During a brief chat with the News Shopper reporter just before Monday’s Cabinet meeting
we both agreed that it might go on a bit and in all probability we would leave
once the most interesting discussions were over and catch up on the webcast later.
He left a little before I did and I would guess from a look at the webcast that I missed the last 20 minutes or thereabouts. As a final blog for January I thought I would report those last few minutes after taking a copy of the webcast and listening to what was said.
Unfortunately there is no webcast audio, well no more than a stutter anyway. I’ve tried three computers on two internet connections and it is a total no go. Let’s see what can be said without it.
The subject was ‘The Definition of Antisemitism’. Bexley Council planned to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of it. To no one’s surprise its adoption was approved; Greenwich Council followed suit yesterday.
According to Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Thamesmead East) Councillor Philip Read (Conservative, West Heath) made a fine speech about it but thanks to the technical gremlins I cannot tell you how great a piece of oratory it was.
The whole thing puzzles me to same extent, it would be utterly appalling if Bexley Council has been in any way antisemitic. Does it need formal rules to ensure it stays on the straight and narrow?
I find it horrendous that such laws, guidance, definitions etc. are felt to be necessary. Why should anyone mete out such disgraceful comment and treatment of Jewish people?
Like anyone else I know from following the news that some people do and from what I can see it appears to be confined to extreme left wing politics. Maybe their right wing counterparts do the same thing but I do not recall having come across it.
I genuinely do not know why such hatred is so widespread and it would appear throughout history too. I asked my friend Mick Barnbrook if he was any wiser than I am when I met him earlier today, but he was unable to help and is as puzzled as me.
I’ve never seen Jews as being any different to any other decent human being, why would anyone?
Maybe it helped that my first little girlfriend, not that such a term would ever be used at the time, was Carol Petrook pictured with me in June 1949. We were playmates until my early teens. It never occurred to me that her parents were Jewish even though in retrospect they obviously were. They lived in the heartlands of London Jewry.
In later life one of my best mates was named Lawrence Liffchak. With his beard and a name like that, not to mention the pictures on the walls of his house his origins were not hard to fathom but they were simply irrelevant. He died recently at far too young an age but a brilliant brain and a fantastic friend.
It is good that Bexley Council has adopted the IHRA definition but I think it is shameful that it is necessary.
Maybe this blog would have been more relevant if Bexley’s webcast was not a technical disaster area but the adoption of the antisemitism definition should not go unrecorded even if Councillor Read’s speech has been lost for ever.