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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘England’

Dani Dayan, Caroline Glick Debate the Yesha Communities Issue

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

I mentioned the debate here.

Here’s Dayan speaking:

Caroline Glick’s words can be found here at the 49th minute or so.

Here’s what she wrote about the experience:

…in one particularly ugly segment, Levy made the scurrilous accusation that Israel systematically steals land from the Palestinians. Both Dayan and I demanded that he provide just one example of his charge. And the audience raged against us for our temerity at insisting that he provide substantiation for his baseless allegation. In the event, he failed to substantiate his allegation.

At another point, I was asked how I defend the Nazi state of Israel. When I responded by among other things giving the Nazi pedigree of the Palestinian nationalist movement founded by Nazi agent Haj Amin el Husseini and currently led by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, the crowd angrily shouted me down.

I want to note that the audience was made up of upper crust, wealthy British people, not unwashed rabble rousers. And yet they behaved in many respects like a mob when presented with pro-Israel positions…

I was prepared to conduct a civilized debate based on facts and reasoned argumentation. I expected it to be a difficult experience. I was not expecting to be greeted by a well-dressed mob. My pessimism about Europeans’ capacity to avail themselves to reasoned, fact-based argumentation about Israel has only deepened from the experience.

Visit My Right Word.

Jewish Schools Endangered by New UK National Curriculum

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Educational achievement in England has been in a downward spiral, of late, and the British Education Secretary, Michael Gove, addressed the problem by instituting a new national curriculum.  One of the new requirements, however, looks like it may have dire consequences for Jewish schools in England.

As part of the new national curriculum, British schoolchildren will be required to take a foreign language, starting at age seven.

Foreign languages had been compulsory in England, but in 2004, students were permitted to drop the second language once they reached age 14.  When that happened, the percentage of students taking competence examinations at age 14 – 16 (the Graduate Certifiate of Secondary Educations, or GCSEs) in languages dropped from 75 percent in 2002, to just 43 percent in 2010.

The foreign language choices offered to British students to meet their national requirement will be French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Latin and Greek.

But this new requirement may have a devastating impact on the Jewish day schools of England, because Hebrew is not one of the officially recognized languages for purposes of satisfying the new foreign language requirement.  Jewish schools already have a heavy course load because of their Jewish studies classes in addition to the required secular classes.  Many Jewish school educators believe it might prove impossible to continue their programs if they are compelled to require another foreign language, in addition to Hebrew.

According to England’s Jewish Chronicle:

Board [of Deputies] senior vice-president Laura Marks said the government proposals could be “extremely detrimental to our community’s identity, as language — including modern and classical Hebrew — is a vital ingredient to understanding our faith and culture”. She urged the government “to reject the idea of stipulating just a narrow range of languages”.

However, it is not true, as it has been portrayed in some media accounts, that Hebrew specifically has been stripped from its standing as an “official language” in the UK.  There is and has been only one official language in England – English.  Arabic is also not offered as one of the recognized languages for purposes of satisfying the school language requirement.

The new national curriculum will not be put into place until the fall of 2014.  Therefore, it is possible that an accommodation will be made for various schools which have language requirements as part of their own curriculum, to be granted waivers.  Another option could be for the government to expand the list of languages, competence in which will satisfy the national curriculum foreign language requirement.

 

King James II

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

This is a portrait of King James II by Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1686.

James II was King of England and Ireland, and also doubled under the name James VII as King of Scotland. His reign began on February 6, 1685.

He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. After he produced a Catholic heir, the English gentry invited his son in law William of Orange from the Netherlands to invade their country. James II abdicated in a hurry in 1688 and fled to France. He was replaced by William of Orange who became William III, ruling jointly with his wife, who was James’s daughter, Mary II (both Protestants) and together they were the William and Mary team.

James made one half-hearted attempt to take back his country in 1689, but gave up again and Lived out his life sponsored by his cousin, King Louis XIV.

James II, like Louis, was a believer in the absolute monarchy, kings ruling by the grace of God, etc. He also believed, strangely enough, in religious liberty for all his subjects. The first belief made him an enemy of the aristocracy, the second angered the Curch of England. So there you go.

Today, November 13, back in 1685, when he was still very much the king—for another three years or so—King James II of England ordered his Attorney General to stop any proceedings against the Jews because “they should not be troubled upon the King’s account but they should quietly enjoy the free exercise of their religion whilst they behaved dutifully and obediently to his government.”

I’m a great believer in gratitude to those who have done right by us. I often think of King James II when I get into debates with my friends both on the left and on the right over my deep admiration for the late President Richard Nixon. Like James II, he was despised by the powers that be across the board (even though he won by a landslide in 1972). But in October, 1973, by about the tenth day of the Yom Kippur war, Israel had run out of practically everything, and it was Richard Nixon who saved our hide, with a fleet of Galaxy cargo planes the size of spaceships, that brought in ammunition and supplies.

So, my word for today is Gratitude. To James II and Millhouse I and all the misunderstood rulers and despots who did right by us.

Olympic Opening Ceremonies and the Death Throes of a Civilization

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

I don’t think I was the only American weirded out on Friday by the bizarre “dancing nurses” segment at the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics.  There were lots of children wriggling in hospital beds, and seemingly hundreds of nurses prancing around dressed in the garments of yesteryear.  It wasn’t clear what the artist was trying to say – and then the letters “NHS” burst out in glittering lights on the field.

Oh.  This is about the National Health Service.

[Pause.]

????????????

That realization was paired in my mind with the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Yasser Arafat’s terrorists in Munich in 1972.  The IOC’s position is that it doesn’t want to “politicize” the games.

That position doesn’t hold up so well considering that 9/11 was commemorated at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.  In 1996, at the Summer Games in Atlanta, the IOC had a moment of silence at the closing ceremony for the victims of the Olympic Park bombing.

In 2010, at the Winter Games in Vancouver, there was a moment of silence during the opening ceremony for Georgian athlete Nodar Kumartashvili, who had died in an accident on a practice run just before the games began.

So in recent years, the Olympic authorities have commemorated the death of an Olympic athlete and the deaths of others in terrorist attacks, with a moment of silence each time in an opening or closing ceremony.  And guess what?  Last night, in the Olympic stadium, the victims of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in the London subway in 2005 were commemorated as part of the opening ceremony.  Granted, it was hard to catch; a photo montage was projected into the stadium during a lull in the prancing and acrobatics, but there was little narration to call it out.  I didn’t even notice it, and had to be told about it afterward by others who had seen it.

It is jarring to think of passing references being made to the victims of terrorism, sort of as part of the entertainment, during an event-palooza dedicated to performance and revelry.  The reason we usually have authorities solemnly asking for a moment of silence, at a carefully separated, showcased point in the proceedings, is that that’s what is appropriate for commemorating tragedy and sorrow.

But it was clearly important to the British planners to mention their dead from the 2005 terror attack in the opening ceremony.  So they did it.  For forty years, including this Olympics, no one has incorporated a commemoration of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes into an official Olympic ceremony.  Yet Olympic authorities have been assiduous about commemorating others.  Their relentless, determined failure to commemorate the Israelis in the same way is a failure to acknowledge the common humanity of Israeli Jews.

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games couldn’t have been more stuffed with politics if it had been a bell pepper.  The Republic of Taiwan was required to march as “Chinese Taipei,” although of course that is not what the Taiwanese call their nation.  There is no nation of Palestine, yet athletes walked under a “Palestinian” flag and were announced as “Palestine.”  The “quirky” performance segment of the ceremony involved numerous references to political events in the history of Great Britain, including, of course, the paroxysm of pagan worship, complete with cavorting women, for the National Health Service.  It was a really, really political night; if a commemoration for the murdered Israeli athletes might have been “political,” that would only have guaranteed that it would fit right in.

Watching the ceremony last night, I had a profound sense of sadness for the hollow revelry.  There was no dignified memorializing of the greatness, uniqueness, and courage of Britain’s past.  There was “irreverent, idiosyncratic” entertainment, and a very long segment of writhing self-abasement before the shibboleth of socialized medicine.

We seemed to be looking last night at a moment frozen in time before a great upheaval, like the last days of lingering sunlight before World War I.  A civilization based on entertainment and ritual political worship is headed for a fall.  But then, a civilization that singles out some humans, like Israeli Jews, to show less care for – less solidarity with – is a weak and unsustainable one.  Nothing else will go right with it.

Jewish Groups Sharply Condemn Church of England’s Endorsement of Anti-Israel Program

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The main representative body of British Jewry lambasted the Church of England’s General Synod for endorsing an “inflammatory and partisan” anti-Israel program “at the expense of its interfaith relations.”

The Synod on Monday overwhelmingly passed a motion to support “the vital work” of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The program brings church volunteers to “the West Bank to experience life under occupation” and “monitor and report human rights abuses” for a period of three to four months. As part of the program, participants are encouraged to lobby on behalf of the Palestinian cause upon their return.

Vivian Wineman, President of The Board of Deputies of British Jews, released a sharply worded statement on Tuesday condemning the Church of England’s move: “Justifying its decision using the views of marginal groups in Israel and the UK, the Synod has ridden rough shod over the very real and legitimate concerns of the UK Jewish community, showing a complete disregard for the importance of Anglican-Jewish relations.

“Unsurprisingly its graduates return with simplistic and radical perspectives, giving talks against Israel which do nothing to promote an understanding of the situation in the Middle East, much less promote a peaceful and viable solution to its problems. Members of Jewish communities across the country have suffered harassment and abuse at EAPPI meetings and yet Synod has completely dismissed their experiences.”

Wineman went on to deride the Church for its sanctimony and expressed concern for the latent anti-Semitism that was exposed in the run-up to the vote, saying: “The Jewish community does not need lessons from the Anglican Church in justice and peace, themes which originated in our tradition. Moreover, to hear the debate at Synod littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust’, is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind this motion.”

A statement on the website of the Israeli embassy in the UK said: “We are deeply disappointed that General Synod has endorsed the work of a highly partisan organisation. Christians face rising persecution across the region and yet, by supporting this group, the Church of England has chosen to amplify one-sided voices and to single out Israel – the only country where Christian rights are enshrined and the Christian population is growing.

“We share the concerns of all those within the Church of England who opposed this resolution as being misguided and undermining hopes for genuine understanding and reconciliation.”

This is not the Church of England’s first foray into anti-Israel initiatives, with a high-profile vote in February 2006 that resolved to disinvest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in Judea and Samaria.

JTA contributed to this report

England Players to Visit Auschwitz, Meet Survivors

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The players on England’s Euro 2012 soccer squad will visit the Auschwitz death camp when they travel to Poland for the European Championship.

The final tournament of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, or Euro 2012, will be hosted by Poland and the Ukraine between June 8 and July 1, 2012.

England’s players will go to Auschwitz before their opening game against France. They will sign the museum’s guest book and light a candle of remembrance on the train tracks at Birkenau.

Other team members will visit Oskar Schindler’s factory in Krakow, where the gentile owner helped save more than a thousand Jewish lives. Some senior players and staff will meet with Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper and meet weightlifting champion Ben Helfgott, another survivor.

The English Football Association and the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) have partnered to produce an educational program on the Holocaust for all secondary schools and colleges in England.

“This educational partnership brings together the important work of teaching future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust, using the ability of football to interest and engage young people,” said Football Association chairman David Bernstein.

Europe’s Wrongheaded Austerity Policies

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Austerity — what governments are currently experiencing in Europe – can be a bad thing. It is a well-known basic economic theory that when politicians try to slash the government budget by taxing citizens rather than by cutting government expenditure, they only harm the economy, which results in less tax income and worsens the situation. In the early 1970s, economist Arthur Laffer visualized it by drawing a curve on a napkin, indicating that from a certain point on, higher taxes result in less government income. When taxes are raised even further, the economy begins to contract.

A typical example can currently be seen in the Netherlands. The country’s economy has not grown in the last three quarters. Pressured by the European Union, austerity policies were introduced in 2010. Last April, the government fell when the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders refused to back a new austerity package of €11.5 billion, of which only €4 billion was to come from cutting expenditures and €7.5 billion was expected to come from raising taxes. The new austerity round was nevertheless imposed by the EU, which insisted that the Netherlands trim its budget deficit to 3% of BBP in 2013. Geert Wilders was right to have refused to go along with the latest plans. Not only will the amount of €7.5 billion in new taxes in all likelihood not be reached, but the Dutch economy will be hampered even more.

Last January, Standard & Poor’s warned the Netherlands that its credit rating could be lowered if its growth kept declining. S&P warned that the Dutch austerity policies risked “becoming self-defeating, as domestic demands fall in line with consumers’ rising concerns about job security and disposable incomes, eroding national tax revenues.”

Geert Wilders’ party is expected to do well in next September’s general elections. The electorate agrees with his rejection of the austerity package. Like Mr. Wilders, it blames the EU authorities in Brussels for imposing these policies on the Netherlands.

The same phenomenon can be seen all over Europe, with electorates in revolt against EU-imposed austerity everywhere. The rising unpopularity of governments that are trying to cut back their deficits has worried the IMF. Earlier this month, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that the IMF is aware that fiscal austerity holds back growth and that the effects are worse in an economic downturn. This is, however, only a half-truth. As no one, not even the state, can indefinitely continue to spend more money than he receives, cutting government expenditure – hence austerity – is badly needed. The problem is that the austerity policies are targeting not the institution which is living beyond its means — namely the government — but the taxpayers. As Europeans are already suffering tax levels that are almost twice as high as those in the U.S., it is only natural that the voters are in revolt.

The irony is that the austerity policies of the past years have been imposed at the behest of the unelected liberal, leftist authorities in Brussels on center-right governments in the EU member states. The electorates are punishing their center-right governments by voting in center-left politicians who promise to end the austerity policies and “tax the rich” — a course that will make matters even worse.

The Dutch are lucky to have Geert Wilders; but the French, who lack an equivalent of Mr. Wilders, quite understandably voted President Nicolas Sarkozy out because they disagreed with his austerity policy. However, they voted the Socialist François Hollande in, who will undoubtedly only heighten the problem.

The same phenomenon can be witnessed in the United Kingdom. Two years ago, the Conservative David Cameron managed to oust Labour. Today, polls predict that if elections were to be held now, Labour would beat the Conservatives with a margin of 10%. David Cameron is fortunate that Labour leader Ed Miliband is unpopular or the margin might be even larger.

What did Cameron do wrong? He, too, made tax payers pay for austerity. One of the first things Mr. Cameron did was to raise Britain’s top tax rate to 50%. The result was that the tax revenue from Britain’s highest income group fell. Another thing Cameron did was to raise sales taxes. VAT – or Value Added Tax – rose from 17.5 to 20%, the highest level ever, as part of Cameron’s effort to bring down the country’s budget deficit.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/europes-wrongheaded-austerity-policies/2012/05/22/

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