Is it IJV, JVC or JfJfP, JNews, Jstreet or J Net? I can’t keep up with these people— there are more organisations than Jews! Its like the old saying, 2 Jews 3 shuls and I’m just back from chairing “Civil rights in Israel – the crisis, the way forward?”
Earlier, I saw off some Israeli government patsy – Regev, I think it was on Channel 4 news – I gave him a good rollicking and made sure he couldn’t crawl out of the hole that I dug for him.
Well tonight’s gig kicked off with that tedious bore, Rabbi Alexandra Wright. (Resident incumbent at St.John’s Wood liberal synagogue.) It was all I could do to remain conscious whilst she pontificated and droned on at half a mile an hour. On and on she went about the usual Israeli iniquities, those dreadful settlers, and how Israel is the only country in the world where she couldn’t officiate at a marriage (sour grapes!—something to do with Israeli religious politics), blah, blah. I had to think about getting hot and steamy with my new squeeze just to stay awake!
As I cast my eye over the same bunch of sour faced, old Trots, has-beens, never-beens, would-like-to-have-beens, attention seekers, and a general assortment of misfits, I mused to myself, “what’s an important celeb like me doing here?” Then I remembered, none of us gives a diddly squat for the Palestinians—we just keep up the pretence so as to, well, you know…….Good for my left-wing credentials too.
All the regulars were there from their steering committee.
There was that know-all Dr, or is it Dr. Dr.Tony Klug, and his weaselly brother, the “academic” Brian from that Oxford college nobody’s ever heard of. Prof Jacqueline (seen better days) Rose — special interest in amateur psychology—described Zionism as a”psychological disorder”, arrived late, no doubt to “make an entrance”. In the front row there was the “can’t-keep-my-mouth-shut” pygmy Richard Kuper (founder member JfJfP) and some other regulars.
Thank god (well, I was sitting in a sort of house of god), I found myself next to the nubile, young cutie, Miri Weingarten on the panel, (editor of JNews), who provided a bit of light relief after the headmistress right, and next to her, the token Arab, female human rights lawyer, activist whatever, Sahar Francis, (director of Addameer for human rights of Palestinian detainees), oh, who cares? No idea what she was on about but it was more of the same, except that she did say wouldn’t it be a good idea if Israel became one democratic state for all its citizens, instead of a Jewish state. Obviously it’s what we all want, but for god’s sake, didn’t anyone tell her about subtlety ?— that was very clever to spell it out. Not.
That provoked a furious reaction from a smart Alec in the audience who shouted, ” aren’t 57 Islamic states enough for you?”. She looked mortified. On my left, we had the lardy, Danny Rich ( Rabbi of the liberal synagogue, Kingston and chief executive of liberal Judaism) blathering on about something or other, grinning inanely all the while. Bit of a stony silence when he went off script and praised something in Israel—think it was about the supreme court and how marvellous it was—“best in the world”, he said. Abe Hayeem (chairperson of architects and planners for justice in Palestine) was his usual agitated self— kept getting out of his seat to remonstrate with the Zionists, eyes darting around the room—-had to calm him down and promise him a turn to speak.
Then came audience’s questions and me with the roving mike—- always good fun.
A fellow with beard and sandals got up, (obviously on our side) and then bored us stiff about how he’d emigrated to Israel , brought up 5 kids there, was a physician , yadi yadi yadi—-where’s this leading—-don’t they know the difference between a speech and questions?
Then came the killer line—-“the abused have become the abusers”. Brilliant bit of propaganda—-that’s why I love chairing these things. Someone said it was Weingarten’s father. Next, some inoffensive looking woman started going on about human rights in Iran—they all listened dutifully until they suddenly realised she was on the wrong side! Well, that got their hackles up. Someone called out “what’s that got to do with it?”—after all, who the hell cares about what goes on in Iran? No story in Muslims persecuting Muslims.
Another woman asked Miri why no comments were allowed on JNews—surprise, surprise—silence from Miri on that one—she’s got a brain in her pretty head, at least!
Then back to the panel for the summing up.
Oh no, oh yes-Wright again on how badly behaved some of the audience were, meant the Zionists, obviously, what with their heckling—-is this a kindergarten?
Afterwards, Prof. Rose sidled up and presented me with an autographed copy of the latest book in her oeuvre of pedestrian scribblings, dedicated to some dead bloke, Palestinian “academic”, called Edward Said, and gave me a kiss on both cheeks. I thought it a bit of a come on.
Won’t read it, obviously—never read anything longer than about 20 pages. Come Christmas, I’ll re-cycle it as a presy – it’ll go down a treat with the Islington crowd! By now, all I wanted to do was beat a hasty retreat and hop into the marital bed with my new 35-year-old bit of alright.
Trouble is, I’m so popular that everyone wanted to get in with me.
Bit of a cheek towards the end when there was a shakedown to cover ‘expenses’ – the meanies couldn’t even provide some decent refreshments – whats the point of being a champagne socialist if you don’t actually get some champers?
*according to an observer