Wednesday, August 13, 2014
One Week As A Jew
So last week I decided to become a Jew for one week.
First off let me explain something. I am Metis [mixed ancestry Canadian]. My family has experienced firsthand, the abuses you read about when you study residential schools and generational abuses. I understand very well what racism and bigotry mean.
Again, I personally have experienced it first hand. But it was the reaction of people to the attack on some of my Jewish friends at a political demonstration that really sent it home to me. I already explained, I’m not converting, I even explained why, albeit in a humorous (yet truthful) way.
I decided that in order to really understand what Jewish people go through, I was going to “become a Jew”. Unlike that dude who tanned and took some pills to become black in that movie, I didn’t really have to do anything difficult. All I had to do to incur the hatred and enmity that comes along with being Jewish, was put on a hat.
I didn’t need to speak, walk or act differently, just put on a hat that identifies me as a Jew. Now think about that. I wore the same clothes I always wear, spoke the exact same way, walked the same way, but by putting on a small piece of woolen apparel, I suddenly became despised to the point where it was uncomfortable for me to walk in certain areas in my own city here in Canada.
I had a few people threaten me with physical violence but in all honesty, I am not a small man so I was not concerned. It just made me think about what smaller people must go through, people who do not have my gifts. I should be clear: while I wore the kippah, I tried not to behave badly. I maintained my generally civil disposition, I still held doors, I still behaved much like I normally do. I didnt suddenly keep kosher, I wasn’t keeping shabbot, I just wore the hat. But to some people, that made me a target for hate. It made me a Jew.
I was also very aware that during my one week as a Jew, I couldn’t just walk around percussively educating asshats. Not because I would be physically unable to do so, but because while wearing a kippah, I was representing Jewish people, and if I did something that reflected poorly on them, it could make things harder for other, smaller Jewish people. So even though there were multiple times when I would have loved to physically educate someone, I had to show restraint, something that I am not always able to do when I am not Jewish for a week. I learned a lot though, and some of it was actually positive.
The positive side was I learned to not assume. A couple of times I was positive that I was about to have a very bad experience, but was pleasantly surprised. I had several people say “ Shalom” and on Friday night, several people said “ Shabbot Shalom” I also had a few cute girls talk to me, something I never avoid. I had an Egyptian taxi driver say “ You Jews, pretty good people, you got a raw deal.” One Arab woman said “If they gave my country to the Jews, we would all be rich.”
I wish those had been the norm rather than the exception, but sadly I had a lot of poor experiences. Let me explain what I think is the reason why.
People have become inured to the quiet bigotry that Jews face, probably because they are pale skinned and often DON’T LOOK ANY DIFFERENT than most of us. We have stopped taking it seriously when a Jew says “ What you just said makes me uncomfortable.” Because they look just like us, it’s hard to understand that they could be targets, BECAUSE TO WESTERN PEOPLE IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE TO BE PREJUDICED AGAINST SOMEONE WHO LOOKS LIKE YOU.
The most common argument I hear when I tell someone that what they just said was antisemitic bigotry is “You guys always claim that.” Ignoring that I am in fact not a Jew, and that in fact when someone is accused of antisemitism, its almost always a valid accusation.
The reason it is said so much, is because in fact it exists and is prevalent. The scary thing is that most Jews won’t call it out BECAUSE people accuse them of being over sensitive. I’ll tell you what. I am far from sensitive, but if I see racism or bigotry, I will call it out and if someone wants to debate it, I will.
I had an idea of what Jews go through but to be honest, I had no idea of how deep this antipathy runs. I knew that asshats often drop the Nazi card or make ridiculous comparisons of Jews with Nazis in order to attack Jewish people emotionally. They know full well how disgusting that is, but its a natural human desire to want to get an emotional reaction out of someone. I actually told one guy that if I ever heard him say “ Jews are the new Nazis” again, I would ensure that he ate his teeth. He walked away quickly and quietly, but I have no doubt that he will say that again, only to a much smaller person.
I could go on and on about the ridiculous shit I was exposed to. Strangers asking me questions about my genitals, people asking if they could touch my hat, getting glares and dirty looks from people I had never seen before and things of that nature, but to do that only shows what everyone already knows – that some people have an irrational hatred of a people they have never spoken to. I was not shocked that people are bigots. I was shocked at how accepted it seems to be, and even more shocked at the actual depth of it all.
I will say this as well. I am even more firmly of the belief that I am on the right side, that in the end, I will have the last laugh, because frankly, the people who act like this, are not good people. They are not “misguided” or “ill informed.” I can’t even say they are ignorant because in the age of information anyone who is ignorant, must be willfully so.
The only people responsible for Jew hatred are the ones hating, and the people who will end up paying for that hate in the end, are one and the same. I believe that, because I believe in a just and fair god.
To my Jewish friends: you have allies. Sometimes they do not even realize they are your allies, but anyone who shares the common values of freedom, of the right to assemble, the right to speak our minds, and equality for everyone, supports you and everything you stand for as a people. Stay strong, stay resolute in the face of persecution and great pressure. You have a great tradition of doing so and thus persevering against all odds. I do not see that changing.
“Sweden ever so quickly has gone from so-called anti-Zionism to open anti-Semitism”
Swedish Jew visiting Israel told by friend: “Don’t come back here, you have no idea how bad it has become since you left.”
Less than a week ago we wrote about how The anti-Semitic shame of Malmö, Sweden continues with attack on Rabbi.
It’s part of an outburst of open, unabashed anti-Semitism throughout Europe and the world, but particularly Europe, under the mask of opposition to Israel’s Gaza war.
This trend did not start with the Gaza war. We covered almost exactly a year ago how many parts of Europe were becoming unlivable for Jews due mostly to anti-Semitic violence from Muslim communities, tolerated and egged on by anti-Zionist leftists, Jews in Europe past their expiration date.
Anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism is so open now that even The Guardian in Britain issued an Editorial denouncing the practice. The Editors of The Guardian likely did not consider how their own biased anti-Israel coverage contributes to this atmosphere.
Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, a Swedish Jewish writer and political commentator, writes in The Jerusalem Post about how Sweden has become unlivable for Jews, so she is leaving for Israel permanently, Hold on, I’m coming home:
My friend tells me that Sweden ever so quickly has gone from so-called anti-Zionism to open anti-Semitism, and that no one seems to care.
“Don’t come back.” That’s what he said to me; “Don’t come back here, you have no idea how bad it has become since you left.”
I went to Israel on July 23…. I arrived in Tel Aviv at 7 pm the next day and went directly to the beach to meet my friend Ruthie. The sun was setting in the sea as we ordered drinks and sat there, in silence. I heard booms in the distance, and I thought to myself that I have never felt safer than I do at this very moment. Because I was home; finally, I had arrived.
I get the call a few days later. That tension I always have from looking over my shoulder has started to release, I’m on the beach sipping coffee and reading some book I was sure to forget the minute I put it down. The voice on the other end is damp with resignation. My friend tells me that Sweden ever so quickly has gone from so-called anti-Zionism to open anti-Semitism, and that no one seems to care. Every day it gets worse, every minute the tone shifts and the shadows grow more ominous.
Maybe that was when I decided, I don’t know. Maybe it was there, at the beach, or during that late night walk through Jerusalem with my friends after dinner, or when a beautiful man held my hand on the sun-drenched shores of Caesarea. Or maybe, just maybe, I had known all along.
I just can’t live like this any longer. I can’t accept that life consists of long periods of fear and despair, interrupted by the short bursts of happiness I get when I come back to Israel. I can’t raise my kids to hide who they are, I can’t usher them into a society that teaches them they are the other and that being less of who they are is the key to survival. I just can’t, not anymore.
I got back to Sweden yesterday and something has changed, the shift is so tangible. Within me, yes, but also in the world around me. I take down my Israeli flag that I so proudly hung from my balcony. I’m told it is no longer safe, and I have to make a choice between being open and keeping my children safe. The Palestinian flag hanging from my neighbor’s window is still visible across the courtyard. I notice the injustice, but the outrage is replaced with sadness and fatigue.
I called this my home for 33 years. Yet, I realize now that it isn’t, and it never really was.
The nasty RSPCA must stop bullying decent people
Do you remember Glenn Grant, the toff-bashing chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? It was under him that the organisation wasted hundreds of thousands on unsuccessfully prosecuting hunts. He also hit the headlines when Secretary of State Owen Paterson ordered a badger-culling experiment as part of the drive to save cattle from contracting tuberculosis. The farmers involved should be "named and shamed", explained Grant, as "those who care will not want to visit areas or buy milk from farms soaked in badgers’ blood".
With the RSPCA’s donations plummeting as fast as its reputation, Grant made his excuses and retired on health grounds last February two years early. He may be gone, but his memory lingers on in the story of Claude, for the culture under Grant was hostile towards pet-owners and the inspectorate became authoritarian and legally punitive.
Claude lived blamelessly in Tring with Richard and Samantha Byrne and their children Dominic and Eloise, so they may have affronted the egalitarian RSPCA by seeming a bit posh. Claude was definitely posh and also a cat of strong views, and so averse to having his long hair combed or trimmed that he had to have it attended to by the vet after an anaesthetic, but as he grew older the vet thought this no longer wise, so Samantha used to snip the worst bits when he was asleep.
In 2012 a neighbour told the RSPCA she was concerned about 15-year-old Claude’s appearance, and after a visit from an inspector, Richard agreed he would monitor her health more closely as Claude was getting on a bit and was on the thin side. Almost a year later the inspector returned, took Claude to another vet and announced he had to be put down immediately. Threats of imprisonment forced Richard to agree, but although a post mortem examination showed Claude to be in good health, the Byrneses were prosecuted anyway for animal cruelty. After several court appearances and legal costs of £5,000, the case was dismissed this month when the Crown Prosecution Service stepped in and ruled there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
We have to hope that the new RSPCA regime sees the error of its predecessor’s ways and stops bullying decent people, but my fear is rather that their nastiness has proved contagious. For now the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is behaving equally stupidly, politically and counter-productively by taking against grouse shooting. As Matt Ridley pointed out today, without the fine conservation work of owners of grouse moors, curlews, lapwings and golden plover would become locally extinct, and the implications for moorland would be disastrous.
Is it more toff-hating, or is it just that the people who get involved in running charities tend to be metropolitan types who dislike the countryside? Either way, that’s another charity I’m striking off my list.
Bossy health chiefs, drunk on their power
Jeremy Hunt is rightly regarded as an excellent Health Secretary. He has calmed down the worried doctors and nurses following Andrew Lansley’s unpopular, though necessary, reforms. He has averted, for the time being at least, the crisis in accident and emergency departments that Labour gleefully forecast for last winter. He has brought to his job an aura of unflappable competence that commands respect even among his political opponents.
Mr Hunt has, however, utterly failed in one respect. He has not sought to challenge the air of invincible bossiness that has long been the most obtrusive characteristic of the Department of Health. Its officials are convinced that they know better than the rest of us what we should eat, drink and how we should behave, not just in public, but also in private. For some reason Mr Hunt has chosen to sanction this state-sponsored bossiness, and this August has seen an epidemic of edicts from government bodies telling us what and what not to do.
Just examine the events of the past week. Yesterday, the All-Party Committee on Alcohol Misuse (a body of which I had not previously heard) demanded that alcoholic drinks be labelled with a warning, as cigarettes are. On Friday, Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the NHS, urged us to abstain for a full 24 hours after taking a drink. This radical change in official guidelines has been challenged even by doctors, and is certain to be ignored by drinkers, thus bringing government into fresh contempt.
However, PHE clearly feels a mission to interfere. Last week it also lent strong support to the campaign for so-called “plain-packaging” of cigarettes, ie banning tobacco companies from using their brands, while plastering the packets with graphic pictures of tobacco-related illnesses. This type of packaging has been tried out in Australia, where the evidence is that it does not work: tobacco consumption has not been reduced, if anything the reverse. And the smuggling of illicit brands is on the increase, so the move has encouraged crime while damaging Treasury tax revenues. True to form, PHE has thrown its weight behind the proposal regardless.
Jeremy Hunt can’t escape responsibility for this. In theory, the All-Party Committee on Alcohol Misuse is a parliamentary body. In practice it is chaired by Tracey Crouch, a Conservative MP, who would surely never have launched her attack on the drinks industry without at least the tacit support of Mr Hunt, or at any rate his officials.
PHE, likewise, claims to be independent. That is an illusion. It is funded by the Department of Health, and its key appointments are made (and can be unmade) by the Secretary of State. This is a taxpayer-funded campaigning organisation that claims to represent the public – but in truth it only represents the vested interests of a public sector elite.
Organisations like PHE, using government money to launch officially sponsored campaigns, sprung up all over the place under New Labour. They were part of how Tony Blair governed. The investigative journalist Christopher Snowdon, who has done so much to expose such bodies, calls them “state-funded activist groups”. Often the research that they carry out is designed to fit an agenda rather than anything outsiders would recognise as the objective truth. No Conservative government should have anything to do with them.
There have been two types of Conservative minister in this Coalition government. Michael Gove at Education and Owen Paterson at Environment both knew where their Conservative instincts lay, and were prepared to fight to put them into practice. Others, such as Jeremy Hunt, have shied away from confrontation in favour of the quiet life.
He is making a bad mistake. For decades Britons have led ever more regulated and constrained lives. There is now a mood of national rebellion against bossy government, and the Conservatives are well placed to lead it. Their Party has always believed that men and women have the right, so long as they do not harm others, to live as they choose. If that means risking their lives by smoking, then they should be allowed to do so. Tories recognise that alcohol has done far more good than harm. Of course they support measures to prevent drinkers harming others, hence the drink-driving laws. But they rely on the individual and wider society to regulate alcohol abuse, not the state.
It has traditionally been the job of the Conservative Party to defend British citizens against state intrusion. It would be a disaster if that task fell to Ukip and Nigel Farage ahead of next year’s general election.
While Debunking Racist Crime Fears, News Crew Gets Burglarized
Last week, the latest racist outrage to surface in the media was a new smartphone app called SketchFactor that warns you about neighborhoods likely to have high crime rates:
"Smiling Young White People Make App for Avoiding Black Neighborhoods"
The CBS affiliate in D.C. exposed this bigotry first hand by sending a crew to interview locals in a neighborhood unjustly deemed sketchy by the app:
"D.C. news crew robbed while reporting on “sketchy” neighborhoods
… The news crew’s vehicle was burglarized while they were working on a story about a controversial app that alerts people to “sketchy” neighborhoods, WUSA reports.
The crew had locked their news van on a street in Petworth in Northwest, D.C. while they were out in the neighborhood conducting interviews. When they returned they found the lock had been popped out of the door of their news van, and that most of the crew’s gear had been stolen."
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 and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.