Sunday, 4 February 2018

THE NEWS EDIT [29/01/18- 04/02/2018]

By way of introduction, welcome to my new blog feature 'The News Edit'! As much as I enjoy the personalised posts that have characterised my blog thus far, it's always been my aim to post write ups featuring my own analysis on current affairs and topical issues dominating the headlines. I finally feel in a position where I'm confident enough to share the opinions I have on the world around us and the current political, social and economic realities which shape our everyday existence. But before we begin, it's important for me to stress that all of the content on The News Edit posts reflect my opinions and my opinions alone. Expressing my opinions in this format presents me with an opportunity to refine a skill for my future as a prospective investigative journalist, while hopefully providing an interesting read to all those who come across it....

This week, it was announced that the Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi and her mother, Nariman have been charged with security offences and are due to appear in court. Their arrest followed the video that Nariman filmed of her daughter slapping an Israeli soldier in December, which has caught the attention of the global community. I think the 'slapping' incident reveals a great deal about the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It elicits a great deal about the imbalance of force and power relations throughout the region and the ways in which these forms of power have been reproduced and intensified, seizing the lives of yet another Palestinian generation.

The incident has been dubbed as an act of 'terrorism' by Israelis and indeed by some of the international community as well, although I would strongly contest this. While I certainly do not condone the use of violence, it's so important to understand that violence is so deeply entrenched and to a certain extent, normalised in the region. Under the occupation of the West Bank, armed Israeli soldiers have a political prerogative to enter Palestinian homes at their will. After Trump's woeful declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December of last year, Palestinian protesters have been clashing with Israeli forces. For me, the slapping incident was not an act of terrorism but rather, a Palestinian girl's act of resistance against the brutal injustices which characterise her everyday existence under Israeli occupation.  But the incident also symbolises the bleakness of the region's future, whereby the prospects for a peace settlement in my lifetime are improbable.

In the UK, Theresa May hit the headlines by strongly indicating ahead of her trip to China this week, that during the transition period after Brexit (now expected to materialise in late December 2010), she will fight against the residency rights of EU citizens in the UK. During this period of implementation, it's always been the government's hope to minimise disruptions for business and holidaymakers, which also included the protection of EU citizens rights right until the end of the transition period. Here, May's trademark u-turn maneuvering demonstrates that once again, she has surrendered to the various pressures she faces from Brexiteers within her cabinet. I would strongly argue that her efforts should lie elsewhere (like ensuring we have the best kind of economic relations with Europe in the future for a starters) rather than surrendering to her divisive cabinet and making statements which threaten to ensure that fears of Britain's political, economic and social isolation become a lived reality....

In Poland, the approval of a controversial bill making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation-state of complicity in the Holocaust has sparked international debate. President Duda has defended the bill in the face of its critics, arguing that Poland has a right to defend ''historical truth'' and protest against the use of ''Polish death camps'' in international media discourses. The right-wing Polish government is also keen to promote Poland as a victim of the Nazi regime, rather than as a complicit actor in the atrocities which took place. However, Israel argues that the bill severely minimises the role of Nazi collaborators which effectively denies the Holocaust, by undermining the real-lived experiences of those who experienced it.

I think the use of ''Polish death camps'' is grossly misleading, as it does indeed suggest that the Polish state was complicit in the horrors which took place, when Poland was in fact a victim of the Nazi regime. But the bill is fundamentally problematic, for it glosses over a very complex relationship. Historians have argued that some Poles were complicit in the acts which took place and in a context where Antisemitism swept over much of Europe like a dark cloak, it's easy to understand why the bill has been met with such fury.

Clearly for many Poles, the use of ''Polish death camps'' is a deeply sensitive issue and there is a deep-rooted fear that those who use the term attribute Poles to be the creators and curators of the brutal atrocities which took place. In the future, I think it's really important for the international community to make a far more conscious effort in using the language of ''Nazi death camps'' rather than ''Polish death camps''.

One of the most harrowing stories of the week is the rape of an eight month old baby girl by her 28 year old cousin in New Delhi. Like many others, I recoiled at the news in horror and complete disbelief as I read about the extent of the infant's injuries on her internal organs. Yet, reactions of utter desperation across India demonstrate that this is not a horrific incident in isolation. Rather, this case is characteristic of sexual violence in India, which is soaring in both prevalence and in severity.

The rape happened on Sunday of last week, yet it only caught the attention of the wider community on Monday, when the local media had covered the story. The delay in this media reaction implies that crimes of this nature are so commonplace, that they have numbed and desensitised the people of India to the extent that they are no longer deemed as 'groundbreaking' enough to report on with greater speed or urgency.

It's certainly been heartening amidst all of this horror to see that many Indian people refuse to accept this fate of rape culture for their girls and refuse to give up their fight. Thousands have taken to the streets and to social media to scream out to the international community that sexual violence is on the rise and that it needs to stop, with the need for stricter laws and more police resources to tackle the problem.

Antonia x


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