Tuesday, 29 May 2012

UEFA

So, we have just finished watching the BBC documentary "Euro 2012: Stadiums Of Hate" and we were disgusted (but sadly not surprised by what we saw).

For those who don't know, the host nations for this tournament are Poland and Ukraine and the documentary focused on the extremely high levels of prejudice visible in their football fans.



It is important to start this blog by stating quite categorically that not all Polish people or Ukrainian people are racist but clearly high levels of prejudice is still a massive problem, particularly within football.


In Polish cities, such as Łódź and Warsaw, they see a particular team as being the 'Jewish' team so enemy teams use anti-Semitic graffiti and anti-Semitic slogans to attack the 'Jewish' team. It is so shocking that in a place where millions of Jewish people were murdered because of their ethnicity that Polish people (who were also victims of Hitlerite aggression) demonise Jewish people the way the Nazis did. In Krakow, just forty-five minutes away from Auschwitz death camp, signs around the city state 'get rid of Jews'. The interesting thing is that Polish people were also murdered by the Nazis, so the Polish people who have flags saying death to hook noses and the anti-Jew front, would probably have been victims of the Nazis themselves. They clearly have no real understanding of their own history.





The prejudice is not solely contained to slogans and graffiti, violence is a real problem too. It seems incredibly strange and a little stupid, that UEFA has awarded this prestigious tournament to a country where racism and bigotry in football is such a huge issue. 


Jonathan Ornstein, Director of the Krakow Jewish Community Centre was featured in this documentary and we are very proud to have met him and to say that he is also included in our documentary. He spoke very eloquently about anti-Semitism in Poland which is still a very real problem today.


When the documentary travelled to Kiev in Ukraine, it was sickening to see the violent and aggressive forms of racism in Ukrainian society. You may remember us writing of our time in Kiev, when just days before we arrived a Jewish boy was beaten up so badly, he had to be administered to an intensive care unit. Just like the Nazis, the football fanatics seem to start their children on the path to bigotry very early; as young boys and girls were seen making monkey noises at black football players. From everyone we interviewed and everything we read about Ukraine, it seems that large parts of it are still filled with deep-seated hatred for non-Ukrainians. On our trip we interviewed the ever lovely Jenny Spektor to ask her view on minority rights in Ukraine. She painted a realistic but very sad picture, where victims of hate crimes are told by the Police to forget about the incident.  That seems to be a common theme in that part of the world, Police and government officials denying there is any problem whatsoever. 


In our opinions, the incidents we have written about today have a direct link to the Holocaust. The countries where anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia is still so rife, are the same countries that had a very traumatic Holocaust experience and have failed to not only come to terms with it in general but also their part in it. All countries in Eastern Europe must start towards a path to reconciliation and this can only be achieved by coming to terms with the past. The people who are screaming anti-Semitic slogans and shouting Zeig Heil, must know the true meaning of their words and how their country participated in the murder of millions of innocent people.


The last thing to say is, what the hell were UEFA thinking? Obviously they want to promote a united Europe but what they are instead doing is just condoning extreme forms of bigotry.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Propaganda.

First we want to apologise for our absence, we are sure that you have all been pining, but fear not faithful followers we are back, just like Backstreet.


We have spent the last few weeks working solidly on our documentary. It is a very intense process and pretty much every day we work well into the wee hours of the morning, but it is all worth it in the end! We are so excited to share it with everyone (we will do some kind of showing in the Autumn). We are really proud of it so far and we hope you all will enjoy it and take something from it.

Whilst we have been working we obviously chat a lot, sometimes about mindless drivel but sometimes about important wordly matters. Recently, we have been talking a lot about propaganda and how unbelievably effective it is. 
Before we go on, we should probably define what propaganda is, so hear goes. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as 'information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view'. Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels to the post of Minister of Propaganda. The Nazis used every medium from music, to newspapers and everything in between to spread their particular brand of prejudice. They created films and staged rallies to get their message out there. They had an entire newspaper called Der Sturmer that was devoted solely to demonising Jewish people and spreading anti-Semitism. 




Propaganda of course, was not invented by the Nazis and it did not end with them. So, the interesting question is, how is it used today? In the UK and US, propaganda is often used (as it was by the Nazis) to demonise (and ultimately dehumanise) specific groups in society. In the UK, asylum seekers are often targets by specific newspapers to show the effect of immigrants on society. They almost never describe the positive things that immigrants have done for the UK.


In the USA (and in countless other countries), gay people are often targeted by religious propaganda, which attempts to maintain the status of homosexuals as second class citizens. Propaganda either tells complete lies, or it often uses an individual and their negative actions, to represent an entire people. 




These examples of propaganda are obviously quite extreme but propaganda can also be subtle, so subtle in fact, that we don't always notice it. So how do we make sure that we don't get hoodwinked by the media? We must take everything we read with a pinch of salt. Different forms of media are so easy to access, that we don't really have an excuse not to research/verify certain news stories. We have to be responsible for our own thoughts. 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Fail.

Our most sincere apologies for not having written much this week, we were in the middle of editing the documentary and it is extremely time consuming! However, disaster struck yesterday when the files that we had been working on disappeared off both the hard drive and the computer itself. Basically, we have to start pretty much from scratch.

It isn't the complete end of the world as we have notes on what we are working on but it does set us back a few days. It is very frustrating, especially how we were saying (just yesterday morning), that all the clips would have been trimmed and put in place by tonight. That's probably not going to happen now. 



We will keep you updated on our progress and we shall also write something thought provoking for you to ponder as we fix our editing fail.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Youtube.

While we were in Targu Mures, we spent time with the amazing Susie Ambrus and her son, David Kuzstos.

David is an amazing film maker who wanted to film parts of our time in Targu Mures, so he could make a documentary about our visit, we obviously jumped at the chance!

David has produced a fantastic
 10 minute short film about our trip. He interviewed us and we discussed about our time in Targu Mures, as well as the trip itself and our hopes for humanity.

Please check it out on youtube and share it with as many people as possible!



Monday, 7 May 2012

Sanity.

Last night, accompanied by some lovely friends, we watched the Blair Witch Project (it is ridonculously scary). It got us to talking about scary stories and murder in general (a note of advice, don't start this conversation an hour before bed time). We then couldn't help but wonder how people are capable of committing murder in cold blood?


Cold blooded, premeditated murder, reviles, yet fascinates us much, that we continuously search for explanations as to how people can commit such crimes. This is particularly interesting to us, in reference to the mass execution of people in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. These murders were expertly planned and carried in cold blood, with men putting bullets in the heads of innocent men, women and children. We want to understand how an apparently sane human being could kill another in such a way.


For most of us, it is impossible to fully understand what can drive a human being to execute another, but it does not stop us searching for explanations. One of the most common defences used during the trials of those accused of cold blooded murder is insanity. For example, Anders Behring Breivik is currently on trial in Norway for the mass murder of 77 people. One of the greatest difficulties that this trial is faced with, is trying to work out if Breivik is insane. By Norwegian law if someone is considered to be insane, then they cannot be prosecuted for committing a crime. So the questions are: how could an 'insane' person organise and carry out, such a well planned attack or how could a sane person kill 77 other people in cold blood?


Despite the scale being different, we should then ask the question if those who murdered people in the fields of Ukraine were insane? It would be quite convenient for humanity if they were, and perhaps you may feel it is the same as asking if the Nazis were monsters but we are not asking this question to absolve the Nazis, we are asking it to understand their crimes, and this is the key to moving forward. We know that people made choices to kill in the Holocaust but perhaps there were high instances of insanity in those who were committing mass murder during the war? Regardless of how uncomfortable sane cold blooded killing makes us, the problem with declaring the mass executioners to be insane, is that there was no doubt that those who were committing the crimes, were 'sane enough' to carry them out in remote locations and conceal them as much as humanely possible. This then leads us to conclude that there was an element of understanding the crimes that they were committing, including how inhumane they were. 


There may be many reasons why the normal men who wrote home, telling their families that they loved them or missed them could kill millions of other families but it seems unreasonable to declare thousands of people insane. Perhaps there were insane men, who did participate in those murders but it seems unlikely that every single Nazi would have been considered to be insane. It is more likely that the other explanations we have offered such as dehumanisation, bad choices etc. were evident. Despite these very simple explanations, we are then left exactly where we started, not  really able to understand how fathers and husbands could kill children and wives.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Relations.

The Huffington Post has recently reported on US Secretary of State, (and the all-round awesome) Hilary Clinton, pressing China to improve their human rights programme. 


This is obviously a very important thing. China has one of the worst cases of human rights abuses in the world:
  •  China carries out the death penalty on more people than the rest of the world put together.
  • Torture is still commonplace in China's detention centres despite it being banned in 1996.
  • Religious groups such as the Fallun Gong are banned.
  • Sights such as Facebook, Google and Twitter and believe it or not, even this blog site provider can't be seen in China. 
  • Each set of parents are only allowed one child each and forced abortions for second pregnancies are very common. 

These five examples, are only a tiny snapshot of the human rights abuse cases carried out by China. The problem is, that despite Hilz Clinton's important pressures on China to improve its treatment of just about everyone, China is now so powerful that it can basically do what it wants. There isn't much that any country can really do about it, without taking real action (and we aren't talking about military action). Despite this, the same countries (like the US and the UK), who would readily criticise China's human rights, don't seem to care enough to do anything really about it. For example, America has $48,000,000,000 worth of investments in China and although Hilz and other important American's do pressurise China (to stop hating on all the people) there is no sign of the breaking of trade relations.

This is the biggest problem it seems. Countries view economics and trade as something completely separate to human rights. This example of the US and China, is just one instance where a country will criticise another's human rights records in one speech, but then arrange billions of dollars worth of trade in another. It seems to us (and we are absolutely not experts on trade) but there needs to be a unification of a countries ideals. It seems it is very hard for a country to be completely capitalist, as well as completely liberal. The ideals just don't seem to add up. This is a massive problem for the advancement of human rights at government level, and it shouldn't stop us caring and taking action. This then allows the 'abuser' state to continue to make excuses and to not really bother to make a change. 

Obviously trade is extremely important, but why have we built a world that values money, over the life of a person?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Exposed.

There is an organisation called JONAH that we want to expose.


FYFT believe in learning from that past for a better tomorrow, for all peoples. That means that we need to be a voice for those who perhaps do not have a voice. We need to speak out on behalf of all persecuted, downtrodden, oppressed, vulnerable people everywhere. This is why we want to expose JONAH as the bigots that they clearly are.


JONAH is a Jewish organisation (much like many Christian organisations in the US) who believe that homosexuality is a choice, and that you can switch. In our opinion (we don't want to get sued) Jonah takes advantage of people in vulnerable positions. They take advantage of desperate people, who are made to believe that because they love someone from the same sex, they are broken, and in need of fixing. We find the work of JONAH (and there like) to be particularly offensive. They are perpetuating the age old belief, that to be gay is not ok and that ultimately you must deny who you are, and conform to what your particular society thinks you should be.

It disturbs us, that there are some Jewish people, who have been so victimised themselves, cannot accept gay people for who they are. Everyone has a responsibility to learn from the Holocaust. We must ALL have compassion to groups who have faced and continue to face persecution. It also disturbs us that these types of organisations are allowed to exist. We are all for free speech and the freedom to assemble but not if it perpetuates prejudice and exploits people who are desperate for a change. What Jonah and all the other organisations should be doing, is to help teach acceptance and tolerance, not to oppress and hate.



What interests us, is what primative methods this organisation is using to 'convert' gay people? On their website, they state that:


 'Through psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment, JONAH seeks to reunify families, to heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality, and to provide hope.'

This is really frightening. We should all actively work towards a world where people are accepted and loved for who they are. There is, however, one thing that we would agree with JONAH on, we would agree that there can be 'wounds surrounding homosexuality'. What we would argue, is that it is organisations like JONAH that are causing them. 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Filmakers.

The editing process is well under way (well on paper at least) and it's very exciting! We are waiting on some very important software but we have decided which shots we are using and in which order. It is really cool to see it come together and to be able to visualise the way it will look when it's finished! We are trying as much as possible to involve the viewers in our journey. One of the difficult tasks that we face, is to make sure that people not only get what we are trying to say but to believe what we are saying, and believe it like we believe it. Making a documentary is a long process but from our limited experience, what has helped, is the fact that we have had such a clear vision of what we want the end product to look like. We don't just mean aesthetically (although that of course plays a massive part in it) but we also mean in terms of the story and how we want to portray the journey that we are on. We have decided on a name for the film and we have made the introduction section, which lasts about a minute but took two days to do (and it still isn't perfect). And before anyone makes a disparaging remark about our pace of work, it's not that we are slow workers, it's that it's an incredibly long process! When we were away, Marla and Jay Osborne introduced us to someone as film makers, that blew us away! We thought 'we aren't film makers, we are just making a film.' To us a film maker is someone with a directors chair, a megaphone and a cigar but it seems that all you need to do be a film maker is to make a film! Who knew!? We can't believe that we have made a documentary and we really hope it has worth and that people connect with it and our journey. We are very excited to show it you, so stay tuned.


From Yesterday, For Tomorrow is featured in the Jewish telegraph today, which is cool, so make sure that you pick up a copy. We have many copies so there may not be enough for you to buy, so as you are obviously desperate to read it, you may BORROW one of ours. Today the Jewish Telegraph, tomorrow (or some other time in the future) the Daily Telegraph! 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Enjoy.

We wanted to show you a selection of interesting and fun pictures from our journey. We want you to see that despite the horrors of the Holocaust, life must go on and that we did enjoy our time away, regardless of the difficult subject matter. We must move forward, never forgetting, always keeping the stories with us, but learning from them so we can create a better tomorrow.