Ralph Miliband Smear Hints at Darker Motive
Given that The Daily Mail has never liked anyone whose politics are to the left of General Franco, it is hardly surprising that they would not care for Ralph Miliband or indeed his son, Ed.
After all, Ralph Miliband was one of the foremost English socialist thinkers and writers of the 20th century. Miliband favoured the upending of the existing class structure and the dismantling of the existing establishment including the Church, the Lords, and the business elite. He also favoured nationalisation of key industries with a view to “improving the efficiency of a capitalist economy,” much to the chagrin to Mail, who wrote that he “chose to ignore the lamentable performance of nationalisation, which proved to be anything but efficient.”
“The Man Who Hated Britain” – the Mail’s recent feature on Miliband – labors (forgive the pun) boringly and boorishly on his politics and its implications for what his son might do if he were Prime Minister.
“But how passionately he would have approved today of his son’s sinister warning about some of the policies he plans to follow if he ever becomes Prime Minister,” Geoffrey Levy writes. “Such as giving councils draconian new powers to seize into public ownership land held by developers who fail to build on it.” The horror.
And yet were the piece merely a castigation of the professor’s unabashed socialist politics, then that would be fine, insofar as it falls within the Mail’s usual remit.
But in “The man who hated Britain,” there are evidently other motivations at work. Miliband is described as “the immigrant boy whose first act in Britain was to discard his name Adolphe because of its associations with Hitler, and become Ralph, and who helped his father earn a living rescuing furniture from bombed houses in the Blitz.” For rescuing, read pilfering.
UK Intel: “Highly likely” Syrian government responsible for chemical attack
It is the assessment of the United Kingdom Joint Intelligence Committee that chemical weapons were utilised in an area of Damascus on August 21, and that is is “highly likely” the Syrian government was responsible. The attack in East Ghouta resulted in the deaths of 350 people. “The regime has used CW on a smaller scale on at least 14 occasions in the past. There is some intelligence to suggest regime culpability in this attack.”
Among their findings published today, the JIC also stated that:
- Extensive video footage attributed to the attack in eastern Damascus is consistent with the use of a nerve agent, such as sarin, and is not consistent with the use of blister or riot control agents.
- Permission to authorise CW has probably been delegated by President Assad to senior regime commanders but any deliberate change in the scale and nature of use would require his authorisation.
- It is not possible for the opposition to have carried out a CW attack on this scale. Moreover, there is no credible evidence that any opposition group has used CW. A number continue to seek a CW capability, but none currently has the capability to conduct a CW attack on this scale.
Read the full JIO memo here.
Nigel Farage courts Jewish voters, talks Israel, Iran, and shechita
It was ever-so-slightly distressing to see an august community institution like London’s Jewish Chronicle granting a platform to Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), on Wednesday evening. As someone who dedicates a good deal of his days to fostering an unwelcome climate for the most vulnerable in society — tarting up narrow-mindedness with libertarian lipstick — Farage’s politics aren’t exactly aligned with consensus Jewish values.
In particular, Farage tramples on the mitzvah to never oppress the stranger. For him, the stranger is the immigrant.
UKIP was founded as an anti-EU concern but of all its policies the one with which attracts voters, opinion polling suggests, is its pledge to put an end “to the age of mass, uncontrolled immigration”. This will be achieved by “a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement” and a complete and total end to unregulated internal European migration by leaving the European Union.
When it was put to Farage that he was in fact addressing a room full of the descendants of immigrants and refugees from one time or another, he seemed oddly unfazed. “I’m a refugee, just like you,” he said, pointing out his ancestors were Huguenots who fled to the United Kingdom from France. “They were going to burn us at the stake before we sought refuge here, so there is some commonality there.” Later, Farage conducted a crude show-of-hands which appeared to prove that, in fact, a good number of the 350 in attendance supported the notion that the present level of immigration was unsustainable.
Farage was perhaps less clear or honest about the issues surroundings shechita and brit mila. He asserted that his party held a liberal, nuanced position on these practices, that “whatever our dislikes, we are fundamentally a strong libertarian party that says you may pursue what you wish to pursue, providing that it doesn’t hurt or affect me”. Which would be fine, if polling conducted by YouGov and the Jewish Chronicle didn’t conclude that 71 percent of UKIP supporters favour an outright ban on the religious slaughter of animals for kosher meat and 51 percent a proscription on male circumcision.
Britain’s U-Turn on Teaching Hebrew
The British Department for Education (DfE) today announced a U-turn on its previously-proposed policy that would have limited the scope of Jewish primary schools in the United Kingdom to teach Hebrew as a modern foreign language.
As The Forward previously reported, under controversial plans released last December as part of an overall reform of the national curriculum, the DfE mandated that beginning in September 2014, pupils aged 7 to 11 would only be allowed to learn one of either French, German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Latin, or ancient Greek as their second language in state-run schools.
The DfE stated that the aim of this policy was to prevent “any potential proliferation of very low take-up languages, and would focus schools’ attention on a sample of important languages.” A spokesperson for the Department told The Forward at the time that, “We want to give young people the skills they need to compete in a global jobs market.”
Such a policy, however, would have been destructive for the proliferation of Hebrew in government-aided Jewish day schools. The teaching of either classical or modern Hebrew would have been pushed to the margins in order to allow for the obligatory teaching of one of the seven permitted languages. The teaching of foreign languages in British schools is already compromised by the amount of time allocated to other subjects, including literary, numeracy, science, and the humanities.
Under the altered proposals which follow a public consultation, the DfE now states that in primary education, “teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language and should focus on enabling pupils to make substantial progress in one language.” This same policy also applies to the teaching of modern foreign languages up until the age of 14.
The DfE adds that, “If an ancient language is chosen the focus will be to provide a linguistic foundation for reading comprehension and an appreciation of classical civilisation.”
NEWS: Pamela Geller Banned From Entering the UK
Pamela Geller, the American blogger and activist infamous for her staunch criticism and denigration of Islam, has been pre-emptively banned from entering the United Kingdom by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
In a two-page letter which Geller uploaded onto her blog, Atlas Shrugs, the Home Office informed Geller that has been “excluded from the UK” on the basis that her “presence here would not be conducive to the public good.” Her previous history indicated to the Home Secretary that Geller may attempt to “foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”
Below the letter in her blogpost, Geller reacted:
In a striking blow against freedom, the British government has banned us from entering the country. Muhammad al-Arifi, who has advocated Jew-hatred, wife-beating, and jihad violence, entered the U.K. recently with no difficulty. In not allowing us into the country solely because of our true and accurate statements about Islam, the British government is behaving like a de facto Islamic state. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.
Geller and her co-founder of Stop Islamisation of America (SIOA), Robert Spencer – who has also been banned from entering the UK – had been due to attend and speak at a rally in Woolwich organised by the English Defence League, the far-right movement which purports to share with Geller a mutual concern over the Islamisation of Europe, on Saturday, June 29. “Today is a sad day for freedom of speech,” EDL leader Tommy Robinson stated after Geller announced her ban.
Jonathan Sacks and the Twin Danger Facing Jews
The outgoing Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Lord Sacks, warned attendees at his farewell dinner Monday evening that assimilation and ultra-Orthodoxy – “those who embrace the world and reject Judaism, and those who embrace Judaism and reject the world” – represent a “global danger” to Jews and Judaism.
Assimilation and ultra-Orthodoxy, Sacks said, are phenomena that presently “dominate the Jewish world”. He described the trend of “one young Jew in two deciding not to have a Jewish marriage, create a Jewish home and build the Jewish future” as a ‘tragedy’, while stating that the haredim “segregates itself from the world and from its fellow Jews.”
“This is very dangerous, because if there is anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism in the future, who is going to fight it? The Jews who abandon Judaism? Or the Jews who abandon the world?”
As the spiritual leader of the UK’s Orthodox community, Sacks has reason to be concerned. According to a 2010 study produced by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, 73 percent of Jewish households are affiliated with a synagogue, yet the percentage of affiliated households across the denominations has fallen by 17 percent over the past twenty years. Orthodox households still represent over fifty percent of affiliated households, but their number has contracted by one third. At the same time, the percentage of Jewish households affiliated to an ultra-Orthodox synagogue has more than doubled from 4.5% in 1990 to 10.9% in 2010.
It’s that time again: Eurovision!
Every year it disappoints me, yet every year I return. And once more, the Eurovision Song Contest is upon us. For the uninitiated (though I can’t imagine there are that many people unaware of exactly what this affair entails), I have selected some of my favourite Eurovision winners from ABBA to Loreen, both of whom are Swedish, by coincidence I presume. My selection indicate two things: first, that Eurovision had a kind of musical peak between 1974 and 1982; and second, I started watching Eurovision after 1997, and in spite of the overall decline in quality, I keep doing so.
ABBA, “Waterloo” (Sweden, 1974)
Marie Myriam, “L’oiseau and l’enfant” (France, 1977)
Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta, “A-Ba-Ni-Bi” (Israel, 1978)
Johnny Logan, “What’s Another Year”(Ireland, 1980)
Nicole, “Ein Bisschen Frieden” (Germany, 1982)
I’ve just spent the past hour or maybe two reading through today’s copy of The Times, which while extremely thorough and well-reported but on the balance of things was decidedly glowing. Thus, thoughts inevitably turned to how to make the left critique of Thatcher’s Britain, or indeed Britain’s Thatcher. In The Independent, Owen Jones demonstrated perhaps how not to do it:
Thatcherism was a national catastrophe, and we remain trapped by its consequences. …We are in the midst of the third great economic collapse since the Second World War: all three have taken place since Thatcherism launched its great crusade. This current crisis has roots in the Thatcherite free market experiment, which wiped out much of the country’s industrial base in favour of a deregulated financial sector.
Jones’ critique comes very much from the socialist left, the perspective of the working class, and when he goes onto highlight the loss of skilled industrial jobs, a paucity of decent social housing, and growing income inequality, he isn’t incorrect. These are the consequences of Thatcherism, and those on the right who deem her to be something of a mix of Boudicca and Jesus of Nazareth might do well to recognise that while Thatcherism had its winners, it had its losers too.
Jones’ problem is that his critique of Thatcherism almost exists in a vacuum. He fails to recognise that deindustrialisation in the north of England was somewhat inevitable. He does not which to discuss the negative impact of the power undemocratic, unaccountable trade unions. And, he seems unable to acknowledge that her policies of deregulation, modernisation, and privatisation were a perfectly reasonable response to ten or more years of economic stagnation that had made the United Kingdom a sick man within Europe.