Archive for April, 2016

The Left’s hatred of Jews chills me to the bone

Saturday, April 30th, 2016
View of the Holocaust Memorial in winter with snow in Berlin, Germany
Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany Credit: Alamy

As a young boy, I used to think my grandma very strange. In her bedroom she kept a suitcase, packed and ready for use at a moment’s notice. “Just in case,” she’d tell me when I asked where it was that she was always waiting to go to. “You never know when they’ll turn on the Jews.”

Her house in Northwood was epitome of suburban comfort, and I couldn’t understand what on earth she meant. Until, that is, I learned some history – including the history of the Jews. Which is, in short, that pretty much everywhere, they have turned on the Jews.

From my teens through my twenties and thirties, the fact that I am Jewish meant little to me beyond the Jonathan Miller sense of being Jew-ish. I adored beigels, matzoh balls, Seinfeld and Woody Allen more than your average gentile would think they deserved. And that was about it. If you’d asked me, I’d have told you that after the Holocaust, real, serious anti-Semitism – the sort where Jews were killed for being Jews, rather than the odd nasty comment – was a thing of the past, in civilised Europe, at least.

MP apologises for anti-semitic remarks Play! 01:19

Then something happened. 9/11, to be specific. I realised something was up that I didn’t really understand. So I read and read and read. And then read some more – especially the words of the terrorists and their fellow Islamists. They were explicit and open. Jews were the enemy. All their “issues” with the West pivoted, in the end, on their Jew hate. So I immersed myself even more in the issues around terrorism and Islamism. Because, you see, it mattered.

It matters, of course, to all of us, because – as we have seen both on 9/11 and ever since, Islamist terrorism is not specific in its targeting. But it matters to me more, I would say, than anything else I can think of. Because although these maniacs will happily kill anyone, they say, and their subsequent murders show, that – quite specifically – they want to kill me. A Jew. So on level I am not in the least bit shocked, or even surprised, by the reemergence of Jew hatred as a thing in recent years. By what arrogance would we think that our generation, alone in history, would be free of the oldest hatred?

‘Anti-Semitic’ comic’s show ban sparks protest Play! 01:01

But on another, more visceral level, it chills me to the bone. And it’s not the terrorists. They threaten me, of course, as they threaten us all. Yet to me, the real chill comes from their fellow travelers – the useful idiots of the terrorists and Jew-murderers who say they do not have a racist bone in their body, but when it comes to Jews, a blind spot emerges. The likes, to be blunt, of the now suspended Ken Livingstone, who claims never to have come across a single example of Anti-semitism in the Labour Party. He clearly has never looked in the mirror. Much has been written – especially by the brilliant Nick Cohen – on the “Red/Green Alliance”; the phenomenon by which a swathe of the Left has linked up with radical Islam, leading to the bizarre spectacle of Leftist feminists supporting Islamists who would cut off the hands of women who read books.

With “anti-Western-imperialism” as part of the glue binding the alliance, everything else falls into place. So Hamas and Hezbollah might have as their defining goal the elimination of an entire people from the face of the earth, but that unfortunate consequence for Jews is by the by, because Hamas and Hezbollah are freedom fighters.

And because Israel is part of the Western imperium, as well as a key target for Islamists, it is also enemy number one for progressives. So an obsessive preoccupation with the Jewish state becomes the default position of the Left. China, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia – pah! The focus must be on Israel and Israel alone. From that springs an entire worldview that encompasses “Zionist” control of the media, of business, of everything. And we can’t be accused of targeting Jews because we don’t use the word. We say Zionist, not Jew.

So deep does this warping of what it means to be Left and progressive now run that it is almost prosaic to assert Zionist control. But now, to cap it, we have a Labour leader whose entire political career has been in this milieu – feeding it, growing it and pushing it.

For months now, week by week, examples have been emerging of cut and dried anti-Semitism – most dressed up, oh so cleverly, as anti-Zionism, but much not even bothering to hide it. And the Labour leader’s response to the criticism that he is soft on anti-Semitism and that it’s his political mindset that has fuelled its rise is not to get hard on anti-Semitism. It’s to get irritated.

Miliband: Peer’s comments ‘disgraceful’ Play! 00:24

This is not some academic exercise or interesting political theory. This is reality – the reality that the Labour Party is now run by a cadre for whom anti-Semitism really is ok, so long as it is dressed up as anti-Zionism. Because Zionism is the enemy of all good people.

Should I admit that I am afraid? Because I am. I don’t go about my life in fear. I wouldn’t be writing this or doing my job if I did. But how, quite rationally, can I not be afraid when Jews are being murdered on the streets of Europe simply for being Jews; when anti-Semitic tropes and discourse is becoming part of the mainstream of political debate; and when one of our main political parties is led by a man who does not merely let this fester, but actually describes representatives of terrorist groups as “friends”?

If this is the level we have reached today, I fear not just for myself but far more for my children. History shows that when anti-Semitism takes hold it does not wither; it grows. Yes, Britain is a wonderful home to Jews, as it is to all minorities. Yes, we have the full backing of the law and the authorities. But yes, I do look over my shoulder. Wouldn’t you?

Stephen Pollard is the editor of The Jewish Chronicle.

Only bigots oppose gay marriage. But in BBC land they must be Christian not Muslims.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

 

According to a new poll, more than half of British Muslims want homosexuality criminalised.

Such findings come as no surprise. The real surprise is that it’s been reported by the media (although you’d have to search very hard to find the story anywhere on the BBC news website).

Just prior to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, when the issue was being debated in TV and radio studios up and down the country, producers of current affairs and debate programmes wanted to find opponents of same-sex marriage who would go on air and say why they disagreed with the proposed legislation.

Invariably, the speakers were Christian, with the debate framed in such a way as to make Christians and anyone who disagreed with same-sex marriage look like religious bigots. I was asked by one producer to debate the issue on a local BBC radio station, and when the producer understood that my arguments were purely secular – about the effect on children and the common good – and that I wasn’t going to say something along the lines of “It’s against God’s law” – I was dropped. That producer wanted a token bigot, preferably banging on about God and Christianity, just to really trash the image of Christians for the secular minded audience.

At the time I wondered why none of the people asked on to these programmes were Muslim, given what the Koran says about homosexuality. Why were news editors and producers only interested in Christian opposition to same-sex marriage? It was as if Muslims had absolutely no opinion on the issue.

Or was it something more deliberate than that? Were the producers and editors and these TV and radio programmes just really keen to preserve the image of Muslims for their audience, and keen not to associate the religion of Islam with opposition to same-sex marriage in the minds of the British public?

Goodness, it’s not even as if Christians want to go as far as the Muslims quoted in this poll. Most Christians would never want to see gay men and women imprisoned for their sexuality. Those who understand homosexuality as a sin would consider it a sin answerable to God rather than answerable in a court of law.

If producers and editors of TV and radio programmes wanted to find fundamentalist opposition to same-sex marriage when the issue was being debated live on air, why didn’t they go the Muslim community? If the findings of this poll are to be believed, they would have found plenty of speakers willing to make the religious argument.

Could it be that those who set the news agenda really want to hide from a politically inconvenient truth when selecting speakers from religious communities?

What is the Anglican Consultative Council

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

By Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel, Church of England Newspaper:sugden and samuel

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to urge all Anglican primates to attend the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka from April 8-19.

The primates of Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda have indicated that their representatives cannot attend because the spirit of the Primates Meeting in Canterbury, which introduced consequences for TEC and its participation in Communion decision-making on doctrine and polity, appears to be being overridden or ignored.

The issue of trust has emerged again.  Trust was undermined by the invitation to Lambeth 2008, to the TEC Bishops who had consecrated Gene Robinson, in July 2007 before the September deadline for TEC’s response to the questions of the Dar-Es-Salaam primates meeting.  The Jerusalem GAFCON Conference of 2008 was the direct result.

Archbishop Okoh of Nigeria argues that the orthodox have been manipulated by the revisionists and misled. He writes: “In spite of the hollow restrictions placed on The Episcopal Church, ( in January) the Presiding Bishop of TEC and the Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council have avowed that the Primates had no authority to take that decision. “

Despite past history the GAFCON Primates decided to attend the January meeting. They demonstrated a love for the unity of the Communion but on a basis of common faith. They have not yet given up on the Communion.  But ACC’s actions so far confirm their suspicions that they are being misled and manipulated and even an orthodox Archbishop of Canterbury cannot stop it.

How can ACC not accept the Primates’ decision? Why is it arrogating such roles to itself?  Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda are right in drawing a firm line on the sand.  Their approach is principled, not managerial or political.

Politically, TEC holds powerful cards – money, power, access, communication, control of the media and leverage. But did TEC accept the Primates decision in January in the light of what they look on as a replay in Lusaka?

But the political and managerial approach overlooks the fact that these decisions are about God’s truth on the nature of men and women, morality and the life of the church.  If church leaders cannot be trusted when it comes to guarding the faith, everything descends to managing power relationships.

Kenya and Nigeria were very gracious in trusting the conversations at Canterbury and the decisions made there.  They now suspect that they were misled.

Lusaka is not the place to sort out church polity, unity, doctrine or matters of sexuality. Those are the callings of the primates meeting and the Lambeth conference of Bishops.

While the ACC has synodical form with bishops, clergy and lay, it should not think of itself as the General Synod of the Communion. It does not make doctrinal decisions or define the mission of its member churches. Those decisions belong to the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’ Meeting. It does not define Anglican identity, even though membership of the ACC is part of being part of the Communion.  It is not there to demonstrate Anglican unity across diversity. That ecclesiological matter is beyond its brief. Powerful forces will try to push ACC down this path.

ACC provides a network and means of working together of these many churches in addressing  critical challenges.  There are many networks in the ACC on everything from environment to women’s issues and back: far too many for the Lusaka conference to focus on. But activists will attempt to use it to further their causes on those umpteen matters. Lusaka will dissipate its efforts and end up endorsing motherhood and apple pie. Everyone else will regard ACC and the Anglican churches as irrelevant.

The world faces huge challenges.  Terrorism and refugees; persecution and issues of religious freedom; dreadful poverty in places like Sudan and increasing inequality in many countries leaving people ‘left behind’ due to economic systems: human rights being used to challenge religious faith and conscience.  Politicians have no answers.  Anglican churches face them head on every day and have hope in the midst of them.

ACC Lusaka can speak forcefully by addressing these few matters with Christian hope, and planning together to share resources and expertise in resourcing the churches to analyse and respond together to the pressures many Anglican communities face in the world, whether in the west with its rapid cultural change and secular hegemony or in the non western world where many face poverty and persecution. The need for resilient communities of faith is urgent. These can only be built on revealed truth and the received faith of the Church that has resisted and thrived against many challenges over generations.