Everyone I know seems to be having a sleep problem. Overheated by that wonderful weather (which seems to have abandoned us in time for Rosh Hashana), worried about that “existential threat” to our community or merely about how many chickens to order for yom tov, sleep — blissful sleep — can be an elusive dream.
Hoping to be lulled to slumber by a comforting story, I switched on Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime a couple of weeks ago.
The voice of the narrator was as lilting as a lullaby but the words, delivered in a soft, slightly accented cadence, were so vicious that it took the entire shipping forecast and the soothing strains of Sailing By to calm me down.
Referencing his failing friendship with a Canadian Jewish immigrant to Israel, Raja Shehadeh, the Palestinian writer, lawyer and activist, embarks on a litany of the evils supposedly perpetrated by Israel in this, his latest book, Where The Line Is Drawn, which BBC’s Radio 4 has chosen to serialise for its listeners’ bedtime comfort.
Rod Liddle was listening, too. In his combative Sunday Times column, he professed to having “no objection to hearing Shehadeh’s lamentations”, but complained bitterly that the other side would not be put by the BBC.
He argues that the BBC, and Radio 4 in particular, are “naive middle-class liberals who believe the Palestinian cause is unequivocally just — which is why, when Hamas rains 200 rockets and mortars down upon Israel, you hear about it only when Israel responds”. He concludes that this obsession with Israel “leads ineluctably to antisemitism; they become one and the same thing”.
I do not believe that the BBC is institutionally anti-Israel or anti-Jewish. I cannot imagine that the bosses of more than 20,000 employees issue policy edicts that Israel is to be perpetually condemned in its programmes.
But I do agree with Liddle that the individuals working for the Corporation tend to be “middle-class liberals”, heavily influenced by much of the reporting and opinions in their newspaper of choice — The Guardian.
That newspaper’s TV critic opined that the acclaimed Israeli drama Fauda was “overwhelmingly narrated from an Israeli viewpoint”. I disagree.
In fact, the astonishing output from Israel’s film and TV industry is overwhelmingly fair in portraying both Arabs and Jews as equally violent and nasty!
Israel has brought us Homeland, Fauda, False Flag and Maktub, to name just those I have viewed. Now Channel 4 is getting in on the act with Mama’s Angel, which I confess to finding a bit confusing.
At the other end of the political spectrum, the Daily Telegraph is having an anti-Corbyn field day.
Last week, it devoted its front page and two inside pages to an interview with Professor Shaul Ladany, who competed in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and survived the murderous Black September onslaught on 11 of his fellow athletes.
“Corbyn is an antisemite, says Munich survivor”, shrieked the front page headline.
Given Boris Johnson’s recent gaffe, the Tories are trying to regain the political high ground with their attacks on the Corbyn-led Labour party.
I had hoped to complete one column without mention of JC, but the narrative just gets bigger and bigger.
The attacks on him, and the interventions from Netanyahu in particular, as well as the regular comments from the Board of Deputies, CST and JLC, serve to fuel the flames and could lead to Corbyn achieving victim or martyr status.
We should leave him to his own inept devices and trust that, with a little help from his own party, he will keep digging towards his own downfall.
THE united front page of the three leading Jewish newspapers
was an inspirational gesture in the cause of communal unity.
On a personal level, I trust it will now be permissible for me to mention the other two publications . . . without being sacked as a JT columnist.
It will enable me to relay an anecdote from Lucille Cohen, who was, she tells me, once at a Council of Christians and Jews event with a high-profile speaker. She was reporting for the London Jewish press.
Lucille takes up the story:
“The event was chaired by the popular and highly-respected Canon Albert Radcliffe,” she said.
“He asked us all to introduce ourselves and, when my turn duly came around, I said my name followed by JC.
“He looked aghast! He turned puce and spluttered, ‘Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?’
“I was taken aback, pink-faced and embarrassed.
“I am reporting for the Jewish Chronicle, I said.
“‘Oh!’ replied the Canon. ‘I thought you meant you were Jesus Christ’.”