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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Call for Moderation and Reflection

“The highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.”  (Ludwig Feuerbach)

In Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve, some 1,000 men of ‘Arab - North African’ appearance attacked female revelers and to date well over 500 criminal complaints concerning sexual assault and in some cases, rape, have been reported.  Similar incidences may not have been as quantitatively ‘significant’ elsewhere but are known to have occurred throughout Europe.  We are losing the battle for our human rights because the assumption of universally applied responsibilities does not exist and therefore the application of equal rights is similarly trivialized.

It is only correct that we constantly debate the balance between the Big Brother state and civil rights but protection of the individual as a cultural principle has not kept up with human rights.  Thanks to the Internet, pornography, crime and terror can now be efficiently manufactured by anyone. In an age of narcissistic fulfillment personal choice and our duty to protect are no longer interdependent.  I am more concerned with peoples’ freedom to conceal and thus facilitate their personal – group vendettas, misdemeanors and indiscretions through the electronic media than I am worried about the potential for government to abuse our personal electronic information.  If you have something to be ashamed of don’t put it on record.   The communications age has been a blessing to the narcissist whether they identify as mass killers or terrorists.  Society is acclimatizing to a decremental loss in our security.  But people who are isolated from electronic communication are less likely to succeed in hurting others.  On the other side of the information paradigm the proper controls must be maintained to secure the protection of personal, benign information.

The social media have become a wickedly efficient resource for abusing and inciting violence across the globe in millions of postings and comments that are created every day.   It is as effortless to lie as it is to tell the truth and because reality and fiction are easily manipulated the electronic media are no longer, if they were ever, a vehicle for educating us towards achieving a just society.

Basic human rights can never be geographically variable, historically justified or culturally insignificant; not in the name of multiculturalism nor in the name of political correctness. According to Wikipedia, the latest human rights fad (called Intersectionality’) involves “the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination or discrimination”.   If words such as ‘integrity’ and ‘ethics’ are to have any meaning at all they have to be applied in equal measure. In an open ethical system intersectionality is therefore nonsense because each part of our identity is separate and as such, it cannot be interpreted hierarchically nor can it become conditioned on someone else’s interpretation of how we should interact with the different layers of our identity.  When human rights become politicized they are no more than a battle of wills for a newer form of discrimination, domination and oppression.  Communication becomes essentially unilateral and fetishistic.

China is the global sweatshop for the Western worlds’ cheap consumer products (as well as the source of most of our counterfeit products).  Instead of crying crocodile tears for the poor foreign worker the Western World could solve its unemployment problems but it would cost each of us thousands of pounds, dollars or Euros extra, every year, by returning more expensive production to western nations from China (and elsewhere).  It would be the ethical and equitable thing to do so.  We keep quiet about Chinese human rights. We negotiate them away for our material comfort.

We should be questioning the Arab world about its treatment of women and children, minorities; its oppression of its workers; its colonial history and its slave-owning present.  We should boycott all goods made in Pakistan and not just for its sweatshops but also for its inter-generational support for terrorism.  Saudi Arabia should be an international pariah. It has provided some 100,000 million dollars in aid to Islamist institutions over the last quarter of a century and yet without its oil we would need to find a cleaner, more efficient means of meeting our energy requirements. But we keep quiet about Arab human rights violations. Left and Right negotiate away their protection for our material comfort.

Warm feelings of self-righteous anger have to be universal to be principled unless they are the product of selectively chosen, ethically fascist targeting.

We are living in an age of fear and irrationality where those who create that fear hold sway over us – see how easy it is to do nothing about North Korea even as it enslaves its own citizens and threatens nuclear annihilation against its American rival.

According to the United Nations, between March 2011 and August 2015 250,000 people were killed in the Syrian Civil War.  Other estimates place the number of dead men, women and children at 350,000.   How many deaths were there in the Arab-Israeli conflict between 1920 and 2015? Some 115,000 people died.  In 2015 Switzerland called a meeting of the Geneva Convention for only the third time in its history.  The UK, France, Germany and another 123 signatory states to the Fourth Geneva Convention assembled in order to condemn Israel.  The Fourth Geneva Convention concerns itself with the protection of civilian persons in time of war.  Israel stood alone in the dock on all three occasions.  Make sense? Of course it doesn’t.  Sudan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Brazil are just four of the dozens of conflict nations that have produced acts of genocide since the end of World War 2. Syria is almost a side-show to what has become a tragic litany of intentionally ignored blood letting. So if Israel is not there to be periodically pilloried the UN stands for nothing other than its own corpulent, self-congratulatory but essentially meaningless existence. Under those conditions, the United Nations Organisation exists only to serve its delegates with an endless merry go-round of pork barrel political extravaganzas.  The UN is nothing save political theatre as tragic farce.  UN activities cost a few Western nations some 40,000 million dollars annually.  How else to justify doing nothing most of the time against the most heinous crimes committed in plain view unless there is an Israel to obsess about to the exclusion of everything else?

Human Rights are a geographically variable commodity because we live in a political world.  Our politicians and academics, our journalists and our charity workers, our bureaucrats and our social activists are human beings.  They are prejudiced, racist, and guided by ego.  We give them credit for altruism when their endeavors are inevitably driven by power and greed.  What frightens them most are controls that limit their freedom and if limiting ours helps them to keep theirs, they will embrace populism, incitement and selective censorship to do so.

The only thing protecting us from them is that we do not keep quiet when we feel threatened by their excesses. But we are losing that fight too because it is easy to be selective about what is important to us while ignoring the ever spreading injustice that results from equalities unequal application.

Cologne was not a New Years Eve aberration. It was a symptom of our accelerating decline.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Dickensian BBC

It began with a preview of the new BBC television blockbuster drama series starting just after Christmas. 'Dickensian' is a mashup of Dickens most popular works.  In the preview, Fagin is a stereotypically sinister, snarling Jew with a prominently worn Mizrachi Jewish skull cap.  Fagin is shown in profile to cinematically disturbing effect.

At a time of heightened fear of terrorism the press does its best to ignore antisemitism even though in every country that statistics are kept, antisemitism is of considerably greater prevalence than Islamaphobia. 

Christmas is a time that is supposed to represent good-will to all men (and I assume women as well).  Until recently most orthodox Jews ignored Christmas, even as a secular festival, because of its negative history.  That history was one where Jews experienced fear due to incitement by the Christian clergy and persecution based upon the accusation of deicide.   Modern Israel not surprisingly, ignores this period of the year except in the distribution of free pine trees to any Christian families wishing to celebrate the festival.  It makes the deception and incitement by Western news outlets (our modern priesthood) all the more telling.

If we set aside the egos and prejudices of journalism's finest sons and daughters then that is our first issue.  It is a naive belief that journalism is meant to inform rather than what it really is; a platform for the expression of biases; a vehicle for conveying editorial prejudice.  And Jews have a particular interest in the chimera of honesty that is the practice of journalism because it is the Jews who are always the first to suffer its deceptions.

Our problem is that Jews are not meant to be normal people with normal fears, desires and anxieties. We are constantly being enjoined to learn from our history as if only we are expected to respect those who disrespect us, and exercise restraint at every provocation. But we have always been told to turn the other cheek (so that we would make an easier target). The definition that UK society refuses to acknowledge is this: Antisemitism is the expectation that Jews will respond to every action against them in a way that demonstrates a unique tolerance, a tolerance that is expected of no one else. It is the reaction to that failure of expectation that self justifies the bigot’s antisemitism.

So my complaint is that Jews in the Jewish Diaspora and in Israel are held to a standard expected of no one else and no other nation.  The hallmark of the modern antisemite is not his or her naked aggression or the intimidation that is part of their natural demeanor towards us.  It is the displeasure, the rarely concealed contempt that is displayed whenever we and only we do not listen to the “instructions” or “advice” given to us, most often unsolicited, by journalists, lecturers, professors and politicians alike.

It is truly an act of deception or naivete to believe that the visual media either informs or educates to a neutral agenda. Repetition is the essence of the propagandists’ art and visual stimulation, the most effective means of imprinting an idea, good or bad into our sub-conscious.

For example, on December 26th a popular BBC soap opera “Eastenders” had a story line around a Nativity play. In the play a boy states “Yes we can stay in this inn because Islam welcomes all faiths.”  Islam emerged a distance of 1,300 kilometers (as the crow flies) from Israel and did not begin until 600 years after the biblical story. The remark, aside from its fundamental inaccuracy implies that Mary and Joseph were excluded from the inn on religious grounds.  This is also not part of the biblical story. Just to round off this antisemitic fantasy defilement, at this time of the year apologists for Palestinian terror often endow Jesus, Mary and Joseph with a faux Palestinian identity. The reality is that Palestinians, as Arabs, would have assaulted and perhaps murdered any Jews not traveling in convoy, for that lawlessness and thuggery is also the history of Arab (Palestinian) conduct towards non-Muslims over the centuries of their habitation in the Holy Land.

When I was growing up I had never seen a person who was not white except for those people I watched on TV and they were mostly gangsters.  I did not know how I would react to my first encounter with someone who was “different”.  But I was thankfully brought up to believe in the essential equality of everyone so I passed the test.  I do not believe that film makers are unaware of the impact their film making has on people.  When dealing with reality based fiction they cater to our need for the reassurance of familiarity and not to jar us from the sense of comforting complacency that most of us prefer to inhabit in our everyday lives.

There are some reinforcing memes best abandoned to the antechambers of history, for the study of relics of past abomination by scholars and antiquarians.  The Merchant of Venice and the various Passion Plays are two of these negatively reinforcing and culturally ugly literary events. So is Oliver Twist. No matter how the literary crowd try to sugar coat them, with their antiquity or by their authors’ pedigree the characters portrayed also deliver a message, of reinforcing and repulsive stereotype.  The damage prejudiced portrayal causes can not be justified, not in an era when even associating Islam with terrorism is regarded as secular blasphemy; not when politicians, social commentators and national media outlets make every effort to disassociate us from fearing the Muslims in our midst, to protect Muslims from any negative association that the expression of Muslim extremism may generate.

The BBC more than most international media behemoths understands this.  Its’ sensitivity ensures that even Muslim mass murderers are never portrayed as villains. It does its best to inoculate Islamists from being forced to confront their inhumanity. The BBC’s discomfort with terms such as “Islamic State” and any other term that ties the Muslim faith to crimes of violence or hate crimes proves that the BBC has internalised at least some historical lessons.

To rationalise a narrowly focused bigotry in a world that is experiencing ethnic and religious conflict on a global scale and to dismiss the criticism of that bigotry because it is done in homage to art is an unacceptable rationalisation for continued prejudice and hate.

The latest BBC drama series about Charles Dickens was previewed on Breakfast BBC’s news program and from the start it was clear that it was not meant for us to feel sympathy for anyone of Jewish background.  The BBC is at war with Israel, both individual and nation. Its methods are subtle but that does not detract from its purpose. If you are Jewish but do not heed the “advice” of Britain’s elite you are the enemy.  The Jews have always been Britain’s enemies.  The BBC is at war with most of us, Jews and Israeli’s.  It is always happy to implant seeds of hate via a new program or via its latest headline. Isn’t it time the Board of Deputies of British Jews or the Jewish Leadership Council (for the British, Jewish community) and the government of the State of Israel took this threat with all seriousness?