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Superhero Protest of Soviet Monuments in Bulgaria

Understandably, the Russian government is not happy with this protest.

The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.

Making the god-like figures into superhero icons seems the logical end to me.



Fathom 18 Out Now!

Fathom 18 is a bumper issue offering 30 pieces on four broad topics: the Middle East after ISIS, The Balfour Declaration and the Great Powers, Peace and the Process, BDS and the Left.

1. THE MIDDLE EAST AFTER ISIS

We asked a range of experts to evaluate the future of the Middle East after the fall of the Islamic State (IS). Read critical assessments from Craig WhitesideEly KarmonDavid WellsKyle OrtonAymenn al-Tamimi, and Michael Barak of the prospects for reconstruction and governance in the formerly IS-held territory, the likely response of the Jihadi movement to its defeat, the best strategies Western states can adopt to defeat the ‘returning Jihadis’ and the shape that needs to be taken by a viable regional security framework in the future.

Also, Michael Herzog examines Israel’s strategic interests and polices in light of the recent de-escalation agreement for the southern theatre in the Syrian civil war. He argues that the West should utilise their existing military assets on the ground, as well as fostering cooperation with willing regional partners, in order to address the Iranian threat emerging in the region after ISIS.

2. BALFOUR AND THE GREAT POWERS

Fathom 17 was a special issue examining the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, featuring articles by Toby GreeneEfraim HalevyDonna Robinson DevineJames SoreneElias ZananiriRonnie Fraser, and Azriel Bermant.

In Fathom 18 we offer two additional responses to ‘Balfour 100’.

Israeli critical sociologist Gershon Shafir argues that British Christian Zionism pre-dated practical Jewish Zionism and helped to ensure that, by the First World War, British imperial interests were woven into a narrative of Jewish return, creating ‘the political category into which Jews fitted themselves’ and ensuring that Jews were the only political community in Palestine to be recognised in the Balfour Declaration.

Historian Jonathan Schneer’s study The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict was highly praised by the late Sir Martin Gilbert: ‘Why did Britain offer the Jews a home in Palestine? Had they not already offered Palestine to the Arabs, two years earlier? This extraordinarily well-documented and revealing book gives the answers.’ Schneer spoke to Fathom’s Sam Nurding shortly before events in London marking the centenary of the Declaration.

Focused on the inter-war years, Bruce Maddy-Weitzman has written a sparkling review of an important book, The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire by Susan Pedersen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

3. PEACE AND THE PROCESS

Less fashionable today than once it was, besieged by maximalists on both sides, the ‘two states for two peoples’ solution remains in our view the only policy that warrants the name ‘solution’ because no other proposal can recognise and reconcile the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, which is the only basis for a just peace. So for our part we will continue to ‘view with favour,’ to steal a phrase, the vision of mutual recognition, coexistence and peace in the small strip of land between the river and the sea, and so we continue to welcome in our pages the best thinking from all parties about how to advance the two-state solution.

In this issue Einat Wilf and Yair Hirschfeld reflect on the experience of Oslo. While Wilf takes issue with the politics of the play ‘Oslo’ currently showing in London, Hirschfeld, one of the pioneers of the Oslo process, reflects on his experiences then at the birth-pangs of the peace process and the hopes he still harbours for it today.

Interviews with Joint List leader Ayman Odeh and former director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs Yossi Kupperwasser bring important perspectives from across the divide about the next steps that need to be taken if an apparently stalled process is to get into gear.

Ayman Odeh – a political visionary who is fond of quoting Martin Luther King Jr. – argues for a new politics of change in Israel. ‘Were the government to pursue peace, democracy, and social justice, and treat the country’s Arab citizens as legitimate members of political life’ he told Fathom, ‘the Arab sector will “come out in droves” to build a fair and equal country that works for the benefit of all of its citizens, as happened in Rabin’s time’.

Yossi Kupperwasser challenges the idea that Israel is no longer committed to the two-state solution. This is to radically misread the reasons for the failure of previous negotiations, he claims, missing the baleful role of both the Palestinian commitment to a maximalist narrative that recognises neither the Jewish people nor the legitimacy of the Jewish state and of its campaign of incitement which poisons the minds of the Palestinian people. Suggesting that the international community, and not only US President Donald Trump, is now beginning to understand this, as well as the need to apply pressure to encourage change, he argues that ‘if the Palestinians would change this narrative, Israel would be more than happy to find a solution’.

Fathom advisory editor Sara Hirshhorn’s new book City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement (Harvard University Press, 2017) has been one of the most discussed of 2017. It unsettles stereotypes, showing that the 1960s generation who moved to the occupied territories were not messianic zealots or right-wing extremists but in many cases thought of themselves as idealists and liberals seizing an historic opportunity to create a ‘city on a hilltop’. On the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War, Hirschhorn sets out why here book illuminates the changing face of the settlement project and the shifting dynamics of the clash between liberal values and settler realities.

Changing focus, Chemi Peres takes a leaf out his father’s book to dream about a new Middle East. Specifically – and in the kind of practical detail that suggest his dream can be realised if the will is there – Peres sets out a vision of Israel the ‘Start-up Nation’ being a catalyst to create a ‘Start-Up Region’.

Michael Koplow reflects on Israel’s diplomatic relations and makes the case that, putting the hype aside, Israel’s relations with the West remain dependent on the Palestinian issue.

Lauren Mellinger, formerly of Brookings and now a Research Fellow at BICOM, reviews The Endless Quest for Israeli-Palestinian Peace: A Reflection from No Man’s Land,’ the memoir of former UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, who provides an in-depth, insiders account of both conflict management and efforts to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, between 2007 and 2014.

4. BDS: ROOTS AND RESPONSES

Almost entirely ineffective as a boycott movement, the ability of the ‘BDS’ movement to demonise Israel as a state beyond the pale, especially on the political Left, should not be underestimated. In this issue we offer several pieces that shed light on the relationship between ‘the ostensible left’ – to steal an inelegant but accurate phrase from Sean Matgamna, the author of one of the books under review – and Israel.

Dissent editorial board member Jo-Ann Mort, a cofounder of the Democratic Socialists of America (and a supporter of Americans for Peace Now), reflects critically on the recent DSA vote to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) policy. Mort regrets the transformation of a once democratic socialist movement led by Michael Harrington into an instrument of the new unthinking ‘anti-imperialist’ left.  ‘A box was checked and a statement was made, alienating many of us who had a home in this movement for decades,’ writes Mort. ‘Whether the results will yield anything positive in the real world was hardly a concern.’

German historian Martin Jander writes on the growth of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish terrorism in West Germany in the 1970s, from Entebbe to Mogadishu. South African academic Milton Shain reflects on the state of contemporary South African Anti-Zionism. Colin Shindler reviews a new book by Sean Matgamna, a little-known but important figure in stimulating the growth of a left-wing network that since the 1980s has stood for the two-state solution and fought against left-wing antisemitism, educating two generations of activists and intellectuals in that spirit.

We also make available to readers two sharply contrasting views on the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, from Hagai El-Ad and Gadi Taub.

Hagai El-Ad is the Executive Director of B’Tselem and he sat down with the editor of Fathom for an in-depth interview. What does El-Ad think has been the impact of the occupation not just on the Palestinians but on Israeli democracy and society? Why does B’Tselem insist that the occupation is a human rights issue? How does he understand the relationship between politics and human rights? How does he respond to the storm of criticism of B’Tselem from the Israeli Right? Why did he decide to make a speech against Israeli settlement policy to the UN in 2016, prompting the Israeli prime minister to say he had joined the ‘chorus of mudslinging’ against Israel? What is B’Tselem’s report card on Israeli democracy?

Gadi Taub examines ‘the Gabriel Affair’. In April 2017 the social democratic German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel decided to meet with two NGOs, Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, while visiting Israel. He did so knowing that this would result in the Israeli prime minster refusing to meet with him. Taub examines the political meaning of ‘the Gabriel Affair’. Why did the prime minister make it a matter of ‘B’Tselem or me’ and was he right to do so? How should Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem be characterised – as legitimate human rights organisations or as demonisers of the State of Israel? And what should be the proper relationship between human rights advocacy and the unresolved national question in Israel and Palestine?

Gerald Steinberg, Director of NGO Monitor, argues that it is time to press reset on Israel’s confused response to the genuine threat of BDS and demonisation. A series of own-goals have, he claims, created the impression of a powerful, aggressive government harassing weak NGOs. An alternative approach, based on Israeli MKs and their counterparts in foreign parliaments creating a shared policy framework, is needed.

Philip Spencer reviews Marxist Enzo Traverso’s The End of Jewish Modernity. He sets out his disappointment in what he finds to be a dismaying regression from the author’s own earlier valuable work. Spencer is unpersuaded by ‘a simplistic analysis, which reproduces many of the flaws of a tradition he seems unable either to reflect critically upon or to develop’.

Finally, Liam Hoare reviews Yael Neeman’s We Were the Future: A Memoir of the Kibbutz. This remarkable reflection on a childhood spent on Yehiam, a Marxist Zionist kibbutz in the Upper Galilee, concludes rather sadly: ‘The beauty of our kibbutz was incredible. We could never get used to it. We all felt unworthy of it and the system. Who could say no to an attempt to create a better, egalitarian, just world? We did say no. We defected.’


Whatever happened to Isadore Greenbaum?

If you watched the video I posted of the 1939 pro-Nazi rally at Madison Square in New York, you saw the footage of a young Jewish man who charged the stage being beaten by the Nazis and hauled off by the police.

The Washington Post tells his story. He went on to serve as a chief petty officer in the Navy during World War II and later moved to southern California, where he was remembered fondly on his death in 1998.

Rest in peace, Mr. Greenbaum.


Anti BDS legislation: the case of Esther Koontz

It was good to read that Austrian Green students have renounced BDS.  However I don’t think individuals should be penalised for taking a different view. I’ve only just heard about this case, which has been taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  Esther Koontz is a maths teacher in Kansas who has fallen foul of state legislation which requires, to use Koontz’ own phrasing,  ‘any individual or company seeking a contract with the state to certify that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel’. Koontz, partly through her involvement in the Mennonite Church, supports BDS. This personal political decision now stands in the way of her career:

I got an email from an official at the Kansas State Department of Education. She said that, in order to participate in the state’s math training program, I would need to sign a certification stating that I don’t boycott Israel. Specifically, I would have to sign below the following statement: “As an Individual or Contractor entering into a contract with the State of Kansas, it is hereby certified that the Individual or Company listed below is not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.” (my emphasis)

Some have argued that this is not precisely, as Koontz claims, a violation of her free speech rights, as she is not being prevented from boycotting Israel, just from combining that stance with a particular job.  But it still seems quite wrong that a privately held political view, a personal decision to avoid buying Israeli goods, should force her to lose a job opportunity in this way.


Austrian Green students back anti-BDS resolution

Guest post by Karl Pfeifer

I am happy to inform readers of Harry’s Place that the Austrian Students Union passed a resolution denouncing BDS. The Union of Jewish-Austrian Students gave special thanks to the leftwing GRAS– Green & Alternative Students– for their continuing support in the fight against all antisemitism.

Jüdische österreichische HochschülerInnen
The Union of Jewish-Austrian Students
Friday, 14 October 2017

We are very happy to announce that the ÖH – Österreichische Hochschüler_innenschaft (Austrian Students’ Union) is the first national student union to adopt a resolution denouncing BDS and also approve a version of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

The resolution calls BDS an antisemitic campaign and opposes giving it any space or supporting funds.

This has been a big step in the fight against antisemitism and we are very happy that after our lobbying effort almost all factions have supported the motion.

A special thanks to the GRAS– Grüne & Alternative Student_innen– and the their continuing support in the fight against all antisemitism.


Responses to the proposed new mosque in Golders Green

If you want to get a flavour of some of the more hostile responses to the plan to turn the former Golders Green Hippodrome into a mosque – then you need look no further than this report in 5Pillars.

Another respondent, Josephine Bacon, said: “To place a large Muslim institution in the heart of one of London’s only two Jewish communities is a highly dangerous undertaking and one that can only result in violence and terrorism.

Rachelle Marks wrote: “The appearance of burkas [and] veils has changed the area… the traffic is too much and we don’t know what they are preaching as [it is] all in Arabic.”

Ayelet Avroya wrote: “This is going to force the Jewish population to run away and make this beautiful neighbourhood too crowded, with loads of burkas and veils over the weekend which I find scary and changes the fine balance between the residents of this area.”

What 5Pillars doesn’t report is the fact that many Jewish individuals and organisations have robustly countered such responses. Here’s Laura Marks writing in the JC.

Reading some of the comments on various chat groups by those opposed sent a shiver down my spine.

Going through the public forums – not to mention what people are saying in private – and it actually feels even more sinister still. The language being used is simply not right.

I am chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the power of words is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2018. It has never seemed more fitting.

A local Rabbi has also intervened:

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, of the Golders Green Alyth Reform congregation, told the paper the language of the comments was “threatening and misleading”.

He added: “I suspect it’s the same sort of thing said about Jews moving to Golders Green in the 1920s. Golders Green is not entirely Jewish. It’s a special place to live in and we all get along together. That’s what London is about.”

This Jerusalem Post article highlights other mainstream Jewish voices speaking out against bigotry.

Jay Stoll, a Jewish political adviser in the British Parliament, ran a campaign in 2015 under the same title, “Golders Green Together,” to promote diversity ahead of a neo-Nazi protest in the area.

Stoll expressed his disappointment, saying, “Two years ago I ran a campaign called ‘Golders Green Together’ to protest neo-Nazis demonstrating in the most populous Jewish area of the UK. [Very] disappointed to see the same slogan used to protest planning permission for a mosque. Hardly representative of the campaign we ran.”

Marcus Dysch, political editor at the Jewish Chronicle, wrote on Twitter that it was “hard to see [the campaign] as anything other than inexcusable, blatant Islamophobia. An embarrassment to British Jews.”

By focusing only on the most negative responses 5Pillars has, not surprisingly, whipped up bigotry amongst its readers.

Returning to the proposed mosque, this will be used by the Shia community. Here a spokesman comments on the controversy:

Al-Kazemi said he was surprised by the objections, but not upset. “There might be people who don’t like us, but we don’t feel threatened. I have lived in Golders Green for 15 years, I have a Jewish neighbour and a Christian neighbour, and they are my brothers.


When 20,000 pro-Nazis rallied in New York

On February 20, 1939, more than 20,000 people gathered at Madison Square Garden in New York for a rally sponsored by the pro-Nazi German-American Bund.

Watch this remarkable footage from the rally:

At that time Hitler had been in power for more than six years and Kristallnacht– the opening salvo in the Holocaust– had happened the previous November.

The ostensible reason for the rally was to mark George Washington’s birthday. Note the disturbing blend of Nazi ideas and symbols with those of American patriotism.

A New York Times report the day after the rally provides some context for the video.


Venezuelan political prisoners urge vote in Sunday election

A few days before regime-sponsored gubernatorial elections on Sunday, 18 Venezuelan political prisoners being held at the notorious El Helicoide prison– a former futuristic shopping mallreleased an open letter to the people of Venezuela.

The prisoners did not call for a boycott. Instead they urged people to do what they themselves cannot– vote.

We’re taking the risk of writing this statement from El Helicoide’s dungeons, where Nicolás Maduro keeps us imprisoned for the crime of exercising our freedom of thought. We do it in the hope that the people of Venezuela will rise up and express their will on behalf of all us who are being silenced. The democracy missing in our country today remains alive in the heart of Venezuelans.

We’re asking the people to participate massively in these elections, voting for Democratic Unity Roundtable candidates and actively working in polling stations, mobilizing and informing voters and defending votes in every electoral center.

These elections were illegally delayed by the same CNE [government election commission] that has prevented the people from expressing their political will since 2016, on Nicolás Maduro’s orders. And even now, as they’re forced to call for elections, the CNE itself has dismissed candidate replacements on the electoral ballot, arbitrarily scrapped voting stations and imposed uneven and, therefore, unconstitutional conditions. Despite all of that, we’re the majority and we’re unstoppable. Today, we’re not voting because we’re in a democracy, we vote because we can’t give democracy away. Elections are an irreplaceable method for those who believe in freedom to raise our voice against fraud and repression.

And for urging people to participate in the regime’s elections, the regime is punishing them by denying family visits (and who knows what else).

Many of these political prisoners hold distinctly left-of-center views. But because they dare to oppose the Bolivarian regime, they are treated as rightwing enemies of the state.

Ever since I started posting at Harry’s Place about Venezuela, I’ve been at pains to emphasize that there has been a principled democratic leftwing opposition to Hugo Chavez and now Maduro.

Some of these brave leftists are featured in a video recently posted at the excellent Caracas Chronicles website:


OFCOM on ‘The Lobby’: A wrong decision & a profound disservice to the Jewish Community

This is a revised and updated version of a piece by Jonathan Hoffman which first appeared on UK Media Watch

On 9 October OFCOM published its long-awaited decision on complaints about the four-part Al Jazeera series ‘The Lobby’, broadcast  from 11-14 January . I was a complainant. Below is a Q+A on the decision.

Q: What is the fatal flaw in the OFCOM decision?

A: The opinion that the programme was ‘in the public interest’.  This is crucial. The decision accepts that Ella Rose (the Director of the Jewish Labour Movement, who was filmed surreptitiously) had a ‘legitimate expectation of privacy with regard to the inclusion of the footage which showed her having private conversations.’ But that expectation had to be balanced against the ‘public interest’ in the matters being investigated.  In OFCOM’s view, ‘public interest’ (along with ‘freedom of expression’) trumped ‘privacy’.  But the plain fact is, the ‘investigation’ found nothing untowardIn the blog I wrote back in January, I noted the comment from Andrew Billen in The Times:

For the life of me I could not see what Israel was doing wrong here. The Lobby sensationally exposed the existence of, well, a lobby.”

The ‘freedom of expression’ justification is also a nonsense. ‘Robin Harrow’ – the Al Jazeera spy – went to visit eminent sociology academic David Hirsh. In the event the covert footage of their meeting was not included in the programme. But as a result Hirsh is now wary of talking to anyone he doesn’t know. Like new students. Really well done, Al Jazeera. You have destroyed the ‘freedom of expression’ of an eminent Jewish academic.

How can an investigation which comes up with precisely nothing, possibly be ‘in the public interest’?

Al Jazeera (through Carter-Ruck) claimed that there was prima facie evidence of the existence of a story that was in the public interest, namely, ‘the efforts of a foreign state covertly to influence and interfere with British democracy and the operation of the political system.’ Guess what … Israel’s diplomats do their job, just like British diplomats: to get the best deal for their country. How can the revelation of such an obvious fact POSSIBLY be ‘in the public interest’?  In fact the programmes were AGAINST the public interest. Under the cover of an investigation of the so-called ‘Lobby’, this series purposefully fuelled prejudice against Jews. (For the evidence see my blog again).

Effectively Al Jazeera was setting up a ‘straw man’ justification for the programme – and OFCOM unbelievably swallowed it.  It’s a really dangerous path to go down. Imagine: UK Jewish Community leaders have regular meetings at 10 Downing Street. Sometimes (no doubt) Israel is discussed – for example, when the Iran Agreement was being drawn up.  According to OFCOM, that allows Al Jazeera (or any other broadcaster) to surreptitiously film the President of the Board of Deputies, the President of the Union of Jewish Students  -and any other attendee – and presumably the staff who brief them.  Another example: Presumably in recent days the Spanish Ambassador has been talking to UK policymakers about Catalonia, with a view to shaping the UK response. Does that give Al Jazeera carte blanche to surreptitiously film Sr Carlos Bastarreche and his staff? Another: A witness – let’s call him ‘Nick’ – goes to Al Jazeera with ‘evidence’ that a Cabinet member is a paedophile. According to OFCOM, this constitutes a ‘public interest’ justification for covert filming.

Q: But Ambassador Regev apologised, Shai Masot was sent home and Maria Strizzolo resigned as a UK civil servant.  You still maintain that the Al Jazeera investigation came up with nothing?

A: Yes. And Al Jazeera (through Carter-Ruck) was able to cite these acts as ‘evidence’ that it came up with something.

Q: Was Al Jazeera right to surreptitiously film Ms Rose in distress?

A: No – and OFCOM got this wrong too. Rule 8.17 of the Broadcast Code says ‘People in a state of distress should not be put under pressure to take part in a programme or provide interviews, unless it is warranted.’ It says nothing about surreptitious filming – but how can 8.17 not apply a fortiori to that? ‘Unless it is warranted’ means ‘unless there is a public interest ground’ – and as explained above, there wasn’t.

Shockingly Al Jazeera (through Carter-Ruck) tried to argue that Ms Rose’s distress was fair game because it was rooted in her professional capacity, not her personal one. (Rule 8.16 says ‘Broadcasters should not take or broadcast footage or audio of people caught up in emergencies, victims of accidents or those suffering a personal tragedy, even in a public place, where that results in an infringement of privacy, unless it is warranted or the people concerned have given consent’).  So distress caused by antisemitic bullying doesn’t count if it’s in the context of a job? An absurd and offensive distinction.

Q: Ms Rose deliberately downplayed her past employment at the Embassy. Doesn’t this create a public interest reason for surreptitious filming?

A: Another straw man.  The OFCOM report quotes Al Jazeera’s evidence: ‘there were accusations that Ms Rose had deliberately downplayed her past employment at the Embassy.’

Accusations from whom?  And were they credible?  Or were they simply from Asa Winstanley, a known Israel traducer who writes for Electronic Intifada, a renowned Israel-traducing online publication?  Ms Rose is said in the report to have disputed that her employment at the Embassy was ‘played down’ and she provided evidence in the form of social media posts.  So why did OFCOM believe Al Jazeera and not her?

Q: Did OFCOM consider all your complaints?

A: No.  My complaint said that rule 2.2 of the Broadcast Code had been breached:

2.2 Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience

The ‘investigation’ showed Jean Fitzpatrick coming to the Labour Friends of Israel Stand at the 2016 Labour Party Conference.  She is a hardcore anti-Israel activist and it appears to be a ‘setup job’ with her scripted. But we are not told this. She is portrayed as if she has come to the Conference simply to participate, with no specific intention.  If she had been recruited specifically as an ‘agent provocateur’ this should have been revealed to the viewer.

My complaint also said that rule 5.13 had been breached:

5.13 Broadcasters should not give undue prominence to the views and opinions of particular persons or bodies on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy in all the programmes included in any service (listed above) taken as a whole.

The series focused almost entirely on the views of know Israel traducers such as Ben White, Ilan Pappe, Jackie Walker, Asa Winstanley, Peter Oborne and Jean Fitzpatrick.

Q: Was OFCOM correct to rule that the programme respected the ‘impartiality’ provision (#5.5) of the Broadcast Code?

5.5 Due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters

relating to current public policy must be preserved on the part of any person providing a service (listed above).

Due impartiality was clearly lacking. This was evidenced by the extensive use of commentators known to be Israel traducers: Ben White, Ilan Pappe, Jackie Walker, Asa Winstanley, Peter Oborne, Jean Fitzpatrick. No pro-Israel commentators appeared. Jackie Walker alone was granted over 3 minutes on air. Yet OFCOM – incredibly – thinks that the programme included ‘a range of viewpoints’ (p28).

Q: So all in all, what will be the impact of the OFCOM ruling?

The ruling is extremely damaging, principally – but by no means exclusively – to the Jewish Community.  It makes surreptitious filming legitimate on the flimsiest of pretexts and even if there is no material result.  This includes surreptitious filming of Jews distressed by antisemitic bullying, provided this is in the context of their job.  The ruling legitimises a form of Jew-bashing, thus turning the clock back about 500 years.  It shows zero sensitivity and plays into the hands of antisemites.  Moreover there is no right of appeal.  Here is the risible response from OFCOM to my complaint:

You have asked why your complaint under 2.2 of the Code was not considered. Ofcom did consider this issue as part of our initial assessment of your complaint in accordance with paragraphs 1.22 and 1.23 of our published procedures. Based on our initial assessment, we did not consider your complaint raised issues under Rule 2.2 of the Code. Accordingly, we decided not to investigate further.

You have also asked Ofcom to respond to the points raised in your blog. Ofcom’s reasons are clearly set out in the decisions as published and we do not consider it appropriate to comment further. Kind regards, Stephen Taylor

Over to MPs ….


The end of Europe?

Guest review by Karl Pfeifer

Yale University Press recently published The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age by James Kirchick, a 34-year-old American journalist.

It is a remarkably ambitious, provocative and vividly written account of the dark sides of Europe. It contradicts in 252 pages all the optimistic speeches of European political leaders. It should be must reading for all those interested in European politics.

Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Europe is no longer a continent of peace, and the time of stability, prosperity, cooperation, democracy and social harmony seems to be ending. The author describes a “sequence of violently transformative events ranging from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to spectacular Islamist terrorist attacks, along with deeper phenomena such as Britain’s exit from the EU and the rise of ‘illiberal democracy’ in places like Hungary and Poland.”

Kirchick shows how nationalist, anti-American, often racist and anti-Semitic forces evoke Europe’s foulest traditions.

The problems described in this book have in common a loss of faith in the universal, humanistic values. “External challenges that could have had an integrative effect – like migration and Russian aggression – are instead having a disintegrative one.”

Questions Europeans have to ask themselves include: “How seriously are they committed to Europe? What are they willing to sacrifice in order to preserve the greatest experiment in political cooperation in human history?”

Kirchick is critical of the foreign policy of Barack Obama, who declared himself “America’s first Pacific president.” The author’s arguments “stem from a conviction that the values and interests uniting Americans and Europeans are far more numerous, and of greater import, than anything which divides us.”

James Kirchick presents the result of seven years traveling Europe in a finely written, fascinating account of current affairs in Europe.