If you wanted to write a spoof of Britain’s Conservatives, you’d struggle to do a better job than the real version at the party’s half-empty annual conference this week in Manchester.
Things hit such train-wreck levels that even the stage fell apart — during a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May, the Conservatives’ leader, letters fell off the party’s latest lackluster slogan behind her. That was just the final slapstick touch to a disastrous address, during which Mrs. May struggled with a fading voice and a spluttering cough, and was pranked by a comedian who handed her a fake P45 — a termination of employment notice.… Seguir leyendo »
The Labour Party is surging in British polls. That’s after a June general election in which it unexpectedly won a remarkable 40 percent of the vote under the leadership of the much-derided Jeremy Corbyn. Young and previously disengaged voters were galvanized by a left-wing policy platform that pledged to deal with the wealth inequalities and economic hardships that affect so many people today.
You could say Labour has tugged the national political map to the left. But now, this progressive spirit may be checked by Britain’s referendum decision last year to leave the European Union — in particular, to the extent that the Brexit vote was motivated by hostility to immigration.… Seguir leyendo »
The central exhibit of the Museum of Immigration and Diversity is the building itself. Located in London’s East End, it straddles the Docklands to its east, where new arrivals to Britain once hit dry land, and to its west the city, whose shiny office towers stand as the symbols of wealth and opportunity that have attracted so many newcomers.
This unassuming Georgian building on 19 Princelet Street has migration written into its bricks and mortar. Built in 1719, the house was once home to Huguenots fleeing persecution from Catholic France, and then to families forced to leave Ireland during the potato famine of the 1840s.… Seguir leyendo »
As a new wave of violence ravages Iraq, a new wave of “oh dearism” seems to have taken hold of us. Coined by the documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis, this disease occurs when terrible, bloody conflicts are covered by oversimplifying media without any meaningful context, so that we don’t ever really get what we’re looking at. Stripped of any tools to form a take, our only remaining response to Iraq, as to a litany of other seemingly inscrutable conflicts, is reduced to: “Oh dear.”
In the coverage of Iraq, there are mentions of al-Qaida, a “sectarian conflict” and a civil war, as we hear about yet another roadside or restaurant bomb that has killed yet more innocent civilians.… Seguir leyendo »
If a population seems overwhelmingly to support a deadly, vicious military takeover, it probably doesn’t add much to label them as backward, bloodthirsty, or somehow incapable of democracy. And yet these have all been applied to Egypt’s people, as the country has lurched from euphoric revolution in 2011 to a counter-revolutionary police state, enforced by the army.
Its first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Morsi, has been removed and detained; upwards of 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were brutally killed by security forces in one week; similar numbers, including three top leaders, have been arrested; and Egypt’s media has either been shut down or taken over and the nation is living under emergency law.… Seguir leyendo »
Judging by the comments flying around the Israeli media, government officials are seriously displeased by the EU’s decision to get tough about settlements – which are, of course, illegal under international law. Israeli officials have described the new requirement, according to which Israel must promise that EU funding won’t flow into settlements, as an “earthquake”, a “brutality”, “a miserable directive” and “undermining the peace process”. Israel’s media have referred to the situation as a “crisis”.
All the EU has done is put into practice what it has been saying for decades: that the settlements are bad news and agreements between Israel and the EU over funding for education, research and other projects must state specifically that they do not apply to settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem.… Seguir leyendo »
Amid the shock and grief at a terrible murder, there is an angry accusation. When forthright opposition leader Chokri Belaid was gunned down in broad daylight outside his home in Tunis, furious protesters marched on the offices around the country of the ruling Ennahda party. Belaid’s brother, Abdel Majid, accused the Islamist party – which dominates the three-way coalition government – of the murder. Ennahda has denounced the assassination. Chillingly, Belaid, a secularist and vocal critic of Ennahda, warned of the rise of political violence when he appeared on Tunisian TV the night before he was killed.
Jalila Hedhli-Peugnet, president of the NGO Think Ahead for Tunisia, reflected the prevailing sentiment on Wednesday when she told France 24 that Belaid “was not assassinated under the dictatorship of Ben Ali, now he is assassinated under the democracy of Ennahda”.… Seguir leyendo »
Last month, demonstrations against African refugees in Tel Aviv turned violent. Protesters looted shops, broke windows and firebombed buildings, including a nursery. Days ago, arsonists torched the home of 10 African migrants in Jerusalem, injuring four, and leaving the unequivocal graffiti: “Get out of the neighbourhood.”
On Monday, Israeli TV reported that Haifa’s council had warned local businesses that they risked losing their licences if they employed African refugees, and that shopkeepers in the southern town of Sderot were refusing to serve migrants. Israeli statistics show some 60,000 African migrants have entered the country in the past seven years through the Egyptian Sinai desert – many of them asylum seekers fleeing repression or war in Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea.… Seguir leyendo »
Israel’s liberal left has been warning about this for decades – and now those cautionary words seem like prophesies. Lines of Israeli authors, academics and campaigners have long said that the ugly occupation of the Palestinian people would corrode Israel and derail its democracy. Human rights advocates repeatedly warned that a nation capable of meting out such punishing discrimination to another people would eventually turn on itself. And so it has.
The country is in thrall to such anti-democratic sentiment and mob rule racism, manifesting at such breakneck speed that it is hard to keep up. In the last few months alone two Arab citizens of Israel were “disappeared” by the state’s secret police; an Arab member of the Knesset was stripped of her parliamentary privileges for being on the Gaza aid flotilla; and now a Palestinian man from Jerusalem has just been convicted of rape after pretending to be Jewish and having consensual sex.… Seguir leyendo »