Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Sod‘em-on-Sea

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In normal societies and communities, when planning a new settlement, you might design colourful posters to attract young families, you might include some photographs or an artist's impression to entice the curious, you might hold a public meeting to gauge the interest and answer questions, you might invite people to nominate themselves to form a steering committee and you could even hold elections for this committee. In due course you would inform people who have expressed an interest on how the settlement is progressing, the range of available housing, the public facilities, educational institutions and so on.

If this is how it would operate in normal circumstances amongst normal people then say what you like about us but normal we are not. Perhaps I should rephrase that for though we are no less or more normal than anyone else that is not the conclusion you would reach reading the above notice.

This notice announces a 'new' settlement in Westcliff for "general-chasidim". This could be defined as moderately enlightened chasidim who can stomach living next door to someone with a different hat or coat so long as the hat's furry and the coat shiny and if an overcoat then shiny too but alos hooded, shapeless and reflectors on the upper arm. Should the neighbour, however, be a jacketed type with a downward titling hat or, Go- forbid, a hatless, coatless specimen then let them head north to Hemel Hempstead or in fact anywhere but east of the M25.

Anyhow, back to the notice. We can debate if it was written for the normal or less so but what shines through from every line is the contempt it has for those it is supposed to be serving. This of course comes as no surprise to us locals and is exactly what we expect round here from anyone in charge of anything .

Just consider the dry facts. A junta of four unelected individuals announces to the general public in as uninspiring language as it could muster that they have set up communal institutions in Westcliff with the 'guidance and blessing' of the gedoilim. Don't bother asking who the gedoilim might be because there are far more important things for which you will have to take them on trust. Such as the roof over your head.

For to gain even a foot in this Stamford Hill-on-Sea you may deal only with this 'non-profit' lot. On green and pleasant land this New Jerusalem may indeed be built but for dark satanic mills it shall not want either. Look not at the writing and consider only the look of the notice. No topography will compensate for the colourless and harsh typography of the notice and even this is no match for the sheer contempt of its content.

You need not take my word for it. Here is a translation of the last paragraph of the notice, the sting in the tail if you like:

"Understandably, for the [settlement] to succeed we require the public's assistance not to buy or hire houses without the committee and, therefore, to enforce the above, we hereby announce that it will not be at all possible for anyone who buys or rents a house not through the committeeto to make use of the communal institutions." (emphasis in the original)

Were this a notice from the Homerton Hospital in respect of the Shabbos room or the Cohanim sidewalks you'd have 5 extra supplements in our newspapers to cover the 'scandal'. If El Al spoke like that to an idiot holding up a flight they'd be bringing down the Israeli government. And if that was Ofsted writing, Interlink would produce another set of bogus statistics with its self-proclaimed Mrs "Intelligent" referring to our 'traditions' of buying up real estate on the cheap.

But since it's some newly arrived apparatchiks laying claim to Westcliff it's all in order.  Don't bother asking how many properties were bought on the cheap on someone else's turf to create the fortunes of the undersigned, and don't ask why what may be done with impunity in Stamford Hill or anywhere else becomes a capital crime if done in Westcliff. All you need to know is that someone somewhere has put himself in charge and by definition is wielding a big fat stick.

Because when they talk about 'communal institutions' they have in mind nothing other than our dear precious neshomelech. Dare to buy a home through anyone other than our 'non-profit' agents and your kids can sit at home or wander the streets but don’t bring them to us. This is the initiation rite for askonim the world over and there's no reason why Westcliff should be any different. Treat the kids like pawns and you'll earn your place in the chareidi hall of fame.

Benefits cheats will get their shishi and landlords letting sub-standard property to heimishe tenants will get their top-table but buy your own 2-up 2-down without it passing through the askonim's grubby fingers and you've had it. No rov or dayan is required for this edict because there's nothing revolutionary or novel about it. That four individuals can on their own accord hold a community to ransom simply because this is what they have decided is what counts as normal round here. Nothing illegal, of course, and they'll quote you scriptures in support as only the devil can.

But as a window to how we're treated by our own there are few better. No sense of fairness. No politeness. No kinds words. No explanation. No accountability. No transparency. Just raw brute force. Because so we said, so we can and so we will.

Welcome to Sod 'em on Sea.