Sunday Times removes “anti-Semitic” article (& Iranian TV presenter caught drinking beer)

July 30, 2017


I attach a number of items and articles below, several of which are connected to the UK.



1. (London) Sunday Times removes “anti-Semitic” article
2. “Iranian TV host who promotes Islamic dress code sparks backlash for drinking beer without hijab” (The Independent, July 26, 2017)
3. “Sarah Silverman: Star of David must not be banned” (Haaretz, July 27, 2017)
4. “Anti-Semitic incidents at all-time high in U.K., report says” (Reuters, July 28, 2017)
5. New report shows that almost half of Scottish PSC harbor anti-Semitic views
6. Propaganda play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” revived at top London theatre
7. “British policeman up for bravery award after saving Israeli from armed gang” (London Jewish News, July 12, 2017)



[Note by Tom Gross]

The Sunday Times of London has this morning removed from its website an “anti-Semitic” article about BBC presenters’ pay (screenshot above) after myself and others approached persons we know at The Sunday Times. (Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Sunday Times, is also a subscriber to this Middle East dispatch list.)

The article, by Kevin Myers, originally appeared in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times. Needless to say lots of Jews are underpaid.

Murdoch previously intervened in 2013 after the Sunday Times printed this cartoon.

In 2009, Kevin Myers wrote a column for The Belfast Telegraph, part of the Irish Independent group, which said “There was no holocaust (or Holocaust, as my computer software insists) and six million Jews were not murdered by the Third Reich. These two statements of mine are irrefutable truths”. The Irish Independent finally removed that Holocaust denial piece from their website this morning after The Sunday Times removed its piece.

UPDATE, July 30, 2017, late afternoon

Following my early morning report, editors at major world media who subscribe to this Middle East dispatch list, have now reported on this story, for example, CNN and The New York Times. The Sunday Times has now fired Myers. Others have used by screenshot, for example, here.




Iranian TV host who promotes Islamic dress code sparks backlash for drinking beer without hijab
* Critics have accused Azadeh Namdari of ‘hypocrisy’ and branded her a ‘liar’
* Wearing the hijab, a head covering worn in public by Muslim women, is compulsory in Iran

By Maya Oppenheim
The Independent
July 26, 2017

An Iranian state television presenter has sparked outrage after footage emerged of her drinking beer without wearing a hijab while on holiday in Switzerland.

The consumption of alcohol in Islam is prohibited and alcohol has been banned in Iran since the establishment of Islamic Republic government in 1979.

Islamic dress codes are strictly enforced by ‘morality police’ in the country and women’s hair and body must be covered in public. Wearing the hijab, a head covering worn in public by Muslim women, is compulsory.

Azadeh Namdari, who is also a presenter and actress, has actively endorsed wearing the hijab. Hard-line conservative Iranian newspaper Vatan-e Emruz published a photo of her in a full hijab in 2014 under the headline: “Thank God, I wear the veil”.

The TV presenter has also been a keen proponent of the black chador which is a large piece of cloth that covers women from head to toe and leaves only the face exposed. It has been extolled by conservatives for offering women the best protection.

According to Radio Free Europe, Ms Namdari said she was proud to be a chadori in the front-page interview with the paper – a saying used to refer to women who choose to wear the chador.

“You have to believe to be a chadori. [Otherwise] you’ll be exposed ...” she said. “Thank God that I went on air, I was a chadori. I felt safe and I felt respected. All of these are blessings that the chador has brought me”.

She added: “I apologise for saying that, but I’m more beautiful with this chador”.

Ms Namdari has now been fiercely criticised and branded a hypocrite for being photographed holidaying without wearing a hijab and appearing to drink what looks like a beer. Critics on social media accused her of “hypocrisy” and “dual-behaviour”.

Her name has been used as the Persian hashtag #Azadeh_Namdari, with the hashtag having been used over 11,000 times since the video emerged.

The backlash has prompted a torrent of memes of Ms Namdari, including an image of her with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka Photoshopped into her handbag. Another person has juxtaposed an image of the presenter in full hijab alongside two further photos of Namdari without a hijab and while drinking beer: “What she feeds us with versus what she feeds herself with!”

“The problem is not #Azadeh_Namdari or people like her. The problem is the ideology, culture and the system that forces individuals in society to have dual-behaviour for some reasons,” read a tweet from an account attributed to the pro-government cleric Abolfazl Najafi-Tehrani.

The presenter has now sought to explain herself in a two-minute video posted on the Young Journalists’ Club (YJC) news agency site under the headline: “Azadeh Namdari’s reaction to the publication of scandalous photos in cyberspace”.

Ms Namdari said she had been sitting alongside members of her family and “maharem” - close relatives who a woman is not required to wear a hijab among – in a park. She claimed her scarf had fallen abruptly and the clip was immediately recorded by a random person. She did not mention the bottles of beer in the video or seek to explain them.

But her explanation has prompted yet further criticism and people have branded her a “liar” and accused her of attempting to pull the wool over Iranian’s eyes.

In Iran, women who do not wear a hijab or are seen to be wearing a ‘bad hijab’ by allowing some of their hair to show face punishments spanning from fines to imprisonment.

Nevertheless, there has been resistance to the enforced hijab over recent years, with some women shaving their hair and dressing as men. What’s more, in a bid to show solidarity with their female counterparts last year men in the country appeared in photos wearing hijabs with their wife or female relative next to them with their hair uncovered.



Sarah Silverman: Star of David Must Not Be Banned, It Represents All Jews
* Silverman made the comments against the backdrop of two events in Chicago where the star has been banned as a symbol of Zionism
July 27, 2017

American-Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman came out on Wednesday in support of the Star of David as a symbol representing all Jews. Silverman, who has been a vocal opponent of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, made the comments against the backdrop of efforts to ban the Star of David, as a symbol of Zionism at two events this summer in Chicago.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Silverman said banning the Star of David is like banning the American flag out of hatred of U.S. President Donald Trump. “Aw friends- the Star of David reps all Jews- 2ban it is like banning the American flag bc u hate trump – misplaced,” she tweeted.

In June, three participants in a Chicago of the Dyke March, an LGBT event, were ejected for carrying a gay pride flag featuring the Star of David. March organizers said the women were excluded because they were carrying flags reminiscent of the Israeli flag at an anti-Zionist event and had “repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations” with other marchers.

Organizers in Chicago of August’s SlutWalk, an annual international protest against sexual assault, have reportedly announced that they will follow suit and also ban the flag with the Star of David.

Sarah Silverman was one of the contributors to “The Jubilee Haggadah” issued by the joint Israel-Diaspora anti-occupation group Save Israel, Stop Occupation to mark the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank. In her contribution to the edition of the Passover Haggadah, Silverman wrote: “It seems natural to link the jubilee mitzvah with the festival of freedom and to use the story told in the Haggadah to help explain why the occupation must end,” she says.



Anti-Semitic Incidents at All-time High in U.K., Report Says
* British charity reports 30 percent increase of anti-Semitic behavior in first half of 2017 from previous year, warns social media has ‘become tool for harassment’
July 28, 2017

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain rose to an all-time high in the first half of 2017, according to a charity aiming to protect British Jews.

There were 767 anti-Semitic incidents, mainly abusive behavior or assault, in the first six months of 2017, the Community Security Trust (CST) reported, a 30 percent increase from the same period in 2016.

“Some of this may be down to improved reporting, but it is sadly clear that the overall situation has deteriorated,” said CST Chief Executive David Delew.

“Anti-Semitism is having an increasing impact on the lives of British Jews and the hatred and anger that lies behind it is spreading.”

Head of communications for CST Mark Gardner said the charity struggled to pinpoint the trigger behind the increase, but said anti-Semitism could be an indicator of the state of society as a whole.

“It may be that it sits with a general rise in racism or just an increase in the division in society. There is an anger or frustration that seems to be the ambient mood out there,” Gardner said.

About 74 percent of the attacks so far in 2017 have occurred in the main Jewish areas of London and Manchester.

The CST recorded 56 direct threats against Jews in the first six months of 2017, 25 of them involving direct face-to-face verbal abuse, a 27 percent increase from the same period a year before. Ten of those threats involved knives, bats or cars.

The CST said abuse on social media made up 142 of the anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, up from 136 incidents in 2016.

“Social media has become an essential tool for those who wish to harass, abuse or threaten Jewish public figured and institutions,” the CST said.

The CST also said 23 percent of the incidents were politically motivated, with far-right leanings connected to the majority of those incidents.


Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate visit the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin on July 19, 2017. In the past, several prominent royals, including the queen’s sister Princess Margaret, have reportedly made anti-Semitic comments.



Tom Gross adds:

A new report published yesterday reveals that almost half of Scottish PSC (one of the main pro-BDS movement in Scotland) harbor anti-Semitic views and several are Holocaust deniers.



London’s Young Vic theatre is to revive the controversial play ‘My Name Is Rachel Corrie’.

There is concern among British Jews that such a prestigious theater should have chosen to do this at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Britain.

One prominent British Jew said: “That the Young Vic should stage this play is thoroughly irresponsible. Presumably its decision-makers would not stage a play which demonizes Muslims or blacks to the extent that this play demonizes Israeli Jews – how, then, do they defend their decision?”

‘My Name Is Rachel Corrie’ was co-written by Guardian journalist Katharine Viner, who has since been made editor in chief of The Guardian.

I wrote about the play here for The Spectator magazine:

At the time The Spectator was edited by Boris Johnson (now Britain’s Foreign secretary). Another then editor at The Spectator who is particularly anti-Israel tried to block this piece but Boris Johnson insisted it run after I asked him.



British policeman up for bravery award after saving Israeli from armed gang
By Jenni Frazer
London Jewish News
July 12, 2017

A detective sergeant from Essex Police is up for a bravery award tomorrow night – for saving the life of a Jewish resident of Jerusalem after he was violently attacked.

Detective Sergeant Richard Burgess told the Jewish News this week that he “didn’t think about it” despite nearly getting killed in the attack. But he did detect “God’s purpose” in helping the Jewish man.

DS Burgess, 45, who is based in Rayleigh, Essex, has served in Essex and the intelligence community and has been a police officer for 25 years. But his real ambition, as he told the Jewish News, is to become a priest, and he has been studying with Canon David Tudor of St Nicholas’ Church in Canvey Island.

Together with friends from the police – PC Sophie Ford and PC Katharine Pearson – DS Burgess was making his first visit to Israel in February 2016 on a pilgrimage tour arranged by the church.

The group’s week-long tour was nearly at an end when, at DS Burgess’s initiative, they visited the grave of Oskar Schindler, who saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. Schindler is buried in the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion, near the Old City’s Zion Gate. The police officer has worked as a historian and a Holocaust guide, teaching many young people and guiding them around sites in eastern Europe.

“Because I’d been to the Schindler factory in Poland [where Schindler employed the Jews whom he saved], I wanted to go to see where he and his wife were buried and pay my respects”, DS Burgess said. “As we came out of the cemetery, there was a young child screaming in an alleyway opposite, and a woman who pointed down the alley and begging, ‘please help’ in broken English.

“I saw three Arab-looking males assaulting a Jewish man wearing a kippah. I saw him being dragged and assaulted, and some sort of noxious substance appeared to have been sprayed at his face, because his eyes were streaming.”

The burly police officer ran down the alley “without a thought”. He said: “It wasn’t a good year for me, 2016. We went to Israel two days after my mother’s death and I had had a bad motorcycle accident which affected the use of my right arm”.

But, undeterred, he said: “I curled my arm around one of the men – who was hitting the Jewish man with a belt which he was using as a knuckleduster – and put him in a headlock. With my other arm I pulled at the Jewish man’s clothing and literally threw him up the alley, shouting ‘go, go’ – he soon got the message”.

But the drama wasn’t over, as the men began hitting DS Burgess round the face with the belt-buckle. “A third man came into the area with a claw hammer, and hit me on the back of my head.” The police officer slumped against the wall and the assailant raised the hammer once more – and this second blow would certainly have killed him.

“I managed to raise myself up – I’m a big bloke – opened my arms wide and shouted at them”. The men shouted back for him to leave and Canon Tudor and his police colleagues made certain that the children of the injured Jewish resident were safe.

Two men were later convicted of assault and DS Burgess made his way back to the pilgrimage coach and safety. His colleagues nominated him for a Police Federation Bravery Award, which is due to be presented on Thursday evening.

The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off-duty. The awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.

Steve Taylor, chairman of Essex Police Federation, said: “Sgt Burgess’s actions are in the finest traditions of British policing. Even though this attack occurred in Israel while he was on holiday, this did not stop Richard from stepping in and doing the right thing, potentially saving a man’s life. Congratulations, Richard – you truly are a police hero.”


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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.