[Update 26 October 2015: there now a video of Ben's talk on YouTube (1 hr 10 mins).]
KINGSTON PEACE COUNCIL / CND have regular meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, at the Quaker Centre, Fairfield East. All are welcome to come along to these.
At our October meeting, on Wednesday 14th October we will have a guest speaker – Ben Griffin. From Veterans for Peace.
Ben was a serving soldier in the British army, but because of his experiences in Iraq he refused to return, and now campaigns actively for peace.
This meeting will start at the earlier time of 7pm, Please come from 6.30 onwards for refreshments and to ensure a good seat!
Please put this in your diary now, but in the meantime why not google Ben Griffin to read more information first?
Jeremy Gilley, who succeeded in 2001 in getting the United Nations to make 21 September an International Day of Peace, has for the last two years been working and filming in the Great Lakes region of Africa. This is an area that has seen a great deal of conflict and violence. As Jeremy talks about how people can work for non-violence, and gets some of the overwhelmingly youthful population involved in music, dance and sport, one can see what a difference this message of hope can make in young people’s lives – www.peaceoneday.org
We have a busy timetable of school visits for September but are always happy to hear from more teachers . We are making our seventh visit to some schools this year – we started the programme in 2009. It’s great that we also have had requests from secondary schools and one sixth form, as well as primary schools:- so far we have 10 primary schools and 3 secondary schools booked for assemblies.
In 2014 Zac Goldsmith came to the assembly at Meadlands School and was very supportive of our work . We will be contacting Zac again this year and also Tania Mathias, the MP for Twickenham, and James Berry, MP for Kingston and Surbiton and inviting each of them to a school assembly in their constituency. I’d like to ask anyone who has friends who teach, are school governors or involved with schools in any way to mention the KPC programme and ask anyone interested to get in touch with Mary Holmes (tel 020 8892 3271 or firstname.lastname@example.org) if they would like advice, or to book a date for an assembly.
The usual gathering in Tavistock Square was bigger than usual, around 200 people, whether due to it being the 70th anniversary or to the fact that Jeremy Corbyn was due to attend who can say.
The weather was fine, and Bruce Kent was an excellent compere.
The Peace Choir sang a short Hiroshima song in Japanese, written by a Hibakusha, and there were contributions from Cllr. Larraine Revah, Mayor of Camden and George Binette, Chair of Camden Trades Council.
AL Kennedy read 2 poems and Sheila Triggs spoke of the history and work of WILPF (See details in last KPC/CND Newsletter).
Jeremy arrived to loud applause and as usual spoke movingly and right to the point on the need to have no more such terrible nuclear attacks and how we must all work unceasingly to uphold the Non-Proliferation Treaty and reduce as soon as possible the nuclear powers’ arsenals. This of course would entail not renewing Trident.
After a beautiful song by Peter Dunn with accoustic guitar Jenny Jones, Green GLA member, spoke and the choir sang the song Against the Atom Bomb, words by Ewan McColl, Japanese melody arranged by Alan Bush. The ceremony concluded with 2 minutes silence to remember the victims of the Hiroshima bomb, and flowers were laid under the memorial cherry tree (planted many years ago by a Mayor of Camden) and everyone sang “The H-Bombs Thunder”, a song going back to the original Aldermaston Marches days.
‘Fear of Russian invasion ended the war, not atom bombs’
We gathered as usual on the banks of the Thames in Canbury Gardens, luckily a very pleasant evening, we were very pleased to be joined once more by local Japanese people and also by the Mayor and Mayoress of Kingston, Cllr and Mrs. Arora. Noel gave an interesting address, some of which follows here, and the Mayor spoke very movingly of the damage done by all war and the absolute necessity to solve our problems peacefully.
After 2 minutes silence we launched our boats with nightlights and our 4 wooden “Remember Hiroshima” boats made very many years ago by our past Chairperson, Norman Smith.
This year Noel concentrated whether the two atom bombs really brought WW2 to an end. It is often said that the Allies wanted to research the effects and to deny the Russians the kudos of bringing it to an end. Noel expanded on this theme
“The Japanese military were callous and cruel, without compassion or respect for human life. They brainwashed the Japanese to fight to the death despite knowing they were doomed. Amongst the Allies there was building anger at their stubbornness and cruelty. The Japanese cabinet and Emperor had no pity for the plight of millions of Japanese citizens and for the devastating bombings. To them Hiroshima and Nagasaki were just another couple of bombed cities. Evidence reveals the Emperor and his cabinet most feared Russian invasion. On August 8 Russia invaded Japanese-occupied Manchuria and quickly routed the Japanese defenders. The Russians had a fearsome reputation for brutality and ruthlessness following their invasion of Germany and Berlin. With access to Japanese cabinet records we can say with certainty that fear of Russian invasion ended the war, not atom bombs, and the cabinet settled for surrender terms allowing the Emperor to remain as a figurehead.”
Note re. Noel’s source. He has been reading “Hiroshima Nagasaki – The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath” by Paul Ham ISBN 978-0-857-52105-7. Amongst other things it has information about the Russian invasion of Manchuria which persuaded Japan to capitulate.
The reaction of Londoners to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima has never been studied. Now, in the 70th anniversary year of the event, the omission is being put right, thanks to a grant of more than £74,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Southwark-based Bubble Theatre Company has launched an oral history and performance project to discover how the dropping of the first atomic bomb, on August 6, 1945, was reported in London and how residents reacted as more details of the scale of the destruction of the Japanese city became available.
Researchers are also studying the reactions and experiences of Japanese-born Londoners and looking at how the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the creation of the peace movement and CND. Bubble Theatre aims to weave these many different voices and experiences together and to present them through an intergenerational performance.
The project will run in tandem with another in Japan. This follows a visit by members of Japanese theatre companies to an earlier Bubble Theatre project that charted reactions to the London Blitz. Memories and stories gathered during the atomic bomb project will be shared with a new project in Hiroshima.
More than 180 volunteers are being recruited from the local community to work with experts and artists to research the period from 1945 through to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963. After the full effects of the bombing, including radiation sickness, became more widely known in the UK, politicians, philosophers, scientists and church leaders came together to campaign against nuclear weapons with peaceful protests, marches, music and artwork among the responses.
Project volunteers are looking into the way the bombing and the aftermath were reported, how the families of soldiers, sailors and airmen who had been serving in the Pacific, or had been held in Japanese prisoner of war camps, reacted and what stories the earliest peace protestors have to tell.
The resulting archive of memories and documents will be publicly accessible through a new website and made available to the Hiroshima Peace Museum.
Jonathan Petherbridge, Creative Director of London Bubble, said: “We are very proud that our work on the Grandchildren of the Blitz project, supported by HLF, has now led to an exploration of the responses to the dropping of the first Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, and the production of what we hope will be linked events in London and Hiroshima.”
Thanks to Phillip Cooper for this report.
David Polden from London Region CND came to our July meeting to give a talk on the poetry of the 1st World War. A clue to the basis of his talk could be found in the title, “Into Cleanness Leaping”. He explained first that the kind of poetry with which some of us are now most familiar, did not become well-known or popular at first. Works by poets such as Rupert Brook with his poem The Soldier, written in winter 1914, which begins
“If I should die think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England…..”
were popular at first, it was not until the true scale of the slaughter became clear that the mood changed, and poems by poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon began to be seen as true and bitter commentary on a disastrous war.
I particularly liked this poem, by an Indian woman poet I had never heard of. David however feels it to be very overblown and wordy. Certainly this is true, as a comparison the words of Rudyard Kipling come to mind:
“If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied”
But to me it is important in that the enormous contribution made by the troops from our colonies is so often forgotten, and the terrible slaughter they suffered not often spoken of or commemorated.
Is there ought you need that my hands withhold,
Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold?
Lo! I have flung to the East and the West
Priceless treasures torn from my breast
And yielded the sons of my stricken womb
To the drum-beats of duty, the sabres of doom.
Gathered like pearls in their alien graves
Silent they sleep by the Persian waves,
Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands
They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands,
They are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance
On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France
Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep
Or compass the woe of the watch I keep?
Or the pride that thrills thro' my heart's despair
And the hope that comforts the anguish of prayer?
And the far sad glorious vision I see
Of the torn red banners of victory,
When the terror and the tumult of hate shall cease
And life be refashioned on anvils of peace,
And your love shall offer memorial thanks
To the comrades who fought in the dauntless ranks,
As you honour the deeds of the dauntless ones,
Remember the blood of my martyred sons!
A German poet, Heinrich Lersch, of whom I regret to say I had never heard, wrote this:
For long between the trenches a dead man lay in view,
The sun shone hot upon him and the dew.
And every day I saw him across the empty space,
And thought, the more I saw him: that is my brother’s face.
I saw him every moment, before me as he lay,
And heard his voice that called me, each happy peaceful day.
Often at night a sobbing that woke me full of fear:
You love me then no longer, O brother, brother dear?
Until at night I went across, though round me bullets flew,
And brought him in, And buried him, A man I never knew.
My eyes alone deceived me – my heart, you’re not misled:
My brother’s features look from all the faces of the dead.
Thank you David.
(I have a full list of his chosen poems if you want to read them, I will forward to you. Rosemary)
Hearing David Sheen speak about public statements made by prominent people in Israel was absolutely spine-chilling. Mr Sheen is himself Jewish and Canadian but went to live and work in Israel in 1999. He is a journalist and writes for the newspaper Haaretz and for Electronic Intifada. He spoke in Richmond on 17 July to a packed hall, one of a very limited number of engagements in the UK. People came from all over London.
He quoted government ministers, rabbis, mayors and others in public life who are inciting hatred of Israeli Arabs and in some cases actually calling for their extermination. This is directed at everyone including women and children. This cue is then picked up by violent extremist groups happy to terrorise Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, and also threaten Israelis who for example are prepared to let accommodation to Israeli Arabs. There is huge pressure on Israelis not to marry non-Jews. Couples where one partner is Israeli and one is Israeli Arab are targeted by racist thugs.
Currently there are four Hand in Hand schools providing integrated education for Israeli and Arab students in Israel. ‘Death to Arabs’ was written in huge letters outside the Hand in Hand school in Jerusalem and last year the school suffered an arson attack. It’s true that graffiti occurs everywhere but what is different in Israel is that these messages of hatred often remain and are not removed by local authorities. Little action, too, seems to be taken when football spectators chant ‘Death to Arabs’ if the Israeli team contains a player who is of Israeli Arab/Palestinian origin. Attacks on Israeli Arabs are largely ignored by police.
The most egregious claim was made by a senior Israeli political figure who claimed that Hitler had the right idea with the Holocaust but he chose the wrong nation.
During last summer’s terrible onslaught on Gaza thugs attacked courageous Israelis calling for peace. But 95% of Israelis thought the onslaught was justified, only 3% were against it. Israelis sat on sofas outside Gaza watching the attack live through binoculars. Violent rhetoric from influential people producing actual violence on the streets will remind readers of the situation in Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. Nazi symbols are worn by some members of extremist groups.
As campaigners for justice for Palestinians shouldn’t we be demanding action from the Israeli government to deal with this frightening level of racism? We wouldn’t tolerate seeing such slogans against Jewish people written outside Jewish schools in London. Slogans against Palestinian Arabs are not OK in Jerusalem. Anti-Arab/ Palestinian speech must be made as unacceptable as anti-Semitism is. This may seem to be only dealing with minor issues when there is so much actual violence against Palestinians but words of hatred, especially when they come from powerful people, do have consequences. Imagine a parallel situation in which David Cameron, Theresa May, Michael Gove, Michael Fallon and the Archbishop of Canterbury line up to issue racist and fascist condemnation directed at minority British citizens. It couldn’t happen here – but why is it acceptable for senior government and establishment figures in Israel to behave like this? Of course there are many enlightened Jews and Israeli citizens who believe in and campaign for reason and for fair and constructive attitudes to try to address issues of conflict, both inside Israel and with its neighbours including the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and Gaza. However, if this kind of fascism is spewing from the mouths of government ministers and senior Jewish religious leaders it is impossible to understand how “peace negotiations” could have any chance of making meaningful progress. Is this what Israel really wants?
David Sheen condemns all racism and his particular focus in the last few years has been anti-African racism in Israel about which he has written extensively, including a report for the United Nations. There’s more on his website www.davidsheen.com.
Mary Holmes & Noel Hamel
From Royal Horticultural Society Magazine – January 2015.
Seedlings from six ginkgo biloba trees that grew near the centre of the 1945 atomic bomb in Hiroshima – and which still survive to this day- are now growing in Manchester.
Staff and volunteers at the Hulme Community Garden Centre in Moss Side germinated seeds as part of a competition for local schools. Now five winning schools will be given a sapling to plant in their grounds.
The blackened ginkgoes became symbols of hope in Hiroshima as they sprouted in the aftermath of the blast. The trees still thrive and Hiroshima’s Mayor has sent their seeds around the world to spread a message of peace. Manchester is the first UK city to receive them, marking its key role in the international “Mayors for Peace” campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. www.tinyurl.com/m7kfecw
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says “The Arms Trade is International: so is our Resistance”.
Stop the Arms Fair week includes the following:-
12th September – big day of Action . Kingston Peace Council/CND members will be there with our banner – info. from anyone named on back page of Newsletter.
13th September – CAAT Christian Network Day of Prayer – order a pack from email@example.com
14th September – Candle-lit vigil at the venue (London Excel Centre) 6.30pm – 8pm (www.paxchristi.org.uk)
15th September – wreath-floating on the dock in memory of victims of the arms trade – 2pm – 3pm.
For more information of these and other possible actions see www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk or call 0207-281-0297
Think about the following statistics:-
No room for this so very brief – A young British couple were so appalled about the horrific conditions at Calais they appealed on crowd-funding for £600 to take supplies to the migrants –they raised £3000 in 36 hours!
We will have a special Stall on this day for the up-coming United Nations International Day of Peace, on 21st September.
As well as our usual leafletting and discussions with passers-by we will have activities for children, so as many helpers as possible are required please.
Email Angie, ‘phone 0208-399-5537 , or just come along.
Annual Erskine Childers Lecture 2015.
With Clare Short, Former UK Secretary of State for International Development. Free, but please give a donation.
Venue: Hilton London Euston 17-18 Upper Woburn Place WC1H 0HT
Register and info: Vijay Mehta, 020 7791 1717 or Brian Cooper 0131 446 9545
From the “I” 23rd May. By Katie Grant.
Jews and Muslims have come together to set up a drop-in kitchen for vulnerable people in Nottingham.
The Nottingham Liberal Synagogue and Himmah, a not-for-profit Muslim organisation, launched the initiative to help poverty-stricken people in the city.
The Salaam Shalom (SaSh) kitchen will serve hot meals to local people in need every Wednesday evening. SaSh is a community group founded in 2006 to build bridges between Jews and Muslims – and people in the wider community – and to tackle conflict and discrimination between minority and marginalised groups.
The group, based at the Bridge Centre in Hyson Green, aims to unite people of all backgrounds. SaSh, which launched its kitchen this week, believes the service is the only one of its kind in the country.
Organisers said the group also hopes to counteract growing levels of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. “In the past 12 months we’ve seen a rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism “ Hammah co-founder Sajid Mohammed told the Nottingham Post.
“Nottingham has for the most part been quite sheltered but we felt that now is the right moment to give hope and demonstrate our communities’ values of compassion, dignity and care to others.”
The kitchen is open to everybody, whatever their beliefs.
“They don’t have to be Jewish or Muslim, they don’t have to be anything. This is open to anyone who needs access to it in the community” said John Youens, of Nottingham Liberal Synagogue.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND