Age Islam Edit Bureau
06 June 2017
the Apartheid Label Will Normalise Israel
By Mark Levine and Neve Gordon
the Lights On In Pakistan Will Drive Growth, Save Lives
By Afshin Molavi
Are Lies, Damned Lies and Qatari Statements
By Faisal J. Abbas
Oil… Not Yours!
By Dr. Khaled M Batarfi
Threat from Qatar
By Hussein Shobokshi
Imperatives Knocking On Israel’s Door
By Fawaz Turki
Problems Are Far Beyond Terrorism
By Bill Durodie
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Mark LeVine and Neve Gordon
5 June 2017
At what point does an occupation transform
into something entirely different? Is 50 years enough? Half a century after
Israel's 1967 lightning takeover of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, is
it still accurate to characterise its control of these territories as a
"military occupation", which by definition has always meant a
Occupations are at the core military
systems established to regulate the presence and behaviour of a foreign army
over a conquered territory and its indigenous population. The underlying
assumption informing the law of occupation is that a pronounced de facto and de
jure difference exists between the occupying country and the territory it has
Yet, over the past 50 years the Green Line
separating pre-1967 Israel from the areas it captured has been geographically
and politically erased. In addition to connecting the two regions with roads,
electricity grids, and a customs union, Israel has moved hundreds of thousands
of settlers to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Currently, two Supreme Court
Justices, several Cabinet and Knesset members and numerous other public
servants live there.
Far from ameliorating this situation, the
Oslo process - which is today almost half as old as the occupation itself -
enabled the ongoing de facto erasure of the Green Line. Effectively, then, for
well over a generation there has been one state between the Jordan Valley and
the Mediterranean Sea, and the Israeli government is its sovereign.
The UN Security Council, the International
Court of Justice, almost every country on earth and even Israel's own High
Court consider the territories occupied in 1967 to be legally separate from
Israel. Decades of reports by Palestinian, Israeli and international human
rights organisations unequivocally demonstrate Israel's systematic violations
of the laws of occupation.
Israel's responses to these accusations
have been twofold. First, like other human rights abusers, the government does
whatever it can to deny, rebut, or muddy the claims. Second, the Israeli
government denies even the applicability of the laws of occupation, arguing that
because the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem were not legally part of Egypt
or Jordan before the war, they are merely "disputed", meaning Israel
has a free hand to expropriate and settle the land while denying Palestinians
rights otherwise guaranteed by international law.
Occupation to Apartheid
Ironically, today the most virulent
supporters and harshest critics of Israel's control of the conquered
territories believe the debate over whether they are occupied is no longer
On the one hand, many members of Israel's
present ruling coalition would like to end the debate about the legal status of
the Palestinian territories by simply annexing much, if not all, of the West
Bank (Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967), transforming the de facto annexation
into a de jure one while leaving Gaza's fate to the international community.
On the other hand, a growing number of
legal scholars believe that after 50 years of unrelenting repression and
settlement the occupation itself rather than its specific manifestations has
become illegal. While more and more Palestinians and even some Israelis
maintain that the correct term to describe the situation is no longer
occupation. It is apartheid.
Critics of the use of the apartheid label
argue that it is a false analogy, claiming that the historical and political
experiences in both countries are too different to justify using such a highly
charged and historically specific term vis-a-vis Israel. But the fact that
Israel's system of ethnic domination and exclusion is different from South
Africa's no more delegitimises its categorisation as an apartheid system than
the unique experiences of Italy and France would challenge their similar
characterisation as democracies.
Apartheid - not only in its South African
experience, but in its clear definition under the 1973 International Covenant
on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid - possesses a
fundamental characteristic that defines its practice wherever it exists:
"two populations, one of them endowed with all the civil rights and the
other denied all rights".
These words come not from the 1973 covenant
but from the mouth of Israel's greatest diplomat, Abba Eban, who uttered them
less than a week after the conclusion of the Six-Day War in warning his colleagues
that such a situation would be very difficult to defend. But they anticipate
the Covenant's description of apartheid as "systematic oppression and
domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and
committed with the intention of maintaining that regime".
Tools Needed For Securing Palestinian Rights
Understanding Israel as an apartheid system
reveals the urgent need for a paradigm shift in how we understand and attempt
to transform the political reality in Israel and Palestine. Instead of asking
how to end the occupation and create two states, decision-makers need to
consider how to democratise the one state reality existing between the River
and the Sea. Instead of continuing to use the law of occupation to criticise Israel's
policies, new tools need to be developed to secure the Palestinian right to
self-determination within a context where territorially grounded statehood is
no longer (and likely never was) a possibility.
In this context, far from singling out
Israel, the apartheid label would normalise it, allowing the same broad range
of strategies that have worked elsewhere to be deployed here, giving Israelis
and Palestinians alike new tools to fight for a peaceful, just and democratic
future for all the country's inhabitants. After 50 years of violence,
oppression and war, both peoples deserve a better future. Admitting the reality
of apartheid is the first step in that direction.
6 June 2017
Last week, Pakistan achieved a quiet
milestone, returning to the prestigious MSCI Emerging Markets Index after
losing its status in 2008. Joining 23 other countries on the index, from
high-growth Asian economies to large Latin American and rising Eastern European
ones, Pakistan has now returned to the “premier league” of emerging markets.
Long-term, this will mean a steady flow of
global capital entering Pakistan’s equities markets. It will also offer a
confidence boost for foreign investors. But Pakistanis can be forgiven if they
are hardly in a mood to celebrate, as widespread electricity shortages wrack
the country once again.
Peshawar residents face cuts of six to
eight hours per day, and violent protests broke out in the northwest province
of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the cuts, leaving at least two dead. Even the
commercial metropolis of Karachi has not been spared, losing electricity in
several parts of the city last week, prompting protests.
Electricity shortages are bad enough under
normal circumstances, but during the holy month of Ramadan — when stomachs are
growling, and the need for electricity to cook food ahead of the breaking of
the fast becomes even more urgent — it becomes a combustible mix.
For Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the
electricity shortages present a serious embarrassment for a leader who placed
the issue at the centre of his election campaign in 2013. Whether or not
Pakistan can keep the lights on could determine his future as prime minister.
Enter China. One of the most impactful
elements of the much-vaunted, multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor (CPEC) will be Beijing’s investments in Pakistan energy projects. Last
month, Pakistan inaugurated a Chinese-financed, coal-fired power plant in
Punjab, completed after 22 months of work, while announcing the launch of a
plant in electricity-starved Baluchistan province.
From wind and solar to coal and hydro,
China’s energy projects across Pakistan are dizzying in scope and potentially
transformative to the future of the South Asian country of some 200 million
people. According to the CPEC website, there are at least 18 active projects in
various stages of development.
As with all projects, some will materialize
and be delivered on time, others will be delayed or fall off the map, but even
if China delivers on half of the proposed projects, Pakistan’s future will be,
Numerous studies have demonstrated the
direct causal link between access to energy and economic growth. Economists
need not have spent so much time constructing graphs and testing the thesis. It
is common sense. Imagine an industrial revolution without regular access to
Pakistan has become something of a darling
in the emerging-markets investment community of late. Pakistan’s Global X MSCI
exchange traded index was up 18 percent over the past 12 months, though it took
a sharp dive after officially entering the MSCI Index last week. It seems
traders had been buying the rumor, so to speak, and sold the fact.
Over the past three years, Pakistan has issued
a successful Eurobond as well as sukuk bonds, heavily oversubscribed by
yield-hungry international investors betting on the Pakistan growth story. The
World Bank projects a healthy 5.2 percent growth rate for 2017.
Moreover, consumer companies are harvesting
growth by targeting the country’s rising middle class. Former governor of the
State Bank of Pakistan, Ishrat Husain, told me that companies such as Nestle
and Proctor & Gamble are seeing impressive 25-percent rates of return. Some
investment strategists are even touting a new post-BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India
and China) acronym: VARP (Vietnam, Argentina, Romania and Pakistan).
Still, all the international financial
world plaudits and emerging-markets interest cannot mask the reality of
electricity shortages dragging on the economy and materially impacting people’s
The issue is not merely one of
inconvenience or a drag on growth. It is life or death, especially in the
high-temperature summer months. Lack of access to refrigeration spoils food and
medicines, contributes to the rise of infectious diseases and leads to deaths
of the most vulnerable.
China’s $60 billion-plus planned
investments in Pakistan have sparked headlines globally and hand-wringing
questions in world capitals about Beijing’s “real intentions.” For Pakistan’s
future — not to mention Sharif’s future, with an election upcoming in 2018 —
keeping the lights on will determine whether the country can meet its rising
and substantial potential as a major Asian economy. It will also save lives.
Faisal J. Abbas
The severing of diplomatic ties with Doha
by a number of Arab and Muslim countries — most notably fellow Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) members Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE — is not something that
should be taken lightly; nor should it be assumed that such a tough measure was
sudden or came out of the blue.
In fact, anyone who has monitored the
recent heated exchange of angry editorials — which has been going on for over
two weeks between the Arabic-language media outlets of Qatar and those of Saudi
Arabia and the UAE — would have easily predicted that relations were heading
rapidly toward this unfortunate point.
However, the only party that seems to have
ignored the clear signals of where things were headed was the government of
Qatar. This is surreal, given that it has the most to lose.
It is also bizarre that Doha did not
genuinely do more to contain the anger of its neighbors when it knows far too
well that Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama are fully capable of acting upon it,
just like they did back in 2014.
This time however other countries, such as
Egypt and the eastern-based government of Libya, are on board in boycotting
Doha. What is also different this time around is that Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and
Manama are cutting off ties completely with Qatar, as opposed to only recalling
their ambassadors as they did three years ago.
Of course, the question on the minds of
many is: What was the tipping point? Or rather, what caused the anger to
suddenly flare up?
If it was indeed the recent comments
allegedly made by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, then why were
Doha’s claims that these statements were fake not taken seriously?
The answer to that question is that the
Qatari government has become like the “boy who cried wolf.”
In other words, the overwhelming belief
among Saudi, Emirati and many Arab officials is that there are three kinds of
lies: Lies, damned lies… and Qatari statements. This is particularly the case
given that more often than not, Doha’s actions simply do not match its words.
Take the official denial that Sheikh Tamim
praised Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah in those recent statements. Even if we were
to believe that Sheikh Tamim never said those things, Doha is still a home for
the Hamas leadership. There are still posters in Lebanon hung by Hezbollah that
say “Shukran Qatar” (Thank you, Qatar). Even after the controversial alleged
statements were made, the Qatari emir reached out publicly to President Hassan
Rouhani of Iran and said he had instructed his government to enhance bilateral
relations more than ever before.
It is also bizarre that Doha did not
genuinely do more to contain the anger of its neighbours when it knows far too
well that Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama are fully capable of acting upon it,
just like they did back in 2014.
Dr. Khaled M Batarfi
June 6, 2017
“The Gulf oil is not just yours… it is
Allah’s gift to all Arabs and Muslims. Therefore, such a waste of resources
bothers us, and we have the right to hold you accountable,” argued an Arab
friend. “It is high time we exercised guardianship over the Gulf states. From
now on, all financial decisions must go through a board of directors and a
general assembly, representing all Arab and Muslim nations,” he announced.
They contended that the Gulf recent
military and economic deals with the United States were draining Arab and
Muslim resources and showed how weak, incompetent and wasteful we were!
I told them: Less than a century ago, when
your countries were ages ahead of us, our camel convoys would wait outside the
walls of your bristling cities, selling fat, milk and cattle. Then, you looked
down on us, and never thought of sharing your fortunes with your Arab and
Muslim brethren. But when Allah gave us our own fortune, oil, you suddenly
remembered the mutual bond of religion and blood, and granted yourselves
However, we did not treat you as you
treated us. Instead, we have shared our treasures, opened our gates, supported
your governments and armies, and invested in your economies. And still, despite
the arrogant, ungrateful and treacherous attitude of some of your elites, we
still do. Because, this is our holy duty and that is the right thing to do. You
are closer to us than others. You deserve better place and space than any. But
it is unacceptable when some of you forget that this is our money, and demand
shares, interfere in the way we manage our economies, and claim custody.
Remember that our resources are smaller
than yours, but we have managed them well and invested in what benefits us —
and you. We have developed our countries, taught our children, strengthened our
armies and solidified our security, without forgetting our duty toward fellow
Arabs and Muslims, and less privileged nations. On the other hand, your
governments have stolen your wealth, and wasted the rest on destructive
policies, oppressive police, and defeated armies. Little was left for
development, and that is what put you behind the rest of us.
Your capital and best minds have migrated
to better and safer environments for study, work and investment, including
ours. They were escaping corrupted militant police states, with nothing to
offer but slogans, propaganda and conflicts.
You have to answer to your historical and
strategic wrongs, bothers and sisters. You have to confront yourselves with the
realities of a bitter history. The mistakes of your leaders and your submission
to dictators are what led you to this end, not the Gulf! The failure of your
development projects and corruption are what changed your fortunes from
prosperity to poverty, not the Gulf! Your wars and evil alliances are your
doing, not the Gulf states!
Who brought wealthy, sophisticated and
powerful Egypt that loaned Great Britain and the United States in the 1940s to its
current humble state? Who made the land of the two great rivers, Iraq, that
once ruled half the world, (with caliphs and kings from our deserts, by the
way!), into such poor, broken, Persian occupied land? Who handed the keys of
Umayyad Capital, Damascus, to Tehran, Moscow and even southern Beirut? Who
destroyed a great nation and sent two thirds of its population to refugee
camps? Who sold happy Yemen to poverty, illness, ignorance — and Iran? Who
turned the rich and beautiful North Africa to an exporter of boat refugees and
oppressed minorities in Europe? The Gulf states never had a hand in all the
above. In fact, if it wasn’t for their support, the situation would have been
I told my Arab intellectual friends: “We
help and assist as much as we can. We consult and advise if we were asked. But
we are not prepared to carry the responsibility of your sins, or allow any
interference in our affairs. Always remember, that hospitable Arabs extend
their generosity in one hand. On the other they hold their swords. Those who
respect us enjoy our hospitality. Those who violated our rights receive the
sword. The choice is theirs.
I was not surprised at the controversial
statements made by Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani against Saudi Arabia,
Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and his support for Iran and the
Ever since the Emir’s coup against his
father and taking over the power, Qatar has pursued hostile policies,
specifically to target countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain,
Jordan and Morocco.
Qatar launched its hostile political stance
through its dubious media platform Al-Jazeera, from where it broadcasts the
elements of hostility and extremism. It also aired views of leaders from
terrorist organizations and their terrorist operations in the neighbouring
countries of Qatar.
Through its media platform, it promoted
dangerous views on the suicide bombing, the price of which is being paid by the
whole world today and that has killed thousands of innocent people. It also
divided the ranks of Palestinians by throwing its weight behind the extremist
policies and directions.
Qatar created differences on “border”
issues between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which resulted in heavy casualties and
it did not do it secretly. It publicly supported the “opponents” of Saudi
Arabia and Bahrain and did the same with Morocco, Jordan and the UAE. In
addition, it encouraged the Houthis to strengthen their ties with Iran and
still continues to do so. It also opened the Qatari market for Iranian
After investigation by the Saudi security
agencies, it was revealed that Qatar was involved in the distribution of maps
to the Yemeni tribes showing new borders of Yemen, which “includes” Asir and
Qatar continued with its hostile policies
against Saudi Arabia until the events in Egypt where people’s power rejected
the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was, again, supported by Qatar.
After the Brotherhood government was
dislodged, Qatar hardened its position against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE
and accused Saudi Arabia of supporting a coup, which sounds funny, as the
Qatari regime itself came to power with a coup! When questioned why Qatar
adopts an anti-Egyptian policy, its reply is that it favours democracy. Well,
this logic could be acceptable if it came from the British Labour Party or from
a Swedish party, but not from Qatar!
I can recall my first meeting with the
former Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassim when I met him at a roundtable at the
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. We were together with the head of
the Polish Central Bank and a member of the Russian Communist Party. I asked
him why Qatar is pursuing its controversial policies and reversing the path.
He said, “I personally admire French
politics. It is a part of Western politics, but it is also pushing it to new
areas of total disobedience.” He continued, “We are not the size of Saudi
Arabia or Egypt. We want to be different and we have our own personality.
Therefore, we are open to Israel, Iran, America and the Muslim Brotherhood and
are open to all the free voices of the world.”
Than the Size
I was not convinced by his words. I
remembered history is a school where we learn from entities that are drawn to
play roles that are larger than their size.
Lebanon in the seventies supported all
opposition voices for reforms in the Arab world until it plunged into a civil war
and it is paying for it until today. Kuwait fell victim to the votes of the
leftists as it tried to play a bigger role in the region. Saddam Hussein paid
for his own treachery. Very soon Qatar will be the next victim, if it doesn’t
learn from history’s tough lessons.
The issue of Qatar’s policy must be seen
with logic and reason as former emir’s coup against his father was based on
treason and not on consensus which has created an unrest in the Arab world.
Qataris themselves are ashamed of their country’s positions.
I remember at a dinner interview in Jeddah
that was attended by one of the current Qatari banks’ head who presided over
during the reign of the former Emir. He said, “We believe that Egypt and other
countries in the region deserve better governance.” Hello, who are you?”
Imperatives Knocking on Israel’s Door
How does one commemorate the
semi-centennial of a political cataclysm? What does one feel when one ponders
the fact that four out of every 5 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were
born, grew up under, and knew nothing in their political culture other than,
military occupation by a foreign ruler who controls every facet of their daily
Today, June 5, marks the 50th anniversary
of the Six Day War, for Arabs an inter-state conflict between three of their
countries and the settler entity in Palestine called Israel. Revisionist
historians, including Israel’s own valiant New Historians, have long since
recast the traditional narrative of that war, namely that it was not a David
and Goliath confrontation – a weak Israel threatened with another holocaust ,
forced into a pre-emptive attack against its enemies.
As Gal Beckerman, reviewing Guy Laron’s
book, The Six Day War: The Breaking Point, wrote in the Book Review section of
the New York Times last Sunday, it was the total opposite. “In Israel, since
the birth of the state, the military embraced an ‘offensive doctrine’ that
looked for opportunities to alter Israel’s borders, giving it more strategic
depth than the thin lines it achieved at the armistice of the 1948 war,” said
“David Ben- Gurion had described those
borders as ‘unbearable.’ And although in public he presented Israel as a ‘small
state under siege by powerful neighbours,’ Laron writes, behind closed doors ,
Ben-Gurion saw the Middle East as an open vista, beckoning Israel to use its
military superiority to expand its borders.”
of the Nakbi
For those other Arabs we know as
Palestinians, however, however, the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War is a
mere continuation of the Nakbi, that calamitous event exactly seven decades
earlier that resulted in the dismemberment of Palestine, and the land
alienation, exile and pauperization of its people.
And that is what is triggered in the
collective consciousness of Palestinian Arabs as the Arab world, and along with
it the rest of the world, commemorates the semi-centennial of the Six Day War.
For them it is a time when one continues to uncompromisingly assert one’s
national identity, to pay tribute to one’s history, remind one’s self that a
people do not die whose name is spoken, that they do not die if they continue
to inhabit – and in turn be inhabited by – the heart of the country they left
Meanwhile, in a move emblematic of the
archetypal essence of Palestine’s culture, they pass the keys to their homes in
Haifa and Jaffa, Lydda and Ramleh, Acre and Galilee, to their children.
Sadly, the outlook for the near future is
bleak. Yet the outlook for the far future, as historical imperatives begin to
implacably impress their domain in Palestine, is bright indeed.
What the Palestinians face today, exactly
50 years after the fact, is a seemingly endless occupation of their home and
homeland and a relentless colonization as the same game is still ongoing since
the last fifty years, an Israeli game whose only rule is this: do little and
play for time, presenting the Palestinian cause as a non-issue, and putting
Palestinians in a perpetual limbo and a future Palestinian state in certain
doubt – leaving violence the only card these tormented folks could play. And,
yes, violence must stop before peace talks are held. Right? Right. And so the
No one with clout has ever confronted
Israel over this. The only country that could’ve made a difference was the US,
but the White House has shown itself, all the way from William Rogers in 1969
to John Kerry in 2014, to be spineless in this regard. In like manner,
politicians in Congress, knowing that the domestic cost of standing up to
Israel is too high, have shown themselves to be equally spineless.
What seems to be passing largely unnoticed,
however, is the fact – a fact that has become increasingly obvious to the
outside world – that by playing the game of zealous colonizer and brute
occupier, Israel has projected itself as a racist state defined by a system of
apartheid. And history attests to the fact that institutionalized racial
discrimination and apartheid are implosive forces that carry within them the
seed of their own destruction.
Because of all that, because of its
colonially doctrinaire rigidity, and because of its unrestrained hubris, Israel
will in time find itself facing a day of reckoning, when the imperatives of
history will begin to assert themselves. Sure, you can sign a pact with the
Devil, who will give you all the aid you need in your colonial enterprise, but
then you will encounter that Devil again, lurking around the corner, asking for
his fee to be paid.
As Ehud Olmert, then Israel’s Prime
Minister, declared in 2007: “If the two-state solution collapses and we face a
South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that
happens, the State of Israel is finished. In short, Israel must put up or be
shuttered. It has, in effect, opted for the latter. Pity the brute.
June 5, 2017
The country needs to address concerns of
factions that remain disconnected from the political process.
Enough is enough" announced British
Prime Minister Theresa May outside Downing Street in the aftermath of the third
terror attack in the UK in as many months.
Well, I agree. Enough is enough. So maybe
we could start by bypassing the call for peaceful vigils - beloved by those who
are keener for us to turn the other cheek than to have the "difficult and
embarrassing conversations" she now calls for? This is not to dismiss the
hurt of those directly affected, but rather to bypass the encouragement of
ersatz emotions by those who might prefer us to remain passive and disengaged.
Rather than being "united ... in
horror and mourning", as the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, consoled in
her virtue-signalling statement after these attacks, maybe it is time we
focused on becoming united in purpose - a purpose that ought not just reflect
the "determination" to defeat terrorism as she narrowly defined it? A
purpose that might offer something beyond terrorism for us all to focus on and
present something more visionary to engage with - including for the nihilistic
few to whom we have evidently failed to impart any sense of belief and
Sixteen years on from 9/11, might it not be
time to move beyond the same old calls for more security that emanate from the
usual suspects in self-interested quarters at such times? More recently, this
has been augmented by demands, including by the prime minister herself, that
the internet and social media platforms be censored and policed, too. But the
fact is that if you or I were to trawl through as many extremist websites as we
could find, we still would not turn into the morally bankrupt murderers that
are committing these atrocities. This should give the lie to naive models of
media influence impacting on hapless minds.
Likewise, to suggest that British foreign
policy is somehow responsible for all that we see, or that supposedly
understandable grievances emanate from the experience of racism and exclusion
at home, is also to miss what matters most.
Britain has both overtly and covertly
interfered in the affairs of others overseas for as long as I can remember, and
well before that - usually much more forcefully and murderously than in the
ways it does at present. That there is space for some kind of response to this
does not dictate the nihilistic form that this now takes. That is what is new
today and which most needs answering by those fond of such simplistic
platitudes. To think in these terms holds us all back, including those
elsewhere who are genuinely interested in liberation.
Maybe it is time for some to note, too,
that British society is not the racist catastrophe that is presumed of at such
times. The new chief commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick,
appears to believe that we are all just one terror incident away when she
announced that: "The last thing we need is people taking out their
frustrations on people in other communities." Where is her evidence for
that? Not just self-reported slights at presumed offence and injustices, but
serious incidents - incidents serious enough to warrant prosecution and
conviction for an act of physical violence?
When I was young, I remember friends at
school advising that they were going to beat up members of minority groups on a
Friday night and inquiring whether others might care to join them. We don't
live in that world anymore and a good thing, too. Good riddance to racism and
homophobia. But at the same time, the race relations industry and others appear
to have gone into overdrive turning every verbal mishap into a recordable
offence. Can we talk about this too now?
What we do have is a problem that stretches
far beyond terrorism and that will require a national conversation going much
further than that envisaged by those proposing this today - a conversation that
addresses the disconnection of the many from the political process, as well as
the often self-indulgent engagement of the few within it. A conversation that
challenges the moral capitulation of the old right as much as the political
correctness of the old left.
One that asks why it is that, in an age
when - despite there never before having been so many young people having so
much focus placed on their emotions within their education - there are still a
small, but growing, number of these who appear unable to handle setbacks and
disappointment such that, at the margins, a handful think little of acting in
We live in a time when many are told that
they may cause offence if they express what they genuinely believe. When rather
than engaging in robust debate, we are encouraged not to interrogate the beliefs
and behaviours of others - and government legislates accordingly in the name of
preventing terrorism. It is a world that the authorities - from all sides -
that are calling for change today have helped to create. And this, just a few
days away from a general election that ought to have encouraged just such
debates to the surface. "Enough is enough"? Too right.