If you don’t want to read about Jewish politics then (a) good on you; and (b) skip to the next section!
Wallace Stanley Sayre once wrote, “Student politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.” He’d clearly never heard of Jewish politics – gotta envy that.
“Battle lines drawn over Oxfam” is the sort of headline which should have no place outside of The Day Today. But no, sadly it’s real, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews is gearing up for a fierce debate and vote over whether “there should be no Board discussions with charities, NGOs or religious groups which support any form of boycott of Israeli goods.”
The whole controversy is about Oxfam’s policy of extremely mild criticism of Israel’s activities in the settlements. (No mention of their extremely strong criticism of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, of course.)
“It is moral blackmail to be pressured into supporting Oxfam just because as Jews we want to alleviate world hunger,” said one so-called person. I mean, if Jewish ethical values count as moral blackmail then I suppose they might have a point. But that’s not really the Board of Deputies’ fault. It’s God’s.
“It is a matter for debate as to whether Oxfam is anti-Zionist and even anti-semitic. Personally, I believe that it is,” wrote the rational, sensible proposer of the motion to cut off all links with the highly-resepcted anti-famine charity.
So I have a message for you people: Oxfam is not bloody anti-Semitic. They may not help that many Jews, but that’s mainly because Jews tend not to live in famine-stricken Africa. Oxfam does a huge amount of fantastic work around the world, feeding the poor and curing the sick.
Just because you disagree with a tiny proportion of what they do does not mean that we should boycott them lock, stock and barrel. (Can anyone think of a parallel situation? Oh yes.)
If you really prefer to spend your time on negative pursuits rather than on creating positive results, then go and find some properly anti-Semitic organisations to victimise; there are enough of them out there. Meanwhile, Oxfam are going to carry on promoting the Jewish values of tikkun olam and social justice that you are choosing to neglect.
LJY-Netzer has been making a ruckus about this in the Jewish Chronicle here. If you’re a Deputy, please make sure you come to the Board meeting at 11am on Sunday and vote. If you’re Jewish but not a Deputy (Lucky you. -Ed.), find out who your shul’s rep is, email them and make sure they turn up to vote.
Heads, shoulders, HMO, HMO
A lady from Brighton Council came to inspect my house this week, because a new ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ requirement means that any rented property has to meet certain minimum standards of room size and so on.
To clarify, this means that Brighton Council now has to employ staff to inspect every house in Brighton and record the dimensions of every room in every house in Brighton – thank God this vital public service hasn’t been curtailed due to the recession and they were able to prioritise it above frivolous luxuries such as providing care homes for the elderly and teaching music to children.
Sussex Library has released notes of its recent Library Survey, in which students got to provide feedback on how the library works.
One section was a discussion about how expensive library fines should be: “In the recent Library survey it was shown that about 70% of users thought the level of fines was about right and only 2% felt that they were too low, so there are no plans to increase them at present.”
Seriously, what sort of student would complain about a fine being too low?!
On the game
A man who jumped off a monorail at the Bronx Zoo and was attacked by a tiger has pled ‘not guilty’ to a charge of trespass. According to Reuters, “David Villalobos, 25, said he jumped into the tiger’s den for spiritual reasons.” He sustained serious injuries but a spokesperson for the tiger said, “My client is feeling grrrrreat.”
The New York Attorney’s office says that if Villalobos is jailed, he will feel very much at home since the other prisoners will be wearing stripes.
Anyway, I know that any time I need a sensitive, intelligent comment about big game, there’s only one person I can turn to. So please welcome him back with a hearty new year greeting: yes, it’s Sir George Campbell MP, lately Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal!
How to recognise different non-state actors from quite a long way away
In International Relations, it’s pretty much accepted that the influence of the ‘non-state actor’ – global organisations such as charities, multi-national companies and even terrorist groups – is growing.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, one of the most powerful non-state actors of the modern world is the quiz and trivia website Sporcle. As well as its better-known function of providing “new and innovative ways to prevent users from getting any work done,” Sporcle has taken it upon itself to solve the conflict in the Middle East by including Palestine as a state in its ‘name all the countries in the world’ quiz.
- Tinky Winky calls for boycott of Israeli settlement goods
- ‘iPad 3’ is anagram of ‘stop building in the West bank you scum’
- Soo Panda arrested for wearing prayer shawl at Western Wall
Seriously, Sporcle’s foreign policy is not important. Move on please.