Monday 9 February 2015

Asbos for all

A sticking-plaster remedy may or may not be better than nothing, but banning people from Tweeting and Facebooking antisemitic taunts and jibes is a pretty tokenistic gesture.

 However, as Rabbi Mark Goldsmith says, "People do need that sense that wherever you spread hate, it's not going to be legal". Meaning, I suppose, that such actions will be defined as ‘criminal’ and therefore less likely to be flung about with gay abandon, as it appears they are at the moment.

Stephen Sizer has received a six month ban on using social media, though he hasn’t been defrocked. What message does that send? 
The new Bishop of Guildford, the Right Reverend Andrew Watson just doesn’t seem to get it. He said: Dr Sizer's "strong but increasingly indiscipline (sic) anti-Zionist agenda" had become a "liability". He said that even other Christians who support the Palestinian cause found his strident stance counterproductive.
"Having now met Stephen, in my brand new role as Bishop of Guildford, I do not believe that his motives were antisemitic," he said."But I have concluded that, at the very least, he has demonstrated appalling poor judgment on the material he has chosen to disseminate, particularly via social media, some of which is clearly antisemitic."

Butter wouldn't melt

See here, an article in the Times (£) and ‘Christian Today’ about Archbishop Welby, who says  Facebook and Twitter must do more to prevent the proliferation of racism and antisemitism on their sites. (Funnily enough there’s another article on Justin Welby, which reveals that his old man was ‘born a Jew’, so Justin is ‘half Jewish’, which almost devalues any positive sentiments towards Israel and nudges him towards the Mandy Rice Davies category. Deduct several brownie points for that please Samantha.)

The BBC’s article doesn’t even mention Archbishop Welby though. The BBC does seem to be ostentatiously sticking to facts in a palpable ‘walking on eggshells. manner.
It includes a brief analysis by Caroline Wyatt. Her analysis is a real curate’s egg. Good in parts. eg: 
The rise in violent anti-Semitic attacks last year in the UK was clearly linked to the conflict in Gaza, with some using criticism of Israel's actions as a pretext for hate speech.Although the Jewish community is deeply integrated into British society, many British Jews say there has always been a low level of underlying anti-Semitism - such as casual, thoughtless remarks - but the rise of hate speech online is new and risks normalizing such sentiments.  Extremist or hate speech against one minority creates an environment in which such sentiments can easily spread to others.”
Very preceptive. But here comes the rotten bit: 
"So today's call may also be welcomed by Muslim communities, facing what they say is a rise in Islamophobia following the Paris attacks.
No! No, Caroline, no!. Let’s address antisemitism in a fully frontal fashion, and not equate it with Islam. Please. Antisemitism is not the same thing as Islamophobia. While Muslims may welcome some sort of curb on anti-Islam Tweets and Facebook posts, they probably won’t be so delighted with a curb on antisemitic ones, since they are the primary perpetrators. 
In any case, this curb, without a very strict definition and scrupulous enforcement could easily morph into the thin end of a blasphemy law type wedge.

Let’s just go back to basics. 
What is missing from enquiries into antisemitism is a straightforward examination of the media’s reporting of matters concerning the Middle East. 
Also missing, but gradually becoming inescapable, is the antisemitism that emanates from Islam.

Prominent in all debates about antisemitism is the plea that diaspora Jews should not be held responsible for ‘Israel’. This sentiment occurs in discourse coming from anyone and everyone. It is based on the premise that Israel is in the wrong. 

While diaspora Jews are not necessarily ‘responsible for’ or indeed necessarily supportive of Israel, and / or the present Israeli government, the vilification of Israel (hence the resulting need to distance oneself from it) is itself antisemitic. 
Through sloppy, ill-informed and one-sided reporting there is confusion and ignorance about the very moral and legal legitimacy of Israel. I mean Israel’s right to exist. A common perception is that Israeli Jews are European interlopers in ‘Muslim lands’. That Israel shouldn’t ‘be there’. All attempts to counter this perception are dismissed as ‘hasbara.’ Anyone with more than an average interest in the topic can find masses of information if they search for it, but apathy prevails.
More confusion surrounds the history of the creation of Israel, Arab rejectionism, the wars, peace agreements and intifadas. The predominating narrative throughout the MSM emanates from Israel’s enemies. The Islam-Hitler collaboration, the mass expulsion of Jewish communities from Arab countries and the religiously based Islamic antisemitism are all but unknown to the average  viewer. 
In just 50 years, almost a million Jews, whose communities stretch back up to 3,000 years, have been 'ethnically cleansed' from 10 Arab countries. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Unlike Palestinian refugees, they fled not war, but systematic persecution. Seen in this light, Israel, where some 50 percent of the Jewish population descend from these refugees and are now full citizens, is the legitimate expression of the self-determination of an oppressed indigenous, Middle Eastern people”.

Who knew? Arab rejectionism is barely ever mentioned. Instead all we hear is ‘the nakba’. 

The BBC rarely shows its viewers the rabidly antisemitic outbursts from the Arab world. Despite the extremist views delivered with maniacal passion by sheikhs and clerics, which  we can all see if we take the trouble to look at Memri’s archive, there are, amongst the overwhelming dross, some voices of sanity  out there in the Arab world as well. We don’t see them on the MSM either. 
President Al-Sisi at Davos ‘Peace treaty with Israel’ Tunisian MP says ‘Elders of Zion’ wasn’t penned by the Jews.
Yet week in week out BBC viewers get Abdel Bari Atwan - not exactly saying what he says in the Arabic speaking media, but his toned down, between the lines antisemitism, all of which is regarded by the BBC as credible.

Will Abdel Bari Atwan get an asbo? No, he’ll remain Dateline’s most popular guest, as he always was. 
The new Bishop of Guildford doesn’t think Stephen Sizer is antisemitic. That will be because, like George Galloway, Sizer simply says “I’m not antisemitic, just anti-Zionist.” upon which the new Bishop is stalemated.
Even if George Galloway accidentally crosses the line and Tweets something careless, and picks up an asbo, that won’t stop him from disseminating Islam-engendered Jew hate at rallies, in universities, on Press TV. 
The only way to turn the tide is for the BBC to open up and start giving the whole picture. The truth about Israel and Islam. As we can see from the BBC’s (so far) total blackout of the protest that took place outside the PM’s residence yesterday, it isn’t going to happen anytimesoon. (Oh I do hate that expression.)

Asbos all round for the BBC please.


  1. I'm sorry you can't have free speech for only those things you like.

    If you want to live in a free speech society then you have to put up with anti-semitic and racist sentiment.

    If you want to start locking up people for stating opinions, you will be on a very slippery we have been.

    Because we are pretty much now in the position where if you want to criticise Islam, you take a risk of legal sanction.

    We should be rowing back on restrictions on further controls on free speech, not advocating them.

    If people are anti-semitic or racist generally, it's far better they express themselves and rather than go under camouflage as it were.

  2. It seems to me that the phrase " I do not believe his motives were anti Semitic" is fundamentally flawed. It totally misses the point as to what anti Semitism is - that is that a person who incites hatred of Jews by their words and writings fuels anti Semitism and it is that is the issue.

    The BBC has never understood the connection between reporting slanderous stories that are against the Jewish State and the build up of hatred against Jews. For a classic libel which achieved subconscious hatred see

  3. There are two superb pieces on the subject in the 'Spectator':

  4. You acknowledge that if their is a criminalisation of comment with a view to protect Jewish people, the main beneficiaries will be Muslims. Comment, however expressed, are symptoms of tensions in society. I think criminalising people will catch out the usual uneducated people who will have what life they have destroyed - unemployed, losing children, etc. Do you want that? Stopping expression does not eliminate what is wanted to be expressed. Basically, you have to deal with it. Schisms are opening up throughout society due to immigration - which is overwhelmingly Muslim - and the solution is not putting your hand over the virtual mouths of people who are not happy with this or just not happy. The comments demonstrate one truth: we had a free society and immigration seems to have as its price that all the singular liberties we had have to be jettisoned. People should not join this attack on freedom. If you think that the logic is that: if people can't say, they won't think; and if they can't think, they won't act; then you have a desperate delusion. Wishful thinking.

  5. There is a specific problem in our society with people who adhere to Sharia.

    We need legal measures similar to those adopted in Germany to combat totalitarian conspiracies.

    The emphasis needs to be on conspiracy. It should not be wrong or people to express support for Sharia, but it should be illegal for them to conspire to introduce it e.g. through operating Sharia courts in defiance of our law.

    That approach will preserve the freedom of speech of the rest of society.

  6. I think bad faith is not a good idea. A comment above suggest that you can have a view but not organise with similar minded people to bring that idea to fruition. Well, let's not go round the block here. What is being suggested is that opinions, idea, etc, are allowed as purely individual emanations that are not to impact the real world except by the efforts of that individual. All ideas have social implications and get their resonance from interaction with others. If you don't want Sharia don't get bogged down in the "idea" of it - fight it. Say Sharia is incompatible with the civilisation we have and politically rule it out by having strong legal rights. Let people agitate for it if that is their wont but make it clear that it is incompatible with our current democratic system. If the agitators want to push on this, push back and introduce legislation expressing the incompatibility. But let them talk, agitate, etc, but don't allow it to come to fruition. That's real freedom because freedom cannot allow its extinguishing.

  7. Sharia is a totalitarian system.

    The point is democracies need to protect themselves against totalitarian conspiracies. But democracies are based on free speech.

    You don't protect your democracy by suppressing free speech any more than you do by suspending free elections or banning a free press.

    To stop a conspiracy is quite another matter - and the truth is there is a huge illegal conspiracy to subvert our democracy, by people who for instance organise and alternative court system.

  8. On the subject of Stephen Sizer, the main thing is not his 6 month social media ban. He has been banned from ANYTHING to do with the middle-east so long as he remains a parish priest. So he has received a very strong sanction.


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