uploaded : Saturday 27th Jan 2007 at 14:44
by : Carol Gould
The Clash of Civilisations Conference at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre: January 20 2007
by Carol Gould
Just over a year ago I attended the ‘Global Peace and Unity Conference’ at the Excel centre in London’s Canary Wharf. Sponsored by the bizarre triumvirate comprised of the Islam Channel, Western Union and the Metropolitan Police, it was advertised as a celebration of Islamic culture but degenerated into a frightening Nuremberg-style hate fest against Israel, Zionists and the United States, with an attack on the British ‘jackboot’ police ( the sponsors!) by Respect Party member Yvonne Ridley for good measure. The event was so intimidating that I am convinced my subsequent attack of shingles was a result of my utter shock at what I witnessed that day:
A year later this past Saturday, I attended a conference hosted by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, entitled ’World Civilisation-Clash of Civilisations,’ to which the eminent American scholar Dr Daniel Pipes had been invited. During the past year when I have been reading, with mind boggled, websites and blogs that refer to Dr Pipes as a ‘Zionist pervert’ and other delightful monikers, I have wondered what would happen to this brave man, based in my hometown, Philadelphia, were he to cross the ocean. When I learned of the Mayor’s event I have to confess I was deeply worried that harm would come to Daniel Pipes in England.
To my amazement the appearance at the conference by Dr Pipes saw him greeted with respect and decorum, except at the end of his session ( I will discuss this later in the article.)
On the opening session’s panel were Douglas Murray, head of the Social Affairs Unit and hand-picked by Dr Pipes as a worthy foil to the Respect Party councillor Salma Yaqoub. The moderator was BBC anchorman Gavin Esler.
Livingstone’s address opened with a reference to the grotesque national news story revolving around Jade Goody’s abysmal behaviour towards Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on ’Celebrity Big Brother.’ He noted that 82% of the callers to Channel Four complained of Goody’s racism and that this is indicative of how the UK has changed; thirty years ago this would not have happened. (Well, yes, Ken, but thirty years ago when I arrived in Britain a ‘celebrity’ was a Peggy Ashcroft, a Larry Olivier, a Joan Sutherland, an Isaiah Berlin or a Margot Fonteyn.)
Because of the heavy investment in London by India Livingstone said he would have had to go there to do damage control. Considering that whenever he opens his mouth he usually has to do damage control…. The Mayor rambled about Singapore, where he had travelled for the Olympic bid; he said it was immaculate and crime-free. Perhaps I lost his thread but he observed that one does not have to be a Muslim or Christian to be involved in free choice. Inasmuch as the conference was held on the Jewish Sabbath he might have exercised free choice and scheduled the main event with Dr Pipes for a time convenient to observant Jews. The Mayor provided us with a quote from John Stuart Mill - ‘live as you wish as long as you do not hurt anyone.’
From his youth travelling across Nepal to the present day, his narrative informed us that 200 languages are spoken in New York and 300 in London; 62% of Londoners are not UK-born and one in twenty is of mixed race.
Livingstone moved on to the Cold War, in which he said 22 million lives were lost. Pre-CIA the American Office of Strategic Services in 1943 said, ‘we are a nation of nations and our way of thinking should be spread around and dominate the world’ and in 1945 45% of the world productivity came from the USA. This was meant to be greeted by hisses and boos, of which a few broke out near me ( I was seated amongst a large contingent from the many Muslim organisations of Britain.) It might be worth noting here that there are still some, most particularly in former Sovier Bloc nations, who feel that the United States promoting its values and aspirations to the rest of the world remains an admirable goal.
Livingstone then went on to mention that for 500 years Europe and the USA have dominated the world and that there is no nexus around the White House, Washington and Wall Street as they try to impose their culture on the world. He concluded by saying that the 'Islamophobic' media in the UK are trying to show that a ‘lower culture is taking over,‘ but in fact 90% of British Pakistani 16-year-old girls say their parents do not expect them to get married and have children but instead to have careers.
If the media are Islamophobic, how is it that Shami Chakrabarti, ( not a Muslim but an ubiquitous TV commentator who always seems hostile towards Zionists and Americans) Abdel Bari Atwan, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Dr Azzam 'I want to be a suicide bomber in Israel' Tammimi, Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Ghada Karmi, Rageh Omaar, Asghar Bukhari, the aforementioned Salma Yaqoub, Halima Hussain, Faisal Bodi, Ahdaf Soueif, Inayat Bunglawala, Tariq Ali, Tariq Ramadan and many others are an integral part of our daily media broadcasts and newsprint in Great Britain? If the British media are Islamophobic how is it that the foremost spokesmen for Muslims in crisis are the radio and newspaper headliners George Galloway and Robert Fisk?
After Mayor Livinsgtone came Daniel Pipes. His dignity and aplomb were breathtaking. He looked not unlike our British Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, and had the same sort of decorous style of delivery. One could hear a pin drop.
Pipes reminded us that we are in a clash of civilisations and barbarism and that Samuel Huntington said the dominating clash will be cultural. The Khomenei-Salman Rushdie fatwa, he said, was complex - Muslims supported one or the other of the protagonists. The ‘Clash’ of the title of the conference, Pipes added, is between the civilised, ethical cultures and ideological barbarism. With the large audience still silent, he said that in the previous century the West had fought Fascism and Marxism; today it is radical Islam. Hence the misery inflicted in Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in Europe and the UK. The Mayor, Pipes noted, ‘wants everyone to get along; I want to defeat a terrible enemy.’ Multiculturalism, he said, is breeding radical Islam -- and Britain is becoming a danger to the world: British terrorists have committed acts in fifteen countries. The biggest threat, from the Pipes perspective, is not from Iraq or Afghanistan but from London. ( I have been saying this for years and even my neocon friends do not grasp this scenario. Pipes does.) What we are talking about is Islamic-flavoured totalitarianism.
He added that George Galloway and the Progressives have the three same enemies -- the USA, the UK and Israel. (There was applause when Pipes quoted Galloway. ) To illustrate his point about London being the centre of Jihad he observed that on the 16th of February 2003 in Hyde Park there was a rally to promote radical ideas. Pipes quoted the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who said that 9/11 was the greatest work of art in the whole cosmos.
Daniel Pipes concluded by asserting, ‘We must defeat Islamic radicalism as we defeated Naziism and Fascism in 1945’ and there was considerable applause, but when he listed Islamic moderates who deserve support, many laughed. ( Later in the day this was wheeled out time and again to show that Pipes was promoting ‘mouthpieces of the Republicans and neoconservatives who had received payoffs.’)
Salma Yaqoub got off to a roaring start by announcing that terror attacks are actually ‘Reprisal events ‘, for example the July 7 2005 tube and bus bombings in London. It is not, she stressed, Muslims but the neocons who ‘present a problem as a culture clash.’ It is Western foreign policy that has caused millions of lives to be destroyed in the Middle East, or better still, ‘Western state terrorism’ ( Millions, Miss Yaqoub?) A truly acid moment came when Yaqoub said ‘ there is no minute of silence for the Muslim dead because of Western state terrorism.’ I found this distasteful and cruel; without doubt had she said this in the USA there would have been serious audience anger. Did she mean the silence on Remembrance Day? On 9/11? On the recent one-year anniversary of July 7th in London?
Sir Martin Gilbert was given the floor. He stood up and said, ‘Miss Yaqoub, my son was caught up in Kings’ Cross on the day of the London bombings. What ‘reprisal’ did people like my son merit?’ She was flustered. Yaqoub, who is very young and obviously knows little in the way of world history, said that ‘Pre-9/11 the Muslims had no quarrel with the West.’
I had my hand up for over an hour to ask her this but was not given the floor. I wanted to ask if she had heard of the Munich Olympics massacre of the Israeli athletes, of the countless PLO hijackings, of the Achille Lauro hijacking and hideous murder of wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer, of Lockerbie and the 241 dead Marines in Lebanon and the Khobar Towers and Bali and Madrid and the 1998 African Embassy bombs. When I was threatened with death in 1998 when my students wanted to make a film about the London Central Mosque what was the ‘quarrel’ then?
Yaqoub said the American plan to re-map Middle East is a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ and that the neoconservatives pose the biggest threat to civilisation. (If this anti-American, and thinly-veiled anti-Jewish rhetoric was not so scary it would be laughable. The British anti-war and anti-Israel movements have for years labelled as 'neocons' the list of Jewish advisors to the Bush adminsitration.) She ended with a statistic: the Iraq war has so far cost two trillion dollars whilst 50,000 children die every day of poverty.
Douglas Murray, director of the Social Affairs Unit and selected by Daniel Pipes to support his side of the panel, set about to demolish the many assertions of Yaqoub and demolish her he did. After an acerbic comment about the Mayor being generous with other people’s money, he said, ‘Far too many Muslims are being elevated from the wrong end of Islam.’ For readers not familiar with the internecine strife in Britain amongst the scores of well-funded Muslim groups now operating throughout the United Kingdom, this referred to the power the Muslim Council of Britain has over national policy. (The MCB‘s most recent chair, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, has expressed his loathing of homosexuals, his sympathy with the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and has boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day three years running. One hears of the power of the ’Zionist lobby’ at least once a day in the British media and even from ordinary people on phone-in programmes, but the plethora of Muslim pressure groups in Britain is nothing short of staggering.)
Leaning against the podium and addressing his comments in the direction of Salma Yaqoub, Murray asked “Why are Muslims killing Muslims all over the world?. Was Bertrand Delano, the Mayor of Paris not stabbed by a Muslim because he was gay?’Emphasising the ‘backward norms of Islam, Murray reminded the audience that Muslims are being killed by other Muslims if they do not submit to these norms. A delicious moment unfolded when Murray asked, ‘How is multiculturalism going in Saudi Arabia?’ and this was greeted with laughter and applause. ‘Are there any synagogues or churches there?’ More applause and laughter.
Murray added that there will never, ever be sharia law here in Britain, but that some countries will have it, sadly. He berated the Mayor for inviting the suicide-bomber sympathiser Yusuf al Qaradawi to London and added that one cannot roll out a red carpet for such radicals. Facing Yaqoub, Murray informed the audience that she had been associated with the central Birmingham Mosque, which had featured so prominently in the Channel Four documentary about extremist Imams, including one who says the July 7th London bombings were not perpetrated by Muslims. Murray completed his assault on Yaqoub by reminding the audience that she had been a member of the ‘Yemen 7 ‘ and was a member of the Respect Party, which supports the insurgency in Iraq.
It should be noted that just before the morning session got off to its start I asked Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, who was sitting in front of me, what he thought about my having been threatened with death at the London Central Mosque when I was making a documentary in London some years ago about the three monotheistic faiths, pre- Bush and and pre-Iraq War. (I had filmed happily at the local churches and synagogue but had been warned by my Muslim cameraman that I would be 'killed' if I ventured into the Regent's Park Mosque on a Friday when the 'crazies' attended. They had found out I was American and had said I would be 'killed' if I came anywhere near the mosque.) Bunglawala's reaction astonished me. He was dismissive. He said 'People film at the mosque all the time!' Fine. Maybe I'll pop over next Friday wearing my Star of David and American flag pin.
Unbelievably, Mayor Livingstone asserted in the question period that Yusuf al Qaradawi was the ‘strongest force for modernisation of Islam - he is the future of Islam. ‘ (This would be like saying a drug dealer is the best candidate to run a pharmaceuticals empire.) Various hostile audience members asked questions about the ‘Clash of fundamentalisms’ and suggested that Pipes was an advocate of violence.
Then came Mayor Livingstone’s moment of the day, when an audience member who had confronted him in a London suburb quoted him as saying: ‘Israel should never have been created in the first place.’ Livingstone calmly replied to this with, . ‘I would not have created an Israel; it was a travesty, the creation of Israel. The UK and USA should have opened its doors to Jewish refugees and not displaced Arabs for sixty years.’ Had I not had a Press badge I would have shouted ‘And would you not have created Pakistan, either, in 1948?’
Immediately following this, an audience member sitting near me shouted , ‘Mr Pipes and his supporters have ‘blood on their hands!‘, with shouts of ‘shame’ when Pipes answered.
It was notable that when Yaqoub mentioned the ‘Hamas election’ Livingstone smiled as if someone had just named his favourite flavour of ice cream.
Monica Crowley, an American news correspondent, put to the Mayor her observation that Britain now has two linked-in groups: the Left wing base and the Islamic constituency and yet how do they seek to ease the issues on which they are diametrically opposed -- of gay worship and of the rights of women? Are they on a collision course? This was interrupted by an audience member from the Kurd community who shouted ‘Winston Churchill was a heavy drunkard and there are now forty million Kurds without a homeland.’ A youngster against religious education made his voice heard and then Livingstone made a priceless crack about the huge majority of Britons who do not go to church but who then clamour for places in Church of England schools, which he thinks is ‘an obscenity.’ ( I think his comments about Israel , and Yaqoub’s barb about the British minute of silence could also be construed by many as an obscenity.)
A member of the audience bellowed, ‘600,000 Iraqis have been killed by the US and UK’ and was followed on by an Afro-Caribbean woman who chanted, ‘God Bless America! God Bless America!’ At this point the magnanimous Ms Yaqoub agreed to bless the USA, the UK, Arabs and Palestinians but not Israel. People near me shouted, ‘Bless Israel! and she again refused, but said ‘I bless the Jews.’
If this was not a clash of civilisations I do not know what was. After the opening session an absolutely furious Palestinian woman came down to the front and for a fleeting moment I thought Dr Pipes would be in mortal danger. But he was surrounded by well-wishers and I took her on. Her rage was frightening and even when I took her arm she was impossible to deal with. No matter how I tried to reason with her she raged at me. There I was, a well-meaning theatre and film artist and great-granddaughter of Rabbis and here she was, telling me how murderous all Jews are. Again, a clash of civilisations.
In the Second Session, the absurd allegations against the West that absolved Muslim terrorism proliferated. According to Salma Yaqoub, Bin Laden had no military hardware and that he and his followers are ‘resisting legitimately.‘ She was furious that Douglas Murray had attacked the Muslim Council of Britain and said they were not a barrier to integration. Oh, really? Imagine how well Anglo Jewry is integrating with Muslims when their main governing body boycotts Holocaust Memorial Day. Yaqoub issued the standard mantra about western imperial ambitions being a Weapon of Mass Destruction and was given a boost by a loud audience member near me yelling, ‘Legitimate resistance against barbarism!’
Yaqoub went on to tell us that the Right is gaining power because of people like Martin Bright, the Channel Four journalist on the panel, who was an adviser to the team that had produced the recent documentary about the proliferation of radicalised British mosques.
A featherweight young man named Denis Fernando, head of the Lesbian and Gay Coalition Againt Racism and a supporter of gay Muslim aspirations, ( a cause which I would also support) accused Rupert Murdoch of being at the helm of Islamophobia as well as the International Monetary Fund , the World Bank and the USA, causing deaths ‘then and now.’ I would love to ask Mr Fernando how long he would last intact in a Muslim country. He could get a job with a Murdoch company tomorrow and visit the World Bank and IMF without anyone arresting and torturing him. Might he like to try visiting some Muslim countries and sitting on a panel as the leader of a gay and lesbian pressure group? He seemed to believe that Britain and the west were suffering from ‘overwhelming Islamophobia.‘ If so, how is it that so many Muslims had places of honour at today’s conference? And is not the former head of the Muslim Council Iqbal Sacranie, a British Knight ?
Fernando lamented the conflict of gay and lesbian Palestinians against Muslim homophobia, but then attacked Irshad Manji, the gay Muslim woman ( he obviously hates her) who, he says, ’ got a healthy payoff by supporting Republicans.’
There was a disturbance behind me and I was distracted, but I am told by a colleague sitting elsewhere that it was Tariq Ramadan who at this point said Daniel Pipes was lying in the morning session, and ridiculed Pipes for mentioning liberal Muslims, one of whom, Magdi Allam, Ramadan insisted is actually a Coptic Christian. What was the purpose of this? Pipes was trying to illustrate that there are people of Middle eastern descent who would not castrate men like Fernando for being gay.
When Ramadan asserted that the Egyptian Magdi Allam was not a Muslim Ms Yaqoob nodded her head in agreement. (Editor's Note: A colleague has since informed me that the reason Ramadan and Yaqoub prefer to label him as a Copt is that it is embarrassing for them to have a Muslim in a high position as deputy editor of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera criticising aspects of Islam. By claiming he is a Copt, they seek to undermine him since they can say he is uninformed about their religion and that he is pushing a 'Christian agenda'.) I have since spoken to several conference attendees who all say Allam is a Muslim.
I would like to suggest to Mr Fernando that Daniel Pipes would happily invite him to his home in Philadelphia but that the reverse would not happen in most Muslim countries, as the late Daniel Pearl found out. He quoted a headline in the Sun newspaper about a radical imam, ‘Mustafa Gaybasher’ illustrating the hypocrisy of the tabloids, who are usually homophobic. Yes, but again, Mr Fernando, is the paper, published in a dynamic democracy, recommending that the British authorities round up gays and chop them up? I think not.
Martin Bright, the journalist involved with two recent documentaries about radical Islam in Britain, seemed distinctly uncomfortable and I did wonder if he might be assassinated at any moment, considering the bile written about him in the radical press. Whilst he gave a brief presentation an audience member near me shouted, ‘Pipes is lying!’
Salma Yaqoub finished things off with another one of her gems: ‘Are we having a discussion on ‘The Christian Threat?-- bin Laden and Bush share the same ideology but bin Laden has no hardware -- both seek world domination.’
The Third session was chaired by a representative of the Mayor‘s office, Lee Jasper, clad in a baseball cap and t-shirt with a slogan. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that as I made an effort to dress respectably for the day, the Mayor’s deputy should as well. In any case the speakers were barely audible, and unfortunately the head of the Muslim Council, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, was so hard to understand that the poor woman doing the screen-projected subtitles was producing something like this: ‘te efits twas multicm shewasa gruth …’ If the Muslim community wishes to create a warm and fuzzy feeling in Britain they need a head man who can speak in public.
A Sheffield-based Professor, Danny Dorling, not a great public speaker himself, said 60% of Muslims in Britain live under the poverty level compared to 22% of whites. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is now 90-95% Bangla Deshi. He made the important point that during the recent elections in London the Banglas and Somalis voted even though local radicals bullied them that they would become ‘kaffir’ ( a derogatory term for non-Muslims) if they voted.
Interestingly the Professor pointed out that the area of Britain most segregated by faith is Scotland and the second is Northern Ireland.
Dr Abdul Bari said the recent Channel Four ‘Dispatches’ programme about the abundance of radical Imams populating the mosques of Great Britain was an attempt to ‘create divisions.’ Does Dr Abdul Bari not understand that this is a dynamic democracy where all subjects are discussed in the open? Would Dr Abdul Bari have liked instead to have explained why any Iman in Britain is urging his impressionable young followers, as the excellent programme clearly showed, to go out and repudiate gays, Jews and non-believers? The programme broadcast video of an imam imitating the snorting of a pig to illustrate the way Jews communicate. How is this an attempt to ‘create divisions?‘ This is superb British documentary-making at its most courageous.
Dr Abdul Bari made the point that his mosque lives happily nextdoor to a synagogue. Fine. But when I was called on to take the floor to ask why the radicals at my local mosque threatened to kill me, and why our local shopkeeper was antagonising every resident of my neighbourhood by refusing to stock goods that offend Islam, I was heckled and shouted down, and Lee Jasper muttered a joke at my expense.
It was notable that Abdul Bari could not deal with an audience comment about Iqbal Sacranie’s support for the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in a comment made at City Circle in July 06; he beat around the bush and seemed totally unconcerned when a Jewish audience member said synagogues and Jewish schools now live in fear since the rise of radical Islam in Britain. The man in the audience said that his family had been Londoners for several generations and had lived happily side by side with the non-Jewish community but now had to employ 24-hour security because of the rhetoric being used in many mosques and on UK- generated websites. So much for multiculturalism.
The final Plenary session was disturbing and noisy. Perhaps this was because of a bizarre incident after the afternoon sessions, when hundreds of attendees had been kept behind barriers for what seemed an eternity as mountains of Kosher food ( supplied to accommodate the Jewish attendees who were arriving after the Sabbath) was laid out on tables in the main dining room. By the time the person in charge had decided to let the barriers down, there was a terrifying stampede and within five minutes the fruit and every last drop of liquid was gone. One otherwise elegant woman came up to the food table and growled, ‘ Aacchhh! I will NOT eat Kosher food!‘ and stomped off. I suppose in ken Livingstone’s multicultural London people have never seen Kosher food before. Imagine that even in Des Moines, Iowa let alone Philadelphia or Seattle. There was not enough to eat or drink by vast margins, hence the ill-tempered atmosphere of the final session.
In the final session the host, a radio broadcaster named Anita Anand asked, ‘Are we in a city poised to tear itself apart?’ I found this remarkable, as I feel this nation is about to tear itself apart.
Jonathan Freedland seemed to have arrived from a parallel universe with his chirpy view of bustling, happy-go-lucky multicultural London. I began to think he was going to ask us to get up and hug the person next to us as one might do in an evangelical church. He made a glaring error by saying that in 2001 despite the riots in Oldham, Bradford and Burnley there was no violence in London. What planet did he live on in summer 2001? Does he not remember Nasser Hussain, Captain of the England cricket team, begging British-born Pakistan fans to support England and not to shout ‘Death to England!’ from the stands? Does he not remember the Pakistan fan throwing a full beer can at Australian Michael Bevan at Lord‘s , seriously injuring him? Does he not know that in St John’s Wood residents had never before seen a police blockade outside Lord’s because of the tensions between British-born Pakistan fans and England fans?
At Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and Headingley in the 2001 cricket season there was violence, including a groundsman being beaten so badly that his spleen was ruptured. In summer 2001 an angry young British Muslim wrote an impassioned article in the Observer expressing his rage at British foreign policy and support for Israel, explaining that by shouting from the stands at Lord’s and the Oval in his grandfather’s dialect they could let off steam without offending England fans. But Nasser Hussain, bless him, understood and accordingly chastised these angry young men.
Why are Jewish boys in London not angry about the Holocaust? Why are Chinese boys in London not angry about injustice in China and the West’s alliances with the Communist regime? Why are black Londoners not angry about injustices in their native lands? I will never understand ‘Muslim rage’ and why it has to be brought to the streets of this green and pleasant land.
It was notable that there was a distinct lack of representation at the Mayor’s conference by the Afro-Caribbean community, but the Senegalese UN Reporter on Racism, Doudou Diene, gave an eloquent talk. My only objection was his picture of blacks in the USA; he referred to a legacy of racism and ‘slaughter.’ Notwithstanding the terrible slavery of the South, non-Americans do not appreciate that blacks in the USA had a major role in the nation’s history as far back as the colonial period, when they as free men were merchants, doctors and artists. Also, I challenge any European country, including Britain, to compare the strides made in black achievement to those in my native USA. When I was in high school forty years ago our vice principal was a black woman. My late mother taught in a school back in the 1960s with a majority of black teachers. No European country has had a Chairman of joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State as Colin Powell was, nor is there a British or European Condi Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Jackson or Barack Obama.
Mr Diene observed that the British reaction to Big Brother in the UK was wonderful and that this would not happen in France. Still, were I black I would choose to live in the United States.
Tariq Ramadan wanted to reach out to all communities, and had I had the floor I would have said a start would be for the Anglo-Muslim community to cease its hideous boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day. He and Diene said that we have to have projects together and that in the schools context British memory is British memories. British history is British histories -- no ‘white’ history acceptable anymore. I am not so sure. When an immigrant arrives in the United States, historically the first thing he or she has done is to learn about American history and take citizenship classes. British history is the backbone of being a citizen of this great nation. I am an American immigrant and would be baffled if the government decided to start teaching American history because 300,000 of us live here.
The day ended with a furious gentleman being forcibly ejected from the hall because he felt the day had not dealt with the issues of the deaths of thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Palestine.
A Jewish conference delegate, Adrian Cohen, said he had had to arrive late because the Mayor had scheduled the day’s events on Shabbat but that he hoped that during the course of the day there had been a discourse on anti-Semitism inasmuch as Jewish schools havie to be guarded 24/7. A man shouted ‘If you had been here all day you’d have heard it discussed.’ Had this man been near me I would have throttled him. Having just had breast cancer surgery I do not think I would have relished spending the night in jail but my rage at this nasty comment knew no bounds. Again, my American sensibilities, despite my having been here for thirty-one years, rose to the surface. I cannot imagine any American shouting to an observant Jew a thoughtless, and frankly anti-Semitic remark like this.
So much for Ken Livingstone’s London. I left feeling offended, confused and deeply, deeply angry. Daniel Pipes was brave to have crossed the ocean to address this crowd, but it is doubtful he changed the minds of the pathologically hate-filled Israel and USA-bashers. In the corridors of the venue were stalls promoting Hugo Chavez and various causes that would fit into Ken Livingstone’s narrow Marxist-redux remit. Heaven forbid there might have been a stall to promote a Jewish charity.
What is so sad is that a mayor of a major world metropolis can so deeply hurt the souls of the Jewish community with his inexcusable pronouncements about their sole nation on earth by rejecting its creation, by bringing as his sidekick a known radical and by scheduling the event to effectively exclude participation by Jewish clergy, communal leaders and community members.
Shame on him.
Carol Gould is a Philadelphia-born documentary producer who spent ten years at Anglia TV Drama during the golden age of British television. She is the author of 'Spitfire Girls,' about the women pilots of World War II.