The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

From Belfast to the Middle East

Davy Carlin • 11 August 2006

Over the last year or so I have chilled, not so much because I had wanted to, but more especially because I had needed to. Indeed over recent time I have seen a sea change both within oneself and within ones lifestyle. This as I am set now to return to College and University in the form of gaining additional educational qualifications, as well as continuing the self education of a world around me.

For me I now appreciate in real terms, and breathe in nature, the environment, and all such things. I am also into sports and healthy eating and living, and such things ascend well above the materialist and consumerist society that is now embracing our move from war to peace.

Indeed such a materialist and 24hr consumerist society seems an integral part of that process.

Yet over recent time I have also found other interests, such as enjoying the study of local and international history, through to becoming more art and architecture appreciative, and indeed dare I say even more cultured, that is, in the artistic sense of course.

Such appreciation has been, and is highlighted during the West Belfast festival where one can drown in the host of cultural and other events provided, where there is something to whet every one's appetite.

Hopefully such facilities and resources will be provided to ensure such events are not just yearly or at Xmas etc, but will be an integral and essential part of post conflict development for such working class communities which are working to provide such.

Yet as I chill I still always get reminders of my life of activism and that of my youth growing up within the war. Recently I had been contacted in relation to having been flown to London to be interviewed, again, as part of Black history month. Then I had been contacted in relation to being made a Patron of a human rights organisation, while having also been contacted in relation to a possible award from a University in the US.

For me I had always thought that those abroad actually take a great interest in activism here, and although awards and such mean little to oneself, it does though nevertheless show that some recognise the work campaigners and activists are putting in here. More especially it provides an additional platform to get the issue or the campaign to an even wider audience.

However, in recent time I have been surprised that such instances of activism here had been more recorded that I had initially thought, as it has become more visible. Yet maybe it is but a simple matter of one visiting more venues and events than I recently had done.

In recent months I had had the privilege of seeing a large picture of myself in full voice on the march through Belfast city centre. The picture had hit you each time as soon as you had walked through the front doors of Belfast City Central Library and was part of a photographic display of 'faces and places of Belfast', I believe. The public libraries I have always believed and stated, are an essential part of providing an avenue of self-education and of empowering local communities, and I am fortunate that my local library has many facilities and is therefore well utilised.

Then my partner and I had visited on a recent regular basis the Ulster Museum and again had seen a picture of one in youth. The Museum is now closing for refurbishment and upgrading but had begun to add new features and archives of Irish history in recent times.

We had also visited events and I had attended meetings in South and East Belfast and on occasions in Loyalist and Protestant working class areas had again seen oneself and others, organising and in activist agitation both in photos around the walls, or on film.

Yet as I had sat in a café in central Belfast and had lifted up a brochure and had seen my face in another photo on yet another issue marching through Belfast, I had thought of how fortunate it was that we could actually protest and march.

Of course in recent years I had been on various protests that had been baton charged, gassed, water cannoned, attacked by right wing paramilitaries and plastic bullets fired at us, while in younger years had witnessed live rounds being fired and bombs etc.

But on thinking about such I had thought yet again of the sheer terror and turmoil that was increasing in the Middle East. Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and of those protests against such, and the responses by Israel, the USA and the like.

And on that matter, I had then with key members of the IPSC headed our march off through Belfast streets (the first such Anti War march in years), before oneself making calls at the end for the re-vitalising of the Anti War Movement.

Indeed we had went from this overwhelmingly West Belfast and left march in make up, through to a Rally a short time later that had seen mobilised the 'Collective representation of the local Movement' not seen against War in many a year.

Although but several hundred strong it nevertheless would provide both the essential building block and the momentum to large scale mobilisation if done correctly.

And so in the lead up to, and through activists delivering this, I knew that such Momentum created would move others to bring others onboard, and so, came the calls of the Stop the War Coalition now backed by ICTU.

This was as I had thought and as I had sought, this from a few weeks prior as I had once again returned to hand out leaflets with five members of the Belfast Anti War Movement (SWP).

I knew that we needed large scale mobilisation to really get our message out, the IPSC, ARN and DAWC could mobilise so many, with the BAWM, in real terms, having little respect and support and had mobilised nothing in years (another reason as to why the StWc was to be reborn).

So what was needed was the momentum created and also worked in the background, as so the StWc backed by ICTU could be moved into life - and it was,

This through both understanding a mindset and through creating with genuine activists that momentum, visible and otherwise.

(I will go into this in greater depth in a third part of my anti-war articles for The Blanket shortly).

The reason for the mobilisations was due to the terror and brutality increasing in the Middle East. While Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine see still the slaughter of innocence and in some cases an increase of such, the Israeli Government had also decided to attack Lebanon, with the backing of the USA who has let them run riot.

This has seen over a thousand people slaughtered with the overwhelming majority of such being civilians, and from Lebanon. This has been coupled with the destruction of the countries infrastructure that runs into billions, roads, factories, bridges, buildings, all demolished with the rhetoric of 'precision bombing' and 'collateral damage'. Yet we have seen civilians mowed down as they try to flee the turmoil and more men, women and children slaughtered as they had huddled together in fear, but had thought, in safety. The sheer brutality and barbarity of it shows still little chance of ease.

This had all started (we are told) because Hezbollah had captured two Israeli soldiers, yet this situation has merited in the Israeli eyes the ongoing destruction of Lebanon and seeking the destruction of Hezbollah. The destroying of Hezbollah though will not happen as Hezbollah is much more than a military organisation, it is also rooted and supported within the local civilian population. Indeed, many in the region who had not before looked to such are now chanting their name on the streets and are supportive of the resistance they are putting up against the might of the Israeli War machine. Couple this with the continual destruction of a country and the slaughter of the innocents, then the Israelis therefore are creating more and more who would and will get actively involved in such organisations. As like in Ireland in recent decades there are many who will be driven into such organisations as a way to hit back against this ongoing slaughter and indeed, in many eyes, they would have that right to resist.

That is not to say that all actions taken by Hezbollah are right; indeed the attacks on Israeli civilians are as counterproductive and feeds also into the Israeli propaganda machine. Despite the support for the Israeli offensive from the majority of its population, we have though also seen some protests by citizens of Israel against this, yet some on the left write off totally any such working class resistance coming from within Israel. Indeed I had read of the same in relation to Ireland when some had called for the Catholics of the North to unite with Catholics in the South, indeed this is little more than religious Nationalism.

The US backing of Israel will not be of surprise to many as their own Imperialist pursuits sees Israel as an integral part of that within the region, indeed one just has to look at the history off the region and the wars and battles played out for that interest of the Imperialist powers. The US though is not as strong as it was and is also tied down in other insurgencies and Wars within the region, despite that, that is not to say that many within the present US administration have not also their eyes on Iran and Syria. Couple this with the rise of economies such as China and the election of Left leaning Governments (and Movements) in Latin America (of yet the US have not, as had previously done made a more determined approach to deal with) shows in part weakness, but also a willingness to attempt to re-assert their dominance.

Yet despite the pressure, countries though from Iran to Latin America are not bowing to US pressure, at this time. Indeed such other minor powers in the Middle East may very well lend covert support to the resistance Fighters. Anger is growing in the Arab world as they watch men, women and children slaughtered, seemingly as the world looks on. Such anger is also evidenced within many other citizens of the world who are taking to the streets against this. Yet the Imperialist powers are not stupid; they will use whatever tactics they can to play on people's fears, as they had done before to attempt to demobilised any such protest movements that questions en-masse what they are doing.

While we need to mobilise en masse against this slaughter, we should also acknowledge that the power to change such lies from within the regimes, both Arab and Israeli. Yes, Nationalism is strong, may it be in the Arab world to stand against such slaughter or within Israel to continue with such an offensive. That does not mean that therein does not lay in large part the power to also bring this to an end.

The issue of this attack on Lebanon must also be tied to the issue of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran and Syria. We must also acknowledge (as is the history of such Anti War Movements) that while seeking mass mobilisation that many other tactics need to be both embraced and utilised as so to attempt to bring the barbarity and brutality of War and such Imperialist ventures to an end. This means working with ALL, who have a starting point of opposing this slaughter, may it be trade unions, church groups, liberals through to Revolutionaries, Socialist and Anarchists. Yet within that to put our words while at the forefront in actions as to how we believe all such wars can be ended, to do otherwise is but to stand at the side and to live in ones own purist and isolated utopian world.

And so, to that end, and fundamentally, that means that the system that creates such wars must in tandem be challenged at its very core.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

13 August 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Hunger Strike Anniversary
Martin Galvin

"Let the Fight Go On"
Willie Gallagher

Apology Owed
The Family of Volunteer Patsy O'Hara, INLA

Right the Wrong
Harry Boland

It's Who You Talk To
Dr John Coulter

As They Were Made They Were Matched
Liam O Comain

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper
John Kennedy

Criminality Figures Do Not Add Up
David Adams

The Siege of Derry
Anthony McIntyre

Repeat After Me: No Gods, No Masters
Mick Hall

Dual Presidency More Realistic
Nathan Dowds

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 2
Michael Gillespie

Santa Coming Early
Dr John Coulter

Media Matters
Anthony McIntyre

Light, Freedom & Song: A Cultural History of Modern Irish Writing
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Pass the Gravy
John Kennedy

ILIR is Blowing the Green Card Game for the Irish
Patrick Hurley

From Belfast to the Middle East
Davy Carlin

Manifesto of the Third Camp
Anthony McIntyre

3 August 2006

A United Ireland or Nothing
Liam O Comain

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 1
Michael Gillespie

High Noon
John Kennedy

Fest or Flop
Dr John Coulter

Irish and Republican Music
Ray McAreavey

Qana Massacre again: Foreign and Domestic Enemies of our Constitution
Mazin Qumsiyeh

Israel Murders UN Observers
Anthony McIntyre

Managing Debate
Mick Hall

4 Horsemen
John Kennedy

The Evil That Men Do
Anthony McIntyre

Chris Petit's Secret History: The Psalm Killer
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Soldier of the Legion of the Rearguard
Liam O Ruairc

Football and the Fifth Commandment
Eamon Sweeney

Don't Let Us Down
Dr John Coulter

Human Rights Forum
Meeting Announcement

Billy Mitchell
Anthony McIntyre



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