Only Removing “Controversial” Books – for Now!

Mea She’arim bookstore accedes to demands of extremist haredi vandalists

Headline of an article in today’s Jerusalem Post (written by Melanie Lidman)

Waiting inspection.....(photo:

The article details the horrendous sequence of events that has finally caused the management of Manny’s religious bookstore to capitulate to the demands of a fanatical haredi (ultra- Orthodox) sect known as the Sikrikim. The story explains what has been happening to the unfortunate owners. Since the store opened 18 months ago it has been subject to repeated violent incidents of vandalism. I quote:

the group has smashed its windows more than a dozen times, glued its locks shut, thrown tar and fish oil at the store and dumped bags of human excrement inside. The owners were also personally threatened multiple times.

Why did these haredim do these terrible things?

Are they carrying out a commandment from God? Or a desire of men, in the guise of  religious belief, to subjugate others to their will?

They seem to have had two major problems. Firstly, as many of the books were in English, the store attracted a clientele of Anglo Saxons -especially tourists. Their dress code did not conform to the “Taliban” style criteria demanded by the Sikrikim.

Secondly, they demanded control of the inventory, to ensure that only books that they approved would be sold. Weakened by so much harassment , and after spending over $70,000 for repairs and security guards, the management finally surrendered and agreed to a compromise:

Under the terms of the compromise, Ohr Hachaim/Manny’s put up a large sign requesting that all customers dress modestly. A mashgiach, who checks the store’s inventory to make sure there are no controversial books, will go over the books in the coming week and require that some books be removed from the shelves, though they will not be permitted to remove any English books,

I am not criticising the management. They had to take a commercial decision. My question is,why do we calmly accept the concept that some inspector, appointed by these extremists, will decide which (Hebrew) books the shop is permitted to sell? And what will happen to the removed books? I presume that they cannot be sold anywhere else.

Will they demand that these be burnt?

“That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.”   (Heinrich Heine)

Book burning

book burning.....

Well, in this case,  not burn people in the physical sense, of course. Too much history! But, certainly in the intellectual and spiritual sense.

And all of this in a country that makes so much of the fact that it is a free, open democratic society! Where is the anger? Where are the secular demonstrations of outrage? They don’t exist. And they will not happen.  It constantly amazes me that in situations like this, the huge non-religious section of the population stay passive.

It ‘s extraordinary that the Sikrikim,  that numbers less than 100 families, have succeeded in their objective. Or is it? The capacity of our secular and non orthodox majority to constantly pander to the whims of the religious loonies has no limits.

This case is just one example of the power of religious fanaticism. If the rest of our citizens do not respond, it will not be the last!

Cover of "A Man Without a Country"

Cover of A Man Without a Country

And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. 

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”    (Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country)


And where does the Israel that I love exist?


Not in Mea She’arim – that’s for sure!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is

Full Article


Free Speech Includes the Right to Rant. Doesn’t it?

 Not in England it doesn’t!

243-365 year2 From Tabloid To Broadsheets On R...

The best place for newspapers!

This is a headline in today’s London Daily Mail:

Transport police make arrest after tram passenger ‘hurls vile abuse at onlookers in racist rant as toddler perches on her knee’

This story, filed by Emily Allen, tells of a young mother who expressed her displeasure at the fact that she was one of the few white people on the tram.  It’s true that she used colourful, some would say intemperate,  language.

The full transcript of her rant reads:

‘What has this country come to? A load of black people and a load of f***ing polish. 

Just too many of them for her…

A load of f***ing, yeah… you’re all f***ing… do you know what I mean? 

 ‘You ain’t English. No, you ain’t English either. You ain’t English. None of you’s f***ing English. Get back to your own f***ing… do you know what sort out your own countries, don’t come and do mine.

 It’s nothing now. Britain is nothing now. Britain is f** all. My Britain is f*** all.

‘Yeah its fine. I have got a little kid here. Have respect? I have a little boy here. F** you. I dare you, I f***ing dare you.

Don’t watch my language. Go back to where you come from, go back to f***ing Nicaragua or where ever you come from. Just f***ing go back.

I work, I work, I work, this is my British country until we let you lot come over.

‘So what. It is my British country, you ain’t British. Are you British? You ain’t f***ing British. F*** off.

‘You ain’t British, you’re black. Where do you come from?

 ‘No, someone’s got to talk up for these lot. Look the whole f***ing tram, look at them. Who is black and who is white.

 ‘There is all black and f***ing burnt people.’

OK, if you read this far you will understand that this was socially unacceptable behaviour. The question is- should it also be legally unacceptable? 

Let me be clear about my position. I am not a racist; at least, I don’t think that I am. How could I be? I am a Jew who lived most of his life in London and experienced the special type of English anti-Semitism.  Actually, I recall the first incident at age 9.

Telling someone to go home doesn’t really compete withHitler should have finished the job!”

Race has become a big issue in the UK. From the sanitised reporting of the riots which occurred last summer to yesterday’s reports of the England football team captain being questioned by the police, over a racist remark he is alleged to have made during a match.

John Terry during a match vs Everton at Stamfo...

John Terry faces charges of racism

How did people become so ultra sensitive? My reaction to this lady on the tram ( after seeing the video of the event) is simply that she lost it. So what. I would have thought that reasonable people, confronted with this situation, would simply shrug it off as ignorant rants.

Does anyone know what happened in this woman’s life to bring her to this position?

Were it not for the media, and the power of the internet, this would be nothing more than an incident on a tram. Not front page headline news and viral video on You Tube.

Political correctness in the UK has no limits.

The media exploit incidents like this simply for circulation and ratings.

A similar event happened in Paris to British fashion designer, John Galliano. What was simply an alcohol and drug fuelled rant in a bar, turned into a cause -celebre. And he WAS praising Hitler!

So, why do I defend the indefensible?

Fundamentally, it comes down to freedom of expression.

For me, the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is my credo. Of course, it’s not strictly true that they don’t hurt; but, as a minority, you learn to develop a thick skin. That is, if you want to survive. I survived for almost 50 years. ( Full disclosure – eventually I got fed up and emigrated to Israel. Here, I can be vilified by the whole world!)

The only grey area I am willing to concede is to do with demands for violence or death of any group. 

In 1934, Hitler became Germany's president und...

Name not necessary

But, even there, I am not convinced that a mob screaming ” death to the Jews” really means that. People say history teaches otherwise, and give Germany in the 1930’s as an example.

That’s not really a good example. It wasn’t the words that caused the actions. It was a combination of historical anti-Semitism and economic difficulties. Hitler’s rhetoric, and the shouts of the mob were simply the catalyst.

Should there be limitations on the right of freedom of expression? 

I am not persuaded that the answer to that question is “Yes”!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!


Update 29/5/2012

London Daily Mail Headline to story:

Tube racist whose champagne-fuelled tirade was viewed by thousands on YouTube is sentenced to five months in prison

  • Jacqueline Woodhouse, 42, abused passengers on the Central Line train and was given a 21 week jail sentence today


Yitzhak Shamir – in his own words

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.


In the 63 years since its Independence, Israel has had 12 different Prime Ministers. Four of them, including the present incumbent, served 2 terms. History will judge success or failure according to their actions. But there is another way in which they will be remembered. Their words of wit or wisdom.  Were they so memorable as to be ingrained forever in the minds of men?  (Just an expression – women included, of course).

To view selected quotations from all 12 Prime Ministers click on this link:

Here is one example to whet your appetite.

Yitzhak Shamir (1983-1984 and 1986-1992)

When is a decision not a decision? (Photo:

Shamir (in the middle) wanted by the British in his younger days (photo:wiki)


In the period leading to Independence, he worked with Menachem Begin in the Irgun. They subsequently disagreed on policy and Shamir joined the Lehi, usually known as the Stern Group, (named after its leader Avraham Stern.)

In his time as a member of the Knesset, he held the positions of Speaker of the House and Foreign Minister before becoming Prime Minister. He was a great believer in the concept of not taking a decision is a decision.  He thought that the Arabs were their own worst enemy, and that if he did nothing,  the internecine rivalry of the Arab factions would benefit Israel. Nothing changes – see the first quotation!

He took the decision in the First Gulf War not to retaliate when Iraq fired Scud missiles into Israel.


” The Arabs are the same Arabs, the sea is the same sea.”

“All the land of Israel is ours.”

“Israel’s capital will never again be a divided city ….(it) will be the eternal capital of Israel for ever.”

“Israel has a very bad history with the United Nations, and whoever cares for himself in Israel distances himself from that Organisation.”

‘I believe that the will of the people is resolved by strong leadership. Even in a democratic society, events depend on strong leadership with a strong power of persuasion, and not on the opinion of the masses.”

‘We must never bend too much.”

“Our image has undergone change from fighting Goliath to being Goliath.”

” Should there be maniacs who raise the idea, they will encounter an iron fist which will leave no trace of such attempts.” (1)

” (The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers…..heads smashed against boulders and walls.” (2)


(1) Quoted in the Times of London in 1988 referring to Palestinian self rule.

(2) Strongly disputed that he ever said this. It was reported in the New York Times in 1988, but seems to have been taken out of context and distorted. (

Still want to see more? Click on the  link below:

Laws are like Sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.

A law is something which must have a moral basis, so that there is an inner compelling force for every citizen to obey.

Chaim Weitzman
Israeli President Chaim Weizmann voting in the...

Chaim Weitzman - voting in the Knesset

The first headline of this article is a quotation attributed to Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) – a German politician, remembered better for  giving his name to a particular type of pickled Herring than his erudition.

Bismarck ca. 1875.

Otto von Bismarck - liked Herring!

Considering what has been happening in the Knesset recently, he was actually very prescient. Due to the way in which democracy in his country developed in the 1930’s, it is interesting to look at the above two quotations together. The citizens may have agreed with the purpose of the law (including the infamous Nuremburg Race Laws) but were not too concerned with the process.

Israeli lawmakers are currently considering  a number of proposed new, or amended, laws. From my personal perspective, I see nothing wrong with any of them. I can understand that others disagree. The question is: who are the “Others?” 

It would appear that the main opposition is from the usual suspects.

By this, I mean all of those who believe that, in a free democracy, it’s OK for the “tail to wag the dog.

The “tail” being the regular hodgepodge of left wing activists- some of whom are fearful of an interruption to their overseas funding- and their media lackeys.  The process of lawmaking is under the microscope. But, I hear you say, isn’t that the way a democracy should work? Checks and balances? I’m just having a problem with the concept. There is a legislative body (the Knesset) and an elected government. This government has not only a substantial majority but also the support of most of the country on all major issues.

Knesset Israel 61 years.

The Knesset

Much of the controversy over the recent proposals is artificially created by the media for their own purposes. It’s all about circulation and ratings. They can always depend upon those who inhabit the ivory towers of academia, to provide them with the necessary solemn warnings of doom and disaster. The combination of Left Wing intellectuals, supported by the great unwashed, together with a sprinkling of  students and anarchists, is a potent mixture.

The problem with democracy is that, by its very nature, it sows the seeds of its own destruction.

The demonstrations of the recent Summer are a perfect example. Under the guise of seeking ” social justice” (whatever that is), a small and unrepresentative minority actually sought to overthrow the democratically elected government.

Which brings me back to Weitzman’s aphorism. It is difficult to enforce a law that is morally repugnant to the majority. I stress – the majority. But I see no evidence that the current proposals do not have the support of the majority. Of course, not all will agree. The minority have the right to disagree. They do not have the right to impose their worldview on the majority. Should they succeed, the question becomes: “what kind of a democracy is this?”

Unfortunately, in this respect, our “special relationship” with America, and its values, has a downside.

In the words of Frank Zappa (1940-1993):

“The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.”

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

Black Africans – Dying to get into “Apartheid” Israel!

        Dying literally – and dying figuratively !

Ethiopia, Omo Valley - Atatu from the Dassanec...

From Ethiopia - and hoping not to get raped on the journey to Israel

The phenomenon of Black Africans illegally infiltrating into Israel continues unabated. The vast majority come from Sudan and Eritrea, but some  are from other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Why do they risk their lives to come to the most vilified nation on the face of the Earth? (1)

The glib answer is that they are fleeing from persecution and seeking Political Asylum.

Original caption states, "Forced from the...

Leaving this behind for a better life in Israel

That simply isn’t true!

Most of them are coming for economic reasons i.e. to earn money. A very small number, somewhere in the low hundreds, are being considered as genuine asylum seekers.(2)

The trickle which started in 2006, has turned into a Tsunami in 2011. In the whole of 2006 around 1000 infiltrators were caught. In November 2010 alone 1940 illegals were captured.

The fence

Following the commencement of the construction of the new security fence between Israel and Egypt, this number has increased to up to 1000 per week.

Looking north along Egypt-Israel border north ...

Egyptian/Israeli border near Eilat - waiting for the new fence!

The upsurge is due to their certain knowledge that, once the fence is completed next year, infiltration will cease. (3)

Official estimates put the current number of illegals at around 36,000. Before completion of the fence that number can be expected to increase by up to another 10,000. The figures do not take account of those that avoided capture.

Bedouin atrocities

In their journey across the Sinai, in the company of the Bedouin smugglers, to whom they paid thousands of dollars, they were subject to all types of abuse. Women were raped; men were beaten, and even killed, and ransom was demanded for some held as captives. This all according to the statements of the people themselves.

And if they succeeded in getting near to the border, they were shot at by Egyptian border guards. Some were killed. Knowing this, Israeli soldiers who caught them near the border, could not send them back.

With so many of them concentrated in only 4 or 5  cities, there are social consequences for the local populations. The majority of Israelis do not have to live with this problem. But that is a subject I will address in a future post.

Isn’t it ironic that “Apartheid”  Israel is viewed by these, mainly Muslim,  “seekers of a better life”, as the land of their salvation?

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!