nor about Britain’s role in the liberation of some of the camps like Bergen Belsen, nor Britain’s role in the formation of the UN and British lawyers role in setting up the Universal Human Rights as a result.
  • because it says fairly little on institutions that are British in origin and unique such as Greenpeace, Save the Children, Peabody, Barnados, the co-operative movement, nor does it have much to say about the history of the unions.
  • I note you have highlighted further issues as reported here in the Daily Telegraph
It beggars belief that people applying for citizenship are examined on such a narrow one-sided and facts omitting book.
I think your committee should urgently revisit this book and question those who composed it, and those who composed the test and have it assessed by academic experts of UK society and history and philosophy and direct the Home Office accordingly.
Attention should be given to an inclusive account, that reflects Britain’s diverse populations adequately and respectfully.
In the climate of critique of the Home Office regarding the “hostile environment,” I believe you should not overlook this citizenship test and its guidance book.
With kind regards
Daniel Zylbersztajn

Answer from

The Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts CBE

House of Lords

London SW1A 0PW

Dear Mr Zylbersztajn

Thank you for this email. Last year, I chaired a Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement. Our Report is available on the Parliamentary website (HL Paper 118). We did indeed make a number of comments and criticisms of the Citizenship Test (see para 463-473 of the Report). The Government have accepted our recommendations and an update of the Test has begun.

———————————
DANIEL ZYLBERSZTAJN

The Way things are done… A comment on Grenfell Tower and who is responsible.

The Way things are done… A comment on Grenfell Tower and who is responsible.

Some spontaneous thoughts after another few weeks of coverage….

(slightly modified 20.15)

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC)  is where the dichotomy between rich and poor is the gravest in London, perhaps in England or even Europe, with a long-entrenched history of disempowerment, discrimination, racism and political and economical cynicism and exploitation.

 

Whatever of the above ingredient you pick you will find twisted and dishonest ways, from the history of housing in Notting Hill to the demand for and the creation and mismanagement of the West Way Trust or the KCTMO and so on.

 

There is no doubt, that RBKC council felt that Notting Dale should be remoulded. In Andrew O’Hagan’s London Review of Books piece The Tower  Rock Feilding-Mellen, the former person to oversee decisions and financing of housing renovations denies to want to have wanted to kick out social housing tenants, but he does admit in the same stroke that he wanted to construct space for Kensington’s left out Middle classes, especially people in professional vocations who could not afford to buy, and were not catered for.

 

Whilst O’Hagan cites this almost in Feilding-Mellen’s defence, it is by itself an astonishing admission. To be clear social housing homes were to be demolished so those new denser units would make a little space for left out professionals. It is not that it was wrong to want to create such housing units for professionals. The question is rather, why were social tenants and their areas to bear that burden? Why were their houses seen as the legitimate sphere where things could be demolished and rebuilt in that way?

 

There are historical precedents of the council wishing to demolish against the wishes of locals. Take Frestonia for example, or sold churches and emptied and community centres and spaces. The Tabernacle, a Caribbean centre of activism in the 1970s only survived, and barely so, after a struggle to save it. What O’Hagan misses, when he talks of the battle for the local library, in whose place another was offered, is, that the fight to safe spaces is one that is based upon the experience and fabric of the area, and the distrust, that promises once made, won’t be changed in some way to the detriment or continued sell-out of the area and its people.

 

The movie Notting Hill, in which Hugh Grant starred so famously before he infamously was caught out in the act with the African American sex worker Divine Brown in the USA also had much to answer for.

 

The embarrassing incident of the actor might just as well be symbolic. The film of the area, world-famous for its Caribbean style carnival, was deprived of any African Caribbean characters, in fact, any meaningful characters with a darker skin colour. Notting Hill, the film that is,  was a fantasy of a European Eldorado was constructed by the film producer Duncan Kenworthy and director Roger Michell. It was certainly not innocent. Rather, it was created, like so many films, to maximise the profit value of the film in the parts of the world with lighter skinned people, who were then able to imagine themselves in Notting Hill without the risk of blackness. A vibrant area just waiting for you to move in. Notting Hill, that lie about the area, went on to win a BAFTA, a Brit Award and the British Comedy Award. Beyond being a laughing matter,  it was literally, in the Grant Hugh tradition, a proper f***-over Notting Hill’s black heritage and residents. Notting Hill’s estate agents were loving it. International white families who gained their extraordinary inflated salaries in the City – the very lot, that crashed the world in 2007 –  bought up, whatever they could in Notting Hill, filled the cafes and cramped up especially the areas around the state schools. Millionaires do not like to waste money when a school can be free if you want a cliche. But I know it to be true in some cases I witnessed myself. That is of course not a problem until some less fortunate kids are squeezed out of the catchment area for that school.

In  2014 the Strutt and Parker Estate Agent advertising went even further.  It stated, that some in Notting Hill – depicting a person of wider African – Caribbean background,  are “born to dance”, whereas others, explicitly, Jeremy Montagu-Williams, at the time property sales manager, a white English person,  “are born to sell flats.” That was the 2014 way of stepping over “No Negroes, No Dogs” of the 1950s. Community protest made this ad disappear from the streets of North Kensington and had any right to highlight it. It is unbelievable how much reality can be twisted. You can see it today in the cafes of Westbourne Grove, where you will struggle to see people of African Caribbean background. I saw it in the indifference of hordes of tourists on Portobello Road on Saturdays after the Grenfell disaster.

 

Of course, the film Notting Hill was but a symptom of a development that had started much earlier on. Already, in the 1970s buildings in which multiple families had lived and had rented, were being converted into single ownership villas for those with money to buy – but not quite enough to afford Knightsbridge, amongst them an ex-Rhodesian / South African family, escaping the onset of Black African rule, but bringing with them their wealth, and where the lady of the house became a long-standing Conservative councillor in Kensington (she has since moved up North where she continues to serve as a Tory councillor and even gained an OBE). 

 

The many years of attempted control over Notting Hill Carnival, cameras installed on Westway, questions over the carnival’s continuation, the constant regeneration of Portobello Road,and properties around. perhaps until all shops and cafes are global chains, the harassment of young black men with Sus Laws and Stop and Search policies, harassing anyone that did not fit the English white stereotype, all that created further antagonism towards the council, and what it allowed to happen, often enough, out of touch with residents, or so at least the feeling is. Feelings are important too, they are there to be disproven, and whilst there may be one or the other urban myth, or “narrative,” it does not need much to confirm the buying up of Notting Hill. 25 Million Pounds one property went for last year.

RBKC may have saved some social housing units, when other boroughs did not, but overall there was a deficit, not just in Kensington but all over London and England, created by national Conservative politics more than local perhaps, not much helped by Tony Blair’s new definition of affordable housing, and lack of investments under his watch.

The idea of a  redevelopment for the area around Latimer Road, however, kept coming up as an ambition by RBKC. A 2009 master plan for the area of Notting Barns South, in which Grenfell Tower stands, written on behalf of RBKC by the group Urban Initiatives overtly lies to achieve its ends. It misrepresents crime statistics, talks of irrational walkways, and presents wrongly the local community as near destitute.  Locals fought it, and won considerable battles. Sadly, Grenfell Tower was not one of these, though they rejected its demolition.

Any housing requires investment, repairs, modification to make it better, permanently. All over the country social housing estates were not receivers of generous repairs over the Thatcher years and beyond. That too must be remembered. A constant drop of water not fixed, can bring down a building. Funny how The Barbican, an almost entirely private high rise estate of the 1970s has no cladding, nor ever considered it.

 

Already in the 1980s, the local community was resolute that it wanted to have a higher hand in the management of the housing stock in RBKC so that things would get fixed when they need to. KCTMO was the answer all agreed to. But in the end, it was KCTMO that became resilient to consider the voices it was to consider, or so it appears. The inquiry will surely shed more light on that.

 

What we do know is that RBKC went ahead with reimagining Notting Dale. One sentence in the 2009 master plan for RBKC with surprisingly little evidence for it, judges, that “Grenfell Tower blights the view from Latimer Road.” What blights needs to be beautified. Cladding was the way to go, installed by others too. A massive high percentage of the refurbishment costs went into that.

 

You can picture those in decision making positions out for win win. In one go you could address heat insulation, and the shining metallic exterior, gave buildings a touch of ultra modern and contemporary, liked by all, including residents, for what did they know about grades of how flammable materials are. But ignorance in British law, especially by those who are employed or recruited to know, is no defence.

 

Residents had a list of other concerns, the usual stuff, really. Double glazing, leaks, functioning lifts, electric wiring, maintenance, cleanliness, fire safety, noise, better kitchen, cooking smoke extractors, hot water, and heatings, yes and some asked questions about fire safety too.

 

The windows installed in Grenfell were just as scandalous as the cladding, the cheapest possible plastic frames, and there were the fire doors, here low price trumped safety.  DId anyone ask questions?

 

You would think that legally, landlords are meant to be responsible for the standards of the houses in which they place tenants. Grenfell and houses like that, resembled in Rock Feilding-Mellens words, “savings in terms of risk management of the budget” rather than building risk management for residents. That was the two Pound saving per cladding panel to cut costs that degraded fire retardant to flammable.

 

And whilst there are 300 equally cladded buildings similar to Grenfell across the country, the ticking time bomb eventually blew up with  Grenfell Tower. The saga may be specific to Kensington and Chelsea but it is a symptomatic issue, beyond the borders of RBKC.

 

Not that there were no warnings. The Lakanal House Fire with its clear coroner’s recommendations being but one, and there were others. Nor that there were no guidelines on how to fit cladding, or whether to fit cladding at all  to high rise buildings. All this existed too. But it remained ignored and put aside by multiple agencies, all who could have raised concerns at any stage, if only one of them had.

 

As a result, unsafe buildings were constructed against evidence, and against best building practice, against best safety testing, because – well, because others did so, and because you could, everybody did. The man who jumps after the crowds who jump the cliffs also perishes. There are many people who bear a shared responsibility. If it will be builder, designer, fire tester, manager or owner, or even panel maker, who carry the largest responsibility that will be decided soon. It is a long chain and Grenfell Tower in RBKC is where it all blew up in murderous flames, exposing more than but just one ill, and consuming, no killing 72 people, some of whom were highly vulnerable.

 

For that at least Kensington will also have to answer questions. To place people with physical movement restrictions and disabilities in some of the highest flats, in a building in which often enough the lifts failed, what sort of responsibility and care is at work here? Do people get paid for such incredible way of housing allocation indifferent to the facts in front of them?

 

Not just the history of Kensington, not just the history of council and social housing, not just the history of racism and marginalisation, but also complacency in the building and construction trade, amongst those who carry out safety inspections for example, or consultations with the desired outcome for those who finance it, and quite likely a fire service that was not as well prepared and equipped, as it should and could have been, given the amount of new high rise buildings in London.  The fire services are being furnished and paid for by the public purse, and so that too, in the end, goes back to people who make decisions on budgets, people like the former mayor Boris Johnson in London, who closed fire stations against much uproar and opposition, which perhaps contributed to Grenfell, before he gave the country Brexit.

 

When campaigners shout the Tories have blood on their hands and posters are hung up in Kensington with Conservative politicians as the main culprits, it can sound like an too easy vilification. Yes, there is a political battle out there, Labour for sure wishes to score points. But such accusations are neither without any truth. At least the previous Labour ideologists demolished the Heygate Estate or sanctioned the Tottenham  development. The headings are always the same, to regenerate, to help, to do good. Eleanor Kelly, Chief Executive of Southwark Council and, interestingly, designated leader of the government’s Grenfell Response Team, said, the Heygate Estate, was just not working. Many residents disagreed. The consultations and plans for Elefant Park the estate that followed Heygate, were similarly staged as in Notting Dale, and they were undersold to the developer Land Lease.  

What happened in Grenfell is too serious, to allow for monotone versions of blame or excuses from any one side. Thank goodness there is a public inquiry with competent lawyers and a criminal investigation too. Here at this time, one party after the other abrogates culpability. We just did as told, they say, pointing at the next person down. Well that, frankly, is no longer good enough in the light of so many dead. Let the lawyers and prosecutors deal with that.

Any person who has been given power that affects the lives of others has a duty to ask the right questions and as many questions as possible. What are the implications of this move? Is it risky? Is it best practice? Can it be checked again, and perhaps independently?  Can I rely on the independence of this body? Have I done the utmost rather than the minimum to warrant safety? What about external stairs, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, even drills? I

When people do not do that for a building that houses hundreds, you run into Grenfell Tower.   It is possible that the problem in Britain is not just one of a political and economic divide, but a true cavalier attitude to health and safety and best practice, often called Red tape and Nanny State by critics (there are lots of nannies about in Kensington, mind you).

Such behaviour rewards with quick gains without hard and solid labour, and without care or responsibility of the possible consequences.

That is also not exactly a condition fit for a country about to try to convince the world how good it is in doing things, as an independent nation outside the EU. Standards alone do not warrant themselves. They need to be safeguarded and tested.

When it comes to safety and best practice there can really only be but one standard. The standard that is safe for the most vulnerable person housed in a building. That standard exists in RBKC in many of the private flats, where pop and rock stars fight over the installation of underground swimming pools, when in the tower block a stone throw away the dry rise hydrants failed to carry water up to the flames.

The change that must follow Grenfell is therefore beyond the culpability of but a Conservative figurehead.  It is neither just about Labour or Tories. It must be a fundamental shift in how things are done regardless of who leads the country. It is about law too, like the Human Rights  (Article 25) that guarantee a standard of living adequate for housing and it is about robust and infallible safety standard bodies.

 
But of course, everybody knew how things have to be done, like former RBKC leader Nick Paget-Brown, the former head, from whom the sentence escaped, that in North Kensington the locals do not know how things are done. Evidently, for if they had 72 people would still be alive today – but some at least tried to do something, if only it was, in the end, but a bit of noise upsetting some know-it-all heads in the KCTMO!

Grenfell Remembered 2018

Some of my photos from remembrance events and protests 14/8/2018 and 16/6/2018 in North Kensington. A few have been taken out since posting, as I felt that they were potentially too invasive in one way or another.

Non-commercial use permitted as long as quoted as (c) Daniel Zylberszajn. Commercial users please enquire.

 

 

 

Photos Fotos Enough is Enough March 2018 Jüdischer; Jewish Protest

Photos Fotos Enough is Enough March 2018 Jüdischer; Jewish Protest

Zweimal schrieb ich über die Proteste in der taz und einmal für die Jüdische Allgemeine, dabei wurden auch zwei Fotos veröffentlicht. Der Rest der Fotos befindet sich jetzt hier unten.

http://www.taz.de/!5491343/

http://www.taz.de/!5494232/

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/31203

I wrote twice for taz and once for the German Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine, including photos (See links below=  The rest of my photos can be seen below.

 

(C) Daniel Zylbersztajn, All rights reserved on all photos.

 

01 Jonathan Arkush BOD VorsitzenderI IMG_0373
John Arkush Sprecher des Board of Deputies

 

Luciana Berger MP IMG_0397.JPG
Luciana Berger MP

 

 

Vlaudia Baum 21 und Kate Turner 31 Antisemitismus in der Labourpartei verstößt gegen britische Werte IMG_0415
Claudia Baum 21 & Kate Turner 31 Antisemitismus in der Labourpartei verstößt gegen britische Werte. Antisemtism in Labour is contrary British Values!

01 LABOUR MP JOHN MANN IMG_0389
John Mann MP

Leah Levane Vizepräsidentin JVL BOD und JLC repräsentieren uns nicht Corbzn steht seit 2015 zu unrecht unter Attacke IMG_0409
Leah Levane: Vizepräsidentin JVL BOD und JLC repräsentieren uns nicht, Corbyn steht seit 2015 zu unrecht unter Attacke. Vice ptesident Jewish voices for Labour. Corbyn is accused unjustifiably since 2015 she told me.

Lord David Mitchell ich verliess Labour wegen Corbyn Um Gottes Willen Etwas muss passieren aber ich glaube Corbyn kann nicht IMG_0330
Lord David Mitchell:  ich verliess Labour wegen Corbyn Um Gottes Willen Etwas muss passieren, aber ich glaube Corbyn kann nicht. I left Labour because of Corbyn, he told me.

 

Anna Phillips 25 und Lewis Parker 22 wir sind in de Labour Partei nicht Juden und hoer aus Solidarität
Anna Phillips 25 & Lewis Parker 22: wir sind in de Labour Partei nicht Juden und hier aus Solidarität. “We are both non- Jewish Labour members and here out of solidarity.”

Protester IMG_0416

Jungkonservativen Liam Sanderson 18 Keyvan Farmanfarmaian 17 Cobyn fehlt die Fähigkeit Antisemituismus ausrechend zu verurteilen IMG_0333
Jungkonservativen Liam Sanderson 18, Keyvan Farmanfarmaian, 17 Cobyn fehlt die Fähigkeit Antisemituismus ausrechend zu verurteilen. Liam and Keyvan are young Conservatives and not Jewish. Corbyn lacks the ability to act against antisemitism, they told me.

Argumente am Rand dieEchten Opfer sind die Palästinenser sagt die Dame IMG_0417
Argumente am Rand die Echten Opfer sind die Palästinenser sagt die Dame.m während der Mann mit ihr gegenargumtiert. Arguments on the edge. Palestinians are the real victims, says the lady, whils the man argues back.

David Farber 83 Ich bin empört aber ich bleibe in der Partei man muss das von Innen bekämpfen IMG_0332
David Farber, 83: Ich bin empört, aber ich bleibe in der Partei, man muss das von Innen bekämpfen. I am outraged, but I remain a member. You have to fight this from within.

IMG_0407Argumente Austauschen

Austausch der Arugumente am Rand Der eine sagt Ken Livingstone ist ein Antisemit der andere Livingstone styte sich sehr für orthdoxe Juden in Stamford Hill ein IMG_0432
Austausch der Arugumente am Rand Der eine sagt Ken Livingstone ist ein Antisemit der andere Livingstone styte sich sehr für orthdoxe Juden in Stamford Hill ein. The man on the left calls Livingstone Antisemite, the man on the right states that Livingstone was very supportive of Stamford Hill Haredi community

Blumenbeet zwischen den Fronten IMG_0327
Trennlinien zwischen Hauptdemo und den Randprotestern. Srperation line between main protest on the right and counter demonstrators on the left on the Southwest edge of Parliament Square

 

Sajid Javis and Rabbi Drucker IMG_0404.JPG
Labour’s Rabbi Avraham Pinter & Communities Secretary Sajid Javid

 

Jonathan Goldstein JLC Vorsitzender IMG_0386
Johnathan Goldstein, der Vorsitzende des Jewish Leadership Council

 

Russia in London

Russia in London

 

Mein Text zu Russen in London in der taz ist jetzt online und ich schicke hier noch ein paar Fotos hinterher:   https://www.taz.de/!5489291/ Auf der Suche nach Russen in London, traf ich auch auf “Nieten.”  So entpuppte sich der CCCP Supermarkt als Laden der von einem Afghanen geführt wird, und der USSR Supermarkt in Hounslow hatte Ukrainer im Laden, die, na sagen wir, “nicht so enthusiastisch”  auf Putin zu sprechen waren.  Mitten in Ealing stieß ich zufällig auch auf Kaya Mar, den satiristischen und politischen Maler. Er hatte zufällig das richtige Bild dabei.

Ansonsten bewegte ich mich zwischen den Londoner Stadtteilen Islington, Mayfair, Fulham, Ealing, Bayswater, Knightsbridge, Hounslow und Soho und lies meine Oyster Karte glühen.

ENGLISH

I spent a good week trying to meet ordinary Russians in London, a.o. in shops. I met people who run away from politics, mostly.  In the midst of Ealing I also, by coincidence, met political satirist painter Kaya Mar, who was shlepping his latest work with him. Some of the places I went to revealed themselves as non-Russian, once there. An Afghan that run the CCCP supermarket and Ukrainians with little enthusiasm for Putin in the USSR shop.

I moved between Kensington Knightsbridge and Bayswater, Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow, Islington, Mayfair, Soho and Hammersmith, allowing my Oyster card to smoke…

A google translate will give you reasonable oversight.  Here the link to the pics below https://www.taz.de/!5489291/

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Kalinnka. Russian Supermarket Bayswater(c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Russian Supermarket Dacha  in Fulham (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Maya Kar, met in Ealing whilst following a wrong hint of a shop called CCCP run however by an Afghan,(c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

IMG_0248
Musica Nova, Russian Music School (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Zima Bar, Russian Streetfood Bar in Soho, (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

 

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Chris Watkins, Real Russia Travel Agency

 

Memorial Center to 1972 Olympic  Terror. A reflection on its opening.

Memorial Center to 1972 Olympic  Terror. A reflection on its opening.

In the 1980’s, then just a young teenager, I graffitied singlehandedly and on my own initiative the walls of the Munich Olympic Village with “Vergesst nicht 5.9.1972 (don’t forget 5.9.1972 )”, some with a Star of David.

Shopping Centre Munich Olympic Village c.a. 1987 Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

My smears were there for a few years, before they were removed. I had placed them in  various strategic locations, including in the heart of the shopping area. on the side of the pedestrian walk way from the underground station to the village, inside the underground car drive, and in front of the entrance of Munich university sports faculty, at the end of Connolly Straße, near where on the 5th. of September 1972 the drama of a terrorist hostage kidnapping unfolded with one man murdered straight away. The 5.9.1972 would end before the day was over with six dead coaches, five dead athletes, one dead German police officer, as well as five dead members of the terrorist group Black September, a group supported by the PLO.

entrance to university sports complex later c.a . 1987 photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn (c )

The Olympic Village was the place I had later grown up in. My father had purchased a mortgage there before the Olympic Games. Nobody was able to predict the unfolding drama there during the games when flats were being sold.

Unable or unwilling to change plans, we moved into the family’s flat in 1973.  I was only four years old.

I have memories of the 1972 TV-coverage on the 5th of September, incidentally, also my mum’s birthday, at the tender age of 2 1/2. The images were re-enforced by countless visits to the memorial plaque at 31 Connolly Street, especially when our Israeli family members came to visit, but frequently also by myself. I would always leave a stone, the Jewish way of honouring the dead at a grave site.

In the Olympic Village, and to most in Munich, the memory of the terror of 1972 became a distant, even forgotten fact. For me, the child of possibly the only Jewish family there at the time, that was not the same case. I had a strong feeling of the village in the 1980s not adequately honouring its past. It is what let me to the act of writing on the walls of the village with black paint, my only such action ever (I got caught by a German passer-by on my last mission, who spilled the bucket of black paint over my head). By 1991 I had contacted Ankie Spitzer, the surviving widow of Andre Spitzer, the fencing coach who was murdered that night in September, on this lack of remembrance. She could not believe that a Jewish family could live there. From her perspective, this was not a habitable location. She was adamant that the history of the village must be remembered.

Four years later, in 1995, a sculpture to the memory of the victims was erected, but not in the village, but inside the Olympic Park. I was not there for its opening. I had already left Munich at the time for London, my home of choice. I don’t think I would have chosen the village as a home, as my parents did, but neither would I have chosen Germany as a home, where my father, a Jewish Shoah survivor from Poland settled after Germans had murdered almost all his family members.

Ankie Spitzer and other bereaved families of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team continued the struggle to get the terror acts adequately remembered, including at the London Olympic Games 2012.  It was refused then as it had been for a long time, in part due to false claims of upholding political balance and neutrality. But through the terror of 1972 the Olympic ideals too were attacked. Only at Rio 2016 the German IOC-President Thomas Bach recognised that. He finally instituted an official remembrance inside the Rio Olympic Village, a breakthrough after a long 44 years of side-lining.

Finally, in September 2017, on the initiative of the Bavarian government, with support by the IOC, and the German Sports Federation, the memorial centre opened that is overlooking the Olympic Village in Munich. It finally documents and remembers the terror act and its victims in the way necessary.

Having visited the centre now, I can say it finally expresses that, what always was also part of my, if not most people’s association of the village across the world.

In the Olympic Village, the ambivalence about its past can now never happen again, one hopes.

But terror attacks are not at all absent here. Only in 2016 the nearby Munich “Olympic Shopping Centre” (Olympia Einkaufszetrum) was the scene of a terror-run by one man, who, it is thought, had deliberately targeted migrants, exploiting the continued vulnerabilities of civil life. Munich went hysterical that night assuming a widespread terrorist attack. Nine people, many young, were shot dead before the assailant committed suicide.  Berlin saw another attack carried out by one man in December that year inspired by Daesh ideology that ended twelve civilians’ lives. There were smaller incidents in Bavaria of that nature too in the same year, whilst Germany continues to be the scene of far-right terrorism also. Munich, in fact, is the place of one of the most protracted and long-running trials against a former far rights terror cell, the NSU. It had executed ten people in the 1990s, who were all migrants to Germany.

I am pleased that in my life I have not only spent efforts to commemorate the terror of 1972, in part through graffities, articles and a lecture at a university but also worked for Israeli Jewish – Palestinian Peace Initiatives. Conflict can never be solved by terror and the taking of innocent lives. Terror delays ending conflict, it stops and disrupts the lives of innocent civilians and causes unnecessary pain.  The PLO itself had abandoned its violent terror attack resolute at the end of the 1980s, not that others failed to continue to use that method.

Peace can only be established by inter-human communication, exchange and compromise.

And peace must be secured by warnings and remembrance of past terror events and pointing out society’s vulnerabilities. This, the new Memorial Center in Munich, created by Brückner & Brückner, does effectively, whilst honouring the murdered and explaining the events that led up to the 5th of September 1972. Alongside, we require a security system and service that protects civilians from overt violent interlopers and terrorists proactively. I would also argue for the provision of avenues and initiatives and generous resources for conflict reduction, conflict transformation and peace building as necessary.  The Olympic Games are one such initiative, in their aims to unite young people from all corners of the world by bringing them together through sport. But conflict transformation is an issues that is as local in need as it is in global demand

The opening of the memorial centre in Munich symbolises a late step towards truth for Munich and the Olympic Village in Munich. Both were in denial about the events for decades. Now all who visit this memorial can feel what I always knew to be true.

One hopes that its resounding message is a rejection of the ideology of terror.

  • END

See also on this topic:

My article during the row of where the memorial site should be erected https://dzx2.net/2015/01/11/terror-not-remembered-dont-kill-our-snow-fun-hill-a-sorry-tale-of-a-limping-democratic-intervention/

My academic lecture at Edgehill University  on the topic 

Daniel Zylbersztajn in front of the memorial site in January 2018

(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

Daniel Zylbersztajn, 2017 Selektion

Dieses Jahr war als Journalist in Großbritannien ein non-Stop Erlebnis. Es ging vorallen um Terror, Brexit, Grenfell, und Gewalt. Nicht alles worüber ich im letzen Jahr schrieb findet sich hier wieder. Eher die wichtigsten nach meiner Meinung!  Damit das Jahr dennoch Süß endet kommt vor meiner Anreihung der besten Berichte des allgemeinen Jahres das Bild des Bäckers Sruli Ginsberg, über dessen Sufganiot ich schrieb.

This year was for me as London correspondent a non-stop event. The topics were above all terror, Brexit, Grenfell and violence. Not all articles I wrote are listed up here, rather those I felt were important for one reason or another. In order that the common year ends still sweet, I like to start with a picture of Sruli Ginsberg, a baker about whose Hanukkah Sufganiot I wrote. 

Most texts are in German, but there are some in English: 

Sruli Ginsberg vor seiner Baeckerei So Real in STamford Hill Lon don
All Rights reserved

Story: http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/30302

Messerverbrechen in London – Knife Crime in London

Alltagsgewalt in London: Tausende Messerangriffe pro-Jahr – taz.de

Dies war eines der wichtigsten Themen für mich, mindestens ein halbes Jahr in Planung, bis ich die Redaktion dazu bewegte es in die deutsche Zeitug zu stetzen. Es kam auch dann verspätet, wegen den Wahlen, und den Terroranschlägen.

Everyday violence in London: Thousands of knife attacks per year.

This was a piece I had wanted to write for quite a while and had to wait until the editors approved it. But even after I had researched and written it was delayed, due to the terror attacks in London and Manchester, and the surprise elections. 
http://www.taz.de/!5422090/

Literatur – Literature:

Besuch bei der nigerianischen Verlegerin Bibi Bakare Yusuf

Visiting the Nigerian publisher Bibi Bakare Jusuf

Für eine Sonderausgabe in Sachen afrikanischer Literatur besuchte ich Bibi Bakare Yusef.

For a special feature on African Literature, I visited Bibi Bakare Yusuf.

14_10_17_HP_Gesellschaft_6_ffm_10

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GRENFELL

Dies sind noch nicht mal alle Berichte, die ich hierüber schrieb.

These are not even all the Texts I wrote about Grenfell. They include translations into English.

14-6-2017 Das Inferno von Grenfell Tower – The Inferno of Grenfell Tower

http://www.taz.de/!5420761/

 

Flugblatter mit Namen vermisster Vermisste PersonenIMG_0131links Sarah Abdullah, 39 mit Tochter und Dermot zweiter von Rec hts kamen um Hilfe zu bringen, sie haben Wasser und Kleidung

06-2017 Nach dem Inferno, viele Frage bleiben offen – After the inferno, many questions remain unanswered

http://www.taz.de/!5418584/

Justice for Grenfell vor einem Mosaik zur Erinnerung an die Opfer Frankos

06-2017 Es schwefelt weiter – The sulphur continues to fall

http://www.taz.de/!5418736/

07-2017 Die Wut der Überlebenden – The anger of the Survivors

http://www.taz.de/!5428612/

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08- 2017 Zwischen den Welten – Memorial to Human Dignity (FEATURE)

German: https://www.taz.de/!5436291/ 

English: https://dzx2.net/2017/08/26/memorial-to-human-dignity/

09-2017 Tränen löschen kein Feuer – Tears don’t extinguish fire https://www.taz.de/!5444821/

12- 2017 Grenfell sechs Monate Später – Grenfell, six months later

Deutsch:  https://www.taz.de/!5467719/

English: https://dzx2.net/2017/12/14/grenfell-six-months-later/

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Terror in Manchester

05-2016 IS bekennt sich zum Anschlag – IS claims attack

http://www.taz.de/!5412304/

Salam! Arabische Botschaft im St Ann's Square Schrift aus Kreide
(C) ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED

05-2017 Höchste Warnstufe – Highest Alarm Level

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(C) ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED

http://www.taz.de/!5412550/

05-2017 Manchester United?

Nach dem Attentat fuhr ich nach Mancheste und sprach mit den Leuten vor Ort.

Following the attack I travelled to Manchester and spoke with people there. 

http://www.taz.de/!5409852/

Union Jack als Hijab, es drückt aus wie ich mich fühle sagt Manchesterin Gulnar Bano Khan Qadri, 48
All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2017

Brexit

Elke will Britin werden – Elke wants to become British

Ich habe Elke über vier Monate verfolgt. Ihre Bewerbung war übrigens erfolgreich.

I followed Elke for four months. Her application has been approved by the way.

http://www.taz.de/!5430297/

Elke am Wohnzimmertisch zu Hause
Elke at home in Hackney Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

04-2017 Unter Europafreunden – Amongst Europe’s Friends

Southwark, der EU begeisterteste Wahlkreis in Großbritannien  hatte die Wahl zwischen einem pro EU Kandidat der Liberal Demokraten und der anti-EU Labour Veteranin Kate Hoey. I ch machte mich vor Ort schlau.

Elections in Southwark, the most EU enthusiastic area in Great Britain had the choice between a pro EU Lib Dem candidate and the anti-EU Labour veteran Kate Hoey MP. I spent several days on the ground.

http://www.taz.de/!5411289/

01-17 Das Publikum vor dem Supreme Court

The spectators in front of the Supreme Court

Gerichtsentscheidung zum Brexit: Das Publikum vor dem Supreme Court
http://www.taz.de/!5374542/

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All Rights Reserved, Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2017

London Terror

Hier gab es drei Attentate, nicht alle Berichte von mir sind hier aufgelistet.

There were three attacks in London. Not all reports, I wrote are included here.

3-2017 Get up and Carry On

http://www.taz.de/!5395219/

06-2017 Attack(e) in London

http://www.taz.de/!5417661/

06-2017 Nicht Nachgeben, – Don’t Give Up

http://www.taz.de/!5417678/

19-6-2017 Attacke bei Londoner Moschee. Jetzt könnt ihr mich umbringen.
http://www.taz.de/!5418939/

DISKRIMINIERUNG – DISCRIMINATION

Gleichberechtigung an britischen Unis: Die einzige schwarze Direktorin

Equality in British Higher Education: The only black director.

Dies war ein wichtiger Bericht über Gleichberchtigungshürden an britischen Universitäten. ch Sprach nicht nur mit Baronin Amos, sondern auch anderen bekannten akademischen Personal.

This was another important report about the glass ceilings at UK universities. I did not only interview Valerie Amos but also several other senior UK academic lecturers, including Robert Beckford and Paul Gilroy.

03-2017 http://www.taz.de/!5384497/

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Picture https://www.soas.ac.uk/staffimg/admin/dir/img103371.jpg

Atomkraft im Nordwesten Englands: Im Schatten der Strahlen

Nuclear Energy in the North West of England. In the Shadow of the rays

In Nordkumbria gab es Nachwahlen. Labour verlor hier de Sitz, wegen der Atomkraft. Ich recherchierte hier einige Tage mit Atomkraftgegnern und Opfern. Die Politiker bis auf einen, wollten sich nicht der Presse stellen.

In North Cumbria Labour lost their seat due to nuclear power. I conducted several dazs research amonst anti nuclear actvists and victims. The politicians were not available to be interviewed, bar one, one the Green Party.
http://www.taz.de/!5382462/

Wolle über den Augen, Sellafield.JPG

 

 

Shoah Survivor – Holocaust

Dies war eines der letzen Interviews die Sam Pivnic, Überlebender zahlreicher KZs und Arbeitslager, daruter Auschwitz, bevor er im August verstarb.

This was one of the last interviews of Sam Pivinic, survivor of multiple concentration and work camps, a.o. Auschwitz,  before he passed away in August.

Einer der Letzten http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/29528

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Berlin Terror

1-17 Spendenappell für polnischen Lkw-Fahrer: „Einer wie ich“ –

Mitten im Januar begab ich mich auf kalte und dunkele Lasterparkplätze um mit Brummifahrern zu reden,

Collecting Money for the victim of  Berlin terror. One like myself

In the midst of January, I travelled to dark and cold HGV parking lots next to the motorway to discuss the terror attack in Berlin with the drivers.
http://www.taz.de/!5366413/

UK POLITICS

Labour? No thanks!

Britische Juden geben Labour auf –

British Jews are giving up on Labour

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/28751

4-2012 Gelbe Karte für den roten Ken

Yellow card for red Ken

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/28333

UKIP gegen Labour. UKIP against Labour

http://www.taz.de/!5382334/

Paul Nuttall Herausvorderer gegen Labour fuer Ukip in Stoke on Trenty bei Debatte an der Staffordshire Uni
Photo Daniel Zylberszajn (c) 2017

 

Antisemitismus – Antisemitism

Kommentar: Großbritannien: Was tun gegen Judenhass?

Commentary: What is there to do against hatred of Jews?

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/27767

Flüchtlinge – Refugees

Project Abrahams Zelt. Eine Synagoge baut für Flüchtlinge um

A London synagogue restores its caretaker flat to accommodate refugees – Project Abraham’s Tent

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/27943

 

London

 In London machte in Herbst ein U-Bahn Tunnel der Royal Mail seine Pforten als Museum auf. Ich fand das skandalös. Der Bericht  ist in Englisch.
In London, the postal rail network opened as a museum. I strongly objected and called it scandalous. Must read for Londoners and Tourists.

Gleichberechtigung Fußball – Equality Football

Lewes FC ohne Gender Pay Gap: Gleiches Geld für gleiches Training –

Lewes FC without Gender Pay Gap: Same money for same training!
http://www.taz.de/!5429959/

FAWPL Plate Final victory celebration.jpg
Photo: With kind permission by Lewis FC

Imagening the Niqab as the European anti-Modern is a precursor of Auschwitz 

This article was submitted to Open Democracy and The Guardian earlier this year but remained unpublished. 

 

Two years ago, I wrote on Open Democracy on the French attempt to ban of the Niqab as anti-social in the courts. The European judges had just agreed with the French government by majority rule.

Now the European assault on Muslim women who wear Niqab continues. Austria is yet another country that banned the veil. I am deeply uneasy about this as a European  Jew occurring at a time the far right has also seen huge gains across the continent.
When Hitler, the Austrian, may he burn in hell, saw orthodox Jews as backwards to modernity, he dreamt about the holocaust as the solution to this obstacle to a progressive world order, ruled by modernity. The German race and through the enthusiastic Anschluss Austrians, topped the assumed order of progressiveness. Austrians and Germans soon led the ranks as the world’s history biggest mass murderers instead, killing the largest amount of humans in the shortest span of time ever, amongst them members of my own family.  The modern death factory of Auschwitz, alongside the machine gun was the superlative of modernity, to follow the argument of the late philosopher Zygmund Bauman.
With six million Jews killed for their crime of being apparently backwards people, today Austrians alongside many other Europeans, found a new anti-modern parasite, that of women who wear #Niqab and already there are laws made, policed by the state and an enthusiastic loud populus. Feminism, in this case,  is now a concept owned above all, in German über alles, by Austrians.
I wonder if that nation and its government could endure a closer examination of equality in Austria and that claim of being woman’s best friend.. The Muslim woman in veil has followed the faith of the orthodox Jew that Hitler observed in Vienna. She is the obstacle to progress in Austrian society, über allem. She is now an object that lost her right to be seen as a human equal. To be an equal, she must shed her veil as Jews had to shed their clothes to become invisible. But the shedding is futile. Many movements in Europe indicate that Islam itself, like Judaism then, is the anti-modern, anti-European projectile.
Sieg Heil then, to the inability to eliminate fear of the other, ignorance, hate and self-righteousness? Or perhaps Europe could still get to its senses?
So small is the group of women wearing Niqab that any argument of them being a threat must be ridiculed. The issue is much more a subjective and imagined fear of the other,  principled by ignorance and a deliberate triumphant patriarchal view of the Western self over these few women. They do not need to be more rescued than others or made into an example of teaching feminism. That struggle is one that can be fought in a much wider and effective way, by legislating full parity, full equality, full equal pay, and ensure sexual crimes and discrimination is prosecuted with the full might of the law.
The Niqab prohibition is a politics of deflecting from the former and pretending that one is committed to feminism. Right, by battering already marginalised and publicly often abused women? Sure there may be a gender dimension to the veil, but it is not always, directly or essentially forced. The West must be more careful in its judgement and not use the Niqab as a trophy in place of much needed societal reforms of equality that have hardly anything to do with the veil. It should concentrate rather on ending the privileges and advantages to men and it should force instead better education on Islam and other people many in Europe currently view as others. There should be a duty to see the human being in spite of the clothes surrounding the woman wearing Niqab.

“The City” Latimer Road 14-12-2017

Erste Fotos von dem “wieder eingenommenen” Räumen unter den Arkaden des West Ways, North Kensington. Text zur Story http://www.taz.de/Nach-dem-Hochhausbrand-in-London/!5467719/

Pictures of the reclaimed space under the West Way

For full story see post Grenfell, six months later

 

 

 

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Niles Hailstone kündigt die City vor den Versammelten des Silent Marches an

 

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Room in the “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajnion

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Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

 

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Room in the The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Opening night of “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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Opening night of “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

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gigantic lampshades in “The City” Photo (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

 

Grenfell, six months later

Grenfell Tower, six months later

Squatting action under the motorway, Political Requests, Self-help: The Survivors and Residents of the London high-rise fire demand not to be any longer victims.

 

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In the early morning hours of the 14th of June  2017 Grenfell Tower, one of the largest social housing blocs in London – based in North Kensington – caught fire and burned intensely for hours. 71 people lost their lives. Hundreds lost their home. Great Britain is remembering the victims of the inferno six months later, a.o. In a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn

This article was originally published in taz, die Tageszeitung (online taz.de), Germany’s independent left of centre daily and national broadsheet newspaper on 14/12/2017. See here http://taz.de/Nach-dem-Hochhausbrand-in-London/!5467719/  All rights are strictly reserved with taz. For syndicates contact lizenzen@taz.de This translation into English was made by the author. It is just a quick unpolished translation made on the day of the publication and the six-month memorial service, so that English only readers can get the facts of the feature. Taz has always been carried by a co-operative of shareholders who support taz for the sake of an independent free German press.

 

DANIEL ZYLBERSZTAJN REPORTING FROM LONDON

Niles Hailstones is resting in a small café in the world-famous Portobello Road. His head cover, beard and clothing, amongst it also a scarf in pan-African colours, are giving already, at first sight, an impression of his life philosophy. The musician and campaigner describes the spirit of his community with  the Bob Marley’s song “Natural Mystic“, citing its entire lyrics, including the words “Things are not the way they used to be, I won’t tell no lies,, One and All will have to face reality.”

 

Just a stone throw from here are the concrete arcades of the West Way, the motorway which connects the West of London with Central London. It is a road that stretches over several kilometres through North Kensington, from Gospel Oak to Latimer Road, where  Grenfell Tower stands. Grenfell is that building which is even more (in)famous, due to the fact that it burned down precisely six months ago in one of the worst fire catastrophes in British history.  Now, half a year later, a scaffolding structure with a white cover hides about a quarter of the charcoaled tower, and will soon wrap around the entirety of the tower.

 

Hailstone reports a wind of change. Not only did 71 people perish In the inferno, it also marks, at least the hope for an end of a decades-long process of marginalisation, regeneration and exclusion, and the dominance of power interests, in fact, the end of “social and ethnic cleansing of the area”, as he puts it.

 

About the many promises which the council Kensington and Chelsea made, he states: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect any changes, either before or after the fire.” In the first month after the disaster, there was total chaos. Left to our own devices, the spirit of self-reliance escaped the bottle, and it is out now”.

 

The campaigner of African-Caribbean background uncovers a fact that was deliberately kept off the awareness of most observers of the area. When donations, packages and blankets for the community flooded the area, Hailstones happened to have a key to one of the larger spaces under the arcades of the city motorway due to an event he had been planning for a while in honour of the anniversary of Marley’s Exodus Album. Facing necessity, Hailstones asked the community coordination of the trust, for permission to to use the room as a storage room. She agreed and the trust eventually supplied a three-month licence whilst aid stocked up to the high ceiling. .The area was soon simply called by all as the “the village” (in line with the name of this trading area – Acklam Village). It became a sort of private and improvised community centre for survivors of the Grenfell Tower.

 

Six months on, the space appears emptier. There are numerous sofas in communal formation, paintings and pictures give away an Africa inspired atmosphere, a drum set and a piano stand there too. The three-month licence has run out for quite a while now, but Hailstones hopes to be able to stay regardless for longer.

 

In this most valuable part of Portobello Road, part of what has become one of West Londons most distinguished and expensive zones, Notting Hill, world-famous for its carnival, West Way Trust has huge regeneration plans. “It looked to me like a sort of Westfields on Portobello Road. As long as we are here, we are stopping these plans“, claims the campaigner. Since the inferno, Hailstones was part of all discussions with the council. The community coordinator who passed on the key to him, was on the other hand fired. When she and another sacked employee began to speak out against that dismissal the CEO of the trust suddenly stepped down from office.

Lost Free Space

The Westway Trust, initially running under the name of North Kensington Amenity Trust, was the hard fought for result of a sustained campaign against car park spaces under the motorway by the residents of North Kensington. Instead, they demanded communal spaces. Hailstones claims that the trust became soon however but a cover „At the beginning as many as six members of the board were councillors, of whom many lived far away.”

From his perspective, the trust’s actions over many years can be understood as racist. There was increasingly less space for cultural and social activities and lesser so for African-Caribbean activities. Commercially viable use became the key concern. It was in Notting Hill where in the 1950s some of the first Caribbean work migrants settled – now they could not even have free spaces under a concrete bridge. A communal steel-drum workshop „Bay 20“, was cleared in the 1990s for a metal fence, in part with barbed wire, and an obscure art installation with blue stones, useless and empty. Other spaces were lost too, including for example for the famous steel band ebony. It looked as if the  Westway Trust did care little for the annual Notting Hill Karneval, grown out of the resistance against racism of the 1950s as an expressive form that demanded respect for African-Caribbean people and culture. Even the Maxilla nursery had to close three years ago, with council and trust blaming each other, and yet being so inter-twined, whilst a big shopping mall was in the planning for the arcades areas next to Portobello Road, so the story which Hailstones describes.

For about three years Hailstones carries the position of chair of Westway23 a community group, which attempts to hold the West Way trust to account. Even after Grenfell, the troubles continue, however. The latest twist appears to be the intent by the BBC, now supported by the trust, to finance a new room for a boxing club, that used to have training sessions in the now burned down tower. And where is this space to be erected? No other area was targeted but „Bay 20“.  The astonishment is huge, and particularly so amongst the African-Caribbean residents.

Niles Hailstones, von der Lobbygruppe Westway22 konfrontiert die Vertreter der Stadtbehörde und die Polizei mit Fragen und Anschuldigungen. Woglfahr ist nicht Gerechtigkeit sagt er (2)
Niles Hailstones, campaigner and artist photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn  All Rights Reserved c 2017

“The history of the West Way and community through which it cuts, a community which was pushed aside by the decision makers, has many parallels to the way that social housing blocks like Grenfell were managed”, says local campaigner  Eve Wedderburn. Shortly after the inferno she won another long local battle: the rescue of the only library in  Ladbroke Grove.

 

Similar to the establishment of the Westway Trust, the foundation of the “independent” body that administered social housing KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) was the result of demands for communal self-governance. But the reality of that management appeared rather distorted. When residents of Grenfell Tower began to express concerns over the fire safety KCTMO threatened them with judicial steps rather than to examine and respond to the concerns. WIth its credibility, after the fire destroyed, KCMTOs administrative role has only now ended.

 

Since about three weeks residents from the entire area around Grenfell Tower – an action supported also by Niles Hailstones and Eve Wedderburn – have occupied a huge zone under the arcades, but not without historical presidents. 40 years ago the Free Republic of Frestonia was declared in a street very close to here, when it was facing plans of complete demolishment. Occupation is not the word which Hailstones is using, however. „We have reclaimed this space“, he says and speaks of the revolution of the people. On his mobile, he shows images on which one can see renovated sparkling rooms, studios, therapy rooms, kitchens in fine design, all created by the community with generous donations. The space has already a name, “The City” with direct relation to The Village, its predecessor, which came into existence after the fire. The city is to open its doors to the public on Thursday – following the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral in the morning and the monthly Grenfell silent march in the evening, which always ends in an open space, the “Wall of Truth” under the arcades near Grenfell Tower, full of street art and murals, mostly expressions regarding the inferno.

 

Hailstones says that he has invited the councillor of Kensington and Chelsea with responsibility for rehousing Kim Taylor-Smith for a tour of The City. „He came and was taken aback,” recalls Hailstones. Taylor-Smith had stopped the eviction order for now. For the community, it is a prestigious and symbolic display project. It wants to shows that such rooms are not just necessary, but that the community is able to create and implement such spaces into existence.

 

There are also a few counter voices to the City project. An artist known as Livingstone, who looks after the Wall of Truth and has painted much of it, states that he feels excluded by Hailstones. „I should have moved in there because I was here from the beginning“, he states angered over the question what his opinion is regarding the city.

 

 

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Sophie Lodge putting up the result of her school project. Photo Daniel Zylbersytajn, All rights Reserved c 2017

Sophie Lodge, the artist who reacted to the inferno, which was hard to grasp for survivors, with the expressive communal art 24 heart campaign and the slogan Comeunity – a play between come and unity – says the disagreement symbolises nothing more but the articulation of two strong voices, with, in the end, similar intentions. Lodge herself has spent the last two months working with all schools in the area. She stands at Ladbroke Grove and watches the attachment of a large panel onto the underground bridge on which is the sentence of a young boy. We are special because we are the future of Ladbroke Grove.“

 

 

Right to Speak and Human Dignity

The public inquiry regarding Grenfell has only just started to run properly this week, after months of collecting data and documents. There are exchanges on its methods and process. The main issues is the current lack of access to the process by those affected by the disaster.

The legal representatives of the victims, survivors and affected request They demand respect for diversity, dignity, increased access and right to shape the kind of questions the inquiry asks. Instead of a single judge, they ask for a panel to lead the inquiry, in which the affected should then also be represented, and it is also the opinion of Chris Imafidon, one of the survivors of the inferno. „What happens when the judge is ill, or when he dies? Then it does not continue!!“ Regarding such matters, there was a surprise declaration over the weekend by the British equality and human rights Commission, who announced the opening of their own inquiry.

 

At least there are things happening in the building and housing sector according to the expert in building regulation, safety and building forensics Gerard McLean the UK building regulations were clarified as soon as one week after the inferno „Buildings higher than 18 Meter may now only have external material that are of limited combustibility,” he explains. “That is a quite high standard, although not the highest because it is possible to build with totally non-combustible materials.” All public housing owners, such as local authorities have since removed exterior materials such as cladding, even those in private ownership quietly removed questionable cladding.”

 

Eve Wedderburn vor dem Eingang der City
Campaigner Eve Wedderburn in front of the entrance to„The City“, the through local residents self-created free space under the urban motorway West Way Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

Many of the concerns of the survivors and Grenfell surrounding residents remain however still unsolved. Especially because six months after the inferno only one-fifth of the victim families and affected people have found a new home, says Judy Bolton of the Campaign Justice4Grenfell, who has lost friends and relatives in the tower and does not live far from Grenfell in Ladbroke Grove.

 

Asked how he is these days, Professor Chris Imafidon, who used to live on the 14th floor in the tower and survived to tell his story, falls into cynical laughter. “I still live in a small hotel room,” he says „I don’t need any collective service in St. Paul’s Cathedral but a set of keys to a home. It is all a joke. Enough with the talking! We do not need a service for those who are dead and who already had their funerals, we need service for the living!”

 

Elizabeth Campbell, the leader Kensington and Chelsea, assured that her team would work hard to “house all until Christmas”, and that the council purchased on average two flats a day in the area. The delay was due in part to changing circumstances. For example, there would now be a need for almost twice the figure of units than initially assumed. More than 300 are needed now. This was because some families lived in overcrowded conditions with several generations, whilst others wanted to move in together with family members and friends due to inferno.

 

But apparently, there exist over 1000 empty social housing flats in Kensington. “Nobody understands why they are not being offered,” states Judy Bolton of Justice4Grenfell. “Amongst the around 1000 homeless due to the inferno, there are also 40 children. According to UK law, it is illegal to keep them longer than six weeks in temporary accommodation like hotels. Those responsible are for many months breaching the law!” On the other hand, due to rehousing hierarchies can single persons, who have the lowest priority not move into available empty flats, even if families with higher priorities cannot move into one bedroom apartments, due to their small size.

 

In November the UK government made at least 28 Million Pound available in order to help the affected, in addition to the 5 Million which the government had promised immediately after the inferno. Finally and slowly there are essential services available, such as therapy for the affected. Judy Bolton has taken on the offer for counselling, as the last six months have affected her, she admits. In spite of that, there is still a lack of services for children. Not just those directly affected, but also for those children who lost their friends in the fire are left vulnerable. Another problem that existed until recently, when the issue was raised in the scrutiny meetings, was that help was only available in a special centre, without outreach to possibly traumatised people, who sometimes would bury themselves indoors in the hotels in which they are housed.

Chris Imafidon says he feels tired and stretched in energy as well. His GP advised him to rest, but he is unable to do so fully, “because of the government, local and national alike,   claim that I say too much and they push people like myself to the side. He said that he intends to boycott the service in St. Paul’s Cathedral and will instead posture in front to express himself. „First and foremost I need a roof over my head, that I can call my home. After that one can look into the question of therapy, if one still requires it then.”

Aufruf zum Silent Marsh IMG_0045.JPG

Post Script 14.12.2017 Photos of the city can be viewed here https://dzx2.net/2017/12/14/the-city-latimer-road-14-12-2017/