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Hillary Clinton’s silence is the silence of women


Including a summary of Robert Fisk in Independent 26.1.11

The release of the Palestinian Papers is revealing layers of deception sanctioned by the West over centuries, writes Robert Fisk in today’s Independent.

“It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished.

“The words of their leaders – which are, unfortunately, our own words – have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more.”

Western foreign policy has, for centuries, dictated the leadership of foreign nations at the expense of their people. To justify this, our governments lie to us about WMDs, terrorist threats and our security.

It’s the oldest scam in the world that western ‘democracy’ relies on the oppression of others. But it becomes harder and harder for this to remain invisible.

The precedent set by Wikileaks has not taken long to spread its wings and fly around the world.

It is harder and harder for the West to hide the reality of our foreign policy, which relies on the attempted deception of the people of Arab nations, and the actual deception of our own populations in the UK, America and Europe.

This is, for me, most clearly marked by our silence on Palestine, only currently sweeping across our news screens and news papers due to the leaking of information to Al Jazeera.

“And so where are we going?” asks Robert Fisk.

“Could it be, perhaps, that the Arab world is going to choose its own leaders? Could it be that we are going to see a new Arab world which is not controlled by the West?

When Tunisia announced that it was free, Mrs Hillary Clinton was silent. It was the crackpot president of Iran who said that he was happy to see a free country. Why was this?”

Hillary Clinton’s silence is a sign of US political discomfort at the prospect of Arab independence.

But what does our silence, as ordinary citizens, indicate? In my case, my own 33 year long silence – only broken by a visit to Palestine last year – was a sign of my ignorance.

International politics bored me, and because it didn’t directly affect me, it was, frankly, effortless, to look the other way. But it is an ignorance I no longer feel entitled to.

My privilege depends on the populations of entire nations across the world being deprived of their rights.

In Nabi Saleh, in Palestine, I listened as women told me about their husbands being taken away, arrested, beaten or killed.

I listened as they told me about the nightmares their children have about the soldiers who come in the middle of the night.

I listened to them talk to me about the importance of finding a way to peace.

The biggest victims of international silence are women. Particularly under repressive regimes in the Arab world, women have no voice. Their silence is compulsory and breaking it can cost them their lives.

I have no such excuse.

As I watch helplessly while our economy crashes, and a disgustingly right wing government dismantles the welfare state and with it, the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, I wonder –  is the privilege worth it?

And where do we go from here? As individuals desperate to make a difference, as communities desperate to halt the vicious effect of the tide of cuts rising on the horizon, and as a society desperate for a better world?

As a community of women here at WVoN, I increasingly feel empowered to use my voice, to make a difference.

The internet has opened up a world of active democracy that goes far beyond our increasingly helpless governments. We do not need to be silent and the time for us to speak up is already long behind us.

So let’s make it our responsibility as women, as part of the powerless people of the world, to do all in our power to make a difference.

Reading the news, signing petitions, attending marches, lobbying MPs and letter writing campaigns – whatever is in our power, whatever is in our reach. We must take action to make the world around us better.

It is our responsibility to do this, not to wait for those who claim to represent our interests to do it for us. We already know the only interests the powerful represent are their own.

And our silence is already deafening.

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