I have not seen these thoughts expressed elsewhere, neither am I afraid to share them. Maybe the baggage of covering world events for decades is worth a read.
Oh dear. Here we go again. The focus of attention has gone full circle back to Palestine and Israel. And on cue, and as usual, knee-jerk reactions engendered by half-reporting/propaganda, drawing the time line arbitrarily and not taking into account the context. Sabre-rattling, name-calling, demonology. The good guy in the white hat against the evil guy in the black hat (the darker the hat, the worse the person).
So let us apply some context, some logic and some common sense to the world around us as we approach the end of another year, in which the media has decided yet again to present us its tidy little package of daily news-hatred, spoon-feeding us morsels of vitriol, racism, xenofobia and today, even anti-Semitism.
First off, let me repeat one of my favourite quotes, quoting myself, Tears taste of salt. They taste of salt whether shed by a Russian mother, a Ukrainian grandfather, an Israeli settler, a Palestinian child. Secondly, let us remember the human tragedy for a Family facing the death of a loved one, be they a Russian-speaking Ukrainian murdered by swastika-clad Fascists shouting Death to Russians and Jews on the streets of Kiev, a Ukrainian child-victim of collateral damage, the far more numerous Iraqi victims of collateral damage, or Libyans for that matter, an Israeli Family slaughtered by Hamas, or a Palestinian child whose limbs were blasted off by an Israeli coward in the sky exercising his right to defence or committing an act of terrorism (depending on where you draw the line).
Now let us move on to the purposeful use of my word, anti-Semitism. The Jews (people who follow Judaism) do not have the right to usurp and hijack the word Semite, which refers to those speaking Semitic languages (including Hebrew and Arabic), so Palestinians are as Semitic as Jews are and an active media campaign against Palestinians is anti-Semitic by definition. Jews are not the only Semites. Jews are people who follow the religion of Judaism. They can be blonde with blue eyes, or black. Or anything in between. Let us get our definitions straight.
Next. Let me repeat my message. Tears taste of salt and all families suffer and grieve at the loss of a loved one in the same way.
Moving onto the next point, why am I writing this? At 65 years of age, I am semi-retired and after years of covering international events in my vociferous style, I have gained those who support and admire me for sharing my positions and others who disagree, sometimes in an adult and balanced, intelligent way, other times resorting to cyber terrorist attacks or physical threats against me (which I can handle), or even my dog (which I cannot).
I was one of the pioneers of intervention journalism and one of the first to take to the Internet in the world’s first truly Internet newspaper, Pravda.Ru and over the years gained great pleasure in seeing my words translated into several languages, earning me messages of support or disagreement from the four corners of the Earth. As time went on, I was also happy to see others with greater writing skills than myself take up the mantle, take to social media, take to the comment section below articles and share the Science of analysis, challenging readers not to swallow a story hook, line and sinker, but to see the context, see the before and the after, and question and research each and every point.
People have asked me why I have not written as much on the Ukraine/Russia story as I used to on Kosovo, Iraq, Georgia and Libya, for instance. My reply is that I do not need to. The Internet is full of facts and context and many others have written about these and have highlighted when the time line should be drawn. At February 2022? Or during the Fascist Putsch of 2014 in which Fascists came to power in Kiev and unleashed marauding gangs of monsters committing massacres of Russian-speaking Ukrainians? They have explained the context of the Minsk Agreements (2015) which would have kept Ukraine intact, including Donbass, which Ukraine signed and then refused to implement. They have informed us that Ukraine banned political parties, they know that Ukraine tried to stamp out Russian culture in the Russian-speaking areas. Like Fascists. So what have I to add? Those who wish to draw the time line and start the story with the first tanks crossing the line can do so, for others who wish to see the wider background, today this is all available.
People understand that Russia did not just invade for no reason, obviously. True, nobody likes being invaded and true, once again, tears taste of salt. In a military conflict (ask NATO) civilians are affected, far more when NATO attacks but unfortunately these things happen. No weapons, no war. And while the military-industrial complex grows fatter and richer with every bullet fired, families grieve, grandmothers are killed, children lose their families or faces or lives. There is nothing sexy in a military conflict.
So I do not need to sit here saying what others are saying and anyway after so many years writing about international events, today I am far more geared towards humanitarian projects, culture, sport, supporting United Nations agencies, working with UN Women to stop gender violence and foster women’s empowerment, fight for tolerance and respect for all cultures and peoples and creeds and races and colours and sexualities, animal rights, the environment and so on.
However today, I feel the need to share my thoughts about huge misconceptions in the world community which can lead us to a global conflict if we are not careful. And this is what I do not want. At 65 years of age, my time is approaching, maybe not tomorrow but sooner rather than later and I would like to end this part of my journey feeling that love triumphed over hatred, justice over injustice, the truth over lies, hope over despair, smiles over sadness.
My background is well documented. I raised my voice about the sheer injustice of carving out the heart of Serbia, in Kosovo and giving it to a terrorist faction, UÇK (Ushtria Çlirimtare ë Kosovës, or KLA, Kosovo Liberation Army), which decapitated Serbian bank workers, shot policemen and ambulance drivers. Yet the West was happy to call the Serbs the bad guys for defending themselves against terrorism while a narco-mafia pseudo-state was created. Today I do not recognise Kosovo’s right to call itself an independent country, neither does a large swathe of the world community. Kosovo is Serbia under international law.
I raised my voice against 9/11, as I have always raised my voice against any terrorist attack anywhere (because it is against the law) but I also raised my voice against the indiscriminate slaughter of Afghan civilians in the aftermath, as Al-Qaeda was targeted but alongside wedding parties. What happened? Twenty years of carnage, trillions of dollars wasted, lives lost on all sides and the Talebaan won. If the West had not launched the Mujaheddin (the fore-runners of the Talebaan) to attack the Soviet Union, they would not have morphed into the Talebaan and today Afghanistan would have a progressive society with full women’s rights. Today, it doesn’t. Thank you, West. A nice feather in your cap. That’s what you get for interfering in complex societies which you will never understand. The secret is development, not deployment.
I raised my voice against the illegal invasion of Iraq, not only because it was based on pure lies and the imbecility of nations being swayed by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, holding a vial of milk powder claiming wrongly Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, but also because the attack was wrong and insulted, degraded and destroyed the legitimacy of the United Nations Organisation. Still today we lack an international body based on the rule of law with the ability to manage crises effectively before they explode into violence. I said so at the time, in public and in private, to the main protagonists.
Ask one million Iraqis what happened next as the state was destroyed, homes and families were obliterated, futures vaporised by cowards in the sky. More tears, more families left grieving.
I raised my voice against the one-sided Russophobic nonsense regarding the Georgia conflict, in which Georgia under Mikheil Saakashvili launched an attack against Russian peace-keepers in South Ossetia and were preparing to launch an invasion of Abkhazia, two regions in which the majority of citizens identified themselves as Russian and not Georgian and for which under the terms of the Dissolution of the Constitution of the Soviet Union, there was supposed to have been a referendum (it’s called Democracy) on nationality status. Georgia consistently refused to hold one and aided by guess who (again) the pressure cooker boiled over and exploded. Russia’s response was measured and contained, while Western sources at the time showed Georgian missiles firing north and said they were Russian missiles firing south.
I raised my voice at the utter outrage which was NATO’s illegal act of slaughter against Libya, the State with the Highest Human Development Index in Africa, sent back to the Stone Age by NATO and today left studded with slave camps and crawling with terrorists, a divided state with a very dubious future. Nice one Messrs. Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy, the FUKUS Axis (France, UK, US). I raised my voice against the illegal strafing of homes, the water supply and the electricity grid (as they had also done in Iraq). Another feather in the cap of the West, which is quick to claim the high moral ground without any grain of right or reason.
About Crimea, well...with the illegal removal of the democratically elected Head of State, Yanukovich, the entity with the power to enforce the law in the Republic of Crimea, was its Assembly, which called a referendum (it’s called Democracy) on nationality status and the vast majority of the residents voted to return to Russia.
And as the events developed, here we stand today with two brothers looking at each other down the barrel of a gun (although we must differentiate between the normal Ukrainian people and those strutting around in swastikas making Nazi salutes supporting Hitler and that Bandera). Once again the pressure cooker boiled to exploding point and once again there was no international organism with the power to get adults around a table, which is always difficult when there are Fascists involved.
And now for nothing different.
The Hamas-Israel war. The reason why I am writing this piece is that I have not yet seen anything near a balanced appraisal of this dreadful situation, so I will present one myself. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-Israeli or anti-anything, I am pro-people and families and pro-approaching issues from a balanced viewpoint. We can speak about Israel and its right to defend itself but then again we have to speak about the Palestians’ right to defend themselves, especially after the type of action we are witnessing today with military aircraft being callously and criminally used to indiscriminately strafe areas with high civilian concentrations. We can speak about the right to defence but then we must speak about the right to active defence. We can call HAMAS a terrorist organisation (if we are the USA or the EU) but then we must see that HAMAS is a player on many levels and if it is part of the problem, it is also part of the solution. But then we would have to call Israel a terrorist entity because it behaves in the same way or worse, on a larger scale. Round and round the garden...
We can call a lot of things a lot of names but there is one basic truth that nobody has as yet stated in the media. This sordid game of cat and mouse can only escalate until someone finds a solution, and until they do, more and more tears will be shed. Today it is men with guns. Tomorrow, missiles causing not hundreds but thousands of casualties and the day after, biological weapons. Mark my words.
We can draw the time line at Saturday October 7 with the Hamas attack on farms in Southern Israel and we have one perspective, but is it the whole picture and does it bring us any nearer to a solution?
The solution has two prongs which have to apply to all those involved, equally. The first is that Israel must live inside its original frontiers (1948) and dismantle the settlements it built on stolen lands. There must be a phased agreement with a timed withdrawal and while land is occupied, Israel must pay a rent, which can be used to build Institutions. The second is Israel, under international law, has the right to exist, inside those frontiers and everyone must accept that. Those who do not, or cannot, do not have the right to play any part in today’s international community.
It is as clear-cut and as simple as that. Nothing else is going to work and refusal by either side to accept these two realities is paramount to imbecility.
For those blinded by hatred, in whatever cause, and nurtured on “us and them”, primary concepts maybe since childhood, nothing consumes more energy and brings more unease, disquiet and dissatisfaction. Hatred eats your soul, it blocks your spiritual development and stops you enjoying this beautiful home which we call our planet. It belongs to all of us and we are all supposed to live here as the brothers and sisters we are, along with the animals and plants we cohabit with.
When I look at the world around us, with growing extremism and diminishing tolerance, hatred and lies nurtured and spread by mistruths, half-truths and propaganda and censorship practised by entities which claim to have the monopoly of righteousness as they draw time lines and shape stories like some sort of perverse sculpture, I realise how shallow and wrong our description of ourselves in fact is. Homo sapiens sapiens. Sapiens?? And to make it worse, the lie repeated. Much more accurate would be Homo fatuus fatuus. Google it up, it’s Latin. I do not expect our species to behave differently from a bunch of apes living in the trees, because we have not yet evolved very far from that. We behave as we do and call ourselves sapiens, twice?
Tolerance and respect enables you to learn from your brothers and sisters as you share stories, cultures, learn about creeds and religions and beliefs, enjoy gastronomies, practise dances, songs, help each other; tolerance and respect develop your spirit and feed your soul. One smile is worth more than a thousand tears. And remember, tears taste of salt.
The solutions exist.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be contacted at [email protected]