Death of a Christian friend of the Palestinians father of my friend CathyThe last time I saw Roger was on the 11th August 1999, at the time of the last solar eclipse of the sun. I got it into my head that the weather in Cornwall would be fine and I decided to drive down from Brighton. Unfortunately it was as cloudy, if not more so, in Cornwall than in Sussex.
Over the years we spoke a number of times.
Roger’s only daughter Cathy is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met nearly 30 years ago when Cathy was a student at Sussex University. Cathy was one of the original founders of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch in Brighton. Her home was in Warleggan, a little Cornish village on the edge of Bodmin Moor. She lived in a garden oasis in the midst of arable farmland on three 3 acres of land known as the Rookery.
|Laura - a poet and Roger's beloved wife|
|Roger and EAPPI delegation to the Palestinians|
I still remember the day we crossed together the mountains from Jayyous to Nablus where I have been working. There was no taxi, and we were not allowed to use the asphalt roads. It was risky, but he showed courage, strength and smiles never left his face. His heart is full of love; you like to set with him; you feel safe with him; you feel close to him as member of your family. Even after 10-years passed, I can still see him standing talking to me and remember his sweet words to me. He is so kind to kids and all people who met in Jayyous. It is not easy to forget him. If you met Roger you must love him. I share tears and good memories with his family. Tell CATHY, her father was a great man, very kind, peaceful; our land loves him, and we love him forever. Cathy come and see where your father was walking and why he was standing in the middle of land. Your father commitment to Palestine is his commitment to peace. Feel proud of your father’s name, memories, and biography.
|Stowes pound cave|
See http://www.warleggan.net/Roger for further links
Roger Farnworth (29th October 1937 – 22nd January 2013)
|Stowes pound cave entrance|
With Laura and their Latvian friends, especially Monika and Guntis, refugees from the war, life changed utterly for Roger. He was no longer a conventional boy who had never read for pleasure. Worlds opened up suddenly – drinking, dancing, the impassioned poetry of the Latvian diaspora. This joy stayed with him always as Roger’s friends will most certainly remember.
|Racist graffitti daubed by settlers in Hebron|
Over the last decade or so, Roger started to study the archaeology of Bodmin Moor and further afield. Very recently he gave a talk to the Cornwall Archaeology Society and was to give a talk on cliff castles in May. Roger developed new ideas about the meaning of Neolithic monuments across Cornwall which came to be recognised by professional archaeologists as profound and significant, and he discovered many new cairn platforms, other archaeological features, and also view frames centred on Rough Tor above which the cosmos revolves with the North Star. Landscape for Roger was holy. The way the Neolithic monuments called to each other across Cornwall and the heavens meant everything to him. Roger loved nature’s unknowable unpredictable hand on the landscape, the shifting light and trees bent down by the wind. Roger fought against wind turbines in remote locations, including in Warleggan Parish, whilst spending much time researching other forms of renewable energy and advocating community managed energy schemes. He said regarding a proposed wind farm on the slopes of Rough Tor, ‘I feel we will have let down future generations who will never again experience the wild isolation and rugged beauty of Rough Tor’s archaeology. Their insights into the earliest Neolithic will be dominated by energy generators. I fear that some think knowledge filleted from the past is all that matters. It is the quest to imaginatively recreate Neolithic experience that will irrevocably be harmed by the wind farms.’
It is with great sadness to tell you that we have been informed of the passing of Mensa’s Intellectual Events Officer, Roger Farnworth, who died yesterday (22 January 2013). Roger was very much a champion of Mensa and organised several events for the society including the Science and Arts Days; he will be sorely missed by many at Mensa. Everyone in Mensa has been shocked to hear the news about Roger. Our thoughts our very much with his family at this sad time. Roger was a great character and a thought challenger. He enjoyed encouraging group discussions and watching where people went with their knowledge, imagination and interpretation. ‘Mensa will miss their Intellectual Events Officer but will continue to benefit from the programme that he set out for the society. He was a true Ambassador for Mensa and a friend of many.’
John Stevenage, Chief Executive
ROGER’S WRITINGS FROM PALESTINE
Plato & the Palestinians: Talk given to Mensa groups in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv by Roger Farnworth
The hottest talking point in Athens was one that is bound up with the idea of justice. “What is the best form of government?” City-states were springing up round the Mediterranean wherever Greek traders settled. There was a creative variety of experiments in just or despotic rule. Likewise discussion of how the Israeli state and society should develop are perennially at the centre of this country’s political life.
Early in Plato’s ‘Republic’ Thrasymachus advances an opinion you will hear every day in Middle Eastern countries. There is no just government. Might is right. In nature the strong always have power over the weak and human societies are the same. You will hear it said that the Israeli state occupies Palestine because it is supported by American military and economic power and the P.L.O. became the sole representative of the Palestinian people because it had the most firepower. Plato’s “Republic” is the search for a more just form of government.
|Learning the lessons of history - Zionist prison camp in Negev desert|
Poem by Roger, from the Palestinians to the Israelis:
We have been here longer than the trees
We have been here longer than the trees
We will stay here longer than the stones
We are married with a ring
A ring of bright razors
The snake you feed until it grows long
Will bite the hand that holds it
It is for you,my friend, we mourn,
Power has made you rigid
Even a handshake troubles
And a smile alarms.
Newsletter from JayyousHi, Thought you might like to know how life is going on here in the village of Jayyous about three kilometres from the green line that divides Israel from what is left of Palestine. There are about forty settlements between us and Jerusalem, many of them new, just a few caravans protected by soldiers. They are on the top of the hills and they claim all the land on the sides though it has been terrace farmed for centuries. Last weekend I was in a beautiful valley with the ninety people who farm there. On the hills on all sides caravans and houses are appearing. Lights beam down at night and armed settlers recently took a thirty acre field at gun point and ploughed it. They shot one villager dead and last month shot sheep that wandered on to it. The villagers never resist after the land is taken as they are very frightened. I saw the largest settlement of Ariel yesterday. It has more than a thousand houses – very expensive yet looking identical and seeming to march down the hillsides in serried ranks. The infamous separation wall will go round the settlement and will take in all the surrounding Palestinian villages on the Israel side of the fence. They will lose al their land and all roads to Palestine. They will have no option but to work in Israeli factories. I saw one such village that had lost its land and roads and had the fence on each side a kilometre apart with one side open and a new road that just led to the industrial estate the settlers had established.
|The Dead Sea|
|Flowers on Mountain|
|Jerusalem - a City of Ethnic Cleansing today|
Newsletter: Christmas in BethlehemI spent Christmas in Bethlehem at the Shepherd Inn but more of that later. First I want to tell you about Jerusalem which is even more closely linked to the life of Jesus. As you know it is sacred to three religions but you may not have realized how close their holiest shrines are, literally a stone’s throw. The Old City is dominated by the golden dome of the mosque on temple mount. This hillock is also claimed as the site of Solomon’s temple so the Jews worship at the Wailing Wall, that west part of the temple that Herod built. The Via Dolorosa or way Jesus walked with his cross is mostly in the Moslem quarter but the Holy Sepulchre is in the centre. The wonky notice directing the public is held up by green earth fuse wire. In the early morning many services are held at the same time but I much prefer the ancient rite of the Armenians, the earliest country to accept Christianity.
Between Jerusalem and Bethlehem I passed through several check points. The ancient paths which Jesus used many times between the nearby towns have all been truncated. All the routes from Nazareth to Bethlehem that Mary and Joseph could have taken are now blocked by the separation wall. There are over 700 blocked roads, fences and checkpoints in Palestine. When over 150 taxis were held at a checkpoint I began to think that Mary and Joseph and the donkey would travel faster. Suddenly the blockade lifted and all the taxis raced towards Bethlehem. When I checked into my huge hotel I was the only guest, many came on Christmas Eve, but every restaurant was closed or empty by Christmas day evening, such is the measure of the collapse of Bethlehem’s tourist trade because of the difficulty of entering. It’s worse than the effect of foot and mouth on Cornish tourism.
It’s immensely moving to descend the steps to the small manger room where Christianity began. On Christmas day there was a suicide bomb in Tel Aviv and nine shot in Gaza. A child of six was shot a few days before in the nearest town to our village. I’ve just become a grandfather and feel that all children are like the holy baby in being precious and vulnerable. It wasn’t an easy Christmas.
This troubled conflict is about land. On Bodmin Moor, near where I live, there is a farmer who, until a recent illness had never slept away from his farm in ninety years, he loved his land. Behind the farm is a medieval longhouse and close by many ancient round houses, all were farmers on that same piece of land down the years. In the holy land, Jews were amongst the first to start farming the fertile crescent. When the Romans drove them out the Arabs took over. The Israeli’s have 78% of the original land of Palestine. I hope that they will soon withdraw from the remaining 22% where Palestinians could live in peace.
Newsletter: The Closure of the South GateOn Sunday November 23 2003 twelve stakes were driven into the road to the Southgate.
Razor wire was then coiled round the stakes. Overnight, without warning, a permanent barrier to vehicles had appeared. It was then stated that no farmer would ever again access his land from this gate. Only the Bedouin family will be allowed to pass through the parted razor wire to attend school. But a crisis is looming for them. The water bowser that brings their water every three weeks will be unable to reach them. This refugee family may yet again be forced to start life again elsewhere. The prospects for the farmers are more desolate. Their only source of livelihood may soon be transformed into the well-watered lawns of a settlement.
No one can deny the attraction to Israel of sinking deep wells into the catchment area of all the surrounding hills. The abundant water for Israelis could increase the greenhouse culture, which is diminishing for Palestine as farmers are hustled, delayed or denied entry at the remaining gate. I have seen two greenhouse structures and three irrigation systems dismantled and trucked back through the wall in a fortnight, a significant indicator of Palestinian morale. Confiscation of the land would indicate Israel’s need for resources and their confidence that there will be no significant opposition from the international community. What happens in Jayyous may be repeated a thousand times once the wall is complete. AS this exercise in the imbalance of power could be a pattern for the future, the closure of the Northgate should be scrutinized and evaluated.
There is only one certainty in this assessment. Though speculation abounds, the Israelis will never reveal their hand until the game is won. Arbitrary, unprovoked action is their trump card. The growth of misinformation, the breakdown of communication, the failure of all planning systems will dislocate the Palestinian economy, disconcert the forces of opposition and blunt collective response. If the focus of the international community is also blurred we too may be disconcerted and weakened in our response. We should protest the closure of the South gate loudly and clearly.
Newsletter: Visit to YanounThis beautiful upland valley of less than a dozen farms is surrounded by settlers who gradually encroach on the Palestinians’ land. At nightfall powerful lights from the hillside are shone upon the village so that the walker below sees his shadow many times. The village of Yanoun is at the neck of the valley.
As I walked up the side of the valley I heard the voices of some settler children. Their sounds intermingled with those of the Palestinian children and reverberated around the cavernous hillside. The children never see each other.Walking with many shadows by
The necklace of bright light
And that false moon, huntress posed to rise,
You cast me dark but tall.
Lace of fire and you at the neck
Where blood flows, breath expires
Breath deep, gather spit,
And hold your mind world high.
Entering as a gleaming tongue of light, mists are wont to envelop the valley within minutes.The voices of children are calling each from each
Playing around the soundwell rim
Curdling the clear and pure within.
Each child unseen is shouting
The blind are playing, only their voices woven.
Out of the echoing gorge a dark bird flaps
Hunting a rat to feed its young.
A mangy half-wild dog followed me as I walked to Nabi Noun, the burial place of Noun, the father of Joshua who took the promised land for Israel. I suddenly realised I had wandered too far when I saw a settler looking down on me. I felt, perhaps, like the dog felt about me.Son of sun, the shining enters the valley
Swiftly the trick is played.
And all between us is grey
As rocks that surrender slowly
Etching the pattern of time.
Under Nabi Noun
Then a beautiful gazelle bounded by and both I and the settler turned to look.Out of the grave it came, the dark cave home,
It ran off when I looked,
But dogged my trail all day
Wandering the wilderness divide
Between the darkest cavities.
I raised my sights to the hills,
Where high eyes mastered me;
We shied away and ran off home.
Newsletter: Monitoring the GateMonitoring the irregularity of gate closure and the occasional arbitrary exclusion does not put enough pressure on Israel to change its policies in Jayyous nor provide suitable copy for the international media. More importantly, it does not provide the means for probing sufficiently deeply into the problems of the people of Jayyous. Conversations at the gate rapidly stumble at the language barrier. Insights have come through interpreters or the half dozen English speakers. Such knowledge is fragmented and seldom representative of the average Jayyous villager. The complexity of the developing consequences of the separation wall will not be understood by a succession of E.A.s in this manner. We are not able to listen to people’s stories on a level deep enough to provide comfort. Observation and empathy cannot achieve this.
|horse and cart|
|The Apartheid Wall|
The effect of personal loss of income.Consequences for families and teenagers of unemployment and emigration.
Poverty and changes in village life.
Changes in traditional agriculture.
The plight of farmers without permits.
Poverty, health problems and psychological stress.
Inability to pay university fees and unemployed graduates.
Fear, despair and decline of traditional values.
The decline in number of weddings and gender issues.
Imprisonment, militancy and non-violence.
Newsletter: The snake will bite the hand that holds it
|Roger in front of more racist graffiti in Hebron - some of which includes 'Arabs to the gas chambers'|
There was a temporary checkpoint set up outside the village. The students were unable to travel to college and the local schoolteacher could not enter. This cannot be for security. During the night soldiers fired over the village. I met a father who had taken his terrified toddler to the doctors ‘for comfort’. Then a child told me he was scared to go home because the army were outside his house so I accompanied him there. A group of young woman teachers feared to pass the soldiers so I walked alongside them. “Why are you going to the village?” asks the captain. “We live there.” Is the reply. I listen to the young and ask about their future. Fadhi had hoped to study telecommunications. “My father lost his job in Israel when the border closed. His hands started to shake through stress, so he could no longer work as a welder. As a result I could not afford to go to university. I built a greenhouse beyond the Wall but I have no permit to go there now. I sit around all day with no hopes. I haven’t even permission to emigrate. I am like a blind man who does not know where he is going.”
|lillies of field|
“The moral and spiritual damage being inflicted on our young people through serving in an unjust army is a threat to our existence. We are deluding ourselves if we think right or time is on our side. We are a trajectory that is undermining the moral and social fabric of our country.”