Meanwhile, back in Glasgow

glasgow

I love Glasgow. Always have, and always will. Do I miss it? Sure. I especially miss friends and family. But I don’t lie awake at night, home sick, desperate to return. It is a great city, but it is in my past. However, media coverage – good and bad – about Glasgow still attracts my attention. The following extract, from a piece by Hattie Kennedy at the Book Riot site, is a good example:

Since moving to Glasgow ten years ago, one of my favourite things about living in this beautiful city has been exploring all of the exciting literary secrets the city has to offer. From beautiful libraries with astonishing carpets, to second-hand bookshops that would melt the hardest of bookish hearts, this city is a veritable wonderland for those of us with a literary bent.

Note the “beautiful city” description. I agree. It almost makes me want to jump on a plane and head back to the joys of the Clockwork Orange (the underground railway) and the stark pleasures of a West of Scotland winter. Almost, but not quite. Read the whole thing here.

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Disconnect

I often wonder how much thought people give to their political beliefs. Do they think them through, and ponder the consequences? Do they test the validity of their principles against, for example, the basic requirements of a caring society, or simple logic?

The following extract from the Guardian report about the Million Mask March in London suggests the answer is “no.”

Among the protesters was Angela Windsor, an unemployed 40-year-old, who said she had travelled from Wales to take part in the event. “Nobody is protecting people – nobody cares. I think everyone here cares enough about people to make the effort to come down and try and do something, because the officials aren’t doing it.”

She said anyone who tried to incite a repeat of last year’s violent displays would be missing the point, adding: “Nobody wants a fight, we just want change.” But she was forced to defend the wording of a sign she was brandishing – including the words “death to the monarchy” – when questioned about it by passersby.

Didn’t she stop to ponder the disconnect between “Nobody wants a fight, we just want change” and “death to the monarchy”? Or are the Queen and the royal family not human beings, and so not to be considered? If you were being charitable, you might argue that death is simply an extreme form of change. (That was a joke folks.) On the other hand, you might simply shake your head in bewilderment at the stupidity of it all. Where was this person educated? Was this person educated?

Of course similar idiocy (and ignorance) is the standard you will see at typical anti-Israel protests. It’s useful to remind ourselves what the expected level of political discourse is out there.

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Eilat English

Susan and I had a relaxing time in Eilat for Sukkot. We did a bit of lazing about, some reading, spent time at the gym and the pool, ate (too much, of course), shook our lulav and etrog, and even went to shul.

The standard (and availability) of kosher catering in Eilat seems to be gradually improving. However, you could not say the same for the standard of English translations:

Whine for table four?

Whine for table four?

And if you think that was bad, how the hell do you explain this one?

The food equivalent of the Unfinished Symphony - the Unpaid Penne?

The food equivalent of the Unfinished Symphony – the Unpaid Penne?

Israeli English; nothing quite like it.

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Scottish Jews Through the Lens

I don’t share Judah Passow‘s optimism about the future of the Scottish Jewish community, but the feature at the Times of Israel about his photographic project – From Highlands shepherdess to Fife whiskey analyst, artist captures Scotland’s vibrant Jewish life – is well worth a read, and gives a tantalizing sample of the project’s pictures. I’d love to see the rest of the pictures. I may just have to get the book.

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Proper journalists?

The Elder of Ziyon has a neat example (here) of how left wing (and other) demonizers of Israel do not tell a complete story when they want to stoke up hate. This is also worth noting to see how it is covered by the mainstream press; they are supposed to be proper journalists. Proper journalists would look a the sources. Proper journalists would not just recycle the hateful propaganda. But then again, are there any proper journalists out there?

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70 years of Israeli peace attempts wrapped up into two short hours

The excellent David Collier blog – Beyond the Great Divide – has an insightful (and shocking) post about events at Lichfield Cathedral:

I have just spent a weekend at Lichfield cathedral for a conference “on the Israel/Palestine Conflict and the prospect of peace”. And what a weekend it was! A naïve Dean, antisemitism, conspiracy theories, global control, blood sucking Jews, child kidnappers, Arabs in 100ad. and of course, Jesus the Palestinian.

I do recommend you read it all, though I want to highlight the following extract:

We then heard from a dutiful liberal Zionist. And what a talk it was. Professor Yossi Meckleberg presented to the audience a very accommodating position. A man anyone could make peace with. Like most liberal Zionists he is talking to himself. *if only* such voices could be heard from the other side. Another break. More pamphlets to read. All about a fictional place called Israel/Palestine. Or Palestine/Israel for those who KameL Hawwashwant to belittle Israel’s legitimacy more thoroughly. A group called ‘Lichfield Concern for Palestine’. All talk was about Israeli brutality. No mention of Arab violence anywhere. Another talk was about to start. Then came the storm.

See how good a pundit you are. The liberal Zionist has put down a marker for peace. (In the lions’ den, perhaps, playing the part of the Christian?) What do you think the response was?

Here you go:

Next up was Professor Kamel Hawwash, Vice-Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. For every hand that Meckleberg had extended in friendship, Hawwash pushed one away. I am always thankful for people like Hawwash because they expose why there is no current chance for peace. There is no room in Kamel’s world for the Israelis, a group of people he describes as randomly deciding to invade the region. These two speakers presented the entire conflict in a microcosm. The Israeli Jew, ‘let’s make peace, let’s find a way, let’s accommodate’, the Palestinian Arab, NO, NO, NO. I have no doubt that people failed to see what had just occurred. But in truth, it was 70 years of Israeli peace attempts wrapped up into two short hours.

Collier’s observation is bang on target.

First, he’s correct (in general terms) about how the interaction summarizes Israeli peace attempts.

Second, he’s also right in suggesting that people didn’t notice what had happened. They seem to have accepted the outright rejection as acceptable, normal, and – dare one say it – understandable. If ever there were an acid test to determine whether Israel and its people were being delegitimized, demonized, and defamed, that would be a candidate.

What an obscene event Lichfield hosted. It will be interesting to see what Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, and Chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, says about this. He dare not be silent, after this statement of his.

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Powerful use of language

No, I don’t mean the current USA presidential candidate debates…

I saw this at the BBC and was intrigued:

How a few words can make people hand over millions

Sometimes people don’t behave as we expect – big differences can come from tiny tweaks that can save lives or add millions to the public purse.

After reviewing the actual effects of a couple of publicly praised policies – prison visits by delinquents, and mandatory seat belts – there is this:

Sometimes what seems like a fairly good plan may become problematic due to factors you’re not aware of,” says Michael Hallsworth, who works at the UK government’s “Nudge Unit” – but more on that later.

In the real world, our actions are a minefield of hidden motivations and psychological quirks. “We used to think that people take into account all of the available information and then weigh up the costs and benefits of different options. And there’s increasing evidence from the last 40 years that that’s not correct,” says Hallsworth.

For example, the prison visits by delinquents did not keep the delinquents from offending, and mandatory seatbelts increased deaths on the road.

The Nudge Unit mentioned above?

Back in 2010, former UK prime minister David Cameron set up the “Nudge Unit”; a crack team of scientists, psychologists and policy experts tasked with using the technique to improve education, health and the state of public finances.

The Nudge Unit was responsible for improving the amount of money collected by the taxman. How? By applying scientific techniques to come up with language that affected the behavior of taxpayers. It’s a fascinating insight to human behavior. (Just like those USA presidential candidate debates, but from a different perspective…) It made me stop and think

Read it all, here.

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Another warning Europe will ignore

Not the happiest way to start the New Year, but it’s a message that needs to be publicized. From an interview with Monika Schwarz-Friesel – “one of the most quoted experts on anti-Semitism in both international academic literature and the German media” at the Times of Israel:

“Many of the refugees that have been pouring into Europe recently come from societies that are deeply anti-Semitic. It would be foolish to assume that their anti-Semitism can be educated away in a few years and that it won’t leave its mark on European societies.”

The trouble is, many Europeans do seem to be foolish when it comes to antisemitism. That standing ovation for Abbas ‘poisoning the wells’ speech to the European Parliament in June this year is just one clear example. And the other notable issue is whether Europe will “educate” in any effective fashion against anti-Semitism or indeed, educate at all.

Another warning Europe will ignore.

Read the whole thing, here.

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Dear Anti-Israel Activist

Some things deserve as wide an audience as possible. This, for example, as first seen at Anne’s Opinions:

I don’t know you personally, but I know what you do. You demonstrate on college campuses, in front of stores that sell Israeli products, at co-op grocery outlets, and in the town squares of liberal places like my community of Seattle. You wear a keffiyeh and carry signs that say “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free” and other slogans that deny Israel’s right to exist. I see your swastikas and other classic antisemitic images.

I see your placards with names of villages lost when Israel’s neighbors invaded in 1948. I see your props: child-size coffins, for a dramatic effect. Mock “eviction notices” and “apartheid walls.” Posters commemorating the “Nakba”—catastrophe—your term for the Arab failure to destroy Israel.

I hear your chants of “Intifada, Intifada” and “We are Hamas”—glorifying violence against Jews and celebrating their murder. I see you disrupt talks by Israeli scholars and experts—and even by Palestinians who support peace. I hear you call for boycotting hummus (made in Virginia!), and petition artists not to perform in Israel, and demand that pension funds divest from one of the world’s most vibrant economies. I hear you misappropriate terms like “justice” and “apartheid” and “genocide,” divorcing words so far from their true meaning that the language is no longer recognizable.

And I can’t help but wonder: How is all this vitriol, this hateful rhetoric, remotely helpful to the cause of the Palestinian people you claim to support?

If you truly cared about Palestinians…

Read the whole thing, here, because the message is well worth noting. Highly recommended.

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The legal business

A cracking quote from Joshua Fireman, US law firm management consultant:

“We find ourselves using 19th century processes with 20th century technology to solve 21st century problems.”

Source: Legal IT Insider, September 2016. The website is here.

Based on what I have seen in local legal practices, the management processes may even be 18th century.

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