Sunday, March 17, 2013
The anti-Semites mistaken for mere eccentrics
Why are race-hate outbursts by the likes of the Labour Party's Lord Ahmed not punished sooner?
By Stephen Pollard
It would be nice, just for once, if we could change the record. Even though I’m the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, there are all sorts of things I’d rather write about than anti-Semitism. The weather. Traffic. House prices. Pretty much anything, as it happens.
But with a regularity that is as relentless as it is depressing, some idiot comes out with an anti-Semitic rant. This week, it was Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer. Last month, it was David Ward, a Lib Dem MP. Next month, it will be someone else’s turn.
Perhaps it’s because I lack sufficient self-awareness that I can never put myself in the mindset that holds the Jews – that is, me – responsible for all the world’s ills. Then again, for Lord Ahmed, it’s not just the world’s ills that I’ve caused – it’s his own, too.
In 2009, he was sent down for 12 weeks after he smashed into a stationary car, having sent a series of text messages while driving his Jaguar on the M1 at 70mph. The other driver died. You might think 12 weeks rather lenient. Apparently not. According to Lord Ahmed, in an interview given on Pakistani TV last April, which has only just surfaced, he was sentenced so harshly purely because of a conspiracy by Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”. The judge, he added, had been specially chosen because the Jews wanted to punish him for supporting the Palestinian cause.
It seems that as well as running the media, banks and business, we Jews also spend our time monitoring motorway CCTV tapes and looking out for supporters of the Palestinian cause in the hope that we can get a compliant judge to send them down. Of course, I shouldn’t be flippant – because flippancy is the default reaction of so many people to the likes of Lord Ahmed, who are treated essentially as figures of fun.
That certainly seems to be the attitude among the Liberal Democrats. In January, an obscure MP called David Ward decided that the most appropriate thing to do after signing the Holocaust Memorial Trust’s book of remembrance was to sound off about how “the Jews… could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new state of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”. Not the Israelis – the Jews. Apparently, I and others have failed to absorb properly the lesson Hitler was teaching our ancestors in the Holocaust.
While it might be easy to dismiss such rants, there is a bigger point here. Mr Ward remains an MP. His chief whip decided a fortnight ago, after weeks of inaction, that the only necessary response was to suggest that Mr Ward might meet with the Lib Dem Friends of Israel – compounding the problem by conflating support for Israel with opposition to naked anti-Semitism.
Mind you, the Left does seem to have developed a remarkably laissez-faire attitude when it comes to Jew-baiting. It took the Lib Dems years to impose serious sanctions against Mr Ward’s companion in arms, Baroness Tonge. She spoke understandingly of suicide bombers and how, in the Palestinians’ circumstances, she “might just consider becoming one myself”. The response? Nothing. She then revealed how the “pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.” Again, nothing.
The Lib Dems only took action after she said there should be an inquiry into claims by a fanatically anti-Israel journal (of which she happened to be patron) that the Israeli army was using its presence in Haiti not to offer humanitarian aid after the 2010 earthquake, but to harvest body parts. She kept the whip, but lost her job as health spokeswoman. She only resigned from the party last year, after Nick Clegg demanded that she apologise for saying that Israel would disappear. She refused.
The problem is that while the liberal Left pays lip service to anti-racism, there is at least one form of it that is regarded as odd, but not worth making too great a fuss over, especially when the culprit is Muslim. For example, in 2005, Lord Ahmed hosted Israel Shamir, a notorious anti-Semite, at a meeting in the Lords. When Shamir’s speech was full of the usual stuff – “Jews indeed own, control and edit a big share of mass media… the Jews like an Empire…” – Lord Ahmed refused to distance himself, and Labour refused to utter a word of criticism.
Eight years later, the remarkable thing is not that Lord Ahmed has now been suspended by the party, but that he still held a whip to be suspended. If a Labour or Lib Dem representative had said, of Muslims, something similar to Lord Ahmed or Mr Ward’s comments about Jews, you can bet your life that they’d have been drummed out of Westminster before you could say “racist” – and quite rightly.
But when it comes to anti-Semites, the villains are dismissed as eccentrics, and thus given a form of licence to indulge their racism. Soon, the show will move on from Lord Ahmed. And nothing will have changed.
British council placed four-year-old in foster care of suspected paedophile then spent £23,000 trying to keep blunders a secret
A council spent £23,000 of taxpayers' money trying to gag reporting of a case where it had placed a four-year-old in foster care with a suspected paedophile.
Bristol City Council tried and failed to obtain a High Court injunction which would prevent embarrassing details of the case being made public.
Social services took nearly three weeks to remove the girl from a foster family, despite the father being under suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.
He later killed himself after police took a laptop away from the property which contained a cache of child abuse images.
Despite the little girl and the children of the suspected paedophile being automatically granted media anonymity, the council still tried to obtain a blanket gagging order.
On the final day of the two-week hearing in October last year, the council's barrister Jo Lucas went to the civil court to get an injunction banning any reporting of the case.
Temporary restrictions were then put in place to prevent publication of Bristol City Council, or the names of the social service workers who failed to protect the little girl.
But these were overturned in London's High Court in January following a costly three-month legal wrangle.
Mr Justice Baker ruled it was in the public interest for the story to be published, but that the identities of the girl, her family and foster family should all be protected.
A Freedom of Information Act request has now revealed that the 'external cost' of the legal wrangle to Bristol City Council came to £23,528,40.
But the true cost is likely to be much higher as the quoted figure does not include the time council employees spent working on it.
The hefty bill included £11,730 for legal advice, preparation and representation by Robin Tolson QC for two High Court hearings in London and one in Bristol. The council also paid the legal costs for the foster family, which came to £3,623.40.
However, a spokesman for Bristol City Council today insisted the legal action was only taken to protect the identity of the child. 'The object throughout was only to protect the identity of the child,' he said.
'It is important to realise that automatic reporting restrictions in respect of children subject to care proceedings do not last once the proceedings have ended...
'The council did not think that this was in the child's best interests and, as the press were already involved and had attended some of the hearings in relation to the care application, we considered that we had no option but to seek to protect the identity of the child beyond the care proceedings.'
The case at Bristol's Family Proceedings Court heard that concerns were first raised in March 2012 when the girl had been living with the family for three months. Police informed social services that child sex abuse images had been accessed at the house for the second time.
Unlike the first incident, which was blamed on a foster child at the house, the police strongly suspected the father had accessed the sick images.
But despite being informed by police, social services did nothing for two weeks, leaving the little girl where she was.
The child also told her real father and a social worker that she had been 'strangled' by another child at the foster home, but still she was returned to the house.
Social worker Sherilyn Pritchard told the hearing, chaired by Annette Young, that there was 'not enough information to justify immediate removal' of the girl when the allegations arose.
The child's appointed legal guardian said: 'I think we have to bear in mind that she may have been sexually abused in that foster placement.'
Chairman of the magistrates Mrs Young criticised Bristol City Council for not following child protection procedures, saying: 'These matters concern us greatly and we believe should be thoroughly and forensically investigated and reviewed in an independent forum.'
No disciplinary action has been taken against anyone from social services following the council's internal review, but an independent review has not yet been published.
High Court judge Mr Justice Baker said the authority's bid for a gagging order was 'unjustified', adding: 'It is in the public interest for these matters to be published.'
The girl is now in a new foster home. But speaking at the time of the court hearing, her natural father said: 'I am livid. 'They said she wasn't safe at home but they put her where someone had been downloading child abuse images.'
He added: 'There is a danger that those who practise in the family justice system fail to give proper consideration to the Article 10 rights of the media. This must now cease.'
Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'This was a shameful attempt to suppress the media from reporting council bungling.
'It's a disgrace that Bristol City Council have spent taxpayers' money trying to hide its involvement in a very serious and disturbing case.
'Questions must be asked not only of those responsible for the mistakes in the original fostering case but also of whoever authorised the use of taxpayers' money for the legal action to cover it up.'
MO: House passes “conscience rights” bill
The state House passed a bill today that would allow Missouri health care workers to refuse to participate in certain medical procedures that go against their religious beliefs or morals.
The “conscience rights” bill passed the chamber in a 116-41 vote – more than the two-thirds needed to override a gubernatorial veto. The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
Lawmakers made several nods to abortion and anti-abortion talking points during the debate.
Opponents said the patient’s rights and access to necessary medical services could be threatened under the bill. “Patients have rights that the medical professionals must follow,” said Rep. Kimberly Gardner, D-St. Louis. “The patient has a right to control their own health care decisions.”
Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, said the bill discriminates against women and would most impact rape victims, couples who seek fertility treatments and women who have ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages. “This bill has been narrowed to just women,” she said. "This bill is wrong - it hurts people.”
But supporters say the measure largely mirrors what’s in current law – only clarifying the provisions that let workers opt out of procedures they do not support. “This bill will do absolutely nothing to affect anyone’s access to emergency medical services in the state,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican from Eureka and the sponsor of the bill.
Rep. Keith Frederick, a Republican from Rolla who is a doctor, said his nearly three decades in the health care field helped shape his position in support. “In my view, you don’t really want somebody working on you who is distracted or feeling conflicted or just plain doesn’t want to be there,” he said.
Under the proposal, doctors, nurses and other health care providers could opt out of certain medical procedures or research that goes against their religious, moral or ethical principles.
The bill specifically notes those medical procedures could include “abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, sterilization which is not medically necessary, assisted reproduction, human cloning, human embryonic stem-cell research, human somatic cell nuclear transfer, fetal tissue research and nontherapeutic fetal experimentation.” Those who claim “conscience rights” exemptions can’t be punished or discriminated against for not participating.
Similar legislation was approved in the House last year but never made it all the way through. Jones said he worked to address some of the issues that were raised, including adding the new provision that requires treatment in emergency situations.
In an at-times heated debate on the floor, Jones accused critics of the bill of not reading it. “I don’t understand a lot of the attacks that were levied against the bill,” he said.
The Legislature passed a separate “conscience rights” law last year that focused on employers’ and allowing them to opt out of providing health care coverage for contraceptives if they have religious objections. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure, but the House and Senate voted to override it in the fall. It has since been challenged in court.
Australia: Some people are easily offended
An attempt to be helpful offends
Liberal Eleni Evangel's win over John Hyde in the seat of Perth in the weekend's state election came as a surprise to some but for one constituent, it was Ms Evangel's campaign material that provided the biggest shock.
Ms Evangel won the seat from Mr Hyde who had held it since 2001 but she did not win any support from Perth woman, Kerry Jacobs.
Mrs Jacobs received a campaign letter written entirely in Chinese from Ms Evangel in the lead-up to the election.
Mrs Jacobs' maiden name is Chong (she was married last year). Her parents are Malaysian and speak Mandarin but she was born in Perth and has lived here all her life.
"I was really offended," she said. "I can understand it's generally an Asian sounding name but other than that, I have no idea how she [Evangel] came to the conclusion that I must speak Chinese."
Mrs Jacobs assumed the mistake was made because the Liberals must have had an old copy of the electoral roll, with her maiden name on it and someone made an assumption based purely on that.
She said she initially had no idea what the letter said as she could not even tell if the language was Mandarin - all she knew was that it was Chinese.
"My parents have been here since the 70s and my dad has never received anything like this," she said.
Mrs Jacobs said she was bothered by an assumption she was from a certain background based on her last name or appearance.
Although a Vietnamese neighbour who received a letter in Vietnamese did not appear to be offended about his letter when he spoke to Mrs Jacobs about it, he agreed his correspondence must also have been tailored to his surname.
"She [Ms Evangel] may have been told that because this is a culturally diverse area, it would work to her advantage," Mrs. Jacobs said.
But she pointed out that she would prefer to see Ms Evangel out at Chinese New Year celebrations and taking part in cultural events rather than sending letters in different languages based on assumptions.
Ms Evangel said letters were sent out in Chinese, Vietnamese and Serbian languages.
"Community leaders recommended doing this as there are some people in the area who aren't so fluent in English," she said.
Ms Evangel said members of culturally diverse community groups identified people with names they thought were from certain backgrounds from the electoral roll and would therefore speak certain languages.
However she said most of the foreign language letters were sent out with an accompanying version in English.
"There was a hiccup in the office and one set of letters was sent out without the English translation," Ms Evangel said.
"It's a shame because it was a bit of a slip-up during the hectic lead up to the election."
Ms Evangel said she received a small handful of complaint letters about the matter but many more "thank yous."
She said she had meant well by sending the letters in different languages.
"I'm of Greek background, my mum's been here 50 years, she can communicate in English, but there's no way she'd be able to read something like that [a letter in English]. We read it and explain it to her," Mrs Evangel said.
Those who did not receive the English version of the letter were sent it about a week after the first letters were sent out, Ms Evangel said.
Ms Evangel did not say whether any further material that she sent out to constituents would be done in a similar fashion.
"For now I'm concentrating in getting setup, which will take a couple of weeks, there is so much to do," she said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.