Two big stories here in the UK were the confirmation of the discovery of the remains of King Richard III and the horse meat scandal where several major food retailers have been found to have horse meat in their beef products, including lasagne.
If you are about to correct my Italian in the title – don’t. Lasagne is the plural of lasagna and in Shakespeare’s play, Richard III called for just one horse, not several.
A further disgusting discovery was that Halal meat provided to prisons was found to contain pork.
As a vegetarian, I can say this is a subject to keep well away from.
But as a blogger thinking very hard about how to link my ‘clever’ blog title to my usual theme of Israel. the Jews and the media, I’ll plunge straight in.
‘As a Jew’ (I always wanted to say that) – as a Jew, I am aware that the Jewish dietary laws have kept Jews extremely fastidious about their food over the centuries. Kashrut, the laws governing what is kosher, not only stipulate what we eat, but how it is to be killed and how it is to be processed.
Most Jews, observant or not, would also source their meat from a kosher butcher. Even those that might stray and eat out at non-kosher restaurants, would not bring non-kosher meat into the home. Keeping kosher is a cornerstone of Jewish life. It is what helps us define ourselves as Jews. And it doesn’t just apply to meat.
Kosher meat is supervised from the point of slaughter to the butcher or the kosher food outlet. It has to have a ‘hechsher’ an endorsement from a rabbinical court that this food is strictly in accordance with the laws of kashrut.
This system of supervision makes it very difficult indeed for any contamination by non-kosher products to take place.
A recent case in the US caused huge controversy when an orthodox butcher was found to be selling non-kosher meat as kosher. He received a severe prison sentence. But as far as I know the meat he was purveying was still from kosher animals, it just had not been slaughtered or supervised according to kashrut. I don’t believe any horses or pigs were involved.
Another practice Jews go in for is washing. Orthodox Jews wash their hands a lot; before praying, before eating.
These days, most people observe a level of hygiene that is relatively recent. Jews have been doing this for millennia.
In the middle ages, as plague and disease devastated Europe, Jews were noticeably less affected. The reason: food and personal hygiene. As the reasons for this were poorly understood, Jews were accused of poisoning wells and being the agents of plague whilst remaining untouched. Thus, in return for showing the way to reducing contagion, the Jews brought ever greater calumny upon themselves.
So, during the current horse meat controversy, which I am sure will lead to more regulation and more expensive food, Jews have quietly and, yes, smugly, whistled to themselves knowingly.
Jews often complain about the cost of kosher meat. It is more expense because it is supervised. That supervision costs money and the supervisors have to earn a living. Result: kosher meat is much more expensive than non-kosher. That may be about to change.
And what about dear Richard III scion of the House of York?
I watched the Channel 4 programme “The King in the Car Park’. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen and I urge all of you who can see this on the Channel 4 Catch Up.
I guess you have to have a certain interest in history, and maybe Shakespeare as well, to understand just how incredible the discovery of Richard III is.
Since the Norman Conquest, only one monarch’s whereabouts was unknown; only one king died in battle: Richard III.
The story of how one middle-aged woman’s obsession with rehabilitating Richard’s reputation, and finding him, led to the discovery is one I will leave to the documentary makers.
The question for me was why I, too, found this story so moving. It was truly like a film script designed to be sensational and completely unlikely. Yet, it is true, due to luck, determination and amazing forensic archaeology we are as sure as we can be that the bones are those of Richard and they tell a gruesome story of his last moments.
I was always pro Richard. When politicians of the 15th and 16th centuries needed to confirm the legitimacy of the new king, Henry VII, they did so by attacking Richard’s reputation, turning him into a monster and exaggerating his physical characteristics to support their demonisation of the man.
Although his involvement with the Princes in the Tower and their disappearance is problematical, nothing is proved. We just don’t know if they were killed or by who and by whose orders if they were. Certainly Richard was no worse than many a late mediaeval prince.
We also now know that he was disabled with scoliosis hence his reputation as a ‘hunchback’ and was somewhat feminine in appearance. Yet, he was a warrior king who recklessly imperilled his own life and fought bravely to the last.
The portrait we have of him shows quite a handsome man. The reconstruction of his face I believe is too youthful and too fleshy but is even more handsome.
The romance of finding the much-maligned king under a municipal car park in Leicester, and for his remains to confirm so much we know only from history, makes this king, for me, one of our greatest. He reigned for two years only. The people of Yorkshire are documented as believing him to be a good prince who cared for his people. His local reputation has remained intact across the centuries.
So how can I relate good King Richard to my usual subject?
The idea of an individual being demonised across the centuries, his physical features exaggerated to a grotesque caricature, his motives questioned, his becoming the personification of evil, all has resonance with what is happening and has happened to Jews and Israel. Far-fetched linkage? Maybe.
The Tudors were politically motivated to paint Richard as black and as dastardly as possible. The more negatively he was portrayed to a gullible public and subsequent generations, the more noble and legitimate they appeared
Yet Henry Tudor’s claim to the throne was tenuous compared to Richard. Who was the usurper? The Tudor dynasty lasted a hundred years or so, and what an assortment they turned out to be. Once you get the people to believe the Big Lie, it is very hard to overturn it or to persuade anyone of the opposing view. Such is human nature that we quite like our demons and our hate-objects.
So a warning from history; be careful who you hate and examine your motives. No person or group is perfect, but no person or group is totally irredeemably evil either. With some rare exceptions.
I hope that the discovery of Richard will lead to a better understanding and a fairer assessment of his reign. If he does prove to be a murderer, I fear I shall still find him a much more attractive figure than many who succeeded him.
Those who risked their life to save Jews during the Shoah are almost by definition extraordinary human beings.
One such is “Mademoiselle” Andree Geulen.
These ‘righteous among the nations’ are honoured in Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem national Holocaust memorial.
I had not heard of Andree Geulen before. I have now.
She has just celebrated her 90th birthday,
I defy you not to shed a tear when you watch and listen to this amazing tribute to her.
My wife shops near her school Fridays to get bread and stuff for Shabbat from the Jewish baker.
She then goes next door to the newsagent to get her Jewish papers.
The owners are devout Muslims.
They are always friendly, polite, respectful.
However, you never really know what they think of their Jewish clientele, after all, business is business, no?
Today I drove my wife to collect the bread and get the papers.
I stood beside her as she took the local Jewish paper to the counter where the young (20 something) son of the owner was serving.
On the front page was a huge picture of Gilad Shalit.
This is what the young man said, verbatim, unprompted:
“Thank God he is home safe”.
I don’t know why but I fill up just thinking about that.
We were both speechless. We expected a polite ignoring of this story, after all, why should he care? We always presume that the sympathy would be only with the Palestinians.
I was reluctant to tell this story that had moved me. Was it patronising or discourteous to Muslims to somehow believe they would not be relieved at the release of a young man? A Jew. An Israeli. Did it say more about my prejudices than those I am subscribing to them?
A Muslim friend advised me that it was a good story to tell. It shows us that if we really spoke to each other more, we might surprise each other.
Taking a break till Monday for the Jewish New Year.
I wish all my Jewish readers Shana Tova u’Metuka – a Happy and Sweet New Year.
To the rest of you, well I hope the New Year brings all mankind peace and prosperity.
Thanks for listening.
See you next year 5772.
I promised to show you these images and here they are in a gallery for your perusal.
Well, I’ve been back for more than a week, but reading Martin Gilbert’s latest tour de force, ‘In Ishmael’s House’ (published by Yale) whilst I was in Israel and watching the outbreak of the Egyptian popular uprising, which also occurred whilst I was there, has given me much food for thought.
So I thought I’d take the liberty of extending my Israel diary from the comfort of my home in England.
Firstly, for anyone who is interested in the experiences of Jews in Muslim lands from the beginnings of Islam in the 7th century right up to the present day must read this seminal book.
I must admit that I was pretty much ignorant of the history of Jews in Muslim lands with only a vague notion that there were good times and there were bad times.
This book confirmed that was the case. But it also confirmed that whatever the circumstances, however benign the Muslim ruler or government was, troubled times were never far away. Indeed, there are many similarities with the Jewish experience in Christian lands.
I was amazed that even comparatively recently, and certainly within the last 100 years, Jews have led comfortable, successful and influential lives in Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Morocco and even Libya.
Jews have had positions of power and have been patriotic citizens of many Arab states across the Middle East.
Despite these sometimes protracted periods of affluence where Jews achieved a level of social standing, integration and honour far in excess of that experienced by their co-religionists in Europe, there was always an undercurrent of uncertainty and even fear.
This fear came from the dark corners of Islam where Jews were always the target of politicians and demagogues wanting a scapegoat or a common enemy to unite the people.
This undercurrent of Jew-hatred is ever-present in Islamic states as it has been in Christian ones. For decades, even centuries, it is suppressed and even legislated against, but the day always comes when Jews were murdered, dispossessed, dhimmified, oppressed, subject to medieval forms of treatment and humiliation, taxed, ghettoised, their civil liberties denied.
Reading the book has many moments of wonderful co-operation, mutual respect, neighbourliness, fraternity, friendship and decency. Such were the circumstances in much of the Arab world before 1947 on the eve of the declaration of the State of Israel.
But as soon as Israel came into being it released a backlash against the Jewish citizens of Arab countries which is rarely documented in the West and has been all but airbrushed out of Middle East history. Jews were expelled and their property and possessions taken from them or they chose to leave because of intolerable danger and random or orchestrated attacks. And when they left, it was usually with nothing or they had to sell off for a pittance.
This narrative is almost wholly absent from any discussion on Middle East history. When Jewish Arabs, as they often considered themselves, and many still do, arrived in Israel, where hundreds of thousands settled, they were absorbed, they did not remain refugees and never had that status for very long. They have never been compensated for their losses. After all, the vast majority never chose to leave their comfortable lives in Cairo or Damascus, Fez or Tripoli, Baghdad or Kabul.
It was Arab nationalism and Islamic self-assertion and atavistic hatreds and prejudices which drove out the Jews. The Arab world has been made judenrein to a far greater extent than even Europe was during the Nazi period without, thankfully, the genocide.
A sad and little-known or acknowledged aspect of the modern form of Arab Islamic Jew-hatred has direct connections and dubious inspiration from the Nazi Jew-hatred. The role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in raising a Muslim SS Division, persuading Hitler not to allow Jews to escape to Palestine and even a suggestion from Gilbert that it was Husseini who may have given the idea of the Final Solution to Hitler, are all explored in this book.
How often do we hear that Palestinian dispossession as a result of a European problem with the Jews was an unjust solution to that problem, but we never hear how Islamic support of the Nazis in North Africa and Mesopotamia as well as Palestine was part of that Solution and actually assisted in driving Jews to the very land from which their Muslim opponents wanted them to leave.
Nevertheless, the Jewish civilisation and culture with all its glories and millennia-old history was swept away and all but obliterated within a few decades because the Jews dared to assert their independence and carve out a few thousand square kilometres in their ancient homeland.
The lesson from history is this: unless the Muslim states can, once and for all, disengage their religious narrative from hating or despising and certainly mistrusting Jews qua Jews, then peace and co-operation will never be possible.
It is this echo of the Nazi past that finds its modern extreme form in the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hizbullah as well as Al Qaeda and Iranian anti-Zionism. In its less overt forms it can be found on the Arab street and literature and the all too frequent presence of translations of Mein Kampf and the fraudulent and defamatory Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
There is an important linkage to all of this with regard to the current popular uprising in Egypt. Commentators are keen to point out the lack of anti-Western and anti-Israeli sloganising and banners in Tahrir Square and elsewhere. They do not show, however, an underlying anti-Zionist narrative that can spill over to bigotry and worse.
Many pro-Zionist websites are keen to find images of anti-Zionism and antisemitism from this uprising to support their fears of an Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood takeover. They tell us about interviews with elements in the crowd who tell us Mubarak was little more than a Zionist stooge, that it was the Jews who, in pr0pping up the dictator, were responsible for the Egyptians repression. These same websites tell us of those who want to attack Israel and destroy it, who want to ‘restore’ Palestine to the Palestinians, who still harbour a grudge because the Israelis/Jews defeated them in every war the Egyptians waged against them, occupied their country and humiliated their army.
It is hardly surprising that such views are held by so many in Egypt when, despite the ‘cold peace’ with Egypt for more than 30 years, despite co-operation in suppressing fundamentalists, border security, intelligence sharing, the Egyptian clergy, press and media have continued to pour out antisemitic vitriol poisoning the minds of the people whose Islamic culture has always allowed a space for Jew-hatred and suspicion. How often did we hear UK reporters say that all foreign press were suspected of being ‘Zionist’ agents.
Today came the welcome and stabilising news that the Egyptian army would respect existing treaties including the one with Israel.
History tells us we need more from this revolution. We must see a modern secular state that rejects Islamist narratives. We must see a proudly Muslim people with one of the greatest histories and cultures in the world realise that the democracy they crave already exists, however imperfectly, in Israel and that if they want true peace and prosperity they must continue to work with and improve relations with Israel, drop the antisemitic narrative and play an important role in spreading democracy to the entire region.
This will have a far greater impact on peace and the prospects for Palestinians than cleaving to Islamist, undemocratic paradigms. The danger is not just the Muslim Brotherhood but a democratic state that, nevertheless, still hates Jews and Zionists and is prepared to do something about it.
We can only wait and hope.
So why am I writing about the media and how it reacted to former Home Secretary and Justice Secretary (and MP for Blackburn) Jack Straw’s comments on a specific court case about the sexual grooming of young girls in Derby?
Two men were jailed for picking up under age girls over an extended period and then sexually abusing them, raping them and physically abusing them.
So how is this connected to my usual topics?
Well, as I see it, this is a mirror image of the accusation that anyone in the Jewish community who characterises much of the discourse in the media, and by elements in the far Left and Muslim community, about Israel as ‘antisemitic’ is immediately accused of ‘closing down the argument’.
In other words, the accusation of antisemitism is itself off-limits and is seen as an easy way to rebut attacks on Israel when any other counter-argument would fail. It’s the ace up the pro-Zionist sleeve, so they say, which is pulled out at every opportunity.
Yet, accusations of Islamophobia, racial stereotyping and even racism are hurled at Jack Straw because he dare draw an obvious conclusion from irrefutable statistics. My point is no-one is then accused of ‘closing down the argument’ or using the ‘race card’ to deflect these criticisms.
Let’s remind ourselves what Jack Straw said:
Pakistanis, let’s be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders’ wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders.
But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men… who target vulnerable young white girls.
We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way.
These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they’re fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically.
So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care… who they think are easy meat.
Straw’s big mistake was to use the word ‘meat’. This allowed feminists and the self-righteous to change the argument away from a problem in a particular community to attack Straw himself.
It is clear that Straw was doing all he could to address the problem honestly and at the same time to point out that this is not an attack on the Pakistani community per se. The use of the ‘M’ word was a mistake but he was referring to the perception of others, the perpetrators themselves, not his own perception of these girls.
The statistics support Straw’s argument. The Daily Mail reported on January 5th:
… researchers identified 17 court prosecutions since 1997, 14 of them in the past three years, involving the on-street grooming of girls aged 11 to 16 by groups of men.
The victims came from 13 towns and cities and in each case two or more men were convicted of offences.
In total, 56 people, with an average age of 28, were found guilty of crimes including rape, child abduction, indecent assault and sex with a child.
Three of the 56 were white, 53 were Asian. Of those, 50 were Muslim and a majority were members of the British Pakistani community.
The BBC News website smacked my gob when it reported all this here:
Surely this was not stereotyping of a whole community.
On BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme he said:
What I don’t think we can do is say that this is a cultural problem. One can accept the evidence which is put before us about patterns and networks but to go that step further I think is pretty dangerous.
Why can it not be a cultural problem? Is not Keith Vaz jumping to a conclusion before the enquiry he is so keen to have? Do not the statistics actually indicate quite the reverse?
He thinks it is ‘dangerous’ to draw the conclusion. Why is everyone trying so hard to deny such clear evidence? Why is it dangerous? Do we have sacrifice truth so as not to offend a minority because there are elements in society which will leap on this to push a racist agenda?
How many times have we seen criminals gratuitously and unnecessarily tagged as ‘Jewish’ when there is no pattern within the Jewish community for the crime of which they stand convicted?
The issue is clear from the statistics that there is a problem, as Jack Straw correctly identified, with Pakistani-origin men of a certain age. If these crimes were committed by predominantly non-Pakistani-origin men of a certain age then it would be wrong to call this a problem specific to that demographic.
She actually wrote the first academic analysis of child sex trafficking which is something rather different. Nevertheless, she too is trying very hard to deny the statistics:
So by racially stereotyping this early on without a national scoping project… we don’t know what the situation is in other areas around the country… you might be leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy of if people are looking for Asian offenders, they will only find Asian offenders.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said Mr Straw was right to say there must be zero tolerance of criminal activity against young girls in any community.But he added: “That said, we’ve got to be careful about generalisations about particular communities. As Jack himself said, we find sexual crimes committed by people of all backgrounds.”
It required a member of this ‘stereotyped’ community to actually tell it how it is, albeit whilst still denying that the problem was cultural and attacking Jack Straw for suggesting it was.
Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Muslim youth group the Ramadhan Foundation, rejected any suggestion such abuse was “ingrained” in Britain’s Pakistani community, but he said it was an issue.
He said: “I first raised this two or three years ago and I got a lot of stick within the community from people who said I was doing the work of the BNP and stigmatising them.
“Most people didn’t realise the seriousness of it. But now, after a series of court cases, things have changed. I have had a lot of support.”
But he added: “These gangs that operate are criminals. There’s nothing in their culture, there’s nothing in their religion to suggest that this sort of thing is ingrained.
“And for Jack Straw, a former home secretary, to suggest that this somehow is ingrained within young Pakistani men, I think is quite dangerous.”
Again he twists what Jack Straw said. No-one suggested it was ingrained or somehow connected with religious beliefs. What Jack Straw said is that it is a problem with a certain element of the Pakistani community and that means it is cultural. Religion was never mentioned. While acknowledging that Jack Straw was correct in identifying the problem, at the same time he was somehow incorrect.
Melanie Phillips does believe this behaviour is fuelled by religious culture and you can read her alternative take here.
The BBC article continues with another apologist who ignores the statistics:
Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo’s, called for more research to be carried out.
He said: “I don’t think this is so much about targeting white girls – because black girls are also victims – it’s about targeting vulnerable, isolated girls.”
Eh? What black girls? The report quoted above clearly states that in ALL cases the girls were white. That in itself is interesting.
Finally from the BBC someone who has direct experience:
Ann Cryer, a former Labour MP for Keighley, she had been made aware of a problem in her constituency in 2003 after she was approached by about six mothers who said their daughters were being groomed for sex by Pakistani men.
She said she tried to intercede with the community by asking a councillor to speak to Muslim elders, but they said it was not their affair.
“Instead of drawing it to a conclusion then, it’s drifted on, so it seems now every year we’re getting more cases of very young, sometimes 12-year-old girls being abused by these gangs of men. I wish it would stop, I wish it would go away,” she said.
Then, on Thursday, my gob was well and truly smacked by the BBC’s Question Time. This is a debate programme where public figures, mainly politicians, but also journalists and others with an opinion, are confronted by a studio audience with their pre-selected questions on topics of the day.
This week someone asked: Was it right for Jack Straw to say that Pakistani men saw young white women as ‘easy meat?’.
The question is already loaded and ambiguous and is actually the wrong question. Firstly Jack Straw did not say all Pakistani men think this way as the questioner implies. he has already skewed the arguement. Secondly, he puts the emphasis on the ‘easy meat’ blunder without addressing the actual issue.
Nevertheless, the panel all took this as an opportunity to show their PC credentials, their total lack of of racism and their multiculturalism. But it was the extent to which each of them evaded the question or subverted Jack Straw’s concerns, sometimes to a ludicrous extent, which infuriated me.
Chairman David Dimbleby changed the focus of the question by stating that 50 out of 56 men convicted of this crime, as mentioned above, were Muslim and mainly Pakistani. Indeed, throughout the debate he tried desperately to get the panel to address the statistics, but they side-stepped it.
The first panellist was James Caan who is a successful businessman an entrepreneur and a member of the Dragon’s Den team on the BBC; he also happens to be of Pakistani heritage.
I think irrespective to what nationality you are, I think the crime itself is an atrocious crime and I think the crime itself is what should be in focus and not necessarily .. which race or colour you are in. If you commit a crime … you should be punished for that crime [applause from audience] And I think what’s happened … is that the media has got so carried away about, you know, which ethnic group it is, … and I don’t think that really matters. We need to focus on the issue at hand … what’s happening to these young ladies who are vulnerable in society …
So Caan’s rather poorly argued case is that we have to ignore the fact that 50 out of 56 were Pakistani and we have to be more concerned about getting vulnerable girls off the street. But they wouldn’t be as vulnerable if they weren’t preyed upon by these gangs, would they, James?
Dimbleby then tells Caan that the point is that this is an ‘Asian’ issue (even Dimbleby can’t bring himself to say Pakistani) and he quotes Ann Cryer. He states it’s a cultural matter. Caan just repeats that it doesn’t matter who you are ‘a wrong is a wrong’. An absurd response because no-one, as Dimbleby points out, is denying it is wrong. He again puts it to James Caan that this is a cultural phenomenon. Caan says he does not see this and he ‘looks beyond the whole issue of race or culture’ . Again he ducks the question and reiterates that, whoever you are, it is wrong whilst confirming that we live in a multi-cultural society.
His definition of ‘multi-cultural’ seems to be that your race or culture is somehow subsumed into a homogeneous melting pot where everyone is just ‘British’. But multi-culturalism is the exact opposite of this definition; it is characterised by different cultures existing side by side and distinct from each other where mutual respect and toleration enables society as a whole to function.
The next panellist was Diane Abbott who is a Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and she is of black West Indian heritage. Her constituency is very mixed ethnically and culturally diverse. She has Hasidic Jews, West Indians and Asian minorities in her constituency.
Her answer revealed her to be in complete denial of the whole basis of the question. She first states that Jack Straw is a friend, so we know she is about to criticise him. She ‘found his language distasteful’. Well I have already said that the “M” word was a blunder.
If Jack thinks that it is a particular Pakistani crime to go out and groom under-age girls and pimp them out [yes, she did say that and isn't that just as distasteful?], why didn’t he do something about it when he was Justice Secretary?.
She does have a point, but it does not change the statistics. She then goes on about how she was on an all-party commission on prostitution and that girls who are or have been in care are particularly liable to be vulnerable to be picked up, given drink and drugs and then used by gang members for sexual gratification.
So it’s now the girls fault, is it, Diane?
I know of no evidence that this is a uniquely Pakistani crime.
Who said it was? But it is a preponderantly Pakistani one if you look at the statistics.
Abbott says it is right to have a survey and establish the facts. But we have them, don’t we?
It won’t help these young girls by claiming it is a particular problem with a particular group of men.
Yes it would if the facts point to this crime being mainly, though not exclusively, the product of a particular culture. Surely it would be helpful if that fact were established and eradicated or ameliorated by communal or other action. How desperately Diane Abbot tries to convince herself, and us, that the facts can be discarded because it cannot be the cases, that it is impossible in her multi-cultural nirvana for any crime to be disproportionately prevalent in any community.
Then she repeats James Caan’s point that we should focus on the crime. No doubt this is to ensure the purity of the multi-cultural vision rather than admit that it can sometimes produce culturally based anomalies such as this.
Abbott receives muted applause from the audience indicating they are not convinced by her argument which is only marginally better than Caan who is not a politician.
An audience member says it’s a form of racism for Jack Straw to associate a particular crime with a particular ethnic group. Well, it would be if the claim were not supported by facts. PC rules OK once again.
If the facts don’t fit, deny them.
Apparently young Asian men are being victimised by Stop and Search just like blacks were at one time. She ignores that fact that these men were not that young (late twenties) and had families. The young female Asian audience member gets more applause than Diane.
Dimbleby is apparently bemused by this PC blindness. He repeats the patent facts, but Abbott is not having any of it. She says it was in a part of the country with a very large Pakistani population (Derby) . “If you went to Newcastle you would find that most of those sorts of cases involve a white man.” The demographics would be different.
How desperate can you get. Firstly the 14 cases were across England and were naturally in areas where there was a Pakistani community. But is Abbott saying that 50/56, that’s 90% of the population of Derby, and other areas where these crimes occurred, is Pakistani? With her Oxbridge education I am surprised she cannot do simple arithmetic. Once again, the facts must fit her world view or they must be subverted to fit.
Panellist number three is Jeanette Winterson a writer, journalist and broadcaster and Oxford graduate whose books look at gender issues and sexuality.
Her answer was to focus on women always being at ‘the bottom of the heap’ [Isn't that as offensive as the 'M' word?] ‘across race and across class’.
She emphasises the “M” word and avoids the real question. She ignores the race and ethnic question and specifically says ‘it’s a women’s issue, I don’t want to turn it into a race issue’.
As I have already said, if you ignore the statistics, then you do not improve the vulnerability of women. If women are vulnerable because of men’s attitudes, and a majority of those men come from a particular ethnic background, then targeting that community would help women in a more effective way than if we ignore race because it makes us feel uncomfortable and liable to self-accusation as racist.
Charles Kennedy, former leader of the Lib Dems tells us that it is the responsibility of politicians ‘to choose their words with care’. he doesn’t say which words he is referring to. Let’s presume it’s the “M” word. So he too is answering the audience member’s question without addressing the issue as defined by David Dimbleby.
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education is the final panellist. He agrees with an audience member who says ‘we should put our own house in order’ citing the Catholic Church’s problem with grooming of young boys. He also expresses agreement with Charles Kennedy.
However, Gove is more subtle; he makes a party political point by accusing Jack Straw of making unnecessary public statements which can damage community relations when ‘the authorities’ are already aware of the problem.
Gove also tells us that if there is a particular problem in a community it is often the case that outsiders are ‘particularly ill-equipped to address those problems’. It is somehow ‘counter-productive’ to be ‘lectured from outside your community’. Finally he makes the Winterson point that society has let down these vulnerable girls.
Is he really saying that the Pakistani community has to sort out their own problem? What if they don’t? Furthermore, his approach actual emphasises that in this country individual ethnic communities have some sort of right to autonomy, even when that community has a particular penchant for a particular crime.
If the Romany community had a predilection for car theft (which they don’t, of course) or the Hasidic Jewish community were disproportionate offenders in Rackmanism, is Gove saying that the government would have a hands-off approach and leave it to those communities to put their own house in order?
One member of the audience suggests that outsiders can often see what insiders do not or don’t want to see. Gove believes that the community is, indeed, engaged in a ‘lively debate’ on this and other issues and if we outsiders have to comment we should do so ‘respectfully’.
So once again the Pakistani community and, presumably, any other community that finds itself in this position, is ring-fenced when it comes to criticism or public debate because they may react badly to ‘outsiders’ pointing out their failings. What of the community of white girls who are being targeted? Do they care about the sensitivities of their assailants’ community or do they just want to reduce the instances of this crime?
It’s as if the Pakistani community’s sensitivities are more important than the protection of vulnerable girls.
I don’t want it to appear that I have an animus against the Pakistani community or 20-something Pakistani men. I would make the same point whatever community is being protected in this way.
It may well be the case that covert investigations are under way with these shady ‘authorities’. The point is that when a politician makes a statement which is truthful, but clumsily worded, any number of people come down on him/her like a ton of bricks in self-righteous indignation and spout a number of different reasons, mostly spurious, as to why he/she should keep mum.
So, bringing this back round to my usual topic: when it comes to the sensitivities of my community, the Jewish community, the attacks on Israel are relentless and remorseless and I feel vulnerable because of the lack of caution in the press and by politicians which these same politicians and journalists are exercising when it comes, in this case, to the Pakistani community.
Why are their sensitivities more important than mine?
Some are wondering why bombs sent from Yemen intended to explode in mid-air on cargo planes or in passenger planes’ cargo holds were addressed to synagogues in Chicago.
It has also been observed that it is strange that package sent from Islamist Yemen, from where Jews have been eradicated after a continuous presence of about 3000 years, addressed to synagogues in the United States, should not be regarded with suspicion by a single person in the journey from Sana’a to the East Midlands in the UK.
This latter observation is painfully true.
Yet, the reason why the packages were addressed to synagogues in Chicago is blindingly obvious.
We are led to believe that the bombs were to be detonated mid-air, presumably with timing devices.
The destination of the packages is simply a cynical piece of Islamist humour and a dark warning.
Chicago is President Obama’s hometown. And synagogues are where Jews go to pray. Al Qaeda hates Obama and Jews.
For those who believe that political Islam will make peace with the West when the Israel-Palestine conflict is ended, and for those of you who believe that Islam’s beef is with Israel and Zionism, not Jews per se, then you are wrong.
There is a clear message when a bomb is addressed to a synagogue, even if the bomb’s target is the plane carrying this overt message.
The message is a simple one: “We hate Jews and we will come for you wherever you are”.
Not only does this mean that airports and carriers have to step up security and incur increased costs and less profit, but synagogues across the United States have to ramp up security and make life increasingly uncomfortable for the Jewish community with extra security checks, suspicion and even fear.
It’s the nearest Al Qaeda comes to a joke. But they are the only ones laughing.
Jews who have a strong attachment to another country, Israel, and who indulge in advocacy of that country are often accused of having dual or divided loyalty, as if this were some thought crime that only Jews are guilty of.
I have often asked myself this hypothetical question: if Israel were in a conflict with the UK, who would I support?
I then came up with a very Jewish answer: it depends.
Yes, it depends because I will not give any country my unquestioning support. It depends who I believe to be right. Let’s hope this unlikely scenario never occurs. If I no longer felt that the UK were my home because the government or the people made me feel like a stranger in my own country, then I would seriously consider transferring my loyalties and my residence elsewhere – but it would have to be because of threat or because I lost my love of my country.
If Israel were to become the country that many now paint it as being, I would have difficulty continuing to support it.
One reason for losing my loyalty would be because of unbearable hostility to Jews or an actual unjustified attack on Israel.
Loyalty should not be absolute, neither should it be undivided. If it is both, then that bespeaks Nazi Germany or Communist North Korea, for example.
So you think you don’t have divided loyalties? Sport is usually a good indicator of your multiple affiliations, even if you don’t realise it, you DO have divided or multiple loyalties.
Do you remember the recent cricket Test series England v Pakistan? Do you recall the crowds of Pakistan supporters waving the Pakistani flag? Did you know that many of these supporters are actually English?
In the Commonwealth Games the brother of Amir Khan, a great northern boxer, wasn’t selected for England, so he decided to box for Pakistan.
At the recent Ryder Cup, people who would usually be in the pub telling their mates how Britain is not part of Europe, were busy cheering Spaniards and Swedes and Italians; Scots who would rather anyone but England won at soccer were roaring for Englishman, Ian Poulter.
A few years ago the Israel basketball team played England. Many Jews who had never seen the inside of a basketball stadium turned up to cheer for Israel. But when Manchester United play an Israeli team, the dyed-in-the-wool Jewish Red Devil fans cannot bring themselves to support Maccabi Haifa or Hapoel Tel Aviv.
When England played Israel in a friendly a couple of years ago I really did not know who I wanted to win – that is, until England scored, then I knew that I wanted England to win.
Sport may seem to be a trivial way to work out our loyalties, but it really isn’t. At that moment when England scored, I knew I really was a loyal Englishmen and a Brit. But if I had wanted Israel to win, would that have meant I am not a loyal subject of Her Majesty?
In an increasingly globalised, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world, it is not surprising that we should have many loyalties. I can’t blame Pakistani English for having a strong attachment and love for Pakistan and its cricket team. Do they have divided loyalties or multiple loyalties?
What does loyalty really mean, anyway?
Maybe it just means you are not treasonous. Do you really have to love the country you live in?
Loyalty means that I abide by the law of the land and do not try to overturn democracy; that I accept the will of the majority and that, when called upon, defend my country. If I feel I cannot do any of these things with a clear conscience, it’s time to leave.
On This Week last night Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott admitted that when it comes to cricket she supports the West Indies! So we could have had a Prime Minister who supports a cricket team other than England! Off with her head!
As President Obama announces that the United States will be going for a manned mission to Mars by the 2030′s the Jewish world breathes a sigh of relief.
At last there is hope for the Jewish people when their homeland is taken from them in a future Judenrein world.
We’ll all be going to Mars! Eventually. If we survive that long and if Olympus Mons is not claimed as an ancient Muslim holy place.
When we’re all several million miles away perhaps the rest of the human race will leave us alone.
Only possible problem will be the Little Green Men who will not take kindly to Jewish colonialism. We can always build a separation wall and if the locals expel us from a second planet the moons of Jupiter look interesting.