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...