There’s a story appearing in the Times and the Guardian upon which anti-semites and proto-totalitarian atheists are feasting like flies on dung. Read the comments to see what I mean, and bear in mind that those you see are the ones the mods did not think bad enough to delete. Yet the story that has brought forth such rage does not describe any sort of religiously-inspired persecution, cruelty or mutilation. No one is being forced to do anything. If it were not for the malign involvement of one particular sinister organisation this same story would raise a slightly condescending chuckle from the average broadsheet reader at the eccentricities of religious enthusiasts, before being forgotten.
The sinister organisation that is stirring up religious hatred is Her Majesty’s Department of Education. Sorry, Department for Education. Don’t blame me for not keeping up; the D of E / DfEE / DfES / DCSF / D for E changes its name more often than an outfit selling dodgy timeshares.
Back to the story. Apparently there is an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect called the Belz, some of whose adherents live in Stamford Hill, a part of North London where many Hasidic Jews of several different denominations make their home. This particular sect, the Belzers (both that name and “the Belz” seem to be in use), run a couple of schools. It seems that the Belzer top rabbi sent out a decree saying that women should not drive and that children attending the sect’s schools would be turned away if their mums turned up to collect them by car. Absent the government’s interference this would have been quietly dealt with in the obvious manner as described in the Times story “However, several women drove large people-carriers, apparently to collect their children from school, but parked some distance away”, and that would have been an end to it. But no. Woop-de-do, the government is on the case:
Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, has begun an investigation into an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect whose rabbis have banned women from driving children to school.
Mrs Morgan, who is also minister for women and equalities, said: “This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. If schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people, they are breaching the independent school standards.”
Consider that for a moment. A government minister pronounces on whether the voluntary and entirely legal behaviour of certain British women is “acceptable” to “modern Britain”, the role of giving or refusing acceptance on behalf of sixty-four million individuals having apparently been added to the DfE’s ever-changing remit while nobody was looking. The minister then adds that failure on the part of a so-called independent school to actively promote an officially approved emotion is in breach of some official standards.
Now the Belzers could be said to have brought this interference upon themselves if they either accepted government coin to run their “independent” schools or signed up for these “independent school standards”, whatever they are. (The papers seem remarkably coy about whether these schools are truly private or wholly or partially state-funded. I expect they are hiding something damaging to the narrative.) But when the government regularly uses legal harassment to make it next to impossible to run a private organization without accepting some government “help” and acceding to government-set standards, it is hard to blame those running the Belz schools if they did give in to the men from the Ministry. They were probably told that if they paid this symbolic tribute then they would be left alone.
What business is it of anyone else if a woman chooses to accept, or to pretend to accept, a religious ruling not to drive? Is driving compulsory now, that choosing to cease doing it is “unacceptable” to the Secretary of State? What business is it of anyone else if independent schools and independent parents come to an agreement about which pupils shall attend a particular school that is based on conditions mutually acceptable to them? So the religious ruling and the conditions of attendance seem absurd to you and me? So we and Nicky Morgan would order our acceptably modern British lives better than these relics do? So what?
I am usually a sceptic towards the idea of “dog whistles”. This is a political metaphor from the States which is meant to describe the way that allegedly racist Republicans allegedly use coded language that seems harmless but carries a secret nefarious meaning at a frequency that only fellow racist Republicans can hear. Oh, and Democrat newspaper columnists can hear it too, for some reason. Coded racism can really occur, as can racist Republicans, but most of the time this is just a way of accusing people of racism for political advantage without the necessity of providing any evidence.
But I could come round to the belief that political dog-whistles do exist. There must be some explanation of why the trivial doings of this homeopathically tiny Jewish sect of a sect are bringing forth such passionate denunciations from journalists and their readers. I think it is because the Belz act towards women like Muslims do but are not Muslims. By righteously raging at the Belz for their half-hearted pretence at oppression of women you get to demonstrate how you totally would rage at their Muslim equivalents for their much more effectively enforced actual oppression of women – only they don’t happen to be in the newspaper today. And how convenient that the Belz are few in number, low in the hierarchy of victimhood favoured by the left, and do not turn to violence when criticised.
As a bonus the last paragraph of the Times story contains a tacked-on paragraph showcasing a completely different way that the state, working in partnership with people of faith, can stir up resentment between Jews and non-Jews:
Aurelie Fhima, 23, has won £16,000 damages from Travel Jigsaw of Manchester, a travel firm, after her job application was rejected. She had said that she did not want to work on Saturdays because she observed the Jewish law of not working on the sabbath.
Congratulations, Aurelie, for your pioneering and profitable use of discrimination law. Who would have guessed that a working for a travel agent would involve working on a Saturday, the only day when most working people are free to visit travel agents? Good thing for you that the travel agents were not gay; your unprogressive religion would not have scored highly enough to trump them then.
I would not have expected such enlightened thinking from the Daesh Islamic State, but they have now ruled that women may now take jobs without the permission of their husbands!
ISIS doc says women can become suicide bombers without husbands’ permission
Way to go, guys!
A couple of nights ago I went along to a local election hustings. This was a mistake.
The candidates from the mainstream parties seemed to be straight out of tranzi central casting – one of them, Vince Cable, is even a Cabinet Minister. To a man, woman, being of indeterminate sex they thought the EU and the UN were a good thing, that climate change was real and that Israel was to blame for the conflict in the Middle East. That last one brought the loudest cheer of the evening. One even claimed that Israel wasn’t a democracy. Two of them still managed to find merit in the Greenham Common protests.
I had been hoping for better from the UKIP guy. But no. Other than getting the UK out of the EU he was just the same even accepting climate change which he thought was due to overpopulation. This was especially disappointing given that his predecessor once stood on a manifesto calling for Britain to leave the EU and UN, and abolish the NHS and state education.
Just in case you were wondering, this nonsensical consensus (Mark Steyn uses the wonderful term “lunatic mainstream”) was not on display in a down-trodden, poverty-stricken part of the world where you might expect idiotic ideas to reign. It was in a prosperous, peaceful London suburb with a highly-educated population. Hey, it even has a phantom framer.
The economic collapse that at some point will engulf us all scares the living daylights out of me. But at the same time it seems to be the only way these delusional ideas are ever going to get swept away.
Stop calling what happened in Kenya a ‘tragedy‘. A bridge collapsing is a tragedy. A house burning down is a tragedy. Dying from Ebola is a tragedy. What happened at Garissa University in north-eastern Kenya was an atrocity. People did this on purpose.
The horror in Kenya is almost beyond belief. Almost. One hundred and forty seven dead, mostly Kenyan university students. I wonder how ‘the west’ will get blamed for this one?
The fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts.
– An excerpt from Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s latest book, quoted here.
Thank you Mick Hartley.
Tim Stanley has excellent comments to make on the ire that Israel generates and asks why this small country, bordered by far larger ones, attracts such ire. He is writing about a conference at a UK university that seems to raise the question as to whether Israel should exist at all:
It is true that Israel was a state created where no such state had existed before. But so was Iraq, Syria, Uganda and Togo. They were all products of decolonisation, all lines drawn on a map by a bureaucrat with a pencil and ruler. Why, pray, does no one debate the legal foundations of the existence of Nigeria? It is controversial enough. It comprises various tribes and religions with terrible unease, so much so that a near genocidal war was conducted to subjugate its southeastern portion. Yet no one questions its legality.
Why, looking beyond this conference, is Israel the one country in the world whose critics so often conflate its government and its people – even seeking to punish the former by boycotting the latter? It is perfectly possible to dislike Benjamin Netanyahu and criticise the Israeli state’s actions in Gaza without assuming that Netanyahu speaks for all Israelis or that all Israelis approve of what happened in Gaza (indeed, it looks like he’s about to lose an election). No one would suggest that David Cameron’s austerity programme reflects the views of every Briton or that the British are constitutionally mean because the bedroom tax happened. And yet such obvious distinctions are often forgotten when talking about Israel. People chant that “Israel Must Be Stopped”, that “Israel Has Gone Too Far” and that “Israel is an Apartheid State” – as though its entire people had blood on their hands. When it comes to Israel, there is a unique enthusiasm to call into question its very right to exist. Strange, isn’t it?
To challenge the right of Israel to exist is, therefore, morally obtuse. It is to forget the flames from which this Phoenix arose.
Damn right. By the way, one book that I regard as absolutely essential reading for anyone on this subject is The Case For Israel, by Alan Dershowitz. It is over a decade old, but still very good. Another is the Israel Test, by George Gilder.
Gilder’s book is particularly good for noting that Israel, and for that matter Jews more generally, are targeted as much for their virtues – productiveness, educational excellence and so on – by rivals in the Middle East, as for any alleged shortcomings in foreign policy. Recent history suggest that any land-for-peace deals have been met with just more violence from the anti-Israel side, and most citizens of that country have grown weary of it.
Like Gilder, I take the view that broadly pro-liberty (with caveats, obviously), pro-modernity countries that are wealthy and non-crap such as this country deserve the support of anyone who takes liberty seriously, notwithstanding any specific disagreements on its policies. I have long gone past the point where I think that critics of Israel are in the main motivated by good thoughts. While some of them might be, most appear to be fools at best, and anti-semites at worst.
Iraq is over, done, finished. The literally insane paranoiac Nouri al-Maliki guaranteed Iraq was toast and only a wilfully blind fool can pretend it can be put back together, or that doing so would even be desirable at this stage. There is only one tortuous bloody route to regional stability and that needs to be centred on an independent Kurdistan.
And I am delighted to see that both Ted Cruz and now Rand Paul seem to understand this. There are already willing and able ‘boots on the ground': Kurdish ones. There is totally no need for US boots or anyone else’s boots to be there in any substantive way, beyond training missions and perhaps some SAR capabilities. Enough with the whole White Man’s Burden shtick already! Even a great many locals are embarrassed about how often they need to get bailed out by the US, arguing they really need to do this themselves!
Yes yes, I know an independent Kurdistan will horrify theocratic Iran, the Iranian dominated rump of Iraq, the Ba’athist Socialist rump of Syria and Islamist dominated Turkey. And whilst that is really just awesomely wonderful, it is just gravy on the many benefits that will eventually come from an independent Kurdistan.
Biji Kurdistan azad.
… but then they discover that the UK has made it illegal to fly there! Rats foiled again! Yeah that should work, hahaha
And on a related note, the three formerly British girls who ran off to Syria to become ‘Jihadi Brides’ have been located at a specific address in Raqqa. My only question was, does the RAF know?
Sweden’s Multicultural Centre Expert on Islamophobia Joins the Daesh Islamic State. And I love the remark at the end:
And if the whole ISIS thing doesn’t work out, he can always go back to Sweden and lecture the natives on how they’re Islamophobes for associating Islam with terrorism.
So argues Mary Dejevsky in the Guardian. Her piece could have done with a clearer separation of the several different issues involved; freedom of speech, freedom of movement, state surveillance of all travellers, targeted spying on individuals, and above all the question of what difference it makes when the potential recruits to ISIS are minors. Nonetheless I broadly agree – the British state should not seek to prevent adult citizens leaving the UK merely because it suspects they wish to become members of ISIS – or to kill members of ISIS. Whether state assistance in the form of weapons or subsidy should be available to the latter admirable group, or whether any of the former group seeking to return should be allowed to do so in exchange for cooperation with MI6, are questions that even the purest of libertarians might find worthy of debate.
The crimes of ISIS have been so flagrant and atrocious that the world is entitled to see any adult, male or female, volunteering to live under its standard (let alone bearing arms) as hostis humani generis and to exterminate them without any fuss about human rights – but wait till they get there. It is the burnings, beheadings and rapes that are the crimes, not getting on a plane to Turkey.