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#Ramadankareem: May freedom, justice & dignity prevail over oppression, injustice & extremism

27/05/2017 Leave a comment

3634929593As the Ramadan begins, I would like wish all my Muslim friends, their families and loved ones best wishes for health, happiness and peace.

During this month let us pray for peace but also let us remember those less fortunate than us across the Middle East, in Syria and Iraq; those who have suffered through wars and displacement, who live without freedom and whose dignity is not respected. We have an obligation to to help them as much as we have an obligation to those closest to us.

كل عام وانتم بسلام وامان
وكل عام وانتم بخير
وكل رمضان وقلوبنا انظف وانقى
رمضان_كريم
تحيا الحرية و العديلة و الكرامة وأنتصارها على القهر و الظلم و التطرف

Ramadan Kareem!

#Opinion: Two-State Solution Slipping Away! Do Not Miss the Opportunity to Reverse the Negative Trends #Israel #Palestine @UNSCO_MEPP

03/07/2016 2 comments

The report published last week by the Quartet – the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations – presents an analysis that should come as no surprise to anyone. The negative trends on the ground continue to jeopardise prospects for peace and diminish the prospects for a two-state solution.

Palestinian frustration after half a century of occupation, dozens of failed peace efforts cannot be wished away; it cannot be vanquished by aggressive security measures, continued illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, arrests or punitive home demolitions. Neither is it helped when Israeli ministers openly reject the very notion of a Palestinian state, call for the complete annexation of the West Bank or rush to approve more settlement construction.

But neither will the violence and terror we are witnessing again help bring about a Palestinian state. A peaceful future for both peoples cannot emerge on the back of statements that glorify terror and justify killing; mutual respect cannot come as a result of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings.

Most Palestinians have lived with the humiliation of occupation all their lives.

They do not need the Quartet to tell them about the devastating impact of the illegal settlement enterprise on their lives, their economy, and their legitimate aspirations for an independent, sovereign, viable state. For them, a nine-page report could never fully capture what it is like to live under a military rule which governs every aspect of their daily existence and which has the power of life and death over them and their children. The shooting of 15 year old Mahmoud Raafat Badran, on his way home from a swimming pool is the latest testament to this sad predicament. No army should kill children by mistake.

Equally so, Israelis know that continuing terrorist attacks, the incitement which encourages such acts, and the ongoing militant activity in Gaza are major obstacles not just to peace, but to rebuilding trust. The recent murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel provided further testimony to that. Heroes do not kill sleeping children. Most Israelis have lived with such fears all their lives. It is also clear that the takeover of Gaza undermines the ability to achieve and implement a negotiated solution.

Given this stark reality, Palestinians and Israelis have reached a point where many on

both sides have lost faith in the other’s commitment to a future of two states

living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition. Many of them have also grown critical of the international community – some thinking it is not doing enough to resolve this conflict while others see it as overly involved with it.

 At the end of the day, the sad reality for peoples on both sides of the conflict is that the things which they hold most dear – statehood and security – are slipping further away.

 The report published by the Quartet sends two very clear messages. First, to those who hope that the international community would somehow abandon this conflict and let it descend in a deteriorating status quo to perpetual chaos, we say: no, you are wrong. The report reflects the determination of the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations not to look away, but to expose and draw attention to the problems in a more detailed and uncompromising manner than ever before and to hold the leaderships to account on their actions and inactions.

Second, to those who hope that the international community will enforce a solution on this conflict, we say: you, too, are wrong. No third party can decide for Israelis or Palestinians what compromises to make and what risks to take for peace. None of us can convince them to begin trusting each other. What the international community can and must do is to provide the parties with support and incentives to take the right path, the one towards peace, in line with commitments they have already made to each other and before the world. We must pledge to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) through negotiations in a manner that resolves all permanent status issues, meets Palestinian aspirations for statehood and Israeli security needs.

The report describes the Quartet’s view on the main obstacles blocking the path forward, and what needs to be done to overcome them. Both have been critical of the report.

But can anyone deny that violence is a problem for rebuilding trust? Who will make the argument that more cannot be done to end incitement?

Can anyone question the fact that illegal settlements, the taking of land for exclusive Israeli use and the prevention of Palestinian development in Area C of the occupied West Bank are not undermining the prospect for a two-state solution? Who will say that the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations are wrong when they call for these policies to stop?

Who can question the need to fully lift the closures on Gaza, end militant activity and reunite it under one single legitimate leadership?

This conflict is so complex and so long-standing, that any expectation of a quick fix that resolves all final status issues is at best naïve, and at worst a cynical strategy to avoid the painstaking work needed to rebuild trust and create conditions for a realistic, serious and ultimately successful negotiations that will end the occupation that began in 1967 and realize a two state solution. No one is talking about yet another new transitional agreement but rather about

implementing what both sides have already agreed upon

and changing reality on the ground to pave the road for the final deal.

The Quartet report sounds an alarm bell that we are on a dangerous slope towards a one state reality that is incompatible with the national aspirations of both peoples.

The international community stands ready to engage both with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the implementation of the report’s recommendations. We believe that if they take up this challenge, in cooperation with regional actors, Palestinians and Israelis will experience a positive change in their lives and sense renewed hope – a first and necessary step towards a future in which they can each live in freedom and dignity on their ancestral homeland, as good neighbours and masters of their own fate. I urge leaders on both sides not to miss this opportunity.


this opinion piece was published or quoted in the following media:

In Full/English

·         Israeli and Palestinian Media 

Ø     Jerusalem Post, 4 July, Link

Ø     Maan News Agency, 4 July, Link

·         Forum/Blogs

Ø     Naruto Café, 6 July, Link

Excerpts/English

·         Israeli and Palestinian Media 

Ø    Times of Israel, 4 July, Link

Ø    Arutz Sheva, 4 July, Link

Ø    Jerusalem Post, 4 July, Link

Ø    Maan News Agency, 5 July, Link

·         Regional Media

Ø    Press TV (Iran), 4 July, Link

Ø    Al-Bawaba, 4 July, Link

·      International

Ø    Reuters, 3 July, Link

Ø    Reuters, 4 July, Link

Ø    Reuters, 5 July, Link

Ø    Breitbart, 4 July, Link

Ø    Camera, 6 July, Link

Ø    Sputnik, 7 July, Link

Ø    Russia Today, 4 July, Link

Ø    The Nation (UAE), 4 July, Link

Ø    The Forward, 3 July, Link

Ø    EuroNews, 4 July, Link

Ø    Business Insider (UK), 3 July, Link

Ø    New Europe, 5 July, Link

Ø    Daily Mail, 3 July, Link

Ø    Germany Sun, 5 July, Link

Excerpts/Arabic

·         Palestinian Media

Ø     Al-Quds Newspaper, 3 July, Link

Ø     Al-Ayyam Newspaper, 4 July, Link

Ø     PalSawa, 3 July, Link

Ø     Palestine News Network (PNN), 4 July, Link

Ø     Amad, 3 July, Link

Ø     Shams News Agency, 4 July, Link

Ø     Panet, 5 July, Link

Ø     Arab48, 3 July, Link

Ø     Al-Hourriah, 9 July, Link

·         Regional Media 

Ø     Al-Arabiya, 3 July, Link

Ø     Sky News Arabic, 3 July, Link

Ø     Al-Hurra, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Mayadeen, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Bayan (UAE), 4 July, Link

Ø     Masr Al-Arabia, 4 July, Link

Ø     Lebanon Daily, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Rai, 5 July, Link

Ø     Al-Mydan, 4 July, Link

Ø     New Middle East, 4 July, Link

Ø     Al-Khaleej, 4 July, Link

Ø     Sana (Syria), 4 July, Link

·         International Media

Ø     Reuters, 3 July, Link

Ø     Russia Today, 4 July, Link

 

Visiting the Palestinian village of Duma

01/08/2015 Leave a comment

The room in which toddler Ali Dawabshe lost his life (photo credit: Murad Bakri)

Walking through the burned down remains of the house, talking to the relatives and knowing that this was intentional is truly a heavy experience. I have seen my fair share of blood and destruction from the immediate aftermath of Taliban rocket attacks in Afghanistan to the Hezbollah terrorist attack in Burgas that killed seven Israelis and one Bulgarian. But burning down a toddler while he is sleeping is pure evil…

Earlier this morning I met with President Abbas agreed with Abu Mazen that what is most important now is to make sure that the perpetrators are quickly apprehended and brought to justice. This is key. People need to see that terrorists are treated equally before the law.  On behalf of the Middle East Quartet Envoys, I also extended our condolences and condemnation of the terrorist attack.

President Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have spoken clearly against this attack and called for justice. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “terror is terror – and we need to fight it wherever it arises”. President Rivlin has said that “what we request [to fight terror] from our neighbours, from our opponents and our enemies of the last 100 years – that what we ask of them we must first ask of ourselves”.

The UN Secretary-General has condemned the act and pointed out that “continued failures to effectively address impunity for repeated acts of settler violence have led to another horrific incident involving the death of an innocent life”. In a press statement the UN Security Council  has strongly condemned “all such acts of violence, which have affected both the Palestinian and Israeli people”.

The European Union has called this cold-blooded killing “a tragic reminder of the dramatic situation in the region that highlights the urgent need for a political solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”. The United States has also condemned the vicious attack.

The world has condemned this latest tragedy. It must now come together to stand not just against terrorism, but also against incitement.

For what its worth none of our words, statements or condemnations will bring little Ali back. But our words and actions can prevent the destruction of more lives. In this process the UN has a key role to play globally, in the Middle East, but also here on the ground where we must work both with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to revive the political process and the prospects of a two state solution based on justice, security and mutual recognition.

The visit to Duma today was a poignant reminder of that responsibility. In Bulgarian ‘duma’ (дума) means ‘word’. Words can kill, but words can also save lives.

My thoughts after meeting Grand Ayatollah Sistani today

19/07/2014 1 comment
Briefing the media after my meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najjaf

Briefing the media after my meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najjaf

Today, I delivered a letter from the United Nations Secretary-General to His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani  welcoming his support for the protection of civilians in the current conflict, and his stance against sectarianism. This was my third meeting with the Shia religious authority, whom I hold in great respect. He is a humanist with a strong commitment not just to Iraq, but to preserving its multi-cultural, ethnic and religious richness. He has often spoken how democracy is the only way forward and of the need for everyone to abide by the Constitution. Over the last few weeks he has taken a firm stand calling on all to protect civilians in the conflict, particularly minorities.

In our two hour discussion we went through a host of issues related to the current situation in Iraq. Starting with the need to provide urgent humanitarian aid to those displaced by the fighting. I noted our particular concern with the fate of women and children. Today, Iraq has over 1 million displaced people. A very large number of them– some 300,000 are hosted in the three provinces of the Kurdish region. Tens of thousands have fled to Najaf and Karbala and further South, many are stuck in the ares of fighting.

The UN is mounting a mammoth effort to help the refugees. We have received substantial support from the Saudi Arabia in a historic first– His Majesty King Abdullah has donated USD 500 million to the UN’s humanitarian effort in Iraq. We are working closely with the authorities both in Baghdad and Erbil in order to increase our ability to reach as many affected people as possible.

We also discussed at length the constitutional process and the need to swiftly move to elect a new President this week, as well as a new Government soon after. His Eminence is acutely aware of all the constitutional deadlines and keenly follows the process. It is inspiring to see a religious leader who firmly believes in the separation of state and religion, speak so clearly of the responsibility of political leaders for the future of their country. We also agreed that the future Government should be acceptable to all communities and must quickly focus on a vision to save Iraq from terrorism, sectarianism and division. To many this may be an obvious truth, but it is a necessary discussion in country made up of a complicated ethnic and religious mix. In such an environment all politicians must be keenly aware that their statements reverberate across communal lines, therefore they must moderate the debate– not further radicalise it. The UN has consistently called and worked for reducing radicalisation and bringing all back to the political process, back to the constitutional framework. The problems that Iraq faces today– problems that could easily break the country apart, cannot be resolved except through dialogue and politics. Just a few months back the country went through parliamentary elections with over 62% of people casting their votes. In their infinite wisdom the people of Iraq did not give a full majority to anyone, therefore forcing politicians from all ends of the spectrum to work together. It was encouraging to see that the Shia Marjaiya share this understanding.

Last week the Speaker of the new Parliament was elected. It came after some weeks of internal debate between the parties, however the team they chose to lead the new Council of Representatives has hit the ground running. This week a new President should be elected. Slowly but surely the political wheels start turning. With every turn the chances of the people of Iraq to return to some semblance of normality increase. The UN stands ready to support this process with every means at our disposal. We will not leave Iraq alone at this crucial time. Speaking from experience, including my own country, I can vouch that if the international community looks away from a nascent democracy in transition– things start going wrong. Iraq needs the support of the world and the world owes the Iraqi people the support they require. They should not stand against terrorism, sectarianism and violence alone. Yes, most of the work needs to be done in-country, however the situation in Iraq remains intimately connected to the problems of the region. Resolving the Iraqi crisis through peaceful and political means can help reduce the tensions in the region. Allowing the crisis to continue unabated will spell disaster for the region.

So, despite the grim reality of over 5000 people killed since the beginning of the year and 1 million displaced I remain hopeful that the country has enough strength in itself to pull back from the brink. The election of a Speaker, the prospect of a new President, the negotiations for a new Government– all this should give us some hope. Most importantly and not just in the meetings in Najjaf today, increasingly I see a realisation that the legitimate concerns of all communities– Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and minorities should be addressed with a sense of urgency. Adopting fundamentally needed legislation related to the budget, revenue sharing, devolution of authority– this is just a glimpse of the list of laws that need to be discussed by the new Parliament. Looking into policies of social inclusion, addressing pockets of poverty, reforming the public administration and ensuring the rule of law and protection of human rights– again, all of these are challenges that the UN sought to address and will continue to work on with the Iraqis. Not to mention the coveted census and the unfinished constitutional agenda. Had all of these challenges been addressed throughout the last decade, maybe we would not be where we are today…

Categories: thoughts, UN Tags: , , ,

New Socialist Government Wants to Restart Controversial, Outdated and Expensive Belene Nuclear Project

30/05/2013 1 comment
Socialist leader Stanishev and PM Oresharski form unstable government with the support of xenophobic and nationalist Ataka

Socialist leader Stanishev and PM Oresharski form unstable government with the support of ultra-nationalist party Ataka

In February the Bulgarian Parliament voted by a crushing majority of 114 to 40 to cancel the controversial project to build a second nuclear power station at Belene with Russian technology. This decision should have been taken years ago. The project is outdated and expensive and this has been proven over and over again. It has already cost too much financially and politically to the Bulgarian tax payer. There is much speculation that over the last 30 years it has generated corruption, mismanagement and dependencies.

In March last year the Government put and to the project. This was endorsed by Parliament, but the opposition challenged it in a failed referendum. Those who argued that the Borisov government and the GERB centre-right majority in Parliament would not end this project were once again proven wrong today.

Bulgaria needs to invest in innovation, SMEs that create jobs and support a middle class. The country needs a modern energy infrastructure that is up to the highest standards of safety and is integrated into the European grid. Last but not least it needs to break away from the shackles of energy dependence, diversify and invest in energy efficiency.

Soon after this decision the Socialist opposition, in collaboration with those who had benefitted from the corruption that Belene had fed for decades, brought down the Government and early elections were called. Yesterday they formed a weak and unstable government that relies on the support of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and a xenophobic and ultra-nationalist party called Ataka. In its first statement the new government declared is that it wants to restart the Belene project… During the election much was said about growth, jobs and prosperity. Today the truth however has emerged. The Bulgarian Socialist Party has no idea how to move the country forward, its leadership is interested only in Belene. One ought to ask why? The answer is not that complicated. For more than three decades Belene has bled the Bulgarian treasury and economy. Billions were spent on a project that is outdated and defunct. Many of those who whisper in their ears made money out of this project. But there is another reason. Ultra-nationalist Ataka openly declared that they want the project restarted. Today PM Oresharski is paying the price for that one vote that got his government elected. Welcome to the coalition politics. When you sell your soul to the devil, he will come to collect it.

The people of Bulgaria will quickly see through this plot and should not allow it to materialise. My country has the potential to be a hub of innovation and growth in a region of economic turmoil. Why? Because its finances are stable, its credit ratings increased through the crisis, and the Bulgarian people are prone to innovation and enterprise. However that can happen only if they are left to their own devices. That should be the main priority of any government, no matter what side of the political spectre it comes from.

This post is based on an earlier entry, which I wrote when Parliament voted to end the controversial project.

За кервана и кучетата, които лаят

09/05/2009 Leave a comment

Познавам я отдавна. Адвокат e. Тази сутрин пихме кафе и си говорихме за това, което в момента минава за политика. По средата на разговора тя ме попита няма ли да се обърнем към Европейската народна партия за всичко което се случва тук – като започнеш от промените в избирателния закон, минеш през всички до болка познати скандали със злоупотреба с власт и завършиш в бразилския сериал около регистрацията на сините. „Кажете им какво става тук! Трябва да се разлаят кучетата, това минава всякакви граници!”

Да се разлаят кучетата, помислих си аз… Ами те кучетата си лаят доста отдавна. Лаят си заедно и поотделно. Лаят в България, лаят в Брюксел. Но няма кой да ги чуе.

Написах този текст, защото изглежда, че особено преди избори, когато сме залети от прегледи на успехите през мандата, имаме нужда да си припомним какво стана през последните две години в България. Общественото съзнание има качеството да забравя и да привиква с абсурди и скандали, когато те следват един след друг. Цялата логорея, която минава за политика, на практика  измества от съзнанието ни истинските факти от живота и реалността. А те са много по-силни, но керванът остава глух и за тях и за лая на кучетата. 

На 27 юни 2007 Европейската комисия изръмжа: „Без необратим напредък в съдебната реформа, в борбата с корупцията и организираната престъпност България рискува да не бъде в състояние да прилага правилно законите на ЕС. …Като цяло, напредъкът в съдебното третиране на случаите на корупция от високо равнище в България е недостатъчен… Все още е незадоволително съдебното преследване на убийствата, за които се предполага, че са поръчкови…Като цяло, напредъкът в борбата с тежките престъпления и организираната престъпност е недостатъчен.”

Тежки оценки, но добронамерени. Още повече че са съпътствани от ясно послание, че другите трябва да ни помогнат: „Европейската комисия приканва другите държави-членки да активизират помощта и ценната си практическа подкрепа за България.”

Шест месеца по-късно, на 4 февруари 2008, Европейската комисия отново изръмжа, вече с видимо недоволство: „… в ключови области като борбата с корупцията на високо равнище и организираната престъпност, все още не се демонстрират убедителни резултати.” По повод повдигнатите обвинения, осъдителните и оправдателни присъди за корупция на високо равнище Европейската комисия категорично отсече, че „не бе възможно да се прецени доколко тези дейности са допринесли за ограничаването на корупцията на високо равнище в България.”

Въпреки това, и вече с досада, Европейската комисия „…би посъветвала държавите-членки да дават повече пряка и практическа помощ…”.

Към лятото на 2008 нещата вече загрубяват. Освен редовните доклади за напредъка в борбата с корупцията се повява и нов проблем – кражбите на европейски фондове в България. На 23 юли 2008 Европейската комисия излиза с два доклада – първият за проблемите на правосъдието и вторият за фондовете. В първия доклад оценките са доста категорични и воят преминава в открит лай, но кой да чуе.

Това е целият параграф за борбата с корупцията:

„Борбата с корупцията по високите етажи и организираната престъпност не дава достатъчни резултати. Бяха придвижени няколко дела и на „войната срещу корупцията“ бе дадена гласност, но тези дела съставляват пренебрежимо малък дял от тези престъпления. Предоставената статистическа информация не е надеждна и понякога е противоречива. България постигна твърде малък напредък в замразяването или конфискуването на финансови активи, придобити по престъпен начин.”

Нима има някой в България, който не е съгласен с тази оценка или може да я оспори с конкретни данни?!

С доста ясни оценки Комисията напомня на България, че има нужда от „категоричен ангажимент на всички равнища за реформиране на системата”, както и че „България би трябвало да бъде в състояние да демонстрира резултати в борбата с организираната престъпност и корупцията, да предотвратява конфликти на интереси и да се справя по убедителен начин с предполагаемите връзки между част от политическата класа, бизнеса и организираната престъпност.”

За мен най-обиден обаче е следният параграф, в който се напомнят христоматийни истини. Истини, които всеки, явно с изключение на българското правителство, знае от обща култура. Препоръчвам Ви да го прочетете внимателно:

„Българските граждани заслужават да имат достъп до всички преимущества начленството в ЕС, което следва да допринесе за укрепване на върховенството на закона и за премахване на корупцията. Осъществяването на напредък в изпълнението на показателите, заложени в рамките на механизма за сътрудничество и проверка, и в разсейването на съмненията относно способността на България да се справи с корупцията и организираната престъпност ще позволи на българите да се възползват от тези преимущества и ще засили доверието им във върховенството на закона. Това ще има дългосрочен положителен върху българската икономика. България има отговорности към други държави-членки, например в рамките на политиките за правосъдие и вътрешни работи и по отношение на общото управление на средства от ЕС. […] Тези фондове представляват практическото изражение на солидарността на Съюза с България и е в интерес на всички те да бъдат използвани за подпомагане на регионите в по-неблагоприятно положение в страната.” 

Година и половина след като България е член на ЕС, Комисията вече не призовава страните-членки да помагат, а предупреждава категорично, че „е налице нарастващо недоволство сред държавите-членки, които предложиха своята подкрепа, поради липсата на прозрачност и резултати…” Срам! В началото на 2009г. Председателят на Европейската комисия Барозу още по-категорично каза на Сергей Станишев – в Европа има умора от помагане на България.

На 12 февруари 2009г. Европейската комисия публикува т.нар. междинен доклад. Лятото тази година ще излезе окончателният доклад за периода. Ако някой се е надявал на нещо позитивно в междинния доклад, останал е разочарован. Въпреки скъпоплатените опити на правителството да го „продаде” като „голям успех”, внимателен прочит показва, че присъдата не е променена – оценката от предния доклад (вж. по-горе) „остава валидна”. В заключенията се напомня за пореден път, че България трябва да „демонстрира с конкретни обвинения, дела и присъди за корупция по високите етажи и организирана престъпност, че правната система е способна да прилага законите по независим и ефективен начин.”

Всъщност има нещо различно в този доклад и то е в неговия тон. Лаят, отново се е превърнал в стон. От приятелки съвет в началото, преминал през остри предупреждения, тонът на Европейската комисия вече е сух, бюрократичен и отчаян. Кучетата се умориха да лаят. Керванът е доволен. Продължава да върви напред. А кучетата – отчаяни, че никой ни ги чува отиват да лаят другаде. Проблемът е, че керванът влачи след себе си цял народ и цяла държава. Народ, който и той е докаран до състояние на лаещо куче, но няма кой да го чуе. Керванът е от бронирани, звукоизолирани и климатизирани БМВ-та, от Порше-та (закупени с европейски пари като селскостопански машини)… Докато пиша този текст от Кремиковци към София върви протестно шествие. И него няма да има кой да го чуе… Най-страшното е не Европа да се умори от това да ни помага, а ние да не се уморим от това да изграждаме справедлива държава.

Хора, събудете се! Керванът няма да спре сам, трябва ние да го спрем!

9/11

11/09/2006 Leave a comment

It has been five years since the horrific attack on September 11th 2001.

Many people died horrible deaths, many lost friends and relatives, and many came close to losing their loved ones. It was a tragedy that will not be forgotten easily. Should not be forgotten easily. There are days in humanity’s history that are decisive for whole generations. My generation is ‘fortunate’ to already have two such dates – Nov 9th 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Sept 11th 2001.Today, five years later, as memories get blurred and life moves on we often forget what actually happened on that day. We all say that the world changed, but do we really understand how it changed. One hears voices out there that begin to question things. Did we – America, Europe, the West – not bring this onto oursleves? Who and what failed in that fatal day? Can we fight the war on terror successfully? Some even begin to question that there are forces out there bent on destroying our democratic way of life, who want to mould our societies to their twisted visions of extremist oppression. And coming from a country which has effectively regained its independence 16 years ago and has struggled for more than a decade to establish a functioning democratic system I am very sensitive to such questioning. To question is healthy. In fact to be able to question and criticise – freely and openly – these are two of the pillars of our freedom. Two pillars that came under attack five years ago.We should not forget the hope that the fall of the Berlin Wall brought to millions of people around the world, as we should never forget the realision that 9/11 brought – namely, that we must protect and advance the G-d given freedom that we have and that millions in the world still strive for.

Let us today pay tribute to those who died on Sept 11th, but let us also pay tribute to the nameless victims of terrorism and hatered around the world.

“…and it might well happen to most of us dainty people that we were in the thick of the battle of Armageddon without being waware of anything more than the annoyance of a little explosive smoke and struggle on the ground immediately about us.” George Elliot – Daniel Deronda

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