Italians may well have a point that the rules of the EU have placed a disproportionate burden on an already listing economy, but sending innocent refugees back out to sea is no solution
“Everywhere, [t]he ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
Yeats wrote these words a century ago, in the wake of the First World War. He could not have anticipated the destruction wrought by Hitler, Stalin, Hiroshima, or Pol Pot. Today’s neo-fascist revival may pale in comparison to the actual carnage of the twentieth century, yet around the world an attack on innocence has begun, a contempt for the concept of human dignity. And we don’t know yet where it may end.
In a chilling echo of the turning back from New York harbour of the MS St. Louis, carrying 937 Jewish refugees, the new, far right Italian government has refused to allow the rescue ship Aquarius – carrying 629 Libyan refugees rescued at sea, including children and pregnant women – to land in Italy. Suddenly, a New Age of Aquarius may be dawning, reflected not in love and freedom but in exclusion and hostility to the Other. Showing a ray of humanity, large hearted mayors of Southern Italian ports have said the Aquarius is welcome in their towns.
Italians may well have a point that the rules of the European Union have placed a disproportionate and unsustainable burden on an already listing economy, but sending innocent refugees back out to sea is no solution.
In Gaza, unarmed protesters protesting the move of the Israeli capital to Jerusalem were met with live ammunition. 124 Palestinians were killed and more than a thousand wounded. To be sure, Gaza is a violent place run by Hamas and unguided missiles are periodically lobbed into Israeli territory. But firing into crowds of civilians is a patent violation of international law. Again, the image of innocence – meeting stone-throwers with Goliath-like force – is destroyed by machine gun fire.