Perfidious Albion

Following the fiasco of the UK’s parliamentary vote to do…nothing, David Horovitz nails it:

“And in Israel? In an Israel beset by threats and challenges in almost every direction, an Israel whose northern border is just an hour’s drive from Assad’s toxic Damascus, an Israel being urged by the international community to take territorial risks for peace in a vicious, WMD-using, phenomenally unstable Middle East — in that Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be feeling a further bitter vindication of his long-held and oft-stated conviction that, ultimately, against all dangers, Israel needs to be able to take care of itself, by itself. At the very least, he might be reflecting, perfidious Albion could not be relied upon to rally to the rescue.”

Read the whole thing, here.

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Some of my best friends

At the Times of Israel there is a blog post by Eylon Aslan-Levy entitled: “S#!t debaters say about Israel and the Jews” which probably deserves greater prominence than it will receive.

The Israeli Debating League is heading home from this year’s European Universities Debating Championship in Manchester. The annual “Euros” tournament brings together hundreds of students from across Europe to argue about thorny issues for which they have only fifteen minutes to prepare. This year, over two hundred teams battled over the motion: “This House Believes that Israel Should Allow Members of the Jewish Diaspora to Vote in its Elections“.

It has become a tradition to hold a debate about Israel at Euros: this is the third in as many years. As such, the championship has become a fascinating place to see what the students of today – and the leaders of tomorrow – think and know about the Jewish state.

Tradition? Maybe I am ultra sensitive, but this alone set me on edge. It’s sort of like the Jewish Quota that used to exist at certain schools and clubs, but in reverse. Or, let’s have a “Kick a Jew Day”. Or it’s a nasty mimic of the UN. Tradition? This is bad.

Enough of me. More context from our observer:

Before you read on, you should know that the majority of debaters at Euros were conscientious, friendly and highly intelligent young people, who tackled the debate with knowledge and sensitivity. Others, however, were not, and did no such thing.

Consider me warned. There were lots of nice, decent people there. But?

Many of the debaters’ mistakes were, relatively speaking, benign.

Did you know that all Diaspora Jews are Orthodox, and that American Jews live in closed communities and feel no connection to Israel? Or that Iran is home to the world’s largest Jewish community outside of Israel? If you didn’t, you’d be surprised to know that there are three types of Jew in the world: those who live in Israel; those who want to live in Israel, but can’t; and those who want their children to live in Israel.

Other misconceptions were bizarre.

Israel is, as one team noted, the most tribal society in the world. It has seven tribes, another team added helpfully.

Yet others were far more sinister.

It was asserted that ”the Israeli people are irrational” and want to kill people. Israelis cannot be trusted with their own democracy: their extremist government won’t apologise for the Mavi Marmara. Israel has no right to sovereignty, since it can’t survive without foreign aid – that’s why the Jewish Diaspora should be able to vote in Israel, to keep the place in check. This should work because – as we heard in another room – Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own countries anyway.

Misconceptions? Flipping heck! Can it get worse? Yes, unfortunately it can:

When members of the Israeli delegation told their Kosovar counterparts that they had stayed in Manchester for a few days before the tournament, their competitors responded with a comment about “rich Jews”. When the Israelis clarified that they had in fact stayed in a hostel, the response became: “stingy Jews”.

If you want to know the full extent of the bigotry, read the whole thing, here. And remember, the participants are today’s European students, and presumably tomorrow’s movers and shakers. It looks like anti-semitism has a bright future ahead of it.

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Winning moves

This week’s session started with Ben, David, Yehuda and me playing the cut-throat Reiner Knizia card game, Ivanhoe. It’s a neat, simple filler game which requires a careful sense of timing to match the cards you draw. Of course, there’s a decent element of luck, but a good player will tend to win more than a less skilled player. Yehuda and I had played it before, but that didn’t stop David winning. Well done that man.

We then split into two groups. Ben, David, and Yehuda played Age of Industry. Yehuda did his usual excellent job in explaining the game to newcomers Ben and David. Both picked it up quickly, developing very different strategies. The final scores were very close indeed and there seemed to be some surprise at the table when it was discovered that Ben had won; clearly Yehuda’s explanation was effective… Congratulations to Ben for the win.

Meantime Laurie, Rochelle and I played Race for the Galaxy (RFTG) followed by R-Eco.

Rochelle was a newcomer to RFTG and struggled with the icons which the game relies on. That’s not unusual, it must be said. However, the only recognized solution is to play the game again and again. Unfortunately, I doubt Rochelle will put herself through that again; she really did not enjoy it. Laurie is way too good at the game for me to come close to a challenge, so she won by a chunk of points. Laurie deserved her win.

Rochelle had her revenge, though, taking latecomer Susan, Laurie, and I to the cleaners with a convincing win at R-Eco. A notable win for Rochelle.

And thus ended another night of fun and games and winning moves. (Or in my case, losing moves.)

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Behind the headlines

Jonathan Tobin’s post at Commentary deals very well with yesterday’s incident at Qalandia:

The idea that Israel is staging these attacks to undermine the talks is false. The fact that the IDF is forced to enter built-up areas in order to track down terrorist suspects shows just how unreliable the Palestinian Authority is as a peace partner. Moreover, the willingness of mobs in these towns to rally to defend suspects and attack the IDF with gunfire and rocks is testimony to how deeply rooted support for terror operations is in a Palestinian population that we are told is ready for an end to the conflict.

He can see it. Why cannot others?

His conclusion:

Rather than criticizing the Israelis, the Palestinians’ foreign cheerleaders should be increasing pressure on the PA to act on its own to squelch terror. If they don’t, it won’t be fair to blame Israel for acting to defend their populations from Palestinian attacks. That Israel finds itself obligated to go into Arab towns to keep terrorists from killing more Jews is nothing more than the latest evidence that genuine peace is a long way off.

Now remind me: who had to make ‘concessions’ to get peace talks going?

Read the whole thing here.

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Right and wrong

Let’s do a brief review of recent activity by the Elders of Ziyon/ZOG. They:

Unbelievable, isn’t it? But, apparently, many in the Arab world think these are statements of fact. Do you think that’s why some people are so keen (ahem) on solving the Palestinian issue? It makes perfect sense: give the Palestinians a state and the woes of the Middle East will melt like snow off a dyke.

Aye, right.

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Wonderful

This week’s group session had me so involved in 7 Wonders at one table, that I did not see what Ben, Peleg, Rosalynn, and Yehuda were up to at the other table. I think it was some kind of Carcassonne variant, and I know that Yehuda won. But beyond that I am in the dark…so far. [Now updated. See below.]

At the other table, Judith, Laurie, Michael, Rochelle, Susan, and I played the classic 7 Wonders. Michael and Judith were newcomers, so the first part of the evening involved the usual rules explanation followed by puzzled frowns of fear. (But enough about me!)

We raced through the first round, but things slowed up very much so after that.

Michael had a military strategy, but neglected other point scoring opportunities. Judith had quite a good spread of cards, and managed to be in contention. Rochelle virtually cornered the market in the Science cards, and accumulated a terrific points score from them. Unfortunately, she couldn’t quite get all the way to the winning line, and by my reckoning was about one card short of the win. Shame.

Susan and Laurie shared the win. Susan’s points came from a cheap set of Military victory points – she stabbed me in the back, folks! – and a solid set of Blues. Laurie did less well in both these areas, but had nice Guild cards that delivered big time for her.

Well done to Laurie and Susan. And thanks to Laurie for hosting.

Update from Yehuda:

We played Carcassonne: The City. Ben had played an earlier version of Carcassonne, Rosalynn vaguely recalled either playing or watching the game once, and Peleg had never played any Carcassonne.

Rosalynn and Peleg undervalued the fields; Ben took the first one, but I merged into it and I took a second one that was just as valued. There was very little merging into other people’s areas. There was a market that Ben had, and I tried to merge into it, and Ben positioned himself to merge a second person in. In the end, however, Ben had to play tile that split the area into two, one of which we shared and a smaller one that was just mine. Ben was very short of pieces most of the game, which hampered him.

Peleg may have undervalued the fields, but he scored hugely on the walls with some watchers earning 19 points. I took the game in the end, about 10 points ahead of Ben and Peleg.

Peleg left and the three of us played Dominion. I took an early Chapel and stripped my deck to nothing but two golds, a chapel, Feast, Festival, and Moat. I pulled in Provinces one after the other and thought I had an easy win. Then I stalled with hands full of Provinces. I should have bought a few more Festivals and Feasts, I think. Meanwhile, Ben got rid of coppers using Bureaucrat, and he had the only Witch (which he only used twice), but otherwise I don’t know what he used. He won the game with one less Province but with a Duchy and five Estates.

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Paint your plate

From the BBC website, travel section, “Must eat foods from around the world”:

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Just what every hungry painter wants!

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How deep is that hate?

cranmer

Blogger Archbishop Cranmer is well on form this week, with a reminder – in effect – about the extent of apparent apathy towards anti-semitism within certain parts of the Christian establishment. Let the Archbishop take the floor:

Board of Deputies of British Jews vs. Rev’d Dr Stephen Sizer

In October 2012 the Board of Deputies of British Jews filed a formal complaint with the Church of England against the Rev’d Dr Stephen Sizer, under the Clergy Discipline Measure. Almost a year on, there has still been no final ruling.

The Board summarised its complaint as follows:

The matters complained of disclose a clear and consistent pattern of activity on the part of Rev Sizer. The evidence indicates that he spends time trawling dark and extreme corners of the internet for material to add to his website. Rev Sizer re-publishes such items to support the target of his polemical writing, while at the same introducing his readers to the racist and antisemitic websites from where he draws his material. As the evidence demonstrates, there are five instances of this over the 11 month period from July 2011 to June 2012.

The Clergy Discipline Measure can lead to the loss of a minister’s licence. With that possibility looming, one might expect Dr Sizer to manifest a degree of heightened objectivity if not scrupulous fairness when writing further about Israel. Surely a Christian minister would be so concerned about the possibility of losing his licence to minister that he would avoid saying anything that could possibly be construed as anti-Semitic? He knows, by now, that Jewish people may well interpret slanderous demonisation of the world’s only Jewish state as an expressions of anti-Semitism. And yet it seems he just can’t help himself.

In an article published this month titled ‘Christian Zionism: The New Heresy that Undermines Middle East Peace’, Dr Sizer writes of ‘Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda’ and ‘Israel’s racist and apartheid policies.’ Such statements might be excusable if they emanated from the mind of a secondary school politics student or a Liberal Democrat MP, but in Dr Sizer’s case we cannot assume that he is simply poorly informed because, as he says in the article, he has carried out ’10 years of postgraduate research’ in this area.

So there can be little doubt that he is fully aware that Arab citizens in Israel (20 per cent of the population) have the vote, and can be represented by Arab parties. He is fully aware that Israeli Arabs have freedom of movement and can do all the things alongside Israeli Jews that black people in South Africa were forbidden to do alongside the white – such as use public transport and public libraries; eat in restaurants; and visit cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and public beaches.

There is in fact no basis whatsoever to Dr Sizer’s ‘apartheid’ slander, as the CAMERA website patiently and meticulously demonstrates (and His Grace addressed some years ago). It would be perfectly understandable if Jewish observers suspected an anti-Semitic motive behind Dr Sizer’s promotion of a claim that he knows to be untrue. After all, in addition to the internet trawling identified by the Board of Deputies, he has in the past made anti-Semitic comments regarding Monica Lewinsky and Muammar Gaddafi. His one-sidedness is so extreme that he once called for the release of an anti-Semitic hate preacher and convicted Hamas fundraiser (held in Britain after passing through border control despite a ban on his entry), while simultaneously campaigning for the arrest of Tzipi Livni, the democratically elected leader of the moderate opposition party in the Israeli Parliament (who was visiting Britain at the invitation of the UK government).

Perhaps worst of all, he once accused Israel of perpetuating the Holocaust by its treatment of the Palestinians, a statement for which he has never apologised. Where Jews are concerned, Dr Sizer’s heart is cauterised.

He leads an Evangelical church – Christ Church Virginia Water. The group that is best placed to show the Jewish community that such extremism has no place in Christianity is the South East Gospel Partnership, the Evangelical network to which Christ Church Virginia Water belongs. This group is chaired by Rev’d William Taylor of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, and its Committee is made up of Rev’d Iain Broomfield of Christ Church Bromley, Rev’d Richard Coekin of the Co-Mission network of churches, Rev’d Charles Dobbie of Holy Trinity Lyonsdown, Nick McQuaker of Christ Church Haywards Heath, Brian O’Donoghue of St Helen’s Bishopsgate, Rev’d John Ross of Farnham Baptist Church, and Rev’d Simon Smallwood of St George’s Dagenham.

Everyone knows how quickly this group would have broken ties with a partner church which had begun to teach that gay sex was acceptable to God. But how have they reacted to Dr Sizer’s incessant slandering of the only Jewish state in the world? How have they responded to his anti-Semitic quips and conspiracy theories; to the extremism of his campaigning; to his trawling of anti-Semitic internet sites?

They have said that they see ‘no justifiable grounds for breaking gospel partnership with Stephen or Christ Church Virginia Water.’

In recent years there have been numerous cases of people in public life facing discipline for making precisely the same kind of comments as Dr Sizer: Liberal Democrat Baroness Jenny Tonge; the journalist Helen Thomas; Liberal Democrat David Ward MP; and a pro-Palestinian campaigner named Kenneth O’Keefe. A Greek athlete was even banned from the London 2012 Olympics for making a racist joke comparable to Dr Sizer’s remark about Monica Lewinsky. So the South East Gospel Partnership has taken a position toward anti-Semitism that is seemingly more lax than the world’s.

It’s true that sometimes the world can go into a McCarthyite moral overdrive. Someone might choose to argue that the same has happened in the area of anti-Semitism. But if that is why the Committee of the South East Gospel Partnership is taking no action, the Jewish community deserves to hear that explanation. Otherwise the Committee’s unwillingness to act in accordance with widely-accepted precedents will be viewed as apathy toward the concerns of British Jews, or even as approval of what Dr Sizer has said and done.

It is not every day that an ethnic minority’s representative organisation seeks legal redress regarding an Evangelical vicar. The SEGP Committee needs to rise to the occasion.

When did Evangelicals forget Jesus’ warning in the Sermon on the Mount about false prophets? ‘Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them’. If readers and communicants will permit His Grace to quote himself: the Form and Manner of Ordering of Priests bids those admitted to the Order of Priesthood:

Forasmuch then as your office is both of so great excellency and of so great difficulty, ye see with how great care and study ye ought to apply yourselves, as well that ye may show yourselves dutiful and thankful unto that Lord, who hath placed you in so high a dignity; as also to beware that neither you yourselves offend, nor be occasion that others offend.

How Stephen Sizer has trampled over that exhortation!

So why have Evangelical leaders done nothing – absolutely nothing – to rein in and rebuke one of their own?

Why? Whatever the answer is, it’s an excuse; and not a very good one. There is something very rotten at the heart of this situation, and everyone with any sense of objectivity and fairness knows what it is. I will leave it unsaid. Let the facts speak for themselves. Let brave souls like Archbishop Cranmer speak for those who do not accept the status quo.

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Have no faith?

Lord Sacks – Chief Rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth – has been in the news today.

The BBC has this (though I had to hunt it down):

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The Guardian has this:

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I don’t subscribe to The Times (London variety) so do not have access to their online content. However, blogger Archbishop Cranmer has posted a copy of their front page coverage:

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Faith leader? Why not mention the Chief Rabbi in the headline? It cannot be space constraints because “faith leader” uses up 12 characters and “Chief Rabbi” uses up 11. So, why?

It’s worth quoting Archbishop Cranmer’s (biting) commentary:

Faith leader? Why the all-encompassing and generic? What’s wrong with saying ‘Chief Rabbi’ in the headline? You know, it’s still good front-page stuff, and Times readers are perfectly capable of understanding a complex Jewish term like ‘Rabbi’.

This is a rare and bold political intervention by the distinguished leader of Britain’s Jewry, Lord Sacks, who is of the view that the Government is not doing enough to support mothers who stay at home to rear their children. A puny tax-break for married couples is a token gesture: we are in danger of losing – under a Conservative Prime Minister – all understanding of why the state should support marriage and mitigate the appalling costs – social and economic – of family breakdown.

This isn’t being said by the leader of Britain’s Scientologists, but by the Chief Rabbi, who speaks on behalf of about a quarter of a million Children of Abraham. Sure, that’s not as many as Stephen Fry’s Twitter followers, but Lord Sacks is concerned with the morality of political policy and questions of religious truth. This robust and frank intervention merits the headline identification of his office; not a bland attribution to an unspecific ‘faith’, disclosed only in a strap-line afterthought and complemented by a puny passport-size snapshot.

Just what is going on at the Times. Have they no faith?

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