Tag Archives: Gaza

Je Suis Charlie

Charlie Hebdo: I Am Not Charlie And I Make No Apology For That

Earlier this week I sat horrified and appalled by the events that took place in Paris.  The barbaric murder of journalists, Police Officers and innocent bystanders cannot be excused by any sane and rational person and I most certainly do not intend to offer any excuses for the perpetrators of these truly horrific murders.

Today sees a million people come together in Paris in a show of ‘solidarity’, and over the past few days we have seen the hashtag #jesuischarlie go viral in a social media campaign that “Stands up for free speech.”  Politicians around the globe have rightly condemned the attacks and many have made their way to Paris today to support the protests against the killings.  Against this backdrop I and no doubt millions of people around the world are wondering where attacks of this nature leave us.

It isn’t difficult to come up with a huge list of atrocities that have been committed in recent times in the name of Islam.  9/11, 7/7, Peshawar, Madrid,  the list goes on and on.  The rise of Islamic State, the battle for Kobane, the rise of Boko Haram, the kidnap of 276 Schoolgirls, the slaughter of over 2000 people in Baga, Nigeria this week all issues that have us scratching our heads and wondering what to do to combat the threat posed by Islamist terrorism.

We hear much about the ‘War on Terror’ and just today we hear world leaders saying that we must step up our efforts in that direction.  We in the UK today have also heard that more funding must be directed to our secret ‘security services’ and that those organisations must be given still greater powers to spy on their own citizens.  I find this ever increasing erosion of my civil liberties deeply concerning.  I know for a fact that we have Police Officers trained to pick locks to gain access to suspects homes to place listening devices and spy camera’s, I know that tracking devices are attached to suspects cars.  I know that mobile and landline telephones are regularly listened to by Police.  I accept that the Police have to have a warrant before they can place these devices but if this is what is happening in Policing, how much more surveillance are  people subjected to by the secret security services.  As our civil rights are eroded as a response to the ‘War On Terror’ how much freedom will we have to give up in the name of security.  How far do we trust those who spy on us to use the information lawfully and reasonably?  I can only say that after some 29 years as a Police Officer I have no faith that the agents of state will act reasonably.  None!

Getting back to Je Suis Charlie, let me say that I am delighted to see so many turn out to support the families of those who were murdered.  I believe that response is right and proper and it may even provide a crumb of comfort to the families.  What I am less comfortable with is the groundswell that this in some way protects free speech.  I wonder!  Charlie Hebdo is portrayed as a satirical magazine.  Now as I understand it the magazine has attacked Islam, Judaism, the Catholic Church and just about everyone else in recent years.  I accept that as fact without argument.  I saw the argument put forward very forcefully today that this was OK because it attacked everyone equally.  This where my support evaporates.  This magazine has been Racist, Sexist, Anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, Anti-Catholic and insulting to just about  every race or creed.  The question I have to grapple with is this.  Is it acceptable to insult peoples beliefs so long as you insult everyone’s?  Not in my view, that sort of thinking is just bonkers in my opinion.

Of course being rude and insulting people or religion should not carry a death sentence.  It does however mean that I don’t want to be Charlie, thank you very much.  I have had more than enough religious hatred in my life growing up in N. Ireland.  It may be a cliche but hate breeds hate.

Je Suis Charlie

The thing that has been totally absent in the past few days is any meaningful analysis of the root causes of these atrocities.  It seems clear that for some reason young Muslim men, and increasingly young women and children, are all too easily radicalised.  What on earth induces a 10 year old child to strap a bomb to herself and to explode it in a market place killing herself and at least 19 others in Nigeria yesterday.  Perhaps Ironically this incident and the atrocity in Baga, Nigeria where over 2000 have been slaughtered by Boko Haram this week are almost totally unreported in the mainstream media.  This lack of coverage leads me to ponder why the murder of 17 people is more newsworthy than the murder of over 2000.  Is it because it place in Nigeria and the area is deemed too dangerous for journalists, is it because we find it so difficult and sensational that gunmen can walk into an office in a major European city and murder indiscriminately?  Is it because it is closer to home and that journalists see the murder of their colleagues as more important.  I genuinely have no idea.


What does seem clear to me however is the elephant in the room.  That elephant is U.S., Nato & European policy in the Middle East.  There can be little doubt that the implementation of the ‘agreement’ of the formation of the state of Israel and western support for the jewish state caused a huge amount of resentment in many of the Arab States, there have been wars and conflict in the region ever since.  The unrest and radicalisation however seems to have accelerated significantly since the first Gulf War in 1990.  Since that time the terrorism has become the weapon of choice in the region.

Lets be clear, terrorism is the weapon of the weak, particularly of the weak who feel oppressed and aggrieved by stronger oppressors.  The first Gulf war was ostensibly prosecuted to liberate Kuwait after it was invaded by the larger and more powerful Iraq.  The liberation of Kuwait was undoubtably one of the primary objectives but it is widely accepted that Iraq’s actions could not be tolerated because it threatened the west’s oil interests.  Our reliance on oil meant that any action that threatened access to this increasingly rare resource could not be countenanced.  Ever since 1990 our policies in the region have become increasingly confusing with support for regimes seemingly changing on a whim.

What is absolutely beyond a shred of doubt is that the war on terror has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East and that the overwhelming majority of those killed are Muslim’s.  It seems to me that the killing of Muslims by Muslims or by coalition forces is either under-reported or not reported at all.  The Stop the War coalition reports on these issues today saying

“The same people responsible for the attacks in Paris are also responsible for much worse attacks on their fellow Muslims in countries like Yemen or Libya. Last week 37 police recruits were killed in a bomb at an academy near near Yemen’s capital city Sanaa, and dozens more injured.”

“Many people hearing about so-called western values ‘freedom’, ‘truth’ and ‘equality’ — now made so much of, following the Charlie Hebdo slaughter — will wonder what values it was that allowed Israel last Summer to bomb Gaza, causing the deaths of thousands of Palestinians. They will wonder about the torture by US forces at Abu Ghraib (cited as one reason for the ‘radicalisation’ of one of the Charlie Hebdo murderers). They will wonder about Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, torture, and the other consequences of the war on terror that have caused such misery.”

“They must also wonder at the myopia which allows the absolutely correct condemnation of terrorist attacks in France but which seems to regard western bombings, drone attacks and the killing of civilians in occupied countries, as necessary if slightly distasteful activities, justified because they are carried out by nation states, rather than lone individuals.”

The sad fact is that terrorism is bred by oppression.  The oppressed can only attack nation states in a limited way such as we saw in Paris this week.  Charlie Hebdo may have been attacked because of their depiction of the prophet but the willingness of individuals to commit mass murder in this way is driven by something much deeper and much more difficult to understand and resolve.

I fear that the attacks in Paris will serve to stir up more anti Islamic feeling not only in France, where there have been numerous attacks on Muslims since the murders, but also in the UK.  I am certain we will see Nigel Farage and UKIP step up the anti-immigration rhetoric as we move closer to the forthcoming General Election.  We have already seen fascist group ‘Britain First’ step up their racist attacks.

As our political leaders gather in Paris today, along with the millions around the world, to mourn those so brutally murdered, I hope they will take a moment to reflect on how we have come to be where we are.  Our leaders have supported war after war in the middle east since 1990.  Rather than recognising that our reliance on oil puts us in an increasingly vulnerable position and instigating measures to reduce that reliance we seem more than willing to fight wars over what remains.  Reliance on oil cannot continue for ever, it is a finite resource.  Fighting over the last few drops will lead only to further conflict and more killing.

Those same leaders have to recognise that the ‘War on terror’ is a war that cannot be won militarily.  There is no military solution, as the British Army found out in Northern Ireland, you cannot fight an enemy that you cannot see.  Eventually attacks of the kind we saw this week erodes the will to fight and it must be acknowledged that Muslim Terrorists are often much more ruthless that The IRA.  The IRA wanted to walk away from their attacks, the radical Jihadist terrorist is not only prepared to die bringing terror they seem to welcome ‘martyrdom’ with open arms.

In conclusion I will return to my original point about Je Suis Charlie.  I fear that this has little to do with ‘freedom of speech’.  I fear that the solidarity expressed will lead to further demonisation of Muslims and even worse it presents the conditions for an anti-muslim backlash in Europe, something likely to cause yet more radicalisation.  The biggest tribute that could be paid to those who died this week would be for our leaders to begin the process of addressing the root causes that underly Islamic extremism.  For them to begin the process of finding a political solution that sees a fair settlement for all and that removes the sense of injustice and powerlessness that breeds terrorism.  Where that to happen I could then stand proudly and say Je Suis Charlie.

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

75 Essential Albums – Day #40 – Marillion

Here goes with day 40 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

 Marillion – Sounds That Can’t Be Made

Sounds that can’t be made is the 17th studio Album by British rock band Marillion.  Marillion are something of an enigma, largely ignored by the mainstream music industry since the departure of frontman ‘Fish’ in 1988.  That really is a shame because in my opinion the band  improved immeasurably  with the arrival of Steve Hogarth as the frontman in 1989.  The band has a large and very loyal cult following and hold bi-annual ‘conferences’ in the UK and Europe where the band get together with fans, play albums in their entirety and hold talks etc.  The mutual respect goes both ways and Sounds That Can’t Be Made was released in 2012 as a crowd funding project.

Marillion’s music since Hogarth joined tends to be deep, thought provoking and at times intensely  moving.  This is certainly the case with ‘Sounds’.  The opening track is a 17 minute epic which highlights the plight of children living in Gaza.  Whilst the track has a strong political message, accusations that the song is anti-Israeli or pro Palestinian are fiercely denied by Hogarth.  The song focuses firmly on the plight of the children caught in a conflict zone and it highlights the violent deaths on both sides of the wire.  Make no mistake, the track is immersive, absorbing and harrowing.  I heard it live for the first time early this year when I saw Marillion at Fairport’s  Cropredy Convention.  Hogarths delivery is unbelievable and I don’t mind telling you I was in tears by the end of the track.  I did post about the experience at the time and you might like to check out that post here.

As a piece this album is deep, meaningful, artistic and lengthy. The album covers a range of subjects war, love, reflection, thought and life all get a good runout.  “Montreal” and “The Sky Above The Rain” also check in at over 10 minutes long and both of these with “Gaza” and the title track are all highpoints in the album.  As with all of Marillions albums it is very well produced with a great vocal performance and multi layered instrumentation by the band, Steve Rotheray’s guitar parts deserve special praise but the overall sound is complex, layered and beautifully engineered.

Had this album been released by the likes of Snow patrol, Coldplay or Radiohead it would have been a massive hit across the globe.  That said I suspect Marillion have absolutely no regrets with regard to their commercial success.  They are a group of supremely talented musicians who write deep complex and challenging music, frankly that is how they like it and that is what they will continue to do.  In my opinion this is a must listen album.  Ir does require a bit of work and perseverance on behalf of the listener but frankly when a band works so hard as Marillion do then they deserve to be heard.  If you give the album a couple of listens, pay it due regard then the rewards are great indeed.

When commenting on WordPress is a bad idea!

I came across a really interesting  and useful piece of advice today.  Unfortunately for me it came about 18 hours too late!  The advice came in the form of a post from Opinionated Man.  The advice “Your audience is not your friend”.

I have been writing this blog for a few months now and for the most part it has been a really positive experience.  I am getting a reasonable number of hits on my site and the numbers of people commenting and following my blog is slowly growing. I have just followed the Writing 101 and Blogging 101 courses as I firmly believe that you can always learn something new and there was always the chance that I would gain a bit of inspiration.  As these courses drew to a close we were encouraged to reach out to other bloggers to help build our networks.

In my reader I searched for topics that interested me and hit upon a post criticising Western Governments for committing funds to rebuild Gaza after what was described as Israel’s ‘Defensive War against Hamas’.  Now most commentators worldwide have roundly condemned Israel’s recent actions and I made what I thought was a balanced and measured comment on the blog. I should have looked a little more deeply before commenting and admittedly I should have known better.  The writer you see identifies themselves as an Israeli activist and the tone of the posts made it unlikely in the extreme that the writer would engage in a conversation that disagreed in any way with the posters views.  As a result I was subjected to a torrent of thinly veiled abuse, accused of being anti-semitic and ill educated.

This was my first negative experience with a member of the WordPress community.  It’s not something I want to repeat :/  I most certainly echo Opinionated Man’s advice.  You should of course reach out to other bloggers, but do check the tone of a blog before commenting on subjects that are controversial and likely to provoke strong reactions. If in doubt either do not comment or be prepared for a bad reaction.

On WordPress as in life you live and learn 🙂

The war on Terror – What has happened to the world since 9/11

Step out the front door like a ghost into the fog

where no one notices the contrast of white on white.

And in between the moon and you the angels get a better view

of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.

Today is the 13th Anniversary of the tragic events that took place on September 11th 2001.  The anniversary of the murder of 2977 people is a cause for reflection and my thoughts today are very much with the family and friends of the victims.  I had a few moment of contemplation this morning and the memorial posts on social media kept my mind returning to one of the great tragedies of our time.

This afternoon I went off to walk my dogs before collecting my son from school.  This hour or so each afternoon is my thinking time, an opportunity to walk across heathland usually without seeing anyone, no-one to talk to and on days like today a chance to enjoy a bit of early autumn sunshine.  It also gives me a chance to listen to some music.  I am eagerly looking forward to hearing Counting Crows new album on its UK release next Monday as I will be seeing them when they hit the UK in November. I decided to listen to one of their old albums and I selected their first album ‘August and Everything After’.  The words at the beginning of this post are the first four lines of the opening track “Round Here”.  Classic lines from Adam Duritz, a songwriter who can hold his head up in any company, one of the very best.

Those lyrics were written some 10 years before 9/11 and yet both the lyric and the title of the album have a peculiar resonance with me on this sad day.  You see Duritz is a master at painting images with his lyrics and the pictures it painted for me today were of 9/11.  I shall never forget the images of firefighters and police officers emerging from the fog of dust as the towers collapsed.  I shall never forget the television pictures of those trapped above the aircraft who chose to fall to their deaths rather than face the flames.  One can only hope that the angels took their hands and comforted them as they fell.  My mind will never escape the thoughts of those trapped who, knowing the end was near, tried desperately to call loved ones, to say goodbye, to share a few final words, to snatch a crumb of comfort in their final moments.  I will forever admire the people, firefighters, police officers, paramedics and ordinary members of the public who risked their own lives to save others.

9/11 was and will forever be a massive blow to the American psyche.  This was terror on a massive scale on american streets, something that most americans never believed possible.  Understandably the nation clamoured for justice, for vengeance.  Who could ever forget the haunted look on George W. Bush’s face as he addressed the nation, as he swore vengeance, his words reflected the anger of the nation and indeed the civilised world.

Unfortunately the words “the angels get a better view of the crumbling difference between wrong and right” also resonate strongly.  It seems to me that the tactics employed by the USA and its coalition partners have failed miserably.  Now I speak as an armed forces veteran, as a retired cop who has worked through and helped plan counter terrorist operations and I speak as someone who grew up in a Northern Ireland torn apart by terrorist atrocities.

Terrorism is the weapon that the weak deploy against the strong and it is almost impossible to defeat.  It most certainly cannot be defeated by the use of military might, by missiles or by bombing.  The problem is that when military might is deployed against terrorist there are always huge numbers of innocents caught up in the conflict.  The death of innocents is the best recruiting sergeant for terrorist groups, it radicalises and it builds hatred against the strong. The Israelis action against Gaza in recent months, the mess that has emerged in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere as a result of the war on terror and the arab spring are very clear examples of the failures of western foreign policy in the region.

Today I see that President Obama has authorised the use of airstrikes in Syria, something he failed to do to try to halt the slaughter of innocents by the warring factions in that countries civil war.   He now seems to be throwing support behind president Assad to enable him to battle ‘Islamic State’.  Just a few months ago Obama was arming ‘moderate Syrian rebels’ in a bid to oust Assad.  In Egypt the west supported the rebels in their bid to overthrow President Mubarak and then 12 months later supported the rebels who sought to overthrow the democratically elected “Muslim Brotherhood”.  Now please don’t misunderstand me, I am not condemning western leaders for trying to defeat terrorism.  It is undoubtably the case that policy changes according to the risk assessment at that particular time.  There are no right answers, no good options only less wrong and less bad.

The fact that western leaders seem unable to grasp is that the current policies in the region are doomed to failure.  This is a threat the like of which has never been seen.  In the past we have always known that the terrorist planned to cary out their attack but they also planned to escape and to survive.  The Radical Muslim terrorist does not think that way.  As was so cruelly demonstrated on 9/11/2001 they don’t fear losing their lives in their attacks, in fact they often seek martyrdom.  Western ‘interference’ in the region simply adds fuel to the fire, creates more martyrs and complicates the situation further still.  We can never be successful in imposing our values on societies that abhor everything we stand for and frankly I do not believe we should even try.

It seems to me that Duritz’s words were somewhat prophetic.  The difference between right and wrong has indeed crumbled and it would take all of heavens angels to sort out the mess that we in the west carry a huge burden of responsibility for creating.

My final thoughts return to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and their families, may the angels hold you in their hands and comfort your hurt on this saddest of days.

A musical perspective on the War in Gaza

In the song ‘Trenchtown Rock’ Bob Marley said ‘When music hits you, you feel no pain’.  During the evening of 9th August 2014 I perhaps discovered the exception that proves the rule.

In recent weeks our television screens have once again been filled with the horrors of war.  The conflict in Gaza is horrible, a hideous waste of life.  It is also extremely complex with both sides blaming the other.  There are facts of course.  Innocent people are dying on both sides of the border, rockets are being fired from Gaza whilst Israeli drones are hitting schools and United Nations shelters and Israeli troops have crossed the border.  The Israeli’s have been widely condemned for their actions, including being accused of war crimes and criminal acts by Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Over the past weekend my wife and I, accompanied by our oldest friends, made our annual ‘pilgrimage’ to the small Oxfordshire village of Cropredy.  This beautiful little village has hosted an annual music festival, ‘Fairports Cropredy Convention‘ since 1976.  Each year around 20,000 people descend on a village with a population of just 712 (2001 Census).  The whole village supports the event and the local traders benefit hugely from the influx of visitors for the 3 day event.  The local pubs play host to a range of bands in what has become known as the ‘fringe festival’ and festival attendee’s even funded a new bell for the village church (St Mary’s).  The festival is dubbed as ‘Britain’s friendliest music festival’, the atmosphere is certainly unique.

You might think that a visit to a music festival might just be the last place on the face of this planet where you would be moved to tears by the plight of the people in Gaza.  Not so!  Amongst the eclectic mix of musicians playing at this years festival was the British rock band ‘Marillion‘.  Despite there having been around since 1979 I was largely unaware of Marillions music though I was looking forward to seeing them, I must confess I was totally unprepared for what happened to me during their set.  I was certainly enjoying their set. The songs are very well written and as you might expect of a band that has had an unchanged line-up since frontman Steve Hogarth replaced ‘Fish‘ in 1989, the band is as tight as a drum.  I was thoroughly enjoying the set and was disappointed when they left the stage after 75 minutes.  I was totally unprepared for what happened next.  The band returned to the stage and frontman Hogarth said quietly ‘to think we were going to play Grendal live for the first time’.  This was greeted by laughter from the crowd and smiles from Hogarth, an ‘in joke’ that I don’t understand.  Hogarth went on ‘This is Gaza’.

The track opens quietly, very quietly and with no hint of what lies beyond.  It draws you in very gently, gentle keyboards over the sound of children playing and there is just a hint of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.  Suddenly you are hit with an explosion of guitar, drums and keyboard, a wall of sound and Hogarth gives a hint of what is to come with the opening line ‘When I was young it all seemed like a game’.  From there the song paints a picture of life in Gaza and what a horrid picture it is.  It tells of a father killed whilst feeding the birds, of a brother driven to ‘martyrdom’ by the daily reality of life in a state that has existed under a blockade for over 15 years.   A people living in perpetual deprivation and hopelessness, denied medical supplies, workless, poverty stricken and in constant fear of a larger much more powerful neighbour, the state of Israel.

Now I would like to make it clear that I understand Israel’s attitude towards Gaza.  The tiny state has long been a base for terrorists who have crossed into Israel, disguised as innocent workers, with bombs strapped to their bodies to kill innocent Israeli’s going about their daily business.  Terrorists frequently fire rockets into Israel targeting towns and cities, the civilian population often the target and the victim.  The persecution of the Jewish people throughout history, and especially during the 20th century, combined with the fact that the country is surrounded by Arab states intent on its destruction make it entirely understandable that  the Israeli’s will not hesitate to use their military might to defend themselves.  That said, the creation of the Israeli state in 1948 was a huge injustice to the people of Palestine an injustice that continues to this day as the Israeli’s continue to build settlements on Palestinian territory.  The people of Gaza are totally reliant economically on Israel and are exploited as cheap labour, often to labour on the very settlements they so vehemently oppose.  It is perhaps because I grew up in a state riven by terrorism that I understand both sides of this conflict and condemn all sides for perpetuating the conflict.  As British Politician Tony Benn pointed out “There is no moral difference between a Stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. They both kill innocent people for political reasons”.

Gaza is to all intents and purposes being colonised by the Israeli’s and if history teaches us anything it should teach us that colonisation is an evil that must not be tolerated.  It is writ large in the annals of history that colonised territories will inevitably rise up against their oppressors.  As Hogarth says in his lyrics “When people know they have no future, Can we blame them if we cannot tame them?”  He goes on to say that when people  “feel they might as well be dead, will we forgive them If they take us with them?”  One would think that the Israeli’s  above all nations would understand this.  The use of such overwhelming force against the people of Gaza serves only to engender a greater sense of injustice, to deeper rooted hatred and of course to the belief that the only way out of the hopelessness is through the suicide bomb.  Whilst Israel doubtless believes it is justified in attacking the terrorists firing rockets into Israel it cannot be denied that it is the civilian population who are suffering.  As the USA’s experiences in Vietnam and the UK’s experiences in Ireland have amply demonstrated peace cannot be achieved  by the bullet, the bomb or the gun, it can only be achieved by the word.  I hope that one day this will be understood in the middle east and a lasting peace can bring equality and prosperity to all the people of the region.  In the meantime I think Hogarth captures the sentiment perfectly in the lyrics “We all want peace and freedom that’s for sure, But peace won’t come from standing on our necks, Everyone deserves a chance to feel the future just might be bright”.

Whilst there is no doubt that Hogarth’s lyrics in this song are overtly political he is on record as saying that the song, written as it is from the perspective of a child living in Gaza, is for the children of Gaza, it can only be hoped that this work helps to highlight the plight of children caught in a conflict that is not of their making.  The current situation is a humanitarian disaster and my purpose in writing this piece is not to denigrate or demonise the Israeli’s.  Like Hogarth my purpose is simply to try to understand different perspectives in a very difficult and complicated situation.  My childhood growing up in Northern Ireland has perhaps enabled me to understand that desperate times can lead to desperate measures, but that is a story for another day.  The song, as Steve Hogarth has said, seeks only to highlight the futility of a conflict where the innocent, often children pay the ultimate price.  Indeed Hogarth drew his inspiration from talking to people on both sides of the divide.  As he puts it “there are grieving mothers on both sides of the wire”.  I can only hope that the various factions in the middle east will come to the same understanding and find a way to live together peacefully and happily.

William Congreve (1697) said that “Music has charms to sooth the savage breast”.  On this occasion Steve Hogarth and Marillion moved me to tears with their rendition of this song.  It caused me a great deal of inner turmoil and gave me an opportunity to explore and understand this conflict a little more deeply.  For that I am hugely grateful.  My great love of music comes from the power it has to move me, from its ability to shape my emotions and to connect with my spirit.  Music’s great joy is its ability to surprise and this song shook me to the very core of my being.  The last thing I expected when I left home to attend this festival was to spend the days afterwards pondering the plight of the people of a small strip of land thousands of miles from home.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by the power of music.

I have reproduced the lyrics of the song below for your information but if Marillion or their management object to this I will of course remove them.  I urge you, whatever your views on the subject to read the words, to listen to the song  and to think about what you as an individual can do to lessen the suffering of a fellow human being today.  I also urge you to buy the Album “Sounds that Can’t be made” from the bands website or from iTunes .  Gaza is an 18 minute epic on a great album.


When I was young it all seemed like a game
Living here brought no sense of shame
But now I’m older I’ve come to understand
Once we had houses
Once we had land
They rained down bullets on us as our homes collapsed
We lay beneath the rubble terrified

Hoping.. Dare we dream?
We gave up waiting
For us, to dream is still a dream

When I woke up, the house was broken stones
We suddenly had nothing
And nothing’s changed

We live, eight people, in this overcrowded heat
Factory-farmed animals living in our own sweat
Living like this is all my baby brother ever knew

The world does nothing. What can we do?
We will kick the ball
We will skip the rope
We will play outside. Be careful
We will paint and draw. We will say our prayers

Outside the pitiless sun bleaches the broken streets
The darkness drops in the evening like an iron door
The men play cards under torchlight
The women stay inside
Hell can erupt in a moment day or night

You ask for trouble if you stray too close to the wall
My father died ..feeding the birds
Mum goes in front of me to check for soldiers

For every hot-head stone ten come back
For every hot-head stone a hundred come back
For every rocket fired the drones come back

For thirteen years the roads have all been closed
We’re isolated. We’re denied medical supplies
Fuel and work are scarce. They build houses on our farms
The old men weep. The young men take up arms.

We’re packed like chickens in this town of block cement
I get headache from the diesel. When it rains, the sewers too
I had no idea what martyrdom meant
Until my older brother.. my older brother
I’m sorry. I can’t continue.

You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind, it is said
When people know they have no future
Can we blame them if we cannot tame them?
And when their hopes and dreams are broken
And they feel they might as well be dead
As they go, will we forgive them
If they take us with them?

Stay close
Stay home
Stay calm
Have faith

With the love of our family we can rise above anything
Someday surely someone must help us
With the love of our family we can rise above anything
Someday surely someone must help us
Even now we will go to school
Even now we will dream to dream
Someday surely someone must help us

Nothing’s ever simple – that’s for sure
There are grieving mothers on both sides of the wire
And everyone deserves a chance to feel the future just might be bright
But any way you look at it – whichever point of view
For us to have to live like this
It just ain’t right
It just ain’t right
It just ain’t right

We all want peace and freedom that’s for sure
But peace won’t come from standing on our necks
Everyone deserves a chance to feel the future just might be bright
But any way you look at this – whichever point of view
For us to have to live like this
It just ain’t right
It just ain’t right
It just ain’t right

It’s like a nightmare rose up slouching towards Bethlehem
Like a nightmare rose up from this small strip of land
Slouching towards Bethlehem

It’s like a nightmare rose up from this small strip of land
Slouching towards Bethlehem

Stay close
Stay home
Have faith

I can’t know what twist of history did this to me
It’s like a nightmare

With the love of our family
We can rise above anything
Some day surely someone must help us…

Peace in the Middle East would be my manifesto