Amnesty International Letters

Shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre in the summer of 1989, I decided to join Amnesty International.  Once a month I’d receive their magazine.  I’d always open up at the centrefold.

The centrefold consisted of six cases (prisoners of conscience) that Amnesty International had adopted.  I used to write to the governments and embassies of every single one of  the cases without exception, month in, month out.

I never received a reply.

Actually that’s not quite true.

The Israeli Embassy in London did reply.  It was a very courteous letter, in an A4 envelope with several pages of detail.  (I wish I had kept a copy for me scrapbook, I really do.)

I wrote back to the author of the letter, a Boaz Modai.  I invited him up to Redcar, where I was living at the time, recommended he visit the Redcar Rock Shop, treat himself to a lemon top ice cream and informed him that there was a synagogue in Middlesbrough, just up the road.

Boaz Modai did not reply.

Last week I google Boaz Modai.  (t’s a name that you don’t forget.)  Blimey, he has a pedigree, and he’s had a good career.  He ended up as Israeli Ambassador to Ireland later in his career.

I still wonder if he ever planned to visit Redcar on his days off, though.

amnesty.png

Have a diplomatic day, won’t you!

Do Your Homework First…

Evenin’ all! A slightly rhetorical question for you all.  What is “research” these days?  Let’s head to our local pub and meet our Kneipenprofessor.

person holding glass filled with liqour

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Pub Expert:

I’ve been researching this topic.

Other person:

Oh, you mean you wrote a paper on the subject citing at least 10-15 reputable sources, summarising all the current thinking, stating your own hypothesis and then introducing the original work you did in the attempt to confirm or disprove this hypothesis before reaching a conclusion and giving further possible directions for study, after which you got it published in a reputable journal in the field and peer-reviewed?

Pub Expert:

Er, no, I looked at some websites that I agree with.

smartphone outside hiking technology

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This afternoon I was drinking coffee with fellow members of church, when Holocaust Memorial Day was mentioned.

As soon as I mentioned the day, Billy butted in:

Oh, that’s only about the Jews 1933-1945.

My blood pressure immediately doubled.  Billy has once again engaged mouth before brain.  Yet again…

Sharp intake of breath.

G in G:

No, it’s not.  It’s also about holocausts and genocides in ex-Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Tibet, Burma and many other conflicts.

Billy:

It is only about the Jews.  I’ve been researching this topic for twenty years.

G in G:

With respect [A British expression meaning, “I consider you to be a complete and total idiot”] I visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1978.  I also listened to a radio interview with the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust this morning.

Billy:

Oh.

I am then reminded of the English barrister, F E Smith, and his famous exchange with a judge.

Judge: I’ve listened to you for an hour and I’m none the wiser.

Smith: None the wiser, perhaps, My Lord, but certainly better informed.

blur close up focus gavel

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This evening I decided to send out an email to the three people who were in that discussion.

****

Good evening all

Following on from this afternoon’s discussion in the Meeting Room concerning the purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day, I thought it prudent to share some important facts.

  1. The day is by no means only about the murder of German and European Jews under Nazism.  Please refer to the Memorial Day Trust’s link: https://www.hmd.org.uk/what-is-holocaust-memorial-day/
  2. As you can see, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust states explicitly: “Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) encourages remembrance in a world scarred by genocide. We promote and support Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) – the international day on 27 January to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.”  (My emphasis in italics.)
  3. The key point to note here is that history repeats itself, with human beings being murdered for being the “wrong” ethnic background, not just for being Jewish, but also for being Roma, Hutu, Tutsi, Croat/Bosniak/Serb (in the former Yugoslavia conflicts of the early 1990s), Rohinga, Tibetan, Uighur, etc.
  4. On a very personal note, I myself visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1978.  Ever since then, I have studied genocide in conflicts.  Further, in the first half of the 90’s, my father worked for British Direct Aid in former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda (during and in the aftemath of both conflicts, albeit not at the peak of the former conflict).
  5. Former comrades of mine from the British Army’s Intelligence Corps have told me about carrying out war crime investigations and finding mass graves that contained multiple layers from more than one conflict: 1990’s civil war, Second World War, possibly more.
  6. In conclusion, this is why Holocaust Memorial Day exists: namely, to echo the sentiments of Remembrance Day – Lest we forget.  Sadly, and to our eternal shame before God, we humans forget history time and time again.

I’m sorry I feel it necessary to write a serious email this evening, but I do consider it essential to explain what this day is all about, and also why I feel so strongly about the subject.

Finally, let us all please pray for peace on God’s earth this week.

Yours in Christ,

Ginge in Germany

****

Have a well-informed day, won’t you!

woman in black long sleeved looking for books in library

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Long live BFBS!

I have sore feet.  I am shattered.  I have just come back from an evening service in the wonderful city of Essen.  I am happy.

Tonight on the S-Bahn (slow-Bahn) train, I had this Boney M earworm ringing in my ears.  It takes me back to the mid-70s, the school disco at Wolfenbüttel Primary School and yet another hit that BFBS Germany was always playing.  It’s based on Psalm 137.

Have a boney day, won’t you.

Machmallauter: Boney M

I was always a fan of of Boney M.  I had no choice really.  When I was pads brat living in Wolfenbüttel, Germany 1975-78, their music was on BFBS all the time.  Every hour.  Every day.

This was my favourite Boney M number: 137, to be exact.  Psalm 137, otherwise known as…

By the Rivers of Babylon

Have a psalmodic day, won’t you!

Is Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitic?

Jeremy Corbyn is the Official Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom.  He has a penchant for certain hats.

First of all, have a read of this article.

Is JC anti-Semitic?

You decide.  Personally, I think he is not anti-Semitic, but lacks sensitivity to realise the consequences of his actions, and needs to be careful about the company he keeps.

Have a sensitive day, won’t you!

corbynhat

 

The Fifth Commandment: Part 2

Even though I’m not Catholic, I had been feeling a bit of guilt.  I decide to phone my Mum, hoping for some sensible, intelligent, conversation that doesn’t revolve around:

  • Ex-neighbour S: hasn’t she put on loads of weight since you last saw her?
  • Relative Y‘s gynaecological problems in great, great, great.  (I’m a modern man.  I don’t blush when women talk about menstruation, the menopause, period pains, sanitary towels, etc.  I just find the topic a week bit uninteresting on a Saturday evening.  Don’t you?)
  • Braech of confidentiality about someone elses’s personal problems.
  • Who’s the next victim of the guillotine, just like the tricoteuse women, knitting away.

Conversations with my mum tend to be somewhat negative.  If you have a bonfire, she’ll empty her bladder over it.

“It’s taking a while to get a new tenant in my house.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have used that agency.”

Sadly, my sister, V, is a mini-me of my mum, only with:

  • A single-digits reading age
  • A vocabulary of swear words that would embarrass the average dock worker
  • Even less tact and emotional intelligence than her mother

Yesterday I mentioned to our mother that V had un-friended me.

Why?  What have you done?

Not, “Why?  What happened?”  An immediate accusation.

I explained:

There was a discussion about Northern Ireland.  I was asked what I knew about Northern Ireland.  I explained I had relatives who had served there in the British Army.  V leapt in with a diatribe against Dad.  I told her politely that this was not the right forum to go into family disputes when people were debating Northern Ireland.  Nobody else is interested anyway.

Cue immediate defence of V.

But your dad is an (expletive deleted).

Ginge in Germany:

But a public discussion about is not the right place to hang your dirty laundry in public.

A curt reply:

OK.

That translates as:

You are right, but I am not prepared to speak against my mini-me.

Do you not see why that is wrong?

OK.

Do you not understand?

OK.

It just doesn’t sink in.  Sometimes, frankly, I wonder if my mum has autistic tendencies due to her tactlessness and lack of empathy towards other.  In the end I give up and say that Schatz and I havae to head out now, catch you later.

Sometimes I feel like just not bothering to call her and see how long it takes for her to contact me.  Regrettably I know it’s all my fault.  I chose to be born with the wrong set of “equipment” down below.  My fault.  Hands up.  I admit it.  I am ashamed of the bad choice I made.

Honour your mother and father, yes, good idea.  But honour and respect don’t come at the drop of a hat.  Honour and respect have to be earned.

Moses

Have a commanding day, won’t you!