Wednesday, 15 April 2015


A day after I booked my flight with German Wings to Berlin, one of their pilots decided to kill all his passengers on his personal suicide trip. I decided that German Wings were unlikely to have more of the same and bravely kept my booking.

As I boarded the flight, I found the following on my seat and wondered:


Expenses on the first day:  Uber taxi to Heathrow - £37; a full month’s Berlin public transport travel card - £41.


The architect who built this house in Schöneberg wanted something soothing and pleasant to the eye:

However, Germans are truly anal about their garbage. It is all  Abfalltrennung, that is separation of garbage, and this is what the originally beautiful courtyard looks like now:

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

More Bach

It seems that some readers have misunderstood what I had written about Bach’s Johannes Passion. I did not go into the question whether Bach was an anti-Semite or not, nor into whether Bach had wanted to propagate anti-Semitic texts. All I pointed out was the effect that this most beautiful music combined with some of the texts of St. John Passion will most likely have had on listeners over the centuries.

Why doubt the manipulative power of beautiful music?

Israel Elections - What now?

A few weeks ago, Israel’s electorate have made it clear that they are not particularly troubled by the one issue that troubles the rest of the world (that is those that take an interest): their continued occupation and settlement of Israelis on Arab land and their control over Arab population. Security, cost of living and house prices were the election issues.

For some time and more so since the last elections, voices have be heard that Israel must be punished for this immoral stance. There are calls for boycott and sanctions.

It is not difficult to name many other countries whose human rights record is poorer than Israel’s. Indeed many of the countries that chair or run UN Human rights and similar organisations are nasty dictatorships themselves. Who are they to criticise Israel? Why should anyone listen to them and why should Israel be picked for punishment?

It should be borne in mind that many of these calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions are orchestrated by countries, bodies and individuals that object to the very existence of Israel, organisations that strive for the dismantling of the Jewish state. And then there is anti-Semitism: There are doubtlessly many whose criticism of Israel is a reflection of their anti-Semitism but Israel – again doubtlessly - gives good reason for serious criticism.

So let’s forget punishment. It is about saving. Proverbs taught us that he who spares the rod hates his son (Proverbs 13, 24) Israel is not a child and the world is not its parent, but naively, I hope that the world will save Israel from the moral downward spiral it has been on for too many years. The Occupation brutalises Israel, makes it more fundamentalist and more racist. It also increases the hatred of Jews in the Diaspora.

The USA could do it easily: it funds Israel, it arms Israel and it supports Israel diplomatically. A group of conservative Jews havs successfully built a lobby that has made the support of Israel as American as apple pie and no politician dares to criticise, let alone demand a change of policy in regard to Israel. We have lately seen, that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has virtually waged war on President Obama, as yet with impunity. That leaves Europe.

I am saddened by the awareness that without effective external pressure that translates into sanctions, Israel will not give up its hold over the Occupied Territories. It would be nice to do the right thing without being force to do so. This is a plea and undemocratic hope of a change that will make Israel democratic again.