Thursday, 30 September 2010

Geld oder Sex

I recently received the following email from a friend in Germany:

After reading your blogs on Dinners in Germany it occurs to me, that you should invest time in considering whom you will dine with. It amuses me to read about the weirdoes you always seem to run into; it disturbs me to think that your friends may believe you don’t know any at least semi-normal people in Germany.

SO this is what happened at the next dinner: I made the mistake of asking the friend I sat next to whether she read my blogs. Nein, she said and told me that she does not read my blogs because she was “really not interested in either the Vatican or Israel... in fact nobody is interested in Israel.” I should write about Geld oder Sex to get her attention, she said.

The next day, the papers reported that the Italian authorities had sequestered money transfers from the Vatican bank on suspicion of money laundering. I daren’t call this friend to find out whether writing about tthe Vatican bank counts as Vatican or as money.

Date for your Diary - 18 December

Centre for Inquiry UK and South Place Ethical Society present

The Root Causes of The Holocaust

What caused the Holocaust? What was the role of the Enlightenment? What role did religion play in causing, or trying to halt, the Holocaust?

Prof. A.C. Grayling

Prof. Jonathan Glover (King’s College)

Dr David Ranan (author of Double Cross)

11am-2pm, Sat. December 18th, 2010

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL

10.30-11.00 Registration

11.00-12.00 Jonathan Glover

12.00-1.00 David Ranan

1.00-2.00 A.C. Grayling

Tickets: £10 on the door. To book in advance go to, hit button “support cfiuk” and follow instructions. Credit and debit cards welcome. Include names of those coming, phone number, return address, etc.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Israeli politicians in Their Morass

A former Israeli Minister of Justice, and currently chairman of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, was convicted of perjury by an Israeli court. The prosecution failed to convince the court that Hengbi was guilty of nepotism and cronyism. In a bid to improve his standing in the party, when he was serving as environment minister, he allegedly appointed 50 Likud Central Committee members or their relatives to civil service jobs.

In passing Hanegbi’s sentence the court will have to decide whether this offence of perjury involves moral turpitude. The court’s decision is critical, as moral turpitude would bar Hanegbi from future ministerial posts. Indeed, so worried is Hangebi that he has arranged for an unheard of line of character witnesses. They include Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister of Defence Barak, Head of the Mossad Dagan, former President Navon, the current Speaker of the Knesset as well as two previous speakers of Israel’s parliament. Hanegbi’s lawyers have also produced letters from a couple of writers, a couple of generals and Israel’s ambassador to the UN. This veritable who’s who is THE club everyone seems to want to belong to.

Let us hope that the court will disregard this unappetising swamp.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Pope’s Latest non-Confession

On the plane from Rome to Edinburgh, the Pope today referred to the sexual abuse of minors.

As usual, popes speak of other people’s sins and occasionally – such as in this case - of mistakes made by the Church. The Pope has yet again, failed to confess to the Church’s crime: the crime of systematically covering up sexual abuse. This cover up operation lasted many many years and was only uncovered by external pressure and against the will of a shouting and kicking Catholic Church.

Here is what the Pope said:

Paedophilia was an "illness" whose sufferers had lost their free will. "It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly mission was possible". He had learnt of the recent cases with sadness: "Sadness also that the church authorities were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently speedy and decisive in taking the necessary measures".

The first priority was to help the victims recover from the trauma they had undergone "and rediscover too their faith in the message of Christ".

Monday, 13 September 2010

Was Marx Right?

Florida Pastor Terry Jones repeatedly told journalists that he was willing to meet the Iman [sic]. In response to the question whether he thought that Jesus Christ would have told him to burn the Qur’an, Jones confirmed: “Absolutely, I think, Jesus would not run around burning books but I think he would burn this one.” The Imam did not want to meet Pastor Jones who had flown to New York especially.

An American Christian preacher held the world to ransom and in the name of freedom of religion - of which the USA is so proud - they were all shitting in their pants. The American President - aware of the fact that one out every five Americans believed him to be a clandestine Muslim –tread on eggs instead of sending his FBI to stop this farce. The world’s media went along for the ride or better said, they were the producers of this show.

Could anyone but the devil have invented religion?

Israel’s Foremost Writer Has to Assure Israelis of His Allegiance

In his interview with the BBC, Israeli author David Grossman was asked whether he had ever considered leaving Israel. The question was asked in the context of Grossman’s book To the End of the Land. His response was: “I considered it and there are always temptations for it and I know when I will leave Israel – this is when Israel will stop being a democracy.”

Asked whether that was possible, Grossman said “It’s possible everywhere and as long as we are stuck in this war situation, it is a growing temptation for fundamentalism, fanaticism, and all the bad things that can bring about the stopping of democracy. But, I hope that I will stay in Israel because I deeply believe that for a Jewish person Israel is the most significant place to be and to implement our culture and our history and I think that part of the tragedy of the Jewish individual and the Jewish collective is that we have never really felt at home in the world and now we have Israel for 62 years and yet it is not the home it was meant to be. I want a home, I want Israel as a home, I want to have something, …a solidity of existence, we never felt the solidity of existence.”

It did not take long and Israel’s foremost writer had to defend himself on Israeli television. Grossman found himself explaining that he had been quoted out of context and that leaving Israel is anathema to everything he believes in.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Pope and I

The Pope is coming to Britain and I have been asked (alas, not by him) to give a talk about Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church.

My talk will take place on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 7:00 pm at the Conway Hall, 25 Red Lon Square, London WC1R 4RL

David Grossman’s To the End of the Land Now Available in English

A year ago, I recommended David Grossman’s To the End of the Land. At the time it had not yet come out in English. The English translation has finally arrived and I urge you to get it and read it.