Thursday, 27 December 2007

THE BUSINESS OF SEX

For my comment on the Labour government's ill-considered proposal to criminalise prostitution, see:

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/geoffrey_alderman/2007/12/the_business_of_sex.html

How Jews Cause Antisemitism

In my Jewish Chronicle column of 07 December 2007 I posed the question whether Jews cause, to any degree, the prejudice from which they suffer. My column focussed on the anonymous donations made to the Labour party by a Jewish property magnate. A number of correspondents have asked me for other specific examples. Well, here is one, ongoing, that does I think get to the heart of the matter.

In May 2005 the governors of the Beis Soroh Schneirer school for Jewish primary-age girls applied to the London Borough of Barnet for planning permission to convert for their purposes a disused warehouse on an industrial estate in West Hendon. The planning committee, for very cogent reasons, unanimously refused the application. But what the governors had not told the committee was that they intended to move the school into the warehouse whatever the outcome of the application. And on the very next morning after planning permission had been refused builders started converting the warehouse.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the governors had stuck two fingers up at the elected local authority. In mid-September 2005 the school opened for business. Barnet Council issued an enforcement notice, but by this time some 200 girls were already being educated in the converted warehouse. What was the government inspector (who heard the planning appeal) to do but to acquiesce in a fait accompli? He did, it is true, ask the school to make a contribution of £20,000 towards the cost of implementing various traffic management measures. In a typical display of chutzpah the governors pleaded that on the grounds of poverty they could only afford £5,000. More than a little odd – you might think - because the school been able to retain, at the appeal hearing, the services of one of the country’s foremost barristers specialising in town-planning cases.The school’s supporters have alleged that opposition to the school is being fuelled by local Muslims. This is nonsense. The chair of the West Hendon Community Forum happens to have been PA to the late Earl Mountbatten. The Community Forum’s objections have been endorsed by none other than the local MP, Andrew Dismore – and by me (I live less than two miles from the industrial estate in question).

In his ruling the government inspector agreed that the warehouse can continue to be used as a school until 31 December 2008, but ruled that it must meanwhile be genuinely advertised for sale as a building designated for industrial use. Of course, no such advertisement has yet been published. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has the promised £5,000 contribution towards traffic-management been forthcoming.

The school’s governors and supporters are no doubt feeling very pleased with themselves. But in my view what has really been achieved is the creation of anti-Jewish prejudice where none existed before.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

VICTORIAN EXPLORER EXPOSED AS AN ANTISEMITIC PLAGIARIST

Captain Sir Richard Burton, the 19th century explorer and adventurer, who first translated the Kama Sutra into English and was one of the earliest Christians to enter Mecca, was both an anti-Semite and a plagiarist, according to new research published by the Royal Asiatic Society.

These stark conclusions appear in an article on Burton in the January 2008 edition of the Society’s Journal (published December 2007), written by two of the country’s leading experts in the history of anti-Jewish prejudice in modern Britain.

In 1989 Professor Geoffrey Alderman (University of Buckingham) and Professor Colin Holmes (University of Sheffield) were permitted to read an unpublished manuscript penned by Burton in the 1870s, and subsequently purchased by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

In their article, Professors Alderman and Holmes unravel the history of the manuscript, in which Burton alleged that Jews murder Christians in order to use their blood for ritual purposes.

“Burton completely believed in these medieval allegations,” Alderman and Holmes said, “but most Burton scholars have ignored or belittled his anti-Jewish prejudices as they have presumably found them embarrassing, and not in accordance with the heroic tale they wish to tell.”

They also demonstrate that most of what Burton wrote in the manuscript was copied, verbatim, from a work published in France in 1847, and which Burton probably read in the British Museum. “The manuscript (they said) contains not a single original idea.”

In 1871, following complaints from the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Gladstone’s government removed Burton from his post as British Consul in Damascus. He blamed his removal on Jewish influence, and wrote the manuscript in a fit of pique. On his death an attempt was made to publish it, but after a protracted legal action the Jewish Deputies bought it, so that it could be “suppressed forever.” The Deputies’ attempt to auction the manuscript in 2001 gave rise to an international outcry; it failed to reach its reserve, and was withdrawn from sale. It now remains under lock and key.

Why every self-respecting rabbi should join a trade union

Rabbis, it's time to join the union! Go to: http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m12s32s34&SecId=34&AId=56984&ATypeId=1

Saturday, 15 December 2007

DONORGATE

My comment on the "Donorgate" scandal and the role of Jewish businessman David Abrahams can be found at:
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/geoffrey_alderman/2007/12/a_selffulfilling_prophecy.html

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

"A Shabby Triumph"

My Comment on the release from the Sudan of schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons can be accessed at:

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/geoffrey_alderman/2007/12/a_shabby_triumph.html