Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The business of war, the war of business

Israel is a place full of conundrums and contradictions, not least when it comes down to commerce. I am privileged to do business with some of the country's finest, as well as a plethora of wealthy and staunchly Zionist Diaspora Jews.

Some interesting thoughts have occurred to me in the past couple of weeks, as I am in the middle of constructing a deal between an Israeli investor and an Irish property development group. I have especially enjoyed the wonderful way in which Irish blarney has met Israeli chutzpah at the meeting table.

One outcome is that we decided to set up an Israeli-Irish venture (in the words of the Irishman, "imagine the trouble we'll be in when we get Israeli blarney and Irish chutzpah", and the Israeli response of "do they do Gaelic-Ivrit dictionaries?"). This would compete with Candy & Candy, and we all agreed should therefore be called Sukariah & Milchon. Make use of said Gaelic-Ivrit dictionary to translate that one...

On a serious note, what I have found from negotiations with Israelis (and the words of warning from my Tel Aviv & Jerusalem relatives about not wasting effort trying to do business there) is that there is a zero-sum attitude. If he gets a win out of it, then by definition I have either lost or at least not won by as much as I could have, which for me feels like a loss. So the objective of any business deal is to ensure I not only demonstrably come out on top, but that my adversary knows he has been squashed like an Iranian nuclear reactor (oh, that's next year's simile of choice, sorry).

This makes for a rather aggressive and uncomfortable final round of negotiations, a far cry from the jollities of breakfast meetings at the Cinnamon Club (the only place in London with a kedgeree even close to a par with Freedman's own). Ultimately, it also destroys trust, removes any possibility of repeat business (especially when the non-Israeli firm has been screwed so far into the ground it might go bust), and more often than not simply blows the deal anyway. Then the Israeli has also missed an opportunity - but at least gets to boast about how stupid the other guy was and how badly it will all work out for him for not taking the deal on offer.

Now Israeli business uses this skill to grab the second spot in the whole world as a hub for venture capital investment. In that market, it is predatory and the idea is either to ruthlessly exploit companies in distress or undervalued, or to seize total control of the newbies whilst leaving enough fat in the deal for the PhD'd inventors to feel incentivised to make money for the MBA'd investors.

Even then, there is substantially more money floating around than so-called "good" deals to put it into. This might be in part because non-Israeli companies seeking friendly investment run a mile when the Ramat Gan VC shark comes snaffling in their direction. It's also because everyone in Israel is looking for what elsewhere in the Middle East is called baksheesh but in the Holy Land, where the trend is bizarrely edging towards three-piece suits and ties, it is called "professional fees", "raising charges" or "consultancy".

In English, I call it "backhander" or perhaps more precisely "money for nothing, demanded by lazy, greedy, arrogant, pig-headed men in glass-clad towers, who give Jews in commerce a bad name."

A good example - about two years ago, I had some very brief exclusivity on a £460m piece of commercial real estate in London fall into my lap. After getting some London institutions interested in the deal as the debt providers, I needed to find a nice equity investor but was heading to Tel Aviv for Pesach. Knowing a couple of well-placed Israelis in said glass-clad Ramat Gan skyscrapers, I set up some meetings.

First time lucky, one of them tells me he knows the perfect company to make such an investment, who are on the lookout for trophy buildings in London. Of course, there is the small matter of fees, he says. No problem, say I: there is plenty to go round, I have an agreement for 0.25% of the transaction value (at that time $2m), which I will gladly split with you.

The guy snorted and said he was looking for an introductory fee of 4%, and didn't I know this was typical in Israel? I explained that no introduction was worth $35m to the vendor, so he brought the meeting to an abrupt end and I left.

A year later, I had a similar experience with a lawyer who wanted me to find an investor for a major European football club. Before he could even tell me who the club was or how he was involved in the transaction, I had to sign a fee agreement for 4% (maybe it is typical in Israel, I thought). Now a bit older and wiser, I said I would sign whatever he put in front of me, on the understanding that at a later date, I would take great pleasure in un-signing it.

He asked me what this meant, and I explained that should it become a deal-breaker with the buyer I brought, or if it were to contravene any law or regulation in the UK, USA, Israel or the country where the club was, I would simply rip it up in his face, and they would all have to renegotiate if they wanted to complete the deal.

After picking himself up from under his desk, and having a glass of cold water to get over the shock of a non-Israeli being so brash, he agreed. It later transpired of course that there was a broker chain as long as my mother's Tesco bill, a whole load of indiscreet baksheesh to pay, a football club with no real idea how to run itself or create a viable deal for a solid Western investor, and a whole load of Israelis making everything even more undeliverable through a refusal to step aside and let me do the work.

Irony of ironies on both these deals: the London commercial space later sold for £520m but my chance of making it work had long gone, and the football club remains unsold and sliding into bankruptcy and disrepair to this day.

Compare the confrontational way that Israel does business with the way Israel has come to run its wars. Gone are the days of pre-emptive and ruthless surgical air strikes, land wars conducted swiftly with waves of fast tanks and long-range foot missions, and clever removals of our enemies through exploding mobile phones and car headrests.

Instead what we have is a row of calamitous decisions that are governed by international diplomatic requirements and domestic political pressures before translating into poor battlefield decisions. At the end, we beat our breasts over whether we won or lost, and at all times seek to appease everyone, usually managing to offend them all to some extent.

Israel needs to succeed in war and peace. Hence it is about time it learned that business is NOT a zero-sum game: both sides should come away feeling like they got a win out of it. And more important to their immediate survival, they should understand that war IS a zero-sum game, at least in the Middle East. Whilst Israel clearly did not win outright against Hizballah, it also did not lose militarily.

But that is enough to give Israel's enemies the confidence to come back harder and push their luck further. The ham-fisted methods used, whilst we all know they were manipulated and exploited by the international press and Hizballah, have created many more enemies and caused doubts amongst our allies. So by not winning, I think we can assume to have lost.

The only thing that stands between the Arab world and international isolation is oil. Let's be honest: apart from a handful of enarques in France, members of the Camel Corps in Whitehall, and a few Beltway antisemites, nobody wants to deal with them, and nobody would have a need to if the black stuff ran out tomorrow. A combination of OPEC cartel wizardry keeping the price in a range low enough to disincentivise the search for replacements but high enough to rake in the petrodollars, and the veiled threat by the ruling elites that terrorism could "slip out of control" at any time (ie they can turn a blind eye), keeps everyone face-down in the trough of the Persian Gulf.

The only thing that stands between Israel and international isolation is... what, exactly?

I would argue that a withdrawal of half the world's Intel computer chips, a bundle of the best drugs against cancer and other medical nasties, agricultural knowledge that could make Africa bloom, and stunning women like Bar Refaeli and Natalie Portman, might cause some pretty big problems.

So in the same way as the Arab world has used its grip on oil to protect its relationships with the rest of the world, Israel should look to business as a means of forging links. In the last year, Warren Buffett and Donald Trump have made huge investments there. Ryanair even think it's worth flying in (I can't wait for Michael O'Leary to achieve his preferred 20-minute turnarounds at Ben Gurion, let alone enforce the baggage size policy).

But to do that, they need to show that the country is able to protect itself (and hence any investment therein) robustly and swiftly when attacked, at the same time as showing that it can create win-win situations, both politically and economically with its neighbours, and on a business-to-business level with its international counterparts.

Israel has earned plaudits from its friends for its innovation and industry against staggering odds, and even a grudging respect from its neighbours and enemies. It has paid its dues on that respect many times over. How effectively it invests the balance will determine future yields.

Monday, December 25, 2006

He's back!

So, the holidays are upon us, I'm home alone, and feeling inspired to recapture the peaks of Freedmanslife (summer last year) when 1,000 people a month - yes, that's right - were reading the wisdom of the Podger from Pinner.

But what to write? Sadly, ennui has set in, for both author and reader. Fighting the good fight is supposed to be an altruistic thing, where I plough on feeding out opinions on everything from Anti-capitalism to Zionism (perhaps the bookends of that spectrum contain a root cause). But finding new things to say, and getting no response, is rather a tedious monologue. Easy as it is to assume everyone agrees with me, the more logical conclusion is that my readership is down to the bare bones.

So here is the rescue plan. Incidentally I have recently applied this methodology to my professional and personal lives. Businessmen worldwide are being cowed into doing fair deals that actually work, and women are being shamed into seeing beyond my portly exterior and loving the man inside.

The fact that I am still writing this in casa parentalis should not distract either the businessmen or the women from considering a successful relationship. So as I was saying, here is the recovery programme:

- Readers will be attracted back to the glories of Freedmanslife through the increased shock value of the content to be published here over the festive season (by the way, this will include a dangerous rant about bland multicultural terminology). We wish to assure all readers that this does not represent the "tabloidisation" of Freedmanslife, except in the way that the Guardian and Independent got even more rancid when they shrunk, which was a response to dwindling readership. Therein lies a canny parallel.

- We are also going to feature more guest postings from Freedmansmum and perhaps even a contribution from Freedmansdad. Loyal readers are also welcome to submit articles of their own or that they see elsewhere. Note that wishy-washy pandering claptrap will probably end up on the cutting-room floor. We're not going after the readers of Time magazine.

- There will be some more personal content here, which is a return to the origins of Freedmanslife, back when it was a mere Yahoo Group and blogging was just a twinkle in the eye of some Silicon Valley stoners and/or nerdy Harvard grads. Women who fail to reject your author gracefully enough (now now, that's very negative, some might not reject me at all) will make a cryptic appearance - you have been warned.

That's about it. We shall see whether I can regain my writer's mojo in the next few weeks, otherwise I can just do what all the other great internet behemoths do and get Google to buy me out...

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas carol for the New Europe

Here follows a short and rather un-PC Christmas carol for the New Europe. This year we have experienced a level of pandering beyond the wildest dreams of the Taleban. Anyone who stands up against this is shouted down as an extremist or racist, but I think there is a basic problem that remains unaddressed. People have responsibilities that go alongside rights. They must live underneath the law that protects them and expect it to be used in their favour and against them according to how they behave.

The hypocrisy and cynical exploitation of their position by both the extreme so-called fringes of the British Muslim community, as well as - if not more so - by the so-called moderate political leadership, is met with a wall of slient acquiescence, or even assistance. The more we buckle to an agenda that runs counter to the national good, the more this agenda is pushed and made more extreme. We have a precedent for what might happen next, but this is different and more insidious. The Nazis lived in Germany, and subverted an entire nation. Now we have a community within a community within a community, subverting firstly their co-religionists, and then entire national agendas, one by one. Where do we think it will end? They are pretty clear about that; they want us to change or die.

First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People. Remember that.



Catholics roasting on an open fire,
Jack Straw's dripping bloody nose,
Yuletide carols causing Muslim ire,
Sharia law they would impose.

Everybody knows in Turkey they will overthrow,
Help to make the region right.
Synagogues with their aisles all aglow,
Jews find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Allah's on his way;
He's goaded lots of boys in hoodies on to slay.
And every Muslim child is going to try,
To sit on trains here, blow up and die.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-four,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas no more

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Count to 10, bait the Jew

I am confused. I'm sure it's the evil Zioneoconazi IDF who are supposed to be the child-killers. Guess what happened yesterday must have been a "false flag" operation, just like in true-to-life BBC series Spooks.

Meanwhile, I notice that 4 people were injured in a shoot-out at a rally against increasing lawlessness in Gaza. Does anyone else see the irony?

Anyway, I promise to get back into the swing of writing shortly, it's been a busy few weeks and I note that my dear readers have been maintaining a respectful silence on this (ie don't really miss me, boo hoo)...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The First Rule Of Flight Club...

Did you hear the one about the six imams on a plane? Well, I won't ruin the punchline for you, but I think this tells the story quite nicely...


Thursday, November 30, 2006

This is why...

After yesterday's posting, a first hat tip to Garlic-Breath for this:




This is why I post even when I feel like a lone voice, and this is why we will prevail.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Freedmanslife in torpor

I was wondering to myself this morning, why have my postings here on Freedmanslife become so sporadic recently? I am just as opinionated as ever. Whilst I am busy, I always find time to write. Ratings have been pretty good since getting back in the swing of things a few weeks ago. But I have come to realise I am too depressed about the state of the world to try and fight it any more.

I feel like it's just me, "Mad Mel" Phillips, the green lizards at LGF and a handful of other Cassandras, howling against the wind. That wind used to be a gentle breeze, carrying with it the waft of unwashed lefties and the occasional Lenor-soft chador, but now it seems to be a gale that brings a hail of so-called respectable academics, journalists, politicians and religious leaders, augmented daily by the assorted muck blown from the gutters who take the route of appeasement, or ignorance - feigned or real.

Anyway, I made a list a couple of weeks ago, on topics to post about, and it keeps growing larger.

Why does the world hate us? Why are people so damn stupid? Why do I turn on the radio (ok, it is BBC Five Live so I should know what to expect) and hear thick white bread morons arguing with woolly liberal twits about how mobile phone masts cook their brains, how "British values" are to be fought for, but not if it offends any Musslims, and generally bleat without coming up with radical and constructive solutions? The answer to everything is how Blair is this, that and the other, and it would all be ok if we got out of Iraq.

Here's that list in full (well, shorthand):

Red Ken and Venezuela
midnight spooky girl
funny photos
one-itis (FPL)
end of Leb War
England football
JC weekly analysis
Paul Hunter
Independent uranium libel
Israel problem - heart, soul, body
Miller wedding
Tel Aviv regeneration
Expanding Jerusalem
TWAJ UJS
TWAJ Pinner Shul
TWAJ United Syn
TWAJ faith schools
the still, small voice
milblogs weekly
Iraq and the exit
"normal" Israel posting
Peru blog, photos
French airport workers
BNP whites/IDS school failures
gambling laws

Anyone want to suggest some more, or request me to stop my bitchin' and actually write on one of these in particular?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The war within the west

Melanie Phillips at her best, building on an equally excellent article from Front Page:

Savage piece about British antisemitism by David Gutmann, who draws on his first-hand World War Two experience to make the bitter charge:

The Brits don’t mind seeing Jews killed, but they are fastidious about it, generally leaving the dirty business to others. Thus, as I charge, they indirectly abetted the Nazi Holocaust, and then stood by while the Palestinians attempted with less success to continue it.

It appears that the game is afoot once again, with the task no longer out-sourced to Palestinians alone, but to the much larger body of radical Islamists now piling into Britain, all eager for the treat. The Brits still limit themselves to talk, but from all accounts, the chatter in the trendiest salons, at party congresses both of the Left and the Right, at A-List dinner parties and scholarly gatherings, has become obsessively, fiercely anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and at times frankly anti-Semitic, to the point where the received and conventional wisdom has it that Israel has no right to exist, and should be eliminated. Again, this genocidal act will presumably be left to radical Islam, or to Iran’s nukes, while the British gentlefolk avert their eyes - or in a few cases, feast them… Along with the rest of what is now being called ‘Eurabia,’ the Brits are soothing the Muslims among them by acts of appeasement. In 1938, they bought a year of peace by offering Czechoslovakia to Hitler; now, for a temporary peace, they offer Muslims a piece of the Jews who are like the unlucky passenger tossed from the sled to appease the ravening wolves.

And the ravening wolves are certainly now gathering for the kill, in Britain and around the so-called civilised world. The systematic demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel has now reached such a point in our post-rational discourse that Israel is being openly blamed as the cause of global Islamic terrorism. The country that is a principal target of the jihad is being accused of causing the jihad.

A UN-sponsored group, the Alliance of Civilizations, created last year to find ways to reconcile Muslim and western societies, has said that the conflict over Israel and the Palestinian territories is the principal grievance driving such tensions.

Our emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not meant to imply that it is the overt cause of all tensions between Muslim and Western societies. Nevertheless, it is our view that the Israeli- Palestinian issue has taken on a symbolic value that colors cross cultural and political relations … well beyond its limited geographic scope.

Well, the reason it has taken on such a disproportionate status is that reports like this one dwell upon the alleged crimes of Israel and America – the victims of Islamic aggression — while minimising the actual crimes committed by the Palestinians or Arab or Muslim governments. But then, what can you expect from the global club of terror that is the UN? True to form, UN Secretary-General lost no time drawing the appropriate lesson from this report. Religion, he said, was not at the root of current tensions.

‘The problem is not the Koran or the Torah or the Bible,’ Mr Annan said. ‘The problem is never the faith, it is the faithful and how they behave towards each other.’

Is that so? Presumably, when Islamic jihadis scream ‘Behead the infidel’, ‘Remember Khybar’ (where the Koran celebrates the massacre of Jews) or ‘Allahu akhbar’ as they strap on the explosives to conquer the world for Islam, this is nothing to do with faith. Presumably, when imams and ayatollahs declare it is a religious duty to destroy the Zionist-Crusader entity, this is nothing to do with faith. He’s right about one thing, though: the problem is nothing to do with the Christian faith or the Jewish faith in whose name no violence is being perpetrated (and to any Jew-baiters who start enumerating the crimes of Israel, please try a little harder to grasp the moral difference between the attempt to exterminate the Jewish nation and the attempt of the Jewish nation to defend itself against extermination); it’s nothing to do with any faith except one, a little detail that seems to have escaped the UN Secretary-General’s notice.

And of course, the UN’s Alliance of Civilisations panel itself was not exactly stacked with the defenders of civilisation. It included, for example, Nobel peace prize winner (heaven help us) Desmond Tutu and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. Would that be the Mohammad Khatami who has compared Hezbollah – the ‘Party of God’ which presumably has nothing to with faith either and which is pledged to exterminate Israel and defeat the west — to ‘a shining sun which warms up all oppressed Muslims’?

Would that be the Desmond Tutu who in the Guardian in 2002 said people should not be scared of the ‘powerful - very powerful’ Jewish lobby because:

The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust’

– and so looked forward to the day when Israel would ‘bite the dust’ too? Ashes from historical ashes, one might say. And nearer to home, in the Guardian again, Peter Preston agrees that the root of global terror is…guess who.

There is some fresh thinking around, to be sure. The source of the conflict here is not territory, not occupation, not settlers. It is a clash between two people and two religions…But these are the malign thoughts of the new power kid on the block, Avigdor Lieberman, deputy prime minister of Israel and passionate advocate of ethnically cleansing his adopted land. Meanwhile, dozens more Palestinians die while the enfeebled government that needs Lieberman inside the tent shells Gaza day after day. Whoops! Nineteen more women and children killed by accident. So sorry … Let’s talk equality, freedom, justice and tolerance. We pretend that withdrawing from Afghanistan or Iraq will do the hearts-and-minds trick. We pretend (with America’s triumphant Democrats as the worst offenders, alas) that Israel can somehow be set to one side while the al-Qaida terror debate rages. We kid ourselves that a Middle East solution - permanent, guaranteed and enforced - is separate and optional. It isn’t.

No mention of the fact that Israelis are being rocketed almost every day from Hamastan, or that they have amassed a fearsome armoury in Gaza of rocket launchers, missiles, ammunition and all the appurtenances of an professional war. No mention of the fact that the Palestinians are now being trained by Iran, all the better to finish Israel off. No acknowledgement at all of the fact that Israel is under attack by enemies sworn to annihilate it, and that its attacks on Gaza are part of a war of self-defence – and that tragic mistakes almost inevitably occur even in just wars. Yes, Avigdor Lieberman has repellent views and his presence in Israel’s government is a blot on that country (and also testimony to its suicidally dysfunctional form of democracy, which forces prime ministers to depend on cranks and misfits for their survival). But his views are not endorsed by that government.

And if we’re talking actual ethnic cleansing, how about the persecution of the Christians in Bethlehem, who have been driven out by Muslim aggression? How about the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries where they had lived for centuries before they were forced to flee to Israel? How about those passionate advocates of the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the face of the earth, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Nasrallah and Ismail Haniya?

Apparently deciding that when the head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, talked about the need to confront ‘the powerful narrative that weaves together conflicts from across the globe’ she didn’t understand that she herself was talking in code, Preston claims to know what she herself didn’t know she meant. A notable skill indeed. Thus, he writes, ‘the loose threads of this tapestry lead inescapably back to what she calls “Israel and Palestine”’. So Israel is the root cause of global Islamic terror.

Really? Do the core aims of al Qaeda to restore the medieval Muslim caliphate and call the infidel world to Islam lead inescapably back to Israel and Palestine? Do the ravings of Syed Qutb, the arch-ideologue of murderous Islamism who wrote well before Israel was created that the west was a conspiracy to destroy Islam, the Jews were the people of the devil and Muslims must recognise no secular authority whatever, lead inescapably back to Israel and Palestine? Do the Islamist attacks from Bali to Madrid to Chechnya to Indonesia to Nigeria, the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands and the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the murder and mayhem following the re-publication of the Mohammed cartoons, not to mention the 20-year genocide in Sudan, all lead inescapably back to Israel? Whoops – 40 civilians killed in Darfur in the last few days by Muslim Arab militiamen. So sorry…let’s talk moral outrage.

Yes, we damn well know where the causes lie: in genocidal religious totalitarianism. And we also damn well know that this is where the world divides: between those who will defend the civilised world against this monster, and those who seek to propitiate it by tossing it the remnant of the Jewish people that survived the last totalitarian genocide.

Into this sewer now stumbles none other than Prime Minister Tony Blair, determined that before he leaves office he will pull off his dream of solving Israel/Palestine. Convinced that he has the ability to persuade anyone of anything, his initiative exemplifies the greatest liberal hubris of all: the conviction that every problem in the world is driven by rational interests and is thus capable of peaceful and harmonious resolution if only the most gifted impresario of rationality in the world – one T Blair — gets involved. This fundamental delusion is causing Blair, a friend of Israel and famously a supporter of America and doughty defender of the west against attack, to put Israel, America and the west in great peril by tripping down the primrose path of appeasement. As the BBC tells us:

Tony Blair has told the US inquiry into future policy options that resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is crucial to the future of Iraq. He told the Iraq Study Group the biggest factor in getting support from moderate Muslim countries was progress on Israel and Palestine…Resolving the conflict would stop moderate Muslims being stirred up and increase pressure on Iran and Syria to co-operate, Mr Blair told the group.

But progress in the Israel/Palestine conflict depends on one thing and one thing alone: the Arabs deciding, after 58 years of trying to destroy Israel, that they will accept its existence. Progress on a Palestine state could have been made when such a state was first proposed in 1937; from 1948 to 1967 when the West Bank and Gaza were (illegally) occupied by Jordan and Egypt; in 2000, when more than 90 per cent of the disputed no-man’s land of the West Bank and Gaza was offered to the Palestinians. Instead at every juncture the response has been to refuse to build a Palestinian state and to try to destroy Israel instead. Israel gave up land, first in Sinai and then in Gaza, and got in return not peace but war. The half-century old attempt to destroy Israel is becoming more deadly by the day, as Israel is trapped between Hamastan and Hezbollahland, with Iran and Syria pulling the Palestinian strings and with the Arab world gaining fresh heart in pursuit of its long-term annihilatory fantasy by the perceived weakness and vacillation of America and Britain.

So progress in Israel and Palestine cannot, on any rational analysis, mean further movement by Israel. The price of ‘support from moderate Muslim countries’ is therefore inescapably that Israel will be forced to make concessions to its mortal enemies and thus weaken it in its fight for its existence. It’s not support from ‘moderate Muslim countries’ that’s needed to deal with Iraq; it’s rather the strategic vision that Iraq is merely one theatre in a global war, and that it can never be pacified unless and until Iran and /Syria are dealt with. Asking Iran and Syria to come and help run Iraq is not merely asking the foxes to administer the hen-coop; it is advertising the terrible weakness of America and the west. With the advance rumours of the Iraq Study Group’s thinking and Blair’s evidence to it, the Islamists’ driving belief that the west is decadent and has no stomach for the fight that is necessary to defend itself is now being proved correct.

In his speech to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on Monday night, Mr Blair said partnership was possible if Iran helped the Middle East peace process, stopped supporting terrorism in Lebanon or Iraq and abided by its international obligations. This is like saying in 1939 that partnership with Germany would be possible if only Hitler stopped persecuting the Jews, renounced his goal of world domination and helped resolve the problem of Czechoslovakia.

History is repeating itself: the first time as tragedy, and the second time as tragedy.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

TWAJ: Aished!

Last week, Freedmansister and I went to an Aish Indian-themed dinner, with Geordie Boy, his housemate Geordwegie, and Phill the Greek. It was some experience.

After carefully disinviting himself for a home-cooked Friday night dinner at Freedmansister's Hendon residence by suggesting there was an Aish dinner on, Geordie Boy gave me the time and number to call to book tickets (paid for by Freedmansmum, who has a habit of shtipping for the right occasion). We showed up on time but he was nowhere to be seen - was it a clever ploy to make us go but then bunk off somewhere else?

So we tucked into the Indian reception snacks (onion pakoras, somosas and such like), washed down by sickly Bartenura (think Lambrini for yids), pausing only to laugh inwardly at the South African bwah who was delighted at the offering ("are heaven't head sommooossas four satch uh long tarm") and to escape the big scary intense people coming to introduce themselves, and chat loudly about the wonders of Aish.

Eventually Geordie Boy showed up, and we also bumped into Michael Gee (apparently this is now pronounced "Ghee"), who did a little magic show despite the impediment of a hostile section of the crowd, who have yet to get to the bit in their Aish curriculum about showing respect and carrying yourself with a mind to the impression you make as a Jew, even amongst Jews.

We moved onto an excellent dinner of chicken soup and chicken tikka, during which time we sat through a brief drasha from the Chabad rabbi of Dharamsala on "redemping ourselves", and noted the Aish version of the macher/JP crowd. It doesn't quite work with velvet kippot and tsniut-compliant skirts...

After dinner, we were scoffing ice cream and lychees when we were accosted by the sweet new Aish rabbi, who clearly had no idea that Freedman and Freedmansister were unlikely converts to the cult and were really just there because of the food. Still, nice chap, so he is exonerated from what I am about to say...

I categorise Aishniks into 4 groupings:

1. The semi-frummers for whom Aish is a social club, more interesting than the United Synagogue, less restrictive on looking at girls than the JLE, Ner Yisroel etc, slightly less intellectual (ie more suitable), and a good way of feeling quite cool when university jsoc never quite let them in. These are the backbone of the macher/JP in-crowd.

2. The canny occasional visitors like Freedmansister, Geordie Boy and I, who don't believe the rhetoric, are traditional enough to understand proceedings, and really just come for the cheap or free food, drink, entertainment and possibly the odd educational event because it's easier than organising it ourselves.

3. The transients who are sucked in, learn something about Judaism, perhaps even follow it Aish-zombie-like in the short term, before learning to think for themselves. They go away enlightened and enriched by the things they have found, but crave the need to go on their own journey, even if it is not a subsidised trip to Israel, South Africa or whatever the latest Aish marketing gem is. They might well keep less than in their "Aished" days but certainly much more than before.

4. The never-done-anythings who need to find solace in a colour-by-numbers form of Judaism where they can be spoon-fed superficial answers and rules to regurgitate later. These are the true "Aished", the brainwashed ones whose depth of knowledge is likely to remain so scant that, in his own immortal words, Freedmansdad has "forgotten more than they will ever know".

I have no general problem with kiruv work, and think groups 1-3 are all totally great. The issue I have is that fourth group of intellectually and emotionally vulnerable people, and unfortunately, these are really Aish's prime goal and constituency. The other groups boost numbers, bring funds, and act as useful conduits and committee members, so they are acceptable, but little has persuaded me so far that there is long-term good to be had in the existing approach to the last group.

In fact I know of several people who have come out of this state of Aished tunnel-vision with a bump - among others I know those who are now repulsed by organised Judaism, those who had a breakdown in relationships with family and friends (the classic being refusing to eat in their parents' house), and those who became obsessed with it all and went so meshugge that even Aish was no longer enough.

We spend enough time bitching about how Madonna's Kabbalah does not represent authentic Judaism, but I am not convinced that the overall Aish concept does either. Individual events and speakers, yes. General intensive kiruv sugar-coated with with slick marketing, big subsidies and a minimal requirement for independent thought, no. And I have been to enough events, seen enough of their educational work, visited the Aish yeshiva in Jerusalem, had enough anecdotal evidence from friends at various stages of the process, to make a judgement.

The worst part is, I think it is lazy kiruv. Getting people to sign up for orthodox Judaism should be tough, and it should be personal. It is about each individual's spiritual journey, and more often than not, another individual or a single moment that influences it. The Aish mentality is a constant bombardment of glitzy events, speakers and trips, which has the effect of being a mass conversion, hence the regular accusations of brainwashing and cultish behaviour, from which I do not demur.

So I would like to encourage Aish to continue their activities without that slightly too earnest, intense edge. Trust people to make their own minds up, and they can slip into the first three of those four groups. If they are in that final set, let their individuality come through, and don't be offended if it leads them somewhere else - most likely it will be into those other three crowds anyway. Forcing the issue makes an unnatural thing out of an evolutionary process.

Friday, November 10, 2006

An unlikely alliance

Here's an interesting couple of articles from Geostrategy-Direct which say something about what lies behind Muslim piety, the kind of leadership the US State Department likes in the Arab world, and the idea that for Sunnis, Jews are more palatable than Shiites...


Saudi rulers locked in power struggle over response to Iran threat

Saudi leaders cannot decide whether Iran is more of a threat than is Israel.

Saudi King Abdullah believes that Iran represents the greatest threat to the Gulf Arab kingdom and must be fought at any cost. The king regards Iran as intent on taking over the Sunni oil sheikdoms in the region, with Saudi Arabia being the biggest prize.

Abdullah sees Iran's leadership as intent on forming a Shi'ite arc that would dominate the Middle East and destroy the Sunni world. Already, Iran has in his view effectively taken over Iraq, Lebanon and Syria while making serious inroads in such countries as Bahrain, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

As a result, Abdullah wants to form an alliance with Israel and Jordan to prevent a Shi'ite takeover. The king's idea is for the three countries to cooperate against Iran both on its home court as well as in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. The United States could be counted upon to support such an alliance.

The king's half-brother, Crown Prince Sultan, opposes this strategy. Sultan has not ignored the Iranian threat, but he believes that Riyad must keep away from Israel at any cost and prepare other options against Iran. The crown prince is unclear about what those alternatives are.

At the bottom of the dispute rests a naked power struggle between the two elderly royals. Abdullah has appointed a commission to decide on succession and whether Saudi monarchs are fit to rule. This has frightened the ailing Sultan, who badly wants to succeed Abdullah and eventually transfer power to his eldest son.

The United States leans toward Sultan. The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that the crown prince, who is also defense minister, would take greater account of American interests than any other successor.

But a British Defense Ministry report provides a glimmer of insight into Sultan's character. In a cable written in the late 1980s from then-British Ambassador William Morris, Sultan was described as corrupt, "not highly intelligent, inflexible and imperious, and drives a hard bargain."


King disturbed by reports of orgies in Wahabi Saudi Arabia

As a modest and pious man, Abdullah has good reason for seeking major reforms in Saudi Arabia. The king has been hearing steady reports of a sharp decline in morals in the country.

An immediate danger is the breakdown of the Saudi family. Young Saudis are often forced into marriage by their elders. But once behind closed doors, there is no pretense of any commitment.

In Jeddah, the Mawadda Social and Family Reconciliation and Counseling Center has been processing requests for help from thousands of married couples on the verge of breaking up. The threat is not divorce, heavily frowned upon in the kingdom, but of the husband establishing a second home with a concubine or prostitute.

"Our youths are not, unfortunately, educated on the importance of leading a secure married life," said Hassan Al Shelabi, the center director. "While the parents are keen to give their children luxury homes, rich food and fashionable clothing they neglect to prepare the children for a healthy married life and being good husbands or wives."

Al Shelabi said his center has received reports of wife swapping, of husbands pressuring wives to sleep with their friends and of orgies. He said these requests reflect the influence of Western culture, easily accessible on satellite television or the Internet.

Not surprisingly, the disdain that young Saudi men have for marriage has led to a huge increase in single Saudi women. The Saudi men would rather use their spare time to play house with Western women in Europe or the United States rather than raise a family back home.

Abdullah regards this phenomenon as part of the corruption of Saudi life fueled by easy oil money that has wrecked traditional values of honesty and work.

With the price of oil steadily moving to $100 a barrel, the life for Saudi youngsters is expected to only get easier.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Who's macaca now?

Well, we at Freedmanslife are actually quite chuffed at the potential outcome of the American elections. Having watched Bush and cronies bringing Zioneoconservatism into disrepute through their gross overspending at home and underplanning abroad, they needed a bloody nose.

Also the Green Lizard fall-back position was 49 Republicans and 49 Democrats with 2 (Democrat-caucusing) independents in the Senate, one of whom was Joe Lieberman. Due to the quirks of the voting system, if there is a 50-50 tie - ie Joe switches on a particular issue as he has indeed said he would from time to time - then the Vice-President, old Dick Cheney, gets the casting vote.

I think there is a wonderful irony that after losing as Al Gore's running-mate back in 2000, Senator Joe, leader of the Jack Bauer Democrats, can effectively be the Vice-President for the next 2 years.

Even more pleasurable was watching the whole thing hinge on Virginia, home to the moronic George Allen, who blew his campaign as the Republican incumbent with his ludicrous remark on the stump, calling an Indian-American of dark complexion - filming his speech on behalf of the opposing candidate no less - "macaca".

So despite the claims from the moonbat fringe (ie some of the US Democratic left and most of Europe) that Chimpy McBushitler had rigged the voting machines, set up concentration camps to round up opponents, controlled the media and generally bought the electorate, we now have 2 years of stalemate to enjoy.

At the end of it, we at Freedmanslife are hoping for a consensus government - the dream team of McCain-Lieberman - to lead us to a new era of Zionist world rule...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Muhammad vs. Ali

An interesting article in this weekend's Sunday Times, "Bishop attacks 'victim' Muslims" - needs no further comment, except to see how the spinners will try and claim Nazir-Ali as being under the influence of the Zioneocon axis:

THE Church of England’s only Asian bishop, whose father converted from Islam, has criticised many Muslims for their “dual psychology”, in which they desire both “victimhood and domination”.

In the most outspoken critique of Muslims by a church leader, Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, said that because of this view it would never be possible to satisfy all their demands.

“Their complaint often boils down to the position that it is always right to intervene when Muslims are victims, as in Bosnia or Kosovo, and always wrong when the Muslims are the oppressors or terrorists, as with the Taliban or in Iraq,” said Nazir-Ali. “Given the world view that has given rise to such grievances, there can never be sufficient appeasement and new demands will continue to be made.”

The failure to counter such beliefs meant that radical Islam had flourished in Britain, spread by extremist imams indoctrinating children for up to four hours a day, he said.

Nazir-Ali added that rigorous checks, from which the government had retreated in face of Muslims’ protests, should be imposed to ensure that arriving clerics were committed to the British way of life.

“Characteristic British values have developed from the Christian faith and its vision of personal and common good,” said the bishop in an interview with The Sunday Times.

“After they were clarified by the enlightenment they became the bedrock of our modern political life. These values need to be recovered to help us to inculcate the virtues of generosity, loyalty, moderation and love.”

Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan and whose father converted from Islam to Catholicism, said radical Islam was being taught in mosque schools across Britain. “While radical teaching may not be happening everywhere, its presence is felt across the country. It affects all Muslims,” he said.
“The two main causes of the present situation [rising extremism] are fundamentalist imams and material on the internet.” He proposed to filter out imams who might whip up extremism: “They must be vetted for appropriate qualifications, they must have a reasonable knowledge of the English language and they must take part in a recognised process of learning about British life and culture.”

The government, after lobbying from Muslim groups, retreated from proposals to toughen entry requirements put forward by David Blunkett, the former home secretary, two years ago. Plans to require foreign clerics to sit a test on British civic values a year after arriving were cancelled along with the introduction of a requirement to speak English to conversational level. Nazir-Ali also criticised women wearing veils that cover the whole face. Tony Blair called the full veil a “mark of separation”, but Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said any curbs on wearing it would be “politically dangerous”.

Nazir–Ali drew attention to a “huge increase” in the wearing of Muslim dress in Egypt, Malaysia and Pakistan, saying that in Britain there were circumstances where the full veil should not be worn: “I can see nothing in Islam that prescribes the wearing of a full-face veil. In the supermarket those at the cash tills need to be recognised. Teaching is another context in which society requires recognition and identification.”

Nazir-Ali, 57, was born a Catholic in Karachi, converted to Protestantism and was received into the Church of Pakistan at 20. He settled in Britain in the 1980s and became the youngest bishop in the world at 35. Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said his comments were not “very helpful for community relationships”.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Heading for the drop

Well, the bookies stopped taking bets many months ago, but today it was confirmed that Saddam will swing in the next 3 months or so. Even Tony Blair has mixed views on whether this is such a bright idea, but on the whole, I am rather a fan of capital punishment for proven genocidal maniacs.

Of course, we have had to put up with the usual raft of ridiculous assertions, such as "Bush and Cheney should be on the gallows with him, then we will have calm in Iraq / world peace / a cure for AIDS / food for all Africa", and of course plenty of whining about whether it was a "fair trial".

Now, I too have my doubts that the trial was perfect.

Firstly it was a foregone conclusion - we know beyond doubt that lots of bad stuff happened in Iraq during three decades or so of Saddam rule, and that there was no way in an authoritarian state that he could have had no knowledge or involvement. That inherently made the whole thing a show trial, to prove that a modicum of due process had been performed before killing the old bastard off.

Secondly, the trial was disrupted by threats, violence and murder perpetrated against key witnesses, lawyers and courtroom officials by various sectarian groups.

Thirdly, there were political motives from American anti-war activists to turn this into as much of a farce as possible. Why was Ramsay Clark there? Did he really believe in Saddam's innocence? Does his record as American attorney-general indicate that he genuinely wanted justice for Saddam, with no malicious intent to make the Bush administration look incompetent or impotent?

All in all, I think the Americans, much like they have everything else, showed an appalling lack of foresight and planning. I had no problem with the concept of going into Iraq, whether for WMD, democratisation or even to stabilise oil supply and taking out a genocidal maniac en route, but the aftermath has been shambolic. The same applies here - having decided not to just shoot the guy whilst resisting arrest, they needed to get the trial going quickly and efficiently, with some transparency and security for those involved.

Anyway, here we are, and we have to now respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi courts. If they decide he is guilty and should be executed, that is their choice, and the consequences should be on them. Claims that the outcome was chosen by the coalition forces are obvious bunk, purely because they will be forced to stay all the longer if the repercussions are bad.

Still, the timing for the eve of the US mid-terms is quite excellent, but I suspect it will not be enough to save the GOP from a big defeat. Frankly, they deserve one, for their mishandling of the post-war period, not to mention their domestic overspending, corruption scandals and the other ethically repulsive behaviour of senior party members. It remains to be seen if the Democrats are any better...

Monday, November 06, 2006

BBC drops a bomb

The Beeb are running a headline on their website right now entitled "Female bomber strikes Gaza town". Even by their own perverse standards, this is the most rotten piece of manipulation, as it clearly implies that someone has attacked the Palestinians, presumably an Israeli woman.

Of course it turns out that this was a Palestinian suicide bomber who blew herself up as she approached IDF troops on an operation in northern Gaza to flush out the firers of Qassam rockets on Israeli civilians over the border.

The BBC continues its ever more contrived efforts to manipulate headlines and create an impression to the casual reader of Israeli onslaughts on the poor, defenseless, innocent Palestinians. It should be no surprise that Freedmanslife believes the Beeb makes itself a target for Israel to neutralise, as it seems to relish its role as a tool of propaganda for Hamas.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A day in the life of Freedmansmum

A guest spot from Freedmansmum...

Very honoured to be invited to blog – whatever that means. I must be too old to know as I am Freedman’s Mum. Anyway thought I’d tell you all about a typical day in my exciting life.

Wake up earlier than required, around 0445, can’t get back to sleep due to noise emanating from my right so decide to visit Tesco before my swim to buy a few bits. Remember to put on mobile phone as they say I never have it on in Tesco - no one rings.

This is good use of time and it is always quiet that time of day although I am amazed how many people are actually around then. Shall it be Hayes (chavs) - fancy me knowing that word - or Perivale (toffs and Poles)? Decide down-market today and nearer to swimming pool. Get there at 0515 and pick up a few things - can’t understand why the bill is like £150 but console myself with the thought like that it is lots of Tesco points - cool. Continuing in chav mode - pay cash for a few more bits so accountant I am sleeping with doesn’t get the full picture of my trip – after all I was a VAT inspector where I gained a useful expertise at concealing transactions.

Arrive at the Pool at 0630. Turn phone off – no point having it on in the locker. The usual suspects are congregated outside. So relaxing to start the day unaccompanied by my co-religionists who would be looking at my flab, bad skin, cheap costume, scruffy towel and telling EVERYONE. Ponjos (Freedmanslife word) are so much more accepting of people as they find them. Lovely swim once the Olympic turn and large guy have finished - I always find it better swimming with water in the pool. No time to steam today as I must get home to unload the shopping and do some work.

Another decision to take - shall I wear make up or risk being seen without? Decide to wear it only to ensure I don’t get any unplanned meetings with co religionists or interviewees today besides which the window cleaner might come and I must look my best for him. Don’t bother to turn phone on as I am going home.

Race home, making sure I obey husband’s instructions not to let out any 4 x 4 vehicles, and after 3 attempts (feeling a bit tired by now) back the car into the garage without scraping the wing mirrors and unload. Husband and Prince are still asleep so do it all on my own but hot (sorry, boot) up my work computer as I will never get online if I don’t do it early.

Complete the fiendish sudoku over a small breakfast and a lot of cups of tea then attempt the Deadly killer to show the Prince my brain cell is working. Sadly it is not but I am in training/therapy. 0900 and my work phone rings - I am so important they call early – will it be a special request to interview the Prime Minister today?. No, it is the Princess also at work early - she won’t like this but I can see she is turning into me. We converse about the foibles of the Civil Service and conclude that we love our work and it is the best employer. Once I have remembered where I put the bit of paper with the code I transfer funds to her account to “help” her with whatever she wanted to do but could not afford.

Notice I have an email from my manager. It is another “joke” in the team spirit and a request to help a colleague complete his expenses on line as he is having problems. Well what to do you expect from an ex-cop? I phone him and we have a teamly moan then I identify his problem - yes me over a certain age and can do expenses online - I sometimes amaze myself. Decide I had better fix some interviews and find no one can do when I want and one wants this afternoon only. I hurry up and start typing my work from yesterday as I am now losing a few hours today.

10 minutes go by and the phone rings. It is my boss (husband) asking me to post 2 letters he has forgotten. Back to the typing when Prince appears - I admonish him for his 5 day stubble , he shouts at me, winds me up over not doing the sudoku which he then completes in 2 minutes then opens his post and finds a premium bond win. There is no justice.

Back to the typing when the phone rings. HQ want me to do a rush job. Is it OK to send it? I can hardly say no. The interviewee is in London tomorrow only. It is OK, I say; I don’t have a personal life, I don’t say. Type some more then realise I need lunch. Go to the fridge and find the smoked salmon I had been looking forward to has gone. Berate the Prince only to find it was his Dad.

Back to the office, gather the work bag and rush out - good job I wore make up today although disappointed to miss the window cleaner. Put on the mobile on the way home but can’t see the point as I have to leave it in the boot. It rings 4 times and eventually I think it must be an emergency so stop the car to answer it. 4 missed calls. Number withheld. Switch it off.

Back home and as I come through the door the work phone rings. Do they have a tracking system unbeknown to me? No it is my Mother. Spend 10 minutes listening, guilt trip that I work and have not enough time to give her the help she really needs then realise I do the job to avoid having to give her more time.

Back to work – the special request has come through. Printer jams so I use brute force but still it won’t work. Beg the prince to rescue me - he does - I will never criticise his stubble again - I am so glad he won a premium bond - he deserves some luck.

Phone rings - gosh I am really popular today. No it is husband reminding me he has a meeting tonight so can we eat promptly at 7. Give up work and go in the kitchen. Start supper and realise there is no cake in the tin. What will the gardeners say tomorrow, supposing someone calls unexpectedly? Rustle up a cake, do a small supper and read the paper.

Feeling a bit tired now so eat a small quantity (8 squares) of Green and Blacks ginger chocolate. Husband comes in last minute, we bolt our dinner, I clear up as husband must do his things before going out and Prince has an urgent conference call with Timbuktu to discuss a pile of ……

2030 I finally finish work for the day. Peruse the TV programmes for after 2100 and find nothing to watch. Have another attempt at deadly sudoku - fail so eat more Green and Blacks. Go to bedroom to watch news and almost nod off. Phone rings - I have won a prize holiday so long as I want to hear about a time share and spend £40. No thanks.

Husband returns and regales me with exciting events from his meeting, asks why the Tesco bill is so big and has a whisky to get over it. Notice I have dropped off for 20 minutes and have not been paying attention. Miss the bit where he says he won’t be home for dinner tomorrow.

It has been a good day - no one got ill or died, Israel is still there, I have had some enjoyable interactions, I have not over worked - I am a civil servant after all, I have been lucky. Ear plugs in due to noise emanating from my right. Zzzz…

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Inhuman shields

Inhuman shields. Subhuman shields. Inhumane shields. Dehumanising shields.

The Palestinians today stooped to new lows in their bid to get Israel the worst publicity whilst simultaneously abetting terror. With the assistance of the Hamas government, who put out a public call to duty to local women, a group of terrorists, who had taken refuge in a mosque, escaped after dressing in women's clothes and mingling with a large group of women who responded to Hamas's calls to act as shields.

Israeli troops attempting to apprehend the terrorists killed two of them whilst trying to only target those with arms, even when reports claim the women actually rushed the Israeli position in an attempt to create a diversion and cynically provoke a response. TV cameras were on hand to record this, but by some small miracle, even the BBC is reporting this in an even-handed way that makes the despicable behaviour of Hamas and the terrorists far more to blame than the natural outcome of the response of the IDF.

It is still hard to believe that the world sees any moral equivalence between the two positions, when this type of behaviour (and the reasons for the confrontation - constant and indiscriminate rocketing of Israeli towns) is par for the course on the Palestinian side, whilst Israel is constantly forced to make impossible decisions under the noses of the world's media.

Rather than having to defend itself against the regular slurs (Jenin, al-Durra, and most recently claims of using uranium-tipped weapons in Lebanon) on its national identity, Israel should be able to count on fair, unbiased reporting to bring condemnation of the behaviour of its enemies along with measured criticism of its own actions when appropriate. The Palestinian people need to be liberated from a leadership that foments violence then encourages them to throw themselves into the way of the ensuing reaction.

Allowing a truly free press to report from Gaza and the West Bank unimpeded would be a start. But finding some neutral journalists may prove more challenging.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Truth is stranger than fiction

This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post yesterday:

A Saudi court has sentenced a gang rape victim to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married.

The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the al- Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes.

The four, all married, were sentenced respectively to five years and 1,000 lashes, four years and 800 lashes, four years and 350 lashes, and one year and 80 lashes.

A fifth, married, man who was stated to have filmed the rape on his mobile phone still faces investigation. Two others alleged to have taken part in the rape evaded capture.

Saudi courts take marital status into account in sexual crimes. A male friend of the rape victim was also sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone with her in the car.

The court heard that the victim and her friend were followed by the assailants to their car, kidnapped and taken to a remote farm, where the raping occurred.

The victim was quoted by Okaz newspaper as saying she had expected harsher penalties for the assailants, especially as they had pleaded not guilty.

Her husband and family said that they would appeal to the court Saturday for harsher penalties for a crime which has shocked public opinion in Saudi Arabia and been the subject of months of debate.


In the parallel universe of the BBC and the slightly less fictional Spooks, the British government and its Jewish Cabinet minister want to trust these people with nuclear power, whilst Israel is vilified for trying to stop them. The thin line between reality and fiction becomes ever more blurred...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Spooked

For the third week in a row, the BBC have shown an episode of their hit series Spooks, that has not only shown Mossad in the worst possible light, but has cast aspersions on the loyalty of Jews to Britain. If this was not in the general context of the entire current series being absolutely farcical in its plot twists, there would be more outrage, but luckily the writers have already discredited themselves to regular watchers with the previous 5 episodes.

Still, this is a programme which prides itself on reasonably accurate depictions of the activities of MI5. It seems peculiar then that they would reduce themselves to "evening the score" for the naturally high proportion of episodes involving Muslim terrorism, by first having a double bill special showing one such attack to be an Israeli "false flag" operation, then following it with another in which Christian fundamentalists attack Muslims and five armed and equipped Mossad agents are taken apart by 2 unarmed and unsighted Brits in a building they do not know.

The Israelis in these episodes make basic errors like using obviously Israeli weapons, saying mazel tov when they should be speaking Arabic, and falling prey to a white British non-Jewish MI5 officer recognising their Arabic accent as being mizrachi Jewish, something which a room full of Arab diplomats had not noticed. Then not only does the Mossad unit suddenly drop their guard and get taken out by the SAS, but the sole survivor is carted off to Gitmo. In the latest episode, Mossad are duped into thinking a non-existent organisation that is trying to kill Muslim extremists is actually antisemitic, so at the drop of a hat, they decide to eliminate its leaders.

The ease with which two armed and trained teams of agents are eliminated is absurd. Still, there are apparently lots of spare Mossadniks in London, and the MI5 boss Harry promises the Cultural Attaché at the Israeli Embassy that he'll "have them all rounded up and deported so fast your head will spin". Because Mossad agents in London, like the guy who makes chicken shwarma at Dizengoff, and Rabbi Grunewald at Pinner shul, and of course me, well, we actually have Mossad business cards and go to the Annual Mossad London Branch Dinner at Bevis Marks once a year. And we are in Yellow Pages under "Spies - Israeli".

Meanwhile, I noticed that in several shots following the MI5 computer screens as they traced various baddies, there were the most appalling basic spelling errors. So a bunch of illiterates, who seem to lose members of their own team at the rate of more than 2 a series, including one hanged by MI6, one shot by a terrorist she had already stabbed, whilst surrounded by fellow MI5 agents, one framed by MI6 again (maybe MI6 is a Mossad front?!), these people have the measure of the insidious Israelis. Yep, sure.

The closest this gets to historical accuracy are a handful of botched operations; the 1950s "false flag" op which emerged in the Lavon Affair, the attempt to kill Khaled Meshaal in Jordan by putting poison in his ear, the unfortunate end to the post-Munich Wrath of G-d op, and a very short list of others. This stands in comparison with the numerous ones we know about (Entebbe, Yihye Ayash, Eli Cohen etc) and the many we do not.

Still, that is not the main problem here - we already know that the BBC cannot be trusted to depict Israel's history or policy in any way other than the most negative. I would even go further - it is great that they help create an image in the public perception that Israel is not a threat and that our dear MI5 and MI6 are world-beaters. I am sure this helps people sleep at night, though a few discussions with members of the military and intelligence communities would paint a diametrically opposite picture.

What concerns me most is the portrayal of British Jews in these episodes.

The villain is one who was married to an Israeli who died in a bus bomb in Tel Aviv, and whose loyalties were always in question after a conversation with the thoroughly British and pretty much self-confessed Arabist MI5-nik, in which he refuses to answer a question about who he would support if the UK and Israel went to war. As if he would ever be allowed a senior position in British Intelligence.

The hero is a Jewish Cabinet minister who helps the UK sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, and ignores threats from a mysterious Israeli against his family.

And of course there is plenty of moralising about how dare these people come into our country and force decisions on who can and cannot get plutonium, with their interfering and false flags. In the previous episode, MI5 ran an international summit during which time they stole from the American Secretary of State's computer and had an African president shot dead on the say-so of one of the kitchen staff. But that's somehow different and the cause more honourable.

Feel free to dismiss these concerns as overly-sensitive, but it seems to me that the BBC has used a work of fiction to plant the seeds of opinion in the fertile minds of millions of viewers about Israel's dirty behaviour and the potential amongst British Jews to have split loyalties.

Funny, because I have a clear memory of the British intelligence services failing to predict and prevent the entry of two British Muslims into Israel where they perpetrated a callous act of terror at a bar in Tel Aviv. Must be time for Israeli TV to broadcast an episode where British MI6 agents infiltrate the country dressed as innocent Tibetans trying to derail an Israeli-Chinese arms deal, only to be gunned down when they speak with the wrong accent and suddenly forget all their training...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lexicon II

Travellers on the London Underground may have noticed a series of stark red posters saying stuff like "Lord Browne! George is watching you". These slightly threatening-looking ads are to promote his new book "Heat: How to stop the planet burning", and invite you to visit his website Turn Up The Heat, where he attacks golden boy Chris Martin, and donor of $3bn to environmental R&D Richard Branson, as well as obvious targets like Lord Browne, Terry Leahy and our darling Melanie Phillips (global warming may be caused in these parts by the sun shining so brightly from her rear end).

Given that he comes from the same part of the political spectrum as those who started the Battle In Seattle, are currently supporting intifadas on the streets of Palestinian and French towns, and stood shoulder to shoulder with Hizballah this summer as they rained fire on Israeli cities then added smoke and smouldering tyres to pictures of their own, the title of his book carries the rather acrid smell of irony. This is a man who campaigned for the Other George's Respect Party and is a signatory to the Boycott Israel campaign.

Freedmanslifers who also pop across to our dear friends at LGF and elsewhere in the neoconoblogosphere will be familiar with the term "moonbat", as in deluded leftie. So an addition to our lexicon of things that are spelt one way but pronounced another is, of course, the author of said book, whose name is herewith to be uttered as "George Moonbat".

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Far Right - Too Right!

So Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu have joined Olmert's coalition of has-beens and wannabes. Immediately, the BBC et al have taken great pleasure in describing Mr Lieberman as "far Right", as if he is somehow comparable to the BNP or Combat 18. Surely not another attempt to typecast Israelis as Zionazis?

It is clear that he has some unusual and superficially extreme policies. He would like to see a two-state solution, one for Jews and one for Arabs. This varies slightly from most people's idea of the two-state solution, which is one for Jews and Arabs, and one for Arabs. I certainly prefer the principle of Lieberman's version, even if the practice is harsh. He advocates unilaterally and one would imagine therefore forcibly hiving off Israeli Arab areas into Palestinian control, and keeping the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria in return.

Personally, I would advocate a plebiscite of Israeli Arabs, allowing those living in areas contiguous with the Green Line to "opt in" to a Palestinian state at any point, and allowing others to make decisions as entire communities to relocate in a population exchange with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. In particular, I would like to see this being strongly incentivised in the dozen or so villages between Route 1 and Route 443, to allow safe and secure passage to Jerusalem from the rest of Israel, not to mention easing traffic problems on Route 1 and helping the express rail link.

But anyway, Mr Lieberman has a whole range of other interesting policies which seem to have escaped the notice of Western journalists, who are busy licking their lips at how they can describe a government including Yisrael Beitenu as promoting ethnic cleansing, genocide and such like. Funny, the Guardian and Independent have been doing their best to talk Hamas up as an appropriate government with which we should all be talking and doing business, but a group who are merely suggesting giving Israeli Arabs (or Palestinian-Israelis as I have seen many such media describe them) their own place in an Arab state, without the inconvenience of leaving their homes.

You will notice that on Yisrael Beintenu's website, this policy barely makes it into the top 10. Lieberman is also into sensible economic policy and the promotion of law and order.

As if to reinforce the reasoning behind Mr Lieberman's most famous policy, an Israeli Arab used the advantage of his Israel numberplates to help a carload of Palestinian terrorists, complete with a stack of explosives, to enter the country, and were en route to a target when security forces acted on a tip-off and set up a roadblock, resulting in miles of gridlock but the successful capture of the group.

It is difficult to argue with Mr Lieberman's logic that Israeli Arabs on the whole represent a growing demographic threat to Israel's national character as a Jewish state. Unfortunately there has been an increase in open disloyalty to the state in the form of aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorists. And economically it has to be pointed out that despite the usual tedious assertions of institutional discrimination against them, the Arab community in Israel actually receives more per capita than most sections of the Jewish population, yet much seems to be squandered by local leaders rather than spent on municipal improvements, hence Arab villages tend to look shabbier than Jewish neighbourhoods, despite the focused investment.

However, I believe that there is a place for non-Jews in Israel - in fact, I think it is intrinsic to Israel's national character. We must learn from our own experience that it is not enough to be a tolerated minority, but that we thrive and contribute most when allowed to do so in the right way. Equally we should learn from the underwhelming statistics of minorities in European countries (rife crime and unemployment, staggeringly disproportionate burdens on the state, low education and health etc), and ensure the right blend of carrots and sticks is in place.

So I urge you to reserve judgement on Lieberman for the time being. It would only take the slightest mellowing of his policy (otherwise known as dilution by coalition) for it to become not just palatable but the natural successor to the Disengagement, with the lessons learned about who you are supposed to disengage from whom.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Jurassic Park IV

According to Gabriel Rozenberg's excellent comment piece in today's Times, "just because education is a right doesn’t mean that it has to be free: it means that it has to be affordable."

He points out that students should be seeking the radical position of asking to pay more for their education instead of the endless stream of rallies (for which read excuse to bunk lectures and doss off to London for a stroll and a pint), which have a curious habit of being as much about Free Palestine, Stop Bush, Ban E$$o and Read New Book By George Moonbat (apparently this is spelt Monbiot - see Freedmanslife Lexicon) as it is about getting overwhelmingly middle-class students to avoid having to pay (shock horror!) more than 25% of the cost of their university education.

Gabriel's argument is pretty simple: let universities stand on their own two feet and compete with each other, whilst students make decisions as to where to apply based on the same merit process as they choose between BHS or Primark (or in the case of many NUS marchers, Oxfam or the offcuts from Land of Leather).

The key is introducing a properly-managed system to allow students to borrow the cost of their education and pay it back at an appropriate rate as and when they can afford it (ie when that education actually starts reaping some real rewards). The Trotskyite - or is it Marxist-Leninist - hairy leather-bound body-canvases on the marches will probably never earn enough to pay back anyway, and the usually totally cynical and career-advancing NUS leadership will end up in New Labour and can always bolster their parliamentary stationery budget or borrow some money from a rich dude if they find it a struggle to cover their below-market loan capital and interest repayments.

As always, there has to be a safety-net:

"If there is still a role for state funding it is surely only in ensuring that no teenager is left behind. Universities that charge full fees would have more resources to put into scholarships for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. It wouldn’t happen overnight, but in the meantime the Government could build up endowments, helping universities to become the best of all worlds: fee-charging for all who can afford it, needs-blind to those who cannot."

This is expensive to fund, so I would go further than Gabriel in the liberalisation of the university market (shock, horror - commodities jargon!); the government should be incentivising private investors to make capital investments in infrastructure, and encouraging former students to make endowments to their alma mater, through some targetted tax breaks.

In fact, I wonder if there might be an even better construct that serves all purposes. If universities were properly privatised and being run efficiently as businesses, they could have a bond or rights issue to generate investment, then use some of this cash, backed by appropriate financial institutions, to act as the lending (or means-related grant-making) body to their own students.

Government could always find a means of providing last recourse, or truly let the market run its course, even if some venerable institutions go under for not being competitive. Universities would also have a natural incentive to increase their R&D capabilities with commercial goals in mind, at a time when the UK is beginning to lag behind its OECD counterparts on this front.

Either way, thanks to Gabriel - a chip off two old blocks. You can write to him here to voice your support for reason, although rumour has it he might be an occasional Freedmanslife reader. Incidentally I might make a future TWAJ posting on why UJS doesn't seem to really have a policy on paying fees and what on earth it is doing in NUS apart from perpetuating Jewish conspiracy theories... but that is for another day.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Freedmanslife Lexicon

Time for a change in spelling here on Freedmanslife. As regular readers would know (if they haven't all abandoned me during my recent sabbatical), the subject of the faithful of the Koran is oft discussed in one guise or another. So in deference to the odd mohammedan reader, we shall hereby be spelling things the way they are pronounced - by the people in question, and their sycophantic BBC newsreader friends.

Henceforth look forward to reading about the Musslim veil (not to be confused with the muslin veil), how great Isslam can be (as opposed to how great is lamb kebab), the human rights of Musslim Gitmo detainees (not to be confused with the human rights of dead WTC firefighters, beheaded contractors in Iraq etc).

And naturally, we believe that we should also defer to the wishes of our Musslim friends in pronouncing words that have been assimilated into English over many years but are spoken differently by them. So for example the word "Jews" is correctly spelt Jooz and much as we must add a "peace be upon him" after uttering the name of the Isslamic Prophet (pbuh for short), the word Jooz is to be followed with "zic" or Zionist Imperialist Colonialist.

Moving on, Israeli is now to be written and pronounced Isra-aliens, which is in keeping with the idea that the Zionist entity is in fact a tribe of extraterrestrial green lizards in cahoots with the Yale Skull and Bones club of which Dubya is a member, and the ubiquitous Freemasons.

It's good to be back.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sabbatical

After a couple of hectic months in which I have been suffering a terrible combination of hard work, extensive travel and writer's block, I have finally got round to blogging again. Watch this space - I will be filling in some of the gaps!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Veiled threats

Scintillating read from Andrew Norfolk in yesterday's Times - "How bomber's town is turning into an enclave for Muslims", on "the changing face of Dewsbury, home of the teacher in the veil row and notorious for its 7/7 links". The article is also an awesome exposé on some of the roots of the Islamic fundamentalist problem, and demonstrates how little we have got to grips with it:


SHE may have been covered in black from head to toe, but there was no disguising Aishah Azmi’s mood this week as she denounced those who would dare to challenge her right to wear a veil in the classroom.

At a press conference in a smart Leeds hotel after an employment tribunal’s rejection of her discrimination claim against the junior school that had suspended her, Mrs Azmi, 24, was flanked by a team of lawyers as she faced journalists and cameras.

She spoke confidently and assertively, attacking Tony Blair, pledging to continue her fight for justice and pleading the cause of fellow Muslim women who were being “treated as outcasts” across Britain.



As her voice rose, her eyes sparkled through a narrow slit in the black cloth. Here was a woman basking in the attention and relishing the chance to score political points for Islam.

The storm over Mrs Azmi’s veil is merely the latest in a series of incidents during the past 18 months, including suicide bombers and terrorist arrests, that have turned an uncomfortable spotlight on the Muslim community of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

It comprises a small number of terraced streets, schools and mosques on the edge of Saville Town, which lies in a loop of the River Calder to the south of the town centre.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7 terrorist attack on London, lived here with his wife, Hasina Patel.

The Times has learnt that Ms Patel, 29, worked at the same Church of England junior school, Headfield, as Mrs Azmi.

Khan, 30, had links to the town’s largest mosque, the Markazi, which is the European headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, a global Islamic missionary movement.

Several of the suspects arrested in August over the alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners had attended meetings of Tablighi Jamaat, which French intelligence has labelled an “antechamber of fundamentalism”. The FBI says it is a fertile breeding ground for al-Qaeda.

Mrs Azmi’s father, Dr Muhammed Mulk, was named by Ofsted inspectors as the joint headmaster of an international Islamic seminary that is attached to the mosque. One of its students was Shehzad Tanweer, another of the July 7 bombers. In an unrelated matter, a 16-year-old Muslim schoolboy, who lived a couple of streets from the mosque, was arrested at his school in June and has been charged under the Terrorism Act with conspiracy to murder.

Are these merely a series of unhappy coincidences, or do they point to a small community that is somehow nourishing and nurturing a belief system containing a deep-rooted hostility towards the West? Asians account for 24 per cent of Dewsbury’s 53,500 population. But Saville Town, home to 5,000 people, is 88 per cent Asian, almost all of them Muslims with their roots in Pakistan or Gujarat, in India.

Between 1991 and 2001, the white population of Dewsbury fell by 2 per cent. During the same period, the Indian population rose by 25 per cent and the Pakistani community by 60 per cent. And as each year passes, Saville Town moves closer to becoming an exclusively Islamic enclave. It is possible here for a Muslim child to grow up — in the family home, at school and in the mosque and madrassa — without coming into any contact with Western lifestyles, opinions or values.

Some local imams see this self-imposed apartheid as not merely beneficial, but essential. Only by removing the corrosive and corrupting influence of the kuffar (unbelievers’) culture can young Muslims be shown the purity of true Islam.

One such scholar is the Dewsbury mufti Zubair Dudha. A gentle, polite and softly spoken man, he tells parents that allowing their children to mix with non-Muslims is an evil that is “bringing ruin to the holy moral fabric of Muslim society”.

Such views send a message of cultural isolationism and, argue critics, speed the creation of a closed society that turns its back on the host country. It is multiculturalism positioning itself as the polar opposite of integration.

In Dewsbury the mistrust has become mutual. There has been no sign here of the race riots that afflicted other industrial northern towns, but it was in this constituency that the British National Party recorded its highest vote in the country in the general election last year.

The race-haters of the Right are led by Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, who has denounced Islam as “a wicked, vicious faith”. His poisonous words belong to a different country from the hesitant expressions of doubt that are being increasingly voiced by mainstream British politicians about the introverted, isolated direction in which some would wish to take Islam.



A “mark of separation” was the Prime Minister’s description this week of Mrs Azmi’s veil. A religion of separation is, arguably, the Islamic vision that dominates Dewsbury.

Its roots can be traced to the dusty town of Deoband, in northern India, home of a famous Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom, founded in 1866. Its graduates today run thousands of mosques and 30,000 madrassas across the world.

Twenty years ago, the majority of British Muslims and mosques were Barelwi, a brand of Sunni Islam that flourished in rural areas of India and Pakistan. Barelwis have a strong musical and dance tradition, enjoy many festivals, believe in mysticism and the intercession of saints and are traditionally regarded as moderate in their political outlook.

The Deobandis, by contrast, preach an uncompromisingly fundamentalist version of Sunni Islam. They are credited with moving adherents in a direction that is increasingly conservative and intolerant.

Salman Rushdie blames the scholars of Deoband for teaching “the most fundamentalist, narrow, puritan, rigid, oppressive version of Islam that exists anywhere in the world today”. At one extreme, this back-to-basics movement was partly responsible for the Taleban, whose leaders were educated at Deobandi seminaries on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Elsewhere, the Deobandi message tends to focus on individual regeneration. Its leaders, while eager to issue fatwas, are avowedly opposed to violence and terrorism.

Each decade that passes in Britain sees fewer Barelwi mosques and more Deobandi institutions. Deobandis, according to one experienced observer, are now the majority Muslim grouping in Bury, Bolton, Blackburn, Rochdale, Manchester and Glasgow and have a growing presence in Bradford and Birmingham.

In Dewsbury, they — with Zubair Dudha among their number — are the dominant Islamic voice and run most of the town’s mosques. Tablighi Jamaat, nevertheless, was founded in 1926 by a Deoband scholar, Mawlana Muhammed Ilyas, and is seen as an intensified version of the Deobandi commitment to reshaping individual lives by following the example and lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammad.

Deobandis and the disciples of Tablighi Jamaat are outraged when Western observers and intelligence agencies link them to terrorism.

Shabbir Daji, a trustee and secretary of both the Markazi mosque and its seminary, the Islamic Institute of Education, pleaded with The Times yesterday to emphasise that Tablighi Jamaat’s aim was “unity among all humanity”.

He insisted that Mrs Azmi’s father no longer taught at the seminary and said that she had been wrong — “that’s not Islam” — to insist on wearing the veil in the classroom. “We are not turning our backs on you. We are trying to live in peace and unity,” he said.

He should perhaps share his views with his Deobandi brother, who believes that “the logical consequences of such evil exposure is moral ruin, scepticism, atheism and delinquency”. From all that has happened in the past 18 months, it ought to be possible for both Muslims and non-Muslims to find common ground on at least one issue.

At first mention, it may sound sinister to suggest an educational link between Mrs Azmi and the wife of the leader of the July 7 atrocities, but Hasina Patel had left Headfield long before Mrs Azmi arrived.

Mrs Patel, a Gujarati, was regarded as moderate in her views and did not wear the veil. The mother of one was four months pregnant when Khan entered a London Underground train and blew himself up. She had a miscarriage within days. Intelligence experts do not believe that Mrs Patel knew what her husband was planning. She and her mother fled to a safe house after the bombings and are still living in hiding.

The Patels deserve to be listed among the victims of 7/7. It would be interesting to learn their views on Mrs Azmi’s strident portrayal of herself as an injured, innocent outcast. They know what that really feels like.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jews are the new Jews

With antisemitic attacks on the increase, with the Jewish State ever more vilified by the world's media, with the nasty undertones of conversations among the chattering classes about how much influence the Jews have, with the endless barrage of hate preached in mosques and madrassas the world over, with the persistent singling out of Israel for special treatment by the Church, the UN, academics and trade unions, with Holocaust denial and belittlement on the increase and becoming more acceptable in many countries, it seems that things have never been so bad for the Jews.

But apparently, it's all just dandy for us, compared to what the poor Muslims are suffering. According to India Knight, "it’s open season on Islam — Muslims are the new Jews." In the past weeks, a much-needed debate has started, triggered by Jack Straw's comments and the suspension of a teacher for refusing to remove her veil when teaching.

The offending quote seems to have been Straw's comment that the veil was a “visible statement of separation and of difference”, and that he asks women who visit his surgery to remove it. Knight indignantly asks whether Straw demands to see nuns' hair too - apart from their moustaches of course. She carefully ignores the fact that Jack is not checking their hair for lice or dandruff, but wants to see their faces, which nuns do not cover (except to shield their eyes from pornographic after shave ads).

Then our dear India resorts to the classic "I can't be abc / I know what I'm talking about because some of my best friends / my family / my neighbour's dog's vet's dry cleaners are xyz" argument:
"I should start by saying that my mother was born in Pakistan of a Hindu mother and a Muslim father. She was convent-educated and went on to marry two Catholics (not at the same time). I therefore — unlike some “offended” Wasp commentators — know what I’m talking about, a) because of my endless “aunties”, and b) through spending much of my childhood in India and Pakistan. Given the mish-mash of my ancestry, religious bigotry brings me out in hives."

Funny, because her father is the extremely British, and rather eccentric, Lionel Knight MBE, former teacher of history and politics at the City of London School, my alma mater. Just thinking about his gaunt frame hurtling down the corridors with his suit jacket loosely over his shoulders like a superhero's cape, the arms flapping in the slipstream, brings me out in hives too.

She goes on to say that "since July 7, it has become acceptable to say the most ignorant, degrading things about Islam." That's because people are kinda pissed that Muslims blew 50 of us up on the Tube in the name of Islam. Go figure that they might lash out. It gets better - she is also "particularly irked by ancient old “feminists” wheeling out themselves and their 30-years-out-of-date opinions to reiterate the old chestnut that Islam, by its nature, oppresses women (unlike the Bible, eh,?) and that the veil compounds the blanket oppression." Yeah, you see the difference is that even those of us who still do believe in the Bible are not imposing those views on our own communities on pain of beatings and honour killings, let alone influencing government, school and workplace policy to foist it on the rest of us.

Ah, here comes the real prejudice:

"My former husband and I once went to look at a house we were thinking of buying in a Jewish Orthodox bit of London. As it happened we were the only non-Orthodox people on that bit of pavement that morning. I noticed a group of Hassidim were walking around us in a peculiar way. “They’re avoiding our shadows,” the estate agent said, “because we’re unclean.” I didn’t think much of that, either. But we all need to coexist peaceably. The fact that I find the man in Camden market with bolts through his face, or the Orthodox woman dressed in a drab sack and wearing a bad wig, as “weird” — weirder, actually — than a woman dressed in black with only her eyes showing is neither here nor there. I don’t expect they think much of me, either."
The difference is, if you had moved in next door, India, they wouldn't spit on you, curse you, hound you out of the neighbourhood etc, because they actually respect the rule of law and actually coexist peacably. You do not make them feel comfortable either. Come to think of it, you don't make me feel that comfortable and I'd probably walk around you in a peculiar way if you were my neighbour.

In fact I cannot even be bothered to dissect the rest of this ridiculous article, because I don't know many people who think much of India Knight, so why waste my own time...