Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Speculating with Cheese

Yesterday on Jermyn Street:

Paxton and Whitfield and the Swiss Franc

The Shepherd and his Rabbits

Another WOW: yesterday’s statement by Pope Francis that Good Roman Catholics do not need to breed like "rabbits"!/format/jpg/quality/85/

I don’t know what they put in the Pope’s drink on his visit to the Philippines.

Years ago, a Catholic friend from Montreal told me how their priests would visit families and demand an explanation, if a year had gone by without a new pregnancy. With one Papal remark, all those Catholics who followed their priests’ teaching and expectations to have large families must feel really dumb.  

Had anyone else come out with a statement “Catholics breed like rabbits”, the uproar would have been enormous. Charlie Hebdo would party. The Pope would have demanded more respect for his faith and his flock of…  His message would have been repeated from every pulpit.

PS: and if you wondered… contraceptives are still out. Tough.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Obama's Recipe

Obama has the solution, European governments should try to better assimilate their Muslim minority populations - he said, adding, “our Muslim populations feel themselves to be Americans and there is this incredible process of immigration and assimilation that is part of our tradition.” That must be the reason why his opponents have filled the Internet with suggestions that he was actually a Muslim. The underlying implication being that had he been open about it, he would not have been elected President.

He may not be a Muslim but he is also no great student of history. Unlike the USA, European countries do not consider themselves immigration countries. Those coming to the US, go there for the “American Dream”, they want to become Americans. In principle, at least, that is the deal on offer. European countries accept foreigners seeking asylum, or in certain cases seeking jobs. They generally do not seek to become “Europeans”, let alone French or German. That makes integration a much harder task. 

Joking at the Funeral

Netanyahu at the funeral of the Paris Jews killed last week: “..we have a state of our own, … one that spreads great light like a lighthouse of morality.”

Israel a moral lighthouse ?

Forget it Francis

A week after the archbishop of Paris came out in support of freedom of the press, whatever the price, Pope Francis spoke out to contradict him.

He spoke about the recent murders in Paris. That is, he chose to speak about the murders at Charlie Hebdo and not about the killing of Jews at the Kosher supermarket.

The Pope’s response reminds one of those who explain rapes by criticising the raped woman’s short skirt: “in freedom of expression there are limits. … One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.” This is, of course, some Huzpeh, considering the track record of his organisation in insulting and degrading Jews over many centuries.

The Pope takes advantage of the attack on the caricaturists, to lobby for a special status for his group of power holders, all religions. FORGET IT FRANCIS. No entity that has power over others – be it political, economic or religious - should be immune. This is essential to prevent abuse of their power. They should and must be scrutinised, criticised, provoked, made fun of – anything that might question the power they have over us.

To explain his thinking, the Pope added, “If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal.” WOW. So now, the Catholic Church has formally adopted “an eye for an eye” theology and abandoned Jesus’ turn-the-other-cheek preaching in the Sermon on the Mount. This is some revolution. Congratulations!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Josef Schusters wichtigste Aufgabe

On Sunday, the Central Council of Jews in Germany elected Josef Schuster as its new president.

Will he, like his predecessors, consider that acting as a sort of Israel spokesman comes with the job? Should it really be up to the Central Council of Jews to be a warning beacon against antisemitism? 

The German daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung, has published my welcome words, Josef Schusters wichtigste Aufgabe, as an op-ed in yesterday’s edition.

Here it is

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Don’t be Chickenshits

As part of its continuous, concerted and successful action-plan to hold onto the Occupied Territories, Israel is cold bloodedly taking advantage of today’s murderous attack by two Arabs from East Jerusalem, to slander the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. 

Netanyahu: “the terrorists’ act was a direct result of incitement led by Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and irresponsibly ignored by the international community…”

Economy Minister Bennet: "Abbas, one of the biggest terrorists to have arisen from the Palestinian people, bears direct responsibility for the Jewish blood spilt … while we were busy with delusions about the [peace] process."

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz "The hands that held the axes were those of the terrorists, but the voice is that of Abbas." And Foreign Minister Lieberman called on the international community to condemn Abbas' "anti-Semitic statements, which lead to terrible acts of slaughter like the one at the synagogue this morning."

Netanyahu and his senior ministers are lying. More than that, with their inciting defamatory statements, Netanyahu and his cabinet are igniting the fire or at least adding fuel to it. Here is what the head of  the shin bet, Israel’s internal security service, Yoram Cohen, said today: "Abbas is not interested in terror and is not inciting to terror. He's not even doing so behind closed doors." Moreover, Cohen laid the blame for the rising tensions in Jerusalem on visits by right-wing Israeli members of parliament to the Temple Mount and their attempts to introduce legislation, which would change the status quo on the holy site.

A few weeks ago The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has condemned as “disgraceful” a description of Netanyahu, as “chickenshit”, attributed to an unnamed US official. Netanyahu may now be a certified “non- chickenshit” but he should probably not risk asking for a similar certificate to prove that he is not a defaming, inciting liar. It is up to the US and the EU not to be chickenshits and to finally read Israel the riot act.  

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Cameron – King of Losers ?

Loser – according to one of the dictionaries is slang for: “a misfit, especially someone who has never or seldom been successful at a job, personal relationship, etc.” There is something unattractively condescending in the use of this term. Indeed, one of the dictionaries defines loser as “a person who one feels is below one's social stature.”

So here I go: David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is rapidly becoming the king of losers. Instead of approaching UKIP and the supporters of this “UK Independence Party” head on, Cameron tries to convince that group of losers that he and his Tory party will deliver even more effective anti-Europe, anti-Foreigners, anti-Immigration, anti-Aid results, than UKIP will.

As a real loser, the spoilt brat Cameron succumbs to pathetic macho talk and irresponsible brinkmanship. Instead of trying to out-ukip UKIP, the Tories and Labour too, must stand up against the frightened “let’s draw the bridge up” rhetoric of UKIP with both values and facts. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Go to Rembrandt

There is a wonderful, truly wonderful Rembrandt exhibition at the National Gallery in London. Go!

Many exhibitions are just marketing ploys and I did not expect much. Anyway, has one not seen them all? The exhibition concentrates on Rembrandt’s late works and does include some of the well-known paintings. But, it also has some lesser-known and truly beautiful and some very interesting paintings. 

It was a true joy to see so many of them together. This cannot be said about the visitors that crowd exhibitions. As I was queuing to get in with the first group at 10 in the morning, a VIP group of Royal Bank of Scotland guests was just leaving. Seeing the VIPs coming out with their goody-bags was not made easier by one of the very important females smiling benevolently at us, the group of plebeians standing in the rain waiting to be let in, with the remark "you are up for a real treat."
So what is the Deal? 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Not memorable: Germany exhibition at the British Museum

There are better ways to spend ten pounds and an hour of your time than to go to the Germany: memories of a nation - A 600-year history in objects  exhibition at the British Museum. You do not learn more than you would by reading the relevant article in Wikipedia and that is not good enough.