Ray Cook - As I See It

Israel, Zionism and the Media

Category: Other (page 1 of 17)

Terror is Terror is… hold on

Following the heinous attack on Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park, London, I’m confused by the use of the words ‘terror’ and ‘terrorism’.

(If there are any lawyers out there who can critique this and rebut my arguments, please do so. I’m not entirely certain, of course, as I am no lawyer.)

I also want to look at the use of ‘terror’ and its derivatives in relation to the BBC’s reporting of violence in Israel and also at the recent Al Quds Day march in London at the weekend.

There is a legal definition of terrorism in the Terrorism Act 2000 and its provisions and subsequent amendments.

So let’s look at the relevant parts of the Act.

1 Terrorism: interpretation.

(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where—

(a) the action falls within subsection (2),

(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government [F1or an international governmental organisation] or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and

(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious [F2, racial] or ideological cause.

(2) Action falls within this subsection if it—

(a) involves serious violence against a person,

(b) involves serious damage to property,

(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,

(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or

(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.

(4) In this section—

(a) “action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,

(b) a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,

(c) a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and

(d) “the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.

(5) In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation.

My reading of this is that the Finsbury Park attacker committed an act of terrorism ONLY if he intended to intimidate a section of the public – namely Muslims –  otherwise this is a hate crime, not an act of terrorism, even though he used a method used by terrorists in the UK, France and Israel in recent times.

To be a terrorist, his action must fall under Section 2 – well, clearly it does. But look at Section 1. Although we await the outcome of police investigations and interrogations, I think it highly unlikely that there was any ’cause’ involved. Osborne was not intending to further a political or religious agenda or influence the government. Notice the word ‘and’ between 1(b) and 1(c).  Just because the attacker intended to kill or used a method used by terrorists doesn’t mean it is terrorism (UNLESS he uses firearms or explosives which is terrorism regardless of motivation. Neither were used.)

Until the Act is amended to include the use of vehicular attacks, it’s probably not strictly terror. If someone decides to mow down a group of revellers with his van because he doesn’t like their rowdiness, that’s attempted murder; if they are all African-Caribbean then that might be a hate crime, but it’s not terror.

If someone daubs a synagogue with a swastika, that’s a hate crime because it does not involve anything in Section 2. If a man wearing a kippa is punched and abused that is not terrorism because there is no political or religious cause being advanced; it’s ‘just’ a hate crime.

If we look at Manchester and London Bridge, however, we know that the perpetrators did have a religio-political agenda. In the first case explosives were used, so that is terror by any interpretation. London Bridge was an indiscriminate attack motivated by a fanatical religious zeal where the perpetrators believe they are acting according to the will of their god, and it’s definitely designed to intimidate the public. In this case, there is also a pseudo-political aim because political Islam does have an agenda to pursue power to change Western culture and belief and to kill non-believers in pursuance of that goal. Such acts are required and worthy in their interpretation of their religion. It also sees as justified targets all citizens of countries that it believes to be at war with Islam.


A study of the act also reveals why the BBC’s failure to recognise attacks in Israel as terrorism is also degrading the term and ignoring its provisions.

For years now Israelis have been subject to knife and ramming attacks against civilians, yet the BBC is determined to characterise these attacks as militancy, not terror. The reason it does this is because it perceives these attacks as part of a political conflict where the use of the terms ‘terror’, ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ would reflect the interpretation and viewpoint of one particular side in that conflict – namely Israel.

However, the BBC is a UK organisation and it is, therefore, incumbent on that organisation to interpret these terms wherever the act may occur even if it’s outside the jurisdiction of the UK. The BBC is not required by law to do so, but as a publicly owned company, surely it is in the public interest to use accurate terminology. How often to people say ‘terror is terror is terror’ wherever it occurs and by WHOMEVER is it committed.

So let’s look at the Act and its provisions which will show us a striking similarity between some of those provisions and the actions and policies of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, my interpretation of the Act would mean that the PA is itself a terrorist organisation using the definitions in that Act.

With reference to the kind of act that is a described as terror, then, it is clear from the definition above that a Palestinian, by mowing down civilians with a car or stabbing someone indiscriminately on a train is doing so, by their own confession, as a result of the conflict. They are, therefore, politically and religiously motivated, seek to intimidate and, as they see it, further the cause of removing Israeli Jews from not just the West Bank/Judea Samaria, but the whole of Israel. If it is terror on London Bridge then it is terror at Damascus Gate.

An amendment to the Act in 2006 states:

5A) The cases in which an organisation promotes or encourages terrorism for the purposes of subsection (5)(c) include any case in which activities of the organisation—

(a)include the unlawful glorification of the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of acts of terrorism; or

(b)are carried out in a manner that ensures that the organisation is associated with statements containing any such glorification.

(5B)The glorification of any conduct is unlawful for the purposes of subsection (5A) if there are persons who may become aware of it who could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified, is being glorified as—

(a)conduct that should be emulated in existing circumstances, or

(b)conduct that is illustrative of a type of conduct that should be so emulated.

(5C)In this section—

“ glorification ” includes any form of praise or celebration, and cognate expressions are to be construed accordingly;

“ statement ” includes a communication without words consisting of sounds or images or both.

Anyone with the remotest knowledge of the activities of the PA will instantly recognise that this is exactly what it does continuously, unashamedly and with gusto with regard to acts of terrorism (taking the UK’s own definition and interpretation of the Act) in Israel and the Territories. If the acts they glorify are terror then the PA is a terror supporting organisation and proscribable.

Recently, attacks have been aimed at Israeli security forces whether they are soldiers or police. My belief is that this is a deliberate change in tactic brought about by the failure of the West’s interpretation and condemnation of terror; by attacking those in uniform the perpetrators and their supporters can claim that the attack is a legitimate act of self-defence in an ongoing military conflict and deflect any criticism coming from the new White House.

So, what would undoubtedly be described as ‘terror’ were it to take place in the UK is glossed over as a ‘reaction’ to ‘occupation’ and, therefore, seen as regrettable but ‘understandable’ even legitimate action and ‘resistance’ not just by the PA and its supporters but by the BBC and the UK government. Whereas, at the root of the conflict is a religious and cultural hatred of Jews that pre-dates any ‘occupation’ or, indeed, the creation of the State of Israel.

Proscribed Flags

It seems that having a political wing – Fatah/PA, Sinn Féin/IRA, Hezbollah/Hezbollah – can get you a free pass. In the latter case, we recently witnessed, once again, the blatant flying of the Hezbollah flag in the so-called Al Quds Day march in London, so nobly opposed and disrupted by various Jewish and Zionist organisations. Petitions were signed, the Mayor pleaded with but the march went ahead and the flags were flown. Why can they get away with it? Because the UK is ambiguous on Hezbollah because, although its military wing is proscribed under the Act*, its political wing is not and, guess what, they both have the same flag. This means the police are, presumably, directed to ignore it. Of course, if Hezbollah were blowing up Brits the flag would be banned immediately – or would it? You never know these days.

Here’s the section of the Act about support for terror which should be interpreted to ban flags of proscribed organisations and prosecute those displaying them in public:

12 Support.

(1)A person commits an offence if—

(a)he invites support for a proscribed organisation, and

(b)the support is not, or is not restricted to, the provision of money or other property (within the meaning of section 15).

(2)A person commits an offence if he arranges, manages or assists in arranging or managing a meeting which he knows is—

(a)to support a proscribed organisation,

(b)to further the activities of a proscribed organisation, or

(c)to be addressed by a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organisation.

(3)A person commits an offence if he addresses a meeting and the purpose of his address is to encourage support for a proscribed organisation or to further its activities.

(4)Where a person is charged with an offence under subsection (2)(c) in respect of a private meeting it is a defence for him to prove that he had no reasonable cause to believe that the address mentioned in subsection (2)(c) would support a proscribed organisation or further its activities.

(5)In subsections (2) to (4)—

(a)“meeting” means a meeting of three or more persons, whether or not the public are admitted, and

(b)a meeting is private if the public are not admitted.

(6)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, to a fine or to both, or

(b)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.




*The military wing of Hizballah, including the Jihad Council and all units reporting to it (including the Hizballah External Security Organisation.

Socialism of Fools

A few weeks ago I was surprised to receive an email from the Columbia University Press asking me if I was interested in receiving and reviewing a book on anti-Semitism.

The book duly arrived. It is ‘Socialism of Fools’  (Il socialismo degli imbecilli)1 by Michele Battini, a distinguished professor of modern history at the University of PIsa and a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The book is translated from Italian. This is a highly academic and learned book which reads like a doctoral thesis. The subject-matter is the history of anti-Semitism and anti-Capitalism in Europe from the Enlightenment, specifically after the French Revolution, up to the present day.

The structure of the book is more a series of essays which take us, roughly, on a chronological journey through the swamps of European anti-Semitism. It is not a history in the accepted sense, so there is no formal chronology, but there is a sense of moving forward in time as the book progresses. At the same time, there a frequent looks back and forward depending on the subject of the ‘essay’.

Battini concentrates on key figures in right and left wing socialism in Italy and France, but also covers leading figures in Germany and Europe in general.

The book presents an intellectual challenge as it deals with political and philosophical movements and individuals that few are very familiar with. The academic style of the book, along with the density of reference and the assumption of knowledge, makes it a hard, yet fascinating read.

The premise of the book is that modern anti-Semitism arose as a consequence of both anti-Enlightenment and anticapitalist movements. The anti-Enlightenment was fuelled by a reactionary, anti-Liberal Roman Catholic church which saw the Jews, newly emancipated after the French Revolution, as siding with, and promoting, the free market (which it virulently opposed) and as part of a conspiracy to break down the ancien régime and exploit the opportunities offered by new freedoms. Hence, capitalism was just a progression of usury, formerly the domain of Jewry alone. Jews were the enemy within, empowered by newly-won equality before the law to gain power and influence and, ultimately, carry out their plans for political and economic dominance.

So, these regressive forces of anti-Enlightenment began to write and propagandise their anticapitalist, anti-Jewish views in an attempt to roll back the revolution and limit Jewish power.

The rise of Marxist philosophy, as the 19th century progressed, identified Jews as purveyors of a malign free-market conspiracy and this movement, too, was infected with anti-Jewish anticapitalism. Thus both left and right had perceived grievances with Jews, who now began to flourish in Western Europe where the old tropes and blood libels eventually reemerged in, for example, the fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion, produced on the cusp of the 20th century.

Early in the book we are given a panorama, or an overview, of how modern anti-Semitism had its origins in the nascent Church which promulgated its supersessionist ideology, identifying Christianity as verus Israel, the True Israel and Jews as stubborn deniers of the Faith, clinging to their ancient beliefs, refusing to accept Christ and conversion. It is not difficult to see how the new religion of the Roman Empire, designed to be acceptable to a wide range of pagans, should see the Jews as an eternal enemy, deicides, and a corrupt and malevolent presence on which to project the dogma of damnation and heresy.

The Church saw in the Enlightenment what we would now recognise as a growing secularism and materialism which undermined its hegemony by liberating individuals from traditional feudal hierarchies. The Church was, therefore, decidedly anti-Democratic.

Some commentators even saw Jewish collusion in the rise of Protestantism which directly challenged and then denied the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Thus, throughout the 19th century, the Church pushed against the Enlightenment, the free market, capitalism and the Rights of Man. At the centre of this web and the new order was the Jew, the usurer, the banker, the striver for equality, the eternal enemy, the antithesis of the Church.

These attitudes permeated French society which, despite social changes throughout the 19th century, was still a Catholic stronghold. Anti-Semitism here, Battini explains, eventually exploded in the cause célèbre of the Dreyfus affair. The Jew was naturally the most likely betrayer of the nation, even though the man himself was a secular Jew with no great affiliation to his religion. His German name, perhaps, also contributing to the reflexive accusation of treason.

Battini gives us a long and detailed history of French anti-Semitism introducing de Bonald, Toussenel, Drumont and Proudhon and the progress of anti-Semitic socialism in the 19th century. In a complex series of interwoven political and ideological threads the Jews, once again, are seen as an internal enemy promulgating anti-agrarian capitalism and financial feudalism. So when the French economy hits the buffers, the scapegoat, as always, is the Jew.

Battini demonstrates throughout his work that the reasons for hating Jews have morphed over the centuries and that the glacier of anti-Semitism has collected the accumulated moraine of reasons to hate Jews and to scapegoat them with all the ills of society.

It is instructive to note that just as the Church believed that the ultimate salvation of the Jews and the end to the ‘Jewish Question’ would come with their conversion, so, in the world of socialism there was a complementary idea of converting the Jews and ‘curing’ them of their capitalism by the ultimate triumph of universal socialism. In this scenario, Jews would be assimilated into the amorphous body of international socialism, and any Jewish traits likely to exploit fellow citizens would be nullified forever. In effect, both Church and Marxist philosophies desired the social annihilation of the Jews before National Socialism contemplated the physical annihilation.

I wondered, at this point, whether this ancient desire of the socialists to turn the Jewish propensity for exploitation through capitalism (as they saw it) has an echo in the current animus of the left against the State of Israel and, in some quarters, Jews in general. Israel is seen as the bastard progeny of the uber-capitalist United States. But worse, it is a capitalism that is working and thriving. Therefore, the Jews must be exploiting someone to achieve this free-market success – and it’s the ‘Palestinians’, victims of aggressive capitalist colonialism. Add to this a strong nationalism and desire for self-determination, mix in some traditional undercurrents of European anticapitalism and anti-Semitism and Israel represents everything the far left hates. Not surprisingly this can manifest itself in the form of modern variants of ancient tropes such as blood libels – Israelis harvesting organs, Jewish power – the Israel lobby, loyalty to a foreign state – the enemy within seeking to undermine the political system to favour Jews and their state.

Of course, there are contradictions inherent in bigotry: the right will see the prominence of Jews in socialist and communist history and the left will see the bankers and the businessmen. If the contradiction is pointed out then it is dismissed as two aspects of the same plot for world hegemony – the twenty million against the seven billion.

National Socialism was a movement which extolled the negation of the individual to submerge him in a national project. Democracy and the Rights of Man emanating from the Enlightenment stressed the primacy of the individual – the state was the servant of the people not the other way round.

Jewish experience of subjugation and persecution, denial of rights and freedoms could either lead to support for those freedoms or to see the need to negate their Jewish heritage in a socialist utopian future. Hence, Jews were well represented both in western democracies and in revolutionary Marxism. National Socialism, the enemy of both, had its prejudices against Jews reinforced and justified. Jews were always the losers whichever philosophy they attached themselves to.

Battini takes us on a journey through the development of French anticapitalist and corporatism from the second half of the 19th century up to the Vichy government which rather predictably blamed the devastating defeat at the hands of the Germans on a Jewish conspiracy. The Jews were to conquer the world by a two-pronged strategy of Bolshevism and banking. The Jews, as ever, remained an easy target for scapegoating from a nation reeling from its own inability to defend the nation from humiliation and subjugation. Not for the first time, nor the last, Jews provided a focus of hatred and contempt even as they were transported to the gas chambers in the East.

The Italian author has, of course, to address the rise of Mussolini and fascism in his own country and the path toward anti-Jewish laws and sentiment. Battini, now on home ground, presents us with the life and work of Paolo Orano, someone very few students of anti-Semitism outside Italy would have heard of, yet, according to Battini, he was a pivotal figure in the development of anticapitalist syndicalism to fascism. Orano was, indeed, an inspiration to Mussolini himself and his ideas informed the fascist movements of the early 20th century.

Orano, who seems to have had an ambiguous attitude toward the Church, nevertheless saw Italian Jews in very much the same way as the French anti-Semites: in other words an enemy within, anticlerical conspirators plotting the overthrow of the state and bending it to the financial machinations of Jewish capital. Orano was not averse to adopting the most heinous blood libels against Jews to emphasise their moral bankruptcy. Jews were not part of the Latin and neo-Roman order and never had been and Italian fascism which was strongly nationalist and racist had no place for its Jews. Despite this, it seems to me that Italians were less enthusiastic about sending Jews to their destruction than many other nationalities in Europe, but the role of the Church and the Pope during the Shoah is addressed in greater detail in other works, such as Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell.

Battini makes many references to Hannah Arendt whose works are particularly pertinent to the author’s context. Arendt who styled herself as a political theorist wrote about totalitarianism and also the potential conflict between universal human rights and civil rights. It is interesting to note that related views have informed the recent Brexit debate in the UK where national rights and obligations were represented as at risk and undermined by the higher European authorities and international courts which deal with infra-national rights rather than the specific exigencies of national legal frameworks.

In the context of this book, Arendt’s views of the social nature of European anti-Semitism as distinct from the older forms of religious animus against Jews are referenced.

It is at this point the State of Israel enters the fray because, by its nature, it is a Jewish national movement of self-determination which from the end of the 19th century to the present day is witness to the failure of the Enlightenment to assimilate Jews into European culture.

When the declared Rights of Man failed to provide Jews with physical and economic security in Europe and the Russian Empire they were emboldened by the very same principles to create their own socialist enclave in their historic homeland. It is, perhaps, ironic, that the early Zionists were agrarianists establishing moshavim and kibbutzim which were models of socialist principles and which extolled the virtues of work and developing the land. Of course, it was Herzl’s presence at the Dreyfus trial which gave impetus and structure to Zionism. The subsequent break-up of the Ottoman empire gave the Jews the opportunity to establish a state.

Battini defines the history of anti-Jewish anticapitalism – his ‘socialism of imbeciles’ as:

‘..  a process of social.. events that involve structure deeply rooted in European culture and reveal the Jewish support for legal emancipation but also opposition to the Enlightenment enterprise of assimilation.’2

I began to have a slightly uneasy feeling that there was an element of accusation here that the Jews, insisting on their separate dual identity within the European states, cleaving to their ancient traditions, were, somehow, partly to blame for their own destruction, however morally obnoxious the perpetrators of that destruction were.

I don’t believe this is Battini’s view but I do see a subliminal atavistic fear of one’s own otherness here. Jews, generally, see age-old persecution and accusations of pushiness, deceit and deviousness as arising from bigotry, yet, to survive, these traits may well have been present to the extent that they were identified as a characteristic, one would hope disproportionately. But I feel there is an underlying sense in this book that grievances against Jews were partly justified, but the response to those grievances were not.

It should be noted that the book repeatedly refers to the Enlightenment view, especially in France, that emancipation would be an antidote to Jews’ moral decadence and that it would ‘improve’ them. Added to this, a better regulated financial system and the free-market would remove the usurious practices of the Jew. At the same time, it was acknowledged, in some quarters, that the character of the Jews was, to some extent, the result of Christian persecution and the restrictions and exclusions placed on them. The extent, if any, of moral decadence among French Jews and those of other nationalities and how they differed from the general population is a matter for further study.

Arendt pointed out that assimilation did not save the Jews. Yet, is it not a very socialist viewpoint, whether you are of the left or right, to insist that full acceptance into the socialist embrace requires renouncing other allegiances? And this leads on to the difference between acculturation and assimilation where the former allows for a dual identity but the latter denies one. The former allows for Jewishness or any sort of otherness, the latter demands the sloughing off of the old allegiances and tribalisms and subsumption into a new single identity.

Yet modern Europe, learning or believing to have learned, the lessons of the Holocaust, embraced multi-culturalism which says assimilation is not necessary, and neither is acculturation, until the lack of either becomes so antithetical to the cohesion of the social structure that the political system begins to push back against it.

The last chapter or essay concerns ‘The Shoah, Social Anti-Semitism, and its Aftermath’.

Battini reiterates his conviction that he has demonstrated that modern anti-Semitism is a social outcome of Jewish emancipation and the Enlightenment. The Shoah was not an inevitable consequence of European anti-Semitism, but a product of a kind of evolutionary progression that was unpredictable, yet organic.

Battini draws together the many threads that led to the Shoah and stresses the importance of confronting the myths, tropes and false history that lead to negationist memes infecting the culture and the principles which lay at the core of historical analysis: truth, evidence and demonstrable facts. From the denial and negation of facts comes the accusation of lies, and from those lies the Jews are seen to be exploiting a non-existent or exaggerated history in order to morally blackmail and extort reparations. Hence, the Jews’ greatest tragedy is twisted into yet another plot to gain malign influence and power.

With regard to the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian conflict Battini is right when he points out:

‘The Diaspora Jews are now depicted as the emissaries, the accomplices, the representatives of the State of Israel, which would constitute a military and intelligence outpost of the “American Empire”. In the “antiglobal” attitude, which has taken the place of the old anticapitalism, there are often ideological residues of European anti-Jewish anticapitalism, unearthed above all in Central and Eastern Europe or reemerging in the language of Islamist extremist groups.’3

This shift from anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism, with the Israelis egregiously depicted as the new Nazis to the Palestinian victims – the new Jews,  has downgraded the memory of the Holocaust.

What Battini does not say is that it is this shift to anti-Zionist rhetoric, which is a fig-leaf for anti-Semitism, has been expressly promulgated to diminish the Jewish catastrophe of the Shoah in order to promote a false equivalence with perceived Palestinian victimhood. Battini’s views reveal themselves as being on the left of centre with regard to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. That is his prerogative and is not core to his subject-matter.

I was hoping this book would throw some light on what we perceive as the modern alliance of far left socialists and anti-western, anti-Zionist forces in the Middle East and beyond. Could the past throw light on the present? Indeed, there were certain moments of clarity in this scholarly work where linkages between the socialism of the left and fascism, and their common cause in anti-Jewish anticapitalism presented them as two sides of a political and philosophical coin.

What the book does not do is explore whether European anti-Jewish attitudes and Christian anti-Semitism infected Islamic culture or whether Muslim Jew-hatred arose independently. Certainly, Arab nationalism has produced, since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, both left- and right-wing forms of socialism – for example Ba’athists were inspired by revolutionary socialism and against individualism; the PLO/Fatah has many connections to revolutionary, anti-imperial movements across the world, whilst Hamas’ quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Freemasonry in its anti-Semitic charter.

This work deserves a close reading and re-reading as it contains a dense network of material that any student of European and Jewish history would find informative and challenging.
Battini is dispassionate as he weaves his web of historical threads and presents his thesis. This may be the way of the academic historian, to remove himself from the story and look down upon the theatre of events he describes.

Yet, there is something emotionless about his prose. Maybe Battini does not like to see history presented as a story but I would guess that  non-academics, like myself, who are not historians but interested in history, per se, might prefer the style and lighter touch of popular historians such as Martin Gilbert. Nevertheless, this is an important work for those prepared to wade through its scholarly stolidity to eventually emerge with a greater knowledge and understanding of Battini’s subject-matter.

At the end of my reading, and re-reading, I remain left with the impression that any attempt to ‘explain’ anti-Semitism is always doomed to fall short of true enlightenment or epiphany simply because of the irrationality of Jew-hatred. If you succeed in explaining it logically you must prove that, to some extent at least, Jews are and have been the originators of the animus against them by virtue of their culture, beliefs and actions. This may be true, but it does not explain the uniqueness, ubiquity or persistence of anti-Semitism across two millennia.

1 The title is an 1893 quote from August Bebel ‘Der Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus der dummen Kerle’ but has been attributed to Ferdinand Kronawetter. Bebel was the founder of the German Social Democratic Party
 2 Socialism of Fools p159
 3 ibid p191

A Muslim stopped me on the street

There I was, on the last 400 metre stretch of my daily constitutional walk, when a small car approached on the wrong side of the road, and I could sense that it would stop and the driver would ask me for directions.

It happens frequently when I’m out. I must have the sort of face which says: ‘Grew up up in the era of the A-Z and will know where Acacia Avenue is’. It always amazes me that not everyone has sat-nav these days or thinks to carry a map, or plan their journey in advance.

But I digress.

The car pulled over to the kerb a few metres ahead of me, the driver’s door opened and out sprang a man in his thirties “of Middle-eastern appearance”. Now, not being one to tar everyone with the same brush, and being rather taken aback that he hadn’t just wound down his window and said, “you look like someone from the era of the A-Z and will know where Acacia Avenue is’, I felt that leaping out at me from his hatchback was of no immediate concern.

“Sorry to burden you”, he said, “but I have found some books”. This wasn’t the statement I was expecting. Now, it seemed, I looked like someone who might be interested in books, and this nice young man thought he would stop the first random pedestrian and offer him some.

“They’re in the boot”, he informed me. Still thinking it perfectly normal for a complete stranger to be offering me books rather than asking about said Acacia Avenue, I accompanied him to the tailgate. It was at this point I also noticed a little boy in the back seat. However, this gave me no comfort as my mind was not saying ‘jihadi with a Kalashnikov in the boot’ but ‘pleasant, smartly-dressed person desperate to relieve himself of a book collection.’

“I found these”, he said, as we both stared at a large cardboard box in which were an assortment of Jewish religious texts and the remnants of a pair of tefillin covered in dirt and grime.

“I wanted to know what to do with them. I respect all religions and I thought someone would want them”.

I then gave him a brief introduction to the rules of “shaimos” – the disposal of Jewish religious texts and explained they should be buried by Jews.

“Where did you find them?”

“I’ve just moved into the area and I was digging in my garden and I found them there. Should I take them to the synagogue?”

I thanked him for being so sensitive about the nature of these objects and advised him what to do with them. I couldn’t carry them home. Too heavy and awkward (not me, the books). I trusted him to do the right thing because he had thus far.

When I was home, I called the secretary of the synagogue informing him that a Muslim was on his way with a box and not to be alarmed.  He told me something similar had happened before when a Muslim had come on the bus on a 10-mile journey because he had found some Jewish prayer books and wanted to personally deliver them.

It was only afterwards that I wondered how the man had known I was Jewish.  I had no outward visible signs of being such. Do I really look so obviously Jewish? What if I hadn’t been Jewish. Some unsuspecting non-Jew would have puzzled over the texts, shrugged and carried on to Acacia Avenue. Was the driver just stopping everyone he could see who looked like they might be Jewish and I was just the last in a long line of hopeful, but ultimately disappointed bibliophiles?

It does show you, doesn’t it, that there are still heart-warming stories out there, and plenty of good, decent folk ready to confound your prejudices.

At least I now know that I have the appearance of ‘a Jewish man of a certain age who not only looks like he has memorised the A-Z, but also know what to do with disinterred Jewish religious artefacts’.





Down the Rabbit Hole and Through the Looking-Glass …

Aliceroom3… and, it seems, through a wormhole.

Tomorrow I will wake up in a Britain with the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

What happened?

Did I accidentally take the wrong turn at La-La Land?

Have I somehow, like the dreamer in Piers Plowman , slombred in a slepyng and woken up in an alternative universe in a wildernesse, wist I never where.

What’s wrong with people!?

I wouldn’t mind that Corbyn has become leader of the Labour Party were it not that this means the Israel haters and the ‘anti-Zionists’ now have a delusional Marxist as their cheerleader.

After all, is it not good to ‘widen the debate’? Well it’s so wide now that we all risk falling into its great maw and being swallowed by pro-Pals., Trotskyites and Islamists.

Exaggeration? Come and sit where I sit, stand where I stand, walk where I walk, pray where I pray.

Corbyn is the apotheosis of Israel hate which morphs seamlessly with Jew hate. I do not accuse him of the latter, but he and his ilk seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the realities of of what ‘Free Palestine’ means for Jews and Judaism.

Now we shall see the Four Horsemen of the Socialist Apocalypse – Corbyn, Livingstone, Galloway and Abbot – reborn, nay, resurrected as part of an inverted, nightmare universe where Good is Evil and Evil is tolerated as long it hates Israel.

‘We are all one’ he says. ‘If only’, I say.

This is the delusion of the Left; to see the world not as it is but how you want it to be. And then, think up some stupid policies you hope will make it that way.

No, we are not ‘one’ and that is the whole point. It is this delusional belief in ‘oneness’ that threatens us all because you may believe it all you wish, but there are billions, yes billions, of people out there whose view of ‘oneness’ is not the same as your view of ‘oneness’. You, Mr Corbyn, want us to be one world where everyone is equal: men, women, gays, disabled; where everyone gets a living wage; where everyone can live according to his needs. Very noble. Yet, there is another form of ‘oneness’ which you are flirting with, in fact you are flirting to the extent that you will have to marry, and it will be a shotgun wedding, or a Kalashnikov one, and your offspring will be chaos, misery, war, famine and destruction. Then you’ll tell us ‘that wasn’t meant to happen. Peace brothers and sisters – all we want is universal peace and the end to war’.

And this other ‘oneness’ is the same ‘oneness’ that jack-booted its way across Europe in the 30s and its the same ‘oneness’ that sent millions to the Gulags and its the same ‘oneness’ that killed millions in the Cultural Revolution.

It’s not your cosy comradeship of the Left sort of oneness, it’s the oneness which says to hell with your democracies and your liberties and your human rights and your inclusiveness; to hell with 500 years of building European civilisation. You do what we do, believe what we believe or else.

This is the danger of Corbyn. Not that he wants to nationalise or re-nationalise everything that moves, not that he wants green policies but wants to re-open coalmines (WTF?) . The danger is that he will embolden the intolerant and bolster the haters.

And the danger is that Jews in this country will feel the rack of intolerance stepped up several notches. And where will we run to? Israel. The very place he doesn’t want us to go to or believe we have any right to. And if he tells you he is a two-stater it’s bollocks (sorry but sometimes the Anglo-Saxon is necessary) because those he associates with want one state and no Jews and he knows it. He thinks you can talk to Hamas and Hizbollah and you can talk to the IRA and you can talk to any two-bit terrorist and persuade him that what is needed is Socialism and ‘oneness’ and all will be OK.

But, clearly, I’ll wake up in the morning and David Miliband will be leader of the Labour Party, and Jeremy will still be a an under-achieving Trot who does good work in his constituency but will never be a front line politician because he doesn’t really believe in the institutions he is part of.

Tell me it is so – someone? Please?

Newsreel of my grandmother in 1947 emerges

In 1972 my late uncle Alf was snoozing in front of the television when he heard his mother’s voice. She had passed away three years earlier.

The voice was coming from the television and his mother was giving a short vox pop on the 1947 meat-workers strike.

The interview was filmed for British Pathé news in the Angel, Islington, London – just around the corner from where my grandparents and their four children were then living.

The programme was All Our Yesterdays and some older readers may remember its presenter, Brian Inglis, who looked back a quarter of a century using newsreel of the day.

My uncle tried to get a copy from the BBC but to no avail. When British Pathé went online I hunted without success for many months trying to find the clip.

Two days ago my brother sent me a link asking me – ‘is this Booba?’ It most certainly is.

In 1947 Britain had been gripped by the coldest winter for fifty years to be followed by one of its hottest summers. Austerity – real austerity, was the post-war order of the day in Britain. The, now-lauded, Attlee government was in mid-term. Britain was a bleak place of rationing and food-shortages and London smogs.

My grandmother, Yetta Phillips, or Booba as we called her, had always been a staunch Socialist and supporter of ‘working people’. In the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 she had availed herself of a chair leg and set off to confront Mosely and his Blackshirts, only to find herself in Leman Street nick, presumably for her own protection.

Born in Poland in 1893, in my remembrance, she always had a pronounced East European accent. In this newsreel we hear her speaking fluently and with little trace of an accent. She actually sounds quite ‘posh’.  According to my brother, this was what we might now call her ‘telephone voice’. I never heard it.

It was, and remains, an emotional experience, seeing her and hearing her forty-six years after she died, in her prime aged about 54, as I never saw her. Life had prepared several hammer blows for her and her family in the years ahead, but watching her in this clip I feel an unexpected pride that someone, who, at the time, was still an ‘Alien’ and not a naturalised citizen, spoke ‘posher’ than the other interviewees. A hint of her whimsical sense of humour which passed to her daughter and then, I like to think, to me, is also detectable.

She begins to speak about 59 seconds into the clip.


Well, I think it’s very disgusting about the strike because I have a family of six and I have nothing to feed them on and we’re all getting run down and probably end up in a hospital! Well, this is not fair and the strikers, if they do want a little more pay, they should really get it, because we’re paying enough for our food, Dear enough!

Well said, Booba!!

My connection to Napoléon Bonaparte

Shows: Napoleon  Source: drew gardner For the sake of ‘sholem bayit’ – I don’t want anyone to think I am prejudiced against the French or Bonaparte. Having just posted a connection to Wellington, I need to be even-handed here.

Unlike Wellington, Bonaparte had, it seems, a better opinion of Jews. He believed in Jewish emancipation, after all. Égalité was one of the the pillars of the revolution.

Indeed, we could see Napoléon as a progressive fighting the forces of conservatism which wanted to retain hereditary monarchies and the privileges of class.  Napoléon’s army was led by the sons of the petit-bourgeois, not by dukes and princes.

Anyway, notwithstanding, I think Boney, despite his good points, was, at the core, a more successful version of Mussolini: an Italo-Frenchman who thought he was Julius Caesar but without the fasces, as it were.

But I digress.

The connection, you say, what’s the connection?

Well it’s even more tangential than Wellington. You may be surprised to know that my great-grandfather – my father’s father’s father was born in around 1800. He lived to 102 and my grandfather was the offspring of his third marriage. My grandfather was born in 1880. Do the math, as they say. the old boy was still at it when he was about 80 years old!

However, do the math again. When he was about 12 there was a bit of a war on. the French had marched on Moscow in 1812, succumbed to the Russian winter and the Grande Armeé marched all the way back again – including through Poland.

And that’s where Koppel Kuchcik comes in – he’s my great-grandfather. The family story is that he witnessed part of that terrible retreat, as a boy, in Poland, probably in Kalisz or somewhere nearby.

So there you have it – a connection to both great men.

My connection to the Duke of Wellington

220px-Arthur_Duke_of_WellingtonOn this momentous anniversary of the greatest battle in European history, I thought I’d go a little off-piste and tell you a personal story.

My late father was a gentleman’s hairdresser in Maddox Street, Mayfair in London during the 1960s and into the 1970s.

Being near to both Regent Street and Piccadilly, where the BBC’s Paris studios were located on Lower Regent Street, he had a celebrity clientele. The clientele not only included media stars, well-known names from television, the radio and the cinema, but also one or two members of the aristocracy.

One of these was the Duke of Wellington. Not the current Duke, of course, but his father, the 8th Duke. However, His Grace did not pop into the salon like everyone else (including a Prince of Siam),  my father had to go to Apsley House to cut the Duke’s hair.

One can only imagine how the little Jewish man from the West End must have felt the first time he showed up with his bag at Number One, London and, no doubt, marvelled at the splendours within.

At least, I have always assumed it was Apsley House and not Stratfield Saye. By the 1960’s the house had belonged to the nation for over a decade but the Wellesleys still occupied apartments. I’m pretty sure my father would not have travelled all the way to Berkshire or be required to do so.

On one occasion, he told me, he arrived at the house and the Duke’s butler directed him to a side entrance. When ushered into the Duke’s presence he somehow knew the direction from which my father had come. He glowered at his butler, who had confirmed that my father had been told to use the tradesman’s entrance, and rebuked him, ‘Mr Cook comes through the front door!’

I should also add the Duke was four years younger than my father and in a few days time it will be the 8th duke’s centenary.

This story would always fill me with some pride that the Duke regarded my father above the station of a tradesman and was embarrassed to have him treated so rudely. On reflection, and I know this was 50 years ago, it was a rather patronising attempt at conferring some measure of status on my humble, scissors-wielding father. Nevertheless, His Grace was most gracious on that occasion and I thank him for it. The fact that I often tell the story shows that I am proud of the association, however slight, with such a great name. Even though I know the first Duke was no philo-semite, and regarded our people with a certain disdain, I can’t help admiring the old goat.

The 8th Duke would send notes to the salon ordering toiletries. Here’s his autographed request for just such an item, sent from Stratfield Saye in 1967, in case you think I am fibbing.


‘Please send me a guinea bottle of “Kara” to this address


May 31 ’67’

I have no idea what “Kara” was but it seems the Duke thought it worth sending a postcard for it from his country seat.

The Battle of Waterloo is a seminal moment in European history where a mainly German army led by an Irishman defeated a Frenchman from an Italian heritage – but only just; had it not been for the timely arrival of the Prussians – more Germans – under Blücher.  Strange thing, history.

I recommend that you watch the BBC documentary ‘The Scots at Waterloo’ which gives a vivid portrayal of what it was like to take part in the battle. It’s on iPlayer for a while yet. Hundred of books have been written about Waterloo but one I have recently read takes you through the day hour by hour and transports you to the Regency period in a way few history books achieve – ‘Went the Day Well?: Witnessing Waterloo’ by David Crane.

The Holocaust must never be consigned to history

Today was Holocaust Memorial Day.

Today was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I have been extremely gratified by the BBC’s coverage of the day’s events which has been sensitive and sincere. Today’s memorial service in Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, attended by the Prime Minister, leading politicians, the Chief Rabbi, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, broadcast on BBC2, was also a profoundly moving occasion.

Yet this same BBC, on Sunday, put out a programme, The Big Questions, with the question ‘Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest?’

What does this even mean? ‘Lay to rest’? Is the memory of the greatest crime in human history to be buried?

Yet, it is the implication behind this question that is disturbing. It is suggesting we have to move on, move on from something. But what is that ‘something’ that is to be, by its laying to rest, somehow reduced, diminished, waved away from our collective memory. Yeah, it happened, awful, wasn’t it. Let’s tuck it away so we don’t have to be embarrassed any longer by the stench that worries our collective guilt.

But let me take this a little further. Does the question mean, perhaps, that it is we, the Jews, that really need to GIVE it a rest; is it that we should be done whingeing and making everyone feel guilty.

And let me take it yet a little further still: does it mean the above AND quit your whining because look at what you are doing now in Palestine! Have I inferred too much?

As noted by BBC watch:

No less contentious than the wording of that tweet was the fact that the programme’s subject matter was allowed to be exploited for opportunistic promotion of political propaganda by Nira Yuval-Davis of the University of East London.

In a programme with two huge elephants in the room, namely Israel and widespread and endemic Islamic antisemitism and Holocaust denial, both were assiduously avoided until Yuval-Davis was given a platform to accuse Israel of exploiting the Holocaust to cover its crimes, and attacked Bibi Netanyahu for taking all visiting dignitaries to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial Museum in Jerusalem. But, as BBC Watch points out, surely the BBC researchers would be well aware of the views of Yuval-Davis. Maybe, they would argue, her views represent the minority ‘yes’ vote for the programme’s motion.

It was, therefore, also good to hear from the (apparently) only Muslim (or maybe ex-Muslim) in the audience speak and denounce Jew-hatred and Holocaust denial in the Muslim community.

It is ironic that a programme can ask its provocative question with the clear evidence that a second Holocaust is the devout wish of so many in Europe and beyond; a time when Jews are leaving France in droves, where we have a Europe in which Jews feel increasingly threatened, where they are physically attacked and even killed.

An historian on the front row tried to make the point that too much is made of the Jewish Shoah, and that it is too prominent when there have been so many other holocausts and genocides.

I reject this suggestion which was mentioned or hinted at so frequently in the programme. No-one was brave enough to say that the Shoah is THE worst genocide, or that other events are NOT equal in human evil. David Cameron was not so coy today at the memorial service I mentioned earlier.

It is not about suffering or numbers killed, it is about the impact on the entire world, the depths of depravity, the centuries of persecution which preceded it. It is so fashionable to be PC and to find equivalence everywhere. Sorry – I just don’t buy it.

Killing people is one thing – but that was not the only objective of the Nazi genocide. It was an attempt to eradicate a civilisation, a culture. It was an attempt to eradicate memory itself. The camps were not called vernichtungslagen for nothing. It was about erasure and oblivion.

It was also about what Daniel Goldhagen called ‘Hitler’s willing executioners’ because they were by no means all German. The Nazi empire unleashed centuries of suppressed enmity in almost every country in Europe.

Most importantly, the defeat of the Nazis did not destroy antisemitism; it was merely ground into the mud of post-war Europe from which it germinated again fed by Islamic judeophobia and anti-Zionism. The holocaust denial trope of much of the Islamic world, which is a mental holocaust, provides its believers with a fig-leaf for the delusion that their hatred is somehow justified.

Someone posted this on Facebook:


As someone pointed out, he clearly learned nothing. This speaks so eloquently of the cognitive dissonance associated with Jew-hatred and the reasons why any genocide can happen.

Finally, Auschwitz is not the Holocaust and the Holocaust is not Auschwitz. If we just concentrate on one death camp, however terrible, it risks missing the rest of the story, and it is that story which tells us why the Nazi genocide of the Jews (and others, yes, but mostly Jews) is, and will remain, the greatest crime ever committed, and those responsible for the BBC’s efforts in this programme to dumb it down into some politically-correct moral equivalence must never succeed.

Prezza on Gaza

I quite like former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

Here’s a man, by no means perfect, like all of us, but a man who, from humble origins rose to be Deputy Prime Minister.

I respect his lifelong battle for social justice and to better the lives of working people.

Yes, I know about 2-Jags, his affair, his hatred of eggs, especially when aimed at his head.

But there is something to admire in his pugnacity. He’s an old-style socialist and it shows.

His piece in The Daily Mirror today, ‘Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is a war crime – and it must end’, where he weighs in on the conflict on Gaza, is ignorant and provocative because of its ignorance.

And I am not alone in this view because, at the end of the article is a chance to vote if you agree or not, and all day the ‘No’ vote has been over 80%.

So let’s see what he has to say:

Imagine a country claiming the lives of nearly three times as many as were lost in the MH17 plane tragedy in less than three weeks.

Hey, John, heard about Syria? heard about the 170,000 deaths there and millions as refugees? Heard that in one day Assad kills more than in those three weeks?

Of course, comparing a greater evil does not excuse a lesser, but one wonders whether he wrote anything about Syria yet. So let’s check.

Well, I found this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/06/tony-blair-wrong-on-syria_n_3879904.html where he agrees with his party leader Ed Miliband that military intervention in Syria is wrong. So, you might say, his distaste for toppling dictators has allowed Assad free rein to murder thousands of Palestinians, for example, in Yarmouk.

Difficult one, isn’t it John? Tony Blair was wrong on Iraq, he says, so Ed must be right on Syria.

Yet, I have not found that he has ever written about war crimes in Syria or anywhere else. Why is that?

A nation which blasted a hospital, shelled and killed children from a gunboat as they played football on the beach and was responsible for 1,000 deaths, at least 165 of them children, in just two weeks.

The death of those boys is horrifying.

There are no excuses.

Accidents happen in war – I know that’s easy to say when innocent life is lost. Yet, those boys were playing near an area where Hamas had been firing at the Israelis. What parent would allow his kids to be playing in a war zone in an area where Hamas were known to have been located. In those circumstances tragedy can happen.

Is Prescott suggesting it was deliberate?  Did the British never kill children in Afghanistan or Iraq? Does John know that 160 children died building Hamas’s terror tunnels by Hamas’s own admission. Does he care about that deliberate abuse of the children? Does he worry about the hundreds of kids, even babies, dressed in Hamas combat uniforms, toting weapons? Did he see the video of a father showing a kid how to fire a rocket launcher on a beach just like the one the four boys were killed on? What does John have to say about that?

Shelling a hospital? Which hospital is he talking about? Hamas fire from hospitals, store weapons in hospitals, conduct their operations from hospitals. All war crimes. Did John hear the recording of a phone call to someone associated with the Wafa hospital asking time and again if there were any patients in that hospital because Israel wanted to return fire coming from that building but, under international law, could not do so unless the hospital were evacuated completely? When that confirmation was given, the building was attacked. Not before. Does John even wonder why they would do that? Does he know it was being used as a command centre?

Gaza lost a hospital because it lost its protected status when Hamas chose to use it to fire at its enemy.

The Shifa hospital was also struck. Israeli images showed that 4 rockets had been fired from behind the hospital; one was intercepted over Ashkelon, one landed on or near the hospital, one fell out to sea and one also fell short in northern Gaza. In fact, 10% of all rockets fired from Gaza fall short. We do not know what damage they do or who they kill because Hamas are quick to clear up their own mess and we now know that thanks to Italian reporter Gabriele Barbati:


Let’s just read that again. ‘Out of Gaza far from Hamas retaliation. In other words, Hamas are intimidating journos in Gaza and hiding their crimes and the deaths they themselves cause. Yet, people like John Prescott are all too willing to attribute every death, every explosion to Israel, as if the other side wasn’t firing at all.

Surely it would be branded a pariah state, condemned by the United Nations, the US and the UK. The calls for regime change would be ­deafening.

An outrageous and calumnious statement full of moral equivalence and moral bankruptcy.

‘Regime change’? Is he suggesting Israel is a dictatorship like Iraq? The only democratic country in the Middle East, with a world-renowned independent judiciary, freedom of the press, full rights for all its citizens, freedom of religion? Is he serious?

Israel, a pariah state for defending itself against an Islamo-fascist murderous regime that deliberately uses its own people as political cannon fodder? How dare he suggest Israel can be a pariah state and not Iran or Syria or any number of oppressive regimes funding murder, intolerance, oppression of women and gays?

Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trots out the same excuses. Hamas “militants” in Gaza fired their rockets first. Israel has a right to defend itself. It needs to protect its citizens.

Excuses? Here’s a man who is not keen on a swift retaliation against an aggressor? Think again.

Err.. that was just a little egg, John, not 2000 rockets with high-explosives. And these are ‘excuses’?

And he’s right on all three counts – but as always with Israel this is not the full story. The military action supposedly targeting Hamas is so brutally disproportionate and so grossly indiscriminate that it makes it impossible not to view Israel’s actions as war crimes.

Does it? Who says? That’s opinion. Accusing anyone or any state of war crimes is a serious accusation. You need evidence, legal opinions, full investigations and, in Israel’s case, a ready kangaroo court to jump to conclusions. John needs to look up the laws of proportionality. He also needs to understand that this is asymmetric warfare with an enemy that fires indiscriminately at civilians (war crime) from urban areas (war crime) and then hides underground.

Indiscriminate. 1100 deaths, at least 40% combatants, in over 2000 separate attacks. That doesn’t sound indiscriminate. Warning people and evacuating them (where can they go!? You’d rather they die?) is not indiscriminate. Making phone calls, dropping leaflets is not indiscriminate. What is indiscriminate are the Hamas rockets, especially those dozens that fall short and kill their own people. But even that is a victory because journalists are not allowed to film it so they can blame Israel, and everyone complies nicely – or else!

When you are fighting an enemy that simply wants to murder you and your children, says so repeatedly, and proves its intentions with bombs, mortars, suicide attacks, missiles – what would you do to protect yourself and your family and how would you fight? Just think about it. Are you a military expert? Do you understand how Hamas operates? Really? Do you know that it actually wants people to die so that YOU are shocked because YOU have moral scruples and human empathy, but THEY do not.

THEY intimidate journalists, murder collaborators and drag them through the street; they kill people who simply protest against them. They are evil monsters. YOU try dealing with them without harming a lot of innocents.

 Those who live in Gaza are kept like prisoners behind walls and fences, unable to escape the bombings, and an Israeli economic blockade has forced Palestinians into poverty.

Well, Egypt frequently closes its Rafah crossing and has a border with Gaza where not a lot gets through. Why don’t you mention that. On the other hand Israel does the following:

  • Cogat report just for today when there’s a bloody war going on: http://www.cogat.idf.il/901-11564-en/Cogat.aspx
  • Israel provides, directly or indirectly, all Gaza’s electricity – and Gaza does not pay for it.
  • Thousands of Gazans are treating free in Israeli hospitals.

In fact, there is no siege. But there is a maritime blockade because Iran and others send the rockets and weaponry Hamas uses, and would send much more if ships were allowed to dock unchallenged. Can you imagine what they would send? There is a relatively small list of restricted goods which can be used for building Hamas terror infrastructure. This does not include any food items.

Meanwhile, Israel has allowed in, under international pressure, the very concrete used to produce terror tunnels.

Israel’s Iron Dome defence system easily intercepts missiles launched from Gaza. Three Israeli citizens have died from these ­primitive rockets, with 32 soldiers killed fighting Hamas.

This is the usual argument of a Hamas apologist. They are primitive. Really? Grad and Fajr rockets are primitive? So primitive they can close an airport? And the ‘home-made’ ones may be unsophisticated, but they still can kill. Is John saying that Israel’s actions would be justified if more Israelis were killed? Is Israel to blame that it defends its citizens whilst there are no bomb shelters in Gaza, but an extensive network of tunnels used to murder Israelis, not to protect Gazans.

Britain just allowed the Luftwaffe to bomb it, to send V1’s and V2’s without response, did it John? Does Dresden ring any bells?

Compare that to the toll in Gaza. Of the 1,000-plus to die, more than 80 per cent were ­civilians, mostly women and children.

See above for the ‘fair-play’ idea of warfare. In war you want your people to live, unless you are Hamas. As for the lie about ‘mostly women and children’ no-one has managed to find a dead terrorist yet. But Al Jazeera has. Look at this from Elder of Ziyon. It demonstrates that the demographic of deaths clearly indicates that the claim most are civilians is not just false but an utter distortion. And bear in mind that Hamas uses suicide bombers as young as 14.

Israel brands them terrorists but it is acting as judge, jury and ­executioner in the ­concentration camp that is Gaza

Wow, John. No terrorists in Gaza then. But using the term ‘Concentration Camp’, a clear reference to the Holocaust is beneath him. Yet it is a common image used by ‘critics” of Israel who want a genocidal, pathological, fascist regime to have free access to Israel – and Egypt – import what it chooses and to bring death and destruction to Israel.

Well, Jews actually are well aware of what a concentration camp or a death-camp is and we don’t need lessons from Prezza. Because if he has his way and allows the harmless Hamas regime with its fireworks free rein, there really would be concentration camps, and it would be Israeli Jews that would be in them. Prescott’s apologia for a terror organisation is disgusting.

And Israel flouts international law by continuing to build illegal Jewish settlements. Why? Because it knows it can get away with it.

What has that got to do with Gaza? it’s a whole different question. Hamas is not about settlements or blockades, it’s about genocide of the Jewish people – read their charter John.

What happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis is appalling. But you would think those atrocities would give Israelis a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto.

I’m puking my guts that John would use this well-worn and outrageous comparison between Israel’s actions and the those of the Nazis. This is actually antisemitic by the definition approved by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) :

‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

I don’t believe he is antisemitic, but this is shameful and ignorant.

Hamas is wrong to continue its rocket attacks and must ­recognise ­Israel’s right to exist.

That’s the problem, John. They never will and it’s that little factlet on which every argument against Israel’s actions ultimately fail.

But as Channel 4’s Jon Snow said this week: “If you strangle a people, deny them supply for years, extreme reaction is inevitable.

Firstly, they are ‘strangled’ due to their own actions and those of their government. They have adequate supplies. Did you ever see a starving person on all the videos in Gaza? And they seem to have plenty of supplies of guns and mortars and anti-tank rounds and thousands of missiles. And when they do get building materials, they build tunnels. Hardly Israel’s fault.

‘Extreme reaction is inevitable’. NO IT IS NOT. The extreme reaction was Hamas turning Gaza into an armed camp after Israel abandoned the territory in 2005. There were no blockades or sieges then. It was Hamas’s firing of rockets and using Gaza as a proxy base for Iran to attack Israel that led to subsequent events and wars. FACT.

Is it not truly ‘disproportionate’ to want to exterminate every Jew with missiles and guns? The usual causal inversion and moral blindness is alive and well. Someone threw an egg at Prezza and he tried to flatten him. He didn’t try to flatten him first, and then the guy threw the egg. But in the world of Israel-bashing, the right hook came first, and then the egg.

This is the fundamental conflation of two sets of circumstances: sympathy for the plight of Palestinians, especially in Gaza, and the fact that Hamas is governing them.

No one with an ounce of humanity could feel anything but horror at what is happening and what has happened before. It’s heart-breaking. But it is the responsibility for that plight that is the issue, and the responsibility for the necessity for Israel to protect itself and bring quiet and security to its citizens that is always ignored. Oh yes, politicians and Hamas terror apologists always add that qualifier to show they are being ‘fair’ to Israel, but they expect them to do so with hands tied behind their back.

Nevertheless, there is always justification in questioning the military tactics of Israel. Israelis do it. Frequently. They demonstrate against it. Gazans do not have that privilege.

It’s very easy to empathise with the people of Gaza. It’s very easy to see Israel as the bad guy and not the terrorists because, not only do they physically hide behind their population, they give YOU an excuse to ignore and hide their crimes because YOU are too busy being morally outraged by what you see and hear and are fed, by proxy, by Hamas itself.

The question remains: what would you do and how would you do it? And don’t say ‘negotiate’ because Hamas will not. Don’t say ‘lift the blockade’ because that is just an excuse and a ploy.

It’s very simple. Get rid of Hamas and the problem goes away. Stop hating Jews and the problem goes away. Stop firing rockets and trying to kill and kidnap, the problem goes away.

Shame is, a lot of people believe exactly what Prezza believes. But not the readers of this opinion piece though, according to the vote.

** Latest – vote has now swung in favour. I guess it was too good to be true.

Kennedy, the Doctor and Me

WH/HO PortraitNo apologies for being off-topic on this day of days.

For today’s teenagers and twenty-somethings the defining moment of their young lives was probably 9/11.

For me, it was the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22nd 1963.

I was only a child at the time but the hazy memories and indecipherable TV images were seared into my mind and have remained an abiding obsession.

I don’t recall in detail the events of that evening. The half century since has added false memories, no doubt.

I recall sitting in our lounge in North West London in front of a TV which today would be an object of curiosity and derision; a screen no bigger than those on a laptop computer, but square with rounded corners, and in ‘black and white’. In reality it was more grey-blue.

I remember seeing the US TV pictures taken from behind the motorcade, and the horrific site of Jackie Kennedy climbing out of the car onto the trunk. The real horror of the assassination would only hit home years later when I saw the Zapruder footage in colour. I can’t watch it any longer.

Then I remember the BBC actually shutting down and playing funereal music – probably Beethoven.

Even though I was young, Kennedy’s charisma had made him a hero for me. His speeches, his good looks and charm were intoxicating. He had recently visited London. He had declared that a man would walk on the Moon by the end of the decade. He and Jackie were the most glamorous couple in the world – and they knew it.

We did not know then all the scandal and the peccadilloes  and the corruption. Kennedy was the future. It was the beginning of the 60’s; the Beatles had just changed the world; it was a very exciting time.

Then this.

I believe I saw Lee Harvey Oswald shot live by satellite. That was a very traumatic event for a young boy.

A few years later – perhaps it was the 5th anniversary – the Sunday Times did an extensive piece on the the details of the events of that day. I wrote a poem  – I don’t have it now – based on that article. I would, as an adult, buy books, read articles and watch TV documentaries. I would shout at the film ‘JFK’ telling the actors it was all wrong, it didn’t happen that way.

Every year since; yes, every year, this day, the 22nd of November, has been Kennedy day. This was the day when the world penetrated my life and I became aware that the it was not always safe, just or pleasant. It was the day that will always leave us wondering – ‘what if’ – what if he had lived.

The following day, November 23rd 1963 ‘Dr Who’ was first broadcast and I was in front of that same old TV watching, spellbound. Those early episodes had an atmosphere that was claustrophobic and menacing.  But just as the Beatles had captured the world of music, so Dr Who captured the imagination of my generation; we couldn’t get enough of the Daleks and the Cybermen.

The series, which now looks quaint and dated, was a new world of science fiction and special effects. It never really scared me but it enthralled me. The second coming of Dr Who after a hiatus of 15 years has had a similar affect to the first series with a string of brilliant actors and imaginative stories. I admit, I don’t watch it that much but I found David Tennant compelling, even when overacting.

When I was a kid I bought a little Dalek which used to move around on a ball bearing. I bought others models, collected picture cards, bought annuals and even went to see the film starring Peter Cushing and Roy Castle.

There is something in our nature which clings to cultural icons and approaches a kind of religion or cult or simply becomes today’s folk culture and fairy tale; a super-hero, indestructible, yet vulnerable with his disciples facing down evil and dispensing goodwill and righteousness. Dr Who is a messianic figure that makes us feel that evil can be defeated by good and that the most intractable problems and dangers can be dismantled by optimism and hope.

Is not Dr Who a bit like Kennedy?

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