Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jewish News Column

From today's Jewish News on Blair and Cameron. Of course this was written before the Tory Conference -- otherwise I probably would have been far harsher.

On one television interview Cameron was blathering on about how Al Gore's scare film on the environment affected him. And people are griping about Bush and Blair going into Iraq on false pretences -- at least MI5 and the CIA have some credibility to them. To set policy based on a movie that has already been discredited by several scientists is a worrying sign.

It struck me that Dave is just Mr. Feelgood -- "Hey you can feel good about me. We won't even mention Europe or anything about tax, crime, Europe... With that can I highly recommend one speech given by the inimitable Christopher Booker on why Cameron should and must address Europe. The EU accounts for over 60% of our laws now that go through parliament on a nod and a wink with no debate or discussion; laws that were formulated undemocratically by an unelected and unrepresentative quango (the EU Commission) in Brussels. We then end up with laws that do not suit us or this countries circumstances (the waste disposal/landfill laws) or badly written, hard to understand laws like the latest one on child safety seats. Bookers speech is on the EU Referendum site and is a must read.

Blair, Cameron And Thr Role Of The UK On The World Stage

Twice in the last fortnight David Cameron has been shown up for the political neophyte that he is.As I write, Cameron has yet to have his first party conference. Last year’s conference made him, but since then all he has shown are vacuous performances with no substance, no policies nor foresight. Trying to latch on to the environmental zeitgeist will only go so far. Unlike Blair he does not have the Prime Minister’s mastery of vision.

In his latest speech, his first on foreign policy, Cameron lectured America; spoke of Mr. Blair’s relation with George Bush and tried to win political favour with the canard of the moment, “Israeli disproportion.” This was on, of all days, the fifth anniversary on 9/11. It backfired.

He said that he is not a neo-conservative but is a liberal conservative. But neo Conservatives are liberal conservatives. He is busy telling us what he is not to the point of saying, “Hey, I’m not even a Tory.”Contrast this, on the same day, on the other side of the pond on the White House lawn, a proven statesman using fewer words than Lincoln’s Gettysburg address defined the moment and proscribed the course of action. Lady Thatcher put it simply and powerfully:

“This heinous attack upon America was an attack upon us all.

“With America, Britain stands in the front line against Islamist fanatics who hate our beliefs, our liberties and our citizens.

“We must not falter.

“We must not fail.”

Last week it was the Prime Minister’s turn, his last Labour Conference speech as leader. The most successful Labour prime minister of all time and his party are throwing him out. One commentator had it right: Why did he declare his hand at all, he could win a fourth term. He could.

His legacy will be Iraq – but history will write a positive story. Blair went against type to fight an unpopular war, not because he is Bush’s poodle but because, like Bush, he saw the threat to his own country from bin Laden and the gathering storm from an un-caged Saddam still in power.

Fortunately Labour has not been in power since Callaghan. It is Blair that has won three elections not Labour.

Cameron is in danger of pushing traditional Tories, with nowhere else to go, too far before they just don’t vote at all. Old Labour’s policies would keep them in power for a term, not three. For all Blair’s faults – devolution; he’s created a surfeit of laws and quangos; his reform of the Lords was half-baked and half-assed— on the most important issue of our time, foreign policy, Blair is still the only one with the right vision.

Blair could win a fourth term as Prime Minster… The Conservatives could finally come back to power. Both could happen at the same time.

That is if Blair extraordinarily walked across the floor of the House. His relationship with Bush and foreign policy vision would give continuity in the fight against terror; there would be leadership with the next US president. Domestically, Thatcherite economic policies (that he has aped in his own imperfect way) would give him the ability to finally reform public services and shore up the economy.

Far fetched? Yes. But it would definitely give him a hell of an interesting legacy!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Jewish News Column

The Irish Academic Boycott Will Lead To Ignorance

Thursday 28th of September 2006

A group of Irish professors has called for an academic boycott of Israel.

A recent letter to the Irish Times, signed by 61 Irish academics, calls for the boycott against Israel’s (and add to that any non-compliant Jew’s) academic work. Simply put it is an act of racism.

Academics, by their very nature, are not too smart. When it comes to narrow-minded, blinkered and bigoted thinking there is nothing like the elitist cloisters of a university. With tenure there is little or no responsibility for thought; engage mouth before brain without consequence. But this insulting call should be vigorously protested against.

This attitude, by academics, of all people, goes against the wisdom attributed to Maimonides who said, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The writer and futurologist, Alvin Toffler, noted that the power of what he terms “the third wave” or the information age, (the first wave being agrarian society, the second the industrial age) is that unlike the girl sitting in a rice paddy that can only be used and profited by her; in the information age, the same piece of information can be used and profited from over and over by many people simultaneously.

If knowledge liberates, a lack of knowledge – or ignorance – feeds terror and injustice.

If ignorance leads to terror the opposite is also true. Education leads to freedom – it liberates the mind. Instead of adding to and supporting the anti-Semitic lies and libels around the Arab world that foment hate to Israel and Jews, these academics should make a dispassionate search for truth their mission.

Instead of boycotting Israel, these academics would do far better good by addressing the ignorance that feeds terror in the Gaza Strip and West Bank: Textbooks that deny the holocaust; maps denying Israel; brandishing Jews apes and pigs; Jewish control of the world.

One example of the futility of these boycotts was revealed to me by my doctor. An Israeli hematologist, working to cure a genetic disease, prone to those who marry first cousins – Palestinians —needs blood supplies obtained from Holland for his research; that is until he was boycotted by them. The losers: The Palestinians. Daft, isn’t it?

Israel has contributed to the world through invention and the sharing of information in the fields of high technology, medical research, mobile phone technology, the development of the Pentium chip. Compare that with sclerotic Europe and the failure of the Lisbon agenda – that laughable grand scheme to compete with America’s knowledge base.

If anything, Israel should “boycott” Europe. Europe’s lack of innovation, inefficient, corrupt and undemocratic form of government (yes, Israeli politics has its share of corruption too) are going nowhere. The European Union is stuck in the industrial age, if not the failed command and control structure of the Communist system. Economically they are yesterday’s news.

The Airbus A380 superjumbo, both a literal and a figurative white elephant, proves that Europe, with state intervention and the lack of vision due to forced cooperation between disparate states, just won’t fly. It’s time Israel ‘boycotts’ Europe. Not out of some delusional hatred as Europe displays towards Israel, but simply because who wants to hang out with losers? Europe is holding Israel back.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Jewish News Column

Here is this week's column from the Jewish News


We Have Become Hostage To Our Desire To Appease

Thursday 21st of September 2006

President Bush stated it directly: This is a war for civilisation. Pope Benedict, indirectly, allowed radical Islam to prove Bush’s point.

What the Pope was speaking about was the need for reason and reasonableness; if “First there was the word,” then religion needs to stand on the word and not the sword. We only have to look to failed Islamic states such as Afghanistan under the Taliban or present day Iran under the Mullahs to prove his point. If Islam is as pure and true as the radicals preach it, why then, in the free marketplace of ideas is nobody buying what they are selling? Any philosophy or theology that props itself on the sword and uses it as a crutch cannot stand on its own.

These great mujahideen warriors are a little thin skinned if they can’t handle an obscure fourteenth century Byzantine ruler. The radicalised Islamo-Fascits, like most school-yard bullies, can dish it out but can’t take it.

What may have embarrassed Muslims is that the Pope’s quote is not only historical, but contemporary. Only last month two kidnapped Fox News journalists in the Gaza Strip were converted to Islam at gunpoint. In response to the Pope’s words a nun is murdered in Somalia, churches burned and attacked in Gaza –nothing new.


The irony is that the Pope’s speech was an indictment not on Islam, but on Western Hellenic traditions; modernist thought that cannot understand that Christianity has a place in the university setting; that a belief in God is rational and reasonable; and just as science has a place in religion (the embracing of truth) so must religion have its place within academic disciplines.

The Pope’s remarks illustrated the failings of both Islam and the West.

Here in the West we show our own lack of reason. The arguments focusing not on the truly disproportionate response by Muslims, but on what the pope said –and like the Muslims, we too have not bothered to read his words before passing judgement. We are a country so ignorant that we protests against paediatricians instead of paedophiles. If not unreasonable, we in the West have sadly lost our capacity for reason.


As Melanie Philips pointed out in her book Londonistan, our problems started in 1989 when Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses. This was a significant episode; a minority group (who were rightly offended) challenged our cherished rights of free speech. Calls for the murder of a British citizen went unanswered and the response of our government was weak. Our laws were thrown aside to appease a minority group. We caved in.

The Rushdie affair was the first crack in our value system. It is now alarmingly being repeated over cartoons and now this.

Members of the defunct al-Mahajiroun picket outside Westminster Cathedral with signs reading, “Jesus is the slave of Allah” and “Islam will conquer Rome.” As with the Danish cartoon protests the police stood by, not wanting to inflame the situation; the reality: they are scared to act to enforce the laws of the land.

If we stood outside a mosque and questioned Mohammed’s claim to be a prophet, we would be arrested for breeching the peace.

Tolerance should not tolerate intolerance. To affront is part of our democratic tradition. To incite hatred or stifle free speech by threat is not.

Friday, September 22, 2006

NEW YEAR'S GREETINGS


The next two weeks are an interesting and reflective time for Jews. With Rosh Hashanah we have the opportunity to look to the future and the New Year. Yom Kippur gives us pause to look back and asses our lives.

Each High Holy Day is dependent and compliments the other. Looking back enables us to look forward – we can’t figure where we are going until we know where we have been. Looking forward helps us to look at where we are now – today’s present is tomorrow’s history.

May yours and your family’s name be written in the Lord’s Book of Life and may the coming year be as fruitful as your Succoth hut.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This Week's Jewish News Column

Here is this week's column from the Jewish News

The Liberal Left And Press Have Failed Us Since 9/11



9/11 should have been a wake up call. Instead we roused briefly, then rolled over and went back to sleep to dream. Since then our response has become so Orwellian that Orwell himself couldn’t make it up.

While troops fight the ground battles and intelligence services and police try to stem the next attack, at home we let the enemy’s ideas thrive – a Petri dish of perfect conditions to grow. Islamo-fascists are ultimately nothing but opportunists.

The events and response to 9/11 by the anti-war left, the sniping press, CND, scheming socialists of the far left conniving with so called Muslim moderates of the far right and the usual loonies, dupes and appeasers are bringing about a slow-motion suicide by a thousand self-inflicted cuts. It is attacks from within by our own press and liberal elites that should frighten us.

What allowed this evil to thrive?

Before we examine our own faults lets not forget that the groups that carried out these acts –flying planes into buildings, beheadings, forced conversions, suicide bombings—are evil, plain evil. They emanate from failed civilisations with backward ideologies towards not just the infidels but even their own women, homosexuals – or even those who are guilty (in their eyes) of being raped! Honour killings! They are failures that wallow in their self-made victim status, blaming the West for their problems. But the liberal left loves a victim so we buy into their pain. Our press have failed us.

Secular humanism is but one of our problems. Those who can’t believe in God end up believing in anything – and nothing. It creates a social vacuum that radicals fill. We lack the powers of reason and ability to take a stand –one man’s terrorist mistakenly becomes another’s freedom fighter. This creates moral inversions to the point where we can’t tell the wrongness of the enemy’s philosophies from the rightness of our own.

Instead of lashing out against the perpetrators the PM invites radicals to advise him (their response, do away with Holocaust Memorial Day) and the Mayor invites Sheik al-Qaradawi to town (“A true moderate” says Hizonner). Israel is attacked and Hezbollah is viewed as a valiant resistance group; Israel is demonised in the press and it is against a scapegoated Jewish community that acts of violence are perpetrated. No one told the Guardian and Independent this is not Vichy France. The problem is we don’t even realise we are at war.

When Bush and Blair talk about winning the battle of ideas most think we are still developing them – we aren’t. Our civilisation, its freedoms, democracy, free markets, rule of law, are already developed, recognised and worth fighting for. They are not perfect, but they work. Freedom is not just a concept but that which we are endowed with by our Creator. That is why our grandparents in World War II and our young sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to fight and die.

The Islamo Fascists are united in their message – kill Americans and Jews, wipe Israel of the map, all knees shall bend to Allah or die. From us there is discordance, partisanship and self loathing; nothing about the majesty and nobility of our cause. That is how to loose the battle of ideas. That is how to lose the battle.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Why I'm "Never Critical" About Israel

A complaint I occassionally received on some web forums, or from e-mails when on TalkSport Radio, was that I was "never critical of Israel," or for that matter America. I always defended them and they "could do no wrong."

It was as if, in these listener's minds, that every argument had another side -- more of a sign of their moral equivlance -- that all sides needed "another side" and no one side was correct.


This posting (from the "Angry Reader" section of his site) by one of my favourite academics, Victor Davis Hanson encapsulates why I am never critical of Israel (or America) and am right to be:


Reader: Have you ever written, Mr. Hanson, anything critical of Israel. Come on, show both sides.

Hanson: Israel, like the U.S., is a democratic republic, so it is an honest reflection of human nature and argumentation, and of course subject to mistakes as is any liberal state. But we are talking of disagreements within definite parameters of lawfulness and transparency. Hamas, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt simply have no liberal institutions. State-run megaphones puppet the party-line. Anti-Semitism is a national creed. There are no human rights as we know them. So it hard to insist on moral equivalence, when in one state Arabs vote and enjoy legal protection, and in another Jews would be hounded and killed or ethnically cleansed. After all, the entire matter is Orwellian: there are no illegal Arab aliens in Syria, for example, but plenty in Israel. So they must know something you do not.


If the Palestinians were to forget about a disputed 10% of land on the West Bank for 10 years, use petromoney from their friends, reform and open the economy and insist on the rule of law, they could craft a humane society that could very easily come to an agreement with Israel. But then, that would require growing up, rejecting easy handouts to militias, renouncing the mystique of terror, questioning patriarchy, gender apartheid, fundamentalism, and autocracy — and being more like Israel than like Syria or Iran. And that apparently is just too much.


The reason I am never critical of Israel is because what I am defending is their right to exist and their rights as a self-determinent and sovereign state. Most of the arguments about Israel are political and belong in that realm and are probably best left to the Israelis.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jewish News

Here is this week's column from The Jewish News...


Who is really to blame for Barnet's teen pregnancies?

I am not surprised that Barnet has had the largest rise in teenage pregnancies in the country, not while the UK leads Europe in teen pregnancy. What surprises me is the boneheaded comments attributed to Councillor Chris Harris, who apparently blamed this partly on the orthodox Jewish community.

They would indeed be strange comments coming from a man who represents Golders Green on the council; even stranger to be the words of a Conservative Party member – but, hey, this is no longer the party of Thatcher, it’s the party of Dave. In fact I would have placed the comments with the sort of morally degraded woolly thinking of some lefty councillor who has never been in the real world. Surprises all around.

Some perspective; this figure of 42 percent represents a rise from 2.4 percent to 3.5 percent of Barnet’s 15-17 year olds falling pregnant. That is a small number and much lower than other councils in the country – less than half the national average of 8 percent. It is still too many. I would submit that the Jewish community is not, as these unsubstantiated and little thought out comments claimed, the cause of these “high” numbers; in fact, if it wasn’t for such a large faith community in Barnet the numbers would have been far higher.

I would expect a liberal politician to blame the Jewish community, or any faith community, because in their deluded world of secularism –the far greater the cause of our country’s many problems—they see religion as the ideological enemy, not the last best hopes that we have for solving problems such as teen pregnancy. Politicians and agenda prone educators would love to blame the faith community because it shifts the blame from the real problem: the failed policies of our morality free education system.

It is this secular thinking that not only believes, “anything goes,” there are no moral truths or absolutes; homosexuality, straight sex, marriage, living together… all that matters is whatever makes you feel good, so shop around, try it all until you come upon something that floats your boat. A lot different to the moral absolutes of God and religion; but this does not fall in line with the sexual and gender politics of the post modern world.

If anything, educators should be taking lessons from the orthodox community. No orthodox, or any “good Jewish girl” or any young man raised to be a mensch would dare have a child out of wedlock.

And yes, orthodox Jewish girls probably do marry younger, as Harris contemplated; but nowhere near the ages of 15-17. When our secular society is putting off marriage until later and later and families are having less and less children, it is strong committed families, such as in the orthodox community, that should be applauded and followed. Jewish life has been and is still centred on the family; an example for all.

An analogy: To a toddler there is nothing more dangerous than fire. So if the message to them is, under no circumstances play with, touch or go near matches, why do our educators try to teach teens the sex equivalent of how to “close cover before striking.” Teach teens to experiment with this sexual fire and whatever happens at the end of it some young girl is going to get burned.

Welcome

It has taken a while but I have now finally joined the land of blog. Expect postings and news here in the near future.