Friday, August 24, 2012
Anti-Semitism Catches Fire: Radical Islam revives an ancient hatred
From the Telegraph:
Is a new and shocking wave of anti-Semitism engulfing the Middle East and the developing world? Consider the following:
More than half the Jews in Iraq have been driven out of the country; those that remain are forced to pay a fine or leave their homes. Some are forced to marry Muslims.
In Syria, towns and villages where Jews have lived for centuries are now almost entirely Muslim; these communities have fled to safer parts of the country, where they hope to escape an anti-Semitic massacre.
In Egypt, the new regime is surreptitiously encouraging attacks on synagogues; the Jews, despised for their supposed wealth, fear that the “Arab spring” is about to release centuries of pent-up anti-Semitic hatred.
In Nigeria, Jews have been attacked and killed while studying scripture. In Bangladesh, Jewish children are being forced into madrassas. In Pakistan, the body of an 11-year-old Jewish boy was discovered this week; he’d been tortured to death and his lips sliced off.
You won’t have heard about this atrocious persecution. That’s because – forgive me – I’ve played one of the oldest tricks in the journalist’s book. For Jews, read Christians. For anti-Semitic, read anti-Christian. For synagogues read churches.
I hope Jewish readers won’t take offence: I’m not denying that actual anti-Semitism is spreading like a virus throughout Arab societies. It’s just that, if these attacks against Christians were being directed against Jews, the precedent of the Holocaust would shock the world into action.
This new persecution is the result of the simultaneous revival of militant Islam in many countries. We can say that with confidence. What we can’t say, however, is that there is a co-ordinated Islamic plot to exterminate Christianity as a stepping stone to a universal caliphate.
Conspiracy theorists may derive emotional satisfaction from this idea, but it doesn’t correspond to the messy politics of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Also, it lets the “Christian” West off the hook.
We have to confront the awkward fact that, for decades, some of the world’s most despicable dictators have protected indigenous Christians from Islamic mobs. When the West withdraws its support from these rulers, Christian minorities are exposed as never before.
The removal of Saddam has eviscerated Iraqi Christian churches so ancient that they still worship in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The fall of Mubarak means that it’s open season on Copts. Those who can afford to do so may follow the example of Palestinian and Lebanese Christians and emigrate. A key statistic: 100 years ago, the Levant was 20 per cent Christian; now the figure is 5 per cent.
The British government, despite prodding by the heroic Lord Alton, is doing a good imitation of not giving a stuff about any of this. Maybe it’s guilt: Anglo-American policies helped liberate Islamism.
As for Western Christianity, some evangelical and Catholic campaigners are drawing attention to the persecution – but they’re undermined by colleagues. For many evangelicals, Iraqi or Syrian worshippers are not “real” Christians because they venerate icons. Lefty Catholics are too obsessed with climate change and benefit cuts to spare a thought for their martyred co-religionists.
Keep an eye on Syria after Assad goes. First they’ll come for the Alawites, then the Christians. There’s a real chance that all traces of Christianity will disappear from the very place where St Paul was knocked off his horse and blinded by a vision of the risen Christ. What a horrible piece of symmetry.
Catchphrases that drive you to despair
The Rev Dr Peter Mullen, a trenchantly conservative Anglican priest, announced this week that he was planning a funeral service for the English language. He realised it had died, he said, when Government ministers announced that they would “revisit their approach” to Syria.
That’s vile syntax, I agree. But even worse, surely, are the sick-making catchphrases parroted by our service industries. “Could you just fill in this form for me?” says every receptionist in the land. “Pop in your pin number for me,” chirps the shop assistant. There are times, you know, when I’m glad that I don’t have a constitutional right to bear arms.
Grenfell could spin a yarn
News that women are better than men at maintaining friendships will come as no surprise to fans of Joyce & Ginnie, the letters of Joyce Grenfell and Virginia Graham, edited by Janie Hampton.
The two ladies, both staunch Christian Scientists, were friends from 1917 until Joyce’s death in 1979, weeks before the New Year Honours in which she was to be made a dame. My goodness, she had a sharp eye, both for celebrity foibles and for everyday folk: at the Lowestoft show she is thrilled to spot “Miss Irwin, who plays the organ and spins her own wool from bits she collects off barbed wire”. Joyce also refers to drinking a “cupper” (sic) and makes jocular use of the word “innit”, though somehow I doubt that the teenagers on the top of my local bus picked it up from her.
Doublespeak from the Beeb
The BBC is refusing to put up a statue to George Orwell because he was “too Left-wing”, we discovered this week. Honestly, you couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of the corporation’s political naivety. Yes, Orwell was certainly on the Left – but he was the finest English essayist of the 20th century. Moreover, he had an unforgiving eye for the self-loathing whingers whom he encountered, among other places, at Broadcasting House.
If the BBC is worried about journalists who are too Left-wing, may I direct its attention, yet again, to Newsnight’s “impartial” economics editor, Paul Mason? He has been up to his old tricks, moaning that falling unemployment represents “recovery-less jobs” that are “great for those that got them”.
I don’t know whether George Orwell would have agreed with Mason’s old-fashioned socialist views – but he might have had something to say about a BBC reporter using the licence fee to propagate them.
Beware the sandal-clad bin-sniffers
Liberal Democrats are doing so badly in the polls that it’s possible the party may effectively cease to exist after the next election. That’s a delicious prospect, on the face of it. Imagine the blissful relief of never again having to listen to Simon Hughes gargling platitudes on the Today programme. But, on second thoughts, perhaps it’s not such a good idea. What will the nosey ninnies who currently belong to the party do with themselves? What if they turn feral? Do we really want posses of sandal-wearing vigilantes roaming our streets, fingers a-wag, sniffing round people’s bins to make sure that they’ve put the right category of rubbish in the appropriately coloured sack?