Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ahmadinejihad

"Israel should be wiped off the map", said a leading political figure last week. No, not Cherie Blair putting her foot in that oversized mouth, neither was it anyone French or from the BBC. So that really only leaves someone from the Religion of Peace.

Step up, the delightful Mr Ahmadinejad.

Normally at this point, I would be griping about the lack of condemnation, pointing out the hypocrisy of this given the hysteria that would have appeared had Sharon said Iran - or the charming neighbours - should be wiped off the map.

Fortunately, the world's leaders were safely tucked up in Hampton Court Palace, thus giving Tony Blair the first word and shaping the message for everyone. He made a few prepared remarks before letting rip with a spontaneous outburst about how counterproductive and unacceptable it was. Best of all, he made it clear that it was enough to push him into moving his thinking from "are we going to do something about Iran?" to "what are we going to do?"

Rallying behind him were the EU leaders, Dubya, and even Putin, despite the pro-Tehran stance of the Kremlin. The most incisive remark came from Saeb Erekat, who clearly fancies himself as the Palestinians' Abba Eban:

"What we need to be talking about is adding the state of Palestine to the map and not wiping Israel from the map"

There were of course a few apologists who claimed it was for domestic consumption and besides, was only repeating the views of Khomeini. By the same token, neo-Nazis could meet in Germany for conferences in their native language to discuss the Final Solution and how it could be improved. Also this logic fails to explain why the conference at which these remarks were made was covered in large, English-language posters and signs.

Now to see whether the world turns this into actions rather than the usual words, or whether they leave it to Israel to defend itself and then sanction them for the impertinence of surviving.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Harried out?

Harriet Miers decides not to go forward with her nomination for the Supreme Court. We at Freedmanslife Villas have been wondering for some time how she was going to fit it in, given her recent victory in the German elections...


Angela Merkel                                Harriet Miers

Monday, October 24, 2005

Love and kisses

I got this pap in one of those annoying email chain letter things where you have to scroll down past a million indent arrows and reams of stupid remarks like:

"Sorry, but this chain letter is for real, I got it the first time, and I ignored it and a week later and the love of my life for 6-months dumped me for no good reason so beware, and just send the stupid letter!!!!!!"

Er, love of your life for 6 months - that's an oxymoron, unless you're a victim of a terminal illness.

On request of an avid reader, I have picked away at the beautiful sentiments of this email until it collapsed under the weight of its own triteness like a house of Valentine's cards... see if you can spot the extra comments!


The Lovers of the Heart

In order to form a more perfect kiss, enable the mighty hug to promote to whom we please but one kiss. (WTF? Ed.)

Article 1 : Statement of Love: The Kiss

1. Kiss on the hand.... I adore you
2. Kiss on the cheek... I just want to be friends
3. Kiss on the neck... I want you
4. Kiss on the lips... I love you
5. Kiss on the ears... I am just playing (i hate that)
6. Kiss anywhere else ... lets not get carried away
7. Look in your eyes ... kiss me
8. Playing with your hair... I can't live without you
9. Hand on your waist... I love you to much to let you go
10. Kiss my arse... I'll give you a pay rise

Article 2: The Three Steps

1. Girls: If any guys gets fresh with you, slap him
2. Guys: If any girl slaps you, her intentions are still good!!!
3. Guys and Girls: Close your eyes when kissing, it is rude to stare

Article 3: The Commandments

1. Thou shalt not squeeze too hard.
2. Thou shalt not ask for a kiss, just give one or take one.
3. Thou shalt kiss at every opportunity.
4. Thou shalt take the recommendation of 4 out of 5 American dentists and brush first with Colgate

Article 4: How to French Kiss

Here's How: Set the scene. Make sure that the mood and time are right. Relax! Take a deep breath and let go of any tension in your neck and shoulders. Put your arms around the person you want to kiss. Bear-hug them if they struggle. Start off with a normal kiss, not too firm, not too aggressive. Closing your eyes is optional. In mid-kiss, gently open your mouth and softly nudge the other persons mouth open using your tongue. Inspect for spinach. Again, not too aggressively, move your tongue inside the other persons mouth and playfully touch their tongue.

Read the other person's body language, if they seem tense or start to pull away, stop what you are doing. If they open their mouth more or otherwise indicate they like the kiss, keep on doing what you have been only with a little more passion. As the kissing gets going saliva build up can be a problem, don't forget to swallow, or keep a spitoon handy - this can be romantic and part of the fun. Make sure you keep your tongues relaxed but your lips tight (saliva again), you don't want the kiss to turn messy.

Tips:
1. Don't forget to breathe.
1a. Don't forget that they need to breathe too.
2. Since French Kissing is "wetter" than other kinds of kissing it is a good idea to start with dry lips, don't lick them first.
3. If one of you have braces you can still French Kiss, you just have to be more careful and not as forceful when things get passionate.
4. If both of you wear braces you can still French Kiss, you just have to be very gentle and avoid touching teeth.
(editor's note, no's 3 and 4 were really in here, begging the question of whether this email is targetted at pubescent teens going off for a snog behind the bike sheds)

French Kissing takes practice, but at least it is fun to practice this one!

**Remember** A peach is a peach, a plum is a plum, a kiss isn't a kiss without some tongue so open up your mouth, close your eyes, and give your tongue some exercise!!! In the next email, we will teach you about tonguing peaches and plums.

Well here are a few reasons why guys like girls...

1. They will always smell good even if it’s just shampoo
2. The way their heads always find the right spot on our shoulder
3. How cute they look when they sleep
4. The ease in which they fit into our arms
5. The way they kiss you and all of a sudden everything is right in the world
6. How cute they are when they eat
7. The way they take hours to get dressed but in the end make it all worthwhile
8. Because they are always warm even when it’s minus 30 outside
9. The way they look good no matter what they wear
10. The way they fish for compliments even though you both know that you think she's the most beautiful thing on this earth
11. How cute they are when they argue
12. The way her hand always finds yours
13. The way they smile
14. The way you feel when you see their name on the call ID after you just had a big fight
15. The way she says "lets not fight anymore" even though you know that an hour later you will be arguing about something
16. The way they kiss when you do something nice for them
17. The way they kiss you when you say "I love you"
18. Actually... just the way they kiss you...
19. The way they fall into your arms when they cry
20. Then the way they apologize for crying over something that silly
21. The way they hit you and expect it to hurt
22. Then the way they apologize when it does hurt (even though we don't admit it)
23. The way they say "I miss you"
24. The way you miss them
25. The way their tears make you want to change the world so that it doesn't hurt her anymore...

And here are a few reasons why girls like guys...

1. They will always smell even if they just washed; this gives you something to nag about
2. The way your head always find the right spot on their shoulder so you're comfy and they're stuck watching some crap girly movie
3. How cute you look when you're asleep, dreaming of Orlando Bloom
4. The ease in which you force yourself to fit into their arms, then ask them if you're looking fat
5. The way you kiss them and all of a sudden you can get anything you want
6. How cute they are when they watch you eat, and then pay for it
7. The way they take 2 minutes to get dressed, resulting in looking crap, and giving you an excuse to go shopping with them
8. Because they are always after a beer even when it’s minus 30 outside
9. The way they don't quite look how you want them to no matter what they wear
10. The way you fish for compliments even though you both know that you're the most beautiful thing on this earth, and they still fall for it
11. How cute they think you are when you argue and manipulate them
12. The way your hand always finds his wallet
13. The way you smile to get what you want
14. The way you taunt them when you flash up your name on the call ID after you just had a big fight
15. The way you say "let's not fight anymore" even though you know that an hour later you will be arguing about something
16. The way you use sex to get them to do something nice (and expensive) for you
17. The way you kiss them to encourange them to say "I love you"
18. Actually... just the way you kiss them...
19. The way you fall into their arms when you turn on the waterworks
20. Then the way you apologize for crying over something that silly, whilst taking further control of the relationship
21. The way you hit them and expect it to hurt because you did tae kwon doe
22. Then the way you apologize when it does hurt (even though you just emasculated them)
23. The way you say "I miss you" whilst having a fling on the sales trip abroad with the guy from Marketing
24. The way they miss you whilst having to rely on a Jenna Jameson video and some Vaseline
25. The way your tears make them want to change the world so that it doesn't hurt you anymore... ie a nice wedding, big house, decent car, a couple of kids, general usage of men as a convenient sperm bank, high street bank etc

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Guerin gets to see a real apartheid state

A joyous day! After the shamelessly Arabist Barbara Plett (she of the tears for Arafat) was shuffled off elsewhere, now we find that Orla Guerin, arch-apologist for Palestinian terror and enemy of good shampoo and conditioner, has been booted off to Jo'burg.

Let's hope she finds out a little more about what apartheid really looked like, and also gets to experience the warped society that has emerged, where unskilled, unsuitable blacks are given senior jobs in the name of reconciliation and rehabilitation of those who suffered. There, crime rates have soared, HIV infections will kill 1 in 4, unemployment is still high, the whites who for right or wrong have the education and experience to run the country properly are fleeing rather than being "phased out" gradually and sensibly, and a new black elite along tribal lines is rising to take its place. One set of problems has been exchanged for another.

Still, I'm sure Orla will find a way to make it all still entirely the fault of the oppressive evil racist white colonialist Zionist Jewish zealot minority.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tories vote for Brown

Of course it was no surprise that the Conservative MPs would vote for Anyone But Ken, but in doing so, they have proven once again that they are incapable of getting past their internal politicking and simplistic right-wing ideology. MPs voted tactically for Liam Fox, a sort of Redwood-lite, just to eliminate The Beast, and showed overall support for a man described by one party member as "Iain Duncan Smith with hair".

Not that Clarke should have been given a clear run, or that he would have beaten Brown, but it is amazing how short-sighted the voters were in thinking about the message it sends. They knocked out the candidate with the most experience, the largest popular support, and the biggest scare factor for Brownite Labour.

So that leaves us with David Cameron, whose main qualification is that he is "Tory Blair". It looks like he's going to win, which is no bad thing. I'm not sure he is going to be much of a uniter of the two wings, nor does he have the dazzling media-savvy and public friendly policies that Blair developed to bully his own party into the 21st century.

And of course this only gets us to Cameron vs. Davis, at which point the blue-rinse over-70s will make their triennial mistake and vote for the grey man.

Oh well, it's not like Cameron would have had the bottle to implement some decent progressive ideas, such as a 20% flat tax and a market-driven NHS. May as well have Gordy until 2010, then the Lib Dems for a while, shortly after which I would think we'll be a suburb of Osama's Khilafah anyway...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

TWAJ: The simplicity of religion

Every year for as long as I can remember, I stand outside the synagogue on Yom Kippur talking to my "twin" Wolfin (born on the same day) about the imminent demise of Anglo-Jewry. This year, Jerry The Wegie stepped into the breach left by Ben's marriage to Philippa (mazel tov!). Different face, same topic of conversation. This year though, I have the bit between my teeth on formulating a real plan of action.

So another Yom Kippur passed; another 25 hours of fasting, offset by 25 minutes of fressing. But after a late night and not feeling too well even before yom tov, I slept in and got to shul at midday, neatly timed to have to stay out during the rabbi's sermon and yizkor. Still feeling a bit lousy and generally underwhelmed by the ambience, I traipsed home and found Bodie was already there. She was also tired and not feeling particularly in the mood for communal atonement.

We wondered why Yom Kippur this year was such a drag. I mean, of course it's not meant to be a joy but some years it inspires to really search your soul, and makes one feel the awe and splendour of the day. Others, like this year, it inspired me to search the leaflet stand outside for something worthwhile to read, and made me feel the emptiness and tiredness of an empty stomach and a long week.

Same chazzan, same rabbi, same shul, same machzor as every other year. Totally different effect.

On the other hand, today was Succot. Usually it's like any regular service with a few paganistic fertility rituals thrown in. But this year it was something more. I read a nice comment in my Artscroll machzor, about how the succah itself represents how we are ultimately at G-d's whim, despite the advances we have made, and that we should build succot and live in them with a cheerful acceptance of this state of affairs.

I also enjoyed the hakafot and shaking the lulav, appreciating them for the earthy physical rituals they are. So much of our other services have been rendered into words instead of actions that they lose some of the sense of awe and splendour I enjoy.

This is something endemic in Anglo-Jewry today; we hide behind what one member of our shul calls "ortho-mumble", the muttering of incomprehensible words in an alien language. It is a practice which perhaps suits both the institutions that devised, imposed and propagate it, and the lazy layman who prefers to read (usually quite poorly) what is put in front of him rather than have to go on a spiritual and intellectual voyage of discovery.

So how much of what we say in a service is halachically necessary and should be said in its original language? An answer can be found by looking at some alternatives to the United Synagogue. At the Shir Chadash synagogue in Jerusalem (hat tip: adaminisrael), they have taken the outer bounds of halachah and designed a service that is a lot more compact, puts the bimah on the mechitza, and allows women to participate much more fully.

I have no problem saying everything in Hebrew as long as it's comprehensible. This means three things have to happen:

1. Much more importance should be placed on the teaching of modern and classical Hebrew so children grow up with the tools to evaluate and understand the texts of the "People of the Book"
2. We could consider alternative layouts of prayerbooks themselves so that as one reads the Hebrew, one can glance at the English, much as the words are printed below the staves of sheet music.
3. Every service should contain more explanatory elements, and more imaginative methods of teaching the various age-groups and knowledge levels need to be used.

Perhaps Succot is a timely reminder, full of metaphors for how we should be thinking. The succah shows that we should expose ourselves to the elements around us rather than stay safely in the shelter of the claustrophobic house we have built for ourselves. The lulav brings together disparate species and propels them together to every corner. The hakafot teach us that as a community we can go round in circles asking questions, but that this is the way to redemption.

I believe in a Judaism that, true to its roots, values the asking of a question as much as the answer. Profound intellectual curiosity as a core component of our cultural identity is what I believe has separated us from the masses and driven us to disproportionate achievement. To return to this level, we need to give people the tools - and the institutions - to tackle dogma and spur a rekindling of innovative Jewish thought and development.

Maybe I will find my own answers in developing those tools; that is why I started out on TWAJ in the first place. Maybe it will do some good, stimulate some debate, or maybe it won't. But it's a start, and in the absence of anyone else's version of Judaism really satisfying me, it's cathartic.

Rabbi Hillel says in Pirkei Avot: "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?"

Good question.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Forgive me!

Please forgive me... not for all the things I've done to you over the past year (well, go on then), but for the complaint I am about to make. It may seem harsh but it has been bugging me.

Every Yom Kippur season, I get text messages and emails from well-meaning people, saying things like "If I have done anything to offend you over the previous year I am sorry and ask for your forgiveness."

I am never sure whether I should actually drop them a note back saying that I acknowledge their request, reciprocate and of course am happy to oblige. What I really want to do is ask why people think this is a suitable way of repenting. It seems like a fairly simplistic tool - the mass text or mailshot - that provides instant and basic gratification that one has done one's bit to apologise.

If it was a minor or inadvertent offence, I would assume the other party forgave and/or forgot very quickly of their own accord. If it was anything more malicious or wilful, then a more personal touch might be appropriate, to bring resolution to the issue.

Accordingly, sorry if I pissed you off with a minor act of stupidity, thoughtlessness or insensitivity during the year - I shall assume I am forgiven unless you contact me to tell me otherwise. If it was a big 'un, then you will be hearing from me. Going forward, please raise these things as they occur - I'm quite thick-skinned, and tend to learn from my mistakes if pointed out at the time.

Now where were we... ah yes, I dislike the mass request for forgiveness. Ah. Is there an Al-Chet for hypocrisy?!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Face/off: Judgement Day

Esteemed readers

This is the first time that people have had a mass debate over pictures of me, and I have enjoyed the experience too. Since my original posting I have had many responses from both sides, but the results are conclusive.

In terms of votes by reply and email, based almost entirely on photographic evidence alone, the pro-bush group leads the anti-bush group by a couple of hanging chads and a well-placed Floridian judge.

But the groundswell of opinion comes from those who have seen it and remarked that they liked it, not just to my hirsute face but to other (largely disgruntled) members of my family. My favourite is when people say "your beard is growing on me", to which of course I reply "actually, it's growing on me!" In Pinner, this rates as exceptionally witty repartee.

Even my father has now been won round, and I am hoping he will shortly start growing a matching piece of apparatus.

So it's now Yom Kippur eve, and the growth is staying at least until after Succot, when it will come in useful during the frozen dinners eaten in our family tabernacle...

I wish you all* gmar chatima tovah - be inscribed and sealed for good - and an easy fast.


* Gentile readers might like to note that the Bible commands any of you who live amongst Jews not to do work on Yom Kippur! I'm not sure of the definition here but anyone living in Golders Green or Edgware might like to research a little and skive off tomorrow in solidarity with your famished Jewish friends.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Like lambs...

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner tonight. Freedom is a well-armed lamb." (Benjamin Franklin)

"I get my lamb from Silverman's, and believe me it's very tough." (Bubbie Freedman)

In Britain, the two wolves appear to be the Hard Left and the Liberal-Dhimmi classes, whilst the lamb is the so-called nutcase fringe like me and my partner-in-conservatism Melanie Phillips. Unfortunately, the reality is even more frightening than that. We are all the lambs and Islamofascism is playing the wolf. Its quisling friends will be eaten for dinner last of all but in the meantime they are useful tools for turning the institutions of our infidel democracy against us. It's just a case of when the moderate majority realise appeasement has gone far enough, and then how well-armed we are to be able to turn the tide.

Luckily, Israel is a well-armed lamb surrounded by a pack of wolves, including those in Europe who are wearing the proverbial sheep's clothing. It is not yet the time for the wolf to lie with the lamb in peace and tranquility. It is still the age of our neighbours beating plowshares into swords, fertiliser into explosives, people into bombs.

There is an interesting discussion to be had about how the historic problems of the Middle East (or in fact anywhere) come down to "competing narratives". Resolution of any given problem usually happens through a process of acceptance of the other party's narrative; not its accuracy, but their entitlement to difference and an understanding that over the period of generations, myth becomes legend and legend becomes fact and fact becomes right.

In Israeli-Palestinian terms, I have come to accept the wolf's narrative on that basis. But the Arab wolf has yet to accept the Jewish lamb's narrative.

The Christian European lambs-dressed-as-wolves-dressed-as-lambs have managed to manipulate it in the creation of their own narrative, which allows them to escape their share of responsibility for the situation that stems from the imperialist carving-up of the region, and their role in the Holocaust. Yet I accept that one too.

The problem is that nobody likes to accept ours. Could it be because ours is the oldest, most consistent, most rooted in history, and - worst of all - is the preamble to their own narratives?

Monday, October 10, 2005

BBC tests CST's defences

Hat tip Bison for this from Melanie Phillips:

War by prejudice from the BBC

Yesterday, BBC Radio Four broadcast a programme called ‘A war Against Prejudice’, which looked at the work of the British Jewish defence organisation the Community Security Trust, and the broader issue of the rise in anti-Jewish feeling against which the CST was helping defend the Jewish community in Britain. I was interviewed for this programme, but I listened to it with mounting horror and a sick feeling in my stomach. It started neutrally enough, by describing the work of the CST in providing protection for the community and collating statistics about anti-Jewish incidents, and interviewed some Jews about attacks. But then it set out to demonstrate that the CST had exaggerated this problem by inflating its statistics. It produced no evidence to support this smear, merely assertions, and it was careful — with one notable exception — to use Jews to do so. One was Tony Lerman, whose undoubted knowledge of Jewish sociology has been vitiated in recent years by his conviction that there has been no increase in anti-Jewish feeling in this country and that anyone who says there has is merely trying to sanitise the crimes of Ariel Sharon. The other was a rabbi called Gluck who was involved in Jewish-Muslim dialogue and -- surprise surprise -- saw no evidence of anti-Jewish feeling whatsoever. These two individuals are utterly unrepresentative of the mainstream Jewish community.

The third accuser of the CST was Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain. Now this was really something else. Here is what Bunglawala himself had to say on the subject of Jews some years ago:

'1) 'The Jews consider themselves to be God’s chosen people - although the blessed prophet Jesus called them the children of the Devil (John 8:44) - and so can do just whatever the hell they like'.

2) He cited claims that the Zionist movement is 'at the core of international banking and commerce' and observed 'Nonsense? You be the judge'.

3) 'The chairman of Carlton Communications is Michael Green of the Tribe of Judah. He has joined an elite club whose members include fellow Jews Michael Grade [then the chief executive of Channel 4 and now BBC chairman] and Alan Yentob [BBC2 controller and friend of Salman Rushdie]. The three are reported to be "close friends… so that's what they mean by a 'free media.'

One might have thought that, in a programme ostensibly looking at anti-Jewish prejudice, Bunglawala might have been asked about the views he had once expressed. One might have thought he would have been asked about the MCB’s stated aim to abolish Holocaust day, and its many inflammatory statements about Israel and the Holocaust. One might have thought he would have been asked about the sale by Muslims on campus of that iconic text of Jew-hatred, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the regular attacks and abuse of Jewish students by Muslims. One might have thought he would have been asked about the contribution to anti-Jewish prejudice in Britain being made by the poisonous hated of Israel and the Jews pouring out of the Arab and Muslim world.

But no, he was asked none of these things. Indeed, the programme did not mention Islamic attacks upon Jews at all. Instead, it used Lerman, Gluck and Bunglawala to rubbish the claim that there was a rise in anti-Jewish feeling in Britain. It clearly set out to do this; the difference between the hostile questioning of myself, for example, and the easy ride given to these three was unmistakeable. There was absolutely no attempt by the programme to explain where the current anti-Jewish feeling was coming from, or to analyse it at all; it was apparently just a paranoid claim to be knocked down.

Anyone who talks to the police will know that the Jewish community in Britain has to be guarded against the very real threat of attack from both Muslims and neo-Nazis. Every single synagogue or communal event has to be guarded. It is a threat we Jews all live with, daily. We also have to live daily with the pathological hatred of Jewish nationhood that now courses through this country’s media, along with routine claims of a global Jewish conspiracy. The BBC was at it again this morning on Radio Four’s Start the Week with an unchallenged implication of sinister Jewish power; look at this post by Adloyada for yet further evidence of the way this ancient racial libel has now been assimilated without challenge into mainstream media discourse. Yet a BBC radio programme makes out that this is all total exaggeration, that the CST produces dodgy statistics and that there really is no threat to the Jews at all.

So all the attacks on synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, on this account, are not anti-Jewish attacks at all; all the attacks on people in the street, with Stars of David torn off their necks or anti-Jewish taunts thrown at them, aren’t anti-Jewish attacks at all; all the intimidation meted out to Jewish students on campus aren’t anti-Jewish attacks at all; all the racial stereotypes, lies and libels about Israel and the world Jewish conspiracy that assault British Jews daily when they open their newspapers, go to dinner parties or tune into the wretched BBC aren’t anti-Jewish attacks at all. And the CST, whose unpaid volunteers are an essential defence against the physical threat that daily faces the Jews of Britain is made out instead to be a dubious outfit.

No mention of the fact that the Metropolitan and Manchester police promote the CST, rely upon it and regard it as a model for community action; no mention that the Home Affairs Select Committee lauded it and advised the Muslim Council of Britain to ask it for help; no mention that the European Union Monitoring Centre has recommended its systems to European governments and law enforcement agencies and that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe is using it for training NGOs and law enforcement agencies. No discussion of the phenomenon it is fighting. Instead, a hatchet job.

A advance synopsis of the programme on the website of CTVC, the production company that made it, revealed the animus that lay behind it:

'File On Four’s prestigious reporter, Gerry Northam, uncovers the myths and realities of anti-semitism in Britain today, through the controversial activities of its defence organisation, the Jewish Community Trust. This is the first time the story has been told of British Judaism’s “private volunteer army” – its security operations, training, intelligence-gathering and influential (hyped and hysterical, critics say) reports on anti-semitism.'

The CST’s activities are not in the least controversial. To describe it as a ‘private volunteer army’ makes it sound like a sinister, covert militaristic organisation that people should be worried about, when in fact it is merely a bunch of public-spirited civilians defending their own community against attack.

In social gatherings, one nowadays runs the gauntlet of sneering and incredulous bien-pensants for whom the assertion that Israel is the victim of aggression is regarded on a par with supporting apartheid South Africa, and for whom the suggestion that life has become uncomfortable for British Jews is regarded as evidence of Jewish special pleading. Consciously or unconsciously, this country is setting out to expunge the reality of Jewish victimhood and replace it by the narrative of toxic Jewish power.

A war against prejudice? No, this is war by prejudice. I have said it before, and here it is again: Britain’s Jews – including those who, in tragic repetition of history, refuse to see it – are under siege.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

On artistic merit

Channel 4 have just been showing a rundown of the 50 greatest documentaries. It has been very illuminating and has given me a thought.

When budding documentary-makers decide they should make a current-affairs programme, or in fact any piece, they ought to be driven by the integrity of what makes a unique piece of work. They should be pushing the boundaries, trying to articulate new points of view, educating us by scratching the surface of subjects neglected by the mainstream.

So purely on the basis of artistic merit, why do so many so-called "documentary makers" take the easy route of going to Pallywood to shoot a piece of anti-Israel propaganda? And the BBC uses the taxpayer's money to commission and/or broadcast them in disproportionate numbers. According to an excellent and detailed report, the BBC managed to broadcast 19 documentaries between the start of the 2nd intifada and last summer, of which 15 were hostile, 1 balanced, 2 pro-Israel and 2 unknown due to lack of transcripts.

Actually, I'm not interested in the obvious and unsurprising bias here. I am disappointed that articulate, imaginative, intelligent people should be so lacking in more original ideas, and so willing to cave in to the distorted will of the BBC programmers.

Here's an excerpt from the report:

"...the BBC has devoted a significantly disproportionate amount of space to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, to the almost total exclusion of a number of other issues where major humanitarian and political problems exist. Israel attracts approximately 30% of all programmes on the list of humanitarian and political issues we selected. No other issue gets more than 50% of such cover [ie half as much - ed.], and most get far less. On one (albeit very crude) analysis we calculate that one death in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict attracts 187 times as much documentary attention as a death or ‘disappearance’ in the other comparable humanitarian and political stories.


In addition to our principal complaint, that the BBC is running a campaign to vilify Israel, we consider the BBC’s failure to give proper coverage to other issues of equal or greater humanitarian and political interest to be a clear failure of the BBC’s obligations to “provide a properly balanced service consisting of a wide range of subject matter” and the separate requirement that “no significant strand of thought should go unreflected or under represented on the BBC”. Those around the world whose plight is largely or wholly ignored by the BBC should be protesting loudly against the BBC’s obsession with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict."

Serious commissioning editors of our media outlets should be just as vociferous in trying to persuade documentary makers to choose a more imaginative topic or at least try a change of tack. Perhaps something that really bucks the trend and promotes an unusual and seldom-seen angle - a documentary on ordinary Israelis doing normal things.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

TWAJ: Actions and words

What does this time of year mean for the Jewish community? Of course it's the moment when we reflect on the year and our misdeeds, and resolve to try harder the next year, if Hashem in his wisdom and mercy grants us a place in the Book of Life. But just as we repent as a community for the sins of the individual, what more can we pledge to do as a community and carry out as individuals?

Rabbi G unwittingly went a long way to explaining the malaise in Diaspora Jewry during a drasha on Rosh Hashanah. In answering a question from Freedmanslife reader "Sweden", he said:

"In the days of the Temple, worship and religious practice were very different. There were fewer words and much more action. Today, the opposite is true; more words and less action."

This sums up brilliantly the difficulties we face today, in a religion that has evolved so much that it is almost unrecognisable from its origins. Even if the Temple were reinstated and every Jew in the world found his way to Israel, we would not return to this. I'm not wholly in favour of doing so, as I'm not a fan of animal sacrifices, whirling chickens above my head, sending goats into the desert to die etc.

But this doesn't mean that we should replace the very physical with mere abstracts, recollections of our past. In the same way as we have evolved the content of our prayer, the context has changed too. We live in an ever more secularising society, one which in the UK at least has become rather nihilistic. In a future posting, TWAJ will look at what it means to be a "light unto the nations" but suffice to say that in this period of repentance and introspection, we should all be thinking about what our communities can do to demonstrate some higher moral values and how we as individuals should espouse them in our daily lives.

In the coming year, TWAJ will not just be a dumping ground for new ideas, but will form a cohesive and structured plan for action on how to transform Anglo-Jewry into the community we - and the country as a whole, though perhaps they don't know it yet - want and need it to be.

Hopefully this will be the year when the institutional talking-shops of our community stop with the platitudes and start with the hard decisions. Let's have a Board of Deputies led by someone the community actually voted for. Let's have a Chief Rabbi who can be articulate and inspiring without the dayanim censoring him. Let's have a UJIA that trusts the recipients of its funds to invest according to their own preferences, not a spin-doctored secret masterplan. Let's have a United Synagogue that dispenses with outdated practices with no halachic grounding. Let's have a BICOM and a community that stands up for Israel, pro-actively, publicly, proudly.

Above all, let's as individuals stop talking about how bad it all is and start acting to make it better.


This posting is in memory of Jonny Fraser, who showed that actions speak louder than words.

Monday, October 03, 2005

New Year's Day

Just a quick posting to wish all Freedmanslifers a happy new year. Slacking off on the whole card thing so just click here for some light entertainment...

Also a quick plug for a new international initiative. In the near future the first issue of an international Jewish student magazine will be published by WUJS. We are looking for talented student writers around the world to participate in this project. If you or anyone you know might be interested, please email Yuval here.

For the first issue we are looking for articles on the following topics:
- Inter-faith/inter-religion
- Israel
- Student issues like: human rights, ecology, struggling students etc
- Jewish culture

All articles should relate in some way to Jewish students around the world.

Finally, a New Year greeting from avid Freedmanslife reader, Mr A. Sharon from Jerusalem:

"Dear Friends,

As we stand at the dawn of a New Year, I send you my best wishes for a happy New Year from Jerusalem, the eternal and united capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

The Jewish people have a long and unique history. We have overcome long periods of persecution and suffering, while at the same time achieving many magnificent and important accomplishments – the modern and vibrant State of Israel being the greatest of those.

In its short history, the State of Israel has faced many challenges. Through the good times and the bad, our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora have always stood beside us and sustained us. My Government firmly believes in strengthening the ties between the Diaspora and the State of Israel, and is working to achieve that goal. We consider your support and commitment to be an invaluable asset in our efforts to safeguard Israel’s vital interests.

The past few months have not been easy for the citizens of Israel. However, I believe that we will emerge from this experience united, and that Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state will be strengthened.

Together with you, we look forward with hope and optimism.

I wish us all a New Year of peace and quiet, health, prosperity and happiness. I hope that you will celebrate the coming year with us here in Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people.

Shana Tova, and hatima tova.

Arik"

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Galloway helps support American troops!

A guest spot from Freedmanslife aficionado Roark... firstly, please click on this link to the full picture and have a good read. Roark picks up the story on why it's no longer listed on Ebay:

"It was shut down because "it had links". Which is a bullshit technicality. Perhaps one of the many pissed off parties filed a complaint. The irony is, they shouldn't have been able to because their accounts should have been canceled for bidding 9 million dollars and openly expressing the intent not to pay.

Oh, or the death threat still saved on MydotEbay. But their accounts are still active and in good standing. While having a nonprof auction with links to articles pertaining to the idea is a grave grave violation. One that didn't even warrant a warning or a chance to revise.

Also, somehow in the response process, I got sucked into EbayUK, rather than regular old ebay. So I'm replying to EbayUK about UK Galloway supporters snuffing out the auction. Hence no response whatsoever to any of my questions, or complaints.


*Update:* I just got an email from someone in the UK who is taking credit for having it shut down. Which is odd, because someone else in the UK just took credit for it moments ago. What does this remind you of?

So it appears that there are two ebay users, lucylola1982 and jayjaychef75@aol.com aka chef185 who appears to be from the UK, are not only sending me endless streams of hate mail for "having a charity to support people who kill women and children for a living", they've bid almost 10 million dollars, that's right, and admitted that its purpose is to derail the auction by not paying. Not only have they found my auction "disgusting", which is quite the compliment coming from those who find suicide bombers as glorious, but they have also expressed to me their wish for every American and British soldier to find their end in Iraqi soil.

This is precisely why this auction exists. To take the words out of mouths of people like them - people who think themselves humanitarians, and have them blow a gasket upon realizing we just made them humanitarians.

Their bids will be retracted by ebay and their accounts probably "martyred". Upon entrance to heaven, they will be greeted with 72 ebay accounts of the feminine persuasion that have never been used.

Had I suspected they even have a bucket to pee in, I would allow them to win and sue them. But people who have things to lose, would know exactly why Iraq cannot be handed to fascists. Wouldn't you agree?

Best, Raf [roark!]

PS Love your Israel posts"