An interesting item on today's Radio 4 Sunday Programme, with the format you would expect from a serious radio programme
In sharp contrast to last week's interview with one person, Professor Milton-Edwards (whose description of the Hamas theology predominant in today's Gaza, which has increased the havoc and oppression already introduced by the Fatah faction, unfortunately came over to a number of people as an uncritical endorsement of that regime), we heard a discussion between two people: the Director of the British branch of the new
Council for ex-Muslims
and one of its opponents.
Proving the female Director's points about some of the the problems with Islam -the male opponent of this new Council shouted at its Director, but she stood her ground and was incredibly calm and polite throughout.
One of the things she said was that islam was 'right-wing'. Another person who has suggested that this is the case is Islam expert Dr. Matthias Kuentzel, whose academic field is the demonstrable links between aspects of Islam and Nazism.
But which country's university, after issuing him with an invitation, prevented Matthias from giving a guest lecture there and told him to leave forthwith? No, not Austria, birthplace of Nazism, where he was made welcome at Vienna University, but Britain of course. The university in question was Leeds, whose Chancellor is Melvyn Bragg, better known for his association with the BBC.
On today's Sunday Programme, the opponent of the Council for Ex-Muslims argued in vain that Islam in Britain is not as she described. But that is not my experience. Two examples will suffice.
Why were considerable efforts made by a Muslim student born in Britain (Oldham, to be precise) to prevent me teaching about the Qu'ran at one of Britain's major universities - and before 9/11? This subject was, I should explain, a very small part of a new course on Jewish history, which included a section on the Jews living in Muslim lands in the Middle Ages, a subject on which I am an expert. And it wasn't how I might teach the subject that bothered him, but (as he stated in public)
'Because you are from that perfidious race which betrayed Muhammad, and are doubly unclean, being both a Jew and a woman'.
For the origins and present-day application of these ideas, please see here:
And why did a school which had called me in to teach RE as an emergency measure, state, after handing me the curriculum, which included the story of
based on the
Exodus of the Children of Israel,
that under no cirumstances was the word 'Israel' to be mentioned in class, as a Muslim group, as they put it, had been in to the City Council and demanded the word be expunged from all schools forthwith?
And both these examples occurred before 9/11, since when things have become far worse for the Jews of Britain. And I don't know what is worse, the attempts at censorship, or the subsequent appeasement of such attempts.
What a contrast with the
of June 16th, which has just arrived today for some reason. Apart from the quite brilliant article on the British lecturers boycott by
Tim Hames of the Times
there was also section on
Retreats and Pilgrimages,
including two places which bring back great memories.
The first was on
a tiny island off Malta, where Les and I spent a glorious holiday to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and turned out to be a swimmer's paradise. Plus the people, mainly devoutly Catholic, were a delight, and most welcoming.
And the second was on
where a meeting four years ago with
Professor Robert Wistrich
encouraged engagement with some of the institutions and individuals in Britain whose approach to things Jewish (and not just Israel) are of increasing concern.
These British institutions include some of the churches, some of the media, some of the universities and some of the unions.
And what was quite interesting was that some of the people working for these institutions are not anti-Jewish and even quite sympathetic. However, these are, unfortunately, in the minority - the general culture being one of contempt and disdain.
But what pervades some of these institutions is a real fear of Islam.
Which is a pity, because at its peak in the Middle Ages (i.e. when it didn't feel insecure and inferior), Islam did produce some real cultural gems. And present-day Israel - yes, the 'fascist, Zionist, occupying State' - is in the forefront of working on these gems. And the reason I know this is because I am contributing to this research myself - safe in the knowledge that no-one is ever going to call me, the daughter of
Polish Holocaust survivors
'perfidious' or 'unclean' ever again and get away with it.
Oh and by the way, I did not heed either the student, or the school. I went on teaching about the Qu'ran and about the Children of Israel, regardless, breaking all the rules. And the heavens did not fall in. Some of the Muslim children quite liked me and offered me a Qu'ran as a present. And that includes one who was a Palestinian, whose parents told me that I was the best friend that she had ever had.