Recognising Palestinians' right to statehood is small yet symbolically important

Posted 14 Oct 2014 by Walaa Idris

It was truly heartening to listen to MP after MP from every political hue, on both sides of the house defend Palestinians’ right to statehood – and it’s about time too.

I always believed Israel was its own worst enemy. And never doubted that sooner or late it was going to overdo the “we’re protecting and defending ourselves” reasoning and it was all going to backfire. And it did. This summer for the first time I watched as commentator after commentator, politician after politician and nations after nation stand up for Palestinians while condemn Israel for overzealously bombing and slaughtering innocent men, women and children in the Gaza strip.

For years, most of the west watched quietly while Israel inch by inch, illegally took land that doesn’t belong to it. Wrongly built settlements they had no right to build. Subjugate the very people they have a duty of care towards. All under the banner of ‘it’s protecting its land’. Not the land it was given by the United Nation and Britain but the land it grabbed afterwards.

It is wrong, unjust and inhumane.

Last night British MPs overwhelmingly by a majority of 262 voted 274 to 12 to recognise the state of Palatine. And although that has no practical impact on British government policy and ministers, it still sends a positive signal to Palestinians. It tells them the British people support them and their right for statehood. It shows them Britons feel their struggle, understand their pain and respect their rights. All are positives with optimistic ramifications across the region.

The vote also forces the British government to act in the matter while at the same time nudges the US and other influencing nations to consider doing the same. Never underestimate the power of our Parliament and don’t for one second think the rest of the world wasn’t watching history being made yesterday, because it was.

But most of all, yesterday’s vote says to Israel enough is enough, while at the same time moves us closer to peace in the region.

Recognising the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel is the next step, and our government now has the public’s backing to move towards achieving that goal.

I cannot end this blogpost without mentioning Richard Ottaway’s contribution, even though his was not the only heart moving insightful one but it summed beautifully what many friends of Israel feel and have been feeling for some time now.

The Rt Hon Sir Richard Ottaway is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Croydon South and the chairman of the foreign affairs select committee. He said the recent annexation of West Bank land by the Israeli government had angered him like nothing else in politics. Then added he has been a supporter of the state of Israel before he became a Tory and had close family connections with the generation that formed the Israeli state. He went on to explain that he had been a strong supporter of Israel in the six day war and subsequent conflicts because the Holocaust had a deep impact on him growing up in the wake of the Second World War.

He passionately told the house: “But looking back over the past 20 years, I realise now Israel has slowly been drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.”

I felt his disappointment and as a friend of Israel, I too share his dismay. Many like us feel the same and welcome last night’s vote as a positive step in the road to a two-state solution and give us hope of future peace in the region.

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Recognising Palestinians' right to statehood is small yet symbolically important

Posted 14 Oct 2014 by Walaa Idris

It was truly heartening to listen to MP after MP from every political hue, on both sides of the house defend Palestinians’ right to statehood – and it’s about time too.

I always believed Israel was its own worst enemy. And never doubted that sooner or late it was going to overdo the “we’re protecting and defending ourselves” reasoning and it was all going to backfire. And it did. This summer for the first time I watched as commentator after commentator, politician after politician and nations after nation stand up for Palestinians while condemn Israel for overzealously bombing and slaughtering innocent men, women and children in the Gaza strip.

For years, most of the west watched quietly while Israel inch by inch, illegally took land that doesn’t belong to it. Wrongly built settlements they had no right to build. Subjugate the very people they have a duty of care towards. All under the banner of ‘it’s protecting its land’. Not the land it was given by the United Nation and Britain but the land it grabbed afterwards.

It is wrong, unjust and inhumane.

Last night British MPs overwhelmingly by a majority of 262 voted 274 to 12 to recognise the state of Palatine. And although that has no practical impact on British government policy and ministers, it still sends a positive signal to Palestinians. It tells them the British people support them and their right for statehood. It shows them Britons feel their struggle, understand their pain and respect their rights. All are positives with optimistic ramifications across the region.

The vote also forces the British government to act in the matter while at the same time nudges the US and other influencing nations to consider doing the same. Never underestimate the power of our Parliament and don’t for one second think the rest of the world wasn’t watching history being made yesterday, because it was.

But most of all, yesterday’s vote says to Israel enough is enough, while at the same time moves us closer to peace in the region.

Recognising the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel is the next step, and our government now has the public’s backing to move towards achieving that goal.

I cannot end this blogpost without mentioning Richard Ottaway’s contribution, even though his was not the only heart moving insightful one but it summed beautifully what many friends of Israel feel and have been feeling for some time now.

The Rt Hon Sir Richard Ottaway is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Croydon South and the chairman of the foreign affairs select committee. He said the recent annexation of West Bank land by the Israeli government had angered him like nothing else in politics. Then added he has been a supporter of the state of Israel before he became a Tory and had close family connections with the generation that formed the Israeli state. He went on to explain that he had been a strong supporter of Israel in the six day war and subsequent conflicts because the Holocaust had a deep impact on him growing up in the wake of the Second World War.

He passionately told the house: “But looking back over the past 20 years, I realise now Israel has slowly been drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.”

I felt his disappointment and as a friend of Israel, I too share his dismay. Many like us feel the same and welcome last night’s vote as a positive step in the road to a two-state solution and give us hope of future peace in the region.

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I don’t understand the intense obsession with career politicians

Posted 12 Oct 2014 by Walaa Idris

Why do we demand our politicians to have other careers besides or before politics when we expect the exact opposite from all other professions? We don’t want or need our surgeons to be or even understand anything else, nor do we care if our bus drivers can make a sandwich. It seems we highly respect professionalism in all fields except in politics.

Why is that?

Don’t get me wrong, I too want my political representative to be empathetic, speak like human beings, and understand and address issues and concerns that are important to me. But these qualities are not exclusive to ‘non-career politicians’ they are unique to people who care about others and their needs and those who genuinely want to help people – all people, regardless of who or what they are. Plus, we expect and welcome these qualities in people from every profession.

To me, a career politician is someone who made politics their life. I therefore expect them to understand all matters relating to politics, from debating to diplomacy. And I require them to have the ability to fight my corner in the national and international arenas full time. In other words he or she must be the best equipped in their field, an expert in policy-making who knows and understands all there is to fathom about the world of government. I don’t care one zilch if they were a nurse, a solider or a postman before coming into politics, but during their time in office, I very much expect them to understand and know all there is to know about the country and its affairs.

But isn’t that what we elect our politicians for?

So why would anyone want an amateur politician? Why would anyone not want a career politician? If by that we mean people who haven’t had experiences outside Westminster, then we should address diversity of experience and call it that. However, is it important to have outside experiences when you can hire the best experts in any field to give you the best counsel? Maybe yesterday’s politicians needed to be jacks of all trades, but not today.

Today there are experts for hire in every field and they come in all political shades.

All politics needs nowadays is someone who can get the job done, a man or woman with an aptitude to read situations correctly, act on them swiftly and have at his or her fingertips the advice of the best experts in their discipline.

To have someone like Nigel Farage preach against political careerism is laughable. Besides his stint in the City, the only difference between him and the other three leaders – David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband – is that they went to university and he didn’t. Cameron and Clegg quit smoking and he still does. As for the pint of beer at the ready, well, Farage is a man who likes his drink and happy for that to be his Trademark, while the others don’t – big fat deal.

Nigel Farage is as much an ordinary man as I am a white, blond, blue-eyed bombshell.

We don’t ask or expect our physicians to understand plumbing. We don’t care if our pilots can boil an egg, and all we want from our teachers is the ability to educate our children and do it safely and efficiently. Yet when it comes to our Members of Parliament we want them to do everything, pay them a pittance to do it and disrespect them at every given opportunity.

Dedication to a career is respected and applauded in every profession and it should be in politics too. Particularly as politicians are the ones who decide what taxes we pay, the level of healthcare we receive, the type of education future generations get, what direction the economy takes, what houses to build and where to build them, when to go to war These are life-changing, life-determining matters. I don’t know about you but I expect a professional career politician who knows his stuff to sort it all out on my behalf.

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Miliband, his team and their collective incompetence.

Posted 25 Sep 2014 by Walaa Idris

You know the saying ‘behind every great man there is a great woman’? It might be an old fashioned way of giving women, particularly wives, some kudos. But to me it says most great people have someone or some people behind the scenes making them look great and perform well. That applies to everyone in the limelight and frontline, public facing professions.

More so in politics, particularly for party leaders: they might be charismatic and great orators, but that only works as far as attracting people’s attention. Carving out and delivering a good message, saying the right thing at the right time, anticipating questions and having the right responses at hand – and that being ready, unflustered, unrehearsed and spontaneous – all comes from having a well-oiled operation behind the scenes. These people are busy as bees gathering and readying, having at hand all vital and necessary information, making sure no small detail is overlooked.

To get an idea of how, I recommend watching the TV series The West Wing – thought it’s fiction – it gives a good insight to how many men and women it takes to keep a nation’s leader in check and fully briefed on every major and minor detail.

That brings me to Labour, Miliband, his team and their lack of attention to basic details!

I get that Mr Miliband enjoys speaking from the heart and have a conversation with the public, I really get it. But this week, by the end of his conference speech it was very clear he missed or forgot to speak about immigration, the deficit and most importantly the economy. His team should have anticipated questions arising from that and readied their leader with responses. After all it was his last conference speech before the May general election. That was his platform and opportunity to tell the nation why next conference he should be addressing them as the Prime Minister. Particularly, as George Osborne – who clearly was following the speech live – immediately tweeted about Miliband forgetting to mention the economy!

This is the job of the support staff. It’s their responsibility to watch the speech and fill in the gaps for the after speech dissection. After the conference walkabout and the hand shaking, the leader of the opposition’s team should have taken him backstage before facing any media questions and prepared him on the reactions to the speech. Plus, for uniformity the same should have happen with all key members of the frontbench. But clearly that did not happen! And don’t think for a second that all these reporters and network presenters don’t do the same. They too have their busy bees backstage preparing them for instant reaction, via earpieces.

Being prepared is not that same as ‘being unnatural’. It’s just being ready by having important information at hand for when it’s needed. Because information is power and relinquishing it is relinquishing that power.

This week the Labour Party and Miliband did just that, they relinquished their power.

And that made Miliband and his frontbench look and sound like amateurs. You can’t say you’ll cut the state pension without knowing how much the current basic pension actually is! You can’t promise to increase spending without talking about the economy, or addressing the current deficit. You can’t fend off UKIP while totally ignoring immigration. Simply put, you cannot become Prime Minister without a good, trusted, serious team behind you who can see beyond the obvious, anticipate the unknown and prepare you for every eventuality.

We’re a little over seven months away form a general election and Miliband can’t even see the country is on the brink of a war and might send troops to fight in Iraq. He insults war heroes by refusing to wear a simple band to support them. Not because he is anti-war, but because the last time he took a photo with The Sun newspaper he timed it wrong and it backfired. Guess what? This time his timing is again wrong and it’s backfired, again!

Politics is tough. And with instant responses, a 24/7 news cycle, and social media at every fingertip, it’s a hundred times tougher than it was just a few years ago.

Miliband’s performance this week was that of a novice, who is unprepared to lead and represent Great Britain on any stage.

I mostly blame Ed Miliband’s team, his bees. Surely they saw how he ate a bacon sandwich previously, and should have advised him to make meals a private affair. They heard the speeches and read the polls and the instant reactions. They know (or should have known) what he missed, what the polls are saying and what people, presenters and reports want to hear and were going to ask. How can he manage a whole nation if he can’t even manage his own personal team?

Plus, let’s never forget this is the man that backstabbed his own brother and chased him out of the country: would anyone ever trust him to be their Prime Minister?

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Proud to be British, and delighted Scotland said Yes to a United Kingdom.

Posted 20 Sep 2014 by Walaa Idris

As some might already know, I am British by choice. As a naturalized citizen my pride of my adopted home and nation is founded on admiration and respect of who we are and what Britain represents – fairness, freedom and justice.

First my reverence, as a young girl growing in autocratic Sudan, was from afar. Back then I watched in awe a country ran by consent, and a nation that genuinely respects and accepts opposing opinions. But also cannot deny electing the first female Prime Minister had its own special magic and allure. Years later when I had to choose where to move with my family I was in no doubt Britain was to become our home. I moved to London, and from within I had first-hand experiences of Britishness and British Values.

This pride continued to grow daily, and become cemented by our actions and interactions with other nations close and far away, and harnessed with our relentless fight for justices and others’ freedoms, even when in occasions, these liberties adversely affected us. I say that as someone who travelled a great deal and lived midst many different cultures.

Thursday’s result increased that pride.

In the past few weeks and month, Scotland showed the world that fighting for a republic can be emotional and at times even get personal, but when it comes to democracy we Brits know how to be fair, generous and gracious both in victory and in defeat.

Our union is intact and we are stronger and better for it, plus we can be proud that all it cost us was determination and politicking.
The Scottish referendum did not only settle the question of its own independence, it ignited the debate on a thirty seven year old question, the West Lothian question. And made it more than ever before possible for England to have ‘English Votes for English Laws’.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 will go down in history not only as the day Scotland decided to stay in the union, but as the day the ‘West Lothian question’ finally got a serious look in. It was an all-round good day for all of Britain!

By staying in the United Kingdom, Scotland will get their Devo Max. But with a few months to go, before the 2015 general election, the question political parties and UK politicians need to answer is how much powers they intend to give England and how will they give those powers?

Will it be ‘English Votes for English Laws’ in the UK Parliament – will it be devolving more powers down to local authorities – will there be regional assemblies, or will they go all out and setup an English Parliament? Whichever method they decide on there is no denying the Scottish #Indyref has catalysed and energised the devolution debate for all four nations in the union particularly England.

Personally, I think an English Parliament though might sound fair and appropriate – Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all have their own Assembly – is a costly extra layer of bureaucracy. Using existing resources, the House of Commons, and allowing English MPs only to vote on English issues, is a much more cost effective and sounder method, it will give England the powers it needs and the gravities it deserves.

On this occasion I would also like to add my voice to Ukip and Nigel Farage, and ask Scottish MPs, going forward, to abstain from voting on any English matters as a gesture of solidarity with their brothers and sisters south the border.

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Congratulating Mr Blair on his GQ Philanthropist of the year award!

Posted 5 Sep 2014 by Walaa Idris

Was surprised, actually very surprised by some of the reactions to Tony Blair winning GQ’s Philanthropist of the year award!

First because he’s one of us, and by ‘us’ I mean a Briton. GQ is an international publication and a Brit winning what we the British pride ourselves of (selflessly giving and helping those less fortunate than us) should be applauded.

Secondly, Blair’s philanthropy is very visible. A simple Google entry will prove my point. Despite his politics, Tony Blair is a successful British Prime Minister with three general elections wins under his belt. And after ten years as the UK’s PM, he went on to devote his life for public service. He runs three charitable foundations that champion inter-faith dialogue, development in Africa and sport in the north-east of England plus he employs hundreds of people. The former Prime Minister, also advices the Kazakhstan government pro bono, and acts as the representative of the international community in Palestine, also for free. Not to mention he donated the entire proceeds of his biography “A Journey” to charity.

Thirdly and most of all, the Iraq war that we all now think was a big mistake, and it was, was not his call alone. The majority of Britain (via our representatives in the House of Commons) voted for the Iraq war. So to now, in hindsight, call him a killer and a war criminal is simply disingenuous.

I too supported the Iraq War based on knowing what we knew then. Today I feel different but that doesn’t mean I should take my disappointment and dismay on Blair, Bush or my MP.

Don’t know if it’s Social Media and its ready availability or something else? But at times it appears we are becoming a posse prepared to fiercely attack those we disagree with and do it viciously at the drop of a hat. And we do it, without any sensibilities, letting anger cloud our judgments while happily brush to one side any common sense. It seems somehow, somewhere along the line we stopped ‘feeling human’ and under the cloak of cyberspace turned into blood thirsty hounds with little or no care for decorum, too at ease with becoming aggressive agents of hate ready to let rip in a flash.

It’s uncivilised, unjust and just plain no good.

Tony Blair is human. And like most humans has made mistakes, but he also achieved many selfless deeds. God knows I don’t agree with everything he did or does, but I do agree that he is a great philanthropist and I am happy to applaud and congratulate him for this award and be very proud that he is one of us.

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Police and Crime Commissioners are good for policing, give them a chance.

Posted 24 Aug 2014 by Walaa Idris

Despite the low turnout (15.1%) when they were initially elected back in November, and the even lower than imaginable turnout of Thursday’s by -election (10.3%), I still think PCCs (Police and Crime Commissioners) are a good idea and should stay.

Here is why. First and foremost because it is still early days and both the public and PCCs are finding their way around the role.

Like most new positions, this post needs some tweaking here and there. The duties should be clearer to the post holder – PCCs work for the public and oversee the police not the other way round. This can at times prove challenging especially when the PCC is a former police officer (officers usually come from decades of following rules and answering superiors, and can find the transition difficult. It can be hard for some to change roles and assume leadership particularly with those who in the past outranked them). And of course those who never worked in such posts tend to struggle with managing expectations of not only the police, who are a tightknit and regimented fraternity, but also the public, who can at times be unrealistically demanding.

Unlike most I have no trouble with the political slant in the role as I believe having a political tie focuses both the post and the post holder better, but I do agree that more independent candidates should be encouraged to bring freshness and diversity to the post.

The reason many PCCs have had little impact on their local communities is due to, as I mentioned above, the newness of the role, plus the high number of ex-police elected to the role. Who in some cases, seem to have simply carried over their old roles to the new post. When having a police background should have been an asset, used to better understand and improve policing in the area, it didn’t, because it became one and the same.

We know the police have their restrictions. So it’s the duty of the elected PCC to enhance policing by setting the guidelines that provide the link between what the public wants, the service they expect and the service the police deliver to them. It’s as easy and as important as that. Therefore the main duty of the PCC should be to understand what his community needs and his gift is to decide what crimes the police should prioritise.

In London we (the public) share our concerns at ward level in Safer Neighbourhood Watch Committees. This gives each ward the bespoke service they need but it’s non-operational. PCCs on the other hand can decide on operational priorities (why do you think some police take issue with them). A Police and Crime Commissioner can be as important and as effective in the policing of his/her region as he/she decides.

Having the elections in November was a bad idea not at all helpful for the inception of the position. Autumn days are shorter and darker for electioneering than spring days. Furthermore, because in the UK, all important elections take place in May. A November poll lessened the importance of the election and therefore the post.

As for this Thursday’s by-election in the West Midlands, here too the timing was unfortunate. Beside the summer holidays, August Bank Holiday is the last long weekend before Christmas. And for many it is the last chance they have to escape before the demands, on businesses and individuals, of the Festive Season begin.

Then of course there is Ann Barnes, Kent’s PCC, who had her own reality TV show ‘Meet the Commissioner’ on Channel Four. I caught parts of it and found the whole thing hilarious and not too impressive. But will let you watch and decide for yourself what you make of it. However, in my opinion Ann Barnes wasn’t very helpful to the role.

Police and Crime Commissioners, give the local community a say on how they want to be policed. They also give them a say on who they want to represent them in that role. Surely both are good things to stand-up for, support and improve.

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Wish some people just stop their macho madness!

Posted 14 Aug 2014 by Walaa Idris

A few home truths we need to know about our relationship with the Middle East.

Firstly, our past actions in Afghanistan then later in Iraq are one of the main causes of recent Islamic terrorism against the West. Attacks on us, whether at home or abroad against our representatives and interests and particularly homegrown terrorism, are direct results of our intervention in that region.

Secondly, our military actions in Iraq and Libya plus to some extend the West’s support of the military in Egypt, did more damage than good. Exporting our style of democracy to that part of the world does not and will never work, because the way the two sides view democracy is very different. To westerners that remark might sound crazy ‘democracy is democracy’ but trust me it’s not that straight forward. Plus, it took the West thousands of years and many trials and errors to arrive to where we are now. Let’s then allow the Middle East the time and space to find their brand of democracy and arrive at it in their own tempo.

Thirdly, we can never win a war in that region. Just look at Afghanistan! We have totally destroyed Iraq and currently our actions are destroying Libya. Avoiding any further destruction in the region should now become our main concern and our number one goal.

And finally, we need to understand the people of the region. Not the sample segment we meet and speak with, the well-travelled that can speak English and to some extend share our ideals – but the Joe Bloggs, or as we say in Arabic the Mohamed Ahameds and those who feel the beat of the street because they live and daily breath it.

We also need to understand, if those we intend to help actually want our help. And before giving any help lets first ascertain how much of it they want. Because unwanted help can be offensive and as we saw throughout history it can at times even be dangerous. We also need to understand that the East’s sensibilities are very different to ours; at times we tend to be blinded by our sense of guardianship to see that. We must open our eyes and stop meddling in other nations’ affairs as a cause of duty, especially when it’s unwelcomed.

Having said that, as a powerful wealthier and compassionate nation, we have a duty to aid those less fortunate than us in their hour of need, sending food and medical aid to the injured and displaced is a duty of all those who can offer it. Gathering intelligence to better deliver that aid is also a way by which we can be helpful. But anything more than that can be easily misconstrued as interference and will not be welcomed and might even have dire consequence in the long run.

That is why when I hear politicos; journos and commentators argue that the British response to the current crisis in Iraq is not enough, I want to scream ‘No, it’s perfect, just find a way to deliver aid and help the victims quicker and better.’

As for those who think Britain should copy France by arming victims on the ground, I say remember Bin Laden? Osama Bin Laden was a freedom fighter armed by the US to fight with them against the Russians in Afghanistan – look how well that turned out! Russia is now long gone from that fight and we’re still fighting and dying there daily by those who were once armed by the West!

Just stop the macho madness. We can’t keep making the same mistakes and not learning from them – that makes us stupid, arrogant and loses us a great deal of respect.

David Cameron is very wise to not call for any military intervention on Iraq. He is even wiser to stand solid as the only western leader doing all he can to deliver humanitarian relief, gather important intelligence and help the Yazidis to escape the Islamic State (IS) fighters and reach safety. This way he has no beef with IS and they have no excuse to send terror our way.

One thing we must also remember is that the whole world is watching, and half of it is comparing our reaction to the Gaza bombings with that of Iraq. Particularly as Gazans are predominately Muslims and Yazidis are mostly Christians. It is therefore crucial to not be seen more angered by one atrocity than the other. That’s how we show and share our democracy, balance, and fairness, that is how we promote our values across the globe.

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What’s happening in Gaza has considerable global ramifications and should not be reduced to “its Hamas’ fault!”

Posted 22 Jul 2014 by Walaa Idris

First, because it’s too complex to simplify into a ‘them and us’ scenario, and secondly, regardless of what anyone might think, it touches all of us equally. And by “touches us” I don’t mean in the humanitarian sense, of course there is that, but what I’m referring to here, is its consequences in the larger political sense.

But before I go any further, I would like to make it absolutely clear that Israel has every right to defend itself and protect her people. However, that defence needs to be proportional. It also needs to remember that many in Gaza don’t want Hamas.

Heavily shelling and killing innocent women and children daily, regardless of whether Hamas is using them as human shields or not, is very inflaming. To daily see innocent Palestinians, sometimes whole families killed in this way, conjures images of cleansing and mass executions.

Now I know Israeli propaganda is doing a good job promoting and explaining their reasons “we’re shelling missiles’ hideaways – Hamas weapons are hidden in residential area and hospitals – Hamas is using women and children as human shields, these victims’ blood is on Hamas’ hands alone.” Whether all of this it’s true or not, what’s observed and witnessed by the world, is Israel has lost a couple of dozen soldiers (people who enlisted to fight and die for their country) while the Palestinians lost upwards of 500 men, women and children (innocent civilians, whom when the bombing starts have nowhere to run to, and no place to hid in).

That picture alone to many is enough to wrong Israel and label it a tyrant and an aggressor. To be perfectly honest, I too was shocked when the headcount reached 342 Palestinians versus 2 Israelis, yet Israel continued to bomb!

Because regardless of the reasons and the rhetoric coming from Hamas (they want to wipe-out all Jews – which we all know logically is impossible.) Israel is still the bigger and stronger of the two; they are better equipped and much readier for this fight than Hamas will ever be. And because of that, they should have exercised some restraint and showed Hamas and the world that Israel is a compassionate and tolerant occupier – I know to some that might sound like madness. But think about it, now after the slaughter of innocent civilians have passed the 500 mark, nobody including Israel’s allies sees Israel as the victim – because the headcount tips the balance for the other side.

In addition to that, if we look at the region and what’s happening in Syria, and the latest trend of home-grown jihadists, the last thing the West needs now is innocent Palestinians killed by Israeli bullets. Because it will only act as a catalyst, to entice further grooming of young vexed and impressionable men and women.

To quash any support for Hamas Israel should seriously consider lifting the blockade in Gaza and allow her citizens the freedom to lead some sort of normal lives – and gain their regard. We saw throughout history those who were oppressed gained their strength from being subjugated, Slavery, the Holocaust and more recently the Apartheid all ended despite their conquerors’ powerful control over their subjects, all stopped when the oppressed had enough and channelled that oppression to free themselves.

One thing every occupier, invader and suppressor needs to remember, untroubled, plump and prosperous people are less inclined to rise and fight. But hungry oppressed citizens have lots to fight for and very little to lose.

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Who said only a black, Muslim and single mother can represent me and my values?

Posted 19 Jul 2014 by Walaa Idris

As someone who ticks a lot of boxes – woman, black, immigrant, Muslim and a single mother of two – I worry about where we’re going with the ‘representation’ issue. Don’t get me wrong, having a legislator representative of all views and segments of the society is a great thing, a fair thing plus is also the right thing. But when I hear commentators and politicians talk about “looking more like the country” I wonder what does that really mean?

Does it mean aesthetically, as in a percentage of every group in the country visually represented? Or is it a representation of thoughts and principles? Because one is clearly not the other!

The latter does not focus on race, gender or religion while the former is very specific, in that it asks for each group to be represented in certain percentages i.e. the UK’s population is 50% female so the House of Common should reflect that in its members.

Where did it come from? Who decided that only a black, immigrant, Muslim and single mother can mirror my beliefs, speaks on my behalf and represents me?

I am a low tax, punishment should fit the crime, and time means time, monitored, managed and controlled immigration, Eurosceptic – EU needs to reform and if it doesn’t, very happy for us to leave it – shoot from the right Conservative. The last time I checked there are many Tory MPs who share my exact politics. A party member since 2000, I never once felt, neither in the past nor now, unrepresented in Parliament. So where’s the problem?

And why in the last half of 2014 we are worried about gender and race when what we should be concerned with is engagement. It seems to me there are more people today, percentage wise, disengaged and disillusioned with politics than ever before. That feeling is not because women can only speak for women and minorities can only speak for their groups. It’s because to these people politics doesn’t feel authentic enough.

Surprisingly, one of the reasons the public feels this way, is because of this ‘our team have more women, black and ethnic minorities than yours’ business. It cheapens politics and makes it more about looking like someone as oppose to sharing their views and values.

As Conservatives our core principle is to promote based on merit and equality. After all we are the first and the only party to produce a female British Prime Minster and we did it over 35 years ago. Plus we did it organically without any cosmetic social engineering imposed on members program.

Diversity should not be interpreted as an inventory of the different groups. But rather the variety of thoughts and options, and yes our politicians should reflect the societies they represent. But that reflection should not mainly focus on visual and aesthetic differences, it should focus on the reflection of choices and the variety of options.

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