Friday, January 23, 2004
A reflection on the uncertainties of Peace campaigning, after Jenny Tonge's comments on suicide bombers. On that I do agree with Mark and Alex. Oh dear, Jenny. So many good things you say and do, but not this time.
The Great March Against The Iraq War back in February was the day after my fathers funeral so I had a lot to think about. Standing in the Haymarket for an hour or so I couldn't help notice some participants were not so much against War as in favour of wars with different targets. The Hitzabollah people for example. And I am not so sure about a number of people who were on the speakers platform either.
For me the peace argument starts with never forgetting that the people you may be against are individual human beings, never surrendering to the temptation to reduce them to Units that can be substituted. The second theme is that you can never surrender your own responsibility for your actions. If you kill, you are responsible, and saying 'these things happen in war' does not reduce your responsibility.
Whatever the injustices that ground the passions of the people concerned, a suicide bomber is waging war and denying these messages for peace. I am against the habit of mind we call war and hope to work for justice for people and against the dehumanisations of the mind that lead them to kill as a response to these injustices.
Wars have mental consequences across decades. My father was one of the British troops who liberated Belsen, and was given the job of burying the dead. He was almost certainly the man who buried Anna Frank. It was a memory that lived with him for all these years and one consolation in living through his death was realising that he would no longer have the nighmares that hit him whenever some story about the camps came out too vividly. Also on the march I felt some relief that he would not have to see yet another political mess killing young people because we didn't have the courage and nerve to resist the easy stereotypes of War.
Avram Burg said in the Guardian way back in October 2003 "I hear the cries of joy when a suicide bomber completes his task. I know the claim that the Palestinians have no helicopters or jet fighters and so the bombers are their strategic weaponry. That is their truth. Well, this is mine: suicide bombing is a weapon of monsters, not freedom fighters. "
Well this is my truth, using weapons at all you are responsible for the pain you cause to this individual and this individual and this individual and... its Humanity and its eternal problem.
So where now?