ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Jews

The Massacre of Baghdad’s Jews.

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BBC Witness had a programme on the Farhud which took place on 1st June 1941, 70 years ago, listen to it here.

An MP3 is available to download.

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02/06/2011 at 02:59

Institutionalised Racism in UCU.

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David Hirsh has documented, with customary clarity, the sorry tale of institutionalised racism in UCU.

I suspect for the sake of brevity that Dr. Hirsh had to leave out a fair amount of material

I can’t think of any other circumstance, or any other trade union, that would not start questioning itself if Jewish members left in droves as has happened at UCU.

Yet the question of “why ?” doesn’t seem to occur to UCU or its leaders, which is rather depressing.

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19/01/2010 at 15:22

Never Really Mentioned.

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We have reached the first year anniversary of the killing spree that took place in Mumbai, India in 2008.

I remember following it avidly as I suspect many people did. The smoke billowing out of the plush hotel, the pictures of scattered belongings and bloodstains in the railway station, and the siege at Chabad House.

Like most people at the time I was mystified as to how this could happen and who would carry it out, but one thing struck me about the news coverage, how they never asked why Chabad House was attacked, in the first place.

Why was it attacked?

I am not sure if there was some set of unwritten assumptions at play, or it just didn’t occur to the collective journalists that this was more than a curiosity.

By that I mean, Mumbai is a massive city, comprising some 13 million inhabitants, twice the size of London, five times the size of Paris, in terms of population.

The extended city of Mumbai has about 19 million inhabitants, enormous by any standards.

Therefore, finding that very small community of Jews in that city would be a serious endeavour. It would not be a trivial task. Locating a dozen or so people of a certain ethnicity amongst 13 million people is exceedingly difficult.

Yet that point wasn’t covered in any detail, as far as I remember, by the Western media.

I suppose that if a particular group of murderers decided to hunt out any natives of Tuvalu, living in London and kill them then surely that would be odd and the reasons behind it worthy of attention?

That is the parallel, searching for a minute community in a massive city, torturing them and finally murdering them in the most brutal way.

But it was not really mentioned by the Western media. As far as I can work out the killings at Chabad House doesn’t seem to have been seen as worthy of consideration, with no significant coverage or questions being asked by the media. Curious and, in many ways, a bit disturbing as to what it tells us about certain Western attitudes.

—-
[Tuvalu (and all that comprises it) is one of the smallest nation in world]

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26/11/2009 at 20:29

The Tories, Michal Kaminski And Jedwabne.

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Over at the Guardian Denis MacShane highlights the strange case of Michal Kaminski, his nauseating comments concerning the massacre at Jedwabne, and the British Tories:

“At the National Theatre in London, the play Our Class is pulling in crowds. It examines the massacre by a small group of antisemitic Poles of hundreds of Jews in Jedwabne in north east Poland in 1941. No Nazis were involved. The massacre was covered up by the communist rulers in Poland after 1945. Not until well after the end of communism did the facts come to light. The inconvenient truth that some Poles had taken part in a massacre of Jews caused fury in the rightwing circles in Poland associated with Radio Maryja, the anti-Jewish radio station and among many Polish politicians who felt their nation’s honour had been besmirched.

In 2001, Poland’s president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, went to Jedwabne to apologise. Like Willy Brandt kneeling at the Warsaw Ghetto in 1970, Kwasniewski felt atonement was needed. As Anita Prazmowska has related here, his gesture was criticised by many rightwing Poles, including the rising star of Polish Catholic nationalist politics, Michal Kaminski. His language was lurid and vivid. It upset many Jews. He tried to backtrack but his remarks had been taped.

Mr President should not take the guilt on the Polish nation, the whole nation that he should represent for what happened in Jedwabne and apologise in its name. I am ready to say the word: I am sorry but under two conditions. First of all, I need to know what I am apologising for. I apologise for a handful of outcasts. Secondly, I can do that if I know that someone from the Jewish side will apologise for what the Jews did during the Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941. For the mass collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet occupier, for fighting Polish partisans in this area. And eventually, for murdering Poles.

Michal Kaminski has now come to prominence after David Cameron ordered Tory MEPs to serve under his leadership in the European parliament, as part of the Conservative policy of breaking links with mainstream centre-right parties in Europe.”

More on Jewish Jedwabne, the Jedwabne Pogrom, making sense of the Jedwabne pogrom and the Legacy of Jedwabne.

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06/10/2009 at 17:20

Pre-War Attitudes.

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This book review at the Tablet highlights some of the prevalent attitudes found in British Embassies pre-WW2:

” Take Thea Scholl, a 22-year-old Jewish woman from Vienna, who was desperate to get to Britain after the Anschluss brought Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938. Most categories of workers were denied entry into Britain, which feared competition for jobs during the Depression—Dwork and van Pelt quote the official instructions to British consulates, which barred “small shopkeepers, retail traders, artisans … agents and middlemen … lawyers, doctors and dentists.” The one type of worker Great Britain needed was domestic servants, so Thea Scholl applied to be a servant, even though she was from a prosperous family and “had never done any housework,” as she later recalled. When she showed up at the British consulate in Vienna, she was given an impromptu test: “I had to show my hands at the consulate, probably to prove that they were not manicured and that I was able to work …. Then I had to clean a bathroom, to show that I could do so.” Her scrubbing was convincing enough, and Scholl was able to leave Austria the day before Christmas, leaving her parents behind.

This was a trivial humiliation, of course, but it brings home just what it meant to become a refugee. A Jew’s sense of herself—her history, resources, relationships, desires, expectations—all vanished. She became a supplicant, forced to do and say anything that might convince an indifferent official to give her a lifesaving visa. Nothing about a human being mattered except his or her passport, as the crusading American journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote in 1938: “It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death, and that scores of people have blown their brains out because they could not get it.” Dwork and van Pelt might also have quoted W.H. Auden’s poem “Refugee Blues”:

The consul banged the table and said:
“If you’ve got no passport, you’re officially dead”;
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive….

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

The determined refusal of the democracies to open their doors to German Jews is notorious. Hitler himself jeered at the West’s hypocrisy: “It is truly a shaming display when we see today the entire democratic world filled with tears of pity at the plight of the poor, tortured Jewish people, while remaining hardhearted and obstinate in view of what is therefore its obvious duty: to help.” Dwork and van Pelt choose not to retell the famous story of the St. Louis, the ship carrying a thousand Jewish refugees that was refused permission to dock in the United States in 1939. But Flight from the Reich is full of similar nightmares.” “

This is the book.

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15/07/2009 at 22:45