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Blair Babes and Other Seasonal Fare
Last uploaded : Wednesday 26th Dec 2001 at 00:34
Contributed by : The Editor


This Christmas season has seen some wildly contrasting news stories, some of which border on Purim shpiels.

The item that qualifies as a shpiel is Tony Blair’s ‘fury’ at the press interest in whether or not his baby son Leo has or has not had the MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) vaccine. Without wishing to cause pain or offence to parents reading this column, the Editor would like to point out that on the same day the Prime Minister’s unbridled anger was vented on the nation’s media, the front pages of the major newspapers were dominated by his Home Secretary’s warning of an imminent, devastating terror attack on the British mainland that could result in massive loss of live – an attack that would, according to Home Secretary David Blunkett, ' affect the life of this country for years to come.'

Many of my American relatives and friends have been lavishing praise on Tony Blair to the point of idolatry. They have seen images of him in his ‘pal’ mode with President Bush and delivering earnest speeches about the deep affection the British people hold for the American nation. (That is a dubious observation, considering the verbal battering one receives on a daily basis from London taxi drivers, colleagues, neighbours and friends about every imaginable crime America has ever committed against the rest of the world.)

Within these island shores, Prime Minister Blair is a fascinating cocktail of public relations spin incarnate. He will publicly adore Yasser Arafat in red carpet hospitality at Downing Street whilst giving tough-lipped sound bytes about stopping terror against Israel. Now, as we face possible annihilation, he is causing a national media crisis about his baby’s vaccination when unseen and – for lack of a better word in my Thesaurus -- un-findable terrorists are planning to kill us all.

The American columnist Jimmy Breslin was interviewed on British television a few weeks ago and observed, ‘On September 10th Rudy Giuliani was a bum.’ He went on to explain that the New York Mayor had made himself one of the most despised men in public life for many decades. The manner in which Mayor Giuliani had dealt with the events of 11th September had transformed his image overnight. He had projected a gravitas and strength that has forever etched itself into the psyche of a metropolis – a city that had grown to loathe him -- during a mass bereavement, and had made a profound impact on the world as well. The same could be said of President Bush, whose 93% approval rating since 11th September is astonishing, considering that this figure includes the substantial Gore voting bloc of less than a year before.

And so we have the British Prime Minister venting considerable energy and time to a campaign against the media because a member of the press had attempted to nobble a member of the Blair inner circle about the baby’s immunisations. Undoubtedly the tragedies that have resulted from the MMR vaccine are of grave importance to parents. The vaccine is a subject meriting serious discussion. But the passion with which Tony Blair has attacked the media could be better expended on devoting himself to improving the nation’s collapsing health service, crumbling railways and inadequate municipal transport systems -- not to mention the imminent attack that would kill more Britons than could any vaccine.

Every Israeli has a gas mask. Might the British Prime Minister channel his energies to such a constructive civil defence exercise instead of wasting the nation's time worrying about his precious privacy?


This article is being written in the days of the Christmas season, and the BBC is making a dog’s dinner out of Israel’s prevention of Yasser Arafat’s visit to Bethlehem for Midnight Mass. The reports, which go beyond normal reporting, stress the agony of Christians living under the barrel of Israeli guns, and even suggest that no Christian pilgrim would dare set foot in Bethlehem for fear of the malevolent Israeli army presence.

Notwithstanding the fact that even some of the Israeli Right, including President Moshe Katsav, have protested Sharon’s prevention of Arafat’s attendance in Bethlehem, I have a question. Why is it that a bloody war, resulting in the deaths of nearly 1,000 Israelis, Arabs, tourists and Palestinians, came about because a Jew tried to visit the Temple Mount before the Jewish High Holy Days? Why did the world condemn Sharon’s ‘provocative’ sojourn to a site holy to Jews and Muslims -- usually off-limits to Jews and requiring permission to visit from the Wakf -- but is now vilifying Israel for preventing Arafat from visiting Bethlehem – a site that is not of major importance to his own faith, Islam? Frankly, I earnestly wish Israel had allowed Arafat to attend Christmas Mass. It would have shown the world that the majority of Israelis, and Jews worldwide, are peace-loving and inclusive. Had he visited the Church of the Nativity he would have left unscathed. Not one Jewish person I know would have thought it ‘provocative,’ nor would any Jew have been seen dead throwing a stone at him.


A Chrtistmas Eve story that appears in the London Evening Standard qualifies as a potential Purim shpiel: 'Bear Eats Russian Hunter.' The article explains that 'a bear ate a hunter in Russia's Jewish autonomous region.' The tragedy happened near the village of Landakoz, in the region's 'bleak taiga.' Our apologies are offered in advance to the victim's family if this is in fact a genuine news item, and we ask forgiveness for our frivolity. However, it occurs to us that Selfridges and the organisers of Durban II might wish to devise a manifesto boycotting goods from the Bleak Taiga, where no doubt its raggle-taggle gaggle of Jews is obviously oppressing bears and subjecting them to apartheid, to which their only recourse is to eat their oppressors.


Finally, we note that Yves St Laurent has launched a new scent, called 'Nu.'



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