Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Knackers v Alderman

I penned this blog some weeks ago after Geoffrey Alderman had a pop at one of the communal sacred cows, the Community Security Trust, better known by it acronym the CST. Other things overtook my life and this was left to rot. Then last week Alderman dished another column at them making me return to what I had started.

If ever the proverbial ton of bricks has come remotely close in composition, density and weight to the real thing the letter in response by almost every knacker (omit the 'n' at your peril) known to this sceptred isle attacking Alderman and in defence of the Community Security Trust must have been it.

With such an esteemed attack you might be thinking that Alderman had called for the CST to be disbanded, its funds sequestrated and its members arrested. Or perhaps simply voiced doubts about its necessity. Or maybe doubted the accuracy of its figures on Anti-semitism. Not a bit of it. All he said was that despite that it 'probably does valuable work' and other praise they still speak for no one but themselves.

Big deal, you might think. But then you mightn't be Jewish thinking that way. For it is an Article of Faith, the 14th Ani Mamin, that anyone with a large enough bank account, long enough beard and/or wide enough posterior represents us and talks on our behalf. Dare to dissent from that view and expect, well, a ton of bricks.

We on the Hill have little with the CST who are often referred to disparagingly as the Chilul Shabbos Trust, though why what is permitted to the Hatzole is denied to them I know not. They are wheeled out from time to time where an event of ours is considered too large for comfort or when someone wishes to bestow an air of importance and have El Al style security guys milling about with walkie talkies. They also come in extremely useful in protecting the kapores ritual from anticipated anti animal-cruelty campaigners which has little to do with communal security.

But let's not dwell on the CST as there is far more fun in dissecting the signatories many of whose day and out of hours jobs is to tell us just what Alderman took the CST to task for: that they represent us. Of the 26 signatures 8, or almost a third, belong to that other supposedly representative organisation the Jewish miLlionaires Club, occasionally referred to as the Jewish Leadership Council. It is far from clear whom exactly they lead and with more vice presidents than you can shake a lulev at it may be a case of more shochtim than chickens. Thus in a nutshell supposed representative individuals tell us that a supposed representative organisation really does represent us. It must be if they are telling us so. They've even enlisted the non-representative Chief Rabbi to add his name to the bevy.

The signatures in themselves did not suffice and space was given for the CST chairman, not short of a bob or two either, to set out his wares on the op-ed page. He tried to make a serious point but which holds no water: that the organisation is no different to Amnesty or other NGOs in that they stand for a set of ideals and in so doing may lay claim to speak on behalf of others of a similar viewpoint.

The flaw in that argument is that while organisations like Amnesty have a subscription membership, Jewish organisations are on the whole closed shops. Anyone can pay Amnesty's annual membership fee and become a voting member in accordance with its constitution. I cannot however join the CST just like I can't join the miLlionaires Club while short of a few million.

So let those signatories put the lids back on their Mont Blancs and Cartiers, drop the 'leadership' from their exclusive club and get back to their counting houses. It's high time that some of the revolutionary spirit of the Arab world spills over to the Jewish street where oligarchs, autocrats and court Jews still do all the bidding on our behalf.

In addition to Alderman’s return to the fray, the JC gave the Shomrim organisation a full page feature article. I was going to take a pop at them but then I read that apparently they had reformed which is just as well as otherwise they may have ended up where they seek to place others. Reformed or not, I have serious misgivings about any self-appointed organisation that seeks to lord over others and which by its very existence exploits deeply held fears that the world is out to get us. The letter wildly in their praise by an obvious pseudonym also did their reputation no favours.

I have read the Shomrim leaflets much of which is harmless, common-sense advice on security though round here unless it is given in Yiddish on glossy paper with garish graphics and has the support of the ubiquitous Local Rabbonim it will be ignored. So I suppose they do fulfil some role. Some of it however borders on the racist subtly implying that in every cleaner lies a latent ganev and attached to every helping hand are some sticky fingers. That said, having seen them on Purim nabbing some suspiciously over-the-limit drivers I can see why they are preferred to the old bill. And in a crime-ridden borough like ours with the police at stretching point one can see why some may feel they have the wherewithal to step in, despite not being of that view myself.

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