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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Titanic and The Shoah

The debate around Israel’s right to self-defence is focused on delegitimization of those most human of entitlements; the right to protect ones-self and ones family; and the right to self –determination. In the UK there is a never-ending stream of self-righteous liberals and intellectuals lecturing “those Jews” on just how tired “everyone” is of hearing about the Holocaust.

The ‘Holocaust’ is from the Greek and is usually translated as ‘Purifying Fire’, as in a sacrifice.  The Hebrew word ‘Shoah’ is more appropriate, it means calamity.

“You, of all people, should know better” is one racist euphemism meant to shame us. We all too often hear it uniquely expressed towards “those Jews again” as if only in suffering can a Jew approach equality with his or her betters.  Another expression we too often hear is: “You (Jews) should be more like us (Christians/Muslims).” i.e. you should learn to “turn the other cheek” It would be churlish, perhaps even salacious to point out that the two missionary faiths have been responsible for a quarter of a billion martyrs to prejudice in less than the last two thousand years.  Jews, for most of that period of history, turned the other cheek.  It was only when they did not, that they survived.

Shortly before midnight on April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. It sunk early on the morning of the 15th of April 1912.  1,517 men, women and children died (almost 90% of the deaths were men).   In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and over the next 12 years he, the Nazi party and Fascism’s collaborators across Europe were responsible for the waging of a war that claimed fifty million victims.   It is estimated that Nazi death squads harvested between 11 and 17 million souls in their quest for racial purity. They murdered Jews, Gypsies, Russian POW’s, Russian Civilians; Poles, Serbs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Homosexuals, those of mental or physical disability, and of course, in typical non-democratic fashion, their political or religious opponents.

There are similarities between the Titanic and the Shoah. The International Ice Patrol was formed as a direct consequence of the sinking of the Titanic and almost 100 years later it continues to monitor the stretch of ocean around Newfoundland, warning shipping of the dangers that exist.  World War 2 caused an exasperated USA to look for a means to once and for all harness mankind’s energies against war. The United Nations Organisation was supposed to facilitate the realisation of this noble ideal and it has failed spectacularly to create even a dent in humanities blood lust. One hundred million people have died in war in the period following the creation of the UN.  But many Jews were instrumental in the creation of The Convention for Human Rights overseen by the UNO.  This is just one of the exquisite ironies of the UN tragedy. Conceived in pain and suffering, created as a political body, it was born in original sin. Usurped by racist nations exploiting what is essentially the political nature of international relationships it precludes any serious discussion or action ever being taken against ethnic cleansing or genocide.

Britain is obsessed by the Titanic.  This cruise liner was a magnificent engineering feat of construction. And an ice-berg slid through its hull like a knife through warm butter.   And here in Britain we continue to worship the marvel of its design. In the idolisation of its beauty we are blinded to its fatal defect.

On the 11th of March 2011 two Arabs, both adult Muslims, took knives and beheaded a three month old baby; they killed two other children and their parents.  After the two murderers were captured they proudly re-enacted their heinous crime. It was called by the press a nationalist crime.  If I was a religious man I would call it a blood sacrifice, an act of fealty and re dedication on the devils altar. No sane ethical human being can today, imagine murdering a child. That the perpetrators were praised for their evil by a significant number of Arabs of all classes is truly frightening.

On the 19th of March 2012 a French Citizen, an Arab man, a Muslim, grabbed a struggling 8 year old girl by her hair and murdered her because she was Jewish. He also murdered a father and his two sons’ aged 3 years and 6.  He was proud of his act of infanticide; his brother, when caught, expressed familial pride in his siblings’ carnival of killing.

If it was the Arab world only that celebrated these separate displays of evil we could fear this Arab toxicity as aberrant. But when Pakistani Muslims murdered some 164 people in Mumbai on the 26th -29th November 2008 their handlers (purported to be members of Pakistan’s Intelligence community – the ISI) were recorded by Indian Intelligence, in conversation with the killers during the massacre, reminding them that every Jew killed was worth two non-Jews.

Is it this universal corruption that makes the Koran itself a threat not only to humanity but to the survival of the human species? The Jewish people are a sickness to a sick mind; they are the canary in the mine of human civilisation.

When an eight year old was murdered by an Arab racist, France mourned with the Jewish community.  When the Fogel baby was beheaded, the national British press ignored it, until that is, a Christian novelist and Member of Parliament asked in Parliament why this heinous act was dismissed by the British Press as not newsworthy. On the 12th of March 2012 it was reported throughout the day, in the national news programmes that a Titanic letter was returning to Northern Ireland. A benefactor had paid £21, 692 for a two page letter that was written by a surgeon on the Titanic, who had gone down with the ship. It will now be displayed in Belfast; a national treasure ‘returning’ to its home.

It is not our ability to internalise tragedy that is at fault. It is not the three million Muslims living in the UK that inform on our lack of sensitivity to events around the globe while we absolve our consciences with Live Aid Concerts and protest selectively against Jewish empowerment in a small and battered Jewish state. It is the choices we as a society choose to make that create our society.  UK Plc (Ltd) has always been in the business of making money and projecting power.  It supersedes every other consideration.  Here, in the UK we despise those who try to remind us of our inaction and therefore our complicity in the annihilation of European Jewry (and not just Jews who died as a result of our deliberate inaction in the face of genocide). We use the Shoah as a bludgeon and employ it against the Jewish State. Here in the UK we worship a maritime catastrophe as we celebrate the vehicle of its delivery.

 The difference in emphasis is as deliberate as it is vile in its contemplation.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

JFJFP and the Failure of Hasbara

The local mayor visited our synagogue for a civic service. It was a measure of the mutual respect enjoyed by the political administration and the Jewish community that this event took place. But it appears that we were at best misled and at worst, conned by the mayor.

Returning from my synagogue the following week I was interested to see an exhibition / series of stalls near to the local mall.  There were stalls by Fair Trade, the Conservative party and a number of youth organisations. And then I heard an announcement for Palestine. Their stall was occupied by ‘jfjfp’ an organisation that purports to be a group of concerned people of Jewish religious faith supporting ‘justice for the Palestinians’. I found the presence of this organisation at a locally funded public event at best disingenuous. I felt it represented an act of deliberate racist incitement by our mayor.

I wrote to the Local Government Minister to enquire of the legality of this abuse of taxpayer’s funds and the Mayors’ representation at an event that was clearly socially divisive and politically biased.

Reading jfjfp’s manifesto leaflet I could argue that jfjfp are intellectually dishonest and religiously reprehensible for some of the key points they make even when they preface their propaganda by three words at the beginning, “we believe that”. This does not however excuse the involvement of my local council or its mayor in its participation in this event alongside of jfjfp. I asked the mayor whether he had invited someone from ‘the other side’ to provide balance to jfjfp. He refused to answer, even when I repeated the question.

In May 1948, Jerusalem, both east and west, had enjoyed a Jewish majority since approximately 1828; that is, for 120 years prior to Israel’s War of Independence.  A British funded, British armed and British officered military force captured the Old City of Jerusalem and the remainder of Eastern Jerusalem.  It proceeded, one must assume with British Foreign Office agreement, to ethnically cleanse the city of its Jewish residents and then to obliterate any physical evidence of a Jewish presence within the areas controlled by the Arab Legion.  This followed on from a massacre some two weeks earlier, just outside of Jerusalem, at Kfar Etzion on May 13, 1948 again, by British funded forces.  Over 100 Palestinian Jews and a Palestinian Muslim family living in peace and co-existence amongst their Palestinian Jewish brothers and sisters were murdered by a unit of the British officered Arab League.

In the case of a massacre carried out by British forces Britain suffered only momentary diplomatic embarrassment but it was also a message of what Britain was offering its Arab friends in support against Jewish self-determination. Britain was in fact, one of only two nations at the UNO that recognised Jordan’s subsequent expropriation (annexation) of the captured lands.

Until Arab defeat in the 1967 Six Day War, Arab archaeological and cultural vandalism continued without interference; the excision of any evidence of a Jewish presence in the Old City and East Jerusalem was ignored by the UN, by the clergy here in Britain and of course by our cultural and political elite here in the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All this was in open contempt of Article VIII of the 1949 Armistice Agreement which demanded Israeli Jewish access to the Western Wall).

It was only after 1967 when Israel recaptured and began to restore the Jewish presence in the area that that silence miraculously evaporated.

I have been a supporter of Palestinian rights since before the practical Palestinian renunciation of the three no’s of Khartoum (no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel and no recognition of Israel).  Self determination and independence for all communities including Coptic Christians, Kurds and many other fragmented and persecuted minorities present within the Arab world will never be achieved by either blaming it all on the Jews or the Zionists; or by stating that Israel is to blame for the violence and corruption, the greed and the hatred of the Arab world. Nor will peace be achieved when organisations such as jfjfp declare that Israel is responsible for the “corruption of Judaism’s humanitarian values” (as one of the jfjfp leaflets given out by the mayors apparent proxies declared).

To be brutally frank, I do not blame the Christian world for the wars in which countries that proclaim their Christianity, participated over the last 120 years, nor do I blame Christianity for some 250 million violent deaths during that period of history. Nor do I blame Islam for this. But if I defer to jfjfp philosophy I should. The Muslim world, with its racist missionary goals and its exposition (by its extremists) of ethnic cleansing and genocide could as easily be assigned the blame for all the suffering that believers of the Islam faith have caused during this same 120 year period of time.  I do not blame the extreme left or Islamists for the violence that is too often perpetrated against people like me with whom, they disagree. Similarly, it would be breathtakingly offensive of anyone to state that Britain is globally responsible for the corruption of humanitarian values because of people with views such as those mentioned in this paragraph.

But an organisation that states publically its opposition to any nation based on religion is not only offensive, it is also racist. And I would be happy to argue the polemics of this definition if my local council or any other group would like to be involved in this dispute.

That I find jfjfp to be offensive and intellectually superficial in its arguments does not preclude its presence in my area, it does however when its presence is formally officiated at by the local mayor, who was identified as such and wearing his chains of office.

The mayor has committed an unforgivable abuse of his position as representative of all of our citizens and tax payers, not just its political and religious racists to which the mayor’s office has clearly given its support.

Please therefore investigate both the circumstances of jfjfp’s presence in my area under the auspices of the local mayor and any possible abuse by the mayor’s office.

Please also inform me whether any other ethnic or religious groups have been offered the same access provided to jfjfp and if not, why not?

As a final point of order, in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the Islamic attack on 911 that resulted in some 3,000 innocent human beings being murdered, all of our local council’s political parties were represented in a celebration that took place on that same day. The date was in no way a coincidence.  The inauguration of an enormous mosque in the centre of town opposite City Hall was a huge police operation as the area became a virtual police state in order to ensure the day went without incident. Uniformed and plain clothes police were at every entrance into town and their visual presence throughout the city was not meant to reassure anyone who lived here.  The anticipated right wing protest did not occur as anyone looking remotely ‘suspicious’ was denied entry to the town! The only thugs that made their presence felt were the trouble makers bussed in from outside London some of whom were allegedly seen to have concealed nail studded weapons in their mosque clothing.  Fortunately this potentially lethal show of triumphalism came to nothing. Nevertheless it is morally wrong that our counsellors turned a blind eye. The police also saw and did nothing to intervene.

When the state by its inaction encourages a violent demonstration of identification we may justify it by labelling our supposed protectors as cowards, but when cowardice has become public policy then governance, even when it is local governance, becomes state sanctioned prejudice.

The question must therefore be asked, has prejudice here become public policy?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shlomo Benizri and Political Particularism

Former Shas minister Shlomo Benizri is a convicted felon who was found guilty of breach of trust, accepting bribes and obstruction of justice. After release from prison on the 1st of March 2012 he gave an interview with an ultra-orthodox radio station in which he pronounced the mental anguish he suffered for being 'wrongfully imprisoned' greater than that which Gilad Shalit suffered. Benizri was jailed for four years and served two.  Gilad was incarcerated in a windowless cell for five years and four months. He was held by HAMAS, the racist, misogynistic and genocidal anti-Semitic Arab organisation that governs Gaza.  He was, in effect, living under a sentence of death for all of his confinement. One readers’ judgment on Benizri’s post release delusional rant says it all; he called it a 'Classic Narcissistic Personality Disorder'.,7340,L-4197436,00.html

But the psycho-babble acts as a deterrent to addressing the real threat in the man because we dismiss his demagoguery as the words of a buffoon, which he is not.  Benizri is an obscenity; a delusional, self-obsessed narcissist.  His words should make him ineligible from holding any public office not because he does not have the right to express how he feels but because he is divisive and confrontational and politics should be about healing, reconciliation and inclusion. Clearly, this is not a space in which Mr. Benizri feels comfortable. A rabble rouser belongs in the gutter, not in the halls of power.

The issue that is implicit from the interview he gave is the desperate state of Israeli politics. For a nation of thinkers, philosophers, scientists and workers too – the parlous condition of Israel’s political and moral leadership is one of incompetence and narrow sectarian superficiality.  We can look for policy but instead we receive cant.  How can a state that has survived so many trials in its short history have such a pathetic gaggle of leaders?  Shlomo Benizri represents unreason and bigotry, superstition and intolerance. That we continue to hear from him fills me with despair and horror.  He fails to acknowledge the bankruptcy of his own constituency where there is so much poverty and frustration.  Israel needs to unite its citizens but instead, (and the militantly secular that dwell amongst us are equally guilty of this crime of tribal separation) on his first day out of prison he reaches out to the extremists in anger rather than in calling for a new dialogue towards reconciliation.

The more I consider his words, the greater my contempt for him grows.

In order to understand where the ultra-orthodox fit into the melange of meaningless political poseurs that inhabit the Israel political landscape one must begin with the understanding that in a nation built on competing aspirations, recognition means acceptance. The rights and wrongs of competing narratives make a refusal to recognise the humanity of an adversary easier than any discussion on a revisionist history.

For instance, the Arab ‘Magic Show’ defines all non-Jewish Arab immigrants as Palestinian by birth, perpetually classed as ‘refugees’ and this is supported through UN complicity and Western funding. It provides sanction to Arab particularism which has in turn blossomed into an entire field of Political and Ethical particularism encouraged by the Left. Perhaps this is because the Left is itself morally ambiguous and therefore, promiscuous in choosing its friends and allies.

How does this connect to Shlomo Benizri? Let me explain.

Jews that fled Arab persecution did not have the luxury of UN ‘protection,’ formalised refugee status endowed on them.  Although their numbers exceeded those of the Arabs that fled before their brother and sister ‘freedom fighters,’ from Israel in 1948, their persecution was the normal state of Arab behaviour towards any minority living in their midst and it was thus, never of any humanitarian concern.

The Western Jewish Leadership of the nascent State of Israel already had a tradition of secular enchantment with art and literature, revolutionary politics and science.  They saw their Arab Jewish cousins as uncouth and uncivilised.  They viewed them as ‘less than’ the Arabs that for over a thousand years had kept them politically and socially disenfranchised.  They were ‘weak’; they had not fought their oppressors as Secular Western Jews had done. It is an all too common failure of all revolutionary winners that they are blind to their own arrogance and to the pain they inflict for the greater good.

But within a generation of Jewish independence, in Israel, the intermarriage rate amongst ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ (Arab) Jews was over 20% and increasing at a percentage point every year.  Arab Jewish culture flourished in spite of the ignorance of the ruling administration. Arab Jews became successful politicians, generals and business leaders.  The professions were never deliberately closed to them they just had further to travel to get there.

Today, most Secular Israeli Jews in their teenage years or twenties would laugh at you if you suggested a marriage based on ethnically particularistic lines.

There does remain though, a justifiable chip on the shoulder of many Arab Jews. A large number turned to the Western Orthodox elite for religious guidance and the ultra-orthodox tradition for their pride. The Western ultra-orthodox elite were successful because they aggressively sought political power for its concomitant economic benefit, not the least of which was patronage.  Coming from a conservative background that emphasised tradition, Western Ultra-orthodoxy offered comfort in what was for the first two generations, an alien and unwelcoming environment.

Israel would best be served by lancing the boil of ethnic anger.  Initiate a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ starting with examining internal Jewish conflicts that continue to simmer to this day.  Israel should strengthen anti-discrimination legislation by taking funding away from any group that is found guilty of deliberate prejudice and applying those funds to combating this prejudice.  An easy early win would in this case be Western ultra-orthodox schools that discriminate both against Arab Jews and Ethiopian Jews.

Arab Muslims and honorary ‘Arab’ Christians have a different issue.  Any attempt at truth and reconciliation would first require revisiting their history and a renunciation of their religious hegemonic pretensions. As members of the two missionary faiths, dominance is more than a national aspiration; it is a theological imperative, even for those that profess a secular affiliation.  It is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Let us start with lancing that Benizri boil then perhaps the confrontational character of Israeli politics may finally dissipate and Israel’s boundless energies will be channeled into more productive areas of interest.