Churchill hero, or great man, with considerable flaws of his own choosing.

There were numerous failings of Churchill, and one can perhaps even go as far that he resisted Germans, only for Britain to remain free from German rule rather than disagreeing wholeheartedly to racial theories (which were the basis of Nazism). But his leadership did also mean that Germany was defeated, together with the help of allies. That is a fact too. So, as with others, we will have to live with the fact that Winston Churchill was not a man without severe personal flaws.
I think Britons knew it, as soon as the war was won, they went and voted for a different direction. Should we be grateful to him? Yes, his leadership of defeating Nazi-Germany was a critical matter.
As my friend Brian Belton a.o pointed out, some of the British high-office holding political key figures at the time were far more conciliatory and open to German Nazism. They may not have chosen the battle stance against Hitler.
Was Churchill a racist, and even white supremacist? On account of his statements and actions, the answer is that Churchill, that robust man who stood up against Hitler, disappoints. Yes, he was a racist and a white supremacist. One has to live with that duality, and it may seem quite regrettable in a world where many people seek for perfect heroes.
The thing is that history has been remembered selectively. I learned about Churchill’s problematic character at university 30 years ago. Few were aware of. It though before the statue was sprayed on.
Had the UK as a whole a more open and honest account of the past, there would be no controversy. We would all know the facts and be very little surprised,
Today reading some pages in the Daily Telegraph, an article written by the collective of four several of its leading journalists https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/06/12/war-winston-sadiq-khan-covered-churchill/ made it look like it is BLM or antiracists who come up with unreasonable statements on Churchill. Not once do they admit that in fact there are terms and expressions by the man, as well as actions that are very regrettable and clearly racist in nature. Danie Finkelstein in the Times does much better by naming some of the flaws explicitly, though isnisting he could still call Churchill great.https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/churchill-was-a-racist-but-still-a-great-man-vnhkhfnpm
Even the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who reviewed once Churchill’s life, admits on his twitter account ” he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today.” He insists he was a national hero nevertheless.
Call him a national hero, as Johnson suggests? A hero, or great man, with considerable flaws, perhaps. Churchill has only got himself to blame for the addendum.
In an essay, I once wrote in uni-days, I examined the argument of the question that racism was a sign of its times, and people who expressed such views then should be given exemption on that account.
I was able to show, again and again, that in each historical episode there were people, who thought otherwise, who did not think Black or Brown people or others were inferior and who did not buy racial theories and spoke out against European racial arrogance. I remember for example the account of a German ship captain who wrote of in his travel journals that he held people in the South to be most human whilst people from Europe behaved like beasts, whilst at the same time Hegel and others theorised that white Europeans were the racial and biological epitome of man. Hegel got his theories wrong because he chose not to know better go to the German harbours and seek out people.
Churchill was racist because he chose to be so, and due to his social surroundings, and unwillingness to consider others as equal humans. But yes, I thank him for leading the fight against Hitler, a racist that was much more dangerous and potent.

On Zionism, Israel and Palestine, on colonialism and Mbembe.

On Zionism, Israel and Palestine, on colonialism and Mbembe.

There have been many posts on Zionism, antisemitism, Israel and Palestine, Mbembe (in Germany), colonialism and post-colonialism in the last month. This is because the Israeli independence day coincided with the coalition between Netanyahu and Ganz which made some frustrated, and in Germany, a dispute started about a passage by the Cameronian philosopher Achilles Mbembe, which some argued was antisemitic. 

I fear, I kept somewhat out of the debate. I feel that all attempts are too short a string. As some will know, the discussion is close to my  former doctoral studies (non-completed) at UCL and Univ. of Leeds, which goes atop my previous studies at SOAS and Goldsmiths. I also worked in a Jewish – Palestinian organisation for six years (Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom) and was CEO of Meretz-UK a left progressive Zionist organisation.

The points below are somewhat fragmented, but I nevertheless wanted to lay them out, rather than say nothing at all. If not in this style, they would have required a far  lengthier response, over many pages, and that would have taken a while. I wanted to allow this to be available faster and hence the format.

On the topic, I  wanted to begin with questions rather than with lengthy passages, some answered, and end with some observations, they make the reading and transmission of ideas faster:

 

  1. ) Is Zionism colonial in the way that European colonialism was, in going to a country or place unrelated to the arriving? What about the Jewish presence that never, in fact, ended, only expanded? What about the centrality of the land in Jewish religion and the very concept of return to Zion?

2.) If Zionism is constructed, what about all other constructed identities all over the globe? The meta-analysis of that destroys all national prescribed identities if one looks closely. It, therefore, can not be applied only to Zionism alone.

3.) In comparison with the broader region, how does tolerance of difference fair? Jewish, Christian and other non-Muslim people in Arab and Persian speaking lands have a story to tell here, Kurds, Beduines, African migrants another (or rather the same).

4.) Was Palestine a land empty of people? Was land gained only by honest ways and never by force and causing fear and expulsions? How can wrongs be addressed?

5.) What can be said about questions of violence and human rights infringements and despotic regimes in the broader region in the last 150 years? Is Israel really the worst of all? What is being kept from being reported? What role does scapegoating play? Jews, they have been a minority in many societies for millennia and therefore representing “the other”,  have been historically and conveniently blamed for problems of the majority that had nothing to do with them.

6.) What role does religious faith have in the conflict? How can the cities of Jerusalem and Hebron a.o,  be shared so that all feel they are equal and respected shareholders? Have not all faiths been too protective, obstructing access and should not all be more open to sharing, in the name of the one God they all believe in, and concerning basic fundamental human rights? What work is being done on that account, and how wide-spread is it?

7.) How many resources enabling good life for all are wasted in the region in the attempt to fight the imaginary or real other?  How can people on all sides be taught to co-operate and invest instead in health, jobs, schools, care and businesses?

8.) Who drew the principle borders in the region? The answer points straight to Europeans who did so with little regard to locals, arbitrarily and to their own advantage.

In the interest of peace, Israel is asked to concede some territories gained in armed conflict repeatedly. But why are other countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon never part of any equation of conceding land, to let go of some areas assigned to them by the line drawing of European clerical officials (now defended as supposed sancto-sacral  international law)? If all worked together, more space and security could be created in and for a dense and explosive region for all, both for Jews and Palestinians.

9.) Jewish Israelis have rightly been reminded to protect Palestinians and other non-Jewish minorities and ensure they have full equality under the law and representation.  How can that be done whilst guaranteeing that Jews remain in charge of their self-determination within a democratic state? From the Jewish perspective, the last 2000 years have not been good experiences of living in countries in which Jews are not the majority. The last 130 years or so have also not been great for Palestinians.  Does that requirement mean that only a federal or two-state solution is viable rather than a one-state solution?

10.) What can be said about the difference in treatment for Palestinians and non-Jews in Israel compared to Jews?  nd what can be said bout how Palestinian society at large treats minorities of any kind? How can it be improved further? 

11.) If Palestinians should be given all guarantees within Israel (and rightly so), what safeguards exist for the possibility of a future Jewish minority to live in a future Palestinian administered independent  Palestinian majority state side by side the Jewish majority state of Israel? 

12.) How much of the land acquisitions since the 19th. century have been totally fair? How can ownership and claims be addressed between Jews and Palestinians in a way that is agreeable to all parties?

How does one relate to the frequent change of ownership in periods of conquests by successive powers over millennia? This is a question that goes back to biblical days and needs explicit acknowledgement, compromise and agreement. If the wider context is not considered, it will come back and back again.

13.) Who can be trusted to be fair to Palestinians and Israeli Jews as a neutral body? Both sides claim that they suffer from macropolitical bias from different forces.

14.) How does one address the loss of lives on all aiswa, over the last centuries and draw a line? 

15.) How do both states and societies, in general, protect themselves against interference by fanatics within in a peace process? How can they deal with atrocities and violent incidents designed to derail any befriending and change of the status quo?

16.) In a possible one-state scenario for the future, some suggest this,  how can safety and security be warranted for all. What limits to religious and political expression are required from all in such a situation?

 

On Achilles Mbembe colonialism and slavery:

The above questions already show the complexity of the situation of Zionism and Israel and Palestine. However, I like to raise a few points specific about the issue of colonialism and comparisons to black movements and Zionism.

Black Liberation Movements were informed and inspired by early Zionists, including figures like Marcus Garvey. There are other examples in this regard also. On the other hand, sometimes Jews were used as others (Nation of Islam and early phase of Elhajj Malik Al-Shabazz, when he still called himself Malcolm X in particular).

The relationship between Israel and African politics is complex.  It ranges from relationships and training of the armed wing of the ANC by Israel,  early relations between Israel and new independent African states, to Israel’s later relations with Apartheid South Africa (at the same time Jewish ANC supporters at risk were able to receive refuge in Israel), the rejections and deportations of African migrants and the treatment of African migrants (particularly pressing in the case of Darfurian refugees) within the country.  It also encompasses the comprehensive agreement of African countries to side with calls of some North-African states to boycott Israel (a curious state of affairs given few other countries were ever boycotted).

In its relationship to the European majorities and their othering, Jewish people share the position with Black people (and people of Muslim faith). It is, of course, both different and related. But nationalist liberation movements responded to the racism and marginalisation in both wider cases.

After slavery, the countries of Liberia and the city-state of Freetown in today’s Sierra Leone were both creations that are not dissimilar to Israel in the way that these states provided sanctuary and a new beginning to people of the African diaspora after the catastrophe of their enslavement by Europeans. Settlements in Ghana (following Garvey and Blyden) and Ethiopia (following Rastafarianism) can also be mentioned within this regard. The first “homecomings” in Liberia and Sierra Leone were met with stiff resistance and opposition by regional locals – people were amongst others murdered. The dichotomies of difference were a factor in the respective civil wars there. Sierra Leone Creole’s (Kreo-) community has more or less been out-populated and it struggles to upkeep its cultural distinctiveness. This illustrates that some basic rules to specificity and protection of particular groups are necessary (if one considers again the one-state option that some suggest for Israel / Palestine).

Israel’s maintenance of the status quo of the West Bank is an issue of concern that can be rightly criticised, but it can not be understood without context. The relationship of Jewish people to Israel is totally different to the relationship of the average European seeking to conquer and cultivate colonially acquired territories. That said, the continued expansion and land-acquisitions without due and fair process is and was a reality and victimised Palestinians. Some land was inhabited by Jews, in deed there’s were Jewish cities like Zfad, Jerusalem, Hebron and others where Jews represented a considerable part of society even before Jewish people from elsewhere were considering a larger return (The “returns” were happening for different reasons, one that is strikingly different from European Jews is the migration of Yemenite Jews.)

Jewish acquisitions for settlement expansion (also refered to as the yishuv) were gained through legal agreements, sponsorship collections and allocation, whilst others were in deed gained in conflict, through fear, or indeed occupations, taking advantage of power balances. In the Jewish case, there are references to biblical presence, which allow for the argument of return or reclaim, but undoubtedly many areas were no longer in Jewish possession for a couple of thousand years, with other people having taken custody and ownership of land, often subject to armed conflicts and conquests century after century. Any return must have been negotiated on the basis of taking account of that, and even in its best and most amicable scenario would have yielded tensions, in my view.

At the same time the question of the near-total expulsion of Jewish populations from Arab and Persian speaking lands, not to speak of teh shoah in Europe, requiring somewhere to live, complicates this issue to the detriment of Palestinians. Politically motivated hate of Jews in countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and others intended to help Palestinians, In reality it aggravated the situation. It did that because there were both new requirements to accommodate Jewish refugees, as well as the possibility of Jews living in countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt or Syria becoming an impossibility.

This also complicates the option of Jews living in a future Palestinian country or even now under the auspices of the PA as. minority (side by side Israel). On what basis, should Jewish people put their trust and need for essential security with the PA? The fact that neighbouring countries showed themselves to be totally hostile to the extend that Jews were not tolerated in their midst and that wars were fought together against “the Jews” (to wipe the “infidels” and “invaders” off the “holy land” and into the sea) meant that Israel’s defensive ethos was also solidified. 

Such points are hardly considered in the wider discussion. They are however elementary. The expulsions of non-European Jews are for example rarely raised, despite their effect being totally devastating and amount to complete ethnic cleansing over huge territories.  In the creation of Israel, this occurred at most partially to Palestinians, nevertheless just as devastating for those concerned. But many, of course not all Palestinians, are still living inside Israel and there with rights, albeit not perfect, and in the West Bank, and Gaza where life is not free of Israeli control, a circumstance that Palestinians rightly object to and which, the longer it remains also harms the moral integrity of Israel.

The conditions in Gaza and the West Bank and in Israel proper can certainly be better, and should lead to a Palestinian state side by side Israel, federal or independent, but for that, the narrative that one can exist only if the other does not must cease. The doctrine of Hamas is an example of such ideology.

Zionism is as controversial as any nationalist movement. It has winners and losers. Zionism is a response to European nationalism and the rejection of Jews. It is a movement also of liberation from oppression. It was merely one of competing ideas before 1933 (one other was for a Jewish autonomy, or the status of official recognition in Poland, for example) but then gained huge importance due to the genocide against Europe’s Jews, that left little other options. 

Nationalist liberation in the Black and African context is a complex matter for different consideration in the ways of the methods used and who can partake and against whom it is led. In Zimbabwe Mugabe lived out his fight against white oppressors. His legitimate fight for liberation, in the end, led to the destruction and self-destruction of Zimbabwe. In that sense, any nationalist and freedom movement has its time and place and its ability to liberate and self-destroy as well as destroy others. If it can not adapt and provide for inclusive change and widening towards greater human goals, it derail in its inability to consider others and because it fails to lay down arms in an eternal state of defence and elimination of weakness. This is not a healthy state of affairs to any group, let alone a state. In Israel this has led to the growth of a part of society following ultra nationalism, sometimes interlinked with religious metaphysical sentiments,   which is just as troublesome as similar ideologies in any one country,  when they begin to disregard the existence of others, and their human rights. You do not need to look very far to find a counterpart of the  very same, just across the border amongst Palestinians.

It is to be remembered that in the Israeli – Palestinian context these days, as before, two nationalist movements stand opposite each other. Both are potent and can kill. Whilst one is clearly locally the stronger force, controlling the other, on a wider geographical scale the dice looks different, and Israel becomes a singular state of “others” with a significant religious and ethnic difference in a wider Islam -dominated non-sympathetic geographical sphere, against which it has to sustain itself. This is not just due to the difference of religion, but also due to cunning and deliberate misdirection by successive regimes in the area that steered deliberate hatred against Israel and Jews in general, not infrequently also borrowing from antisemitic schools of thought.  As both sides can be deadly to each other, there is huge need to try to discharge wall building and bring the conflict down to a human(e) level, where conflict is argued over with words, rather than with arms, negotiated and agreed upon, and only the results of that (a peace settlement of sorts) eventually protected and heavily guarded.

Therefore, nothing easily compares to the specificity of Israel and Palestine. Allegories to colonial projects on the African continent or Apartheid are useless, therefore. The situation must be understood within its own context and challenges. Everything, of course, needs to be done to overcome hurdles and work towards an approximation that makes life possible and liveable and dignifying for all concerned.

Last but not least, I do not call Mbembe an Antisemite, someone who explicitly hates Jews. The conditions of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict are far-reaching and complex. Arguments can be, in fact must be had. But we we must all also remember to dedicate our efforts to support exchange, conflict reduction projects, and any initiative that allows Palestinians and Jews to meet, exchange and encounter each other, ideally over long sustained periods and on equal footings. It is the consideration of many of these points and the discourse and negotiation between that, which leads to something transformational, in a way that both can find a way and will to live in the region side by side and together in a shared destiny of common resolve and purpose that can leave the past behind without forgetting its warnings.

Six Feet Deep.

Six Feet Deep.
UK politicians in government, sourced from the Conservative Party, being responsible to safeguard our lives through appropriate investments of our collective tax monies, stockpiled for the risks of hard Brexit.
They created expensive infrastructures for Brexit. But they did not sufficiently create the necessary precautions for a predictable and preannounced likelihood of an epidemic/pandemic.
That, it is said, would not have gone down well amongst voters, as a politically urgent priority and expenditure, unlike, presumably, the urgency of Brexit, “going our own way, free from the shackles of the EU.” Shackles? We are drowning, suffocating with a virus multiplying in our lungs! Those who advocated for Brexit told me frequently, “well once we are out, you know who to blame.” They would be “our politicians” sitting in Westminster. So let’s start then, for this is not the working of the EU.
Alas, the arguments of Brexit supporting politicians were simply not the correct ones. Our destiny is currently at arm’s length from the overcrowded morgues, rather than the crown of the globe. “Global Britain” it was going to be, for “we know better than the rest” and also “we have the “glorious NHS.” Is that glorious as in “our glorious dead?” Perhaps that is why our political rulers speak of war so often? We may be the worst affected country in Europe, after all, with hospitals less well equipped as of some other European countries. For sure “our” NHS is great, but all doctors and medics are, in whatever country they may be, unlike “our” politicians.
Back then, even UK-bound migration could have been managed adequately with sufficient investment in housing, new schools and hospitals and training courses for UK-workers. Investment again, that was never made. Instead, they shut hospitals, kept nurses wages down, and reduced even the value of the stocks of emergency equipment for a time like this.
They can talk nicely, they can talk patriotically, they can wave the flag, talk of “our” nation, “our” country, pride and how wonderful “we” are. The British spirit is with us, these days, thy claim? What is that? To tolerate and vote for stupifying political classes, against solid evidence, just because they talk nicely, make us feel great for wishful soap bubbles? Of course, that is not just “British,” other countries and nations fall for similar packs.
Their words do not safe the doctor, nurse or care-worker without protective equipment, or the elderly person in a care home, who thought s/he still had a few years of life to look forward to, nor can they magically deliver those missing ventilators. Nor will global Britain deliver any, not even plastic clothing to needy countries overseas.
There is a very bitter irony in all of that, happening at a moment some in this country imagined themselves to be literally on top of the world. The reality is six feet deep for a growing number of people. Perhaps that is what was needed for more sombre and down to earth humility.

Can a poor country do better in keeping Covid-19 at bay than a wealthy country? New Article in English out on Medium

Can a poor country do better in keeping Covid-19 at bay than a wealthy country? New Article in English out on Medium

 

Dear friends,

it is rather rare that I publish in English.

Some of you may know that my wife is stranded in Sierra Leone.

I last wrote about Sierra Leone 18 months ago about questions regarding sexual violence committed by UN personnel and the evidence gathering by some NGOs.

Given that my wife is stuck and I hear her daily reports from Sierra Leone, I took the opportunity to release an opinion piece on Sierra Leone on Medium, and how Sierra Leone just could do better than other wealthier countries in keeping out the diseases.

To summarise briefly, this is due to two factors: 1. Experience gained during the Ebola Outbreak and 2. The fact that they can not afford to be complacent.

Read here https://medium.com/@danielzylbersztajn/will-sierra-leone-be-saved-from-sars-cov-2-by-its-ebola-trauma-cee56009ab19

Please share the article after you are done and at the end click “clap” as the article is paid in accordance to that. Of course, only if you think it was worthwhile.

Thank you

Daniel

Out of breath – Being GB-correspondent in 2019

Out of breath –  Being GB-correspondent in 2019
(updated and corrected version – correcting a  page synthesizing  and creation error, which duplicated some sections and also removed some photos)

The other day I heard a Dutch NPO-radio colleague speaking (in Dutch) about the stress of the last year as a Great Britain correspondent.


He spoke of the fact that the year was evidently hectic and made it difficult to keep up with family and private commitments, not the least to look after himself. He also said that it was also mentally demanding with constant change in the air.

I echo all of this. Coverage this year may have been busy, but was most frustrating too.

Sadiq KhanIMG_4228
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

In addition to Brexit, I had to again deal with the reporting of antisemitism in politics – not for the first year either – I wished I would never have to report on, and doubly so, as someone, who works for a left of centre newspaper, where issues of social justice matter.

Only in 2019, I would have to report on it 19 times in taz and four times in the German Jewish paper.

Antisemitische Karkatur im Hintergrund, und Peter Gregson IMG_4124
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

Unlike some UK media outlets on the left of centre, my German newspaper taz was mostly outstanding on reporting antisemitism both in Germany and elsewhere, seeing it correctly as a problem of the left and right. Much of what I wrote was on Labour, but if you look at my last comment in the Jewish German newspaper, the headline is enough. It reads, not just Labour! The fact that taz reports this a problem of both sides has been remarked on in astonishment by British journalist colleagues, who work in Germany, because they assumed it not so in the UK – though I have to say, the Guardian has caught up somewhat on that.


undefined
I also reported on green climate change campaigns like XR and the school strikes, seeing my own daughter in one of them, while political decisions moved, as a matter of fact, insufficiently on that side. On the one hand, I was also able to meet and report on a Jewish contingent there, while on the other, one of the key figures of XR also got entangled into controversy due to a stupid and needless comment of his on the holocaust.

I reported again on Grenfell.  First, on a photo exhibition, the first (perhaps only?) report in the German newspaper landscape, and then later, the first stage report from the Grenfell Inquiry was released and I had to speed-read the report in an embargo room, exactly when I had fallen ill and felt sick. I did the first report, but a second newspaper report almost failed due to my health (saved by my editor).  Still, having promised campaigners and survivors that I would attend a meeting with them, I took some aspirin and even attended that meeting in the evening at parliament. The effort proved right. Not only did I not let my contacts down, I was one of only few journalists that evening attending and again the only one reporting this in the German media landscape (read here (German)).  One of the last reports this year, on election night, came from Kensington Town Hall, where, in the end, at around four in the morning I stood in front of one of the key Grenfell campaigners, who was bereaved of words unable to comment, when Kensington went back to a Conservative MP. It went duly into the morning sheets.

I had to deal with this whole Brexit stuff, reporting from both camps who seemed not able to consider or compromise with the other, while being myself a dual UK /EU citizen, who saw rights and wrongs on both sides and somehow wanted it all to go away (considerable parts of the UK population had similar thoughts).

Walesische Generationen apart, Glauben an Brexit. Schafzüchter Rick Thanes links und Bill Griffiths

I met sheep farmers who were willing to end their trade and the professions their families had for generations, if EU export tariffs killed it after the withdrawal from the EU, “for the glory of Brexit “and if it would be keeping out foreigners”, and fishermen who hoped for their lost fortunes to restore through it (read here about in Hastings and here about it Scotland).

I met people whose only positive regional economic changes and contributions were expensive and large EU-funded infrastructure projects in one town a newly upgraded railway line, a newly done up two-lane country road, a colossal fitness centre, a hospital, a huge college and a cable lift, as well as expensive memorials to the towns past,  were still not enough and so many still voted Brexit, because all the many faults that affected their lives, including those caused by austerity cuts, were blamed on Europe (and mostly they had something to do with local or national politics).

Von Links nach Rechts Brexitwählerinnen die den Glanz Ebbw Vales zurückfordern, in dem menschen nicht Infrastruktur unterstützt wird Thelma Robers, Diane Roberts, und Nancy Simpson 20191007_152544
Brexit voters in Ebbw Vale (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

Privately, on my facebook and on twitter, I reminded people also on Boris Johnson’s rather poor record in London (London Garden Bridge, Routemaster Blunder, Air Pollution Issues (incl. non-released report on effect on children), Boris Island, Heathrow a.o. ), only to be told by two women in a small village in Yorkshire that “they knew” that Boris had been a good mayor in London – and so the man, who was co-responsible for the 350 Million Pound lie, became prime minister – many told me, because their options for alternatives were rather poor.

Boris 1
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

There was the resignation of Theresa May, a fight for the leadership of the conservative party, a landslide EU and local election, an illegal prorogation, there was a supreme court decision, and there were astonishing parliamentary votes, and so on. New parties emerged and vanished, I walked with Nigel Farage, and witnessed the ascendance of Jo Swinson (only to resign after the election). I interviewed Jonathan Bartley the Co-Leader of the Green Party.

Jonathan Bartley IMG_4477
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

undefinedBut I also got some time with Jane Dodds, a refugee social worker who gained Brecon and Radnorshire in Wales for the LibDems in a hard-fought by-election only to lose it in the general election to a new Conservative Candidate and I argued with Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry, whilst quizzing with questions the Conservative Transport Minister George Freeman and the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, amongst others. undefined

undefinedIn Bristol West, I interviewed both Green candidate Carla Denyer and the standing and winning Labour candidate Thangam Debonnaire (I actually liked both of them), and in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Labours Natalie Fleet (who lost aLabour seat of decades to the Conservatives). In Richmond Lib Dems Sarah Olney spoke to me (she won), Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmiths was asked for an interview, but declined.  But I was refused an interview with Luciana Berger, in spite of working also for the Jewish-German newspaper. I also made the highlight of two Nigerian-British conservative party members, when I took a photo for them of the two of them standing with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

There were many demonstrations, those of the Peoples Vote and smaller ones of the Leavers.


Grüne auf dem Land IMG_4764I have been to Wales, Scotland, all sort of regions West, South, . As As usual, I learned new things, going into corners few would go, and thinking creatively and finding unique stories and people. My highlights include the anti-fracking campaigners in Bolsover or the story of a Remainer and LibDem supporter in Wales who lived next to a Brexit supporting Conservative, fighting out their conflict with huge placards on the countryside.

Cuxton Werbeplakat Act Act for Cuxton Together IMG_3125Also, I remember the citizenship initiative in the small 2600 souls town of Cuxton in Kent, who set up their own independent party of independent citizens called ACT (Acto for Cuxton Together) and won in that way against all established parties in their regional local election. I was the only one to report this beyond Kent.  In the same wider region of Kent a Brexit supporting Conservative party club chair told me, that if Hitler would not have been such an idiot, he would have been a good leader.

undefinedIn the same wider region of Kent a Brexit supporting Conservative party club chair told me, that if Hitler would not have been such an idiot, he would have been a good leader. Gravesend Alistair Ellis, 80 Vorsizender des konservativen Klubs in Gravesend IMG_3142


And this having been a most extraordinary year, I was mostly not able to write about issues I actually cared about, like poverty, health blunders and violence, or equality issues, because there are only so many hours of time one has. However, there was at least one story I wrote that set something in motion. When I wrote about the demise of a Dutch mother of two, a victim of abusive relationships and her problems to access social welfare in the UK, because of status issues, a reader had a heart and posted the money she required for a new Dutch passport, which she needed to set things in motion. We even translated the story into English (read here). The mum in question is now settled and protected.

Marlene Rolfe liest den Bericht ihrer Mutter, in dem diese über ihre Jahre in Strafanstalten inhaftiert war, darunter auch KZ Ravensbrück Foto Daniel Zylbersztajn IMG_1608
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

Another breakthrough for people was an article initiated by me but co-written in taz with two expert journalists of taz colleagues Pascal Beuker and Christian Rath, which later was translated into English (read here) for wider reach. It regarded the strange omissions of entitlement to German citizenship to certain Jewish refugees and their children. Those affected told us, that the article we wrote was for a long time the most thorough in the German media landscape. Most other media outlets only followed after our article, and what’s more, there was an impact, when the German government briefed its authorities to consider the cases. It came short of a change of law, but it may be something that will still be changed eventually. I also wrote about this in the German Jewish Newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine.

Earlier in the year, I travelled to Berlin (the green way, by train) to speak about Britain at a political discussion event taz hosted. It was great to meet readers, many of whom made sure to let me know that they appreciated my reports.


Even though my position as GB correspondent since September 2018 slightly improved my pay, I continue to wait to be paid closer to the rates of colleagues of national broadcasters both in Germany and the UK. But like the vast majority of journalists out there, I continue to persevere in a relatively poorly paid profession – some say it remains the lowest-paid professional job. I have a German contract of minimum work assurance and pay (for both sides),  but still am not entitled to sick and holiday pay. At 50, that is beginning to be a worrying thought, if one is honest.

I also made sure I had some time for my family, including a visit to my mum amidst the Brexit and election drama because she was hospitalised.

Pilates
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

And if that was not enough to spend your time on in a week, the low journalism wage made me continue to prop up my earnings through my long-established side-profession of personal Pilates teacher, even during this crazy year. On the positive side, I really make a difference to most of my clients. Often, I would teach a few hours and immediately continue into the writing. Some of my sessions also had to be cancelled as and when politics got all wild.

There was little time to make progress on my book, though a taste of things to come on that side came, when I had the opportunity to write extracts of the book for the German Le Monde Diplomatique in its Brexit special in March (thanks to the editor of that special release, Oliver Pohlisch who had the idea). I had to also leave to the side the offer of a trustee position (which remains open, but I wonder now, if I can still commit to things like that), nor could I assist to upkeep a local organisation I had helped to build some years ago when some suggested I should become its chair again.

Did I look after myself? Reasonably well though there were often enduring days and weeks I could not, given the fact, that I also have family commitments. Luckily on reporting duties, I often have to walk a lot, so at least I got that. Worst of all was the announcement of the winter general election. Not because of winter itself or the work challenge, but because the election day fell a few days before my 50th birthday. To compensate for the shortcomings, we planned to go on holiday as soon as the election was over, skipping the last week of parliament, but not before surviving the election night, writing my report, sleeping an hour or two and then attending my daughter’s school end of term show. A month earlier, I was on call during their advent event, and receiving a call in the middle of it due to a fanatic Islamist attacking people in London and then being shot by police. Luckily I returned after the call just in time for my daughter’s little part in the show, though I had to report on the attack later. My wife also had to live with the fact that I was often not there when needed, also having an impact on her ability to work. I am grateful of course for the understanding.

In the end, I must have read and gone through several 100.000 of pages of reports, proposals, legal texts, political statements, comments of others and so on.  I probably have forgotten to mention half of the other stuff I also wrote or covered.  Am I more clever, do I know more, after all of this? Not at all.

The more I do this job, I know, that I know nothing.  Not the least because there is very little time to reflect or go even deeper into a topic. There is always another side, another viewpoint, a perspective you have not heard yet. All in between is commentary – these days much of that is to be found on Twitter. Don’t get me started on what I think of that. The truth is, I much prefer meeting people and learn more about them than in a few characters, though of course, one can not ignore any longer all that commenting. But be aware, not always is there something behind it. Those who engage in this, should also admit more often the old truth of Socrates.

 

P.s. none of my work would have been possible without great editors in Germany. They know who they are and I like to thank them for their dedicated initiative and care! 

 

 

To finish, here some of the pictures of the year 2019. 

Gina Miller announces End of Prorogation wining front of the Supreme Court (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Tom Watson at the Labour Party Conference (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Stop Brexit Stephen Bray (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Leave Means Leave Gathering (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Yellow Vest March 2019 in London (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Newport Restaurant Keeper Shia Edwards. (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
First official meeting of Change UK to stand in European Elections (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
XR Shofar Blowing at Westminster (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
XR Westminster Bridge (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Nigel Farage in Peterborough. (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Never Forget Grenfell Exhibition (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Luciana Berger on her first Lib Dem party conference. (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Sarah Olney (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
One of the last acts of Emma Dent- Coad, before she was voted out of office: a parliamentary meeting with Grenfell affected residents and survivors. (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Peterborough Jung und Arbeitslos, von links nach rechts Hannah Tebb, 2, Aimy Johnson, Benjamin Griffith, 30, 27IMG_3159
This picture made it into the paper.  Young and unemployed in Peterborough. Parties do not represent us.  (f. l. t. r.): Hannah Tebb, Aimy Johnson and Benjamin Griffith

 

Be a Mensch first!

For image source click here

Journalism used to be a respected profession. We go out and meet other people, share their stories, report them for the benefit of others. If we are considered to be rude or inappropriate, at worst let it be for a persistent question asked, for that is our trade, whilst we must know also our boundaries in terms of what is a person’s private sphere.

But there is another side I witness at times. I have to say, sometimes, I wonder about the self-centred “me first” ambition of some of my fellow journalistic colleagues (not all, thank goodness!).

Here is an example that I encountered today as I waited in front of an English court of law from from around 08.00 in the morning onwards for the doors to open at 09.00 (I left my home at 06.45 for that). My preparation had paid off, as I was one of only five colleagues, who were amongst the first in front of the court-building door. By the time the court-building had opened, there were some 25 journos outside, and by the time the courtroom door (up on the third floor) opened, it must have been well over 30 colleagues plus ordinary persons, members of the public, who just came to observe.

I always treat my fellow colleagues with collegial respect. Having been in the business for a while, in fact I have been in journalism on and off for about 28 years, I experienced oftentimes that colleagues help each other and try to prevent replication of asking a source. Sometimes the help goes above that, with cars, food, even accommodation shared, even if one is not from the same media organ. But not always, and today I almost missed out on a court hearing due to good manners, which include as it stands, to not push myself in front of others with disregard and to try to upkeep civility and politeness – a skill that got not the least refined from living in England – when others showed hardly any of these attributes.

It started when some colleagues, who arrived rather late stationed themselves self-importantly beside and then before me and in the front line. As soon as the doors to the building opened, they and others almost run into the court building trying to be the firsts to be in. As I was right in front of the main entrance door, in spite of those pushy folks, I managed, without too much hurry, still to be amongst the first ten persons in the waiting room on the third floor in front of the courtroom, after we were let in and had gone through the security controls. Had they not pushed, I would have been amongst the first two or three upstairs. When the doors to the court-room opened after another hour of wait upstairs, the media league began yet again and with even more eagerness to ferociously push itself through the door into the court-room itself, as if inside somebody was giving out free diamonds to the first to arrive inside.

The entrance was almost blocked when several people at the same time tried to enter. Some of those who had come last were amongst the worst offenders. It was unbelievable behaviour these professionals beared to the open. As I finally entered, there were hardly any seats of the 30 plus seats left. A man shouted, there was a seat still free beside him. Whilst I was in front of a woman, a young determined journalist half my age, I was cavalier enough to allow her to take that seat, saying, please, You have it. Now I I am asking myself , why on earth did I feel the need to be polite? She self-righteously instead pushed ahead without a thank you.

So it was, that despite being one of the first at the location ready for work, I nearly missed out on one of the available seats, leaving me standing in the room, quite confused as to what had just happened. Already a court official declared that “those still standing would have to leave the room.” I feared for the worst, when only due to some sudden reshuffling on the order of the court officials, I was finally able to gather a seat, to my great surprise and relief.

Having witnessed that conduct, and having remained a mensch, almost to my detriment, the next frenzy was only about to start. One clever cocky journalist, well trimmed and in a fine suit, you would mistake him for what they refer to in this country as supposedly a gentleman, decided to request the names of the defence and prosecution lawyers single-handedly for himself. When he failed to volunteer his “most precious information” to all his other fellow colleagues, another five or six journalists started getting up from their seats queuing up behind the lawyer who had volunteerd the details, also requesting for the names and then, to my surprise, also not sharing the details to all (at best they did to those seated next to them). It was totally disorderly and very non-collegial. The rule in the room seemed to be ‘get what you can’, ‘disregard all others, or how you get it.’

This may be an attitude that at times helps journalists in certain situations, but it really had no place inside an English courtroom, not the least, because court officials will always assist journalists to get whatever information they may require about the persons involved in a case, unless they are instructed not to. Eventually, the court officials put a stop to the small queue of journos behind the lawyer in question, who himself was rather baffled by it all.

In the end, all journalists found a space to sit and all journalists who required information received it. There was no need for the behaviour shown.

Perhaps, with foresight, the court officials should have prepared for that, given the amount of media interest. I have been in courtrooms where the information of the names of the accused, the judge and the lawyers were already prepared on a special hand-out list for journos or sometimes a sheet with that information would circulate from seat to seat for us to copy. I have also been in courts where there was a number put to journalists, in accordance to arrival time, sometimes, especially in Old Baily cases, we have to pre-announce our intention to reserve a space.

The colleague next to me was one of the five people who managed to get those names from the lawyer. She shared those with the man to her right, but forgot me, seated to her left. She only thought of volunteering the names after I explicitly asked for them (at least she did that without further ado). In the end, I did not even need the names later, as it was not too relevant for German news.

There were about a dozen people in the public gallery watching the behaviour of all of this, as well as the court officials and lawyers. If people have little respect for our profession, here was just another admittedly small example, showing that we can not even behave well towards or respect our very own colleagues. Treat your neighbour like yourself, or treat your colleague like yourself is an anathema here, it seems.

The last time I witnessed such behaviour was about three years ago, when a journalist went up to an emotionally strained Grenfell survivor to ask for her details in a public meeting and refused to share that detail with other colleagues, requiring them also to go up one by one to that survivor (this was only days after the inferno). I remember that the journalist had eventually given me some information, but not all, giving off an attitude of somehow being the clever or deserving one. Maybe she was, was she?

A few years ago at a large world leaders and experts summit hosted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, journalists were treated with a degree of contempt, amongst others, not being allowed into many areas into which we should have been allowed for access (such as where debates and presentations occurred). Our access area was severely limited. I complained about that at the time. But to be honest, after what I have witnessed today, is it a surprise, if some think, we must be managed quite vehemently, and that often, in order to report, we have to get accredited, which, by the way, is still not a guarantee that people, fellow journalists, behave themselves with courtesy and with respect to others. In my rule book for the job that is amongst the twelve commandments of the trade. But maybe, approaching my 50s I am just old-school, like the fact, that I still prefer to take notes on a paper notepad, rather than record everything digitally. But to be a mensch, to be kind, surely, is never something outdated, though at times it could be rare.

“Unsere Europäische Art”

Wenn Ursula von der Leyen von der „europäischen Art zu leben“ entgegen Johnson spricht (1), benutzt sie ausgrenzendes Vokabular, dass nicht besser als das der Brexit Front ist, wo mit der Floskel des „our British Way of Life“ – unserer britischen Lebensart –  gleichfalls argumentiert wird.  Wer sich so wie von der Leyen positioniert, definiert die EU als selbstgerechtes Bündnis welches so, mit dem Wort „unsere“ klar anderen Regionen und Ländern gegenüber ausschließt und das Wohl der Zivilisation prinzipiell für sich behauptet. Ich bin für Großbritannien in der EU, dass bedeutet aber noch lange nicht, dass derartiges Gelabere von der angeblichen „europäischen Lebensart“  entgegen andere Regionen der Welt, Gültigkeit hat. Wer zu stark auf „unser Europa“ pocht darf nicht vergessen  was „unsere Lebensart“  bedeutet, wenn Europa als Konsument von Gütern und Ressourcen betrachtet wird und kollektiv mit den von europäischen Staaten verursachten historischen Katastrophen und Kriegen, Genoziden, dem Kolonialismus, der Sklaverei, der Welteroberung-und-Bevormundung und der forcierten Missionierung, dem Holocaust und dem ehemaligen und heutigen Menschenhandel. Großbritannien mag durchaus tiefer in seine absichtlichen Übersehen blicken müssen, sich entkolonialisieren, damit das Empire Denken sich beruhigt, aber jene die zu laut Europa schreien, sollten dies ebenfalls tun. Neben dem nächsten „europäischen Cappuccino im mediterranen Cafe mit Meerblick schwimmen Leichen von Menschen über bereits seit Jahrzehnten und Jahrhunderten versunkenen Skeletten, deren aller Präsenz auch die „Lebensart Europas“ mitdefinieren. Nur aus diesen Erfahrungen darf das Gelübde zur angeblichen „europäischen“ Toleranz, der Gerechtigkeit Gleichberechtigung, Solidarität und Menschenrechte verstanden werden.

Double Espresso it is- On Netanyahu’s Re-election.

So I will stay with drinking water or maybe something bitter – a really bad espresso to wake me to the reality, because bitter it is.

I am old enough to have grown up, seeing the 1973 War, the 1972 Munich Olympic Terrorist Attacks, bombings of Jewish and Israeli sites throughout the 1970s and 1980s and the 1980s Lebanon War, Sabra and Shatila, then, the first Intifada and in my 20s, how Rabin and Arafat came together.

I never had any doubt, nor do I have today, about the importance of Israel, a state where Jewish people could live and be more in charge of their destiny than anywhere else, in a country that stands on the basis of Jewish history and religion, as a pluralist democratic and diverse country. But I had to learn that there were Palestinians (the concept was not one I grew up with, then, all were simply terrorists that hated and murdered us Jews) and that the versions of history people close to us told us, were only one part of the story, that there was another side. I support for a long time now the two-state solution.


Believe it or not, with a dose of scepticism that I had as a German-born person, that history had more on offer, I learned in Israel itself, most of all, from open and progressive Jewish Israeli teachers and people who knew a fuller more complicated history. I had been as a young adult to a Palestinian village (I was not allowed by the school administration, and did so nevertheless), and they gave me espresso to drink. Nothing happened to me, but the taste of the coffee was strong and bitter, only sweetened by lots of sugar.

I was shocked when I first met, still in secondary school in Israel at the time, students a year or two older than me who had been alumni of my Israeli secondary school and had begun their army service. I remember how one such young man came back with raw, hateful emotions about Palestinians and revengeful blind and violent language. Then, a few years later, came Rabin and Arafat. It was what turned out to be the last return of a more just, equal, fair and also intellectual Israel or the hope thereof (it is still there, but it has not been in control for nearly half of my lifetime). Much of the old welfare provisions, even the famous Kibbutzim, no longer are anything of what they once were, though there are still a few left – shadows of the past really.

What we got instead is the growth of mostly unchallenged extreme nationalist views on both sides, not helped by bias and interference from the outside against or for either side of the conflict. It was the combination of Russian- and American- and later French-Jewish waves of immigration, mostly from small regions, nearly all coming from divided and racist realities, that they carried with them. They wanted to be free and no longer compromise. Some, with little means, got free or reduced rate housing in controversial areas, beyond the Green Line, a cynical style of politics to people with few choices or lack of awareness. Others moved there deliberately to live-out their Jewish fantasies undisturbed, or so they thought or hoped, and reclaim more of “God’s given land”, more than what laws and wars had settled on decades earlier.

Netanyahu represents a world of simple populist politics, a Jewish version thereof. Easy slogans underpinned with right or far-right, sometimes religious fundamentalist uncompromising ideology, neoliberal economics, aided by coalitions with people like Trump and Bolsonaro, most recently even, it is hard to swallow, with Saudi Arabia at the height of its atrocities in Yemen. Arafat had tried to use a new strategy too. Whilst some found it hard to believe, those who disagreed with him made things hard, he hesitated a lot, and his internal and ideological enemies later returned with a vengeance.

The neighbours of Israel likewise were supported by hardcore dictators and fundamentalists at the same time. Not only the old autocratic rulers Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad but also Ayatollah-led Iran, and later movements like Hamas, the Islamic Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Al Qaida and Daesh. They provided a rationale to an uncompromising iron fist politics by Israels leaders.

But there are pacifists and non-violent peacemakers on the other side too. They have a hard time. In Israel, there is a chance every so often to change the leaders. So far, it is unbelievable but true and for a generation now, reason, morals and intellect are not winning the day, toughness, big words and posturing do. I pray that we will see a return of the hope we felt in the early 1990s, on both sides. And that next time societies are not so fragile, that they allow one fanatic and one bullet to derange rightful aspirations of many, to trigger decades of entrenchment. They always try to extinguish hopes and goodness with violence, hate and bloodshed. It is their tactic, it enrages people, and keeps the fires burning.

Israel has still not gotten over the murder of one of its former elected leaders. And what have they got in return? Double Espresso, with no sugar!

Will all become brothers and sisters, still?

I met an ex-miner in Nottinghamshire who confided to me he never travelled out of Britain in his entire life (60 years old he was). He voted Brexit against the political elite, he said. I met a Punk singer in London who uttered “Fuck to Brexit!”, however, admitted, she never spoke to a leaver discussing points of opinion.

Will the people of this country please start speaking to each other? Pretending it is enough if one deal or the other gets voted through, even by a cliff hanger – that it would be sufficient – was never going to do the trick of calming this country (of Great Britain). For Brexit, you have heard this before, is not just about the EU. Behind the smokescreen lie crass, no, shocking levels of inequality and education, and the sell out of small communities in a changing world.

Brexit will sadly not heal these fissures of the divide, between those who have vast amounts of privileges and resources and those kept behind for generations, if not centuries, indirectly or more precisely, through indirect but deliberate oversight.

Some of the Brexit Gods are the same people who sold such people out, speak major investors , property and fund zars, like Rees Mogg or Richard Tice, or a Wetherspoon chain Tycon, or the vacuum-cleaner emperor Dyson, not that some of the top Remainers have any much more pity on the impoverished, say major multinational groups, more interested in profits than people having meaningful lives where at least some of their infrastructures and traditions are protected from the destructive interference of the likes of Amazon, Starbucks, Lidl, BMW, Tesco, Walmart and Co (note the Americans in the list, for those who worshipped Brexit, for less trade with the EU and more with the U.S. have it coming for them all the same).

Whatever form of Brexit parliament decides upon, if it can decide at all, the real issue is not Brexit. The real problem in Great Britain is the lack of social mobility and the lack of a more evened out society. My biggest fear is that the aim to tackle this will get forgotten in the process of any decision under the banner of Brexit, while the true status quo remains to be tackled.

And, second to that, is the crisis of identity of both Britain and Europe that is still resting on an unchallenged historical footing. Not just Britain’s self-understanding is ruled by empirical aftershocks. You can find echoes of that in Belgium, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Holland amongst others – and the overall assumption of the supremacy of the Christian civilisation -supposedly. Count (if you dare to) the human toll it caused and you know the price thereof.

For inequality and privilege is not just an internal national problem. Once you look globally, Europe becomes Small England. Europe too refuses to acknowledge that taking a stance for and foremost against all forms of exploitation is an absolute priority, with people around the globe as equal agents. It would reduce migration, reduce our global environmental challenges and would ensure the paying of fair wages by trading with poorer nations on an equal footing, and making health care standards and access to education for all an absolute.

In the end, You may say, Britain is selfish for trying to unlink itself from the EU, Trump-America for building a wall, but what is the EU or the US to the world, if not a self-centred border guarding place? And, it does not end there. Other supernations, China, India, America likewise want it all for themselves. This can not be the way forward.

In the spirit that was supposed to unite divided Europe, a violinist, member of an volunteers orchestra that performs in a “Concert for Europe” Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on the 28th of March (they thought this would have been the last day of the British membership of the EU), reminded me of the words of Schiller and perhaps we should take his invitation global.

“Joy, beautiful spark of divinity, Daughter from Elysium We enter, burning with fervour, heavenly being, your sanctuary! Your magic brings together what custom has sternly divided. All (wo*)men shall become brothers (and sisters), wherever your gentle wings hover.”

That is our only rescue, and we must act accordingly, beyond Britain, beyond Europe, all sisters, all brothers and all in between. One world to share for all on equal and fair terms.

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.

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DANIEL ZYLBERSZTAJN