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  • 6th February, 2007

    In support of Independent Jewish Voices

    by Sunny at 4:16 am    

    I find it all rather amusing. You publish a simple and universal document such as this (NGN) or this (IJV, yesterday) and declare that so-called “community leaders” are not as representative as they claim, and you’re faced with a hail of bullets.

    To no surprise at all, Independent Jewish Voices are being accused of the same that we were. Namely that:
    1) … we were all just middle-class liberals ‘out of touch’ with reality. As if plastered across the document is the statement that we represent everyone’s views or that we were ‘from the hood’.

    2) … we all self-loathing. That’s not even worth dignifying.

    3) … that these organisations are the best we have. Where does it say we want to replace them? Both the documents only say that they have their place and do not represent the voice of the people signing the document. I didn’t realise it was blasphemous to have such views.

    4) … it’s the usual suspects of dissidents. Well excuse us for getting organised and openly disagreeing with the establishment. If you don’t like it get organised and write your own manifesto. As NGN declared earlier and IJV have now, the only thing the signatories agree on is the signed document – not the years of previous cultural baggage. Engage with the manifestos, don’t complain about what clique you like or dislike.

    5) … that by publicly rebuking the ‘official representative’ of the community, we are putting everyone in danger. Melanie Phillips had the audacity to claim that last night on Newsnight and I’ve heard the same. This idea that ‘the community’ is under attack and therefore no one should break ranks only supports the powerful. In this case it supports the Israeli government’s actions without any dissent from the diaspora. In NGN’s case it allowed the Sikh Federation, Hindu Forum, Muslim Council of Britain to further own agendas at the detriment of ordinary families that had done nothing to elect them.

    In this respect people like Melanie Phillips are exactly like Salma Yaqoob – everyone is against them; they are the only victims; any atrocities committed on the opposite side are simply “in defence” or “reprisal attacks” because their tribe is under attack. I don’t want to be on either of their sides.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The time for liberal-progressives to stand on the sidelines and watch these shrieking activists with their victim-mentality attitudes dominate the national conversation is over. We have to get organised and we have to make ourselves heard.

    The only way we can have a saner dialogue on difficult issues is by establishing a set of universal and equally applicable ideals and having some compassion and understanding for the other side. To that extent IJV have, so far, done nothing wrong in my opinion and I support them fully. We should all support them fully.

    Filed under: Race politics,Religion
    4th February, 2007

    Independent Jewish Voices

    by Sunny at 5:26 pm    

    A group of around a hundred writers, academics, lawyers, doctors and others are launching a new debate tomorrow on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, objecting to what they term the misconception that British Jews “speak with one voice and that this voice supports the Israeli government’s policies”.

    They call themselves Independent Jewish Voices and CIF is publishing their launch document - A time to speak out. Accompanying that is an editorial by the academic Dr Brian Klug titled ‘Who speaks for Jews in Britain?‘. He says:

    We are not setting ourselves up as an alternative to the Board of Deputies or any other body. But we challenge the standard concept of “the Jewish community” as a collective entity for which the board is the secular voice and the chief rabbi the religious voice. This system was developed in another era - though it is being used today as a template for other minorities. It pictures “the Jewish community” as a single bloc that, whatever its internal complexity, presents a common face to the outside world via its ambassadors.

    There is an affinity between our initiative and the New Generation Network, which was launched in the Guardian last November. A diverse group of Britons questioned the idea that the pie of British society (or that portion consisting of “minorities”) can be divided into neat ethnic or religious slices: discrete “communities” with authoritative “leaders”. For many of us, this model is suffocating and goes against the grain of our experience.

    I couldn’t have put it any better. CIF will be hosting a week long debate on the issue and I will be getting involved of course.

    Coverage: Guardian, Independent.

    Filed under: Current affairs
    2nd February, 2007

    It’s the pre-Katy’s-birthday weekend thread!!!

    by Katy at 7:25 pm    

    Not that I make much fuss about my birthday. Honestly. If you were thinking of sending me huge expensive presents or small delicately made expensive presents, please just email me for my address, I prefer my gems in yellow gold and emerald cut please forget about it and spend your money on something that will Make The World A Better Place, because there is nothing particularly special about a 22nd birthday anyway.

    Of course, some things make the world a better place for nothing. Like this.* It is a site for people to offload anonymously about their most hated colleagues. Some of it is funny, and some of it is fascinating in the same way as I imagine Big Brother would be fascinating if I had ever watched more than ten minutes of it. Although I have observed that the main crime of a lot of the people named and shamed on this site seems to be that they are fat, or old, or talkative, or not very attractive. Oh, and there is some strong language on there, so if you are like me and have decided never to swear again you might want to take a marker pen and carefully cross out all the expletives that appear on your screen with it. (Probably best to use a washable one, or perhaps a wipe-clean one for whiteboards. I don’t know. I’ve never tried it myself. I’m just trying to help.)

    If you are less of a “I hate all of the fat people in my office” sort of person, and more of a “I love cuddling tiny cute fuzzy animals” sort of person, you might prefer this.

    And now it is over to you. If you can think of anything non-political, non-contentious and preferably pants-wettingly funny that might make the open thread a better place, and also help me come to terms with the fact that Work has seen fit to send me to Bolton for 10am on my birthday, then share it with the team, people. Share it with the team.

    *via Billy’s comment here.

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Not taking the BNP seriously

    by Sunny at 11:59 am    

    Ever get the feeling the police don’t really take the BNP that seriously? Some were only caught with chemical weapons, bio-suit and rocket launchers you know. Apparently that was no big deal. So how about this?

    Brian Wainwright, 38, had already been convicted for sending offensive and threatening racist posters to a councillor, a mosque and an anti-fascism campaigner in Halifax. But now the case against him might be dropped because he was not charged within the legal time limit. The posters sent between February and April 2005 featured swastikas, insults against Islam and threats to spill Muslim blood and to incite a race war in the town.

    Sending offensive and threatening letters is a summary offence which means the accused must be charged within six months of committing the crime. But Wainwright was not charged by police until nine months after he sent the last poster.

    Good to see the police on top of things and locking up all hate-mongers. Oh whoops I forgot, only if they’re brown. For more reasonable reading, both Maleiha Malik and Munira Mirza appear in the Guardian today.

    1st February, 2007

    Good news post

    by Sunny at 11:32 pm    

    This story in today’s Independent is cute:

    King David is a strictly Jewish school. Judaism is the only religion taught. There’s a synagogue on site. The children learn modern Hebrew - Ivrit - the language of Israel. And they celebrate Israeli independence day.

    But half the 247 pupils at the 40-year-old local authority-supported school are Muslim, and apparently the Muslim parents go through all sorts of hoops, including moving into the school’s catchment area, to get their children into King David to learn Hebrew, wave Israeli flags on independence day and hang out with the people some would have us believe that they hate more than anyone in the world. (via El Cid)

    As is this story about an Indian Hindu family who funded an Indian Muslim’s trip to Hajj (via Svend). And in more interfaith goodyness, someone sent me a link today for SalaamShalom, a Muslim-Jewish radio station in Bristol.
    Not such a good chap is Abdul Saleem, who has been convicted for “cheerleading” at the Danish cartoons protest last year. I particularly loved his line of defence. I’ll be discussing free speech and inciting violence tomorrow morning (9am) on Asian Network with Ahmed Versi of Muslim News.

    Articles to read, slogans to dream up

    by Sunny at 1:42 am    

    - On Comment is free, there are a few brilliant articles worth flagging up. First up is Daniel Davies’ humurous snipe at the Labour government talking down at British Muslims. Dave Hill writes a thought-provoking article pointing out that good citizenship does not necessarily come from being ‘more British’. In that case - how do we encourage a more inclusive and prevalent form of citizenship? Seth Freedman is another rising star on Cif, with brilliant articles on the Middle East. I recommend reading that one and his previous ones.

    - Khaled Abdelwahhab has become the first Arab to be recognised as being “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honor bestowed on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from Nazi persecution. [Via Eteraz]

    - Watching news coverage of the nine arrests today, of the people who wanted to kidnap and behead the British Muslim soldier, I was thankful at least that John Reid did not start making wild claims in front of TV cameras as he did last time with ‘terror in the skies’.

    - On a lighter note, now that CBB has finished and Shilpa Shetty will rake in the cash through ad campaigns, what brands and corresponding slogans can you think of? A friend suggested:
    Oxo cubes - “you just need to use one!”
    Birds Eye chicken - “At least you know it’ll be well done”

    Filed under: Current affairs
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