Wednesday 30 December 2015

Did you know? I write a blog.

How do you know someone writes a blog? Don't worry, they'll tell you. Probably more than once. In fact, in order to write a blog, you have to be perfectly comfortable with the sort of self-promotion that Tony Blair would be proud of (Rule Number One: Have no shame). Or you have to write good articles. Anyway, 2015. It's nearly over. It's the perfect excuse to write a blog (Rule Number Two: never miss an opportunity to write a blog) and hope people are too caught up with the "10 things we learnt in 2015" type articles that, frankly, bore the Hell out of me (I mean, I hope I learnt more than 10 things in 2015, but potentially not), to notice the post.

This is not a year in review. Or, at least, I am not going to bore you with countless irrelevant anecdotes and I am not going to go through a list of amusing things that happened this year, to me or to other people. Rather, I am going to use this blog as an opportunity to shamelessly repost my blogs of the past year (Rule Number Three: Use present blog posts to quote from past blog posts) and make tenuous arguments for reposting even older blogs (see rule number one).

The year, as it always does, began in January. For me it began with a post on Anti-Semitism. Curiously enough, I was writing one of my more sobering pieces on my mother's birthday. She probably asked me to write a post in honour of her birthday as I had done the year before but, instead, I wrote about anti-Semitism. A belated Happy Birthday Mother. I hope I wrote you a card this year.

I wrote about how it has not gone away. I wrote about how we have failed to learn the lessons of the Holocaust despite being faced with Holocaust deniers who claim to want the next one. I wrote about how Jews, condemned to suffer anti-Semitism are equally condemned to be told we "complain" about anti-Semitism too much and have the right of defining what constitutes anti-Semitism taken away from us. Rarely do I write something that I believe has as much importance as this. A year on and I strongly believe my post rings as true as ever. Just over a month ago, the world was shocked by events in Paris. Twitter, meanwhile, was busy finding ways to blame the Jews. If you are ever having an especially good day, say your faith in humanity has been restored, twitter search 'jews' followed by a tragedy that has just occurred, whether it be a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Somehow, somewhere someone will have found a way (or, ways) to blame the Jews. Anti-Semitism is alive and well and we continue to ignore it, downplay it and - worst of all - partake in it by telling Jews that they overplay anti-Semitism.

Given I began the year in sobering fashion, it seemed only fair that I write what has become one of my favourite pieces in February (Rule number Four: Lists are always an easy way to write something). I had a dissertation chapter to write and if I remember correctly a deadline was looming, so it seemed only natural to have a short rant about elections at Warwick. Student politics is insufferable. In fact, the only things more insufferable than student politics itself are the election campaigns that accompany them. A week of avoiding anyone with a leaflet, any major areas of campus and generally keeping your head low out of fear of being ambushed and implored to vote for someone whose policies only differ from their opponents because of the colour of the font on the online manifestos. I look forward to passing on my advice for next year's election week (Rule Number Five: Anniversaries are as good an excuse as any to repost a blog).

In March, I flew to Israel to vote for Bibi. As an Israeli citizen, I exercised my democratic right to choose my leaders. My mum and sister, both - would you believe - women, also voted. My uncle, born in Iraq, also voted. One of my uncle's employees, who happens to be Muslim, not that it matters, also voted. Naturally, I wrote a post about why I voted for Bibi, a choice more than slightly controversial. It has a stupid football related title, that I do not think anyone actually understood, but I stand by the argument. Criticise the Israeli electorate all you want, but at least they have the opportunity (usually fairly often, given Israel's political system is - somewhat ironically - seemingly modelled on Weimer Germany's) to exercise a democratic right so lacking in the region. It's also one of my most read posts of the year. (Rule Number Six: Annoying people will lead to more read posts).

I then did not write a post for a few months. Three to be precise. Rule Number Seven: Always leave people wanting more. Labour then decided that it would be a load of fun to put Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper in the leadership election. I wrote a post. Truthfully, I do not think it is much good, but I'll link it here anyway. I still agree with the central premise, that there was nothing inherently good about increasing the options on the ballot but I suppose the less said about the article the better.

Unlike the period in the year before, I did not write a post over summer. Partly because I was busy making sure kids did not jump into a lake or try and roast marshmallows with their hands but also because Israel and Hamas did not have the sort of military skirmish that has become all too common recently. I wrote about Israel and Palestine at length the year before. I wrote about the tragedy of it all, perhaps most painfully summed up in this post. There's plenty more. (Rule Number Eight: If you write about Israel-Palestine, you will be able to repost your posts, unfortunately, on a regular basis and pass them off as new material. Rule Number 10: Learn to count).

I did eventually write about my summer. The post is a bittersweet memory for me, because I wrote about the bad points as well as the good points, as I felt obliged to do. Having said everything, and despite the very strong feelings I had and still have, Tel Noar was an incredible experience, one I will genuinely treasure and, in moments of nostalgia I convince myself I want to have again. I would happily do the eight weeks again. Alas, life gets in the way.

I then went to university again. Over the deafening cries of my mother asking when exactly I planned on GETTING A JOB, I began a Masters in Philosophy and proceeded to tell (and show) everyone who would listen (and read my facebook messages) that I had a blog. Mainly to distance myself from their preconceptions of Habs Boys. I probably told them about muck up day as well. That place really does follow you around. (Rule Number 11: Write about Habs).

Which pretty much brings us to December. I wrote about sexism (again). (Rule Number 12: Learn how to end your blogs well).

Happy New Year!

Friday 18 December 2015

Jose Mourinho, Sexism and Jeremy Vine

Jeremy Vine has written an open letter to Jose Mourinho. It's the sort of emotive tosh that passes for good writing nowadays and I cannot say it is particularly worth reading, but you can find it here if you so wish. It had no impact on me until I read the paragraphs on the club's former doctor, Eva Carniero, which I quote in full here:

"And then something utterly unhinged happened. I had to explain to my young daughter why you had exploded at the popular team doctor (one of the most prominent women in the Premier League) and I could not give her a decent reason. You did not just demote her and cause her to leave, you humiliated her. You should not have done it and I believe the players were also at a loss as they tried to explain it to their young daughters."

I have not made any comment on the Carniero case, but I thought it was pathetic at the time and I think it is pathetic now. I do not believe for a minute Jose criticised her because she is a woman. In fact to suggest as much is ridiculous - Jose criticised a male member of the medical staff at the same time and in his post-match interview said everyone had to understand the game and it did not matter who you were. I do not think Vine is suggesting this, but rather is telling us that for some reason he could not explain this criticism to his daughter, as if somehow women are incapable of suffering and dealing with criticism, or indeed, should not ever have to.

Vine states she was "One of the most prominent women in the Premier League." I do not doubt this. However, I hated the fact she was one of the most prominent women in the Premier League. I hated it because she was one of the most prominent women in the Premier League because a good number of male football fans are sexist wazzocks. I hated it because she was known as Chelsea's "fit" doctor, defined by her looks. I hated it because she was used to explain why Drogba liked to fall over and pretend his groin was hurt. I hated it because she was a prominent woman not because she was good at her job, which I assume she was, but because she was a woman who seemed to care about football and was, apparently, 'fit'. 

But this is not the issue. The issue is that it is completely irrelevant that she was a woman. It is completely irrelevant that she was a prominent woman in a male dominated industry where it was only a few years ago that two of the most prominent men in the industry questioned and joked about a woman's ability to understand the offside rule. Her sex is not relevant. Her ability to do her job is relevant and is all that should be relevant. We all know why Mourinho criticised her (and, for what it is worth, a male member of the medical team as well) and that was to deflect attention from another poor result - and it worked. However, whether or not we agree that she was or was not wrong to run on to the pitch, the fact that she is a woman should not enter our consideration. 

Imagine the paragraph read as follows:

And then something utterly unhinged happened. I had to explain to my young son why you had exploded at the popular team doctor (one of the most prominent men in the Premier League) and I could not give him a decent reason. You did not just demote him and cause him to leave, you humiliated him. You should not have done it and I believe the players were also at a loss as they tried to explain it to their young sons.

We would think Vine ridiculous. Why are we treating women any differently? Why do women need to be protected as if they are weak and vulnerable and unable of looking after themselves? Mourinho's reaction to Carniero's running onto the pitch was motivated solely by the running onto the pitch, not by her being a woman. Our response to it should be to criticise Mourinho for criticising the running onto the pitch or to criticise the running onto the pitch. To respond by complaining that we cannot explain Mourinho's actions to our daughters is absurd. It simply does not matter that Carniero is a woman and by treating her differently because she is one, by suggesting she should be immune from criticism and Mourinho's overreaction (something we would never do if it were a man), we are suggesting women need to be protected and looked after, because they cannot do it themselves. 

So perhaps, Mr Vine, you could tell your daughter that sometimes people overreact, that sometimes they do stupid things. Maybe you could tell your daughter that in life you may get an incredibly emotional boss who says what s/he is thinking without qualification. Perhaps mention that life can suck and sometimes your boss will suck too. You could even tell your daughter that sometimes she will make mistakes and pay a heavy cost for those mistakes but that is okay. Please, I beg you, do not suggest that women need to be treated differently from men, that women need to be protected or looked after or somehow are worthy of a different reaction. You become part of the problem when you do that.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Summer Camp, American Style

It is virtually impossible to summarise the eight weeks I spent at Camp Tel Noar into a blog of an acceptable length that remains interesting and worth reading. When I sat through mainly unhelpful-for-the-job-I-was-hired-to-do talks and so on during staff week a few buzz phrases were mentioned repeatedly and have stuck with me. One of those is that you cannot understand camp unless you go to camp. Tel Noar is a special place, one that I now have many great memories from and can look back upon with fondness. It is also one that I could not even begin to explain to you, but I will try anyway. 

When I signed up for Camp America just under a year ago now, I did not fully understand what I was signing up for. I had never been to camp. I had no idea what it entailed. At the time, and to an extent still now, I thought I had no skills that were of relevance and was unsure how to even begin the application. I remain firmly of the belief that very few people who sign up actually have any discernible skills but are able to sell 'know how to play football'. My exaggerated skill was nature related based on my time in the Combined Cadet Force at school. I could vaguely put up a tent and am fairly competent at putting one foot in front of the other and calling it hiking, so I decided that would have to do. As it turned out, the majority of my responsibilities would include neither and I was quickly taught how to fish and start a fire when I arrived at camp. Questionable ability to actually do the role I was hired for aside, I was happy with nature staff and looked forward to camp. 

Camp is, and always will be, about the campers. And the kids at CTN are a remarkable bunch. I had a kid who called himself Taco; a set of twins who looked out for each other, so convinced the other was completely incompetent forgetting they were both as bad as each other; and a camper so obsessed with British people that he used to actively try and stop us from going on our days off. Looking after the younger kids meant I could convince them of absolutely everything from being kidnapped in Israel to spending a night in jail where we managed to forget 3 people for a week to starting a fire in an army base kitchen. Story time was amongst my favourite moments with my campers. I can never remember loving stories as much as these kids, but watching them hang on your every word, refusing to believe a word of it isn't true is something I will treasure and remember for the rest of my life. I do not consider myself a particularly good storyteller, but that was not an issue. I realise we were there for the campers, but sometimes it felt like the campers were there for us and that we should be paying for the privilege of witnessing them be cute/funny/generally kids about things. 

They teach you in Philosophy that there is no such thing as a stupid question. After a summer of kids asking me if they could jump into the lake or hold their marshmallow in their hands to roast it because they could not find a stick or, after singing G_D Save the Queen, one camper asking me if I was actually British I have begun to have my doubts. It also taught me that kids are basically the same in that they all want to do stupid things. The difference is that the younger ones often ask you before they do, not to seek permission per se but to let you know that this is where their mind is going and what they are likely to do next. It is almost as if they actively know that whatever they are about to do is stupid and they are forewarning you so you can be there when they inevitably do it. There is no easy way to explain the kids at Tel Noar. They were so much fun, so cute and generally wonderful summer companions, even if they did give my patience a run for its money at times.

Camp, at times, made me so happy and proud to be Jewish. Friday night and Saturday afternoon singing, whether the song was related to Judaism/in Hebrew or not was a wonderful experience that I will treasure. Seeing everyone stood up, swaying and singing along gave me goosebumps and I looked forward to it every week. I enjoyed services, though the kids were often restless and only wish we were given more of an education into what the services and prayers meant/why we were saying them. Save for the occasional announcement and English translation in the Siddurs, which offers no reason behind the prayers, no such education seemed forthcoming, which I thought was a shame.

I had a meeting with the assistant director shortly before the end. I expressed to her my deep regret at how camp ended and that when I came to write this inevitable blog post it would not be solely positive. There are things I can ignore, things I did ignore. There are some that made me very unhappy, both because I felt they were not right but also because they tainted my opinion of camp. I expressed these to the assistant director in my meeting, in a letter to the director himself, to the head of the Cohen Camp Foundation and in an online, external survey I had to submit at the request of the camp. Those who know me may not be surprised to hear my letter to the director totalled some 8 pages. I need not go through everything here. A few things upset me the most. First, that I felt the director either refused to listen or did not care about what counsellors had to say, complaints they may have had and opinions they wanted to offer. Not necessarily because he genuinely did not care but rather because they way he dealt with these things made it seem like he did not care, which is just as bad. He openly admitted he could not handle confrontation. This is not a quality desirable in a leader and left me, on numerous occasions, feeling alienated, irrelevant and ignored. At the time of writing, I have had no response to my letter, which I hope is simply because he has not had the time to read it yet. Given one of my complaints was about not even receiving an acknowledgement of receipt of a letter I wrote whilst at camp, I hope to receive one this time. Second, that there were times I felt camp neglected its duty of care towards campers and counsellors. The most obvious, though there are too many examples, was the first time that nuts were allowed onto a nut-free camp (this happened on two separate occasions that I knew of). The reaction I received was one of apathy and, "well, what do you want me to do about it?". I was shocked that something so important could be so ignored. Finally, that the bond to camp returning staff members have is being exploited. For Americans, they cannot just go to another camp - they grew up at Camp Tel Noar - and I felt, at times, that their service to camp was assumed and exploited.

Despite everything, I still miss camp. I don't miss decisions that were made or how it made me feel towards the end. I don't miss the way things were run or the direction I think it was heading. It upsets me how it ended, that my experience was soured but the more distance I have from camp, the more I miss "it" and what is truly important to it. I miss the kids, how wonderfully entertaining they were. I miss my co-counsellors with whom I forged great relationships. I miss other counsellors and members of staff with whom I become friends in such a short space of time. I miss running activities, getting kids to shower, story time, having cake for breakfast on Saturday and instantly regretting it. I miss my choice between carbs and cheese before ultimately always picking salad. I miss colour war, making jokes about missing letters and how Americans have ruined English. I miss a lot of things that make camp what camp is - a special, unique place to spend your summer. So thank you Camp Tel Noar. I am sorry I am unlikely to be back with you next summer, but I had an amazing, valuable and rewarding time that I am grateful for and will treasure. 

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Jeremy Corbyn? I can't think of anything worse

As my friend Richard Black notes, it is tempting for Conservative supporters to support Jeremy Corbyn and the disaster that his leadership would be for the Labour party. We should, however, be content with the fact enough Labour MPs supported Corbyn to allow him to make it to the ballot paper. This is enough to suggest something seriously wrong with those who sit in the opposition benches, we don't need the party to go ahead and elect the terror, Iran, Assad, Hamas, Hezbollah and anti-Semitism apologist to demonstrate that. It takes a lot for me to think that maybe broadening the debate isn't worth it. The things that Corbyn stands for are more than enough for me to think the Labour party leadership debate is better off without him.

Amongst the more bizarre reasons to support a Corbyn nomination, are that he is a "nice guy" and he has a good beard (Owen Jones' quality analysis). It is worth noting, of course, that virtually every tweet and status and comment I have seen supports Corbyn being nominated but either stops short of supporting his candidacy or explicitly rejects it. His views are great for debate but G_D forbid we actually let him lead the party with them. It's a bit like inviting a McDonalds enthusiast to a Weight Watchers class to increase the options for dinner. I have trouble believing he is a nice guy, mainly because I find it hard to believe anyone whose list of friends include Assad, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, anyone who hates Jews and a number of terrorists (see here) can be a nice guy. If you happen to support a man who is responsible for a war that has killed over 200,000 civilians and displaced millions (like Stop the War, of which Corbyn is the chair) then you can say please and thank you as much as you want, but you are not a nice guy. To be blunt, I am disgusted at the number of people describing him as a nice guy. He is most certainly not a nice guy.

This is a man who hides behind a cloak of anti-Zionism when preaching anti-Semitism. A man who stands up for Assad and Iran. A man who calls terrorists his friends and hosts extremists, supporting and promoting their views. This is not a man who is good for debate. That 36 members of the Labour party are ignorant of the views I detail here, willingly chose to ignore them when making their nomination or, and most worryingly, actively support some, or all, of what he stands for is immensely worrying, disturbing and a good representation of just how out of touch Labour are.

I look forward to him blaming Israel and claiming he is not an anti-Semite when he, hopefully, does not win.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Chelsea 2 - 4 Bibi

Netanyahu's victory last night was, to put it mildly, somewhat unexpected. If members of his camp pay attention to English football, they may have suggested Bradford's victory against Chelsea was slightly more likely so as to ground their election chances. However, unlike that Bradford victory, I am much more isolated when it comes to being delighted with the outcome that I attempted to have an impact on. I flew to Israel to exercise my rights as an Israeli citizen and voted - proudly might I add - for the only man I wanted to see leading my country. It seems the majority of friends I have on Facebook and people I follow in twitter are somewhat downhearted by the Israeli electorate's decision.

My decision to vote for Bibi was an easy one. He is the only man I trust to speak for Israelis. He is the only man I trust with Israel's security. He is the only man I trust to stand up for Israelis in the face of a world that is increasingly trying to delegitimise Israelis and Israel. The West cannot control Netanyahu and that infuriates them. If nothing else, that is worth voting for. I don't want to be led by a man that is scared and weak. There is this view that Israel needs a more docile leader. One that will pander to the whims of the USA and Europeans as if they have our best interests at heart and know what is best. One that views the peace process as the most important single issue facing Israel as if somehow it is the West who can choose what that issue is. The criticism of Bibi highlights this. We are told to object to his re-election because it somehow means that peace is now less likely. Ignoring the fact that peace will, unfortunately, never be as simple as who is in charge, that charge assumes that everyone in Israel should be voting as if that were the most important issue that they face. It is not, nor does anyone in the West have the right to dictate Israelis that it should be.

The most important issue for me was Israeli security. In a world where the threat from Iran is downplayed and commonly ignored, it is no surprise that people outside Israel cannot understand voting for Netanyahu when it seems being tough on security is all he brings to the table. Believe me when I tell you that I do not care what you think the threat posed by Iran is. We've done that before. We've done the trusting other people to fight our battles for us before. Never again. It has only been 70 years since the Jews emerged from the Holocaust after years of inaction from Western powers who did not believe and chose to ignore what was going on. It may have been Hitler's SS who constructed the gas chambers and threw the Jews into the crematoria, but it was the willful ignorance of the West in the face of unspeakable evil that meant they almost succeeded. Forgive me for caring not one iota whether you think this genocidal threat from Iran is a real one. The time has gone when Jews are powerless and silent in the face of a genocidal enemy that is bent on Jewish destruction. And Bibi is the only man I trust to speak for me in the fact of a genocidal enemy that is bent on Jewish destruction. Something tells me people would prefer it if Israel were quiet, if the Jews were quiet, just like we have been throughout history.

Netanyahu is not everyone's cup of tea. I accept that. But you'll find the reasons who despise him often turn out to be the very reasons I am proud he is my Prime Minister and speaks for me.

Monday 23 February 2015

Tips for surviving Elections

Elections are upon us once again and Warwick goes into a craze of posters, facebook-cover-photo-changing and canvassing. Here are a few tips to survive it all:

1. Invest in a good pair of headphones to wear around campus at all times. The more obvious the better. Music optional but recommended. Suggestions:

Emeli Sande: 'Read All About it [in the Boar]'
The Bee Gees classic: 'Stayin' Alive [during the elections]'
Tracy Chapman: 'Baby Can I Vote For You',
Daniel Bedingfield: 'If You're Not the One [I should vote for]'
Beyonce: '[The old Sab Team is] Irreplaceable'
Michael Jackson: 'Leave me Alone'

2. Work on your best look of complete disengagement with everything going on around you to pull whenever walking around people with flyers/leaflets/paper of any kind/clipboards/that 'will you vote for x' look. Accidentally walking into a wall may complete this look.

3. Learn to avoid eye contact with everyone at all costs.

4. Avoid the library, piazza and any stretch of pavement on campus. Stick to the middle of the roads where possible. You have a choice. Navigate oncoming traffic or campaigners.

5. Print out a number of flyers saying: "I have already voted!" to hand out should steps 1-4 fail and you still get approached.

6. Watch old Aaron Bowater election videos on Youtube. Wonder where it all went wrong.

7. Alternatively avoid campus at all costs. Traffic is a nightmare anyway and the buses never run to time.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Anti-Semitism has never gone away

It's easy to make accusations of anti-Semitism. In fact, it's so easy, that I am going to do it right here and right now:

Anti-Semitism is continuing to grow and if anyone, for a minute, thinks we have learnt the lessons of the Holocaust then they are sorely misguided, ignorant, perhaps wilfully so, and/or anti-Semitic themselves.

The reason, however, it is so easy to level charges of anti-Semitism is not because Jews have some sort of victim mentality and choose to dismiss anything as anti-Semitism, whether it is or not, but rather because anti-Semitism remains prevalent. Before I even make any substantial claims, someone may dismiss my blog as misusing the term anti-Semitism and somehow devaluing it maybe because it should only be applied to "real" anti-Semitism such as the horrors of 1930's Europe (or maybe because it just doesn't exist now in the first place). Wrong. Jews, almost unique in their historic persecution, are equally unique in their inability to define what constitutes anti-Semitism. For some reason Jews have no say in what is anti-Semitism, rather forced to sit idly by as non-Jews, many of whom will never experience any form of discrimination in their lives, tell us to get over ourselves, suggest it isn't as bad as Hitler's Germany (as if this somehow makes it okay) or suggest it is basically all fair game because, you know, Israel.

This is the first type of anti-Semitism: ridding Jews the ability of any attempt at defining what may/may not constitute anti-Semitism. If your first instinct at reading the first few paragraphs is to suggest I am exaggerating/devaluing anti-Semitism/just wrong then you may be an anti-Semite. Or at the very least, wilfully ignorant of anti-Semitism. 

One of the problems Jews today face is the very fact that the Holocaust happened. Its sheer scale and the unimaginable horror inflicted on the Jews and other undesirable groups such as gypsies and homosexuals makes it very difficult to believe any form of anti-Semitism could ever be as bad as the institutionalised mass murder carried out under Hitler. In fact, it makes it very easy to dismiss any claims of anti-Semitism because whatever occurs right now, it cannot be as bad as the ghettoisation and murder of millions of Jews. As if somehow the gas chambers renders any anti-Semitism now irrelevant or somehow not that bad. This is to fundamentally ignore the lessons of the Holocaust. It is precisely because of the Holocaust that we should be so vigilant against anti-Semitism now. To learn the lessons of the Holocaust does not mean to claim the worst has happened and declare anti-Semitism a non-issue as a result. Rather it means to be even more cautious in the face of anti-Semitism and aware of what unabated incitement against Jews can and has led to. Instead, we bury our heads in the sand, convinced that another Holocaust couldn't happen on our watch unaware it was precisely that attitude that allowed Hitler to kill the millions that he did. There is plaque at Auschwitz that reads: "Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to Humanity..." A warning to Humanity. A warning that humanity refuses to heed. A cry of despair Humanity refuses to hear. 

This is a unique form of anti-Semitism. It rests on complete knowledge of the horrors of the Holocaust and complete acceptance of the extreme anti-Semitism in Europe at the time. It is precisely because it was so horrific and the anti-Semitism so extreme that people believe modern day anti-Semitism doesn't come close and is not worthy of mention. Quiet Jews. You had your time. It isn't as bad. Shush. 

Another lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews should rely on no one but themselves for their very survival. Faced with a systematic attempt to rid Europe of every single Jew, world leaders did nothing. Don't try and kid yourselves into believing somehow that the West didn't know. They did. They ignored it. (CF Jan Karski if you are interested). Jews learnt the hard way, not to rely on anyone but themselves for their very survival. This is why Israel is so important. Attacks against Jews only serve to prove why Israel needs to exist (ironically). The world has stood idly by throughout history. It continues to stand idly by now. This is not a blog about Israel or the Palestinians or even attempting to defend Israel's actions. Regular readers know my opinions. Rather, all I attempted here is to defend the very idea of an Israel, in some form, existing as a Jewish state. If we had learnt lessons of the Holocaust Israel wouldn't necessarily need to exist. The very fact that we have not merely continues to confirm that it does. It may be easy to assert anti-Semitism. It is easier to dismiss the very real danger that Jews live in across the world - and is anti-Semitic to do so. It is easy when looking in to assert that things aren't that bad. When you are not the target of the attacks you are shielded from them. It is Jewish schools that have armed guards. It is the El Al check-in desk that has armed guards. Sooner or later, they all come for the Jews - and they never stopped coming for the Jews. 

What it all adds up to is the very real need for Israel to exist. When you live in a world where you are safer to lie about your being a Jew (see recent attacks in the US), that world has not learnt any of the lessons of the Holocaust. 

Another type of anti-Semitism is a nuanced form of Holocaust denial. It is the Holocaust denial that compares Israel to the Nazis. It is the Holocaust denial that makes comparisons between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto. It is the Holocaust denial that says Jews must learn the lessons of the Holocaust. It is the Holocaust denial that covers up Holocaust denial behind the cloak of caring about other tragedies across the world. It is the Holocaust denial that suggests the time has come to 'lay the Holocaust to rest'. It is the Holocaust denial that doesn't deny the Holocaust happened but mitigates it awfulness, justifies it or suggests Jews 'use' it. This is much worse than simply denying it ever happened. The Holocaust was the systemised, institutionalised, state sponsored mass murder targeted at a specific race. Be very very careful when you compare anything to it. Not just because nothing compares to it but because in comparing things to it, no matter how serious, you mitigate the awfulness of the Holocaust, an event whose awfulness should never be mitigated.  When Sky News, for example, runs a piece on remembering the Holocaust and runs pictures of Gaza, there is a serious problem. As if somehow what is important to remember when dealing with the Holocaust is Gaza. There is no comparison between Israel and the Nazis. There is no comparison between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto. If you feel it necessary to include Gaza when talking about the Holocaust, you may be an anti-Semite. 

On a recent edition of the Big Questions on the BBC, the question, "Has the time come to lay the Holocaust to rest?" was asked. I only watched one response, so I can't comment on the programme itself, but such a question has no place being asked. Having not learnt the lessons of the Holocaust, we are already asking whether it is time to forget about it. Whether Jews should move on. Stop complaining. Stop 'milking it'. As if the murder of Six Million of our kind could be 'milked'. As if there is ever a time to lay such a tragedy to rest. If you think Jews go on about the Holocaust too much, use the Holocaust or milk it you may be an anti-Semite. 

The most prevalent type of Anti-Semitism, however, is Israel-related. It blames Jews collectively for the actions of the State of Israel. It attempts to justify anti-Semitism by arguing if Israel weren't so damn awful, Jews would be fine. It hides anti-Semitism behind anti-Zionism. Again, this is not a blog about Israel's actions. Whatever your opinion on them, they offer no justification for anti-Semitism. Jews are not responsible for Israel and Israel's actions, no matter how awful you perceive them, are no justification for attacks on Jews or anti-Semitism. This is remarkably prevalent. There is a common conception that Jews should take what they get because Israel. You hear it all the time. If Israel didn't kill Palestinians no one would attack Jews. If Israel didn't exist Jews would be just fine, anti-Semitism (if it even exists) would disappear overnight. Ironically, you'd be partly correct. If Israel didn't exist anti-Semitism may disappear but only because Jews would first. We've been there before. If you blame Israel for anti-Semitism or think you can understand anti-Semitism in terms of Israeli action you may be an anti-Semite. You may as well argue that if Jews hadn't have existed in the 1930's the Holocaust wouldn't have happened. I am not going to get into anti-Zionism. Suffice to say it is often a cloak of anti-Semitism. 

70 years on from the liberation of Auschwitz and we have not learnt a damn thing. Anti-Semitism never went away yet it remains denied, mitigated and justified whilst incitement against Jews remains, attacks against Jews remain and the threat to the Jewish people remains.