Welcome home! John Lynes, deported by Israel

john lynes

Excellent news that John is back  safe!

I spoke to his brother earlier today and he was put on a plane late last night and arrived back about midnight. He’s  in good health and spent the night in Golders Green. He’s returning home today to St Leonard’s.

Of course, John wasn’t planning on being home so soon! John’s intention was to travel to the West Bank Palestinian area to a camp near Bethlehem – to where he was invited to by Palestinian friends. This was part of an international movement with hundreds of people travelling to visit similar areas. John has been to Hebron many times with the Christian Peacemaker Teams.

But just by informing the Israeli authorities of  his true intentions was enough to get him and others detained and deported. Routinely people have to lie just to get through to visit Palestinian friends or to work with them.

John will also be dismayed to hear, too, that just today Israel has a new law forbidding its citizens from supporting any boycott against the state. This is a further attack on civil rights there especially for those, who like John, want to see Israel make progress in relations with Palestinians.

But to John, welcome back!

Retired Hull lecturer’s arrest in Israel

John Lynes, a retired lecturer from the University of Lincoln’s School of architecture in Hull and a longterm activist on Palestinian issues, has been held  since Friday and it is unclear when his release by Israel can be expected.

It is believed he and others are being held in a detention center near Tel Aviv.

Mr Lynes, aged 83, was detained, handcuffed and shackled, by Israeli authorities as part of a group of 12 Britons arrested after landing at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday. They were taking part with hundreds of other international campaigners determined to highlight the conditions suffered by Palestinians under occupation by the Israeli military.

In a statement before his departure, John Lynes, a Quaker of 50 years, said: “I have chosen this step without bitterness or antagonism. I wish for the Israelis what I wish for my own children: a life free from fear and hatred.”

“On Friday 8th July hundreds of people from all over the world, who feel like me, will be flying into Ben Gurion airport, with written invitations to visit a Bethlehem refugee camp in the West Bank. Normally the Israeli authorities would deport us, unless we go through the tiresome ritual of persuading them that we are innocent pilgrims or tourists. This time we are going to tell the truth. And we will refuse to be deported.”

Martin Deane, of Hull and East Riding Green Party comments, “I know both John Lynes and Pippa Bartolotti. They are people of the utmost credibility and commitment. They have broken no laws and want to visit with Palestinian friends who have invited them.

“The Israeli authorities are deliberately acting in a heavy handed manner to stop this demonstration of international solidarity.”

Arrested in the same group as Ms Pippa Bartolotti, the Deputy Leader of the Wales Green Party, it is likely that John Lynes and the group will be deported over the next few days.
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Martin Deane
Chair, Hull and East Riding Green Party

  • John Lynes, 83, is a retired lecturer of the University of Lincoln’s School of architecture in Hull, Quaker and a member of JFJFP, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and CPT, the Christian Peacemaker Teams, APJP, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, Christian CND, World Development Movement and the UCU, University and College Union.

Coordin8.org.uk/app/index.php (Click on Support UK citizens’ right to visit Palestine).

John Lynes, video talk, on Palestine
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1974179376607616158

CPT – Palestine, on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Christian-Peacemaker-Teams-Palestine/119528801443578

Miliband’s new campaigns!

In the wake of yesterday’s historic march, Labour’s Edward Milibland announces his new campaigns:

  • NO taxes on the banks!
  • NO taxes for the wealthy!  (these haven’t been collected for over a year anyway…)!
  • NO closing of tax loopholes!
  • DON’T chase major tax avoiders!
  • DON’T re-regulate the financial sector!
  • CUT all the services anyway! (just spread them out a bit more).

The Labour Party leader, Ed Milibland, was very poor yesterday! His was the total hypocrisy of equating  the 500,000 marchers (figure via police announced by Len McCluskey from stage) with apartheid and the civil rights movement, etc – WHILE he fails to share the ACTUAL policies the march was about!

A Real Alternative? Unbelievable, isn’t it? And major Unions think this is where hope lies?!?

Hull, on the other hand, was rather splendid. Somewhere around 17 coaches went, including the (Fire Brigade) FBU’s 3 from the area. (Twice the number of coaches that went for Iraq in 2003).

We had a great time. The demonstration was massive, very good-natured and determined. But we all know the battle goes on.

The message must get through: tax the banks, tax the ultra-rich, make the cuts history.

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Update: After rumours of attack on Fortnum and Mason’s, a mob of tweed-clad old Etonians retaliate and vandalise Lidl in Slough. #mar26

Tw: Best placard so far: ‘there are two things I don’t like about nick clegg: his face’ #26march #march26

Tw: The march was a total success – 500k. Pity the ‘alternative’ is cuts over 72 months instead of 54 months. Ed is not the alternative.

Hull Anti-Cuts Protests, Feb 24

Today the LibDem run Hull City Council attempted to set its cuts budget.

At midday a crowd of many hundreds protested around the city and at 4.30 gathered again outside the Guildhall. A locally donated PA system kept the crowd entertained. Maybe a dozen speeches were heard. A crowd of 40 at a time were allowed into the gallery of the council chamber.

Occasional raised voices challenged the councillors and eventually they adjourned and called for the Gallery to be cleared. A mini invasion of the Guildhall took place.

Picture from a protester looking out from the Guildhall balcony to the demonstration below.

Hull is facing around £80 million worth of cuts this year entailing some 2000 jobs all told.

It will be the worst hit authority in the region.

Alan Johnson: nothing to see here!

Guest post: this post courtesy of Jane Watkinson, a new Green Party member in Leeds.

Alan Johnson’s incompetent and indifferent approach to one of the most important jobs in reconstructing Labour, is a testament to the problems Labour have in terms of reforming and distinctly challenging the government. As it stands, Johnson is looking more like a David Miliband trojan horse, with a pretty damning critique of his performances on the Today programme here. Essentially, Johnson fails to remember Labour’s economic ‘plans’, with him at first arguing Labour would eliminate the structural deficit by 2015-16 – basically the same plans as the Conservatives – later saying he ‘probably’ meant 2016/17 (as though that is any better).

This type of attitude is a massive obstacle preventing Labour’s reform. Johnson’s appointment is a major reason for why many expecting an Ed Miliband turnaround are so disappointed in how lax and pathetic Miliband has turned out. This is where Lucas is right to have said that Labour aren’t offering us a credible alternative, sadly, however, as many of us Greens and other non-Labour lefties/radicals tend to do, Lucas ignored the importance of respecting the need for collaboration in conjuncture with accepting differences between ourselves and Labour. Labour imploded their progressive credentials in power, something we wont obviously forget. But, there needs to be more engagement in assisting Labour’s reform, which, I admit, can be very difficult (I often fall foul of the “Labour are just the same” line).

I therefore agree with some of the sentiments in the replies to Lucas, specifically concerning the need for the Greens to work with Labour to assist their shedding of Blarite skin (but Labour have to remember that they also have to be open to real public debate and critical reform). However, when you hear stupid remarks such as Johnson’s today, Ed Miliband slapping a debate on drugs before it has even begun, Ed Miliband joking about supporting student protests, Ed Miliband distancing and criticising the unions (as well as branding an amazing article from Len McCluskey as ‘irresponsible‘) and witness Ed Miliband trusting Alan Johnson to instate a radical programme – then you can see why the Greens have doubts.

Regardless, we need to grit our teeth, whilst remembering that Labour and the Greens, as I have previously stated, are most certainly not the only route for radical political change. As well as working within the system, stopping damaging cuts, welfare reforms and the like through traditional protocols – we also need to work outside. This is important. We can’t solely rely on party politics to enact the change we need.

Labour are a long way from reforming, in fact, I barely notice a change from their time in power. It is a sad state of affairs, especially given the faith placed. But with them still signed up to cuts, welfare destruction and damaging relations with the labour/anti-cuts movement, there is a long time before they will be re-recognised as a real force of political change. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stop trying to challenge and radically restructure both Labour and the power relations in general through both inside (whether it be the Greens, Labour or whatever) and outside. It is a complementary goal for radical reform.

Jane Watkinson

Ethics today: science or religion?

Do we continue to destroy and consume the planet and its resources – and in the process each other – or do we finally rein ourselves in and find as rational a way through as possible?

A text came my way recently on a favourite subject! It was on the concept of God being totalitarian and promoting science to replace religion on ethics, and got me thinking. Where should our sense of right and wrong stem from?

The quote was from Christopher Hitchens now battling cancer yet still speaking as eloquently as ever.  For years he has championed atheism and the scientific method (though not a scientist himself) and may he do so for many years yet.

Yes, religion has a lot to answer for historically – and also contemporarily. But so, if we are honest, does science – its use and misuse.

Context is important. This century humanity is at its greatest crossroads ever: do we continue to destroy and consume the planet and its resources, and in the process each other, or do we finally rein ourselves in and find as rational a way through as possible. Because this is the context that both science, in terms of our practical abilities, and religion in broad terms as the ‘rules’ we live by, have brought us.

Some want to blame religion for the mess, others want to blame science. Everyone should be blaming greed – our unquestioned lifestyle in the “rich west”, our materialist habit, our consumerist throwaway society and the necessary economic dominance, resource depletion and wars that it entails.

Often people have said to me “religion is the cause of all wars”. I ask: oh, which ones? There is often a stunned silence – as if someone should have such temerity! But it’s a simple question. The Iraq War? Afghanistan? (This time round? Or  1860? Or 1890?) The Falklands War? Vietnam? Korea? The Second World War? The First World War? Take your pick, make your case.

There have been plenty of religious wars and not all of them are in the past. But nothing can match the killing of last century. So far.

The industrial scale with which we slaughtered each other in the 1900s would not have been possible without science. Bombs, fighters, machine guns, the A bomb. Napalm, agent orange, white phosphorous. Einstein who paved the way for the nuclear age is quoted as saying he should have become a watchmaker. Our agriculture, our food production, the industrialization of so much we consume is all down to various sciences.

But the myopia of religion in defining itself as the only truth (whichever one, pretty much) is matched by the myopia of science which almost always gets lost in its own reductionism. For example, some 50% of science graduates end up working for the defence industries in one form or another. Can we stop investing our intelligence in killing each other?!?

We need the best of both. And more. The deep commitment from religion, sometimes, from spirituality, from ethics, from conscience finally, that the destruction of the planet’s resources and of each other is simply wrong. The insight and capability and creativity of the world’s best minds to get us out of this impasse of energy and food and sustainability and war that we find ourselves in.

And the commitment of ordinary people everywhere to challenge the status quo still driven by outmoded ways of thinking whether religious, political, economic or sheer habit, and driven by the literal power of engines and bombs that science has given.

Because time is running out.