Another Case of Anti-Semitism

March 14, 2013

There are many people who claim that we Jews are too quick to cry “anti-Semitism” whenever we see or hear something we do not like. Perhaps there is some validity in that claim, perhaps not. What is certain is that no-one can be accused of over reacting to the outrageous statements made by labour Peer, Lord Ahmed.

This is the man who in 2007 drove at speeds of up to seventy miles an hour on the M1 whilst simultaneously receiving and sending text messages, before driving into the back of a stationary vehicle killing the occupant. He was jailed for 12 weeks but served only 16 days on the ground that prison would hinder his work to promote conciliation between Muslims and non-Muslims.

All non-Muslims except Jews that it is. Because it now transpires that Lord Ahmed, a British parliamentarian has stated in a broadcast in Pakistan that HE was the victim of a Jewish conspiracy. Never mind that he killed a man; never mind that he put at risk the lives of countless others whilst texting on the motorway. No, his conviction and sentence was the result of a conspiracy by a cabal of those nasty Jews who control the press and the media.

When it comes to Jew hatred Lord Ahmed has form. In 2005 he hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for a man who calls himself Israel Shamir – who is also a Swedish-domiciled anti-Semite called Jöran Jermas.

There was a lot of unpleasant language used at that launch – this is just one piece. “In the Middle East we have just one reason for wars, terror and trouble — and that is Jewish supremacy drive.”

This is the company Lord Ahmed likes to keep. This is the kind of man he considers worthy of a platform in the Mother of Parliaments. The Labour Party suspended him then, but only for a short time. Today, to their credit, they have suspended him again. We shall see if this time it is permanent. If not it will be to their eternal shame.

The Liberal Democrats thus far have taken no effective action against their own anti-Semitic MP, David Ward after his disgusting comments on Holocaust Memorial Day, demonstrating once more how vastly different is the way outbursts against Jews are dealt with compared to those against other minorities, particularly Muslims. There is in this country a casual acceptance of anti-Semitism that I find difficult to understand and am loath to accept.

How long I wonder will this attitude be allowed to continue? Anti-Semitism is no less offensive and no less hurtful than Islamophobia and should be treated in exactly the same way and with the same degree of urgency. Perhaps it is partly our own fault. We have a tendency to like to keep our head down and to not want to rock the boat. If attitudes are to change we need to change as well and let people know that if you prick us, we do indeed bleed. We need to ensure that government, the media and everyone else know that if Britain wants to maintain its reputation as the most welcoming home to ALL minorities, it must understand that its Jewish citizens demand to be treated no less fairly than everyone elses.


Bring Football into the Twenty-FIrst Century NOW

March 6, 2013

As a Spurs supporter I can view last night’s red card incident at Old Trafford with a certain degree of detachment, notwithstanding the several miscarriages of justice we have suffered at that same ground in recent years.

I have viewed the incident many times and still find it a hard one to call. On balance, because there was clearly no malicious intent by Nani, I think a yellow card would have been sufficient punishment, but equally understand why the referee decided on red.

The point I wish to make though, is that the anger of Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United supporters in being targeted at the referee is being aimed in the wrong direction. It was an extremely difficult call; you have only to look at the split amongst the pundits to realise that. If they cannot agree, that is as clear an indication as you could find, that this was not an easy decision. Referees need help, and that help is available to them now if only football’s governing bodies would let them uae it. The real villain of the piece is not poor Mr. Cakir, but the stone age dinosaurs at FIFA and UEFA who sit in their ivory towers in Switzerland refusing to bring football into the twenty-first century. Yes, at least we will have goal-line technology next season, but that it is nowhere near enough.

Imagine, last night, if whilst Arbeloa was receiving treatment, the referee had been allowed to go to the fourth official and review Nani’s challenge on the TV monitor he has in front of him: he could have reviewed it from several angles, all in a matter of seconds. He might still have considered it as worthy of a red card, or he might not. Either way, it would have been a reasoned decision and not one made in an instant, based on a single split second view of the action.

If tennis, rugby and cricket can successfully employ modern technology, why can’t football, the most popular sport on the planet? The arguments used against it do not stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.

Another point. Mr. Cakir, the referee last night is an insurance salesman in his native Turkey. With the billions of pounds that is floating around in Football today, how is it possible that such an important game was under the control of a part-time official? Surely, FIFA and UEFA can find the cash to employ a panel of full-time, highly trained referees to officiate at these top-level matches. That measure, together with the use of technology would do so much to reduce the errors that are such a blight on the modern game.

The late Liverpool manager Bill Shankley famously said “football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that.” Given all that is at stake in the game today, those words have never been more true.

That makes it all the more important that as much as possible is done as soon as possible to eliminate these never-ending, high-profile errors by officials . If a player misses a penalty, so be it. No – one outside the club can be blamed. But let us be a hundred percent sure it was a penalty in the first place!


Worrying Times

February 23, 2013

If you are Jewish it is hard to comprehend all that has occurred in the past few days.

First of all there was the report that Israel’s deputy ambassador had to be evacuated from Essex University, unable to give the lecture he was supposed to give because of disruption from students. There was all the usual talk from the PSC and SWP students about “war crimes” and Israel being an “apartheid state.” It is neither surprising nor unprecedented for the extreme left to stifle the voices of those with whom they disagree; nor is it surprising that this should have happened at Essex, a university with a long history of extreme left politics. None the less, this is one more in a long list of examples of the extreme hostility that those who dare to support Israel face on our campuses.

If that wasn’t enough for one night, we then had the case of George Galloway who walked out of a debate at Christ Church, Oxford on the subject “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”. On learning that his opponent was an Israeli, he simply marched out of the door saying that he does not recognise Israel and does not debate with Israelis.

What a way for a Member of the British Parliament to behave.

And whilst all that was happening over here, across the channel in a pub in Lyon, a group of Spurs supporters, in France to see their team play in a Europa League cup match, were attacked by a bunch of Neo Nazis. The reason? Tottenham Hotspur has a large number of Jewish supporters and therefore is known as a “Jewish” club.

Any one of these incidents should give rise for concern. That all three should occur within a matter of hours is to me very worrying. It is reported in the Jewish Chronicle this week that French Jews are fleeing to London in large numbers to escape growing anti-Semitism in that country. Given what is happening here in the UK one wonders if they are not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Remember too, only a couple of weeks ago there was David Ward MP making deeply offensive anti-Semitic comments and the equally offensive Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times.

Jews in France are caught in a vice. On one side is a far right movement much more prominent there than here. On the other side is a large North African population that in some areas the authorities can barely control.

Here, in spite of a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, thanks to the superb work of the Community Security Trust (CST) who monitor all such incidents and work very closely with the authorities, Jews still consider themselves relatively safe. However, this is no time for complacency.

I have no doubt that as long as the demonization of Israel continues, so will the rise in anti-Semitism. I have said before, I have no problem when people criticize actions taken by the government of Israel in a manner they would use to criticise actions taken by their own or any other government. Unfortunately, that is not what we are seeing. The incidents at two universities this week are just the latest examples of an irrational, bitter hatred for, and obsession with Israel alone that so far as I am aware is unprecedented in history. And as long as that continues, Jews cannot feel totally safe anywhere. Less than seventy years after the horrors of the second World war, that is a shocking state of affairs.


The Nonsensical Mansion Tax

February 17, 2013

A friend of mine who sadly passed away a few years ago proudly boasted that he never let the truth get in the way of a good story. I am reminded of this today as I see the Labour Party’s latest piece of populism. I am referring of course to the proposed mansion tax.

The stated purpose of this latest wheeze is to fund a re-introduction of the 10% tax rate. It is to be introduced on homes worth £2 million or more. It is a very silly idea and I will tell you why.

First of all, it is a basic principle of taxation that it should be fair. One of the reasons that the recent child benefit changes have been so unpopular is the obvious lack of fairness in a system where a family with one member earning £90,000 loses out whilst another family with two members each earning £45,000 does not.

The proposed mansion tax is equally unfair because one family can be living in a single property now worth £2 million and will have to pay the tax, whilst another family which has built up a portfolio of say four £500,000 properties will not.

What makes it even worse is the fact that it will not even come close to achieving its stated purpose.

At the level suggested it is estimated by the Treasury that the tax will bring in £2 billion. To bring back the 10p tax rate, again according to Treasury estimates, will cost £7 billion. You do not have to be a brilliant mathematician to see that leaves a £5 billion shortfall about which there has been a suspicious silence. No doubt at some stage, in a replay of their scorched earth policies when Gordon Brown was in charge, the Milliband/Balls duo will seek yet more ways to tax the wealth creators and to mortgage our children’s future with still more borrowing. Forget the inconvenient and incontrovertible truth that higher tax rates destroy the economy and actually produce less revenue for the exchequer. That will not stop Labour who never, ever learn the lessons of history.


The Sunday Times and the BBC

February 3, 2013

Last week the Sunday Times published a cartoon by Gerald Scarfe that showed a grotesque image of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu building a wall using a bloodied trowel and mortar and with agonised Palestinians trapped between the bricks. I took one look at it and thought I had picked up a 1930’s edition of Der Sturmer by mistake.

The cartoon was as vile a piece of anti-Semitism as I have seen drawing as it did on the old trope of the blood libel. That it was published on Holocaust Memorial Day mad it immeasurably worse. After my initial shock, I at once took to Twitter to announce that I was going to cancel my subscription.

But then two things happened. First of all, Rupert Murdoch the owner of the Sunday Times stepped in immediately to apologise on Twitter for what he described as ” a grotesque, offensive cartoon.” This was followed by a further apology from the acting editor of the paper, Martin Ivens. Now in today’s leading articles there is a further, fulsome apology.

The Sunday Times made a mistake. It has owned up and has apologised. I am happy to forgive and am very glad that I can continue to read it.

And that is the point I want to make in this post. Had there been no apology I was free to cancel my subscription. I believe that I and indeed everyone should have the same freedom of choice when it comes to all media, print or broadcast. I am thinking particularly of the BBC which offends me almost daily with its left-wing political viewpoint and even more so with its anti- Israel bias that sometimes itself comes very close to anti-Semitism.

I find it absurd that in this day and age, we are forced by law to fund an organisation that all too often causes as much offense as did the Scarfe cartoon.

The BBC has become a huge, unmanageable organisation that considers itself to be beyond reproach. The time has come to level the playing field and to make it subject to the same commercial realities as all other media organisations. The time has come too, to give the public the right to choose to subscribe to it or not.


Pride and Prejudice

January 28, 2013

Jane Austen’s literary classic was first published 200 years ago today. It became an instant best seller and has never been out of print. It is a book I have read several times and each time I do so, I find myself loving it even more. “But hang on a minute” I hear you say. “You are a bloke. You like football and golf. You watch Top Gear. You can’t read Jane Austen. She’s for girls!”

Well sorry chaps, but that is a misconception that needs to be changed, and changed quickly. After all, what is not to like?

Elizabeth Bennet is without doubt the most gorgeous girl ever created in fiction. She may not be quite as pretty as her sister Jane, but with her quick wit, her lively and playful disposition and her very fine pair of eyes, she makes me fall madly in love with her, every time I meet her. The girls can swoon all they want to at Mr. Darcy but I would climb mountains, swim seas and fight dragons for Elizabeth Bennet.

Then there is the writing. I love the English language, its poetry, its rich vocabulary, its expressiveness. All of those qualities are in abundance in Pride and Prejudice. I cannot pretend to have read all of the great works of English literature; that is an ongoing project. I can say however that I have yet to read one that for me better demonstrates why English is the greatest language on the planet.

So on this historic anniversary, I say to all the ladies out there, Pride and Prejudice is not just for you, it is a book that should be enjoyed universally. So share it with your husband or boyfriend. And guys – get out there and meet Lizzie Bennet. I guarantee you too will fall in love with her. Just remember however, I saw her first.


The Inevitability of David Ward

January 26, 2013

The deeply distasteful comments made on his blog by Liberal MP David Ward are the inevitable consequence of the never-ending anti Israel narrative promoted by significant sections of the UK Media.

And not just the media. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement singles out Israel, the Jewish state alone as the one evil country in the world worthy of its attention.

Hate preachers regularly visit our universities meaning Jewish students frequently have to endure a climate of antiSemitism. So bad has this situation become that last year at Edinburgh University, Daniel Taub the Israeli ambassador was shouted down and prevented from speaking amid cries of “From the river(Jordan) to the sea, Palestine will be free” and describing the ambassador as “a propagandist for an apartheid state.” Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. Other pro-Israel speakers have had talks interrupted or cancelled, always with cries describing Israel as a racist and/or apartheid state.

Such casual misuse of language, particularly when it is repeated often enough, soon adds legitimacy to the lie, as the Nazis themselves well knew.

It matters not that across the Middle east, muslims kill each other almost on a daily basis. More than 60,000 have been killed in Syria in the last few months alone – more than have died in the entire Israel/Palestine conflict since 1948 – and the world barely bats an eyelid. But, should a single Palestinian die when Israel takes action to defend itself, then the world condemns, and Israel stands accused of using disproportionate force and countless other crimes.

It is hardly surprising therefore that in this frenzy of anti Israel hatred, anti-Semitism should flourish. Not that I believe there is any distinction between the two. Of course it is perfectly legitimate to criticize Israeli government policy and I often do so myself. But what is happening today goes way beyond that. No sane person would deny that there are far, far worse regimes around than Israel, regimes with histories of violence and human rights abuse that greatly exceed what is alleged to happen in Israel. Yet these regimes receive but a fraction of the criticism that Israel does. There are no BDS movements for them. Their representatives can visit our universities without fear of protest and their artists can perform in our theatres without interruption. There is no attempt to delegitimize these states or calls for them to be abolished. Only Israel is singled out for this treatment. So why the distinction? It can only be because Israel is the Jewish State.

And because of this poisonous atmosphere where Israel is concerned, newspapers feel free to publish tasteless cartoons that would not have been out-of-place in Der Sturmer; Otherwise respectable middle class English people feel free to disrupt concerts or theatre performances whenever Israelis come here to perform. References to the “Jewish Lobby” one of the oldest of anti-Semitic tropes, are common place. And MPs like David Ward, conscious of his large Muslim constituency see nothing wrong in equating the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz with Israeli actions taken to defend itself against enemies who deny its right to exist. To say such moral equivalence is vile is to understate the case by a mile.

But make no mistake. Ward’s comments are nothing new. The only reason they have attracted such wide attention is because of the timing, coinciding as they do, with Holocaust Memorial Day. Otherwise, in the current climate, they probably would have passed un-noticed or indeed would have attracted silent nods of agreement from those who subscribe to the distorted view of Israel so prevalent today.


Why The Press Must Remain Free

December 3, 2012

Like everyone I have every sympathy with those private people such as the McCanns and the Dowlings whose lives were made still more intolerable by unscrupulous reporters. I totally understand their desire to see the recommendations contained in the Report by Lord Justice Leveson enacted in full. Where “celebrities” and politicians are concerned my sympathy is less easily given and their desire to see a “statutory underpinning” to press regulation I view with a healthy dose of scepticism.

I read newspapers; I view television; I use Twitter and read blogs. I can honestly say that scarcely a day goes by without my coming across an article or news report with which I profoundly disagree. Oftentimes those articles arouse in me a deep fury because I know them to be based upon falsehoods or half-truths; they can be horribly biased, they can be hurtful and even racist. But the right of an individual to express his views, no matter how much I or anyone else might oppose them is fundamental. Free speech is the oxygen that gives life to democracy and we tamper with it at our peril. A free press of course is an essential manifestation of free speech.

That does not mean that Leveson should be ignored. Improvements in the way the press is regulated can and should be made. Legislation, however is not the way to proceed and I offer one simple reason why I say that.

A couple of weeks ago we heard about the case of the foster parents in Rotherham who had three sibling children removed from their care for no other reason than the fact that they were members of UKIP, a political party that favours British withdrawal from Europe, a view shared by a majority of the population. The three children sadly, have now been placed in separate foster homes. The decision to remove them from a home where they were very happy was a political one, made by employees of a Labour run council who find UKIP’s policies distasteful. This is what happens when politically motivated people in positions of authority take it upon themselves to interpret the law according to their political beliefs.

Any statutory body that is established to “underpin” press regulation will be filled with political appointees and that single fact should be sufficient reason for anyone who cares about free speech to run a mile from any suggestion of statutory control. For if a council can decide that membership of a mainstream political party is grounds for being considered unsuitable to be a foster parent, just imagine what havoc politicians might wreak if they controlled our press.


BBC

November 18, 2012

The crisis at the BBC has been a long time coming and it will take far more than the resignation of George Entwistle to resolve it. That is because there is much more wrong at the BBC than just the problems highlighted by the Newsnight failings.

Those failings have caused many people to wonder if they can trust the BBC, an organisation that once was a byword for integrity and honest reporting. The reality is however that for a long time now, its integrity and truthfulness have been in doubt.

Throughout the 1980s it became apparent that the BBC was not just reporting the news in the impartial manner that its Charter required; rather it had begun “spinning” stories, slanting them to reflect the leftist viewpoint that was becoming the dominant force throughout the organisation. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the BBC was becoming the broadcasting wing of the Guardian, the left of centre newspaper that is now virtually required reading if you wanted to get ahead.

For me, the moment that proved that the BBC had lost all moral authority, was the infamous Question Time programme broadcast on 13th September 2001, two days after the 9/11 attacks.
For an hour, a former US ambassador had to endure an astonishing outpouring of vitriol from an audience that insisted that America had it coming and had got its just desserts. I know I was not alone in being reduced to tears of shame at what I was witnessing on my television screen that night.

One might have thought that after that debacle, the BBC would have taken a long, cold, hard look at itself to assess where it went wrong. But that would have been expecting too much. Such is the arrogance of the organisation and so in thrall to the leftist world view had it become, that no-one working there could see any need for change. Indeed, in the years since, that view has become even more entrenched along with the assumption that it is too big and too important for any outside body to interfere with how it is run.

But with an annual income, forcibly extracted from every household in the land of £3.6 billion, the need for greater accountability has never been clearer. The new Charter, which came into force in 2007 and which created the BBC Trust to replace the former Board of Governors, was supposed to have provided that, but so far, with little visible success. The obsession with political correctness, the left of centre viewpoint still dominate the Corporation’s output; and not just the news but can be seen in drama and entertainment programmes too.

And as time goes by, the BBC becomes ever bolder in the way it pushes its agenda. At times I feel it does not even try to pretend any more that it is even-handed. Some BBC people even admit it. Thus, Andrew Marr. “The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.” What Marr does not say of course, is that as the Corporation has grown, the staffing profile he has highlighted becomes self-perpetuating, as not unnaturally, newcomers reflect the preferences of those employing them. Walk into a job interview carrying a copy of the Daily Telegraph and you will be out of the door in 5 minutes. If on the other hand you are carrying the Guardian, sign here please.

Today, the BBC’s position can be summed up as follows. It is pro Labour, Pro Europe, pro Green and obsessively politically correct. It is Anti Tory, Anti America, (except Obama of course,) anti Markets and above all, anti Israel. Indeed such is its hostility to Israel that to date it has spent in excess of £300,000 of licence fee income to prevent the publication of the Balen report which looked into its anti-Israel bias in the reporting of the Middle East conflict. If they had nothing to hide, why go to such extremes to keep the report under wraps? Even as I am writing this blog, I can see numerous examples of that bias in its reporting of the current crisis in Israel/Gaza.

There is a unique opportunity now, as several new enquiries get underway following the Newsnight disasters, for a complete overhaul of the organisation. If these enquiries concentrate just on those programmes’ failings, that would be a tragic waste. What needs to happen is that no aspect of the way the BBC is run should fail to be put under the microscope. Its funding. Is there a place in the 21st century for a broadcaster funded by a mandatory levy on the public? Its vastly overblown management structure. How is that going to be reduced as it must be when budgets everywhere are being cut. The services it provides – is there for instance still a need for Radio 1 when commercial broadcasters provide exactly the same service? Should it concentrate mainly on providing the cultural, educational programming as envisioned in its Charter? How is it to deal with the impartiality issue so essential to regaining the public’s trust? These, and no doubt there are others I have left out, are the issues that have to be considered.

I have been severely critical of the BBC for a number of years, primarily because of its blatant bias. However, at the same time, I recognise that there is much that it is quite superb at doing. Its coverage of the recent Olympics springs immediately to mind. I want to see it continuing to do those good things, but at the same time, I want to see it stop doing the very bad things. That will only happen if we fully grasp the opportunity that is now upon us.


Spurs and the Y-word

November 10, 2012

Fact one. I am a lifelong Spurs fan. My father took me to my first game as a fourth birthday treat and I have been going ever since. I had my first season ticket in time for the glorious 1960-61 double.

Fact two. I am one of Spurs’ many Jewish fans.

A few years ago my synagogue organised a two-day trip visit to Poland. About fifty of us made the trip. We were to visit first the town of Lublin, which pre war was the major seat of Jewish learning in Europe, and then the Nazi extermination camp of Majdanek situated just on the outskirts of the city.

On the morning of our second day, before visiting the camp, we were walking through the town when we were suddenly confronted by a group of locals. We could sense instantly their hostility and then as they brushed past us became aware of them hissing the word “yids, yids, yids.” Visiting Majdanek was always going to be an emotional experience but after that encounter, it became even more so.

Fact three. No matter how you dress it up “yid” can never be anything other than a vile, abusive, hate filled word. Spurs, you have got this wrong. No matter how good the intentions of our supporters, they can not take ownership of the word; they can not change its meaning.

It is time to accept that there is no longer any place for the Y-word at White Hart Lane or anywhere else.