Monday, September 15, 2014
We're forgetting the warning of the Holocaust, British government minister warns
Britain has neglected the lessons of the Holocaust and a resurgent “virus” of violent anti-semitism is putting the lives of Jews and others at risk in Britain, Michael Gove, the Chief Whip, warned.
Those who thought the Holocaust would “discredit anti-Semitism forever” were wrong, with synagogues facing attacks and Jewish shops and theatres once again being subject to boycotts across Europe, Mr Gove warned.
Pro-Palestine protesters who liken the Israeli government to the Nazis are part of a “deliberate” campaign of “relativisation, trivialisation and perversion” of the Holocaust that is fuelling anti-Semitism, Mr Gove warned.
The post-war drive to purge the “poison” of anti-Semitism from society to ensure the Holocaust could never be repeated has given way to an upturn in anti-Semitics attacks – including the murder of four visitors to a Jewish museum in Brussels by a suspected jihadists.
Britain must question how “secure” it is for Jews, Mr Gove said, in the wake of a boycott of a Jewish film festival in London due to its Israel sponsorship, and the withdrawal from sale of Kosher food following attacks on supermarkets.
“We need to remind people that what began with a campaign against Jewish goods in the past ended with a campaign against Jewish lives. We need to spell out that this sort of prejudice starts with the Jews but never ends with the Jews. We need to stand united against hate,” Mr Gove told the annual dinner of the Holocaust Education Trust.
“Today, across Europe, there has been a revival of antisemitism which the enormity of the Holocaust should have rendered forever unthinkable,” he said.
“In France, in July of this year more than 100 Jewish citizens had to be rescued from one synagogue and another was firebombed. The leader of an antisemitic party - the Front National - is France’s most popular politician. Heroes of popular culture - like the comedian Dieudonne Mbala Mbala - try to make hatred of Jews a badge of radical chic.
“The virus is spreading across other European nations. In Germany Molotov cocktails were lobbed at one synagogue. In Belgium a cafe displays a sign saying ‘dogs are allowed but Jews are not’, while a doctor refuses to treat Jewish patients. We must all remember where this leads.”
“In 1945, our forebears thought that some good might be rescued from the Nazi's terrible legacy: surely the Holocaust would discredit anti-Semitism for ever. We now know better. Mankind has not developed new sensitivities. Instead, we live in a world full of horrors, where man is still a wolf to man.”
The dilemma of the Jewish leftist
During his yearlong captivity at the hands of the barbarians from Islamic State, Steven Sotloff’s colleagues in Israeli media organs purged all of his articles from their websites to erase his connections to Israel and hide the fact that he was an Israeli citizen.
So, too, every effort was made to hide the fact that he was Jewish.
The reason was clear. Given the genocidal Jew-hatred endemic in jihadist doctrine, it was obvious that if Sotloff’s Judaism was exposed, he would have been singled out for torture and execution.
Much has been written since Islamic State released the video of its British executioner chopping off James Foley’s head last month. We have been told by leaders and commentators alike that with this singular crime, Islamic State awakened the sleeping lion of the West. That act of barbarism, we have been assured, will now force the US to lead a global coalition against this Islamic army of butchers.
Clearly Islamic State is not convinced. With the release of the Sotloff beheading video this week, it appears that Islamic State thinks its cinematographers will move the West in another direction – apathy.
Foley’s execution video ended with the preview of coming attractions for the Sotloff execution video.
And the Sotloff execution video ended with the preview of a British hostage’s execution video.
By releasing the films gradually, Islamic State is apparently trying to routinize beheadings. Its leaders are probably betting that by the seventh or eighth beheading video, we will greet the violence with a shrug of our shoulders.
In this, Islamic State is channeling Iran, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban.
No, it isn’t that all these terror-supporting regimes and terror groups have engaged in beheading. It is simply that when they began engaging in terrorism, their actions shocked the civilized world until their actions didn’t shock the civilized world anymore.
Once the shock wore off, these terror states and enterprises began enjoying the stature of legitimate parties to a political dispute. As Islamic State sees it, it is only a matter of time before it too is accepted as a legitimate force in world affairs.
To understand why its gamble may well pay off, it is worth considering a seemingly unrelated matter.
At the beginning of the week, the ultra-Orthodox Lev Tahor group was expelled from a Mayan village in Guatemala. Earlier this year Lev Tahor members had fled to Guatemala from Canada.
They left Canada to evade a child abuse probe.
The group set up shop in Canada after fleeing Israel, due to similar charges.
Lev Tahor is a fanatical cult that numbers a few hundred members. Its women and girls are clad in all-black robes and covered from head to toe. The only thing they are allowed to expose is their faces.
According to Canadian child services authorities, Lev Tahor married off girls as young as 12. Its members routinely engage in polygamy. Child abuse, including forced medication with unprescribed psychiatric drugs and starvation, is allegedly rampant.
Moreover, according to Canadian officials, the cult denies its children access to education.
Lev Tahor’s alleged behavioral norms are an affront to the rule of law and human rights. Although the cult was apparently expelled from the village in Guatemala due to anti-Semitism, its members fled both the Canadian and the Israeli authorities to evade prosecution.
And yet for all of its alleged moral depravity and criminal behavior, that fact is that Lev Tahor’s treatment of its girls is certainly no worse, and in many respects better, than the treatment that Islamic societies mete out on their girls and women. And the sad truth is that for hundreds of thousands of Muslim women and girls in the West, their residency in human rights-protecting societies has failed to protect them.
Consider female genital mutilation, which Lev Tahor is not accused of engaging in.
In late July, Islamic State forces in Mosul, Iraq, decreed that all girls and women between the ages of 12 and 42 must have their genitals mutilated.
The order was an act of pure evil. Yet it was not particularly controversial within the Islamist context Islamic State operates.
As Soeren Kern wrote for the Gatestone Institute last July, throughout the world, some 140 million women and girls, the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims, have been subjected to the barbaric practice. Three million girls under the age of 15 are forced to undergo clitoridectomies each year.
In Europe, at least 180,000 Muslim females have undergone this defilement. According to British authorities, in England alone, at least 20,000 girls are at risk of “being cut” each year.
Yet, despite the cruelty and degradation inherent to female genital mutilation, and despite the fact that under British law, anyone found guilty of carrying out this practice is supposed to face criminal charges and up to 14 years in prison, so far no one has been convicted and only a five or six offenders have even been charged for the crime.
There are two principal causes for British authorities’ failure to protect Muslim girls residing in England. First, neither the children themselves, who live in a permanent state of terror and abuse, nor their communities, which turn a blind eye, and so condone the practice, are willing to come forward and finger those responsible for this endemic abuse and violence.
And second, non-Islamic British authorities, including welfare workers and teachers, who are in a position to protect the children, are unwilling to stick their necks out. This unwillingness has two causes.
First, they fear for their lives. The murder of Theo van Gogh and the repeated attempts by Muslim fanatics to execute the Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures of Muhammad are central components of the cost-benefit analysis most Westerners carry out when considering whether or not to get involved with human rights abuses carried out by Muslims.
Second, they fear excommunication from and defamation at the hands of the Left. Over the past 15 years, the international Left has consistently expanded its political alliance with Islamists in the West.
Among other things, this alliance has required the Left to turn a blind eye to barbaric Islamic practices like female genital mutilation and rape and to defame those who dare to openly oppose these reactionary, obscene behaviors as Islamophobic racists.
And so we have a situation where, both at home and abroad, the West has become habituated to Islamic barbarism and passive in the face of its expanding threat to their lives and their way of life both abroad and at home. Observing this behavior, clearly Islamic State’s terror masters are betting that once habituated to the beheading of Westerners, the West will yawn and go to sleep as Islamic State expands its conquests to additional countries.
It isn’t that the Westerners, led by the leftist elite, lack the ability to feel or express moral outrage. It is just that they refuse to direct it against Islamic jihadists.
And this brings us back to their political alliance with the Islamists.
The only meaningful commonality between Islamist and leftist dogma is hatred for Jews with power, first and foremost for Israel. And the singular creation of this alliance is the sides’ joint determination that it isn’t racist to hate the Jewish state, or Jews who refuse to condemn it.
In this state of affairs, the only outlet that leftists have for their moral outrage is Israel. Because while they fear being called racist, they know that being anti-Semitic will not expose them to charges of racism.
And they know Jews won’t assault them for attacking Israel and its supporters. So they project all the crimes perpetrated by Islamic fanatics on Israel.
For instance, this week Megan Marzec, the president of Ohio University’s Student Senate, posted a video of herself dousing herself in a bucket of “blood.”
Marzec explained, “This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians – atrocities which OU is directly complacent in [sic] through cultural and economic ties with the Israeli state.”
In other words, she accused Israel of the crimes Hamas seeks to inflict on Israel, and of the crimes that Islamist forces, such as al-Qaida, Islamic State and Boko Haram, are currently carrying out in their areas of operations.
The growing prevalence of anti-Semitism in leftist circles has placed Jewish leftists in a vulnerable position.
Their ideological movement is denying Jews the right to self-defense and self-determination and siding with Islamists who seek to annihilate them. For a growing number of leftist Jews, their new status as members of a hated group has made them feel it necessary to publicly side with Israel’s enemies against it.
Consider the recent New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman which ran under the title “The End of Liberal Zionism.”
Lerman insisted that there is no way to square Zionism with liberal values.
According to this disaffected Jewish leftist, “The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe.”
But of course, outside the fringes of Israeli society, no such movement exists.
Rather, Lerman is describing Islamic supremacism and, like his fellow leftists, projecting its pathologies on Israel, which Islamic supremacists seek to destroy.
Lerman quoted an article published a few weeks before his in The New York Review of Books by Jonathan Freedland titled “Liberal Zionism After Gaza.”
Freedland argued that as the two-state solution becomes more and more remote, liberal Zionists “will have to decide which of their political identities matters more, whether they are first a liberal or first a Zionist.”
But this is of course absurd. The only way a person can uphold liberal values is by being a Zionist. Israel is the only country in the region that is a human rights-respecting liberal democracy that is governed by the rule of law.
What is becoming more and more difficult is being a Zionist while being a leftist. As the Left becomes more and more tied to Islamic fanatics, anti-Semitism is going to become more and more of a staple of leftist dogma. And that anti-Semitism will express itself first and foremost as a virulent rejection of Israel and of Jews who refuse to disavow and condemn the Jewish state.
Sotloff reportedly maintained faith with his Judaism in secret while in captivity. He refused food on Yom Kippur and secretly prayed toward Jerusalem.
In so doing, he showed that the evil that controlled him physically, could not penetrate his soul. For this he died a Jewish hero.
Leftist Jews must take a lesson from Sotloff, who was reportedly a product of a Jewish-leftist worldview.
They should understand that the decision they are being required to make is not a choice between liberalism and Zionism, but between liberalism and a reactionary dogma that sits comfortably with genocidal Jew-haters and misogynist oppressors.
It shouldn’t be a particularly difficult choice.
The war on fat - a big, fat waste of time
Until recently, the advice that we should avoid fat - particularly saturated fat - was regarded as simple common sense. Heart attacks were caused by fatty deposits in our arteries, right? It was obvious that these must have in turn been caused by the heavy, saturated fat in our diets. Obesity is excess storage of fat, so it must obviously be caused by eating fat. So all the fatty treats we once loved were replaced by boring, low-fat alternatives. Bacon and eggs were replaced by Shredded Wheat and All Bran; fatty steaks were replaced by dull, dry low-fat chicken breasts. Butter was replaced by odd-tasting, low-fat vegetable-oil spread. The pleasure of full-fat milk was skimmed away, to be replaced by a thin, insipid white liquid. But if the joy of eating was diminished, at least we could rest assured that we would all be slimmer and healthier in the long run.
But in recent years, the advice to eat a low-fat diet has increasingly been called into question. Despite cutting down on fatty foods, the populations of many Western countries have become fatter. If heart-disease mortality has maintained a steady decline, cases of type-2 diabetes have shot up in recent years. Maybe these changes were in spite of the advice to avoid fat. Maybe they were caused by that advice.
The most notable figure in providing the intellectual ammunition to challenge existing health advice has been the US science writer, Gary Taubes. His 2007 book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, became a bestseller, despite containing long discussions on some fairly complex issues to do with biochemistry, nutrition and medicine. The book’s success triggered a heated debate about what really makes us fat and causes chronic disease.
Into this controversy comes The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, which examines both the history and the merits of the advice to avoid fat – saturated fat, in particular. Teicholz, a food journalist, was originally intending to write a book on a much narrower subject: trans fats. As Teicholz says, in the early twentieth century, it became possible to mass-produce vegetable oils. These are generally made up of polyunsaturated fats (1). These vegetable oils were cheaper than animal fats, like lard, which had been used before, but they had serious disadvantages in terms of texture and shelf life. Polyunsaturated fats are liquid rather than solid and much more reactive than saturated fats and so spoil more quickly. In order to tackle that problem, a process called hydrogenation was used to make these vegetable oils more saturated, causing them to solidify. By adding different amounts of hydrogen, different qualities could be created in the resulting oil, which is then described as ‘partially hydrogenated’.
The trouble is that these partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats - chains with chemical bonds that are the ‘wrong’ way round. These trans fats have been linked to a variety of health problems and are now largely being phased out. But how they got into our food is an interesting story in itself. As Teicholz tells me over Skype from New York, it soon became clear that there was a bigger story, way beyond trans fats, to be told. ‘I spent over a year investigating that book, talking to dozens and dozens of insiders in the food industry. I became extremely well-networked among oil chemists just trying to understand the trans fats story and understanding that industry, which is extremely closed. It’s a tiny club of all-male oil chemists… It was really interesting how hoodwinked these scientists were in the Fifties that they thought that these just-invented foods could restore people to their previous state of health. And there are lots of interesting angles to that whole story. The embrace of polyunsaturated vegetable oils to begin with, how trans fats were ramped up to become the backbone of the food industry, and how the food industry had to back out of trans fats in the last eight years and went back to using those oils.’ Teicholz argues that the fashion for polyunsaturated fats has been misplaced. Indeed, when heated up for frying, polyunsaturated fats could be downright dangerous.
The most talked-about aspect of Teicholz’s book is her discussion of the evidence against saturated fat. In the Fifties, a well-known American researcher, Ancel Keys, came to the conclusion that cholesterol was responsible for heart disease and, in turn, that the consumption of saturated fat, mostly from animals, was to blame for boosting cholesterol levels. Yet the evidence for these claims was shaky from the word go. So how did Keys manage to make his views the official ones?
Teicholz tells me that the answer lies in Keys’ unshakable moral certainty, which found fertile ground in a medical and scientific establishment spooked by the rapid rise of heart disease: ‘Before Keys got on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, it was very hesitant about jumping to any kind of conclusions while at the same time acknowledging the enormous pressure to do so, given that the entire nation was focused on heart disease. It was a terrifying epidemic. President Eisenhower was out of the Oval Office for 10 days [following a heart attack in 1955]. This was an all-consuming panic for all the people that ran the country. All the people in science, it was their colleagues who over the previous 30 years had started dropping like flies. There was tremendous public pressure to find some kind of solution. It was into that vulnerable setting that Ancel Keys stepped. It was just this perfect storm of his oversized, highly aggressive personality meeting this vulnerable time in America.’
Teicholz never met Keys, but she has met one of his leading supporters and apostles, Jeremiah Stamler: ‘You could see why people would just fold in their presence. It’s like being in the presence of a gale-force wind, the power that comes at you. In Jerry Stamler’s case, he’s also profane and there’s this supreme self-confidence that he brings…There was a very aggressive tenor to the whole nutrition conversation back then. It was almost like internet manners, pre-internet!’
Once the politically astute Keys had packed the nutrition committee of the AHA and got its backing for the advice to avoid saturated fat, the war on meat and dairy could begin. But a major turning point came in 1977 when the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition, led by Democratic senator George McGovern, held hearings on the issue. The result was a set of guidelines, Dietary Goals for the United States, which promoted the consumption of ‘complex’ carbohydrates, and reductions in the consumption of fat in general and saturated fat in particular.
By 1980, this report had been worked up into government-backed guidelines – around the same time that obesity appears to have taken off in the US. The McGovern Report inspired all the familiar diet advice around the world that we’ve had ever since, and led to major changes in what food manufacturers offered. Out went fat, though unsaturated fat and hydrogenated oils were deemed less bad than saturated fat, so vegetable oils and margarines became more popular. In came more carbohydrate and more sugar, to give those cardboard-like low-fat ‘treats’ some modicum of flavour.
Yet two recent reviews of the evidence around saturated fat - one led by Ronald Krauss, the other by Rajiv Chowdhury - suggest that saturated fat is not the villain it has been painted as. (The latter paper, in particular, sparked outrage.) As for fat in general, Teicholz tells me: ‘There was no effort until very late in the game to provide evidence for the low-fat diet. It was just assumed that that was reasonable because of the caloric benefit you would see from restricting fat.’ Yet a diet low in saturated fat is still the standard prescription. For example, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) (the UK equivalent of the AHA) still suggests consuming unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat - though at least the BHF is now suggesting that more research should be done.
This mad, mad story of the battle over fat is not actually that new, though Teicholz adds new details to it. But there is much more to Teicholz’s book than that. Three things stand out.
First, there is her discussion of the Mediterranean Diet. Although mentioned in a cookbook by Keys in the early Seventies, the idea was first actively researched by two researchers in the Eighties - one Greek, one Italian. But it was when the idea got the backing of Harvard University medical researchers that it really took off. Now, it seems like a no-brainer that the kind of food served on a balmy Italian or Greek terrace, with lashings of olive oil, plenty of fresh vegetables and a substantial side order of wine, is the healthiest way to eat. At the very least, it was a relief: olive oil was the healthy fat that you were allowed to enjoy. But in truth, the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ doesn’t bear much relation to what many Mediterraneans actually eat. Diets vary substantially across the Mediterranean countries - and even within those countries. In reality, the Mediterranean Diet is a construct, a rose-tinted version of reality tailored to the anti-meat prejudices of American researchers.
The second thing that sets The Big Fat Surprise apart is its tale of how the other major backer of the Mediterranean Diet was the olive-oil industry. Conferences, funded by the industry and organised by an American organisation called the Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, would be staged in Mediterranean countries, with idyllic climates and lots of lovely, olive-oil-heavy food. Swooning researchers were literally wined and dined into going along with promoting the benefits of olive oil. But it is questionable just how traditional the consumption of olive oil really is. It certainly only became a major part of British and American diets over the past 20 years or so. Even in Greece, it seems olive oil had functions that were more ceremonial than dietary until perhaps 200 years ago. One French historian, quoted by Teicholz, says: ‘Less than 100 years ago, ordinary people in many parts of Greece ate far less oil than today.’ In any event, the notion that this is a battle between the longstanding food culture of peasant societies and an unnatural diet forced on us by big bad corporations in the West is far too black and white.
Which leads us to an important third point made by Teicholz: that the blame for our current dietary problems cannot solely, or even mainly, be placed at the door of big food corporations. Teicholz writes about how she discovered that ‘the mistakes of nutrition science could not be primarily pinned on the nefarious interests of Big Food. The source of our misguided dietary advice was in some ways more disturbing, since it seems to have been driven by experts at some of our most trusted institutions working towards what they believed to be the public good.’ Once public-health bureaucracies enshrined the dogma that fat is bad for us, ‘the normally self-correcting mechanism of science, which involves constantly challenging one’s own beliefs, was disabled’.
The war on dietary fat is a terrifying example of what happens when politics and bureaucracy mixes with science: provisional conclusions become laws of nature; resources are piled into the official position, creating material as well as intellectual reasons to continue to support it; and any criticism is suppressed or dismissed. As the war on sugar gets into full swing, a reading of The Big Fat Surprise might provide some much-needed humility.
Marriage of two straight men for radio competition angers gay rights group
The marriage of two heterosexual New Zealand men as part of a radio show promotion to win tickets to next year’s Rugby World Cup in London has been criticised by gay rights and conservative groups.
Travis McIntosh, a 23-year-old engineering student from Otago university, and Matt McCormick, a 24-year-old teacher at Musselburgh school in Dunedin, were married at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.
About 60 family members travelled to Auckland to watch the two best mates marry to win a trip of a lifetime. The marriage was live-streamed by the Edge radio station.
“It’s official folks, Travis and Matt have just said ‘I do’! Congrats to the happy couple!” the station tweeted.
Neill Ballantyne, the co-ordinator of Otago University Students Association Queer Support, said the wedding was an insult because marriage equality was a hard-fought battle for gay people. Same-sex marriage became legal in New Zealand in 2013.
McIntosh said the wedding was not mocking the institution of marriage. “We are not here to insult anyone,” he told the NZ Herald. “We are here to do our own thing and travel our own path.
“It’s just seeing how far two good mates would go to win a trip to the Rugby World Cup.”
Family First, a lobby group opposed to same-sex marriage, said the outrage expressed by gay rights groups was ironic. Its national director, Bob McCoskrie, said the change in law was “an arrogant act of cultural vandalism”. “This competition makes a mockery of marriage, but so did the redefining of marriage,” he said.
The men met at Pirates rugby club in Dunedin as six-year-olds and have been friends ever since.
McIntosh told the Otago Daily Times he thought the marriage would last about two years.
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.