Farewell 2014, but may your turning tides continue to sweep us between the icebergs and whirlpools of political despair and environmental collapse, toward the hard-won shores of a fairer world. For though global disasters and injustices only seemed to intensify this year – climate change, Syria bleeding into Iraq, Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza, Ebola, Boko Haram, racist executions on the streets of America, and in the UK the continued dismantling of the NHS and the ethnic cleansing of the poor, to name but a few on-going explosions – it was also a year of significant victories for participatory democracy. Everywhere, people power is steadily rising, and with it a tangible sense of my favourite metaphor of 2014: sea change. For if Scylla and Charybdis also represent the Right and old Left, the nimblest ships sailing through them are whole new political paradigms – personally, I’m entering 2015 buoyed up…

Read more

          Raw sewage and muddy rainwater rising in the fruit and vegetable market. Six hours of electricity a day, while snow blankets the Middle East. Will it be frostbite, corpses and medieval diseases this Christmas for Gaza? The world’s media, of course, pays not a fig of attention to the crisis.* Meanwhile here in Brighton & Hove, today at the weekly Boycott Ecostream demo – urging consumers not to buy products made by an Israeli company with its HQ illegally situated in occupied territories – local Zionists chanted ‘The BDS-ers don’t care about Palestinians, they only care about their human rights agenda’. The Zios also repeatedly, loudly, denounced us all as ‘crybabies’ and anti-Semites, and gleefully hurled vacuous personal slurs – ‘You spit like a girl’ to one man who hadn’t even opened his mouth. We laughed about that one later on in the cafe – …

Read more

Note: for the benefit of readers hazy in the geopolitical department, a short history of the West Bank is included at the end of this post. I don’t think you have to visit a country in order to have a valid opinion about it, but as a writer-activist, and a vocal advocate of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement since the 2009 Gaza Massacre, this year I felt the time had come to go to Palestine.  Creatively, I wanted to experience the conditions of daily life there as research for my second novel, which is set in a colonialist post-apocalyptic, post-oil world.  Politically and professionally, I hoped to forge stronger ties with local activists, and make what contribution I could to their political and cultural resistance.  In particular, I was going to the West Bank to visit The Freedom Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, and to take part in a…

Read more

Jerusalem.  The Holy City.  Centre of three major world religions,  and surely a place that should transcend political differences, remind us of our shared humanity, and humble all who enter its ancient walls? For while I am not a member of any of the patriarchal Abrahamic faiths, it seems to me that Christianity, Judaism and Islam share a reverence for knowledge, love, and justice and their houses of worship can be experienced as imperfect shrines to these ideals.  Despite the promise of interfaith harmony still faintly echoing through the lanes of the Old City, however, modern West Jerusalem is not built on any spiritual values I can recognise.  The contemporary city is closer to ancient Rome – a gloating festival of Zionist triumphalism, a swaggering celebration of military might, intent on the ruthless dispossession of the indigenous population.  As such, it cannot last. But more of prophecies in a moment. …

Read more

First day in Israel-Palestine, and a stop in Tel Aviv en route to Jerusalem, Jenin and Ramallah.  But what to do in a city you are boycotting?  Protest, of course.  Today I joined Arab and Jewish Israeli activists demonstrating in Yaffa – AKA Jaffa or Yafo, the old Arab town now subsumed by Tel Aviv – in support of the mass hunger strike of over 1600 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoners are demanding an end to the practice of Administrative Detention – indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial – the use of solitary confinement and the denial of family visits, in some cases for years. Today marked the 75th day of hunger for two men, Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, who are now close to death.  The strike is reaching crisis point, and could trigger the eruption of the Third Intifada. Not that you would guess that from Tel Aviv’s crowded beaches,…

Read more

5/5