Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Monday, July 30, 2007

Election fever grips North Korea

Kim Jong Il Participates in Election of Deputies to Local People's Assemblies

Pyongyang, July 29 (KCNA) -- General Secretary Kim Jong Il Sunday visited the Chusang Co-op Farm in Hamju County, South Hamgyong Province to participate in the election of deputies to the provincial, city and county people's assemblies of the DPRK.
He received ballots from the chairman of Sub-Constituency No. 36 of Constituency No. 85 for election of deputies to the South Hamgyong Provincial People's Assembly and cast them for Choe Sun Hui, sub-work team head of the Sangjung Co-op Farm of Hamju County, who is candidate for deputy to the South Hamgyong Provincial People's Assembly and Ho Kum Suk, chairperson of the Management Board of the Chusang Co-op Farm of the County, who is candidate for deputy to the Hamju County People's Assembly.
Then he conversed with the candidates.
After voting, he acquainted himself with the farm work there and the rural construction. He highly appreciated the achievements made by the party members and other working people of the farm, expressing satisfaction over the fact that they have built the village into a socialist fairyland and brought about a signal boost in the agricultural production through a dynamic drive to fully implement the tasks given by President Kim Il Sung while visiting the farm in March, 1959.
He expressed expectation and belief that the agricultural workers of the farm would bring about a new surge in turning out agricultural products by fully displaying patriotic devotion, fully aware of their responsibility for the agricultural production.
He was accompanied by Secretary of the Central Committee of the WPK Kim Ki Nam and Department Director of the WPK Central Committee Pak Nam Gi.

- from the Korean Central News Agency.

I swear I haven't made up Ho Kum Suk, though naturally I cannot vouch for his/her being a real chairperson and not the invention of some subversive soul at the KCNA.

Is the General Secretary losing his touch? Surely he should have conversed with the candidates first, and then cast his ballots. How would he have felt if he'd found out too late that he'd voted for a wrong un?

And, whilst all credit is due to the folk who've built the socialist fairyland (can one buy a retirement home there, I wonder?), I can't help feeling that the dynamic drive must be a little on the leisurely side if they're still working their way through Dad's to-do list from 1959. A brisk 'pull up your socks' might perhaps have been more appropriate than all that guff about patriotic devotion.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Doctors' Plot Turkish style

Another snapshot of Islamist anti-Semitism, this time in Turkey:-

'Some privately owned TV stations licensed by the AKP have entered the market with programmes using thinly disguised religious messages and series that fan the fires of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. One such series, Valley of the Wolves, features Jewish doctors extracting organs from the bodies of Muslims for sale by unscrupulous American businessmen linked to the CIA.'

- Amir Teheri in the Times.

If anyone hears an outcry about this kind of thing from the 'anti-racist' Left, please let me know. All I can hear is a deafening silence.

A brief guide to the New Anti-Semitism

From yesterday's Independent, a letter which puts the problematic of the New Anti-Semitism into a three-sentence nutshell:-

'Sir: Tony Pearce (letter, 21 July) asks if "a map which has the word Palestine over the territory of Israel and the word Israel in the sea" is the road map to redemption. Rather, it is a description of historical fact. Before the West created Israel in 1948, all that territory was Palestine. Israel was an off-shore threat of Zionist invasion.



Criticism of Israel - let's say it for the zillionth time - is not necessarily anti-Semitic. I'll go further: questioning whether the Holocaust provided a moral justification for the creation of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic. But when the Holocaust disappears so completely from the context that the founders of Israel cannot be acknowledged as victims at all, but become simply 'invaders', a 'threat', we are truly dealing with a form of Holocaust denial.

I expect Mr Davies acknowledges the reality of the Holocaust as a bare historical fact. But it seems as if he cannot conceive of its surviving victims as human beings on whose psyches it left a devastating, indelible mark. Denied empathy even in the greatest conceivable extremity of suffering, they are excluded from the human community.

Green socialism? I'd as soon vote BNP.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Christian Aid and the Holocaust deniers

They're at it again. 'They' = Christian Aid, 'it' = spinning for Hamas, for 'again' see this. See Roy Hasan's letter here.

As a taster of the organization which Mr Hasan wants to see 'engaged' in an 'inclusive political process that can resolve the current crisis and forge a renewed drive for peace', here's Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al:-

'I want to make it clear to the West and to the German people, which is still being blackmailed because of what Nazism did to the Zionists, or to the Jews. I say that what Israel did to the Palestinian people is many times worse than what Nazism did to the Jews, and there is exaggeration, which has become obsolete, regarding the issue of the Holocaust.'


If you watch the TV clip you'll see Mash'al refer to Islamic scholars who, unlike the obliging Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, caused 'great embarrassment' to Hamas by their refusal to endorse 'martyrdom operations'. Shame on them, and I trust none of them have ever been invited to London as honoured guests of Ken Livingstone.

Update: it doesn't look as if I've struck lucky with the Indie this time, so here's my response to Roy Hasan:-

Sir: When Roy Hasan of Christian Aid (letter, 20 July) supports the view that Hamas are entitled to be involved in negotiations, are we to understand that he regards the existence of Israel as negotiable? Churchgoers whose generosity and hard work keep Christian Aid going are certainly entitled to know that they are helping to fund advocacy on behalf of an anti-Semitic terrorist organization - as Hamas remains, however many people have voted for it. I wonder how many do not know.

Yours faithfully...

Friday, July 20, 2007

The socialism of fools

Seen on the back of a t-shirt in Berlin:

'AMERICA land of corporate greed and home of the enslaved'

Helpfully topped off with a picture of a skull. The owner apparently works at the regional TV station. Which is nice to know.

Germany is, of course, the land where executives have to be forcibly restrained from handing their last cent to the needy, where Mercedes, BMW and Porsche haven't a hope of shifting their stuff on the home market, and where corruption scandals are unheard of. It's also the country where the great Social Democrat August Bebel coined the phrase 'the socialism of fools'. He meant anti-Semitism, but hey, we all know who really controls the land of corporate greed, don't we?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Understanding terrorists, understanding victims

'Israel is to allow a key Palestinian leader to travel to the West Bank, in a measure seen as another attempt to bolster President Mahmoud Abbas.


'Mr Hawatmeh is the head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


'The DFLP was held to blame for an attack on a school in the northern Israeli town of Maalot in 1974 that left 24 Israelis, mostly children, dead.'

(from this BBC report; the emphasis is mine)

I'll leave others to debate the wisdom of Israel's initiative. I hope good will indeed come of it. Here I want to look at a different issue which this raises: the question of understanding.

There are those who think it's very important to understand the perpetrators of terrorist attacks. Not to excuse, they say with earnest emphasis, but simply to try to understand.

It's an admirable attitude - provided that it's held sincerely. And the litmus test of sincerity is...? Simply that the principle is applied with no exceptions. For if we say (or if the selectivity of our understanding implies) that we see some people as so evil that the attempt to understand should not be made, we are admitting that our 'understanding' does indeed, relatively speaking, excuse.

And there is no doubt that terrorism consistently seems to be a special case in terms of its alleged claims on our 'understanding'. Specifically, those combatting terrorism are not seen as being entitled to an equivalent measure of understanding. People who say they understand terrorists tend not to say, for example, that they understood the warders at Abu Ghraib, that they understand George Bush, that they understand why the inmates of Guantanamo are incarcerated without trial, or even that they understand why a London policeman shot dead an innocent man whom he believed to be a suicide bomber.

Least of all do they understand anything Israel does to counter terrorism. It is inconceivable that, for instance, the security barrier should have been constructed out of any but the worst possible motives. I was told the other day that it is totally irrelevant to the prevention of terrorism and that the reduction in attacks on Israel has been entirely due to Hamas's restraint - not, as I've recently noted, the view that Hamas themselves take.

But if those are hard cases, the one I started with ought to be very easy indeed. Can the understanders of terrorists understand how Israelis felt about that attack back in 1974? Can they understand how they must feel now about having to treat this man not as a cold-blooded child-killer but as a moderate whom they need to enlist in the fight against the really bad guys? Is it too much to hope that they can begin to understand, just a little, that the reasons why there is no peace do not add up to a simple morality tale?

Monday, July 16, 2007


It'll be interesting to see how this story develops. If you want to put your money on the Pinochetistas, feel free, but mine's riding on the militant anti-smokers.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

On being critical

I don't think there's anyone whose mind I envy more than the guy who wrote this:-

'The other thing that seemed worth saying related to that now classic formulation - "It is not anti-Semitic to be critical of Israel." I wasn't concerned to make the no less classical rebuttal - "Of course being critical of Israel doesn't necessarily mark you out as an anti-Semite, but it doesn't necessarily mark you out as not one either." Enough already with who is or who isn't. What I wanted to address was something different - how the glamour word "anti-Semite" has transfixed both parties to this semantic tussle, when the real issue is what we mean by "critical".

'Reader, only think about it: was ever a tiny word sent on such a mighty errand, or to put it another way, was ever such a massive job of demolition done by so delicate an instrument. Critical - as though those who accuse Israel of every known crime against humanity, of being more Nazi than the Nazis, more fascist than the fascists, more apartheid than apartheid South Africa, are simply exercising measured argument and fine discrimination.

'I know a bit about being critical. It's my job. Being "critical" is when you say that such-and-such a book works here but doesn't work there, good plot, bad characterisation, enjoyed some parts, hated others. What being critical is not, is saying this is the most evil and odious book ever written, worse than all other evil and odious books, should never have been published in the first place, was in fact published in flagrant defiance of international law, must be banned, and in the meantime should not under any circumstances be read. For that we need another word than critical.'

'So try replacing it with whatever that word or words might be and have a look at how the statement bears up now. "It is not anti-Semitic to defame or curse or stigmatise or revile or execrate or anathematise or with malice aforethought misrepresent Israel." You might think that veers a touch too far in the opposite direction, but you take my point. Put back the inordinacy of reprehension hidden behind the pretend even-handedness of fair-seeming little "critical" and you see why those who oppose the boycott and other such traducements smell a rat.'

Howard Jacobson, who else? Read it all - that's an order.

(or watch this YouTube clip of his speech to the Engage meeting on 11 July)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Great minds think alike?

'Racial cult' is a standard neo-Nazi description of Judaism. So is it simply coincidence that Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain also uses the phrase? david t of Harry's Place ponders.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Der Stürmer and its children

Honestly Concerned is a German group dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism (tangential moan: that's not a translation of their name - I took quite a lot of trouble learning German, and I sometimes wonder why I bothered. It's a great language, so why not use it, folks?). They've put together a PDF document (also in English) comparing the anti-Semitic iconography of the Nazis with that which can be found in the present-day media of the Middle East. The quality of some of the scans is less than ideal, but it's well worth a look.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Claims to fame

I can't match being descended from the translator of Asterix, but I do have some claims to fame of my own...

My grandfather ran the fish department of the Natural History Museum in London. His Big Fish Book was translated into Japanese, and that, you must agree, is saying something. There's not much you can teach those sushi-lovers about the finny tribe.

Among the parents whose offspring my father taught were the air raid warden from Dad's Army and the lady with the pussy (keep it clean, please) from Are You Being Served?

My uncle, also a teacher, included among his maths pupils the late Tony Miles, Britain's first chess grandmaster.

Mrs Cyrus went to school with a great-great-great- (that's enough greats) niece of Bismarck.

Before we were married Mrs C lived in the same street as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

One of Mrs C's lecturers knows the Pope (he is by all accounts quite keen that his students should not overlook this interesting and important fact).

Not impressed yet? How about this: my father-in-law once saw Hitler in the flesh. Not by choice, I hasten to add. He was four or five at the time, and he and his mother chanced to be in a town where Mr Lovable was making a whistlestop inspection of the local troops.

I would like to able to record that I've had the more pleasant experience of seeing Nelson Mandela, but strict honesty compels me to admit that I saw his car. He was in Oxford collecting an honorary doctorate or whatever it is they hand out to the great and the good. I was part of a substantial crowd which spent a couple of hours waiting for him to appear, and, like I say, in due course his limo rolled past, complete with smoked glass windows. Ho, hum.

Anyway, dear reader, I trust you will treat future posts with a little more respect than hitherto. I'm not just nobody, you know.

A true believer

I've been trying hard to stop rising to the militant atheists' bait. I can't blog about everything, for heaven's sake. Progress not perfection, though...

In a recentish post Oliver Kamm, who is generally excellent when he's not tackling the Big Questions, buttresses his case against 'Intelligent Design' with a quote from a biologist who says, inter alia:-

'the living world, through evolution, can be explained without recourse to supernaturalism'

I just wonder if it's occurred to OK that on occasion scientists say things about science which are not scientific, and that this is certainly one of them. How do we explain the existence of a material universe made of the kind of matter capable of being operated on by evolution? Does it just happen to be that way? Or do universes have to be that way by definition? What kind of experiment can we conduct to prove either of these hypotheses?

Evolution is a neat theory and it may indeed be capable of explaining everything it claims to be able to explain. I'm not a biologist, I can't say. But to take a scientist's word for it that it has disposed of the God question suggests something approaching a religious faith in the infallibility and omniscience of scientists.

PS This, from a salutary article by the Spectator's Hywel Williams entitled 'Please can we have our Enlightenment back?', is rather apposite:-

'David Hume’s sceptical refinement makes him the Folk Enlightenment’s pin-up boy. But it was that same scepticism which made him doubt science’s objectivity: genuine knowledge, he said, was based on sensory evidence, and science was therefore authentic enough. But for Hume that also made science subjective — the product of one person’s experience. It’s also Hume who taught us how weak a thing reason really is — a ‘slave of the passions’, as he puts it — reflecting our interests, ambitions and prejudices. A little less cockiness about reason as their private possession might cure our present-day crusaders of their vulgar certitudes.'

PPS By the way, I see the citizens of the People's Republic of China are increasingly failing to appreciate their liberation from feudal superstition.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Grauniad in 'Steele backs Bush' shock

Seriously. George W says it's high time Kosovo got its independence, and Jonathan S is right behind him.

To which Grumpy's immediate reaction is 'yes, that's all very well, but what's to stop an independent Kosovo going from 90% Albanian to 100% Albanian before you can say "ethnic cleansing"?' What's Jonathan's answer? I wish I could tell you, but since he doesn't address this aspect of the problem at all I'm in the dark. Veteran Steele-watcher though I am (see my old blog) I confess to being just a little surprised. I don't get the impression that giving the majority its head is always his preferred solution to ethnic conflicts of this kind. Certainly not, for instance, when the minority are Northern Ireland's Catholics or Iraq's Sunni Arabs.

Must have been a tricky call for the Man of Steel. He must have been sorely tempted to side with Putin, if only for old times' sake. But there's no room for sentimentality here. Never let it be said that al-Grauniad is less Muslim-friendly than Bush! Tactics, comrades, tactics!

Trivia corner

'My mother, Anthea Bell, who has translated every Astérix book into English'

No, not my mum, but can you guess which well-known blogger is Anthea's sprog?

Answer here, in a post which will amuse/outrage Goscinny and Uderzo fans.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ncube: please invade us!

The reasons why this is probably not a runner are to obvious to need enumerating, but it still seems extraordinarily significant that he said it at all.

Easy to say 'you must be joking', as some of the commenters have duly done (among them a South African from whom we would welcome a suggestion as to when his own government may find time to subject Mugabe to a mild ticking off), but then what can the rest of the world do to help? Any bright ideas from the academic boycott brigade?

Africa's top brass are gathered in Accra, where they are talking about Col. Gaddafi's plans for a pan-African government. Saith the Beeb, 'There are fears the issue will push the crises in Zimbabwe, Somalia and Darfur off the agenda.' So the debate is after all serving some purpose, then... Reasons for being less cynical about the AU gratefully received.