* Extract from poem to be distributed in schools: “Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces... Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger. I’ll be happy Jews have died.”
* British MP, Louise Ellman, who represents the constituency of Liverpool Riverside: “It’s an incitement to racial hatred among children. The words are absolutely outrageous and appalling.”
1. “Great Minds”: The thoughts of a 14-year-old
2. School bus bomb ‘joke’ terrifies kids
3. “While it becomes increasingly impossible to defend Israel’s policies...”
4. Letters to the New Statesman in response to Nick Cohen’s piece (October 17, 2005)
5. “Teacher in bomb jibe” (The Sun (London) October 24, 2005)
6. “Anti-Semitic poem in children’s school book” (European Jewish Press, October 16, 2005)
7. “‘Is the world going bonkers?” (Ruth Gledhill, Religion correspondent, Times of London, October 21, 2005)
“GREAT MINDS”: THE THOUGHTS OF A 14-YEAR-OLD
[Note by Tom Gross]
A poem that praises the murder of Jews by the Nazis has been included in a book of children’s poetry to be distributed in schools in the United Kingdom. The publication, entitled “Great Minds,” features the work of school children aged 11 to 18 who won a nationwide literary competition.
But one poem has generated outrage amongst Holocaust charities for its anti-Semitic content. The entry by 14-year-old Gideon Taylor is apparently written from the viewpoint of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It includes the lines “Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces.” Another part reads: “Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger. I’ll be happy Jews have died”.
The poem was the only entry in the entire book not to include the writer’s school or location.
Complaints have been made by hundreds of individual Jews and Christians throughout the UK, but Ruth Kelly, the British Education Minister, is yet to react.
SCHOOL BUS BOMB “JOKE” TERRIFIES KIDS
I also attach a story from Britain’s highest circulation daily newspaper, The Sun, about a Palestinian physics teacher in County Durham, in northern England, who told children that if they did not behave he would blow up their school bus. He told the terrified children that he knew how to make a bomb.
“WHILE IT BECOMES INCREASINGLY IMPOSSIBLE TO DEFEND ISRAEL’S POLICIES...”
Before that, I attach the letters published by the New Statesman in its issue of October 17 in response to the article on anti-Semitism by Nick Cohen, a leading leftist British commentator (who is not Jewish). Cohen’s article was included in the dispatch on this list titled “Don’t be silly, Ann, there’s no racism on the left” (October 11, 2005).
Cohen wrote that when he read his emails over the last two years he “couldn’t believe the anti-Semitism that hit me.” He added he was about to point out “there hasn’t been a Jewish member of my family for 100 years” but then deleted it because he felt he “sounded like a German begging a Gestapo officer to see the mistake in the paperwork.”
My sources among the staff at the New Statesman, the leading magazine of the British Left, tell me that it is shortly to bring out a special issue on the Middle East which will contain a number of highly anti-Israel articles.
-- Tom Gross
LETTERS TO THE NEW STATESMAN
Letters to the New Statesman (London)
October 17, 2005
While it becomes increasingly impossible to defend Israel’s policies, a new front has been opened by propagandists, namely Israel is singled out for criticism because of ongoing anti-Semitism. Nick Cohen fails to see that a country he lauds as a democracy is all the more culpable of human rights abuses, precisely because the inhabitants of that country, through the ballot box, are able to make the choice to oppress another people. He says that there is a free press, so Israelis do not have even the consolation of saying “we never knew”, as often happens under dictatorships.
It is indeed true that Israel is treated differently from other countries. It is allowed to occupy another people’s land, confiscate their resources and build walls to imprison the population.
Nick Cohen’s essay had some insightful points regarding anti-Semitism and the left. I am certainly no supporter of the state of Israel, but I agree that the left concentrates a disproportionate amount of time on criticising it. As Cohen points out, this is embarrassingly difficult to explain. However, I believe that Israel’s policies in the occupied territories, and America’s support for them and greedy colonial meddling in the Middle East, are responsible for much of the animosity in world affairs today. It is an unnecessary focal point. I further disagree that opposing fascism means supporting George Bush’s warmongering. Some 25 million people across the world marching against a war that was a lie and is now a disaster suggests that the left is neither loony nor dead yet.
Nick Cohen used his article on anti-Semitism (Essay, 10 October) as a crude bludgeon against the left. The article was illustrated by a picture of a couple of people holding up a banner equating a Shield of David with a swastika. Who were the banner-holders? How does he know they were from the left? What really seems to annoy Cohen is that the big anti-war march of 2003 was organised by a ragbag of Islamic fundamentalists, the Socialist Workers Party and “every other creepy admirer of totalitarianism”. He adds that we should have talked with Saddam Hussein’s victims. I did talk to Iraqi Kurds, and saw not a trace of fundamentalists, creeps of any stripe or members of the SWP. Why? The march was bigger in every way than whoever may have organised it. Anti-Semitism? I marched with contingents from several Jewish organisations, joined by the Arab Labour Group. I can’t remember us being subject to a pogrom - though it was a bit embarrassing when one group applauded us.
Thanks goodness for Nick Cohen’s clear and well-thought-out article – by the way, I am an Irish American.
Gerard P Bradley
Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
To suggest that Hamas is at the centre of a multiheaded, anti-Semitic hydra is political paranoia. Israeli soldiers and settlers, with fists, boots and bullets, bulldoze the houses and crops of poor peasants, steal their water and land, kill their children and humiliate their elders, all in the name of the Jews. It is, after all, a Jewish state. Nick Cohen wonders why the illiterates of Hamas echo the absurdities of European anti-Semites? He muddles cause and effect and persists in looking down the telescope the wrong way.
Secretary, Jews Against Zionism, Brighton
TEACHER IN BOMB JIBE
Teacher in bomb jibe
The Sun (London)
October 24, 2005
A PALESTINIAN teacher tried to get his class in Co Durham to behave – by threatening to BLOW UP their bus.
Physics master Mazin Albarq made the remark when the kids aged 13 and 14 would not be quiet. He asked which bus they got home and told them he knew how to make a bomb.
A parent of one pupil said: “The children were terrified.”
Dad-of-one Mr Albarq – in his 40s – was a supply teacher at St Bede’s school, in Lanchester. He has since left but another teacher told cops about the bomb jibe and they have launched an inquiry.
Mr Albarq, of Darlington, Co Durham, said: “How sad a joke can cause such fuss.”
ANTI-SEMITIC POEM IN CHILDREN’S SCHOOL BOOK
Anti-Semitic poem in children’s school book
By Jeremy Last
European Jewish Press
October 16, 2005
A poem which praises the murder of Jews by the Nazis has been included in a book of children’s poetry to be distributed amongst schools in the UK.
The publication, entitled Great Minds, features the work of school children aged 11 to 18 who won a nationwide literary competition.
But one poem has generated outrage amongst Jewish groups, politicians and Holocaust charities for its anti-Semitic content.
The entry by the 14-year-old Gideon Taylor is apparently written from the viewpoint of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
It includes the lines “Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces.”
Another part reads: “Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger… I’ll be happy Jews have died.”
The book was produced by Forward Press who ran the Great Minds competition through its youngwriters.co.uk website.
Wining entries were rewarded with cash prizes of up to 20ukp for pupils and 1,000ukp for schools.
According to the Jewish Telegraph newspaper, the poem was the only entry in the entire book not to include the writer’s school or location.
Young Writers editor Steve Twelvetree, who also edited the book, said the poem was included as it illustrated how the writer was able to empathise with the infamous Nazi Fuehrer.
Twelvetree told the Telegraph: “From Gideon’s poem and my knowledge of the National Curriculum Key Stage 3 his poem shows a good use of technical writing and he has written his poem from the perspective of Adolf Hitler.”
The editor continued: “Key Stage 3 history requires pupils to show knowledge and understanding of events and places – to show historical interpretation and to explain significance of events, people and places, all of which World War II and the Holocaust is part of.
“The poem clearly states ‘I am Adolf Hitler’ and it recounts a historical fact, something Young Writers and Forward Press are not willing to censor.”
However, communal leaders were less than impressed with the poem’s inclusion in a book which they said could be influential on youngsters’ views of Jewish people.
Chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Jon Benjamin said: “It is the duty of the publisher to consider the consequences of the poem.”
Jewish Labour MP, Louise Ellman, who represents the constituency of Liverpool Riverside, spoke of her concern.
She said: “It’s an incitement to racial hatred. The words are absolutely outrageous and appalling.”
And a spokesman for the Holocaust Educational Trust echoed Ellman’s views. The charity is now urging the publishers to issue a formal apology for the book and remove the offending poem.
A spokesman said: “It is totally insensitive and inappropriate for this kind of hatred to appear.
“It is also immensely insulting to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and to those who survived.”
“IS THE WORLD GOING BONKERS?”
“Is the world going bonkers?”
From the weblog of Ruth Gledhill
Religious Affairs correspondent for The Times of London
October 21, 2005
‘If this really is true, the world really is going bonkers. Come back political correctness, all is forgiven.’ So wrote a Jewish friend of mine in an anguished email this evening, Friday 21 Oct, before disappearing off for Shabbat.
The World Jewish Congress had posted on its website a story from Manchester’s Jewish Telegraph, in which it was stated that a poem praising the murder of Jews by the Nazis had been included in a book of children’s poetry to be distributed among schools in the UK. The publication, Great Minds, is produced by Young Writers who promote poetry and creative writing and publish the results in anthologies distributed to schools.
The latest anthology, featuring the work of 11-18 year olds, does indeed include an entry by 14-year-old Gideon Taylor written from the viewpoint of Adolf Hitler. It includes the lines, ‘Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces.’ Another part reads, ‘Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger. I’ll be happy Jews have died.’ It ends with the question, ‘At what price world domination?’
Steve Twelvetree, who edited the book, defended the poem’s inclusion. He said, ‘This poem shows a good use of technical writing and he has written his poem from the perspective of Adolf Hitler. Key Stage 3 history requires people to show knowledge and understanding of events and places, to show historical interpretation and to explain the significance of events, people and places, all of which World War II and the Holocaust is part of. The poem clearly states, I am Adolf Hitler and is not a reflection of the child’s view, the editor’s or the publisher’s. The poem recounts a historical fact, something which Young Writers and Foreward Press are not willing to censor.’
He said he was unable to agree with the view that the poem was racist. Nevertheless, it seems certain that some in the Jewish community will find it so.
This story dropped into my inbox just a few seconds after I had finished writing about the new Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who since his election was announced in June has been receiving racist mail, including letters covered in excrement and even swastikas. There can be little doubt of the racist intent behind those attacks on the Church of England‘s number two. But in the course of writing this story, I interviewed, or tried to interview, Mukti Barton, the author of a book, Rejection, Resistance and Resurrection, which describes racism as a “poison” often unconsciously spread by white Christians. Ms Barton is Dr Sentamu’s adviser on black and Asian ministries and the Archbishop had contributed to the book, published in August, describing the Church as infected with institutional racism and as still a place of pain for many black Anglicans.
Ms Barton did not wish to be interviewed by The Times. In order to convey this to me, she attempted three times to negotiate her way past switchboards, mobile telephones and all the other obstacles placed by technology in the path of anyone attempting to speak to a real live journalist on a daily newspaper. She didn’t leave any message, but I called her back when her number came up on ‘caller display’. She said was so despairing of British society that she had attempted to launch her book with no attendant press publicity. She had given up even on the concept of educating us. She did not really wish to talk to me at all.
This breakdown of trust is just one example of the damage that is caused by racism in society. Of course, one half of me believes Ms Barton should be sent on the Church of England’s first available media training course. But the other half wonders if she might not have a point. Dr Sentamu has not campaigned ceaselessly against racism without having good grounds to do so. Members of the Jewish community are not concerned by a child’s poem about Hitler, even if written and published with good intentions, without reason. Racism is no less corrosive, just because it might be unintentional. Too many people are concerned about it for it to be dismissed as a problem of the past, just as some even today attempt to dismiss the Holocaust. It’s a problem that we are all living with, and need to find some way of dealing with, if the underlying anger it is generating is not one day going to lead to catastrophe.