Huddles of young men in flip-flops and Crocs, mainly from sub-saharan Africa, sat around the reception centre courtyard. Some played on listlessly their phones, others meandered around. Some just stared into space. There was little to do; the football pitch at the centre, a former special-needs school, was cracked concrete with solitary shoots of grass poking through. Even the football itself was worn and saggy; as deflated as the attitude of many living there. Speaking to Giulia, one of the cultural mediators working in a clinic at the centre, I discover that in many cases, new arrivals will stay here for at least three months whilst they wait for their asylum application to be processed.
My favourite morning email news digest, from Quartz, often has a list of ‘5 things elsewhere that made us smarter‘ or ‘5 things on Quartz we especially liked‘. Without fail, it’s always full of thought-provoking, surprising, and interesting new things. If you’ve not already signed up for the newsletter, I implore you to do so. And no, I’m not being paid by them to say that.
Anyway, I come across a lot of interesting and inspiring things online and in books, but besides posting them into the void that is Facebook, or rambling about them to unsuspecting family members, often they are read, appreciated and then lost. So I thought, inspired oddly enough by Bill Gates’ blog (I highly recommend his book reviews), that I should start collating and reflecting on these things. Without further ado:
The abuses uncovered at the Medway Secure Training Centre run by G4S are shocking and disgusting. But they are not unique. Continue reading “G4S at Medway: The same company, the same scenarios, and the same system failures.”
Hebrew, Arabic, English – and that’s just for starters. Jerusalem is demarcated by the use and misuse of language.
Disclaimer: This post contains an upsetting image. If you’re not okay with that, I’d recommend you skip this one.
In the early 2000s Israeli authorities began to construct a ‘security fence’ roughly along the green line, the ceasefire line from 1948 which demarcates Israel from the West Bank. Over a decade later, that wall is still under construction. It’s estimated that when completed, it will be over 700km long and the majority will have been built upon Palestinian territory.
Depending on whom you speak to, you may hear the wall referred to as an ‘annexation wall’, an ‘apartheid wall’, or a ‘security fence’. Whilst linguistic conjuring by both sides may serve to blur the motives behind its creation, its impact is undeniable – it separates Israel, and Israelis, from the occupied territories, and separates many Palestinians from their jobs, their families, and their right to freedom of movement.
But as the world becomes rapidly more interconnected, this divide exists not only physically but also increasingly digitally. Digital technologies, the internet, apps; they have all proven themselves incredibly divisive, whether by perpetuating and reinforcing the structural integrity of these divided groups, or by generating conflict themselves.
As the bus approaches the checkpoint people begin to gather their things and stand. It stops, on a grey, littered section of road, about twenty metres from the barriers and heavily armed border police ahead. Those who have collected their belongings begin to file off the bus and head towards a bleak-looking outbuilding, passing through crowds of vendors selling grilled sweetcorn, cab drivers touting for business, and other weary travellers passing to and from the checkpoint.
Yesterday saw a heinous terrorist attack at the Pride (LGBTQ) march in Jerusalem in which six were injured, leaving one woman in a critical condition. The perpetrator, an ultra-orthodox Jewish man called Yishai Shlissel, was released from prison only a few weeks ago after serving 10 years for a similar attack on the parade in 2005 in which three people were injured.
See the scene before and after: