1 Jul 2015

PYD statement on Turkish threats to militarily intervene in Rojava

Statement to regional and global public opinion  In recent days we have seen threats issued by Turkish officials regarding the possibility to create a military buffer zone in northern Syria. We would like to make some points clear to our people and the international public opinion.  

  • We are a democratically elected party, working inside the Democratic Self Administration of Rojava, and we strive to respect and maintain the internationally recognized borders. We are furthermore determined to establish friendly relations with our neighbors. 
  • We reiterate that we do not seek to establish an independent state, as is falsely claimed by Mr. Erdogan. We work to consolidate our democratic project and we advocate it as a model for the whole of Syria. Syria needs to establish a political system based on democratic pluralism. We are a part of Syria and external forces have no right to intervene in our internal affairs.  
  • We in the democratic union party PYD, and our partners in the Democratic Self Administration of Rojava, do not want to stir up unrest with our neighbors. We only demand that our neighbors adhere to the principle of non-interference and that we together can work to establish cordial relations based on mutual respect, as stipulated in the UN charter.  
  • We are currently cooperating with the coalition in the fight against terrorism, just as our allies are cooperating with the Turkish state in the fight against terrorism. Any attack on the people’s protection units, YPG and its allies would only play into the hands of the terrorists.  
  • A military intervention in Rojava would have grave repercussions locally, regionally and internationally, it would threaten peace and security, and finally it would add to the complexity of the already dire situation in Syria and the broader Middle East. We call upon the major powers in NATO, especially the United States and France to prevent any Turkish intervention in Rojava, which is a part of the Syrian territory.  
  • The people’s protection units, YPG, has fought bravely against the criminal regime forces and other terrorist gangs, most notably ISIS, and has made great sacrifices. The YPG is determined to protect its people and its land at any cost. All we seek is to establish a democratic system, within the framework of the unity of the Syrian territory, guarantee the rights of all Syrians irrespective of religion of ethnicity, and to establish cordial relations with our neighbors. We are an active partner in the international coalition and the fight against global terrorism. Proceeding from the above, we call on officials in the Turkish republic to refrain from provocative and reckless policies. We also appeal to the great powers to intervene in order to prevent any Turkish intervention in Rojava. We also renew our commitment to international treaties and conventions, and we call on the Turkish government to respect international law, and to refrain from provocative operations, including repeated threats of direct military intervention.  The co-chairmanship of the Democratic Union Party                                                                              

25 Jun 2015

Witnessing HDP victory in Turkey: Election monitors report back

Witnessing HDP victory in Turkey: Election monitors report back
Where: Committee Room 6, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
When:  Tuesday 7 July 2015 // 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Hosted by Kate Osamor MP

Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer in Political Sociology in Department of sociology at Cambridge University Melanie Gingell, human rights lawyer; barrister, Doughty Street ChambersBronwen Jones, family and immigration barrister, Mansfield ChambersJohn Hunt, journalist, writer, and editorSean Hawkey, photojournalist and Green Party memberDerek Wall, International Coordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales

On 7th May the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, the HDP, won a historic victory in Turkey’s general elections and gained 13.1% of the national vote, surpassing the 10% threshold by a margin unexpected by even their most avid supporters. For the first time in the history of modern Turkey, an openly pro-Kurdish party will officially take up seats in Parliament.
Not only did the result prevent the AKP winning a majority, and in doing so curtail President Erdogan’s creeping authoritarianism, it also signifies a potentially dramatic advance for the Kurdish movement, which continues to struggle for self-determination and equality within Turkey and the region. 
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign invites you to this public event to hear from our team of election observers, who spent 5 days in Turkey’s southeast to witness the outcome of the elections. They will provide insight into the HDP’s democratic project, which incorporates gender equality, pluralism, and ecologism, and the implications of the HDP’s success for the Turkish-Kurdish peace process, strengthening of Turkish democracy and Turkey’s policy towards Rojava and Syria.
This event will begin at 6.30pm - please allow 30 minutes to go through security at the Houses of Parliament. 
For more information, please contact:

Peace in Kurdistan 
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk <mailto:estella24@tiscali.co.uk> 

Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie  Sirinathsingh - Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596
Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Conor Murphy, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall

24 Jun 2015

Spinoza and Other Heretics: The Marrano of Reason

Yirmiyahu Yovel shows how Spinoza grounded a philosophical revolution in a radically new principle--the philosophy of immanence, or the idea that this world is all there is--and how he thereby anticipated secularization, the Enlightenment, the disintegration of ghetto life, and the rise of natural science and the liberal-democratic state.
The Marrano of Reason
The Marrano of Reason finds the origins of the idea of immanence in the culture of Spinoza's Marrano ancestors, Jews in Spain and Portugal who had been forcibly converted to Christianity. Yovel uses their fascinating story to show how the crypto-Jewish life they maintained in the face of the Inquisition mixed Judaism and Christianity in ways that undermined both religions and led to rational skepticism and secularism. He identifies Marrano patterns that recur in Spinoza in a secularized context: a "this-worldly" disposition, a split religious identity, an opposition between inner and outer life, a quest for salvation outside official doctrines, and a gift for dual language and equivocation. This same background explains the drama of the young Spinoza's excommunication from the Jewish community in his native Amsterdam. Convention portrays the Amsterdam Jews as narrow-minded and fanatical, but in Yovel's vivid account they emerge as highly civilized former Marranos with cosmopolitan leanings, struggling to renew their Jewish identity and to build a "new Jerusalem" in the Netherlands.

I have just finished reading volume one of 'Spinoza and Other Heretics' entitled 'The Marrano of Reason'.

I have written elsewhere on the importance of the Dutch philosopher to green politics and the left, have a look here if you need some background.

I would not recommend this book as an introduction to Spinoza, one of the books by Steven Nadler would be better.

However I thought that this volume was interesting and made the case that the experience of the Marranos, Jews who remained secretly true to their faith while being forced to pretend to be Christians was important to  the development of Spinoza's approach.

The Marranos were the Portuguese and Spanish ancestors of Spinoza who had to lead double lives, practicising a hidden faith under threat from the Inquisition.

The Marrano experience led, it is claimed, to some challenging Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and embracing a rationalist approach to religion, which either reject God or promoted a God of science and reason.

It was not that Spinoza was influenced or 'corrupted' by figures such as Uriel de Costa, while he met other sceptical Jews or ex-Jews, the Marrano experience provided a context for the development of his philosophy.

It is claimed that he was the 'Marrano of Reason' unable to publically state all of his radical views but hiding them in more respectable formulas.

Spinoza's words it is claimed often have double meanings.

A very important contribution to the study of Spinoza and whether you agree or not with its central thesis, the Marrano experience seems to have shaped the philosophers work.

I feel to understand Spinoza you have to follow his approach which stresses effects rather than causes, and his effects from secularism to liberalism and Marxism were spectacular.  However while he rejected the ideas of looking at causes or lineages I think, and I guess this is a common opinion,  understanding both the Marrano context and Jewish Medieval philosophy help us to understand his approach.