Ein Kommentar in der Feiertagstaz der letzten Woche zum Tod Jermaine Bakers durch Schüsse der Metroplitan Police in Wood Green London, und Camerons Aufforderung, dass das Fehlen von Schusswaffen bei der Polizei in England sich trotzdem ändern sollte.
A comment in the German festive days taz last week about the case of Jermain Baker in London.
When the prime minister of Great Britain states,what religion the country has, you must wonder. We heard such definitions before from his predecessor and yet he went to a war that reaped long-lasting injustice and chaos.
When Cameron now states that Britain was Christian from the beginning, you must wonder when one starts counting ? Celts and early Romans were certainly not Christian.
It makes one remember the intensity with which some early colonialists imagined themselves as new keepers of Jerusalem, and talking of which those who sent in part brutal knights for similar causes hundred of years earlier. Or perhaps those who called for the Jews of York to be killed? They surely were all Christian? Or the wars fought and people killed, tormented and tortured during in the struggles of which Christian faith was in deed the correct one? The king and nation serving faith or the Rome serving faith? Once they assured themselves to have the correct version they went to force it upon the parts of the world they occupied and exploited. Stealing with one arm and preaching with the other. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and the gracious King or Queen, long live he or she! Or the token Christianity that thrived on holding the poor of this country in deep misery for centuries?
Secondly him advising to talk about refugees is a bit of shoe polish on a partially rotten shoe. He is not the one who has a proud record on welcoming refugees when compared with all other European neighbouring countries, and then there is his governments appalling record on Calais, his inability and unwillingness to trash the right wing press and parties into the bin of bigots.
In deed, if this was a Christian country, what would Jesus do? And then there is his record on how he treats the poor and sick, his lack of sufficient policy to guard the environment and his selectivity into which causes he steers his lot to save. One wished Britain was a Christian country actually, the kind of deep philosophical, humble way of submitting oneself to do only good, help the poor, sick and needy and share the riches of society for the betterment of all. Token Christianity for the sake of cheap nation building is the tool of politicians who use religion to better their own ends. It has been abused to justify anything from slavery to war to hang people at the gallows of Tyburn and elsewhere. I don’t think the current prime minister fails that tradition.
Perhaps Mr Cameron would care to invite some Syrian refugees, some disabled and poor, some London homeless and impoverished students to his table this Christmas, and perhaps he could make permanent assurances to them and take the lead on what being Christian ought to mean?
Half of Brits, according to latest polls, want to leave the EU. I shall not stay here, when the country crumbles to pieces and human rights get cut the way social services are cut at present. The problem is that both Tories and Labour bent down for too long to populist sensationalist ethnocentric phobia on the excuse that these expressions were “genuine fears of hard working people.” They are not! They are the misguided scapegoating of immigrants and the EU for the sell out of this country and all its inequalities from top down over centuries and decades. Does it hurt too much to point fingers at fine distinguised people just because of their position and because they are also Brits and above all English, or is it an inability to do so, because somehow the state of order here is accepted and people feel it is easier to blame outsiders? That attitude we know has amongst others let to decades of whitewashing of sexual abuse cases. You could not possibly blame the homegrown privileged, could you? But there is hope. Once Britain closes itself off, it will have to find new victims to blame. Perhaps this would induce a closer look at how power is divided here, given not by merit, but mostly by innate or economic advantage.
This 1954 famous council building by Berthold Lubetkin near King’s Cross in Central London used to be called “Lenin Court.”Lubetkin tried to bring “the quality housing for all” principle from the USSR to England. There was even a statue of Lenin inside the courtyard. But it was destroyed so often by anti-Communists that in the end the council (at the time Finsbury) decided to rename the building. The building was meant to give social housing council tenants the best available at the time, and the building still stands proudly 60 years on, still serving many people on “lower incomes” in London.
The contemporary residents are quiet and mostly well behaved and take care of the surroundings with wild flower gardening for example. Many are small families of working people. It is projects like these that will become full private estates, if the Tory Housing Bill remains unchallanged. A council tenant unfortunate enough to earn just over £40.000 (London rate) is supposed to rent here on “full or near market-rate” under proposals of the new Housing Bill ( https://www.gov.uk/…/fair-rents-will-ensure-higher-earning-…). A flat (one bed) costs between £2000-£3000 to rent a month in this area of Central London. Go telly up, if a small family with a combined income of about £45.000 can afford this?
People on such incomes are instead brandished as suckers and the policy is being sold to the country as “fair.” Naturally it is to raise money towards the national debt, approx £250 million a year, we hear. That not being enough, the new five year lid on the right to live in council and housing association flats, will create uncertainty and lack of care for the neighbourhood or the building. Gone will be the wild flower community projects, or safety for pensioners in the confidence of knowing all the neighbours.
Who thought out a policy such as this? Only people with no connection to realities of people’s lives, in other words a bunch of a certain species of elected politicians. You do not need to be a Communist to understand that this does not come from a caring and sound political mind, but from ideologists prepared to sacrifice small families and lower waged people. Yes In Central London £45.000 in a small family budget is perhaps more than some but still low. But Brandon Lewis the Housing Minister calls it totally just and”fair” to take away some £25-35.000 of that.
And they tore down Lenin’s bust because his ideologies were unsound during the cold war? There can be no doubt, Lenin was an unruly ideological tyrant, but how come the Conservatives, who thought this one out, can escape political judgement of something so evidently unethical and unsound?
And if you think this is going to boost home ownership, think again. A family on even 50.000 Pounds can neither buy outright nor purchase a share, if the remainder is to be served up on market rate.
When ideology affects negatively real lives so fundamentally (as it has done with people in social care too), than the public must wake up and tear down the posters of the Neocon leaders too, just like with the Lenin bust or at least shred their Housing Bill to pieces!
In Britain the question is currently waged before parliament if the country should support air strikes against Syria.
The question of bombing Syria or not is an interesting one. First and for most any action must not be carried out because of Paris, but because of the countless civilians killed and tortured in Syria and Iraq, doing otherwise looks out of proportion.
Throwing bombs from the sky is actually the easy thing. The hard issue is to deal with the power struggles of the Middle East. Shia versus Sunni, Russian Federation versus NATO, Muslim and Non-Muslim Minorities versus Muslim Majorities. The question therefore is what follows any bombardment of Syria?
The Middle East suffers in all corners from the way French and British forces settled and divided it nearly 100 years ago in the same fashion they had already done with Africa, Asia and the Americas, and the Middle East was only relatively stable before that, suffering many conquests and counter conquests before this. This is why in the end the only aim of military operations must be the creation of strongly protected zones for each of the groups. However the former Yugoslavia, the best modern example thereof, shows, that it created only cold peace and a bureaucratic machinery exploited by all sides (see Guardian here). A plan for the Middle East must go beyond what has been achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The issues are fundamental differences on ways of life, ethnic divisions exaggerated by external injections of support and arms, and the fragility of peace through quick escalations, when terror actions committed and dictated by usually but a few occur.
One might see military strikes as doing something, rather than nothing, but the real question is bombing what and for what? And to what extend will strikes cause more harm to civilians? Militants tend to hide amongst civilian populations these days (see Gaza, and in ISIS held Syria it is apparently not different).
If strikes are to occur mainly because of Paris, they will fail, because it feeds and confirms the believe that Britain and France stand at the root of much that is going on, and if not for what they did 100 years ago, for what the allied forces did more recently in Iraq. If however military operations are part of a general drive towards a better Middle East, then monstrous hard work is ahead. There is no sense in anything without involving in a most intense way all regional direct and indirect players, and dealing with economic and religious issues.
Players like Iran and Saudi Arabia, The Russian Federation and NATO must then be able to see in each others eyes with a sense of purpose, just as much as the different ethnic and religious groups in the region must be prepare to do. With so many involved it always easy for one to walk out, but only when all feel they can agree for the benefit of a more settled and just Middle East will things have a chance to be different. Bombs are unlikely to do much here.
It is certain that the crisis in Syria and Iraq begs solving, and the ideology of religious inspired militancy that disregards respect for human lives needs to be halted. Morally such militants are in a state of deficiency already. The majority of people, including the majority of today’s Muslims reject this blind militancy. This fact is a great asset. Militant Islamism only had a chance due to power vacuums and general political incompetency and injustice, as in Syria with Assad before the outbreak of the civil war and in post-war Iraq, and through some externally driven access to arms and munitions.
The Middle East is complex and diverse. The problems it faces can only be settled, if all agree that there should be increased justice and security for all, which for some means they need to concede for less, but gain through that greater acceptance. Not just in Israel, by the way. Whilst the borders between Israel and Palestine are discussed by many, the problems are actually everywhere in the region. When British and French bureaucrats took to ruler and pencil and drew lines in inches and centimetres on paper maps, in order to create their colonial protectorates which later became, often unchallenged in its borders, modern states, they failed to take into consideration any reality on the ground, because there was no other reality, but what suited France or Great Britain, the only real states that mattered being them.
And so suitable local rulers where imposed in accordance to their allegiance to the colonial and imperial masters, usually with disadvantageous consequences for a host of local others, who also lived in these states, and some being directly ignored.
As we approach the centenary of these divisions and ask ourselves about whether we should bomb Syria, the damage of that legacy and its continuance into post-colonial times, all based principally on the security of mercantile routes, and oil and gas supply should be laid bare. It caused too many lives to end prematurely, too much injustice, hate and bloodshed.
It is not impossible to imagine a new more grown up reconfiguration, but in order to get there, we must no longer seek comfort in the status quo under benign dictators.
Israel for that matter was one area where the League of Nations attempted to be just to two equal valid claimants. That is long forgotten now, because the plan failed to secure agreement and assurances amongst feuding neighbours and could not prevent the outbreak of war and claims and counter claims to this day. But it was also driven by fundamentalist undertones and an ideology that only one religion should exist here or there autonomously. Whilst many areas in Israel no longer have Palestinian populations, though there are still Palestinians and non Jews living there, nearly the entire Middle East has been ethnically cleansed of its Jewish population. A symbol of how the border and nation politics of the West let to ethnically and religiously defined exclusiveness, the same that let further on to the division of the Indian subcontinent into a predominantly Muslim and a predominantly Hindu half.
Isis and other fundamentalist organisations are connected with the Arab Spring and the desire amongst ordinary people for revolutionary reorganisation. During the preceding autocratic dictatorships, which either favoured Russia and its predecessor the USSR or the West, political ultra conservative Islamic fundamentalism became often the main opposition force present and accessible. No wonder in the first elections, people tended to vote for these, as the main alternative they knew.
If this force is to be discharged, one needs to take the argument out of its mouth that it can answer the difficult realities of the Middle East with its monotone, intolerant and often just as destructive order. But neither can bombs, even commando units going after its most ferocious and brutal leaders yield more than temporary gains, without a later reconfiguration of the Middle East, that takes account of all needs, rights and ethnicities, and that desires to come to fair agreements on those contested areas and sites and places upon which lie multiple interests.
One might add that this also must also happen in the other places still under the curse of imperial and colonial organisation around the world.
There are no easy answers here. Bombs, guns and explosive devises are perhaps at best the expression of a desire for a quick fix, on all sides. The search for peace and security is a harder more time intensive task. But it could be less destructive and more long lasting.
Baustelle U-Bahn Mornington Crescent 2015, im Hintergrund Carerras Zigarettenfabrik (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn. Am Anfang seiner Karriere liebte es Frank Auerbach Baustellen zu malen.
Frank Auerbach: Mornington Crescent, 1965, (c) Tate Galleries, with kind permission. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!
Einer der wunderbaren Gelegenheiten in meinem Beruf, war die Erforschung des Malers Frank Auerbachs. Einige Wochen lang, war ich auf seinen Spuren, las über ihn, und kam ihn mindestens eine Person entfernt nah. Es war jedoch enttäuschend, dass der Maler sich nicht mit mir dem Londoner Vertreter der ältesten deutschen jüdischen Zeitung treffen wollte, trotz seines eignen Weges der ihn als verfolgter Jude von Berlin nach London führte. Auerbach gilt als Menschenscheu, und ich wollte seine Bitte ihn nicht zu stören unbedingt einhalten, obwohl ich genau wusste wo ich anklopfen musste. Journalismus hat auch etwas mit Ethik zu tun. Der Bericht hierzu erschien in der Jüdischen Allgemeinen.
Frank Auerbach: Mornington Crescent, Early Morning, (c) Tate, with kind permission. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Mornington Crescent, rechts die Carerras Zigarettenfabrik, im Hintergrund rechts die Haltestelle und links das Camden Theatre (Koko), Foto (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
One of the marvelous things of my job was the task to write up a “portrait” of Frank Auerbach. For several weeks I read and followed the traces of his life, and managed to get as close as one person distanced to him. It was disappointing that he did not want to meet with me, the representative of the oldest and largest German Jewish newspaper, given his own German Jewish roots. Auerbach is regarded as shy and does not want to waste his time doing anything but painting. I was not going to break his plea not to seek him out, that type of respect belongs to the code of ethics of journalism, even though I knew exactly which door I would have had to knock on. My report came out in the Jüdische Allgemeine.