Tuesday, August 30, 2005

On the turning away

A guest spot from Joey Tartakovsky, lifted from Victor Davis Hanson's excellent site.

"At this turning point in Middle Eastern history, with a frightening and uncertain year ahead, it’s worth reminding ourselves once more that we deal with two very different societies.

Both sides fight, but not for the same reasons. Israel fights to preserve its democracy; Hamas fights to establish theocracy. Israeli politicians seek public support by promising solutions and calm; Palestinian leaders do so by pledging struggle and martyrdom. Israelis are saddened when their army causes injury to innocent Palestinians and prosecute their soldiers who violate the law. Palestinians greet atrocities carried out in their honor with cheers, rationalization, and fireworks (or, as on 9/11, they hand out sweets). If Israelis march in the streets, they brandish placards; if Palestinians pour into the streets, expect automatic weapons.

If there wasn’t a profound cultural asymmetry not only between Israel and Palestine, but between Israel and its neighbors, how else do you explain the absence of a single group sympathetic to Israel among 300 million Arabs? Why do only 2 out of 22 Arab states diplomatically recognize Israel? Why was “I Hate Israel” a major pop hit in Egypt, while the reverse could never be true? Why do the chief imams in Saudi Arabia preach racist hatred against Jews on a weekly basis, calling them “the sons of pig and monkeys,” but chief rabbis in Israel never reciprocate? Where are the Palestinian peace marches? Is it that Palestinians have nothing to apologize for, nothing to concede, and no Israeli justice to recognize?

For Israelis, peace means not being searched at restaurant entrances, or having your blood turn cold at the sound of sirens, or spending 10% of your nation’s GDP on defense. Above all it means not being killed in the midst of life’s domestic harmonies by teenagers. If Palestinians behaved like Israelis, reconciling themselves to compromise, peace would be at hand. But if Israelis behaved more like Palestinians, prizing victory above peace, they might learn a valuable lesson. For disengagement cannot bring peace; the withdrawal is from the land, not the struggle. Nothing can bring Israel peace until Palestinian terrorism is routed. Victory precedes peace, and it is on victory that Israel must now concentrate."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Withdrawal symptoms

A little look forward in time...

November 24th, 2005

In the 3 months since the Israeli retreat from Gaza, much change has been afoot.

After the street parties subside, joyous Palestinians overwhelm the PA policemen guarding the old settlements and take apart everything left with their bare hands, including the glasshouses and other small industries left by the Jewish occupiers, thus removing once and for all the possibility of maintaining sustainable agriculture to provide food for local consumption and export.

As Mahmoud Abbas continues to condemn terror on CNN but allows PA radio, TV and official mosque sermons to continue preaching jihad at home, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have free reign in Gaza. Rockets begin to rain down on Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon. Suicide bombers train unimpeded before launching themselves against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A wave of suicide bombings claims over 100 lives, rockets another 50.

Sharon loses a Likud primary against Bibi Netanyahu, as party activists see the Disengagement as having given succour to terror. Bibi promises to return Israel to security and pledges that the Palestinians will understand the direct link between the amount of terror they cause Israel and the amount of land Israel will eventually leave for them to have a state in the West Bank.


January 16th 2006

A few months later, the Palestinian Authority elections see Fatah and the PLO heavily defeated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, at the ballot box and in the violence before and afterwards. With the Israeli Army gone, a seaport and airport in the hands of corrupt officials sympathetic to terror, and the border with Egypt increasingly porous, arms flood in.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, the separation barrier has been completed, but thanks to international pressure and the misguided support of the Israeli Left and activist Supreme Court judges, its route sacrifices the entire Jordan Valley, and abandons the centuries-old presence of Jews in Hebron.

Improved Qassam rockets from new workshops in Gaza and smuggled into the West Bank along the "safe passage" foisted on Israel by the international community, bring Tel Aviv, Netanya and Haifa within easy range.

As the death toll rises, Netanyahu, now only 2 weeks from a general election, masses troops on the border with Gaza and parts of the West Bank. The EU urges Israel to show restraint. The UN calls an emergency session of the Security Council to pass a motion enabling the international community to pose sanctions on Israel if they invade sovereign Palestinian territory. The USA and UK abstain; new members Germany, Japan and Brazil all vote in favour, and the motion passes.

The terror attacks continue unabated. The elected Palestinian leadership claims that they have a right to legitimate resistance because Israel continues to occupy land it won in 1967, as well as territory it was not granted under the 1947 UN partition plan.


March 2nd, 2006

A British Airways plane is struck by a Katyusha missile on take-off from Ben Gurion, killing all 300 on board. The British government condemns the terror, politely asks the elected Hamas government to rein it in, and withdraws all BA flights to Israel. Every European airline follows suit. In East London, Leeds, Gaza, Cairo and Baghdad, people pour onto the streets to wave green flags and hand out sweets.

Israel pledges to respond by destroying the infrastructure that has cost the lives of so many British citizens, and sends F15s into Gaza City and the West Bank, launching missile strikes against Hamas targets, both formal government buildings and suspected arms workshops and training camps. 60 people die, of whom 12 are innocent bystanders. The UN is once again called into session to condemn the Israeli overreaction.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly reprimands newly elected Likud leader and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for claiming to act in the name of Britain. The American government, under the guidance of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, echoes the condemnation, and lays out a timetable for the full withdrawal of its military aid if Israel doesn't back down and revert to its obligation to surrender East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank under the Road Map.


April 17th, 2006

Bibi sends troops into areas of the West Bank to set up a temporary extension to the barrier in areas from which rockets have been fired, thus reducing their range into Israel and protecting the coastal towns, parks tanks on the runway at Gaza airport and blockades the Gaza seaport, to prevent new arms entering Palestinian territory.

The Quartet, urged on by the Arab League, consider this an act of war on Palestine, and start a formal process of sanctions, along with possible intervention.

Iran tests its first nuclear bomb, and makes overt suggestions as to where the next one might be used.

OPEC cuts output and drives prices over $100 for the first time, in protest at the "illegal Zionist invasion" of Arab land.

The Arab League, with the notable exception of Jordan, but including Egypt and Iraq, begins calling up reserves.

Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hizbullah issue a joint statement demanding that the world force Israel back to the 1947 Partition Plan borders and allow a full right of return for refugees, or suffer the consequences. They threaten any country that "harbours Zionists, deals with Zionists, supports Zionists", and call for


May 4th, 2006


Rome: a car-bomb planted by Italian Muslims of Pakistani origin explodes at a business convention at which Israeli and Pakistani businessmen are discussing future trade. 44 dead.

London, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Bradford, Rotherham: British Muslim suicide bombers blow up 12 buses. 142 dead.

Stockholm: young Muslim immigrants, brought up on preachings of violence and hatred unchecked by the over-tolerant Swedish government, rampage through the city centre, throwing grenades stolen from an army base into crowded stores and bars before dying in a suicidal gunfight with armed police. 87 dead.

Marseille: Al Qaeda bombers ram an explosive-laden speedboat into a supertanker in the harbour, abetted by local Algerian illegal immigrants. The detonation is so powerful that it sinks a cruise ship in port next to the tanker. 380 dead.

Madrid: in a macabre repeat of the 3/11 bombings, rucksacks are left on trains, which detonate on arrival at Atocha and Chamartin stations. 186 dead.

Hamburg: hijackers seize control of a Boeing 757 with 211 on board on take-off and plough it into an office-block on the waterfront, killing all occupants of the plane and many on the ground. 329 dead.


May 5th, 2006

The world rounds on Israel and demands theiy withdraw to the 1967 borders, pending a review of future border revisions.

The Jews of Israel voluntarily leave their homes, don concrete shoes, and walk hand in hand into the Mediterranean.


OR


May 5th, 2006

Tony Blair, now Foreign Secretary, makes an impassioned speech at the UN, defending Israel's right to exist in secure borders, pointing out the historic anomalies of the borderlands, demanding that the Palestinians clamp down on terror and corruption and show the maturity required to build a state.

A bill proposed by John McCain, supported by Democrats under new party leader Bill Richardson, and by George W Bush, calls for the USA to provide military support for their only true Middle Eastern democratic ally. Condoleeza Rice considers resigning but is persuaded by Cheney and Rumsfeld to rally behind the bi-partisan position.

President Musharraf of Pakistan defiantly receives the credentials of the first Israeli Ambassador to his country, and calls for an end to religious preaching of anti-Semitism and denial of Israel's right to exist within secure borders. King Abdullah of Jordan mobilises his own army to quell an uprising of local Palestinians, and pledges to assist Israel by securing the Jordan Valley and preventing its use as a safe passage for terror.

The EU, counting over 1000 dead, announces a sweeping policy of revoking citizenship for anyone deemed to be a threat to national security. They put forward a motion to the UN Security Council to sanction a full invasion of any country found to have supported terror attacks on the West.


June 20th, 2006

After NATO intelligence-gatherers trace the terror attacks on Europe directly to governments in Iran and Palestine, the Quartet rips up the Road Map.

Israeli early warning stations on the Golan Heights spot an incoming ballistic missile from Iran, and fire a barrage of chaff and interceptor missiles. The nuclear device explodes 15 miles south of Damascus, and prevailing winds take the radioactive cloud away from the city. Al Jazeera immediately claims it was an Israeli device, and the Arab world, inflamed, marches in the streets demanding war.


July 3rd, 2006

The nations of the world unite against the non-democratic Middle East. NATO launches surgical strikes from bases in Afghanistan, taking out the entire Iranian Cabinet with a bunker-buster bomb, and destroying the Iraqi theocratic government headquarters in Baghdad. Israeli agents kill Bashir Assad with a bomb placed in a soft drinks can, and eliminate the Hamas hierarchy who believe their secret meeting-place in Gaza City is undetected - Israel had placed blocks of C4 under the foundations before Disengagement a year earlier.

The UN passes a vote proposed by John Bolton, and unanimously supported by every non-Arab state as well as Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and the Gulf States, to enforce full sanctions on any country that refuses to accept Israel's basic right to exist.

Oil prices drop back under $100 as Saudi Arabia agrees to recognise Israel and move towards democracy. Full, free and fair elections are called in Iran, Iraq and Palestine. Jordan decides to partition much of the area west of Amman into an autonomous state affiliated to Palestine. Egypt offers much of the Gaza border zone and Sinai under similar terms. Israel agrees a final barrier route with extra land south of Gaza and south-west of the West Bank being incorporated onto the other side of the border.


August 27th 2006

Islam across the world is subject to the greatest level of internal and external pressure and scrutiny. As moderate forms of Islam are adopted by diaspora communities and elected governments, a new level of dialogue and tolerance emerges between neighbours on London streets, Kashmiri valleys and Chechen borders. The Palestinians find themselves with a land mass greater than that of the 1947 Partition Plan. Stability and democracy spreads across the Middle East.

It turns out that the root causes of all the strife were in the unhealthy marriage of anti-Israel, anti-American rhetoric and the practise of the most stringent and extreme interpretations of Islam, including hatred and fear of democracy. With a firm and final warning that neither are acceptable, the world unites. To tackle the issues that affect everyone - shortage of resources, environmental change, poverty and illness - everyone will need to pull in the same direction.


August 27th, 2016

After a decade of relative peace following the final destruction of Al Qaeda and the states that gave succour to terror, Israel has been accepted as an equal among nations. Israeli technology has helped Arab states to diversify their economies away from oil, and has created agricultural solutions for many of Africa's problems. Israeli research on improving the efficiency of oil use has maintained oil prices roughly in line with inflation and has given the Arab world the chance of a graceful weaning off the black gold over the next 30 years. Peace and prosperity reign throughout.


OR


August 27th, 2005

The world continues to demand unceasing concessions from Israel after their Disengagement from Gaza, whilst accepting platitudes from Abu Mazen; giving every incentive for continued violence against Jews by Palestinians - and Westerners by Islamists.

The Jews of Israel voluntarily leave their homes, don concrete shoes, and walk hand in hand into the Mediterranean.

The rest of the world follows.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

In other news...

Too knackered to write much, so some light entertainment for you instead...

On this day in 1967, some very flustered penguins were taken off on a day-trip to the ice-rink to cool down. Hilarious!

Also some surreal fun can be found here, and I invite you to play this game - not terribly exciting or difficult at first but worth persevering until the end - I laughed so hard at the big fish in a small pond...

In other news, I'll be in Israel from 4th to 28th Sept, my itinerary is shaping up nicely and it would be great to see any locals - drop me an email or call me once I'm there, on 05 45 85 07 49.

Cheers

Michael

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Trouble With Anglo-Jewry: The Berlin Question

The following is an epilogue for The Trouble With Anglo-Jewry: Diasporate Times.

I was in Berlin with a local friend of mine and his fiancée, having a nice Italian dinner. The topic of conversation turned to the local Jewish community and why they didn’t just organise themselves to take care of their self-defence instead of relying entirely on the police. From this, we ended up debating the nature of community in the Diaspora and from there onto the morality of whole countries, and from this, what the underlying philosophy of Jews should be now that we have our own state.

Before we get into that, some observations about the German Jewish community , and some travel guide impressions of Berlin. The German Jewish community is about 100,000 strong, of which one fifth consists of Holocaust survivors and their descendents, or those who escaped and later returned. The rest largely consists of Russian immigrants who have arrived in the last 15 years.

In Germany, the state supports all religions, to the extent of renovating and maintaining synagogues, and paying salaries of rabbis and other support staff. In the case of the ever-persecuted Jews, this extends to security – every synagogue here has a posse of armed policemen on round-the-clock duty outside.

Well, let us start with a short analysis of the community’s internal issues and their relations with the German nation and state. The government, for reasons of historic guilt complexes, are very anxious to retain a Jewish community in their country that will appear to the casual observer to be thriving. The majority of ordinary German Jews (as distinct from the Russian Jews who have moved here) are a largely staid bunch, being either too old or seeing it as politically inexpedient to seek change in religious practice and organisation.

The state support for synagogues is based on a status quo that suits both the government and the German Jewish hierarchy who have seats on the national council that oversees distributions of vast sums of state funding for synagogues and other communal organisations. The majority of funds go to nominally Orthodox but largely conservative synagogues, and the elite prevent Russians or other undesirable Jewish alternatives from taking hold.

This elite group can also take credit for the “growth”, ie influx of largely illegal immigrants to boost numbers, despite maintaining traditions that drive the few young German Jews away. This is true of both Orthodox and Reform brands of Judaism here. And if that doesn’t work, the Russians using their majority to force changes that essentially recreate the environment of back East probably will.

Ultimately German Jewry exists for the most part as a somewhat pathetic memorial to the once-thriving communities that set the agenda for the development of a modern Germany as it emerged from the Franco-Prussian War, in every field from economics and politics to philosophy and the arts, and hence as a constant reminder to those who turned against them.

With all this in mind, let us return to my friend’s big fear. The state, in the form of policemen outside shul buildings are great for deterrent value against the casual thug, but if their own lives were being threatened by a substantial mob or well-armed terrorist, would they step aside? Worse, if they were subverted by the attacker (or even the state), could they turn their weapons on those inside the buildings under their protection?

My thoughts on being a Jew in modern, undivided Berlin are that whilst the forward-thinking and liberal classes may support the notion of a successful return of the Jews, they are still unloved and unwanted in person, especially in the eyes of the working classes who have turned to the politics of the far-left and far-right, neither of which are sympathetic. Berlin also has a very sizeable Turkish population, which despite the geopolitical picture (alliances between Israel, Turkey and the United Satans of America) is often very hostile, perhaps as a knee-jerk reaction to their own dismal position in German society.

It takes a lot for the Vatican to be pro-Jewish, but even Pope Benedict (Ratzinger to you), on his visit to a synagogue in Cologne - only the second ever by a pope to a Jewish place of worship - felt he had to issue a warning that anti-semitism was on a worrying upward trend.

My friend is a libertarian. He has recently started reading too many American social, economic and political theorists and now has an urge to get a green card and/or start bearing arms (the Second Amendment is a particular bugbear of his – I keep explaining that despite America’s previous control of a chunk of the city, German law does now apply in the Berlin region). He was keen to argue that the community here should take security matters more firmly into their own hands as a matter of morality. I asked whether this meant working outside the law or alongside it.

Ultimately, at root in the debate is a key question of how Jews behave in the Diaspora, and what purpose they serve in living there when alternatives abound, from Herzl's initial idea of assimilation, through the normalising effect of the Enlightenment, to the idea of Zionist nationalism and a Jewish state anywhere, to one actually in our historic homeland. In my next posting, I will attempt to tackle the relationship of Jews to Zionism, and whether it should be "Israel, right or wrong"...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Trouble With Anglo-Jewry: Our hang-ups

A classic interview on T4's Popworld between Simon Amstell and Rachel Stevens highlighted a couple of interesting things about the Anglo-Jewish persona:

SA: So, Rachel - what do you think is the best bit about being Jewish?
RS: Er, er... (publicist frantically motioning to producer to cut)
SA: Personally, I think it's the latkes and the guilt.
RS: Huh (and later she refuses to ever be interviewed by Popworld or Amstell again)

What insight does this give us on the Anglo-Jewish psyche? Well, for a start there's disparity in whether we wear our identity on our sleeve or hide it in the small print of our CV. Stevens is embarrassed to talk publicly about her religion, whilst Amstell is confident enough to make a joke - that much is obvious. But what else is going on in our heads, and how telling is Amstell's answer to his own question?

As the comment on my last TWAJ posting pointed out, our perspective is "reflective of, and dependant (sic) on you being brought up in a well-off, united synagogue-esque, quite religious Jewish circumstance". The Anglo-Jewish community is a largely self-perpetuating body of middle-class, university-educated, professionals, who send their kids to private, grammar or Jewish state schools, thus conferring on them the right kind of start to achieve the same or better for themselves in turn.

So there is a certain weight of expectation on young Jews like us. Sis and I were musing over lunch about the lack of nice Jewish boys in north-west London. She felt a bit guilty about her snobbery of not wanting to go out with the guy behind the counter in Tesco, but thought that such a man either lacked the education/intellect or the drive/ambition to better himself, and was therefore not boyfriend material. It's not unreasonable and certainly not solely a Jewish thing - I would expect most middle-class folk to think similarly.

But it highlights something that makes us different as a community, which is reflected in Simon Amstell's throwaway line on latkes and guilt. Look at how we live in north-west London our entire lives, except for a brief excursion to Israel for machon or yeshiva, and 3 years at a Jew-niversity in Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham. We pick up middle-class, London-centric jobs as lawyers, doctors and accountants. Then we settle with (for?) a nice Jewish wife who teaches or whatever, have some kids and start the cycle again. As our parents grow older, they might retire to a flat in St John's Wood, then a Jewish old people's home in Golder's Green or Hendon, so we stay nearby.

We are trapped by the ghetto walls of the M25 to the north and the Thames to the south. We are restricted by the weight of expectation to get a "good" job ie one that allows our mothers to shep* naches among their friends. In turn I think these things can make us unhappy, guilt-ridden people.

By and large, the one thing I am jealous of with non-Jews is that they have more space. There is more permissiveness (not always good), they can relax, be who they want to be, live wherever they like. If they don't like their City job and chuck it in to become a snowboarding instructor, they are likely to be admired by their friends for following their dream, and supported by their families for doing what makes them happy and fulfilled.

Imagine one of us doing the same. Think of the guilt: "you're throwing away your education for THAT", "no nice Jewish girl wants to marry a ski-bum", "how bubbe and zaide would turn in their neat Bushey graves if they knew" etc etc.

And our insularity does no more for Jewish pride than Rachel Stevens ducking the question. We need to be capable of thriving without the huge Jewish framework that we take for granted and largely under-use, which is actually quite suffocating and claustrophobic. Having lived in Sheffield and Edinburgh, I am a strong advocate of the smaller community.

Restoring Jewish pride and deposing Jewish guilt is about a few things:
- getting rid of the complacency that comes of having a shul every 2 miles, kosher food in every Tesco, and a Cohen or Levy in every surgery, law firm and estate agent
- exposing as many people as possible to leadership positions, which leads to communal ownership and care
- seeking a meaningful Judaism rather than doing it because of the Holocaust or because "we always have"

We need to care a lot less about what our community/family/friends, with all their stolid expectations, will think of us. We should liberate ourselves from the shackles of the north London ghetto, and we should expect a communal infrastructure to support and encourage us to do so (keep an eye out for a future posting elaborating on my strategy for this).

Stevens may be more famous than Amstell (and a damn sight better looking) but she seems ashamed of her roots, or perhaps lacks the confidence to discuss them - either because they are not integral to her identity or because she is nervous of the reaction of her peers and target audience. She demonstrates what it is to be an inhibited, guilt-ridden Jew.

By contrast, Amstell seems to have an American-Jewish outlook; it's so intrinsic to him, he's so overtly Jewish and works it so beautifully and naturally into his performance, in a style that demonstrates how relaxed he is with his identity, that his audience get the joke and enjoy him all the more. He demonstrates what it is to be a free-spirited, latke-toting Jew.

Latkes beat guilt any day, although they'll both kill you in the end...


*Thanks Abe for the correction on shlepp-shep - see comment!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Gaza, first and last

I have posted on Gaza before, but now we are at the business end of Sharon's policy to retreat from Gaza. I don't want to add more, other than to share with you the following pictures and comments from Israelly Cool, which sum up my feelings perfectly.

"...I do want my brothers and sisters being expelled to know that I am very aware of your pain and sadness at being turfed out of your homes, for no other reason than to placate both Israel's allies and foes. And while our enemies sing and dance on the streets, we will be crying.
Note: To any of our enemies who may be reading this, and taking heart at the sight of soldiers and residents of the communities crying their eyes out, just know that crying, praying, discussing, and protesting are all our responses to perceived injustice. Shooting and blowing up innocent people are not."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Trouble With Anglo-Jewry: Diasporate times...

Whether we like it or not, Jews are inextricably linked to Israel by both friend and foe; so are we to think of ourselves as foreign or dual nationals? In the light of the London terror attacks, Muslims are questioning - and being questioned about - whether a dual loyalty of religion and nation can be achieved. For us the question is more complex because Jewishness is nationhood AND religion. It is therefore all the more admirable that our loyalty to our hosts and their way of life is beyond reproach.

Jews have an obligation to work within the rules of whatever society they find themselves living in, and to add value to it. They also are obliged to support Israel's right to exist, and to challenge inherent bias where they see it. We may have our own debates about individual Israeli policies, but too often we allow this to deflect us from uniting on the inalienable truths. As long as we live in a country where our views are not stifled, and where hostility to Israel neither breaches the boundary of anti-semitism, nor questions Israel's fundamental right to exist, we should have no problem of split loyalties.

So what happens when we can no longer trust the country we live in to provide for our safety? In France, this has been the case for a few years, and has been a matter for diplomatic debate between Chirac and Sharon. Despite the platitudes of the French, thousands of feuj are heading for Tel Aviv. In Britain, it was a growing problem but 7/7 and 21/7 have changed the outlook substantially. It is an unfortunate adage that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", but the endemic hatred of all things Judeo-Christian, Western, capitalist and democratic, espoused by radical Muslims worldwide and supported by the so-called Muslim moderates (either openly or tacitly through their refusal to confront it), is now recognised by all for the threat it is to them now, and has been to us since time immemorial. We've been saying this for some time...

What, then, are we contributing to our society? I enjoyed a fascinating session at last year's Limmud conference entitled "Branding UK Jewry and the power of positive PR." This was a session that moved away from the Israel thing and focused on Anglo-Jewry's image alone. We were asked to look at what non-Jews find attractive, intriguing or unexpected about what British Jews are, think and do. It took a remarkable amount of thought, and some serious coaxing from our facilitators Barry Kosmin and Winston Pickett of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, before people could find much contructive to say. Eventually we settled on some of the values of family, education, volunteerism and charity that the Jewish community seems to have taken to its core more than the society around us.

I think we are presented with two interesting challenges as Diaspora Jews in the UK, one inward- and one outward-looking. Firstly, we have to challenge and build on our roots and values, and ensure there is something vibrant and stimulating to be proud of and to ensure there is a Diaspora community worthy of the name for generations to come. Secondly, we need to accept and learn to thrive on the fact that we are distinct from "the British" - we are British Jews.

Our greatest feature is that we represent a bridge between the ethnic and religious minorities and wider British culture. We are white, we are the Judeo- to their -Christian, we are for the most part British born and bred. Instead of trying to be more British than the British, we should assert our unique identity in a way that stimulates pride in ourselves, and - heavens above - pride in us from our hosts, not just benign neglect and tolerance.

By doing so, we could be at the forefront of a move away from the dreaded and vacuous "multicultural Britain" to one where common values bind us and our differences make us stronger. And that's why we all need a strong and dynamic Diaspora Jewry.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Trouble With Anglo-Jewry: Introduction

I decided to write The Trouble With Anglo-Jewry whilst on a trip to Berlin to see my friend Eric, who had asked me to buy him a copy of The Trouble With Islam by Irshad Manji (Irshad, we’ve never met and it’s a shame you’re Canadian, Muslim and lesbian because you're dead cute, and as they say, a fatwa shared is a fatwa halved). I read it in two sittings in the days before I flew out, and I thoroughly recommend it.

The first thing to point out is that unlike Irshad, I have no problem with my religion. Well, that’s not true. What kind of Jew would I be if I agreed with and – worse – adhered to the status quo? What I mean is, the basic tenets of Judaism that we adhere to today seem to be like the ones we've always used, and are more or less fine by me. So I'm not proposing some massive overhaul of the core concepts here. What I have a problem with is the institutional framework that has squelched innovative thought and created a robo-religion that for the most part seems devoid of a spirituality that speaks to our generation.

Originally this was going to take the form of a book, but I have neither the discipline nor the wish to be dogmatic if a decent argument trumps mine, to put something into print. So over the coming months, I shall be posting regularly on the subject of The Trouble With Anglo-Jewry. Please feel free to chip in with advice, gripes, arguments etc, and with any ideas on areas to cover in my quest for the big answers.

Friday, August 12, 2005

In Dire Straits: Ticket to Heaven 2005

Was enjoying a song from the classic Dire Straits album On Every Street, called Ticket To Heaven. The lyrics resonated with me to such an extent that I thought they could be updated for our times. I'm sure my version will get a lot more airplay on Palestine Radio...

The original lyrics can be found here, and you can listen along to the song by clicking here.


I can see what you're looking to find
in the scowl on my face
in my Palestine
in my state of disgrace
I work hard to learn what I can
from the imam's story

he imparts heaven's plan
and he talks to me


now they send what they can to Abbas
to create a state
but it ends up with Hamas
and they ensure hate

Israel's wall, Oslo Accord
Al Naqba for eternity
UN save the little children
in a poor country


I got my ticket to heaven
and everlasting life
I got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my seventy-two virgins
and 30 brand new wives
blown away to paradise



now there's nothing left of olive trees
IDF who slay my brethren still
but the good lord will provide
I know he will
so they send who they can with a plan
to blow up cafes
I'm sneaking through a stolen land
to blow Jews away



I got my ticket to heaven
and everlasting life
I got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my seventy-two virgins
and 30 brand new wives
blown away to paradise




If you enjoyed this little musical interlude, please feel free to suggest more songs for reinterpretation or deconstruction. Normal service will be resumed after the weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Livingstone and Hamas: two sides of the same coin

If it's acceptable for Red Ken to say that Likud and Hamas are two sides of the same coin, then I see no reason not to apply the same approach to him. I ran through all the options; eventually I went for Hamas, being as close to his original quote - and the truth - as possible, but it is merely a placeholder. I invite readers to vote for who they would rather see Livingstone on the other side of a coin from. Choose from Hamas, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mohammed, Hitler, Arafat, Sharon, Chairman Mao, George Galloway, a newt, Maggie Thatcher, Osama Bin Laden or Jacques Chirac, or make your own suggestion.

In the meantime, I know a few of us picked up on a a classic piece of Livingstone hypocrisy - after the unfortunate death of Jean-Charles de Menezes, he immediately blamed terrorists, saying they had gained another victim. Of course, when Palestinian terrorists hide amongst innocent civilians who end up being killed or injured when Israel goes after them, he blames the Jews.

I spotted an excellent article by Tom Gross, a British journalist ("From London to Jerusalem", The Jerusalem Post, 24th July), as quoted from Daniel Pipes:

"Had Israeli police shot dead an innocent foreigner on one of its buses or trains, confirming the kill with a barrage of bullets at close range in a mistaken effort to thwart a bombing, the UN would probably have been sitting in emergency session by late afternoon to unanimously denounce the Jewish state.

By evening, 12 hours had passed since the shooting, but the BBC still hadn't interviewed a grieving family, no one had called for British universities to be boycotted, Chelsea and Arsenal soccer clubs hadn't been ordered to play their matches in Cyprus, and The Guardian hadn't yet called British policy against its Pakistani population ‘genocide.'

As for London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who is in overall control of transport in the city, including the train where the man was shot, and who strongly defended the shoot-to-kill policy as a legitimate way to prevent suicide bombings, he was not yet facing war crimes charges – as Livingstone himself has demanded Israeli political leaders should be."

Time to bring Mayor Ken to justice...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Churchill and Blair, Haw-Haw and Galloway

Update: unbeknown to me, the good folks at Austin Bay had a similar rant under the same headline...

It seems to be a popular trend now to make historical comparisons. There has been much coverage of Blair's Churchillian leadership style during a crisis, some excellent comparisons of George Galloway and Lord Haw-Haw, and some panicky drivel about how "the British invented concentration camps, the Nazis improved them, and now we're going to use them against the entire Muslim population."

Someone pass the sack-cloth and ashes - it seems whole tracts of society feel the need to self-flagellate. If they only gave in to the terrorists and accepted Sharia law, they'd find that, by committing many fairly basic misdemeanours, the welfare state will step in to provide this service for them.

Especially popular is the counter-spin being used by the haters of Jews, capitalism, Blair, Bush and other Islamophobic words in common usage. This involves blaming everything on anyone but yourself, manipulating the media to suit your own perspective, and of course expecting everyone else to prefer your fantasy world to the one we are living in, where hard choices have to be made, and whatever happens, people will die.

Among the liberal elites, Muslim apologists for terror, and Hard Lefties ubiquitous whenever there's a perceived underdog, we find the BBC, CNN, George Galloway, several apparently reputable and moderate Muslim organisations, and the Mayor of London, who in the words of a dinner guest last week, might well be "an insidious little shit."

So, we start with a look at Gorgeous George and his incredible speeches on Arab TV stations made during his recent Middle Eastern tour. It really was like listening to a piece of Goebbels propaganda.

Galloway is a borderline antisemite, openly anti-Zionist (as in anti-existence of Israel), and is exactly the kind of fellow who would perpetrate some of the classic canards of the Hard Left/Muslim alliance. My favourite is the one where Sharon says to Peres in a live radio debate: "I want to tell you something clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel, we the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it." Except that this never actually happened. Harry's Place has the full story.

And why stop at a Hard Left/Muslim alliance to fabricate and perpetrate lies, and fan the flames of antisemitism? Harry's Place has another gem from the charmingly named Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, who had an interesting picture next to their ridiculous article "Zionists behind terror attacks." Again, I commend you to visit Harry's Place for the lowdown.

Well ok, these are all fringe groups, nutcases, people with a clear agenda, right? Yes they are. And I have been saying that the BBC is no different for some time. This week, they surpassed themselves by editing out a key phrase in a press briefing by Tony Blair. Read this article about the press conference on their website, from which you can play the video and see what he said. When I watched this live on the news, I was fuming because of what he didn't say. CNN pulled the same trick.

Well, actually, I was fuming even more when I found out that he did say what I had hoped and prayed he might state, unambigiously and specifically, to the world's media. This is the unedited text of his reply to a question about suicide bombers (my emphasis):

"Until we get rid of this... frankly complete nonsense in trying to build some equivalence between what we're doing helping Iraqis and Afghans get their democracy and these people going and deliberately killing wholly innocent people for the sake of it... we're not going to confront this ideology in the way that it needs to be confronted.

My point to you is this - it's time we stopped saying 'OK, we abhor their methods but we kinda see something in their ideas or maybe they've got a sliver of excuse or justification'. They've got no justification for it...

Neither have they any justification for killing people in Israel either. Let's just get that out of the way as well.

There is no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine, Iraq, in London, in Egypt, in Turkey, anywhere. In the United States of America, there is no justification for it. Period."

The BBC did put the full transcript on their website, but carefully hidden away, so we could be sure that the only bombings Blair was seen to condemn in the broadcast itself were those in the Muslim countries, the UK and USA.

Heaven forbid a specific condemnation of terror against Jews! As opposed to Sir Iqbal Sacranie and other "moderates" from the Muslim community, along with their sycophantic allies Livingstone, Galloway et al, who specifically refuse to condemn terror agains Jews.

Over the Friday night dinner table, we had a very interesting discussion about who the real enemies are. One guest was insistent that we cannot trust any Muslims in the UK, and that they fall into two categories; extremists and future extremists. On that basis, he said, they should all be shipped out - Islam was a corrupted religion that could not live side by side with a Judeo-Christian, capitalist, democratic way of life. They were all clearly the enemies.

Another guest argued strongly against him. She was of the view that those who had no loyalty to the country should be removed, in line with the views of Tim Howarth, Tory shadow defense minister, but that the rest were of course welcome to stay and contribute to society. Those amongst them who openly and demonstrably wished us harm were the only enemies.

I disagree with both of them about who the real enemy is.

Of course we must not punish innocent and law-abiding citizens for the crimes committed in their name by their co-religionists. In fact, we have a duty to protect the reputation of the authentically British Muslim community. I agree with Tim Howarth on the removal of those who scorn and seek to destroy our society. But that goes without saying.

I think the real enemy is the insidious and creeping one from within - the liberal do-gooders.

These people are apologists for extremist behaviour, because it comes cloaked in "multiculturalism" and therefore we have an obligation to understand and support it. They sit at their Hampstead dinner parties, and slip innocently from "those poor Palestinians" to "those damn Jews". Before 'Offended, Hampstead' writes in to complain, I actually know philosemites who have been at these dinner parties and reported back to Zionist HQ about them. They really think that the price of liberty is the occasional bombing, and they claim that the Blair-Bush-Sharon camp thinks that the price of the occasional bombing is liberty.

In an op-ed in last week's Sunday Times, Minette Marin argued that we are now "Confronted with our own decadence". She points out that these same people do nothing whilst their country deteriorates around them. They are far too busy complaining when they see eminent and sensible centre-left writers like Nick Cohen making a dash for Reality Street, as he wittily regaled in this week's Guardian. If you want to save yourselves the pain of trawling their normal places of residence online, Right Wing Nuthouse have kindly provided this guide to get you through the amoral maze.

I think the best and most succinct wake-up call to the do-gooders is from alarmingnews.com:

"...we have to stop blaming ourselves. Or, more to the point since most Americans aren't the ones blaming themselves, you have to stop blaming yourselves. It's not because of support for Israel, it's not because of the Iraq war. They hate you for who you are and how you live. The sooner you get it, the sooner you want to destroy them the way they want to destroy you, the better it will be for the free world. I really think this second attack, if by Al Qaeda and not a copycat, happened because they saw the self-criticism that happened after the last attack.

These terrorists respond to weakness. They respect strength. Europe didn't like Bush's 'we will get you' talk after 9/11 but that's exactly what's needed now. You've done the protesting, the hating Blair, the editorials blaming yourselves. Now's the time to promise death to whomever is associated with these attacks. Now's the time to look and act tough and show that fucking with you was the wrong thing to do."


If you think that anything we on the neo-con side of the spectrum have said about Islam is distasteful, perhaps you might like to read this insightful/inciteful quotation from our beloved Churchill:

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."

I think that it is time for us to face up to the fact that we are headed for a clash of civilisations. But this may not be one of Islam vs the West. It is instead a struggle between an unholy alliance of Islamofascists and hard lefties, supported by a enormous swathe of well-meaning but utterly misguided liberals on the one hand; and an unwieldy, occasionally heavy-handed, and sadly misunderstood set of centrists, sensible left-wingers who are not blinded by the romance of the underdog, the entire right-wing minus some nut-jobs and the ones whose view of the world is "Back anyone who hates kikes", and pragmatists like me.

One group believes in the gospel of the UN, the Kyoto Treaty, the romantic desert Arab, the vast right-wing/Zionist conspiracy, and of course multiculturalism. The other believes in getting the job done even when it is messy and unpopular, instituting practical measures to improve our environment that incentivise businesses to pull their weight, taking decisions based on faith and friendship, and calling a spade a spade.

I leave you with some quotations, each from disparate sources who are favourites of the two sides. Yet they seem to be saying the same thing...

"This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time." - Winston Churchill's concluding words before the House of Commons, October 5, 1938

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell (attributed)

Life is tough. We need tough leaders to make tough decisions. I wonder how many liberal do-gooders sleep easier in their beds for knowing that they've held their moral high-ground but that their safety has been assured by the people they claim to oppose. And I call on them to end such hypocrisy and have the courage to stand with us.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Concerned, Chippenham vs. Concerned, Pinner

Hat tip to Bison for pointing this one out from Lee Gent's blog.


Concerned, Chippenham

The Government wants to throw out anyone who encourages terrorism, and is willing to change human rights laws to enable it to do so.

"Mr Blair said people would be refused asylum if they had been involved in terrorism" - which I suppose means people can look forwards to more checkboxes that say 'Are you a terrorist?' a lá the USA visa waiver forms, and the comedy Export Compliance Declaration that appears when you buy from Dell ('Is this computer equipment going to be used in the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction?').

Or, given the country's current embracing of mass hysteria, 'Are you a Muslim?' will do. I know people who now travel London by taxi to avoid the harrassment encounted on public transport - fucking pathetic.

My own stance on such transfigurations into a Police State are well-known (give me bombings any day) - what shocked me was the fact that the weight of public opinion appears to be very much FOR this move (one which I'm sure is merely another step towards a Final Solution to terrorism...). Usually I can rely on the British to smack down Draconian moves - but not today.
Deborah Ese, London, Dailymails: "Any person who does not agree with the British way of life and hates it people so much that they are prepared to maim and kill them should be deported without question".

Good idea. I propose we send questionnaires to everyone in Britain. We could even make it multiple-choice, so that even BNP voters could participate:

"1: You are unhappy with Western foreign policy. Do you:
(a) Bomb London
(b) Bury your head in the sand
(c) Vote Tory

2: Please tick one box:
(a) I HATE FREEDOM
(b) I don't mind being ruled by a bunch of fascists, after all, it's for our own good"

Mostly (a)? Congratulations! You are a terrorist. Tony's Terrorist-Tackling Team will now deport you.


And now for the freedmanslife response...


I spend a lot of time reading the moonbat drivel of the Islamofascist-hugging hard lefties and liberals but this takes the biscuit.

Any country run by sane people would expect its leaders "to throw out anyone who encourages terrorism" and would also like to see people "refused asylum if they had been involved in terrorism."

If the Muslim community weren't echoing the liberal/left canard about how Blair, not British Muslims were to blame, and instead accepted that their own people did it, and started to tackle the major issue of over 100,000 of their cohorts agreeing with their act, they might get sympathy and support, instead of harrassment.

Incidentally, when in the past 5 years have you posted anything about the amount of abuse UK Jews have been receiving? Whatever you may think of Sharon and Israel, Anglo-Jewry hasn't been killing Londoners in support of his policies, so why should they be attacked whilst liberal do-gooders like you stay silent?

And while we're on the subject, you should be more careful about misappropriating the term "Final Solution". That resulted in the deaths of 6,000,000 Jews and hundreds of thousands of other "undesirables". You cannot seriously believe that the British government would perpetrate something similar on the Muslim population. So your flippant use of the term is chillingly close to the methods of denigrating and belittling the Holocaust used by, among others, the BNP and your dear friends in the Muslim Association of Britain, who boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day. Oh and by the way, there is widespread Holocaust denial across the Arab world, which is all the more ironic as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and other Arab leaders actually visited the concentration camps with the Nazis to see how to deal with their Jews.

Sadly, your stance will indeed give you bombings any day and every day until you surrender completely or fight back hard. If you think Blair's moves are draconian, I suggest you check out the bombers' alternative of Shariah law. I would love to see your blog when one of your hands has been amputated for petty theft or smoking pot.

Allow me to guess your answers to your questionnaire.

1: You are unhappy with Western foreign policy. Do you:
(b) Bury your head in the sand

2: Please tick one box:
(b) I don't mind being ruled by a bunch of fascists, after all, it's for our own good" (these would be Islamofascists by the way)

Add the Tory and New Labour voters together, check the opinion polls, and accept that you are in the minority. One day your grandchildren might thank their stars you were. Otherwise, for the sake of consistency and to demonstrate your commitment to your beliefs, I think you should find a country that reflects your values, and go live there.

Those of us who value life enough to accept the stop-and-search of ethnic groups in proportion to their likelihood of committing crime and terror could do without apologists, appeasers and cowards living in our midst.

In the meantime, I invite you to visit http://www.freedmanslife.com - come and have a go if you think you're hard left enough ;)


I'm back, and I'm angry. Now taking all-comers. If you have a big fat slice of appeasement that deserves the freedmanslife treatment, send it in!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The last Freedmanslife posting?

Editor's note 1: change of plan - I realised that I'm writing this as therapy for myself, and because it saves a lot of "I told you so" at a later date. So read it or don't read it, I shouldn't worry about ratings - they only corrupt my journalistic integrity...

Editor's note 2: see what I'm about to post for reasons why you, the sensible public who prefer a slight reduction in civil liberties to having the crap blown out of you, need me to defend your views.

Dear loyal reader

Thanks for visiting this site over the past few months. You are in a very exclusive group that is becoming ever more so. Readership has dwindled to single figures per day, so I have decided enough is enough.

I'm not sure whether it's because I write badly, or if I write offensive stuff, or if my views make some readers uncomfortable because it's alarmingly true, or if I'm just boring.

Please feel free to suggest alternative subjects, or to send me articles that you enjoyed or pissed you off, and I will deconstruct them or deconstruct you, depending on whom I agree with.

Topics I have on my list for the coming weeks are:

- The London Olympics 2012 and what role Ken Livingstone will play in the archery contest
- Cuisine, including restaurant reviews and Jamie Oliver crying in a walk-in fridge
- Freedmanswife; the ones who got away (Gellar, Kournikova etc)
- why we should have trade not aid, and how Chris Martin may have the solution
- some good Jewish jokes; and some better non-Jewish ones, ie "A man calls his mother-in-law and says he'll be late for dinner. The mother-in-law says 'no problem' "

It's sad to say that the peak of 100 or so readers a week was only reached after I started writing the political stuff in the aftermath of 7/7. Who would have thought that terrorism could improve ratings and readership? This discovery is the stuff films are made about. Oh. They already have.

So if you enjoy reading my stuff, and know other people who might, please send them a link. If readership hits 100 visitors a week again, I will hold a big kedgeree brunch in your honour. If it stays at current levels, I will post a picture of me in my birthday suit, and cease writing in 6 weeks.

Thanks for sticking with me to the end!

Michael