Monday, 9 April 2018

Get Yourself A Shower!

The final paragraph of Howard Jacobson's essay in The Guardian on anti-semitism is powerful testimony to his skill as a writer and passion for living in the UK as a proud member of the Jewish community.

Though Jacobson sets the scene for his 'punch' line with these words describing the ugly and cowardly behaviour on the left of politics, from the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, which has allowed anti-semitism to grow strong in the Labour Party on the back of support for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

"But the atmosphere of which I speak is of a sort to which no group should be subjected. It manifests itself in habitual abuse on social media, the drowning out of any speech considered dissonant in universities, local councils and debating chambers, that cold-eyed contempt of which Jeremy Corbyn is master, and the undisguised assumption, within leftist politics, that when a Jew complains of antisemitism, he is lying. Most Jews know what antisemitism is and what it isn’t. Its history is written on the Jewish character in blood. To invent it where it is not would be a sacrilege."
Read the full article via the link below to The Guardian.

Howard Jacobson: ‘Jews know what antisemitism is and what it isn’t. To invent it would be a sacrilege’

I still think Britain is a fine country to be a Jew in. But it is as though I now live in the shadow of an unseen enemy.

By Howard Jacobson - The Guardian

I have been spat at in the street for being Jewish only twice. The first time was in Port Said in the 1960s and I was able to put that down to heightened regional tensions. The second time was 25 years later in Clapham, south London where there were no heightened regional tensions. I knew that I was being spat at for being Jewish in Clapham because my assailant followed the spit with the words, “Now get yourself a shower, and you know what sort of shower I mean.”

I did. I suspect that any Jew over the age of 10 would have known what sort of shower she meant. She. Why her sex surprised me, I can’t say. Maybe I automatically think of antisemites as men. Is that insulting to women? Again, I can’t say. But because she was a woman, the sense of physical danger I might have experienced had she been a man was supplanted by a sort of sadness. I am a mother’s boy and expect a woman to nurture, not abuse me. My sadness encompassed both of us. It was as though, in the act of aspersing me, she was violating her own nature. And in the act of being aspersed I was somehow, not to blame, but implicated. What had I done to be so hateful to her?

What I did next increased my dissatisfaction with myself. I did nothing.

It’s not for nothing that there are security men positioned outside synagogues and Jewish schools

That’s not quite true. I mouthed some such ineffectuality as “How dare you?” or “You should be ashamed of yourself”, at which she laughed. And there I left it. What else could I do? Call the police? Make a citizen’s arrest? Buy her coffee?

If I am looking to report the pains of being Jewish, these are small pickings. But I am touching wood as I say that, for there is no knowing who might do or say what to me next. My superstition, which I don’t think is uniquely Jewish, but certainly has marked Jewish components, warns against tempting fate. It’s not for nothing that there are security men positioned outside synagogues and Jewish schools. We live in a rage-filled, hate-stoked world. And where the hate precedes the cause of hate and only later looks for reasons, the Jew will always do as pretext.

I wasn’t left long distressed by the spitting incident. There is such a thing as Jewish self-hatred, though it is considered unacceptable to say so. As in all instances of abuse – and antisemitism is abuse – you introject the ill-treatment and disparagement. But in my experience the disparagement you introject is the remote, historical or even Biblical sort. Am I the stiff-necked Israelite who made God wonder whether Creation had been such a good idea? Am I the pitiless, legalistic Jew the Venetians saw in Shylock? Anything closer to home and I rally my resources. The one-to-one contact of a living antisemite makes me strong. What poisonous propaganda has my assailant been reading, I ask. What can I write to counter its effect? This is a pretty literary, chair-bound version of strength, I grant you, but we can fight only with the weapons we possess. My father wasn’t averse to using his fists.

‘At a time when Jews are being accused of faking antisemitism, it is important to stress that our default position is to make light of it,’ says Howard Jacobson. Photograph: Courtesy of Howard Jacobson

Corbyn's Labour

Ken Livingstone is one of Jeremy Corbyn's oldest political friends and allies - here he is making a follow himself on there BBC 'Newsnight' programme back in April 2017.

In the opposite corner Labour MP Wes Streeting speaks op for what the Labour Party used to stand for until the 'Corbynistas' came to the fore.


Debunking Livingstone

Comedian, author and TV presenter David Baddiel does a splendid job of debunking Ken Livingstone's malign argument that 'Hitler supported Zionism before he went mad and murdered millions of Jews'.

As David Baddiel points out this is an 'interpretation' and not a 'fact' as Livingstone likes to claim and it's a very slanted view of history that needs to be placed in proper context instead of being exploited as political propaganda. 

Read the full put down in all its glory via the link to The Guardian below - and well said to David Baddiel for putting Livingstone well and truly in his place.

Ken Livingstone

Why Ken Livingstone has it so wrong over Hitler and Zionism
By David Baddiel - The Guardian

In confusing interpretations for facts he reveals that sense that runs deep in the left: that Jews don’t quite fit into the category of ‘the oppressed’

So … Ken … A lot of people – predominantly the good people, of course, of the British left – have been tweeting to tell me that Ken just “stated a fact”. Here is the problem with what Livingstone said. Because Ken Livingstone did not state a fact.

The statement “Hitler supported Zionism” is not a fact. It’s an interpretation. An interpretation of a particular historical moment, in the 1930s, when the forced emigration of Jews from Germany was pushed further along by various Nazi economic incentives allowing those who fled to Palestine to get some of their stolen assets back.

That is not Adolf Hitler supporting the idea of a Jewish state (even writing that sentence looks ridiculous). It is the Nazis taking advantage of the terror and despair of fleeing refugees to get more of them to leave the country. It is just the thin edge of the wedge of Nazi horror.

The real problem, in a way, is the tone of Livingstone when giving this interpretation. There’s no sympathy. No compassion – no sense of the tragedy behind this. It’s just complacently presented as a deal that Hitler made with German Zionists, and therefore – and this, of course, is the point, the banal, shit point – a way of confirming that Zionism is bad. Through an association with the top bad thing, Hitler.

What’s weird here is I am not, as some of you may know, a Zionist. I’m an atheist and I don’t hold with religion being the basis for statehood. And obviously – as all Jews have to say now when talking about this subject – I do not support the appalling actions of the present Israeli government.

Corbyn's Labour Party

The Times cartoonist Morten Morland has the perfect comment on Jeremy Corbyn's inept leadership of the Labour Party and the apparently uncontrollable narcissism of his great political friend, Ken Livingstone.


Looney Tune Livingstone (05/04/17)

The craziest aspect of Ken Livingstone's additional 1-year suspension by the Labour Party is that he still doesn't accept his behaviour was wrong or reprehensible.

Whatever the arguments over his 'Hitler was a Zionist' comments Livingstone has been disciplined by his peers (a panel of fellow Labour members) having been found guilty of the charge of bringing the party into disrepute.

Nonetheless, Livingstone is such an arrogant tosser that he has publicly compared Labour's ruling body to the Stalinist regime in North Korea with the following observation:

"It’s absolutely outrageous that such a serious smear is made and then the hearing is going to be in private. I mean, it’s more like North Korea. It’s literally the sort of hearing you’d expect in some dictatorship – not in a modern democracy."

Having heard the judgment of his Labour peers Livinsgtone's response was to insist he has nothing to answer for and that he is instead the victim of a political witch hunt. 

If you ask me, Livingstone is completely out of control and his evident lack of remorse can only drag the Labour Party deeper into the mire just weeks away from the local elections.

The Guardian carries a full report which you can read via the link below although it is worth mentioning that Ken Livingstone and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are big friends.


Pressure mounts on Labour to review Ken Livingstone decision

Senior figures from party and Jewish community condemn decision not to expel Livingstone over comments linking Zionism to Nazism.

By Matthew Weaver - The Guardian

Labour is coming under increasing pressure, including from within the shadow cabinet, to review its decision not to expel Ken Livingstone from the party over comments about antisemitism, Hitler and Zionism.

Lord Levy, the party’s chief fundraiser under Tony Blair, is threatening to leave the party after a disciplinary panel ruled that Livingstone should be suspended for another year for bringing the party into disrepute, but not expelled.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said: “Do I stay in the party? It is something that I’m going to reflect on very seriously. I am very upset with the party’s attitude. I do not believe there has been a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism.”

Like many Levy has been angered by Livingstone’s lack of remorse since the decision. In a defiant series of interviews afterward Livingstone said he had nothing to apologise for and would need to consider whether to challenge the suspension.

Levy said: “The lack of sensitivity by him towards the Jewish community has been outrageous. Many of his colleagues have been outraged by the action of the party. But if all the good guys in the party leave, what is there left?”

Former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband is reported to have told the BBC that he was grieving for the party. He said he never thought he’d see the day when “antisemitism and Labour were discussed in the same sentence”, according to Paul Waugh from the Huffington Post.

Don't Mention 'You Know Who' (31/03/17)

While the country waits with baited breath on the outcome of Ken Livingstone's disciplinary hearing for allegedly bringing the Labour Party into disrepute, a wag on Twitter (Dai Lama) imagines how Ken would fare on a visit to Battersea Dogs Home


Labour in Denial (01/05/16)

The Labour Party has been plunged into crisis because of a stupid, yet deliberate attempt by Ken Livingstone (one of Jeremy Corbyn's closest allies) to claim that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.

On top of that, Ken went on to share his view that someone can only be anti-semitic if they hate all Jews across the world, not just those living in Israel.

Noe there's been some powerful writing over the weekend about the background to this latest Labour farce and here are there examples from The Scotsman, The Observer and The Independent newspapers.   

I think that the piece by Andrew Grice (Independent) is perhaps the most factual and even-handed, Nick Cohen's (Observer) the most passionate, but I would say the most telling is Euan McColm's (Scotsman) who gets to the heart of the problem facing the Labour Party with the following paragraph:

"None of this will, I fear, put an end to Corbyn’s leadership. He is supported by an overwhelming number of halfwits who are content to believe their man’s a victim of the malign actions of others."

I admire people who don't pull their punches.

Euan McColm: Corbyn the last person to tackle anti-Semitism

Ken Livingstone is mobbed by journalists outside Millbank following the controversial comments which led to his suspension. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

By EUAN MCCOLM - The Scotsman

IT’S not Jews, they say. They’re always adamant about that: they don’t hate Jews.

And then they say things that suggest they hate Jews. Instead of Jews, of course, they say Zionists.

But they mean Jews, don’t they? After events of the past few days, that’s a reasonable assumption to make, isn’t it?

The Labour Party hasn’t had controversy to seek since members last year took the, still baffling, decision to elect the incompetent Jeremy Corbyn as their leader.

I saw the darkness of antisemitism, but I never thought it would get this dark

By Nick Cohen - The Observer

The party faces a huge problem that must be surmounted, if only for moral reasons

Ken Livingstone claimed Hitler was a Zionist. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Racism is not a specific illness but a general sickness. Display one symptom and you display them all. If you show me an anti-Muslim bigot, I will be able to guess his or her views on the European Union, welfare state, crime and “political correctness”. Show me a leftwing or Islamist antisemite and, once again, he will carry a suitcase full of prejudices, which have nothing to do with Jews, but somehow have everything to do with Jews.

The Labour party does not have a “problem with antisemitism” it can isolate and treat, like a patient asking a doctor for a course of antibiotics. The party and much of the wider liberal-left have a chronic condition.

As I have written about the darkness on the left before, I am not going to crow now that it has turned darker than even I predicted. (There is not much to crow about, after all.) I have nothing but respect for the Labour MPs who are trying to stop their party becoming a playpen for fanatics and cranks. It just appears to me that they face interlocking difficulties that are close to insoluble.

Corbyn’s leadership has heightened Labour’s 'Jewish problem'. Only he can bring this row to an end

Corbyn is on a fast learning curve. A half-hearted approach by the Labour leader would not only lose Jewish voters but repel others too

By Andrew Grice - The Independent

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, addresses the Commons PA

A debate inside the Labour Party over Israel, which has simmered for years, has suddenly exploded into Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest crisis in his seven months as party leader.

With the Conservatives advertising their deep divisions on Europe daily, it should have been a moment for Labour, broadly united in support for EU membership, to make progress – not least in next week’s elections to local authorities, the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and for London Mayor. Instead, Labour has somehow managed to give the impression it is just as divided as the Tories.

After a costly 32-hour delay before suspending the Labour MP Naz Shah for suggesting in 2014 that Israeli Jews be transported to America, Corbyn learnt his lesson and acted swiftly to bar his long-time ally Ken Livingstone. Bizarrely, the former London Mayor leapt to the defence of Shah when she was no longer defending herself. The story became a farce as Livingstone suggested that Hitler was a Zionist and clashed on the stairs of a TV studio with the Labour MP John Mann.

Livingstone, who was co-chairing a review of Labour’s foreign policy, claimed in a round of media interviews that, in his 47 years in the party, he had never come across anti-Semitism. This, too, was bizarre, since a series of such allegations have had a high media profile in recent weeks.