Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Wedding. Which Wedding?

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments. Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove. 
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 
It is the star to every wand'ring bark, 
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. 
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle's compass come; 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 
If this be error and upon me prov'd, 
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

As Richard Morrison helpfully pointed out in the Times, had Ted Heath not modernised and secularised the calender, today would have been 'Whit Saturday'. 'Spring Bank Holiday' doesn't have the same ring or resonance about it somehow.

'Whitson' was/is a Christian festival on the seventh Sunday after Easter but is also buried deep in Judaic history representing fifty days after the Passover. For Christians it celebrates the New Testament account of the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples, and so for many represents the very beginning of of their faith.

Etymologically, the name comes from 'White Sunday' reflecting in part a feature of spring, filled with white blossom, and its links to the Pagan festival of 'Beltane', a commemoration of the return of the sun and time of planting and regeneration; of festivity, music and dancing around the Maypole.

So we see how the modern calender builds on and incorporates these ancient events and belief systems, that today are largely lost to the public imagination, but resurface where ceremony and ritual imposes itself, in which the Royal Family and nation of course excels. 

Is it then any coincidence that the current very symbolic Royal Wedding, between Megan Markle and Harry Windsor, now created the 'Duke and Duchess of Sussex', fell on 'Whit Saturday'? It is not hard to detect the visual allusions in dress and floral displays, particularly the spectacular arrangement around the west door of St George's Chapel as shown in the image above.

There is no doubt that the British have a way of pulling off this type of event, and however cynical or republican we may be, it is hard not to be impressed by the spectacle and precision displayed. 

It would be hard to imagine without the concept of Monarchy, or Monarchy without it. In the British context the two are inseparable. The one is justified and enhanced by the other. Ceremony is the practical manifestation of ethereal belief, which though increasingly unacknowledged, underpins human activity.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex exchange vows

But more impressive is the apparent love and affection shown between the two individuals involved. Without it, as St Paul stated, it would have been merely a 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal'. Amidst all the pomp and ceremony, this was a personal manifestation of the love between two humans. The eyes are the 'windows on the soul', and if these eyes said anything, it was that the feelings were genuine and deep. 

Let us hope it was not just transitory theatre and very good acting. If the good will of those present at the ceremony, the thousands in the surrounding streets, and the two billion world wide, is any indication, this should be an enduring and committed relationship. It will certainly remain under the spotlight and scrutiny like no other.

The symbolism was not just Pagan, Judaic and Christian, calling down God's spirit to bless the union, it was in many ways modern and adventurously symbolic for the institution of Monarchy, bridging a gap between nation, class and culture. 

In a sense it confirms the sentiment that 'love conquers all' - can overcome all social and political obstacles. In a largely secular society fraught with division and disadvantage, it reaffirmed the power of love as the good black Episcopal Church Bishop Michael Curry rammed home in evangelical style.

Paradoxically in another sense, the event epitomises that very division and enshrined social  hierarchy. Is it to be considered aspirational and inclusive or elitist and exclusive? As Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist has pointed out, hierarchy is inevitable in human society. 

Image result for john knox preaching to king

If so the British evolutionary model of an a-political powerless one, founded in a Christian theology, reliant wholly on the love and support of the people to sustain it, yet embodying centuries of human continuity and tradition, may be worth the disadvantages. The overt presence of the largely superfluous, heavily armed, police was an ominous reminder of the type of society, some dark forces would like us to become!

Speaking to the 'Supreme Govenor' of the Anglican Church in the confines of a 'Royal Pecular', one got the feeling that it may have been considered a little too long and a little too emotional. (I almost had flash-backs to John Knox preaching to King and Court in 1553!) Nevertheless who could disagree that above everything, the world is in desperate need of love between 'neighbours'? 

Let us hope this 'White Saturday' ceremony,  suffused as it was with love and kindness, and the union created by it, will be spread the aspiration. After all, we all know that human experience boils down eventually to a moral one - a battle between light and dark, between good and evil. Let us hope the couple remain on the right side throughout the remainder of their lives and are a force for reconciliation in this violent and divided world.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Not 'Killed' BBC, 'Murdered'!

Thousands of Israelies celebrate spontaneously the win of the Israeli singer Netta Barzilii at the Eurovision with her song Toy
Zionist spin? 
See also "for Trump's disregard for brown people".

As any fool knows (no offence intended) Israel has since 1948, been part of Europe (by adoption) despite killing and expelling the British (1) (besides hundreds of thousands of resident Palestinians that don't count of course). (2)

Americans love it too despite it killing them also. (3 and 4)

So I am sure we should all join in rejoicing it winning the Eurovision Song Contest (whilst it simultaneously carries out at least 70 bombing raids in Syria and Gaza!) as confirmation that the murdering state of israel is part of one big, happy, killing, western family.

Image result for bbc reporter israel
In 2014 the BBC had to deny this rumour on Twitter that Jeremy Bowen (quoted below) had been 'pulled' from Israel. This followed Israeli Government complaints about his reporting that contradicted Israeli propaganda that Hamas had used 'human shields'. Israel (as is their wont) used this to explain away the high number of civilian deaths, much as they are now spinning their right to 'defend themselves' from dangerous terrorists. (5) "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his military was acting in self-defence against Gaza's Islamist rulers, Hamas, who seek to destroy Israel. Israel's military said it had only fired at "targets of terrorist activity". (6)

The BBC reports yet another sixty - yes SIXTY - Palestinians "killed". Not sixty unarmed Palestinians shot dead in cold blood. Not brutally murdered, you notice. This besides literally thousands severely injured.

According to Jeremy Bowen "Sixty is a big number" and it's just a matter of two groups fighting over the same plot of land. 

No Jeremy it's more than that. 

It is a people protesting against repression and tyranny suffered with Western and Arab Nation complicity, for SEVENTY years. 

It is about Jewish immigrants stealing and damaging their property and subjecting them to economic strangulation and every sort of human rights insult and privation. 

It is about them being free to shoot dead their children on some pretext or other and to bomb neighbouring countries, all with a wink and a nod from the devious and immoral West. 

No other country in the world would be allowed to get away with this unjustified and horrendous massacre of civilians protesting against a barbaric regime and philosophy. 

Shame on Israel with its weasel words. Shame on the world. Shame on Trump. Shame on us.

For an alternative view on recent Israeli air attacks on Syria see:



Saturday, 12 May 2018

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)

Image result for injured palestinians images
Daily Mail Living in fear: A Palestinian woman and her son seek treatment in hospital after being

MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians)

For over 30 years, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has been reaching out to Palestinian communities, striving to deliver health and medical care to those worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement.

Our history

Between 16 and 18 September 1982, Lebanese Phalangist militants entered the central-Beirut refugee camp of Sabra and Shatila and killed and injured hundreds of unarmed Palestinian and other civilians inside. The camp’s residents were defenceless.

The Israeli army, who had invaded Lebanon earlier that year and had surrounded the camp, had full knowledge of what was taking place inside, yet they never intervened. Instead, they illuminated the camp throughout the night by flares launched into the sky from helicopters and mortars.

Working in a hospital inside the camp at the time was a young orthopaedic surgeon from London, Dr Swee Chai Ang. Refusing to leave the hospital, Dr Ang worked tirelessly to save the injured and protect her patients during the massacre.

On her return to London, Dr Ang joined with fellow medical professionals and humanitarians to establish Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), in order to send out doctors and nurses to work in the Palestinian refugee camps and provide front-line care.
MAP today
Since then, MAP has been reaching out to Palestinian communities, striving to deliver health and medical care to those worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement.

Today we have offices in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, Lebanon and London. With our extensive local knowledge and experience, we work closely with communities, hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers to coordinate care and medical aid even where there are severe restrictions on access.

MAP provides immediate medical aid to those in need at times of crisis, while also developing local capacity and skills to ensure the long-term development of the Palestinian healthcare system.

We are also committed to bearing witness to the impact of occupation, displacement and conflict on Palestinian health and wellbeing, and campaign for the realisation of Palestinian rights to health and dignity.

Aid: Palestinians help carry injured men following an Israeli Strike in the Shijaiyah neighborhood, eastern Gaza City today



The Baroness Morris of Bolton OBE DL - Baroness Morris became a life peer in 2004 and has served as the Shadow Minister for Education, Children, Families & Women and as a Shadow Work and Pensions Spokesperson. Since 2007 she has also been a member of the Board of Trustees of UNICEF UK and in 2009 she became the President of World Travel Market. Baroness Morris is the Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Jordan, Kuwait and the Palestinian Territories and was Chair of the Conservative Middle East Council.


Dr Swee Chai Ang FRCS - A founding Trustee of MAP, she is an orthopaedic consultant surgeon at the London and St Bartholomew's Hospital Trust. Working in Beirut during the 1982 invasion, she also witnessed and survived the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, writing "From Beirut to Jerusalem" about her experiences. She returned to London to help form MAP and, as the first chair of the projects committee, helped launch the volunteer programme in 1985. She has also co-authored the "Manual of War Surgery" and received the coveted 'Star of Palestine' award from the late President, Yasser Arafat.
Baroness Helena Kennedy - Helena Kennedy is a barrister, broadcaster and Labour member of the House of Lords. She is an expert in human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues and chair of Justice - the British arm of the International Commission of Jurists.
Mr Isaac Nusseibeh MBCHB, LMSSA, FRCS - is a Palestinian refugee from Jerusalem. He became a pioneering senior Consultant in Spinal Injuries and Paralysis at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where he served from 1974 - 2007. While working at Stoke he was invited by many countries to treat patients and teach doctors. He also lectured at UCL to postgraduates, where he was a Director of a special course dedicated to treatment of paralysis and rehabilitation, and worked extensively with Middle Eastern patients. He was also the Honourary Secretary Of The International Medical Society For Paraplegia, has worked with MAP from its creation and was a Board Member before retiring in 2008.
Sir Terence English - A Former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the surgeon who carried out the first successful heart transplant in the United Kingdom.
Rt Hon Lord David Steel of Aikwood KT KBE PC - Former leader of the Liberal Democrat Party and President of MAP between 1997-2004.


Steven James - Former Chief Executive of MAP between 2008 and 2013, and has served as a Trustee since then. Before joining MAP, Steve was a Regional Chief Executive of a major multinational company with experience across 4 continents - in particular across the Middle East. After leaving the industry, Steve made the transition to the charity sector - initially as Chief Executive of the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem, before moving to MAP. 
Siham Bortcosh - Qualified accountant with many years experience working in the voluntary sector, in particular with international humanitarian and development organizations as a finance director and in a freelance capacity. Siham is also the independent chair and convenor of a seminar series for the finance directors of large international non-profit agencies. She has a BA (Hons) in Mathematics from St John's College, Oxford, and a BSc (Hons) in horticulture from the University of Essex. She joined as Treasurer for MAP in February 2013.
Jean Bowyer DM, FRCPCH – Jean is a paediatrician who has worked extensively in the Middle East and  East Africa. Her particular interests are in the newborn, disability and global child health, and also in the professional education and training of all types of health worker. She is senior tutor for the Masters programme in Child Health at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. In Uganda and Kenya she has been involved with improving the care of children with HIV and malaria, and with better training and systems for emergency care.
Peter Coleridge - Peter was Oxfam’s Regional Manager with Field Director responsibility for Palestine from 1981 to 1994. Today he is an independent development consultant specialising in disability, working in the Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. He is also author of ‘Disability, Liberation and Development.' (Oxfam 1993)
Sir Vincent Fean - served as British Consul-General to Jerusalem from 2010 to 2014. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1975, and previously served as HM Ambassador to Libya (2006 – 2010) and British High Commissioner to Malta (2002 – 2006). Now retired, Sir Vincent joined the MAP Board of Trustees in 2015, and is also patron of the Britain-Palestine Friendship and Twinning Association.
Mr Andrew Karney - Andrew has had a long interest in Palestinians, having worked as a teacher for UNRWA in Gaza almost 50 years ago. More recently, he has been an independent director of the Guardian Media Group, chairman of Integrity Action, an international NGO seeking to bring about integrity reforms and chairman of Language Line (a telephone interpreting company). He was for many years an executive director of Logica plc, the international computer systems company. Currently he serves as a director of a venture capital trust.
Mr Johnny Rizq - Chair of Fundraising Commitee. Following a 30-year career in journalism and international banking Johnny Rizq now runs his own management consulting business specialising in financial services. His work has taken him to most countries in the Middle East, as well as to parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. He has a degree in Economics from the American University of Beirut. He joined the Board of Trustees, as Treasurer, in 2009.
Dr Phyllis Starkey (Vice-Chair) - Dr Phyllis Starkey was a Labour Member of Parliament (1997-2010) and Chair of the Communities & Local Government Select Committee (2005-2010). During her parliamentary career she took a particular interest in the Middle East, visiting Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan and chairing the All-Party Palestine Group. Dr Starkey is a biochemist and before entering parliament she had a distinguished career in medical research and was Lecturer in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Oxford University.
Prof. Graham Watt MD FRCGP FRSE FMedSci CBE - Emeritus Professor,General Practice and Primary Care, University of Glasgow. Professor Watt is an elected Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He has longstanding links with Palestinian academic colleagues at Birzeit University and the University of Hebron and currently chairs the steering group of the Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance. In the UK he initiated the General Practitioners at the Deep End movement, comprising collective alliances of general practitioners serving very deprived populations. This is his second term as a MAP Trustee, having served previously from 2006-15.
Ezzedin Gouta - Neonatal life support specialist 
Lina Nashef - Consultant Neurologist
Sarah Eldon - Director of Fundraising and Communications at Richard House Children's Hospice
Nabila Ramdani - Journalist, columnist and broadcaster, and a board member of the Franco-British Council


Aimee Shalan – Chief Executive
Iain McSeveny – Director of Finance 
Mira Almukarker – Director of Programmes, West Bank
Fikr Shalltoot – Director of Programmes, Gaza
Andrew Ferguson – Director of Programmes, UK
Tina Bajec – Director of Fundraising
Neil Sammonds – Director of Advocacy and Campaigns


To get in touch, use the details below:
+44 (0)20 7226 4114
Medical Aid for Palestinians
33a Islington Park Street
London, N1 1QB
United Kingdom
Media enquiries
Rohan Talbot - Campaigns & Media Officer
+44 (0)20 7226 4114


Kay Burley meets Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees Mogg says the custom union is the line in the sand