It's still spring-time, but the weather seems to be undergoing a cold spell. The right time, perhaps, to unveil a new government initiative on rooting out British anti-semitism.
Today's hard-hitting post from Ruth Gledhill details this initiative and the official Jewish response to it.
When I told friends in Israel about this new initiaitve, most of them were very pleased that at last anti-semitism in Britain was going to be tackled, especially in British universities, which have been very uncomfortable places for Jewish students and staff alike in the past 10 years or so - some would say for even longer.
However, it should not be forgotten that this government played its own part in fomenting the respectability of anti-semitism by their disgraceful poster campaign against Jewish members of the Conservative Party during the last election. Plus that simultaneous attack on a Jewish member of the Lib Dems placed by a former Home Office MInister in a newspaper aimed at a largely Muslim readership.
Anthony Julius talks about the 'discursive component' of anti-semitism in his short You-Tube interview with Ruth, which is worth listening to.
This all reminds me of an e-mail correspondence I attempted with Paul Vallely of the Independent, who also writes for the Church Times, the Church of England paper read by most of the hierarchy of the Anglican Church. In an article written in 2005, Paul had gravely misrepresented the facts with regard to the handing over of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority when Sharon had been the Israeli PM.
But when I tried to engage with Vallely and was above all concerned at his use of very strong and emotive language, which could be regarded as inflammatory, he told me that I
'do not appear to understand the distinction between anti-Semitism, which I vehemently oppose, and criticism of the Israeli government's abuse of human rights, which in considerable measure I endorse'.
He also said that I was making 'an elementary category mistake'.
Wow! Talk about condescending!
And yes, he refused to have any more to do with me and turned down an offer to meet in the Manchester where we both lived, even though that meeting would have been mediated by Canon Theologian, Dr. Andrew Shanks of Manchester's Cathedral, who admires Paul for some of the good things he does.
And why mention Paul now? Because, what do you think slipped through my door today, but the latest Spring edition of the University of Leeds Alumni Magazine, featuring Paul.
By the way, I never studied there, just taught students from Leeds, gave guest lectures and had other contacts. Don't think I want to renew those at the moment.
Because, in the light of the present Leeds University censorship row it was noteworthy that on page 29 of the present edition of their mag, they had a section entitled 'Interest from the media in the University's work'.
And, yes - you've guessed it - not a sausage about the world media's great interest in Leed University's decision that antisemitism is not an important enough subject to allow a German expert on the subject to give an academic account of this scourge. Sorry, I've actually got it wrong.
What is really appalling is that Leeds University thought that the subject of present-day anti-semitism was such a dangerous subject to bring up at their first-class university that they decided to ban the lecture and seminars and treated the German lecturer who had been invited to come over to Leeds as scum.
And to boot, then made a very insulting comparison with Ronit Ben Dor, the Israeli Embassy's Director of Public Affairs, who kindly rang me yesterday and asked how I was getting on in Haifa. This is the sort of racist rubbish she had to put up with.
But instead, on page 33 of the alumni mag, there was a whole array of VERY IMPORTANT media people who had once studied at Leeds, and amongst them was our Paul, looking totally different from his picture in the Church Times, which I still vet for the Jewish community out 'on the edge' (as my close vicar friend, Lisa, calls it), on Mount Carmel in Haifa.
And welcoming them was the Chancellor of Leeds University, a certain aptly-named Melvyn Bragg.
And what was very obvious from the pic was that many of the journalists were grossly overweight (must be all those free lunches) and predominantly male.
And even though one of them was the very slim Damien Whitworth of the Times, I do agree with Ruth Gledhill, that all things being considered, maybe it was a very good decision that she made at the time not to stay at Leeds University, because it didn't seem to be teaching her anything.
As for 'an elementary category mistake', maybe we Jews should never have been born.