LibLink: Shirley Williams “Europe has a duty to Gaza”

Shirley WilliamsWriting in the Guardian today, Shirley Williams says:

The tragedy of the centenary we commemorate this week is that it falls as some of the most brutal and merciless wars of those same hundred years are raging.

She refers to the current conflicts in Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

Attacks on Belgian and French civilians, including children, by Germany’s invading army in August 1914 shocked the public and politicians in Britain and elsewhere into intervening, and many individual men into enlisting – so much so that conscription in Britain was not introduced until 1916. Among those appalled by the attacks on civilians was my mother, Vera Brittain, who was to become the author of Testament of Youth, a remarkable memoir of the war. Her childhood dream had been to go to Oxford University and become a writer. But the suffering of civilians and the mounting toll of soldiers compelled her to abandon that dream and sign on as a volunteer nurse in military hospitals in England, Malta and France.

She reminds us that the laws of war began to erode during the First World War, as the distinction between soldier and civilian deaths blurred.

In Gaza today each side blames the other for the loss of civilian life. Identifying who is mainly responsible in Gaza might well be a key outcome of investigations by the international criminal court, but that will not resolve the immediate crisis.

The EU, as the main financier of the Palestinian Authority, is in a position to influence the PLO and to work with the Arab League on a settlement. The US remains Israel’s essential ally, but as a mediator is hobbled by the dependence of its legislators on politically motivated funding. If we are not to see endemic conflict leading to disaster for both the Palestinian territories and Israel, the EU must find its voice.

You can read the whole article here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Jayne Mansfield 5th Aug '14 - 4:10pm

    Reading Testament of Youth was an important milestone in my development.

    Now in my late sixties, I just feel a painful sense of impotence. I turn away and cry when children suffering from conflict appear on television.

    The First World War was supposed to be the war that ended all wars but it didn’t. I marched against the war in Iraq but I am so confused about Tony Blair’s idea of liberal intervention in foreign conflicts. How realistic are Dame Shirley’s suggestions? Won’ t Europe just be accused of further unwarranted interference by the various protagonists? Our track record does not seem to be good.

  • Richard Dean 5th Aug '14 - 4:10pm

    Why is the EU the main financier? Was this a decision by some civil servant in Brussels, or by the collective governments of the member states? Did the electorates have any say in the matter?

    If the EU “finds its voice”, what will it say, and to whom? Shirley seems to be suggesting that the only practical approach is for the EU to pressure Hamas to stop fighting and start talking. But what about the EU pressuring Israel? Or on the US? Is it possible, might it be helpful too?

    Hamas may be incompetent as a government, but Gaza is tiny, very overcrowded, and probably the big loser in all of this, whether by force or by talk. In what sense does Gaza have much of a chance of being a nation that can bring wealth, independence, peace to its citizens?

    Of course people have their lives, but in what other sense do Gazans have anything to lose?

  • Why this tragic events against the Gaza and the Palestinian people have gone on for so long is that Israel can always rely on the USA for support in its military aggression.
    The tragedy is this is also happening to the ethnic Russians in the East of the Ukraine by the Kiev regime military when you have a regime in Kiev containing some real nasty factions out to remove all non-ethnic Ukraines from the country.

    The EU has to make a stand in support of the Gazans, the Palestinians and Ukraine’s ethnic Russians that are being murdered by Israeli and Kiev regime military day by day as we hear on the world’s TV news services;
    The problem is the USA is preventing the EU from acting indepentantly in a fair manner with the use of its cold war centralised NATO command.
    The EU can never be creditable unless it distances itself from the NATO which is now in its current form just the tool of US imperialism.

  • “Baroness Warsi did not have to quit as ‘Lib Dems winning coalition argument on Gaza says Ed Davy”
    Its wise to know when you are flogging a dead horse, Baroness Warsi obviously tried her hardest to influence the government, but no one wished to listen.
    Isn’t it typical of the Liberal Dem’s to raise their heads above the parapet after the event. Why did we hear nothing from Mr Davey up until now? what argument are they winning? If any one is winning, it is because Baroness Warsi has shone the spotlight on the governments disgraceful lack of condemnation of the killing of hundreds of innocent children and thousands of civilians in Gaza. Unfortunately that lack of condemnation includes Mr Davy and other Lib Dem ministers in the coalition.

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