Tag Archives: anti-Semitism

British Teacher Argues Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theories Are ‘Philosophical Belief’

Jessica Elgot

               

British Teacher Argues Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theories Are ‘Philosophical Belief’

Posted: 05/07/2013                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

           
 
       
             

A primary school teacher who compared Jews to Star Trek’s Vulcans, has lost his attempt to argue that his anti-Jewish views were a “philosophical belief” covered under the Equality Act.

The teacher, referred to only as Mr Arya, was sacked as a primary school teacher after being accused of pushing and shouting at a child; making sexist and racist comments about colleagues in letters to the National Union of Teachers; and directing anti-Semitic abuse at a colleague in a text and email.

Arya had argued that he was discriminated against by the London Borough of Waltham Forest for his view that “the Jewish religion’s professed belief in Jews being ‘God’s chosen people’ is at odds with a meritocratic and multicultural society, and was a philosophical belief, protected under the Equality Act.

primary school

The teacher argued it was his right to hold anti-Jewish views

 

During the pre-hearing review, Arya insisted he did not consider himself to be anti-Semitic, and drew a Star Trek analogy, comparing Vulcans to Jewish people.

The London tribunal heard about Arya’s conviction that a Jewish cabal controls society, with a Jewish lobby influencing politics and the media. He blamed Jews for “messing with his head” and believes that they may have the ability to send messages back in time.

Arya said he believed there was a “vastly disproportionate” emphasis in Western culture on the suffering and history of Jews, ignoring the “anti-social aspects of Hebrew culture”, compared with countries’ obsession with Islamism.

Referencing the Holocaust, he said that there is a “definite and controlled effort to give a one-sided version of history”, citing the use of the word “innocent” in the “ubiquitous” media term “six million innocent Jews [murdered in the Holocaust]”.

“The Jewish situation has been institutionalised to serve as a convenient profiteering racket by third and fourth generations of Jews,” he said.

Although the tribunal did conclude that the anti-Jewish belief was a serious belief “going back to his childhood” and was “genuinely held”, it did not meet the rest of the criteria for a philosophical belief. It was not “worthy of respect in a democratic society and not incompatible with human dignity and/or conflict with the fundamental rights of others”.

The tribunal judge dismissed his complaints of discrimination and harassment relating to the philosophical belief, but the tribunal will hear the other complaints he has lodged.

Arya is “allowed to hold these views” but his freedom of expression has to be limited in order not to infringe the freedom of others, it said.

XPertHR, which wrote a detailed report on the implications of the case, said the decision should “reassure employers that outrageous or offensive views are unlikely to be protected by equality legislation, because the open expression of these views would in turn discriminate against others.”

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Eternity Envy

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05/30/2013 15:55   By JONATHAN ROSENBLUM

I think most would concede that the haredi world is the largest repository of a heedless attachment to Torah, far removed from any worldly calculation.

Haredi demonstration against IDF enlistment legislation in Jerusalem, May 16, 2013
Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
In response to the Church of Scotland’s adoption of the “An Inheritance of Abraham?” report, a veritable potpourri of reasons for rejecting the Jewish claim of a historical connection to the Land of Israel, the ever brilliant David Goldman offers one of his startling aperçus: “The most successful Christian communities embrace the State of Israel, while the least successful abhor it.”
The Church of Scotland certainly falls into the latter category. Since 1956, the Church of Scotland has shed two-thirds of its members, and continues to lose them at a rate of 5 percent a year. (Ironically, in happier times for the Church of Scotland, it was a hotbed of Christian Zionism. A 19th-century Church of Scotland cleric coined the phrase, “A land without people for a people without a land.”) The same observation applies to the Church of England, another fast-fading religious establishment.
Less than 40% of Britons say they believe in God, and more British Muslims than British Christians attend weekly religious services.
Like the Church of Scotland, the Church of England has increasingly descended into mindless political correctness. Israel has often borne the brunt of that political correctness in the form of resolutions for disinvestment.
The religious energy in America has shifted dramatically from the old mainstream churches – Episcopalians and Presbyterians – towards evangelicals. Here too, Goldman’s observation holds up. Both the Episcopalians and Presbyterians have passed disinvestment resolutions in recent years (though the Presbyterians’ was subsequently rescinded). Meanwhile the evangelicals have proven to be the most stalwart supporters of Israel, often citing the biblical verse, “And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Genesis 12:3) GOLDMAN CONNECTS his observation about failing religions to another: anti-Semitism is correlated with declining national groups.
Europe’s most prominent anti-Semitic party at present is Hungary’s Jobbik Party, the thirdlargest in the country. And Hungary’s fertility rate today is a paltry 0.83 per woman, the lowest in Europe.
But fertility rates well below the replacement level characterize the entire continent. The UN projects, for instance, a Russian population of 115 million in 2050, an astounding 30 million fewer people than inhabited Russia in 2000. (In Scotland, the number of births per year is half of what it was in 1950, and the number of babies born to married couples one-fifth.) Meanwhile, Muslim birthrates remain high across Europe. Native Europeans, then, can already smell the death scent of their own self-extinction. And those intimations of their own national mortality put them in a foul mood towards the Jews.
Goldman quotes the German-Jewish thinker Franz Rosenzweig on the fear of impending death at the national level: “Just as every individual must reckon with his eventual death, the peoples of the world foresee their eventual extinction… Indeed the love of the peoples for their own peoplehood is sweet and pregnant with presentiment of death… Thus the peoples of the world foresee a time when their land with its rivers and mountains still lies under heaven as it does today, but other people dwell there; when their language is entombed in books; and their laws and customs have lost their living power.”
But why should those “presentiments” be taken out on the Jews or the Jewish state? Because the Jews are the exception to the otherwise universal rule of civilizational rise and fall. As Michael Wyschograd observes, “Israel is beyond the ‘laws’ of history. It is not subject to the rise and fall of other peoples and empires, a fact which causes angry philosophers of history (i.e. Arnold Toynbee) whose schemes Israel undermines to refer to it as a fossil.”
Only one people has shown itself immortal: the Jews. As Mark Twain observed in his famous essay “Concerning the Jews”: “The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” To see the Jews return to their ancient land, once more speaking their ancient tongue, and still observing their ancient law must be particularly grating to Europeans who can already foresee another people dwelling in their land, speaking a different language, and having sacked a once proud culture.
THE TWO Western countries most consistently supportive of Israel in the world today are the United States and Canada. The US is by far the most religious of the developed countries.
Two-fifths of Americans attend services weekly, and only 18% never worship. By contrast, more than half of Britons never attend church, and only one in eight does so weekly. That religiosity correlates highly with attitudes to Israel. Americans favor Israel over the Palestinians by nearly five to one, while Britons view Israel negatively by a ratio of nearly four to one.
The ruling Conservative Party in Canada has its political base in the country’s West, which is also the most religious section.
Birthrates and religion are closely linked, as Mary Eberstadt details in her new book, How the West Really Lost God. (Contrary to popular impression, religious affiliation also correlates positively with educational levels.) In the more religiously oriented urban complexes of America, the likelihood of a woman having children, measured in terms of the number of children under five to women of childbearing age, is 15%-30% higher. Those who believe in a beneficent deity, who created the world with a purpose and is bringing it towards that purpose, it would seem, want to be connected to that future through future generations.
Those who remain optimistic about the future have less cause to envy the people of Israel their eternity. Compared to Europeans, Americans have always been an optimistic people. As an old Russian adage has it, “A person who smiles a lot is either a fool or an American.” And it does not hurt that the most vital segment of the American and Canadian religious communities are those groups who see in Israel’s existence not a cause for envy but proof, as Goldman puts it, that the “God of the Bible is a God of kept promises.”
TWAIN ASKED: What is the secret of the Jews’ immortality? The Talmud likens our miraculous survival to that of a solitary sheep existing among 70 wolves.
Moses told Pharaoh, in the name of God, at their first meeting, “Beni bechori Yisrael – Israel is my son, my firstborn son.” The Talmud attributes those terms of endearment to the fact that Israel would in the future stand on Mount Sinai and utter the words “Na’aseh v’nishma – We will do, and [then] we will understand.” The Children of Israel were taken out of Egypt on account of their future acceptance of the Torah, and they are protected to this day by virtue of their connection to the Torah.
In that light we can understand our sages’ comment that Sinai is from the language of sina (hatred). Sinai is the source of our immortality, and that immortality causes the hatred of us.
“Na’aseh v’nishma” denotes not just the acceptance of Torah, but a particular form of acceptance – one made oblivious to all the rational calculations of the world. The Talmud relates that a Sadduccee once saw Rava learning Torah with such intensity that he did not even notice that he was sitting on his hands, which were dripping blood. The Sadducee charged Rava with being the member of an ama peziza – a heedless, uncalculating people – just like his ancestors, who accepted God’s commandments without first knowing what they were.
Rava acknowledged the charge, for in that reckless passion for Torah lies the secret of Jewish eternity. No Jewish community that has cut itself off from Torah observance and study has ever survived for long.
Passion for Torah learning is not a birthright.
It is not an automatic consequence of being born into a haredi home or of attending yeshiva.
But I think most would concede that the haredi world is the largest repository of a heedless attachment to Torah, far removed from any worldly calculation.
Can there be a greater national service – guaranteeing our national survival – than that performed by those who attain that level? ■
The writer is director of Jewish Media Resources, has written a regular column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine since 1997, and is the author of eight biographies of modern Jewish leaders.
some comments on the above article:
  • Stewart Cutler That tweet shows an amazing lack of understanding of the complexity of Israel’s political and religious situation and its ‘relationship’ with both itself, its neighbours and the rest of the world.

  • Irene Munro: I find it hard that the author holds up America as a moral paradigm. Obama supports abortion and this author gives fertility rates as a sign of blessing. Israel’s abortion record is not admirable  89% of third trimester abortion requests are approved in Israel – in many countries such late term abortions are totally illegal. in Israel a minor can legally have an abortion without having to notify the parents. There are better arguments to support the land issue and supporting Israel’s right to the land.
  • Maureen Jack What do I think?  It’s nonsense.  Desmond Tutu is just one Christian who is very critical of the actions of the state of Israel.

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The Promised Land? Church of Scotland Report to the General Assembly, May 2013

Construction site at a Jewish settlement
  • The Israeli government has criticised the Church of Scotland over a report which questions the divine right of Jews to the land of Israel.

The report will be debated and voted on at the church’s general assembly later this month.

Israel’s ambassador to the UK said it was “truly hurtful” and could “mark a significant step backwards for the forces of tolerance and peace”.

The church said it was not denying Israel’s right to exist.

The 10-page discussion paper, entitled The Inheritance of Abraham? A report on the Promised Land, was compiled by the Kirk’s church and society council.

It stated there has been a widespread assumption by many Christians, as well as many Jewish people, that the Bible “supports an essentially Jewish state of Israel”.

Would the Jewish people today have a fairer claim to the land if they dealt justly with the Palestinians?”

 

But its authors said an “increasing number of difficulties and current Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians” had led to this viewpoint being questioned.

They wrote: “Possession of any land is clearly conditional. The question that arises is this: Would the Jewish people today have a fairer claim to the land if they dealt justly with the Palestinians?”

Biblical promises about the land of Israel were never intended to be taken literally, or as applying to a defined geographical territory, the report argued.

Instead, it said: “They are a way of speaking about how to live under God so that justice and peace reign, the weak and poor are protected, the stranger is included, and all have a share in the community and a contribution to make to it.

“The ‘promised land’ in the Bible is not a place, so much as a metaphor of how things ought to be among the people of God. This ‘promised land’ can be found – or built – anywhere.

“The desire of many in the state of Israel to acquire the land of Palestine for the Jewish people is wrong. The fact that the land is currently being taken by settlement expansion, the separation barrier, house clearance, theft and force makes it doubly wrong to seek biblical sanction for this.”

The report said that the enormity of the Holocaust “has often reinforced the belief that Israel is entitled to the land unconditionally.”

“There is guilt among Western Christianity about centuries of anti-Semitism that led to discrimination against the Jews, culminating in the total evil of the Holocaust,” it suggested.

Political boycotts

“There is also a belief among some Jewish people that they have a right to the land of Israel as compensation for the suffering of the Holocaust.”

While stopping short of calling for economic and political boycotts and sanctions against the state of Israel, as church leaders from South Africa did last year, the report said the issue “raises particular questions for the Church of Scotland as we seek to respond to the question: “What does the Lord require of you…?”

The paper will be voted on by delegates at the church’s general assembly in Edinburgh, which is due to begin on 18 May.

The Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, said: “This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful.

“If a document of this nature is adopted by the Church of Scotland it would mark a significant step backwards for the forces of tolerance and peace in our region.”

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, described the report as an “outrage to everything that interfaith dialogue stands for” and called on the Church of Scotland to withdraw it ahead of the general assembly.

If the church cannot build bridges, can it at least refrain from burning them?”

Ephraim BorowskiScottish Council of Jewish Communities

 

He added: “It reads like an Inquisition-era polemic against Jews and Judaism. It is biased, weak on sources, and contradictory. The picture it paints of both Judaism and Israel is barely even a caricature. The arrogance of telling the Jewish people how to interpret Jewish texts and Jewish theology is breathtaking.

“If the church cannot build bridges, can it at least refrain from burning them?”

Abraham H Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League in New York, described the paper as “stunningly offensive”.

He said: “The paper’s blatant one-sided perspective falsely conflates the political state of Israel and the religious significance of the Land of Israel for both Jews and Christians. The selective citation of Biblical scripture in order to question Israel’s legitimacy is an affront to Jews around the world and to the State of Israel.”

And an editorial, the Jerusalem Post newspaper said the report would “shame the Church of Scotland”.

It claimed: “The church owes the Jewish people an apology for this incendiary text that is more fitting to the 13th Century than to this one”.

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said it “has never and is not now denying Israel’s right to exist; on the contrary, it is questioning the policies that continue to keep peace a dream in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

He added: “This report is against the injustices levelled against the Palestinian people and how land is shared. It is also a reflection of the use or misuse of scripture to claim divine right to land by any group.

“The Church of Scotland is called to speak out against injustice. Whether people are being exploited by pay-day loan companies or through low wages and poor conditions, or because of benefit changes and actions of the powerful across the world, the Church of Scotland seeks to support just and peaceful solutions.

“With this in mind, the Church of Scotland will continue to work for freedom and justice for all who live in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

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