Thursday, 23 July 2015

Did the BBC cover-up the antisemitism of Gaza's children?

My latest post at Writing from the Edge

Here's an extract:

Has a mistranslation in a BBC documentary created an image of innocence where none should exist?

Was the motivation of the broadcaster to avoid diminishing sympathy towards the Palestinians while increasing antipathy towards Israel?

For those that missed the coverage let me bring you up to speed.

According to a report in the Jewish Chronicle, Britain's oldest and most widely read Jewish newspaper, the BBC substituted the word “Israelis” for "Jews" in its translation of interviews with Palestinian children.

The documentary, Children of the Gaza War, was presented by the BBC's chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet to mark the first anniversary of the conflict and included extensive and sympathetic interviews by Doucet with both Israeli and Gazan children and their parents.

At one point in the film, a Gazan child says the “yahud” are massacring Palestinians. However the TV subtitles read: “Israel is massacring us”. The Jewish Chronicle pointed out to its readers that the correct translation for “yahud” from Arabic to English is “Jew”.

Lyse Doucet told the JC: “We talked to people in Gaza, we talked to translators. When [the children] say ‘Jews’, they mean ‘Israelis’. “We felt it was a better translation of it.”

The Jewish Chronicle appears to be raising two very important issues. Are Palestinian children in Gaza antisemitic and can we trust the BBC to be fair to Israel.

Let me attempt to unscramble the thinking (or lack of thinking) going on here.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Five brilliant things about Judaism (that we sometimes forget)

I sometimes think we have lost sight of the 'big picture' for Judaism, the thinking that turned us from a slave rabble to a Holy Nation. Our 21st century 'communal theology', as acted out in the public sphere, has become one of victimhood and defensiveness. Jewish history provides an explanation for why that has happened. But it's a poor substitute for a brilliant, galvanising and inspiring religious vision.
Read the full post at Writing from the Edge at Patheos

Thursday, 9 July 2015

What's wrong with this picture?

Nazi boycotts of Jewish businesses 1933

Well, nothing is wrong with the picture itself. It's real. It wasn't faked. It is a true artifact of 20th century European history. The poster on the shop window reads: "Germans beware. Don't buy from Jews".

What started as boycotts against Jewish shops and businesses eventually led to the gas chambers and incinerators of Auschwitz and Treblinka. All of this is irrefutable.

What's wrong is how this picture, and others taken at the same time in the early 1930's, are now being used to suppress free speech and non-violent protest and brand a movement for civil and political rights as racist and illegitimate.

It's an ironic and depressing state of affairs.

What we are seeing is a deliberate attempt to make a direct link between those that follow the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and those that perpetrated the Holocaust.

[It] is poor deduction, sloppy history, and appalling ethics. It also looks desperate and hysterical.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Christians United for Israel comes to Britain – Here’s one Jew that’s less than thrilled

My new post at Patheos is just published.

Here's an extract:

Lately, we in Britain seem to be importing some of the less attractive aspects of American Evangelical Christian culture.
Last month saw the official launch of the British branch of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) thanks to the deep pockets of pastor John Hagee.
Up to now, mass market, multi-channel, televangelists have not really troubled our shores. Hagee, despite his millions of followers and best selling books and videos, is not a name most Christians here will be familiar with (let alone the wider public). Maybe it's something to do with the weather, but Christians in this country tend to be of the more self-effacing variety and a whole lot less certain about exactly what's on God's mind at any given moment of the day.

Read the full blog post at Writing from the Edge at Patheos