Saturday, 11 April 2009

Its been reported back to me that some of "the brothers" are not happy with things I've said on this blog. It seems these criticisms fall into two arguments, firstly that I have fuelled pro-Zionist arguments against the convoy. Secondly that I have been disloyal to the convoy by criticising it.

I could only tell the story from my perspective as honestly as I could. A lot of the times it was being texted in the midst of crazy situations and extreme tiredness. I could have edited it in hindsight, but have chosen not to because for all its faults it is what happened to me and what it felt like at the time. The fact that some pro-Zionist websites have picked up on it and taken the piss and used some of my criticisms against the convoy to diss it, does not mean that I shouldn't have written them. Of course they're going to use anything at their disposal to rubbish our efforts and support their own view of the world. Why be surprised at that, or hurt by it, or angry and say that I have somehow, "given fuel to their fire"? Why should what they say concern you so much? Actually, some of their criticisms of my blog made me laugh at myself and fair play I deserved it. However, the fact that they reported on the convoy far more than the British media did shows that despite their ridicule they were challenged by what we did. They're paranoid, don't you be.

You may have "faith" in Allah, but please don't have "faith" in human organisations, or politicians, in the same way. I am not being disloyal to the convoy, George Galloway, the Respect party, or anyone else, by criticising, or even satirising what took place. On the contrary I am being democratic. It is not democratic to equate loyalty with silence, or obedience. That way lies madness and Stalinism. The paranoia that was whipped up on the convoy, and indeed looking back I became infected by it to some degree, is harmful and frankly absurd a lot of the time. I suppose I could edit it out now and make myself look better too, but no, that was how it felt at the time, wrongly as it happens, but the blog is a record of sorts and full of human error, yours as well as mine.

Similarly the paranoia of some Zionists who posted comments on my blog, or on pro-Zionist websites, should serve as an example of how not to be. We should be open in our debate and not simply write what we know other people want to hear so as to reinforce an exclusive view of humanity, history and belief. I think we all need to be prepared to make mistakes in trying to find a way forward and truly describe our experience of the world. I also think all parties would considerably advance the possibility of a resolution to the conflict if they admitted to their mistakes. Furthermore, I honestly cannot see how anyone can say they believe in anything without constantly asking themselves "why"?

If we start believing our own propaganda, such as some of the descriptions of events on the Viva Palestina website, then we're in danger of becoming wide-eyed evangelists who are easily manipulated by cynical politicians (I'm not saying that George Galloway is one, calm down, clam down). However, I've seen enough uncritical evangelists in far left parties to last me a lifetime (remember the WRP anyone?). Interestingly many of them had previously been Christian evangelists before swapping one set of Epistles for another; perhaps its something to do with men with beards, God v's Marx = Father Christmas. There is it seems a terribly human fallibility expressed as the need to "believe" that we should be wary of lest we find ourselves standing in straight lines obeying orders to create concentration camps. Stepping out of line becomes misconstrued as disloyalty because it "ruins morale". No doubt the Nazis sang morale boosting songs as they merrily marched to Auschwitz, no doubt the Israelis did as they bombed Gaza, or wrote "Gas the Arabs" on Palestinian homes.

Your religions demand an unquestioning faith in, even subservience and submission to, Allah, or God, however you wish to describe "Him". Frankly I find this terrifying and I cannot understand it. However, that aside, if you apply the same attitudes to political movements then you will end up with fascists (of Left or Right). They may start out claiming to be benign, or informed by a higher being, they may even convince you that you've no need of democracy because of this, but they'll end up cutting people's hands off, stoning women, denying the holocaust, calling themselves "the chosen people", or justifying the use of phosphorous in Gaza. They may wear jack-boots, beards, or suits and ties, but if we trust them we are fools. "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely". "Faith" becomes the last refuge of madmen and tyrants and it seems to me that we are unleashing them upon one another right now.

If there is no place for non-believers, or critics, on a Viva Palestina "humanitarian aid convoy", then say so clearly before I commit to the next one. But beware doing so; what was life affirming for me was that many Muslims on the last convoy were very glad that Non Muslims formed a significant part of it and that I was enabled to understand the Muslim religion a lot more. They and I don't think I have to "believe" in anything more than, "relieving suffering in the face of injustice", to go again. That desire alone was a shared, humane, impulse, that created understanding and respect despite our differing viewpoints and belief systems. If that sounds weakly liberal then you underestimate my willingness to fight for it.


  1. Don't be put down by criticism of your blog. I followed lots of different blogs of the convoy and found yours the best because of the criticism of aspects of it - that is bound to happen when you have large numbers of people who have never met travelling such a huge distance. You are not all going to getting on and as a Muslim I hugely respect that you, a non-Muslim, managed to cope on a convoy that based itself around the needs of the Muslims on the convoy. How many of us could cope in similar circumstances?

  2. your blog was the only way for us to see the real details

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