Monday, 31 May 2010

Gaza: A Call For Humanity

Eight hundred people board six ships and head to the Gaza Strip to break a blockade and deliver supplies and aid to a deprived and imprisoned community. The Israeli army board the ships and at time of writing between 10 soldiers are injured and between 9 and 20 of the aid and peace activists are dead and scores injured. As recriminations and counter allegations abound, Scriptonite asks: since when did the victim have to prove their innocence?

Last night I received a message from the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship within the humanitarian aid flotilla heading for Gaza on which the focus of footage and media coverage has focussed.

The aim? To relieve some of the deprivation in the area as a consequence of the three year long blockade placed on it by the Israeli government and enforced by the Israeli Defensive Force (IDF).

I posted it straight to the blog to bring attention to the incredible bravery of this group of people who have left their daily lives across their respective 32 countries, to make a difference in a different part of the world.

I woke this morning, to tweetdeck bleeping out about deaths in the Gaza flotilla. Completely stunned, and attempting as most to make sense of what happened. So I took to checking out all sides of the story to understand what was being put out to each audience around the world.

The two central arguments seemed to be unarmed civilians attacked or raging mob of terrorists attack Israeli troops and give them no choice but to shoot like crazy. Both arguments seem to imply that if any voilence can be attributed to the civiliants aboard the ships then the Israeli action was justified.

Interestingly, I found a pro-israel website, which I won’t publicise which broke down the events of the day in you tube videos….one of which I have posted below. The video was entitled ‘Soldiers who were Injured and Weapons Found on Ships’.

What seems worthy of note is the ramshackle bounty the IDF has discovered. Considering the intended purpose of the video, this seems to be the best the IDF were able to come up with. The highlight being bags of marbles…..and slingshots....

The website also held this video, apparently showing the moment where IDF soldiers began descending onto the ship.

The 'evidence' of people attacking the IDF troops seems to be stated as clear justification for the response of the troops and the number of deaths. In simple terms, stating that any act of violence from the people aboard did not merely prompt but required the violent response of the Israeli troops on board.

If this principal holds true then one could quite as easily in return argue that any violence meted out with marbles and sticks by those aboard the Mavi Marmara can be justified on the basis that it was being attacked, by force, in international waters.

But the world really should not be so binary. Whatever your views of the acts of individuals aboard the Mavi Maramara….remember why the ship was there in the first place.

The Free Gaza Movement make no bones about their mission and aims on their website:

“We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.

We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission. It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and non-violent direct action, and establish a permanent sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world”

In this scenario, the emphasis should not be on the victims to prove they did not provoke the aggressor.

One could argue that this has been the most flagrant two fingers held up to the international community by the IDF since the slaying of Rachel Corrie...or Tom Hindle. An international flotilla, in international waters……

Surely iot would be too cynical of me to suggest that this was anything to do with the US support for and signing of the UN Non Proliferation Treaty document which singled out Israel’s open secret nuclear arsenal?

I leave you with two notes of inspiration and hope...and some practical things to do to support the plight of Gaza and the people who attempted to come to their aid…..as enough anger and rage abounds and I Scriptonite adds nothing constructive to the situation by simply pouring more in.

Don’t get angry, get involved.

INTERVIEW ABOARD THE MIVA MARMARA – 29TH MAY

The following interview was taken aboard the ship with retired US army colonel Ann Wright.

THINGS TO SEE:

OPEN LETTER TO THE ISRAELI JEWISH PEOPLE – BY JEFF HALPER

http://theonlydemocracy.org/2010/05/an-open-letter-by-jeff-halper-to-the-israeli-jewish-public-support-the-gaza-flotilla/

THINGS TO DO:

EMAIL THE FOREIGN OFFICE NOW (Template letter)
http://joti2gaza.org/2010/05/31/email-the-british-foreign-office-recall-britains-ambassador-to-israel-now/

JOIN THE FREE GAZA MOVEMENT

http://www.freegaza.org/

Sunday, 30 May 2010

NEWFLASH: Gaza’s Ship Comes In….We Hope

The Free Gaza Movement are tonight sailing ships from Cyrpus to Gaza in an attempt to get much needed supplied into this blockaded, suffocated area of Palestine. The following message comes direct from a ship in the Flotilla and is placed here on ScriptoniteDaily unedited for your information.

Get Involved!

Viva Palestina's Kevin Ovendon reports live from the flotilla:


At 10.41pm, preparations aboard the Mavi Marmara are extensive. We are 90 miles away from land - 22 miles further than the Israeli decided 68 mile exclusion zone - but are being approached by an Israeli vessel.

Triage is set up and various strategies implemented to resist seizure. The Israeli media is reporting that Israel will deploy a very large naval force. Far from minimising violence, this is an illegal aggressive move which will make violence more likely.

We are broadcasting live from the ship. Calm and organisation overcome the fear that Israel is trying to instill.

Viva Palestina and all aboard are prepared.

We are calling on everyone to contact various political leaders to ask them to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of these brave people, and to stand up and add their voice in support of this humanitarian flotilla.

Full details of how they can contact these political figures can be found through following link:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gaza-TV-News/119275738102852?v=app_2347471856#!/pages/Gaza-TV-News/119275738102852?v=app_2347471856

Scroll down the page to find template letters to use and email addresses to send them to. Full instructions are provided, and we ask that you follow these and show your support for everyone involved.

The Free Gaza Movement are tonight sailing ships from Cyrpus to Gaza in an attempt to get much needed supplied into this blockaded, suffocated area of Palestine. The following message comes direct from a ship in the Flotilla and is placed here on ScriptoniteDaily unedited for your information.

Get Involved!

Viva Palestina's Kevin Ovendon reports live from the flotilla:

At 10.41pm, preparations aboard the Mavi Marmara are extensive. We are 90 miles away from land - 22 miles further than the Israeli decided 68 mile exclusion zone - but are being approached by an Israeli vessel.

Triage is set up and various strategies implemented to resist seizure. The Israeli media is reporting that Israel will deploy a very large naval force. Far from minimising violence, this is an illegal aggressive move which will make violence more likely.

We are broadcasting live from the ship. Calm and organisation overcome the fear that Israel is trying to instill.

Viva Palestina and all aboard are prepared.

We are calling on everyone to contact various political leaders to ask them to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of these brave people, and to stand up and add their voice in support of this humanitarian flotilla.

Full details of how they can contact these political figures can be found through following link:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gaza-TV-News/119275738102852?v=app_2347471856#!/pages/Gaza-TV-News/119275738102852?v=app_2347471856

Scroll down the page to find template letters to use and email addresses to send them to. Full instructions are provided, and we ask that you follow these and show your support for everyone involved.

This is a very serious situation, and we are calling on everyone to play their part in helping ensure their safety, and that the aid reaches Gaza without difficulty.



More links posted on the group page today, so please check them out if you have time:

ISRAEL'S DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA (Article by the Free Gaza team)
http://joti2gaza.org/2010/05/30/israels-disinformation-campaign-against-the-gaza-freedom-flotilla/

IN GAZA: WAITING FOR THE FLOTILLA (Post from In Gaza blog)
http://joti2gaza.org/2010/05/30/in-gaza-waiting-for-the-flotilla/

CONVOY PASSENGERS IN HIGH SPIRITS AS FLOTILLA FLOATS TOWARDS GAZA (Two excellent video reports from journalists on board the main passenger ship)
http://joti2gaza.org/2010/05/30/convoy-passengers-in-high-spirits-as-flotilla-floats-towards-gaza/

GenderBender: The Unmentionable

“I am just a woman who loves my man" and "...inside I am a complete woman" - Tiwonge Chimbalanga.

Following international outrage and a visit by UN Chief Ban Ki Moon, the President of Malawi (Bingu Wa Mathurika) has somewhat ungraciously pardoned Steven Monjeza (26) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (20). The Scriptonite laptop was burning up preparing an article on the ‘what next?’ for Malawi and how to leverage this pardon to push the principle that whatever the oral code of a country the Law should be separate from it.
But this isn’t a story of two gay men arrested for attempting a gay wedding. This is the story of a man and a woman….as Tiwonge identifies as a woman.

Coverage across the internet and print on African and western news sites and feeds has focussed this issue around the fact that both parties were in this case physically male and therefore, indictable under anti-homosexual laws in Malawi.

There is a whole chunter in the twitterverse about not just the mainstream media but the gay media being anti-Trans…I cite two such tweets I received personally to @scriptonite today:

“@Scriptonite you might find this helpful: http://nodesignation.com/?p=124 Gay media has been openly transphobic for decades and still is.”

“@Scriptonite… Common thing in media coverage of trans people, we are erased as "gay"”

I took on looking at the claims by the Trans community on this one and making this article about understanding it.

Firstly, there’s social ignorance with a small ‘i’.
I think of the times growing up where well-meaning white folks would say similar things about their ‘black friend down the bingo…oh she’s brilliant!’
Just the other day a taxi driver pointed out that I was a lesbian and that he was definitely ok with it and we should all just ‘live and let live I say’.
As unpopular as it may be to say, I can be with that kind of stuff. I get the sentiment with which it is uttered and am comfortable having conversations with people if I feel awkward…..and you know what, how about a little love and generosity to these lovely souls who don’t quite get it right but are coming from a place of reaching out? This is ignorance of understanding with a small i.

However, in the media and in reference to Trans people….there appears to be an intentional Ignorance with a big I, which intends to distort or undermine the status of the person.

Often I have noticed pronouns in quotation marks or apostrophes as if they are somehow alleged:
Transsexual Joanna Bloggs felt ‘her’ treatment by the bigots was atrocious.

If not this then the pronoun of the trans persons’ socially ascribed gender at birth is used:
Transsexual Joe Bloggs (a.k.a. Joanna) felt his treatment by the bigots was atrocious.

Or there is the complete ignorance of the fact and the ascribing of the person as gay, when they identify as Trans:
Joe Bloggs and his gay lover felt their treatment by the bigots was atrocious.

It is this third kind of Ignorance which has been used in the case of Tiwonge and Steven in Malawi.

Any gay person you speak to may well be able to call up a memory of having their partner referred to as their ‘friend’ by relatives of friends at some point or another through the evolution of the acceptance of gay identity within the UK at least. It irks….it really irks.

I ‘fess up to also portraying this story as two gay men and being somewhat ashamed of myself for having not picked up on this. So, sincere apologies to any of the Trans community who were aware of this and consequently offended by my misgendering of Tiwonge.

So why do we find it so difficult to step away from our binary, divine right approach to gender assignment?
Does this mean that the proper place for T is nowhere near L, G and B?
How can we ensure that those of us who care, hold the media to account in reporting Trans stories fairly and accurately?

The list of questions for us goes on….and I for one am excited to be part of that debate within our society. As human beings, we do tend to get spooked when something comes up which means our views and perspectives need to be stretched and adapted. This however, is nothing new. The gender identity issue is as old as the hills…so isn’t it about time we took it personally and each made our own personal step forth in understanding and accepting gender identities as they are expressed by the individual? In this way, person by person, the kaleidoscope shifts….and the world as we know it transforms.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Broken Laws?

Dark days for the ConDemNation today as Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws wakes up to the galling realisation that he has been outed. The mainstream media (even the SUN!) seems to be playing the ball and not the man on this one…apart from the Sun referring to a ‘homosexual relationship’, which, if we were being pernickety, we might suggest sounds a little aspidistra and loafers for 2010.

(Note that the Daily Mail is the predictable exception on this one with ‘Treasury's new axeman David Laws funnelled £40,000 of taxpayers' money to secret gay lover’…still not over Peter Wildeblood are we Daily Fail?)

So, while the vultures circle and Laws gets whatever punishment is coming to him for, let’s face it, a pretty despicable bit of selfishness, Scriptonite whiffs a breath of fresh air….because the story here is not that David Laws is gay, but that he is a hypocrite.

If we look at most of the outings we see in the media they general follow a similar theme: family man actually a big fat gayer…to surmise.

In New South Wales, Australia, Transport Minister David Campbell resigned yesterday having used his ministerial car to drive to Kens at Kensington….a gay sauna. Problem was he is married with children. His wife also has cancer. He also issues Christmas cards of him and his family and campaigned on the tired old platform of being a ‘good family man’.

In the UK in recent years Mark Oaten, Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful saw himself consigned to the political long grass after it was revealed he had indulged in the naughties with various rent boys over the years while…you guessed it…being married with children and presenting himself as a ‘good family man’. Simon Hughes, also Liberal Democrat , also during a leadership race, also packed off to the fringes following his outing…the kicker being his particularly homophobic campaign in the Bermondsey by election of 1983 (where he won his first seat) against gay Labour candidate Peter Tatchell…his leaflets stating that voted had a ‘straight choice’.

In the US in March this year anti-gay rights uber-Republican senator Roy Ashburn (and divorced father of four) came out following a drink driving conviction and allegations he frequented a gay club during his joyride. He had recently opposed a bill for a day of recognition for murdered gay rights activist Harvey Milk, voted against expanding anti-discrimination laws and also opposed recognition of out of state gay marriages.

The point is, the story in this case is NOT within this paradigm. We are in a time when the line from government is - we all need to accept the cuts-are-a-coming. There is also an astonishing conservative line of getting rid of all these so called ‘non jobs’ in the public sector (see: nurses, doctors, counsellors, outreach programme workers). In this context, the fiddling of expenses in this most audacious of fashions by an ex investment banker who is rumoured to be independently wealthy IS the story of the day. Should he lose his position? Depends…. I’d be interested to see him pay the money back in order to pay for his crimes and then be a contribution rather than a pilferer of national resources. Although I’m at pains to see how a man who has so clearly caught feathering his own nest is going to garner faith and trust while stripping the feathers from ours…

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