The Edgware Marbles

In one of those rare Gabrielquotes single-issue blog posts, we take an in-depth look at a topic of contemporary importance.

There was a bit of a brouhaha on Wednesday: “SHOOTING AT KOSHER RESTAURANT IN LONDON!!!!” as The Twitter put it; and, “Everyone should relax!” as the owner of said restaurant put it.

On close examination, the excitement provides a useful illustration of The Four Stages of The Jewish Communal Response to an Incident:

stage-1Something happens. Then people who don’t know what happened tweet uninformed interpretations of some of the things that ‘could of’ happened, and do their best to cause perturbation and despair.
jc headlineAs the underlying assumption is always that whenever something bad happens to a Jew, it happened because they are a Jew, the CST will rapidly move in on the scene.
cstIdeally, at this stage, comparisons should begin being drawn to other events that are potentially comparable, even though the accuracy of said comparisons will obviously depend on the as-yet unknown details of what’s actually happened. References to Paris, Munich and Auschwitz normally go down well.

stage-2Someone who is competent explains what actually happened.
sugar lowThis stage, Facts, is by far the shortest of the four stages.

stage-3Bereft of anything factual to sustain the adrenaline rush that everyone worked themselves into at Stage 1, the Great Uninformed will express greatly uninformed doubts about the facts confirmed in Stage 2.
FireShot Screen Capture #704 - 'simon_cobbs on Twitter_ _@JewishChron Random marble attack____on a Jewish restaurant!!_' - twitter_com_simoncobbs1_status_565578025979613185Tweets at this point in the proceedings will not actually require any objective basis, being based instead on people’s general experience of life (“How can anything ‘random’ happen to anyone Jewish?!”) – rather than on such parochial concerns as reality.

Because these comments are over-egging things – why isn’t there a proper antonym for ‘trivialise’? – they will often end up sounding slightly tortuous, eg. by describing the story of a smashed window as “breaking” news.

stage-4The proper title for this stage is disputed. Some call it Refusal to climb down. Having built the incident up into front-page news before discovering that, far from being the Paris II longed for by the authors, it is in fact of negligible page 8 interest at most, it is necessary somehow to maintain its prestige – perhaps with authoritative-sounding use of a made-up term such as…
face-savingYes, that’s right: it was another one of those damnable random marble attacks of the sort that have plagued the Jewish people (and all those who lived in the same village as Just William) for centuries. The JC didn’t even have the grace to put the phrase in quotation marks, instead just blithely pretending that random marble attacks are ‘a thing’.

Also in the news this week:


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Flog this


We’ve had the photoblog, the linkblog, the blawg and the vlog; but Saudi Arabia, breaking new ground, has created an entirely new form of media output: the flog.

Raif Badawi, a blogger from Jeddah who ran a website promoting debate about religious and political issues, was sentenced by Saudi authorities to 1,000 lashes, shortly before Saudi authorities attended the je suis ‘we heart free speech’ march in Paris a couple of weeks ago.

Fortunately though, Saudi officials have promised to “review” the punishment. Pundits are expecting this impartial review to result in a rave review, I’ve stars for entertainment value and several Oscar nominations.

king-abdullah[1]In other Saudi news, a cleric (which I always thought meant a junior secretary) has issued a fatwa against snowmen. Which is a little rich considering that the (then) King of Saudi Arabia often dressed as one (see right). The ruling was made was because Islam forbids any imagery of human beings… or at least that’s what they say…


(Click the snowball above to listen)

Je suis un citoyen

The House of Commons has just concluded its review into Digital Democracy: how to make the public more engaged in the political process. The review team set itself some fairly modest targets, such as:

text2985But some of their specific recommendations made rather curious reading. For example, they recommended Parliamentary broadcasters to:

text29s85Yes, that will be the “gripping television experience” in which MPs spend an hour and a half discussing UK sea bass stocks, Broadband in Cheltenham or The Rural Paper Industry.

Here’s that exciting new Parliament in full:

bbc parliament gripping camera angles

Je suis Sussex

Creepy-clown-830x450Michael Farthing (pictured left), Vice-Chancellor of Sussex, has been ordered by an independent investigator to apologise to the five students he tried to discipline last year, and to pay out over £10,000 in compensation.

The full ruling can be viewed here.

The Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, who has the final say over students’ complaints against any university, found that Sussex’s decision to downgrade the disciplinary process to the ‘Schedule A route’ – which doesn’t allow the use of lawyers, unlike the previously-used ‘Panel route’ – had been taken “in order to prevent the students involved from being legally represented” by world-class human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC.

The magnitude of the compensation ordered places the case in the most serious of the Independent Adjudicator’s four levels of financial redress.

A statement published on the University website says:


…or in translation…

sussex-university-oiaPhoto 03-02-2015 16 57 01Less favourable sentences in the 19-page report that the University chose not to focus on in its statement included:

  • Farthing was wrong to suspend the five students because the evidence relied upon did not demonstrate that they posed “an ongoing threat to the safety and wellbeing of others” as required by the procedure.
  • Farthing was required to consult his colleagues before suspending, but Pro-Vice-Chancellor Claire Mackie complained that she was being pressured into taking a “snap judgment” (her words) without adequate information or time. Farthing ignored her concerns.
  • Sussex relentlessly pursued five ringleaders but should, if it was genuinely interested in preventing disruption rather than suppressing free speech, have sought to identify the other ~65 people involved. This was in breach of universities’ “responsibility to ensure that their regulations are implemented fairly and consistently for all students”.
  • The University acknowleged, belatedly and after dismissing these arguments at the time, that it would have been “impossible” (their word) to put together a disciplinary panel with no biased members.
  • The Adjudicator held “[t]he University […] responsible for the choice of Panel members which led to the halting” of the proceedings, and for the “delay and poor communication” that followed, causing “additional distress and inconvenience” for the students.
  • Sussex tried to deny said distress and inconvenience by pointing out that at least one of the students had performed well academically during the year. Little bit crass?

But I’m pleased that the Sussex spokesperson unit was able to find that small passage to use in its press release.

A freedom of information request for information relating to the case is pending. We’ll have to see whether it’s refused on the grounds of safeguarding the five students’ personal information… which would be strage as they were perfectly happy to cherrypick the report and quote bits to publish in their favour.

Watch this space!

Je suis chocolat

A family that wants to name its child after a chocolate spread: may contain nuts.

The baby’s family: may contain nuts.

A French judge has refused to let a child be named ‘Nutella’, although largely on trademark grounds rather than because it’s a bloody stupid name.

That said, almost as an afterthought, the ruling noted: “And it is contrary to the child’s interest to have a name that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts.”

Really? You think so?

My real name is Nutella… but don’t spread it.

Thank you.

Je suis anglais (but maybe not for long)

A few weeks ago, the national media was brimming over with a new survey about anti-Semitism which revealed that over half of British Jews “believe they have no future in the UK”.

One commenter on the Sussex Friends of Israel Facebook page responded thus to The Independent giving the story front page coverage: “I must say they have a bloody chutzpah when they’ve done more than any other paper to promote anti-Semitism.” So two questions: (1) Can I take it you wouldn’t be complaining if the Indy had refused to run the story, then? (2) If you think the Indy is the worst newspaper ever then you really never heard of Der Stürmer?

What the media omitted to mention was that the survey – grandly called The Annual Anti-Semitism Barometer, which rather ominously suggests we will have to put up with it again next year – was completed by an entirely self-selecting group of British Jews who actively visited the website and gave their views on statements including, “Media bias against Israel fuels persecution of Jews in Britain.” (See if you can spot the methodological flaw in that question.)

The Jewish Chronicle was quick to rubbish the findings of the outragously unscientific survey, although one wonders why they chose to slam this one when they conducted their own surveywith identical findings – equally unscientifically (literally by asking arbitrary people walking past the JC office) in August.

Here’s the latest survey in full…
campaign against anti-semitism antisemitism survey gideon falterNote to readers: before you call me a bad human being for writing the above, remember that you’ve spent the last month defending people’s right to say controversial things.

Potential serial killer on the loose

An unusual spate of suspicous deaths has led one academic to speculate that a serial killer is on the loose.

The number of benefit claimaints who had their payments cut off to have died since the 2010 general election has now, claims Professor Sensible from De Monkey University, reached a “highly suspicious” level.

“It’s almost as if it’s not a coincidence that poor people die of cold or starvation shortly after the government stops paying them vital life-sustaining benefits!” said Sensible. “There may be a serial killer on the loose.”

Other unsolved crimes since 2010 include the theft of a large number of books from within prisons, the mysterious disappearance of the Iraq Inquiry report and a violation of the Trade Descriptions Act by the Secretary of State ‘for’ Justice Chris Grayling.

Je suis vireux

Competition corner: spot the lump of useless organic matter

Competition corner: spot the lump of useless organic matter

We all know that Police and Crime Commissioners’ attempts to engage with the youf of today end in disaster, because they have an uncanny knack of selecting youf strangely unrepresentative of the rest.

Sussex’s pride and joy, Katy Bourne, has cunningly got around this problem of how to look like she cares what voters think by setting up the country’s first (and please God, last) Elders’ Commission.

Absent a Hell’s Grannies-type scenario, their democratic input, about how policeman used to be taller and how there are ever so many shifty people about these days, seems unlikely to cross any lines.

katy bourne irregularsStreet cred
In tonight’s episode, The Snowman was banned by Raymond Brigot. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is managed by Gideon Falter, while the Campaign Against the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s Paranoia is run by Gabriel Webber. The story of the serial killer was written by Professor Craig Jackson. The Katy Bourne Irregulars are being recruited by the PCC for Sussex. The Ferrero Company was played by little Ella, and Parliamentary broadcasting was rejuvenated by Steven Spielberg. The Independent Adjudicator was played by Rob Behrens. This was an Gabrielquotes production!
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