Thursday, February 14, 2008

Antisemitism at LSE

An attempt to brand Israel as an "apartheid" state by students at one of Britain's leading universities fell by just seven votes last week. But members of the Jewish and Israel societies at the London School of Economics may have to return to the students' union debating chamber after a challenge to the conduct of the ballot. The union's constitutional committee is understood to have called into question the 292-285 vote against the motion, although a decision was not due to be announced until yesterday.

The resolution - whose proposers included the head of the students' Palestine Society - called for a campaign to lobby the LSE and the National Union of Students to "divest from apartheid Israel". More than 600 students - six times the usual attendance for union meetings - cast their vote, which was held by secret ballot rather than a show of hands to prevent intimidation. But the union's returning officer received complaints that some students had been unable to get into the crowded hall to hear the debate, and that ballot papers lying around may have been used by people not entitled to vote.

The result of the debate, however, buoyed Jewish students, who had only 48 hours to mobilise opinion after learning that it was to take place. Marilyn Carsley, president of LSE's Israel Society, said that there had been "a lot of anti-Israel rhetoric" on campus recently and that the outcome of the debate had been "uncertain. We were all on edge." Sam Cohen, an MA student, who led the campaign against the resolution, said: "The response has been phenomenal. Jewish and non-Jewish students proudly opposed extremist language at LSE and have shown that we want a moderate, sensible and constructive debate around the issues of the Middle East. "I really hope this is the last time people try to polarise the student body in this way."

An editorial in this week's LSE student newspaper, The Beaver, commented: "The LSE has been in real danger of alienating Jewish and Israeli students, and this motion was another example."

When new students arrived at the London School of Economics last autumn, they received a welcome pack from the students' union that would have been distinctly unwelcome to many Jewish freshers. Its contents included a letter from two union officials, one the head of the Palestine Society, telling them of the union's twinning with the West Bank university, An Najah, and accusing Israel of having killed 800 Palestinian children. It was a taste of what was to come. Pro-Palestinian campaigners have turned up the heat on Israel over the past year, sporting "Make Apartheid History" T-shirts while handing out leaflets denouncing the Jewish state. "It is time for us to call Israeli apartheid by its name and press our universities to divest and stop funding it," Palestine Society head Ziyaad Lunat told the JC this week.

But the intense lobbying "has made a lot of Jewish students feel intimidated by the atmosphere this year", said Sam Cohen, an activist in the Jewish and Israel societies. "They feel particularly targeted because the anti-Israel voice is so loud, extreme and polarising." There are 36 Israeli postgraduates and three undergraduates at LSE, according to an official website aimed at encouraging applicants from the country. But one third-year Israeli postgrad, Lior Herman, said he would now think twice about advising compatriots to join him. "I would definitely recommend LSE for academic reasons, but the atmosphere among students is not so pleasant."

If last week's resolution labelling Israel as apartheid had passed, Mr Herman believed that many Jewish and Israeli students "would have found it hard to be members of a student body that says if you don't agree Israel is an apartheid state, or side with the boycott, you're not one of us." Ms Cohen said that Jewish students had come to her in tears, for example after the term "apartheid" had been "tossed around in class". An MA student in human rights, she said that in one of her own classes, "I have heard students accuse Israel of genocide, ethnic cleansing and of being an apartheid, racist state."


Britain: "Whites need not apply"

Rarely a day goes by without a whopping piece of hypocrisy on the part of the British Labour Party, for much of their political life is one big act of hypocrisy. Thus this weekend we have them facing both ways at once on matters of race.

On the one hand they have joined in the general chorus of denunciation of Archbishop Booby's suggestion that Sharia Law be afforded status and recognition, and thereby approbation, within the law of England and Wales. On this the Labour Party have got it right.

At almost the same moment, however, Labour's deputy leader Harriett Harman is found to be supportive of the notion that the law be changed to enable `all-black' shortlists to be drawn up for the selection of candidates for election to Parliament by individual constituencies. As the report says:

White candidates should be barred from standing for Parliament in up to eight constituencies in order to get more black and Asian MPs elected, says a controversial report commissioned by Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman.

Just savour those words: `white candidates should be barred.' It has taken us a thousand years or so to arrive at a state of constitutional affairs whereby any man or woman might seek to stand for Parliament regardless of sex, race, colour, religious creed, political philosophy or sexual orientation and for the party of one's personal taste. Now, if Labour's obnoxious plan were to succeed, our people would be legally excluded from standing for Parliament in the constituency of their choice for the party of their choice simply because of the white colour of their skin.

Such is Labour extremism that it is prepared to contemplate the introduction of a measure that is flagrantly in breach of the right not to be discriminated against "on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status", which phraseology I have lifted intact from Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Sharia in Britain already

Sharia law is operating in secret in many British towns and cities, the Daily Express can reveal. Muslim communities are being ruled with a rod of iron in clear defiance of the British legal system. Panels of Islamic scholars sit in mosques, converted living rooms and even a former pub to issue fatwas, or rulings. The revelation that they have decided thousands of cases over the last 25 years comes after the Archbishop of Canterbury provoked condemnation by calling for an "accommodation" with the Islamic legal code.

Dr Rowan Williams said parts of civil law could be dealt with under the sharia system - but some communities have already gone much further. The Daily Express has uncovered a catalogue of evidence that sharia courts are acting independently of British law. Aydarus Yusuf revealed last year that a stabbing case had been decided by an unofficial "court" sitting in Woolwich, south-east London.

The 29-year-old youth worker, who was involved in setting up the hearing, said a group of Somali youths had been arrested on suspicion of stabbing another Somali teenager. The victim's family told the police it would be better settled out of court and the suspects were released on bail. A hearing was allegedly held and elders ordered the suspects to compensate the victim. An Islamic sharia council at Leyton in east London also revealed that it had dealt with nearly 7,000 divorces since it had opened in 1982, while sharia courts in the capital have settled many hundreds of financial disputes.

Details of the spread of sharia law emerged as controversy continued to rage over Dr Williams's comments, with condemnation from Downing Street, the Conservatives and other leading Church of England clerics. Thousands of Daily Express readers posted comments on our website and 95 per cent of callers to our phone vote line said sharia law should be banned.

Along with the Islamic council in Leyton, there are at least two other sharia courts in London. There are also courts in many areas of the country with high Muslim populations. The Islamic sharia council lists members in Birmingham, Bradford, Halifax, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, Cardiff, Peterborough and Rotherham. As revealed by the Daily Express last year, there is also a sharia court in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, less than a mile from the former home of suicide bomber Mohammad Siddique Khan. One Muslim man who has faced that court's wrath because of his homosexuality said: "Campaigners claim sharia courts in Britain just sit on civil matters, but the reality is very different and Muslims are ordered to live by these laws, not British law."

Most sharia courts concentrate on divorce cases - although such judgments are not recognised in British law - as well as financial and neighbourhood disputes. Other areas where sharia courts have been consulted voluntarily are inheritance disputes, boundary wrangles and religious guidance. Suhaib Hasan, a spokesman for the Islamic sharia council in Leyton, said he and his colleagues dealt with more than 200 cases a year. "From the beginning, people have wanted our services. More and more come back to us. Each month we deal with 20 cases," said the sheikh, who has presided over sharia courts in Britain for more than 25 years.

Although their rulings have no basis in law, participants agree to abide by them voluntarily and may settle their disputes without referral to the British legal authorities. On its website, the Islamic sharia council warns that the divorces it grants can not invalidate a union under British civil law and advises that a separate civil divorce should be obtained. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, said there is an "alternative parallel unofficial legal system" now operating. "Sharia courts now operate in most larger cities, with different sectarian and ethnic groups operating their own courts that cater to their specific needs according to their traditions," he said.

A room containing a long table and 16 chairs inside Birmingham's central mosque acts as a sharia court presided over by five elders. They regularly pass judgment on a host of disputes. All are fully versed in sharia law but the hundreds of books on Islamic science and theology on the shelves around them serve as back-up. The sharia council is the formal body of Islamic legal opinion and jurisdiction for local Muslims. It is also a point of advice for Muslims in the city seeking a religious or theological perspective on general issues.


Over two million foreigners are now working in Britain

The number of foreign workers in the UK has risen above two million for the first time, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. There has been a 75 per cent increase in workers from abroad in the last six years, while the number of British employees has dropped by half a million, new figures show

The rise has followed an influx of hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans into the UK since 2004. At the same time the number of British people claiming incapacity benefit has soared while there has also been an increase in people emigrating. Official figures from the Labour Force Survey show that the number of foreigners in the UK workforce increased between 2001 and last year by 864,000 - to just over two million people. This is equivalent to one in 14 of a total working population. The Conservatives last night said the disclosure undermined Gordon Brown's vow to create jobs for British workers.

The figures were contained in a letter from Karen Dunnell, the national statistician and director of the Office for National Statistics, to the Conservative MP James Clappison, a member of the Commons home affairs select committee. He said: "Ministers are really out of touch with what is happening in the jobs market. "The Government has overseen a significant increase in the employment of foreign citizens but have had much less success in creating jobs for British citizens."

Shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: "These figures further undermine Gordon Brown's grand and unwise pronouncement to create British jobs for British workers. "In fact, they show the number of UK-born citizens in employment has actually fallen by half a million in the last six years. "There is nothing wrong with the fact that immigrants to the UK should join the workforce but it is a matter of concern that we have more than a million people under 25 not in employment, education or training."

The figures showed there was a 75 per cent increase in the number of "non-UK nationals" working in Britain compared with 2001, when the figure was just 1.15 million. More than 700,000 workers from Eastern Europe have registered to work in the UK from the eight countries which joined the European Union in 2004. By contrast the number of UK-born nationals in the workforce fell, between 2001 and 2007, down by 500,000 from 24.4 million in 2001 to 23.9 million last year.

Critics claim many British workers are either simply unemployed or claiming to be too ill to work. Around 4.8 million people are currently claiming out-of-work benefits. Around 2.6 million are on incapacity benefits - 120,000 more than when Labour came to power in 1997. Last weekend David Freud, the Government's new welfare adviser, told The Daily Telegraph that as many as 1.9?million people claiming incapacity benefit could in fact work.

An additional factor in the fall in British workers is emigration. In the 12 months to July 2006, 385,000 people left the country, thought to be the highest number since the 1960s. A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "It is well known the UK workforce has declined due to demographic changes. "Our challenge now is to help utilise the workforce out there, helping those people who have not yet got into the labour market to do so through targeted help and support."


British senior citizen flies to India for knee op because he 'didn't trust NHS after bungled surgery'

A great-great-grandfather flew a 10,000 mile round trip for knee surgery because he did not trust the NHS after he lost a leg when they bungled a previous operation. Battling Ken Austin, 80, refused to go through the NHS again after a knee replacement on his right leg ended up with him losing the limb completely because the surgeons had mistakenly severed an artery. When faced with a similar operation on his other leg, the pensioner from Halifax, West Yorkshire, decided to spend his savings on flying to India for the procedure instead.

Mr Austin, who has just returned from the trip, said: "It's a sad case that you pay all your taxes and then don't get the service. I realise it was a tricky operation I had, but I did not trust them." He added: "It is strange to think that I have gone to a poor country for an operation."

The former foster carer's knees have been deteriorating due to his age for years and he had his first knee replacement operation on his right leg in 1993. When the pain in his right leg came back last year, he was told he needed another knee. He was told by surgeons at Bradford Royal Infirmary that it could be risky cutting through old scar tissue but decided to go ahead because he considered himself to be in the best hands. But the decision ended up costing him his leg after surgeons blundered and severed an artery.

Mr Austin said: "While I was in theatre, an artery was severed, cutting off the blood supply through my leg and foot, and what should have been an eight-day stay turned into an eight-month nightmare. "The flesh on my right leg began to die and turn black. "When ulcers started appearing all over my leg, maggots were used to try to fix the problem but eventually I was left with little choice but to have the leg removed, which was done in January last year." He added: "I couldn't believe this had happened to me. I was always an active chap, I like to travel, do a spot of gardening and I love to get out in the car for a drive. It really hit me hard. "I knew that the operation may have been a bit tricky, but what was my alternative, a wheelchair, in pain for the rest of my life? There was no way I was going to do that."

Mr Austin had to have a false leg and to walk with a stick after the failed operation. The horrific experience meant that when his left knee started to go seven months later, the pensioner began to look at other options. He said: "I couldn't go through the heartache I had been through before... "I'd heard of people going to India for surgery so I started asking around and found out a friend, who lives in Greece, had been to India for surgery without the wait of the NHS and the cost of going private. "He said he had such a great experience that I decided that is what I would do. I dare not trust the NHS with my last leg, I could not lose everything"

The wait for an operation in India is shorter and it only costs 5,000 pounds, including travel, compared to 9,000 pounds in England. Mr Austin contacted the Bharathi Raja Hospital in Chennai and by the end of the year, was in the operating theatre receiving treatment from Dr AK Venkatachalam, a UK-trained consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

He said: "I'm delighted with the results. I am completely fine now and on my way home did a detour and visited my friend in Greece to show off my new knee. I'm off to Cuba too this year." He now says that if he ever has more problems with his knees, he would not think twice before going back to India instead of using the NHS. "I'm lucky because I can afford it with my savings, others may not be so lucky," he said.


Britain makes SUVs a very expensive luxury: "Owners of fuel-hungry cars will pay up to 6,000 pounds [$12,000] a year to drive in Central London under the scheme by Ken Livingstone to convert the congestion charge into an emissions tax. Thousands of families with larger cars, such as people carriers, will be caught by the new 25 pounds daily charge for vehicles that emit more than 225g of carbon dioxide per kilometre. At least 15,000 owners of larger cars living inside the charging zone will lose their residents' discount and their daily payment will rise by 3,000 per cent from 80pence to 25 pounds. Drivers of small, fuel-efficient cars in bands A and B for road tax will become exempt under the new scheme, which begins on October 27. Owners of cars powered by liquid petroleum gas and larger hybrids, such as the Lexus hybrid, will no longer be exempt after January 2010. Owners of fuel-inefficient cars face a further penalty next month in the Budget, which is expected to include increases in the top rates of road tax." [It's mainly hatred of wealthier people. The "benefits" are minuscule]

No comments: