That Julie Burchill

July 3, 2009

I know it’s old news but I’ve been busy and it’s been bugging me and I don’t know why.

The JC editorial begging Julie Burchill not to convert provided some comfort with a plausible reason for JB not going through with it.  We need more non-Jews supporting us in public, so let’s try to keep those mouthy Jew loving gentiles as they are – gentiles.

My argument for not allowing her to convert is altogether less charitable, but it’s a lot more simple.  I loathe her and it would be an embarrassment if she became Jewish.  It’s already enough of an embarrassment that she used the word “we” albeit with a nod to the chutzpah employed, when asked about her interest in converting to Judaism.  That sentence…”The filthy stain of antisemitism which unites Christian and Muslim is based on their pathetic envy of the perfect, enduring faith of the Jews. We/they rock!” had me reeling at her crassness.  That’s not how Jews view Christians and Muslims I hope, and there’s no place for those attitudes in Judaism as far as I’m concerned.

I grew up as a teenage NME reader suffering Ms Burchill’s spiteful twaddle as the self-styled queen of rock journalism and I couldn’t bare to think she was joining the faith.  How would you like to find out that the school bully was your cousin?

However, I admit this is no criterium for assessing her suitability as a Jew.  So let’s consider some of her other magnificent characteristics.

Married three times and dumping her sons with their fathers after walking out on the first two.  OK, so there are plenty of Jews who are serial spouses. What else?

Well, perhaps no other converts to Judaism have celebrated their use of recreational drugs with quite the pride of our latest celebrity applicant.  Again, I’m not saying there isn’t a drug problem amongst Jews, there is, and it’s serious, and Ms Burchill is now clean, I believe, but do we still want to welcome someone with such a cocky attitude to cocaine?

In the last 10 years Ms Burchill has found God.  Several times.  First she become a Lutheran, then a Christian Zionist (whatever that is) and now she talks of converting again. Make your mind up sweetheart, or at least why not just skip mainstream Judaism and join Madonna at the spiritual top table.  I’m sure pseudo-Kabbalah will be right up your alley, and of course the social climb, sorry, religious journey will be complete, won’t it?

Look, I know the Liberals will convert someone as long as they tell them they enjoy smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels now and again but please guys, think hard about letting this one in. Please.

If you’re wavering think on this:  the orthodox reckon you will let anyone in.  Here’s your chance to show you do have some standards.

An interview with Geoffrey Cohen of Jewdas

March 25, 2009

Some call him elusive while others, well others don’t call him anything really.  It’s true that Geoffrey Cohen is not an easy person to track down but that’s mainly because he’s not very good with email addresses.  Nevertheless, in the interests of providing my readers with insights into the minds that are the future of Anglo-Jewry I traced him and travelled all the way to Hackney to speak exclusively with the 15 year old leader of what is possibly the most insignificant and futile Jewish political movement since my cousin Harry stood as an independent councillor in an attempt to extend the eruv boundary by four miles so it took in his flat in Harlesden.

Here’s that interview in full.

NWJ:  How did Jewdas begin?
GC:  It all started about two years ago as a cheder project.  My teacher was studying for a GCSE in politics at the time and he was, like, so cool.  He told me about anarchy and how it’s all about being rude and stuff.  I thought, that’s just what Judaism needs.  There’s not enough Jewish rudeness.  Everyone’s really serious all the time.

NWJ:  You tend to avoid the limelight. Is this deliberate?  Are you publicity shy?
GC:  Not publicity shy, no.  Let’s put it this way, (Cohen furtively looks all around his bedroom to check there’s nobody listening in, then, drops his voice and leans towards me) I’m really dangerous – I’m seen as a threat to the Jewish community.

NWJ:  How can you been seen as a threat if nobody’s heard of you?
GC: Also I’ve been grounded for two weeks.

NWJ:  What for?
GC:  My mum found out about the hoax email.

NWJ:  You’re talking about the email that purported to be from the Board of Deputies calling off the recent pro-Israel rally in Trafalgar Square.  Some say that the stunt was a desperate attempt to be noticed by the wider Jewish community.   How do you respond to that allegation?
GC:  Absolute rubbish.  Have you seen how many people attend our events?
NWJ:  About 20?
GC:  the last one attracted 36 and three of them were people none of us knew at all really.  Well, I knew one of them because she was at Daniel Levy’s barmitzvah, but I didn’t actually invite her, she just heard about it through Daniel.

NWJ:  And what do you do at these events?
GC:  We talk about how cheder sucks and how our rabbis are stupid, and Converse basketball boots.  Stuff like that.

NWJ:  So what’s next on the agenda?
GC:  We’re going to set up a mobile catering van outside Kinloss Gardens synagogue at Yom Kippur and sell bacon rolls!  It’s going to challenge people to think about why they fast every year religiously without recognising that they only do it because their parents and grandparents did it and because it’s part of the Jewish tradition.  See, we’re radical.

NWJ:  How are you going to cook the bacon on Yom Kippur, if you’re not allowed to light the gas on Yom Kippur?
GC:  (pauses) We’ll have to think about that one.

NWJ:  Well, I think we’d better end it there.  You’re mum said you could only talk for 10 minutes because you have homework to do.
GC:  I don’t take any notice of that bourgeois old bag.  I told you, I’m dangerous. Let’s keep going.

At this point Geoffrey’s mum put her head round the door.

Mrs Cohen:  Geoffrey. Homework.
GC:  OK. We’d better end it there then.

No Cause for Alarm

January 25, 2009

So what would you do? Your kid’s at a Jewish school. They, quite rightly, have regular emergency drill practices, often without prior notification, including lock-downs to simulate responding to an attempt to gain unauthorised entry to the building. Only this time they sent text messages the parents saying “we have an emergency situation at the school. Please don’t attempt to get to the school” (or words to that effect). The thing is, if such a thing happened for real, should they send such a message to parents?

Well in this practice they did. Naturally, many Jewish parents ignored the request to stay away and the streets of north west London almost went into gridlock. So much for “please don’t attempt to get to the school” (or words to that effect).

What did they think was going to happen? A text back from parents saying “Sure, no problem. Good luck with it. c u l8r’?

Or maybe, “That’s a relief. I’m in the middle of the meeting so I wouldn’t have been able to contribute to the gridlock anyway. Tell the hostage takers to hang on to my kid until about 2 please – I doubt I’ll be able to get away from the office until 1.30 at the earliest.”

Of course this is serious stuff. And my understanding is that the text was a mistake in the first place. It should never have been sent, but isn’t it good that it was? The school now knows what would happen if, in a real emergency, they sent out texts saying “hey folks, we’ve got a real emergency going on down here, but you just carry on as normal and we’ll let you know how it all pans out. Whatever you do, don’t come down here because you’ll cause a right old rumpus with the parking” (or words to that effect).

What they found out is that Jewish parents (and, no doubt, non-Jewish ones in a similar situation) would ignore such an email and get over to the school pretty sharpish. Now there’s a surprise.

So maybe the plan was to let people know that it was a drill, and therefore there was no need to panic, but if so they might, just might, have thought to put “Oh by the way folks, it’s just a drill this time no need to make like the car chase in The French Connection” (or words to that effect).

But why the text at all if it’s a drill? To test the effectiveness of the message sent? If this was the actual text message they would send in a real emergency, they now know what the response would be to the “don’t come down here” bit, as if they really needed to test that. And if it was all a silly mistake and someone sent the message out but didn’t think through what they were composing then the school at least needs to do a little more refining of the plan including setting out clearly what messages say and when they are sent.