The Ice Planet
August 30, 2020
I’m delighted to tell you about improvements I’m making to the service I provide for my readers. There is now a better way for you to receive and enjoy my work.
I have launched a new website: melaniephillips.substack.com. All new posts will now be added to that website. I shall no longer be updating the website you are now reading. But it will remain accessible as an archive of work published before September 2020.
My new website comes with a subscription service.
This is how it works
There are two subscription levels: my free service and my premium service. Anyone can sign up to the free service by simply visiting melaniephillips.substack.com, typing in their email address and choosing the free option. Everyone on the free list will receive by email the full text of pieces I write for outlets such as the Jewish News Syndicate and the Jewish Chronicle, as well as links to my broadcasting work.
Better still, subscribe to the premium service. For that you’ll receive pieces that I will be writing specially for my premium subscribers. Those articles will not be published elsewhere. They’ll arrive in your inbox as soon as I have written them.
My first piece for premium subscribers looks at the near-daily episodes of suppression of ideas, political intimidation and street violence, thuggery and nihilism that we’re currently seeing, and analyses what all this means for our society. Premium subscribers can read it here.
There will be a small monthly fee for the premium service, with a discount if you pay annually. The fee is charged in US dollars but you can sign up with any credit card. Again, just visit melaniephillips.substack.com and look for the subscribe button. This will show you the available options for either the premium or the free service.
I won’t be able to send out my columns for The Times of London because these are behind the Times paywall. And there will be no more weekly newsletters.
Thank you for following my work.
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by Melanie at August 30, 2020 08:31 AM
August 27, 2020
The National Trust’s proposed “revolution” in its relationship with the public has caused justifiable outrage.
Its ten-year strategy, revealed by The Times, is to shift its emphasis from enabling the public to visit its stately homes and gardens to promoting access to the countryside. Historic houses, it says, will be “repurposed as public space in service of local audiences” to junk the “outdated mansion experience”.
The Trust declared that although it remained “committed to, and passionate about” country houses, arts and heritage, it needed to ensure that these were “meaningful and relevant for the 21st century”.
According to this mindset, stately homes aren’t meaningful or relevant because they lie outside the experience of the people the Trust believes should be visiting them but aren’t.
This is astonishingly patronising and insulting. It suggests that anyone who is “diverse” or “urban” is incapable of being interested in anything outside their own experience. It assumes them to be so shallow they can’t appreciate anything beyond their own lives and feelings. It implies they are incapable of appreciating the beauty of great architecture or art.
It also effectively denies people the opportunity to participate as equals in the national story.
The National Trust is a guardian, steward and custodian of that story. Which is why in these dismaying proposals it is betraying the trust of the nation.
To read my whole Times column (£), please click here.
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by Melanie at August 27, 2020 06:04 PM
August 21, 2020
In the 20th century, thousands of progressively minded people supported Soviet communism. Believing this ideology was the key to a better world, they refused to acknowledge the horrific abuses under Stalin when millions were brainwashed, murdered or starved to death.
Today’s progressives are behaving in similar fashion in response to another onslaught on civilized values, perpetrated in the name of an ideology with the same roots as Soviet communism. And just as in the last century, a dismaying number of its cheerleaders are Jews.
In both America and Britain, Jewish leaders and community groups overwhelmingly back Black Lives Matter. Since Jews have suffered from bigotry, discrimination and social alienation, they feel a duty to express solidarity with black people who they believe are experiencing similar difficulties.
But BLM, which took off after last May’s death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer, is not about promoting fairness and tolerance.
It is instead a nihilistic, violent, revolutionary movement committed to defunding the police as an incorrigibly racist institution, closing the prisons, destroying the family and overthrowing white capitalist society. What’s more, many of its leaders are white.
There’s no doubt that black people experience bigotry, and that there are racist police officers.
But a significant number of police officers are themselves black; most people who are killed in police custody are white; and most black people who are murdered are killed by other black people.
Moreover, BLM’s denunciation of white society as racist is itself a racist act since it categorizes an entire ethnic group as bad. Yet progressive people have bought into this malign agenda.
In the name of the BLM movement thuggish mobs, including supporters of the “anti-fascist” Antifa, have been subjecting the public to shocking levels of violence over the past three months in a number of cities. Democrat administrations in such places have let this happen with no pushback against the rioters, sometimes even stripping the embattled police of funds.
In Seattle, marchers demanded that white residents give up their homes and abused them as racists when they protested. In Minnesota, demonstrators shrieking obscenities assembled outside the home of the president of the Minneapolis police department union and vilified his neighbors.
The worst and most sustained violence has taken place in Portland, Ore. This week, one such mob there beat up a homeless, white, transgender person. A man who tried to help the victim was attacked in turn by the rioters, who dragged him out of his truck and beat him almost to death.
Yet this sustained thuggery has been all but totally ignored by the media. There’s been not one word of criticism from the Democratic Party. Instead, it wove support for BLM into its convention this week, with Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez declaring: “We will not miss this moment to ensure those values are reflected in everything we do.”
Worse still is the reaction of the broader intellectual establishment. In both America and Britain, universities, corporations, voluntary organizations, cultural bodies and other institutions have adopted the BLM agenda of bullying white people to “check their privilege.”
In Britain, supposedly impartial civil servants have openly endorsed BLM activism and have declared their intention to “tackle the whiteness” of senior officials. One of these used her department’s intranet to advise her colleagues: “Recognize your white privilege… call out racism in your family, friends and colleagues… (unintended or not).”
This sinister attempt to force people to denounce themselves and their loved ones is straight out of the Soviet communist playbook.
As Yoram Hazony writes in Quillette, anti-racism and other “woke” ideologies are all rooted in Marxism. They have adopted some of its key precepts: that all relationships are defined by power, that people are either oppressors or oppressed, and that through “false consciousness” oppressors may not even realize they are indeed oppressive. Hence the demand for white people to acknowledge their guilt.
What makes Jewish support for BLM even more grotesque is its profound antisemitism, identifying “Jewish privilege” as the worst manifestation of “white privilege.”
Many Jews, particularly in Israel, are in fact brown or black-skinned. Whiteness, though, is deemed to be less about pigment than power. BLM ideology portrays Jews as all-powerful because they are seen to run the world that “oppresses” black people.
This poisonous prejudice against the Jews, which has achieved such traction that “#JewishPrivilege” briefly became a trending Twitter hashtag until one feisty Israeli led a fightback, emanates in particular from two highly influential groups in the black community.
The first is the Nation of Islam, the black power movement led by Louis Farrakhan who calls Jews “Satanic” and says: “When you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door.”
The second is the Black Hebrew Israelites, two of whose members attacked a kosher grocery store in New Jersey last December after murdering a police officer. This group spreads the preposterous canard that black people are the descendants of Moses and real children of Israel, while the Jews themselves are imposters who stole Judaism from them.
All this has been ignored by progressive Jews, who instead are eagerly volunteering their community for mass self-denunciation by blaming “white Jewish privilege”.
In Forward, for example, Julia Appel defines this by “the way we’re visually categorized in a split second by the power structures of our society.”
And so: “You can be Jewish and the child of Holocaust survivors and still benefit from white privilege — a privilege that accrues to you whether you’ve chosen it or not.”
To people like her, only white people can guilty of bad things. “Black and Jew are uttered in one breath by white supremacists,” she writes. True; but it doesn’t occur to her that “white and Jew” are uttered in the same breath by black power ideologues. Nor do people like Appel square their “white privilege” with the fact that the Jews are racially attacked more frequently than any other group.
Over the years, Jews have been prominent in helping tackle prejudice and discrimination against black people, so many of whom are decent, moderate and patriotic and whose view of the Jews is benign. Yet here are Jews eagerly offering up the community’s collective throat to the metaphorical knife of defamation, vilification and the potentially murderous lie that their very identity makes them oppressive, exploitative and altogether bad.
So deeply are they gripped by this mind-twisting dogma, they simply cannot grasp that what they tell themselves is a Jewish moral imperative is in fact the antithesis of Jewish ethics — and one, furthermore, which has the Jews themselves in its sights.
In 1942, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was set up by Stalin to raise funds for the war effort against Nazi Germany. Led by prominent Jewish writers, it raised millions of dollars in the United States and elsewhere. The Jews on that committee believed they were on the same side as Stalin against evil.
Accordingly, they assured their western audiences that there was no antisemitism in the Soviet Union. But when they started to praise Jews who had stood up against Hitler, Stalin’s antisSemitism was unleashed; and so his loyal apologists on the committee were rounded up, tortured, subjected to secret trials and executed.
Today’s Jews who have signed up to the BLM agenda are their ideological heirs. Whether they are truly in the grip of this latest Marxist-based delusion or are simply trying to protect themselves by going along with it, they are helping promote anti-white racism, anti-Jewish hatred and anti-west insurrection.
And tragically, they fail to see that this monster they are helping create is coming for them, too.
Jewish News Syndicate
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by Melanie at August 21, 2020 09:13 AM
August 18, 2020
An unnamed former Tory minister, who has been accused of rape, arrested and released on bail but as yet remains uncharged, will reportedly absent himself from the Commons when his fellow MPs return from holiday next month.
There has been public outrage that he has not been suspended from either parliament or his party. Charlie Elphicke, the former Tory MP who was convicted last month of sexual assault, was first suspended by his party in 2017 even though he wasn’t charged until 2019.
So what’s the difference? The answer is Sir Cliff Richard. In 2014, the police began investigating an allegation against the singer of a sexual offence involving an under-age boy. Discovering that the police were about to search his home, the BBC gave the raid extensive coverage with the aid of a helicopter camera.
After the case against him was closed with no charges brought, in 2018 Richard sued the police and the BBC for invading his privacy. As a result of the judge’s ruling, holding that people under investigation by the police had a legitimate expectation of privacy, the law was effectively changed to protect the identity of a person under investigation.
To suspend the unnamed Tory MP would be to identify him.
There’s surely a better way of avoiding these double standards, inconsistencies and the spectre of secret justice. That is to make known from the start the identities of both defendants and complainants in cases of sexual assault.
To read my whole Times column (£), please click here.
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by Melanie at August 18, 2020 11:06 AM
August 07, 2020
On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, the 30th birthday of the show and the last in the current series, we discussed morality in a post-Covid world (if there is ever to be such a world..!)
To mark the occasion, the show used a novel format. Instead of having one proposition for debate, each of us four panellists proposed a moral principle or something else we had learned from the pandemic crisis that we thought was important for the future of our society.
Tim Stanley said we needed to be sceptical about experts.
Giles Fraser said the virus had returned to us the importance of place and roots, and that locality and communality must take priority over the universal.
Mona Siddiqui said we needed to think about public health in a different way; it wasn’t just about the NHS, but about expanding the state’s responsibility for the collective physical, mental, spiritual well-being and happiness of the nation.
And I said that the anti-state, libertarian right was as dangerous as the pro-state, social libertarian left, and that social responsibility should be prioritised over individual freedom.
Our guests were the former Labour minister and prominent Remain campaigner Lord Adonis, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh university, the author and journalist Ross Clark, and the stand-up comedian and broadcaster Geoff Norcott.
You can listen to the show on BBC iPlayer here.
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by Melanie at August 07, 2020 10:14 AM
July 31, 2020
After days of antisemitic rants on social media, the “Grime” rapper Wiley has finally been barred from Twitter and Facebook following outrage by Jews and others that he was allowed to use these platforms for his vicious incitement.
This episode was particularly chilling. It involved a sustained onslaught of anti-Jewish invective by a prominent public figure who described Jews as “cowards and snakes,” likened them to the Ku Klux Klan and suggested they should be shot.
He could do this with impunity because no one saw fit to stop him until protests had escalated into a 48-hour boycott of Twitter. Days of brazen incitement against Jews had elicited merely indifference from content providers or even attracted support.
Indeed, after Wiley was banned from social media, he was given yet another platform. In an interview in Britain’s black community newspaper The Voice, he accused the Jews of using black people as slaves in the music and entertainment industry — to which his interviewer wondered: “Maybe it’s a discussion that needs to be had?”
The passivity that greeted Wiley’s brazen Jew-hatred has shocked many Jews into concluding that a line has now been crossed.
Wiley, however, may be an egregious offender but he is far from alone. Social media is awash with anti-Jewish bigotry and incitement. Few in politics or the mainstream media pay it much attention.
Yet people with conservative opinions or who resist the cultural bullying aimed at overthrowing core western values find themselves abruptly “canceled” and treated as social pariahs.
Meanwhile, anarchy and anti-white violence have been consuming various American cities.
In Seattle this week, 59 police officers were injured by a mob throwing rocks and explosive devices. In Chicago, gang warfare has combined with anti-police protests to achieve record levels of deaths and violent crime. Portland, Ore., has been subjected to more than seven weeks of violence targeting federal and city authorities and institutions, with repeated attempts to burn down the courthouse.
According to Portland reporter Andy Ngo: “They’ve made it a game to lure law-enforcement officers out of buildings so they can assault them with blinding lasers, paint, rocks and other weapons.”
The ostensible spark, the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer on May 25, is no longer even the pretense of an excuse. The self-declared aim of these rioters is to attack the police and civic institutions in order to overturn white society.
Democrat municipal leaders whose cities have been engulfed by violence for weeks have allowed this criminal disorder to continue, sometimes even preventing their own police forces from using approved restraining techniques.
Instead, they attack President Donald Trump for having eventually sent in federal troops to try to quell the violence, preposterously accusing him of seeking to impose martial law.
The Democrats’ support for the enemies of American values was on shocking display at this week’s hearing of the House Judiciary Committee where the Attorney General, William Barr, was constantly barracked and interrupted.
The committee watched footage of the mayhem in Oregon. Led by Rep. Jerry Nadler, who had previously been caught on camera describing the violence in Portland as “a myth,” the Democrats failed to show any concern over the disorder or offer any support for the police who had been under attack from knives, fireworks, petrol bombs, rocks and lasers.
Instead, Nadler said Barr had “endangered Americans and violated their constitutional rights by flooding federal law enforcement into the streets of American cities… to forcefully and unconstitutionally suppress dissent.”
To which Barr said precisely what needed to be said: “Federal courts are under attack. Since when is it OK to try and burn down a federal court?”
Revolutionaries, tyrants and other criminals are allowed to abuse power and cause mayhem when others passively stand by or even condone what they are doing.
The movie Mr. Jones, which has just started streaming on Amazon, shows how the monstrous crimes of Stalin were covered up in the west.
The movie focuses on The New York Times reporter Walter Duranty, who ensured that the death by mass starvation of millions of Russian peasants as a result of Stalin’s grain seizures was sanitized and denied for his paper’s readers.
At the Times today, history is being repeated. Bari Weiss, who resigned as a senior writer and editor because the paper enforced a conformity of views and whose colleagues reacted to her proud Zionist sympathies by sneering that she was “writing about the Jews again,” has been replaced by an extreme Israel-basher, Max Strasser.
This is in line with the paper’s practice of systematically pumping out falsehoods about Israel, sanitizing Palestinian Jew-hatred and getting Jews to attack other Jews so it cannot be accused of antisemitism.
As Mr. Jones records, the monstrous abuses under Stalinism were ignored, winked at or actively supported not just by debauched cynics like Duranty, but by those in thrall to the belief that “for all its flaws” communism offered the best hope for making a better world.
Progressive circles have never admitted their own part in sanitizing, and thus helping perpetuate, Stalin’s crimes against humanity. They can’t because they can never admit they are not the unchallengeable embodiment of virtue.
That enduring moral blindness means the progressive world is fated to replicate its role as the antechamber to evil. Today, that’s why it supports the anti-white racists of Black Lives Matter. It’s why the universities —the supposed crucibles of reason — have turned into cauldrons of intimidation and censorship.
It’s why we have descended into a nightmarish Orwellian world in which those deemed to be part of a victim group present lies as truth, justice as injustice and their own anti-white racism as anti-racism.
And it’s why Israel-bashing has become the poster cause of the western left, and open season has been declared against the Jews.
This way of thinking now dominates progressive politics in general and the Democratic Party in particular. That’s why Democrat politicians are tacitly or actively supporting violent attacks on civic order.
As Barr observed: “This is the first time in my memory that the leaders of one of our great two political parties — the Democratic Party — are not coming out and condemning mob violence and the attack on federal courts. Why can’t we just say, you know, violence against federal courts has to stop? Can we hear like that?”
Jews are directly in the cross-hairs of those who are intent on overthrowing western values. That’s because Judaism, mediated through Christianity, gave the west its civilized moral precepts.
So attacks on Jews are symbiotically connected to left-wing attacks on western civilization.
Of course, there are still decent Democrats and those who remain sympathetic to Israel. But in general, the Democrats, like Britain’s Labour Party and other progressive folk, have drunk the anti-western Kool-Aid.
The tragedy is that so many Jews are incapable of seeing this. So they’ll continue to vote Democrat, just as they’ll continue to read The New York Times.
Reaction against the onslaught on American and western values is what brought Trump to power. Many are outraged and exasperated by him. I share many of their criticisms.
But the choice at this coming presidential election is a fateful one; and for all who care about protecting American and western core values, as well as Israel and the Jewish people, a Democrat victory is much to be feared.
Jewish News Syndicate
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by Melanie at July 31, 2020 09:23 AM
On BBC Radio’s Moral Maze this week, we discussed whether there was a moral duty to rescue the city from the blight that has descended upon it as a result of the pandemic.
Is the city the jewel in the crown of a civilisation, or would it be better to live in smaller towns and villages? Does a city bring us together, with high density living forcing us to get along with each other and broadening our minds by making us encounter people from different backgrounds and cultures, or does it engender loneliness and anomie?
My co-panellists were Giles Fraser, Tim Stanley and Mona Siddiqui. Our guests were Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce; Paul Chatterton, professor of the urban future at the university of Leeds; Tom Cheesewright, “applied futurist”; and Dr Jonathan Rowson, director of the Social Brain Centre at the Royal Society of Arts.
You can listen to the show on BBC iPlayer here.
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by Melanie at July 31, 2020 08:57 AM
For the road to Damascus, read the road to Corona. Last week the government announced that TV adverts for “junk foods” high in fat, sugar or salt would be banned before the 9pm watershed.
Yesterday it unveiled its “Better Health” campaign calling on the public to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
The reason for all this is Boris Johnson’s conviction that being overweight was the reason he nearly died of Covid-19, and that obesity is a significant factor in the virus’s toll of death or serious illness.
There’s no reason to think this conclusion is wrong. But attempts to help tackle the virus by curbing obesity has got the libertarian right jumping up and down shouting “nanny state”.
Defending personal liberty is an admirable trait. And measures taken by the government that restrict it for the greater good will always be contested. The line between what is socially responsible and oppressive can sometimes be a fine one.
The left is always on the side of state intervention even when pushing libertarian social policies. This has led them to become oppressive in trying to change people’s attitudes and behaviour to conform on controversial cultural issues, such as egalitarianism or identity politics, as the route to an idealised society.
The Conservatives, however, allowed themselves to become divided between those who espouse the free-market approach, privileging selfishness over social responsibility, and a mushy “One Nation” Toryism largely indistinguishable from Labour policies.
Solidarity, under which people are encouraged to act freely to co-operate for the common good, might be preferred to the egalitarianism and libertarianism that have melded both Labour and Conservatives into the push-me-pull-you of political pantomime.
To read my whole Times column (£), please click here.
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by Melanie at July 31, 2020 07:31 AM
July 24, 2020
In my JNS column below, I refer to a talk given by Baroness Deech. Her text is reproduced below my own article.
The British baroness Ruth Deech, whose family were Jewish refugees from Nazism, recently delivered an impassioned address to the Oxford Jewish community about the way the Holocaust is being evacuated of meaning by memorials and museums in its name.
Her concern was prompted by the controversial plan to build a Holocaust memorial and learning center in London’s Victoria Tower Gardens, a small park near the Houses of Parliament.
Westminster council, the local planning authority, has turned down this proposal on environmental grounds. The space is a small, green oasis that would not only be marred by a jarring brutalist structure but risks becoming submerged by tourist traffic and anti-Jewish vandals alike.
The British government is making extraordinary and arguably irregular efforts to overturn this decision and get this center built. Its insistence is all the more strange given that there are already five major Holocaust memorials in Britain.
Deech’s concerns, however, go far deeper than inappropriate positioning. Her sharpest point is that these memorials tend to shy away from the real causes of Jew-hatred. Instead, they are increasingly being used to promote a self-congratulatory and sometimes self-exculpatory image of the country that erects them.
Britain’s memorials, for example, do not note how in the 1930s and 1940s the U.K. government blocked the entry into Palestine of desperate European Jews in flagrant repudiation of the British Mandate to settle Jews there, thus facilitating their extermination in the Nazi slaughter.
Hungary, Ukraine and other eastern European countries have used Holocaust memorializing to erase their own complicity in the slaughter of the Jews, presenting themselves instead as historic victims of the Nazis or else equating the Nazi killing of Jews with the Soviet killing of other minorities.
As Deech observed, the Holocaust tends to be lumped together with other genocides and examples of racism or persecution, thus watering down its significance. The message becomes a generalized one of avoiding hatred and intolerance.
But that doesn’t address or explain the roots of the Holocaust: “Namely, centuries of Jewish persecution; first, on the grounds of religion, and then on the grounds of race, and now on the grounds of a distorted left-wing view of the State of Israel.”
Of course, governments and nations should stand against all bigotry and persecution. But this kumbaya-esque mush robs Holocaust memorializing of its key point: that the Holocaust was a unique atrocity.
So it’s not surprising that more and more people are viewing it as just one of many equivalent crimes against humanity.
That’s why it’s been used to draw a comparison with the appalling treatment of the Uyghurs by the Chinese regime. Video footage has surfaced of blindfolded and shackled Uyghurs being led onto trains taking them to indoctrination camps. There are reports of forced sterilizations, abortions and rapes.
This caused Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to protest to the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom about the “similarities between what is alleged to be happening in China” and “what happened in Nazi Germany 75 years ago: people being forcibly loaded onto trains, beards of religious men being trimmed, women being sterilized, and the grim picture of concentration camps.”
A London rabbi, Moshe Freedman, agreed and writes in the Jewish Chronicle that Holocaust education “was never exclusively about the survival of the Jews or the injustices that were perpetrated again us. It was about global human decency, morality and justice.”
But the Holocaust didn’t involve “injustices” against the Jews. It involved the attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish people.
The measures against the Uyghurs and other Chinese Muslims amount to an attempt to stop them from practicing their faith and turn them instead into indoctrinated clones of the Chinese Communist Party.
That’s horrific, of course. But it’s not the same as the Holocaust, whose unique characteristic was its aim to wipe the entire Jewish people off the face of the earth.
It took a non-Jewish British MP, Alistair Carmichael, a vice chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China, to uphold the principle that is in such danger of being lost.
Observing that states around the world “need to hold the Chinese government to account for their brutal suppression of the Uyghurs,” he added: “It is never a good idea to compare any contemporary incident to the Holocaust. My fundamental rule is that nothing can be compared to the Holocaust.”
Renowned scholars have also stated in the past that the Holocaust was an event without parallel. The philosopher Emil Fackenheim said that, while it belonged to the category of “genocide,” the planned and largely executed borderless extermination of the Jews was “unique.”
Another Jewish philosopher, David Patterson, went further and said that the Holocaust couldn’t be reduced to a case of genocide.
“The Nazis set out to annihilate more than a people… They set out to annihilate a fundamental principle; to obliterate millennia of Jewish teaching and testimony; to destroy the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to eradicate a way of understanding God, world and humanity embodied by the Jews in particular.”
The main driver of the Holocaust was not racism, nor hatred of “the other,” nor a dehumanizing view of certain groups — a view the Nazis shared with much progressive Western opinion in the 19th and early-20th centuries.
It was instead a paranoid and deranged view of the Jewish people as an evil conspiracy of positively supernatural proportions, and who therefore had to be wiped off the face of the earth. This is not recognizable in any other prejudice, bigotry or hatred directed at any other people or group.
But for some, the uniqueness of Jewish suffering is an intolerable fact that must be suppressed. Progressive “post-colonial” scholarship holds — preposterously — that emphasizing the singularity of the Holocaust diminishes and squeezes out other suffering and victimization.
Many diaspora Jews, moreover, run a mile from any suggestion that the Jews are fundamentally different. They believe their safety and security rest upon not standing out from their surrounding societies.
Which is why they are so anxious to claim that their historic persecution is on the same level as the suffering of others, and that antisemitism is just another form of “racism” or “othering.”
They thus join forces with those who want to deny Jews their true status as the world’s ultimate victims.
And it’s been but a short step from that to the false and malevolent view that the Jews of Israel have ended up doing to the Palestinians what was done to them.
As Baroness Deech observed: “The more the national Holocaust remembrance day events are packed out, the more the calls for sanctions on Israel that would result in her destruction, and the more the Holocaust is turned against the Jews. I hear it in parliament —‘after all you people went through, look what you are doing to the Palestinians; have you learned nothing.’ ”
Many peoples and groups in the world suffer untold horrors at the hands of brutal regimes. Jews and others have a duty to speak out against the persecution of the Uyghurs and all who are being victimized by the Chinese Communist Party.
But there is also a duty to speak up for the uniqueness of the Holocaust: a duty not to betray the facts of Jewish history by minimizing the particular evil of Europe’s darkest moment, a madness that singled out the Jewish people for a fate reserved for them alone.
Jewish News Syndicate
Text of address by Ruth Deech to the Oxford Jewish community
THE HIJACKING OF THE HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL
Let me start by persuading you that I know what I am talking about. My father came to the UK on 3.9.1939, at the last moment, having lost his chances to be a lawyer and a Zionist activist in Vienna.
He had been a founding member of the World Jewish Congress and worked for them in London for the rest of his life. He always told me to be grateful to this country for the opportunities it gave me, and to contribute in return.
He also said, as an aside, that a little antisemitism is good for you, meaning, as I came to realise, that a reminder of who one was did a lot to prevent total assimilation.
I grew up in a very modest home on the wrong side of London where Zionism and its history were everyday discourse, a house filled with pictures of Herzl, Zionist and Yiddish newspapers and books. But when other children had bedtime stories of Peter Rabbit, I had my mother weeping over the loss of her mother in a Polish concentration camp because the UK had not allowed her entry as a refugee; and my father telling me stories of the shtetl where he grew up, and the family who had died there.
I don’t personally need a Holocaust Remembrance day – every day is HR day to me. Not a day goes by without some relevant thought. In my extensive travels, I have never let a city go without visiting the Jewish museum if there is one, or the Holocaust memorial.
But what got me going on this topic was the annual Holocaust Remembrance day in Parliament where MPs and peers queue up to sign a book of memory. It is regarded as a photo opportunity for constituents, with a photographer in attendance complete with lighting and a background banner saying something like “never again”…
And then I understood: to pay homage to the memory of dead Jews is first, a badge of non-racism; and second, absolves you from respecting living Jews, whom you can carry on attacking in an antisemitic way; and third, frees you up to call for the destruction of Israel.
The more the national Holocaust remembrance day events are packed out, the more the calls for sanctions on Israel that would result in her destruction; and the more the Holocaust is turned against the Jews. I hear it in parliament – “after all you people went through, look what you are doing to the Palestinians; have you learned nothing” etc. A “holocaust” of animals; a “holocaust” of refugees and so on.
It was deeply inappropriate for Jonathan Dimbleby to have used his keynote address at the main commemoration on Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 to claim that allegations of antisemitism are being used to silence Israel’s critics. As the son of broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, Jonathan was honoured with the keynote address at the ceremony. His father had given the British public their first clear account of the concentration camps and had bravely insisted on broadcasting on the incredulous BBC what he saw after British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen.
Whilst Mr Dimbleby gave a very moving address, he also decided to use the moment to repeat the smear that allegations of antisemitism are in fact used to silence Israel’s critics, warning against confusing “antisemitism with the right to criticise – even strongly – the policies of the Jewish state to the same degree as one might any other democracy”.
And the schoolchildren for whom Holocaust studies are a compulsory part of the curriculum are the same youths who, a couple of years later, are at university, where some of them shout down or are violent in stopping Israel speakers from lecturing, who persecute individual Jewish students, who try to hinder Israel societies and will not accept the IHRA definition. Some teaching of the Holocaust in schools is linked to the current situation in the Middle East in order to promote a particular point of view. So what is going on?
The picture accompanying the notice of my talk is of a planned Holocaust memorial and learning centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, a small park alongside Millbank, just behind parliament, which is about the size of 3 football pitches. Christ Church is 28 times bigger. It has several statues in it, the Burghers of Calais, a small memorial to Buxton the abolitionist, Emmeline Pankhurst, and a sizeable children’s playground.
It is the only green space near parliament, and near the office blocks and mansion flats stretching towards Pimlico. The memorial would overwhelm the park, and disrupt the playground and its recreational use. I will come to the practical objections later.
It is not clear why it was chosen over say, St James’s, or areas near Whitehall. It would be the sixth major Holocaust memorial in the UK, alongside the ones in Nottinghamshire, Huddersfield, Hyde Park, Imperial War Museum Holocaust Exhibition (which has just had £30 million spent on it), the Wiener Library and other smaller ones. The government has granted £75 million towards it and the community is expected to raise another £30 million or so, not to mention running costs and maintenance. This is painful when one thinks of what has happened to our usual charities because of the pandemic effect.
Let me first address the straightforward planning objections, the reasons why permission was rejected by Westminster City Council. It means the loss of a park, whose green status is actually protected by a 1900 statute declaring it eternally open. 27 per cent of the space will go, not to mention the queues, the food stalls, deliveries and security apparatus. It is part of planning policy that there should be parks and breathing spaces, more than ever now.
Security: the memorial is bound to be the target of protests, as has been seen from the desecration of Holocaust memorials all over the world. Very recently we witnessed the vandalism of once-revered statues in Westminster during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. No, we should not be put off by that, but those memorials that are devoid of an immediate visible message about the Holocaust, for example a menorah or figures, are more likely to attract vandalism than those that relate to it. There is nothing in this London plan to indicate any serious historical reference.
It will have to be protected by a fence. It may well become a target for terrorist attacks, being conveniently situated right by the BBC Millbank studios and the river. If it includes memorialisation of LGBT, Roma and other victims, it will attract protests related to them as well. We know what turmoil is like in central London. Security checks will be for everyone entering the park, not just those who have booked tickets for the memorial. Other minorities, such as black people, are also asking for memorials, funded by the government – fair enough.
The design for Westminster is entirely unsympathetic to the surroundings. It is almost identical to one that the same architects entered for the Ottawa Holocaust memorial competition, and which was not chosen. There it would have been on a concrete traffic island, and of course the Canadian context both historical and geographical, is entirely different, and yet the same design was trundled out for London.
It looks like a fence, forbidding, not inviting, not reverential. It is likely to be treated with disrespect as is the case with the open air memorial in Berlin, those concrete slabs with no reference point, where people go to picnic and lark around, not knowing what it is all about. The design is disliked by the neighbours, not for Nimby reasons but because it is out of place and ruins their little park.
It is not a good idea, it seems to me, to force a Holocaust memorial into a place where it is not wanted – there are other sites. But objectors have been described as antisemitic, and considerable pressure has been placed by some politicians on the most reasonable of objectors. The project even hired a PR firm to solicit yes/no answers to the planning consultation at a cost of over £100K. Did you know about it? Were you consulted? The Jewish community is in fact divided; there are many non-Jewish leaders anxious to press on, and it has become politicised in a way I will explain.
The original Board of Deputies vision for a memorial, in its report of 2014, was for an expansion of the Imperial War Museum exhibition; and it noted the inadequacy of Holocaust education, a problem not yet resolved, and the need for restitution for victims of the Holocaust, primarily from Poland, which is still awaited. And it noted that modern antisemitism often takes the form of excessive attacks on the state of Israel.
That report was followed by the National Holocaust Memorial Foundation report in 2015 which envisaged a place where people can pay their respects and pray, a lecture theatre, offices and space for gatherings of up to 500 people for commemorative events: none of those criteria are now met. I will come back to Holocaust education shortly.
There are over 300 Holocaust memorials around the world, from China to NZ, and, sadly, the countries which have the most, namely the USA and France, are also those that have seen the sharpest rise in antisemitic incidents. Many of them have learning centres attached. The new London one would comprise the overground memorial you have seen, and an underground learning chamber which would present Britain’s reaction to the Holocaust.
The design of the visible memorial comprises 23 fins 7 metres high. They are said to represent the number of communities destroyed by the Nazis, but there would be no other outward symbol to tell you what it was that you were approaching.
Did you know the significance of that number? It is planned by a board that is headed by Lord Pickles and Ed Balls, and includes Gerald Ronson, Natasha Kaplinsky, (a newcomer to her heritage) and Baroness Harding, currently in charge of Covid testing. They claim it has to be sited next to Parliament, (albeit it would be on the wrong side, if you are coming as most do from Whitehall, or the underground), in order to make the point that democracy protects against genocide.
Now this is simply not the case. Jews have thrived in countries in the past where there was no democracy. The Holocaust did not take place because Germany was undemocratic at the outset, but because of centuries of racial and religious hatred across Europe, hatreds that are again simmering just under the surface.
Democracies across Europe have been powerless to stop the rise of antisemitism and extremism in recent years – on the contrary – it is on the rise in the most democratic of countries, because the acts that persecute Jews come not from the parliaments but from the people.
Britain, itself the mother of democracy and parliaments, saw one of the first expulsions of Jews in 1290, and tolerated centuries of persecution of Catholics and discrimination against Jews and ethnic minorities. Memorials do not in themselves combat antisemitism, and proximity to government central buildings has no discernible effect. Arguably politicians are the category of persons least in need of being reminded about religious and racial intolerance. Lambeth Palace, across the river, or Westminster Abbey, might be a better site if you want to place a reminder where it would be effective.
Overall, the plan shies away from the real causes of Jew hatred. It is meant, according to Cameron and other politicians who have espoused the cause, to be a statement of British values. In fact this national ideology is what has been grafted on to Holocaust memorials around the world. They are increasingly used to promote a self-congratulatory and sometimes self-exculpatory image of the government that erects them.
In our case, British values. That is to overlook the exclusion from Britain of most refugees from Europe in the 1930s, and to place emphasis only on the relatively small numbers in the Kindertransport. Not the tens of thousands of adults who were turned away. Not the thousands or millions who might have sought refuge in Palestine in the 1930s when Britain, as the mandatory power, kept the doors shut, and continued to block Jews from entering Palestine even after the war, even after the discovery of the concentration camps: the UK put Jewish refugees in displaced persons camps in Cyprus and Germany.
If there is a lesson to be learned from the British reaction to the Holocaust it is that if Britain had quit the mandate in 1938, and an independent Israel had been created then, millions of deaths might have been avoided. And if the UK had admitted more adult Jewish refugees in the 1930s, more too would have lived. The statement of British values that the project is to embody is actually a flag- waving tribute to the government and a statement that “we are not Corbyn. It was not our fault. We did much to assist”. It is also a tribute to the wealthy donors who support the Tories.
The new Hungarian Holocaust museum likewise is controversially designed to portray Hungary as a largely innocent bystander, and the deaths of 565,000 Hungarian Jews as an exclusively German crime, against a background of Hungary now refusing to accept any refugees. In the Ukraine and other former Soviet territories, there is an attempt to equate the Nazi killing of Jews with the Soviet killing of other minorities, who have to be remembered as well.
Yes, that is true, but the politics behind it are intended to prop up the nationalist sentiment: ie it was our brave heroes who resisted the Soviets, and downplay the Jewish experience and the complicity of the Ukrainians. And so on.
Take the Babi Yar memorial plans, a site where 33,771 Jews were murdered in 1941. It is alleged that the Soviets tried to cover up this massacre. Russian billionaires are financing the new memorial, not the local Jewish community, which arouses suspicions as to motives. It is planned to be an “immersive theatrical experience” with visitors taking on the roles of victims and executioners. There will be psychological experiments, Greek masks, soundscapes and artistic collaborations, along with a photograph of Michael Jackson. This sounds to me like a travesty, fitting within the concept of “dark tourism”, a category of outings to sites of extreme horrors and tragedies, for a vicarious thrill.
Or to take a small example closer to home. There was a Holocaust exhibition in the Oxford Town Hall recently sponsored by, amongst others, the very union that has sheltered university lecturers who attack Israel, the University and College Union. The descriptions and the accompanying explanations were slanted towards a condemnation of the right wing, whatever that is. I pointed out to the attendant that it is frequently the left wing today who attack Jews and the existence of Israel, to be met with blank denial. So Holocaust remembrance can be a way of attacking the Right, or the Left, as convenient. And always in the past, not looking at what is going on right now.
Poland, by way of contrast, has the right approach – although it is not a country ever to be forgiven or forgotten because it is the only modern European state to refuse any recognition of restitution of property that was abandoned by the 3m Polish Jews who were killed, and whose homes and factories were taken by their neighbours and then by the state. The Polin museum in Warsaw covers the over 1000 year history of the Jews in Poland; and the post war pogroms when a few survivors tried to return to their homes; and the emigration to Israel. Although I have not seen it, I understand that there is a new Russian Holocaust museum with the same approach.
So we come to another nub of my objection. Many visitors to the London memorial, if built, will know nothing about Jews. They may never have met one in their entire lives. Is it right that the only picture they will take away is of dead Jews, persecuted Jews, skeletal Jews in camps, Jews begging to leave? Should they not be told of Jewish history, what it was that was so cruelly destroyed by the Nazis, the immense beneficial contribution of Jews to the history of mankind, and, even more striking, the partial recovery after the war and the establishment of Israel?
Unless the antisemitism that led to the Holocaust is explained, and its modern guise of extreme anti-Israelism understood, those who visit will have only that one picture of Jews and may feel free to attack Israel, as is fashionable now.
This will be all the more of a failure if, as I believe will be the case, other genocide victims are included. Yes, there was devastating genocide in Rwanda, and of the Roma, of the Armenians. But by including them all, wrapping everything in the cloak of “racism”, the lesson is watered down. It becomes one of avoiding hatred and intolerance, which is of course good in itself. But it does not face up to, or explain the roots of the Holocaust. Namely, centuries of Jewish persecution first, on the grounds of religion, and then on the grounds of race, and now on the grounds of a distorted left wing view of the state of Israel.
In all the Holocaust remembrance that goes on in the UK, where is the finger pointing at Christianity? And at the extreme left and right wing? It provides convenient displacement. No, it is not us or our forebears who were at fault. It is a failure of democracy, or it was only the Germans, or it was all in the past. Antisemitism and its causes hardly get a mention. So Corbyn says – I condemn all forms of racism. His allies say: “He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body”- because he and his ilk have turned the spotlight away from antisemitism to some generalised form of discrimination.
We do not know what are the lessons to be learned if the planned London centre revolves around the British response to genocides. What will be done differently in the future and by whom? Genocide is not a failure of democracy, which is what it is promoting. Genocides happen to minorities who have no state of their own to protect them. The Rohingya in Burma; the Uighurs in China and of course the Armenians and others whom I have mentioned. It also occurs when there is no movement in the rest of the world to protect them, or because the killers are too powerful to alienate. “Never again”: an empty slogan, as the eminent historian Yehuda Bauer has said.
If the memorial is to include a learning centre, there is no need for it to be located in Westminster. What we need is accessibility to the learning materials by schools all over the country, and of course the recording of the memories of the survivors. Holocaust education has left many school leavers with only the haziest notion of how many were killed, by whom, and above all why – they are not taught about the meaning of antisemitism, only about hatred and Germans. They are not shown Jewish lives, then and now.
A new learning centre ought not to be London-centric. The current lockdown has shown how the internet can be used more widely. The project’s objectives could be met more effectively, more accessibly and more economically by digitalisation, some of which is already in existence. This would extend information to those who cannot travel to London. It would avoid the need to have a learning centre that will become just another tourist attraction in Westminster.
I do not want thousands of visitors in buses to come to gawp at pictures of Jews in death camps. There are good films and documentaries covering that. I want their reverence, in some cases their apologies, and their understanding of the millions of Jews today and their vulnerable place in the world. The over used phrase “Never Again” means what exactly?
Holocaust denial and tales of Jewish conspiracies abound today, sadly. You remember the court case of Deborah Lipstadt v David Irving. The rate of Holocaust denial in the UK is low, six per cent has been alleged, and it is highest in the Middle East, especially the West Bank and Gaza. If there are particular difficulties in teaching children in remote parts of the country, or sensitivities surrounding teaching Muslim pupils, then a building in London will not assist.
Moreover, Holocaust denial is not subject to rational thought, and it seems to me unlikely that any deniers would visit the new building and change their minds. The growth of memorials around the world has not put an end to Holocaust denial; hate speech laws and regulation of internet media may be more useful in this regard. The memories of Jewish survivors are recorded in two oral history projects of the British Library, the Living Memory of the Jewish Community; and the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre interviews.
By passively going along with these plans and fearing to voice our concerns, we have allowed today’s politicians to hijack the Holocaust memorial for their own ends. I’d like to see the allocated sum of over £100 million spent on a complete overhaul of Holocaust education, turning it into the history of the Jews with progression from the past to the future.
And there must be no disguising of the menace of antisemitism behind a cloak of generalised hatred or distortion of history. The finger points at Christianity, at the extreme right and the extreme left and at Islam. Generalised and expensive waffle about democracy and “Never Again” will not do it. Just as pulling down statues will not in reality improve the existence of black lives, so putting up a memorial will not promote safety and tolerance of the Jewish – and other – minorities. Building it could set back the cause of combating antisemitism for decades.
The post Betraying Jewish history by watering down the Holocaust appeared first on MelaniePhillips.com.
by Melanie at July 24, 2020 08:07 AM
July 21, 2020
Preliminary results published yesterday from early trials of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University suggest that it safely triggers an immune response.
Other research teams around the world are racing to develop a vaccine against the virus This may be the only way to return to normal life. Yet there are suggestions that an alarming number of people would refuse to be inoculated.
Vaccination has enabled one of the greatest global advances in public health. I have always been strongly in favour of safe and properly tested vaccination and, like many others, I am hoping against hope that a vaccine can be developed against Covid-19.
So how did the world get into this situation? At a deeper level is the attitude that has been growing for the past half-century: a belief in the innate goodness of the natural world and a deep suspicion of how mankind interferes with it through science or technology.
It would be beyond appalling if so many people refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19 that the population at large remained at risk. What’s going on below the surface, though, is nothing less than the repudiation of reason and evidence based on a decades-long revulsion against progress and modernity.
To read my whole Times column (£), please click here.
The post Anti-vaccination culture threatens Covid fightback appeared first on MelaniePhillips.com.
by Melanie at July 21, 2020 07:48 PM