Heidis, Milkies and Amalekites

It is no secret. I am not settled here. I need a change. I was originally thinking Cork (I bottled it). Now on the radar is Berlin.

MilkyAnd the brouhaha stirred up last week by an Israeli in the German capital encouraging others to join him is about far more than the price of chocolate pudding with a splurge of whipped cream (Times of Israel).

I can’t put my finger on what exactly has made me so unsettled here. The illness and passing, last year, of my lovely mum – I have now lost all three members of my immediate family (it is not quite as dramatic as it sounds) – won’t have helped, though my feet were already itching about a year or so beforehand. My aunt is convinced it is my still being single. But, while a wife and kids would not have left as much time for indulgent introspection, I don’t share her conviction that being tied to this country would have made me any more contented in it. Perhaps I am just experiencing some kind of mild, mid-life malaise.

Like “Pudding Man”, I still consider myself a Zionist. What I need, however, is some time (to draw on the Hebrew idiom) out of the Land. I look back at some of my more fervent postings here and wonder if it was really me who authored them. I recently deleted, as unrepresentative of it, “this miraculous little country” (though it is undoubtedly that) from the bullets under About This Blog. The locals now irritate me even more than they always have. The charedim appear more preposterous, the Tel Avivis more arrogant, and the working classes (I had better not get any more specific) more primitive. Tel Aviv feels ever more superficial, and while Jerusalem is more like home, it is also suffocatingly parochial. And there is little escape. The north disappoints (especially knowing the Lakes and Highlands as I do), and the south holds no appeal at all.

Soon into my Tour Guides’ course (which I was anyway forced to abandon in order to care for my mother), it became very apparent that my love for this place was on the wane. The sandstone was of as little interest as the lime, and the myths had lost all their meaning. On a Succot outing last week, our (excellent) guide’s enthusiasm just left me cold. And I have long stopped reading the Israeli press.

My reasons for wanting a break are not typical. They are neither economic nor security-related (though I thank the dear lady who, on the steps of Raleigh Close on Rosh Hashana, and with a grave wink hinting at the unspeakable, assured me that there would always be a spare bedroom for me in NW4 . . . should I “need it”). Unlike the Milky protesters – and there is genuine discontent amongst many Israeli twenty and thirty-somethings – I thankfully need neither cheaper housing nor grocery bills. The missiles, too, don’t faze me. It is more the arseholes who never let you into traffic, drive with a finger on the horn, jump red lights, and don’t stop at pedestrian crossings.

On Thursday evening, a delightful Jerusalem police officer chose to curse my mother in Arabic after spotting me raise my eyebrows as he overran the red light and stopped his marked 4×4 on the crossing. And, more upsettingly (who expects anything from Israeli police?), I recently witnessed the owner of the café where I drink my morning juice eject a frail gentleman in his seventies, who could only shake his head in disbelief, because he was deemed to have been sitting with his newspaper for too long following his last sip of hafuch.

I am sometimes assured, by those attempting to assuage the recent black moods, that such experiences are one-offs, exceptions and not rules. If only. I witness similar things here nearly every day. And they are signs of a society lacking class, boundaries and respect.

I am not comfortable about publishing much of the above, and apologise to anyone it offends (or depresses). But I have always endeavoured in these pages to tell it as I feel it (what otherwise is the point?) And if Yair Lapid wishes to label me an anti-Zionist, or even a traitor, I can live with that. But there is a great big world out there, and just because we have been hounded wherever we have gone in it, it doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t wish to experience it for longer than an Israir Special.

All in all, then, fresh surroundings and challenges clearly can’t come too soon.

Berlin is a wonderful city. Resonant with history, stylish, cosmopolitan, tolerant, and, yes, affordable. It is, I imagine, somewhat similar to the city of my birth . . . before it lost its identity and soul (just sit and observe, as I did a few weeks ago, from the top deck of an Ealing to Golders Green 83). And its main downside is not that history, but the very folk I need a break from: “You got rid of the very cream of world Jewry,” I always remind Oliver, my German lawyer, “and have ended up with tens of thousands of Israelis . . . serves you right!”

Resonant with history: the Neue Synagoge at dusk

Resonant with history: Berlin’s Neue Synagoge at dusk

Even though Angela Merkel’s Germany is arguably Israel’s most loyal and trusted ally (at a time when we don’t have many), on hearing “Berlin”, many of the reactions to my proposed move fall between shock and horror, often accompanied with the expression of someone biting on a pickle that has turned.

But why are we so insistent on clinging to our former enemies? Because of the shortage of current ones? Say I have a short memory, but even if the Germans are (as I was recently informed) the descendants of Amalek, Hamas, IS and Iran all cause me rather more sleep loss than the Amalekites (whom, incidentally, I would take over the Palestinians quicker than you can shriek “Allahu Akbar” and detonate your suicide vest).

Some of the double standards I have encountered have been hilarious, from friends and family whose kitchens could moonlight as AEG/Bosch/Miele/Neff/Siemens showrooms to the elderly relative who I discovered, soon after learning that he was Berlin-broyges with me, had been nailing a local fräulein while serving King and country in Allied-occupied Austria!

Perish the thought . . .

Perish the thought . . .

Indeed, folks’ greatest dread on hearing that I might move to Berlin is, of course, that I could end up in some kind of unseemly liaison with an athletic, fair-haired female with bone structure out of a human biology textbook. I don’t even want to think about that. Much. But anyway, at 47, should I still be placing national survivalism before personal happiness? (And even if Heidi has midos like the pair nearest the camera?)

Some of the ‘caring’ souls who have provided unsolicited opinions as to why I “can’t” move to Berlin are, curiously, the very same who went entirely AWOL during my mother’s illness and the second that I got up from shiva. Perhaps my oldest friend, Shuli, though, is certainly an exception to that. And, while I am loath to compliment him, I do know that he genuinely cares. After I had successfully repelled his latest attempt, last week, to persuade me to pursue a future with a couple (though separately) of completely unsuitable women – his former search criteria for me long having been reduced to a criterion (i.e., Jewish) – he threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed “Don’t tell me you are happy when you are sitting alone at home with Stuey and Dexxy!” The hard truth is, though, that most dates leave me longing to get back to them.

As for Deutschland, I have a few rather loose ends to tie up here first, but am already looking forward to the new challenge. I have some exciting business ideas and the feeling that my “fascination for the [former] abomination” (to quote Joseph Conrad) could be the impetus for a renewed vigour for writing (both blogging and even something more tangible). Who knows, it might even recharge my flagging Zionism.

And, to all you young Israelis who feel the need for a change, go for it I say! The experiences, culture and Weltanschauung that many of you will eventually bring home will serve this ‘island’ far better than the arrogance and hypocrisy of those who criticise and condescend from their villas in Caesarea and Ramat Aviv.

To all my readers, a very happy, healthy and gevaldig 5775!

Looking ahead (with Vladimir Ilyich, Prenzlauer Berg)

Looking ahead: with Vladimir Ilyich, Prenzlauer Berg

An open letter to Andy Kershaw (and other useful idiots)

Dear Mr. Kershaw,

My attention was recently drawn to your 12 July posting to your Facebook page [click here or search FB for “Andy Kershaw Todmorden”]. And I must admit to having been somewhat taken aback that a former Radio 1 DJ whose show I very much enjoyed in my student days – you see, you never knew you had “Zionist” listeners! – would want to label my home of 18 years “a backward, infantile, thuggish, thieving, racist, terrorist state.” Don’t hold back now, Andy.

As with most others who have had the temerity to crash the Kershaw Self-Promotional Circus, and to dare challenge its strutting ringmaster, you quickly barred me from further entry. But, having borrowed a friend’s Facebook identity, it soon became very apparent that said posting was no mere one-off, a response to the latest flare-up in Gaza. I spent Monday evening wading through your postings since 2012, and – aside from a couple of mentions of Vladimir Putin, a single one of Syria (though none of the 170,000 civilians killed there in the past three years), and another of South Sudan – it became very clear that you are obsessed with Israel to the exclusion of all else.

I am not, I promise, a member of any of “the organised Zionist Facebook squadrons”, as you imagine and call them (without any mention, conveniently, of the scores of mindless drones who “Follow” your every Facebook word). I am also, you may be surprised to hear, in favour of a Palestinian state, existing peacefully, side by side, with ours.

Andy KershawYou are clearly well-educated and highly intelligent, which makes your willful ignorance of the history and realities of this painful conflict all the more puzzling. I emigrated to Israel in January 1996, a mere two years after the high hopes of Oslo and that memorable handshake on the White House lawn, amid a spate of Hamas “suicide” – they were more homicide – attacks which blew up scores of Israelis on buses and in cafés and were aimed solely at torpedoing any hopes of peace (here is a list of them). So for you to keep trotting out the same shite about sieges and settlements is an insult both to your intelligence and to ours (if not to that of your Facebook-following fuckwits). Hamas is not interested in a two-state solution. Only in a Final one.

Today you posted: “Israel – You are an offence to civilization, a violation of humanity, and a moral disgrace.” Apart from sounding like you never really left the University of Leeds Student Union, where, for instance, is your outrage at the treatment by Hamas (and by all Islamofascist regimes) of women and gays? Oh . . . but I forgot, “[Hamas] do not rule by fear” (another one of your gems, from Monday).

Your obsession with this country is often disturbing. On 24 November 2013, you labelled Benjamin Netanyahu “a cheap thug” and “an ungracious fat wanker”. And why? Because he didn’t attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service! To your expertise on World Music must surely now be added Studies in the Overseas Visiting Habits of World Leaders. And, on 11 January this year, with real class, you headlined the passing of Ariel Sharon with “Fat Thug Dies”, later once again adding the adjective “cheap”. Interesting.

Your complete detachment from Middle East reality, however, is most amusingly highlighted by an 18 November 2012 posting in which you preface a link to Gerald Kaufman by describing the odious tosser as someone “considered to be a friend of Israel.” Perhaps like Jimmy Savile was of young girls.

You must be sorely missing the limelight since your ignoble fall from grace, being sent to prison for harassing your former partner. But how ironic that a drunken bully and cheat, who has never taken one ounce of true responsibility for terrorizing his own family, repeatedly accuses others of “playing the victim card” (here is your side of the story . . . though the subsequent comments of “Laura” and “Family friend”, I suspect, paint a rather truer picture).

Now I really do want to believe your repeated protests that you are not an anti-Semite. But your “Lik[ing]” of comments such as the following – from an Ian Dixon, on Sunday, regarding Facebook’s (alleged) removal of a Jon Snow piece on Gaza – do not exactly enhance your claims:

“And of course it being removed all the time has nothing to do with the owner of FB being Jewish! . . . I have never seen a religion or people hold so much power over free speech as I have this country, its people and religion.”

I can just see Mark Zuckerberg fretting over his Honey Nut Cheerios because of some anti-Semite (with zero credibility) on Channel 4 News. Then, yesterday, you actually “agreed” with a delightful-sounding character named Harry Reed, who wrote (amongst other assorted bilge and filth):

“The people of Palestine will recover their land and cleanse it of the stench of thieves, robbers, rapists and child-killers. They will recover their stolen books and art, throwing the parasites into the streets. The Palestinians will have their day. Already, over 100 racist thugs from your SS have been eliminated . . . fuck off back to Brooklyn with your racist philosophy, your race-myths and the rest of your pseudo-Nazi yarn about your supposed homeland . . . The resistance should refuse – you can’t sit at a table with Nazis. The Palestinians have eliminated over 100 members of Israel’s SS so far and they should finish the job.”

Nice.

So what are we supposed to believe about Andy Kershaw the man (not, I am sure, that you care)? To my annoyance, I actually found myself quite drawn to other aspects of your page – we both have schnauzers (though Stuey is rather more bastardized than Buster) and are passionate about lots of the same things (Dylan, Neil Young, even Wasdale) – but your postings on the situation here smack of unbelievable crassness and ignorance (though I still hope nothing more).

I am continually fascinated by people like you . . . about whether their Israel-only bashing is derived from: parents (or, in your case, I understand, grandparents), an unpleasant experience at school or university, or merely bad character. History shows us that scarred types – and you don’t deny being that – are more likely to develop an obsession with all things Jewish (and you would be in the ‘good’ company of lots of other rubbish, the latest scrap being footballer Joey Barton).

At a time of the worst anti-Semitism that many of us have known, you have a responsibility as a celebrity (however faded) not to continue in this vein. Otherwise, you will go down (no jail pun intended) as little more than someone who encouraged and facilitated, through willful disinformation, the hatred of Israel and, thereby, the large majority of Jews.

I invite anyone with the time and inclination to visit your sewer of hate – I haven’t covered even one percent of it – and also invite you to respond below if you feel that anything I have written is unfair or misrepresents you (though spare us, please, the vacuous cut-and-paste Facebook soundbites).

Yours sincerely,

melchett mike

[I trust that more than one of my readers will post a link to this blog on Mr. Kershaw’s Facebook page.]

Update (1 August): Andy Kershaw, brave man and champion of free speech that he is, is deleting all comments linking to this post, and blocking the poster, from his Facebook page. He clearly hasn’t yet discovered that, due to the huge number of “hits” on this post (4,000 in a day and a half), melchett mike is coming up first on most related searches of him! So, if you haven’t yet done so, please take a minute to cut-and-paste this URL after as many of his hateful postings as you can.

F*ck you, too

melchettmike:

I have never as yet “reblog[ged],” but this post – penned five and a half years ago at the height of Operation Cast Lead – is, with all the disgraceful hypocrisy and thinly-veiled anti-Semitism that we are witnessing in these dark days, well worth (I would modestly suggest!) a revisit . . .

Originally posted on melchett mike:

[melchett mike, talking to his reflection in his laptop screen, after suffering a fortnight of “F*ck Israel” and “F*ck Jews” . . . ]

Well, f*ck you, too. F*ck you and this whole Jew-hating world. F*ck all the  protesters who, it seems, don’t believe Jews have a right to defend themselves. Where have you been these past eight years, while missiles have been landing on our women and children every day? And what would you have done if they were landing on yours, you self-righteous hypocrites? F*ck Bianca Jagger and Annie Lennox, and all the other has-beens, who have been trying to revive their flagging careers aboard the human rights bus (the one which doesn’t stop in Israel). F*ck Roseanne Barr and Alexei Sayle, and all the other “rent a Jews”. You are a f*cking disgrace. F*ck George “Hezbollah has never been a terrorist organisation” Galloway, the…

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As Good As It Gets?

Welcome to Jewish reality, 2014.

I am not sure who has irritated me more this past week: the English oleh showing off to friends back in Blighty with continual “Look at me! Look at me! I am living under missile fire!” Facebook updates (perhaps the silly sod will now spare a thought for the poor, all year round, buggers in Sderot); the one who, two days ago, posted “Siren in Ra’anana”, as if Hamas had finally gone too far; or the booked summer holidayers asking “Should I come?”

“What about the missiles?” enquired one such, yesterday, to which I could only reply “What about them?” For me, their most chilling effect is forcing me into a confined space with my new south Tel Aviv neighbours (they are working class, you know).

Another messaged me “How’s it going out there?? Do I need to cancel my trip?” This seemed somewhat akin to concluding a comfort telephone call to an ailing friend by announcing that you are too shit-scared to visit them. What the bloody hell ever happened to solidarity?

As for the endless PR efforts on blogs and Facebook, I can’t help but think that they are preaching to the converted. The thing must be to get accurate reporting and analysis into the international press. And, even then, those who don’t like Jews – usually hiding behind the ‘respectable’ veneer of ‘mere’ anti-Zionism – are almost certainly irredeemable. It is in their blood.

Operation Protective Edge is the third such that I have blogged about since December 2008 (see my War in Gaza category). And this is now our reality: every couple of years or so, we will have to give the naughty . . . rather, wicked schoolboy – who, in spite of every inducement, won’t change his ways – a smacked bottom (if I may be forgiven for quoting my own Facebook update of last week: “Can’t help thinking of the Palestinian as the incorrigible class halfwit, who gets beating after justified beating . . . but still comes back for more.”) Thankfully unlike the pond life we are up against, we are both too moral to kill civilians living above (demonically positioned) enemy weapons’ stores and too life-valuing to risk our boys in a ground operation.

During these very months exactly seventy years ago, 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz, and the majority gassed on arrival. I think, too, of the unspeakable horrors my antecedents must have suffered at the turn of the last century, in Lithuania and Poland, to force them to gamble on the entirely unknown (even we Litvaks didn’t yet have the Internet).

It has always been thus for us. So, while concerned about the current situation, I am trying to see the (relative) positives in the bigger Jewish picture (who said a degree in Philosophy was a waste of time?)

And now with our own state, IDF, and even “second strike” nuclear submarines – no one can f*ck with the Jews like they used to – this may well be as good as it gets.

Unfriending the Cousins

I “unfriend[ed]” my Arab Facebook friends, this week.

I had met all half-dozen of them on my half-Jewish, half-Arab tour guides course (which I could not complete). But despite sitting with “the lads” – all Arab, more fun than the nerdy new immigrants – at the back of the coach on every field trip, we have not, other than on Facebook, stayed in touch. And I have become increasingly self-conscious that some of my more un-PC “status updates” might, perhaps, offend their sensibilities. Following the abduction of the three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion, a fortnight ago, I felt that being able to be myself, even in a medium as ‘trivial’ as Facebook, was more important than perpetuating these ostensibly futile ‘friendships’.

And the “unfriend[ing]” was also, I think, a gesture. A statement. To myself even. A result, after a decade and a half of life here, of having become totally disillusioned with our Biblical cousins.

No one should have been surprised, however, by the news from the Gush. Following the ‘success’ of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping, it was clear that Hamas would attempt others (see Why Gilad must not be freed “at any price”). Our (continuing) mistake is to judge the Arabs by our own western values (which tell us, in this case, that abducting teenagers is just plain wrong). And we should not be surprised, either, at images of ordinary Palestinians delighting in their ‘victory’. Because to them, that is what it is. And this is a war.

I don’t believe I am a racist. I take as I find. I still go out of my way to find work for Kamel and Rayed, the East Jerusalem Arabs who renovated my apartment, because I like and appreciate them (certainly a great deal more than their dodgy Persian then boss, who, I found out much later, had diddled almost all of my suppliers). And I am in favour, in principle at least, of a “two-state solution”.

But make no mistake: none but an inconsequential number of Palestinians recognise any Jewish claim to this land. They want us out of here. And they won’t rest until we are. The sooner we accept that reality, the safer we will be. And I feel sure that Bibi, oft criticised for political inertia, merely realises that the current state of affairs – total impasse, but (with the Security Wall) without the terror we once knew – is, with neighbours like ours, the best that we can hope for.

On a shiva visit last week, I struck up a conversation with Itamar Marcus, the Director of Palestinian Media Watch, a non-partisan organisation which studies Palestinian society through the monitoring of its media and schoolbooks. Having this piece already in mind, I enquired as to whether there might nonetheless be some potential “partners for peace” on the other side. Marcus’s knowing smile said it all. “Put it this way,” he said, “that is the shortest chapter in our book.”

And joking with a Jewish contractor in my Tel Aviv apartment, last week, that we should lock his Arab worker inside until the teenagers are freed, he replied “The problem is no one there would even care!” And that about summed up the difference between our peoples. The individual is paramount to Jews. The Arabs, on the other hand, use their own children as weapons and shields. We are in a seemingly permanent state of war against a cruel and primitive enemy, a fact now recognised and admitted by increasing numbers on the Israeli Left (aside, of course, from the Anshel Pfeffers of this world – see his latest sell-out here – a conceited so and so no less opportunist or extreme than those he decries on the Right, and yet another reason why I will never resubscribe to Haaretz).

Not many aspects of the Bible “talk” to me, but references to “Good” peoples and “Evil” peoples – which, as a schoolboy, always struck me as Osher Baddiel nonsense – have, in recent years, at least in the collective sense, taken on a certain resonance.

As for my former Facebook friends, I was sorry to hear (I am still on the course e-mail list) that some of them were said to have behaved inappropriately during a recent visit to Yad Vashem . . . though, again, if true, it didn’t really surprise me: even the concept of mutual respect, never mind peace, now seems a pipe dream. There is, perhaps, just too much history.

Shabbat shalom in the meantime . . . and God bless our boys.

Abducted Teenagers

Hasmo Legends XXVII: Liselle Bailey – The Revenge of the Willy

Other than a good ogle of Page 3 girl Jo Guest as she leant over the pool table in Golders Green’s seedy hangout, The G-Spot, one mid-90s (decade and approximate temperature in my Jockeys) Saturday night, I had never even got close to anyone in the adult entertainment industry. And certainly no one who had also taught at Hasmonean High School for Boys.

So, while some may have frittered recent years Looking for Eric (for once, not Elbaz) or Searching for Sugar Man, I have spent them hot on the tail of Liselle Bailey, the supply teacher who, on days that she wasn’t teaching English on Holders Hill Road, was shooting porn films.

Or so I had been reliably tipped-off. And what could be more reliable than a couple of frum, middle-aged accountants? (Though the recollection of one of them sweating so profusely, and pathetically, into his chicken soup when I informed him that they would be named in this piece precludes (even) me from outing them.)

But all of this, I told myself, was pure fantasy. The only pawn at Holders Hill Road in our day was in the Chess Club, the only knocking-out considered (aside, naturally, from the spawn of DJ) was of frummy prefects, and the only stiff little things to be shunned were the arthritic ones in the headmaster’s handshake.

To my surprise and delight, however, my contact high up in the school, rather than erect the wall of silence I had expected, at once confirmed that this would be no wild skirt chase . . .

“Miss Bailey was actually a supply teacher for a short time at the school – she was a very good teacher. She was doing some work in movies, but it was production not performing.”

So that’s alright then . . . only porn production!

That was all he could (or, at least, would) give me. But I didn’t have long to wait for a little more meat, with another inside sauce sending me a link to a London Evening Standard piece titled “English teacher packs in job for porn films” (full article), prefaced by the momentous words “I think this is her . . .”

Who now gave a toss about the hairy terrorist in Pakistan, that Saudi Rabbi Angel? I was on Miss Bailey’s scent – I was sure it smelt a great deal sweeter – and was going to make it my job to meet and grill her. After all, how many other ex-Hasmos would have been willing to take on such an altruistic task?

I was still, however, beset by doubt. Even if I succeeded in locating Miss Bailey, wouldn’t she be too proud to confirm the shameful truth . . . that she actually taught at Hasmonean High School for Boys?!

That was back in 2011. My quest took three long years, and was close to breaking me. When I made initial contact with Miss Bailey, she simply could not fathom my interest (can any non-ex-Hasmos comprehend the place’s endless fascination to us?) Indeed, until I actually spotted Liselle – as lovely in the flesh as she had sounded throughout our prolonged e-correspondence – walking towards me outside Hertford East train station that weekend lunchtime, I was certain that she would pull out or blow me off before I had even had a chance of bashing this out.

Liselle led me to a local gastropub and, over beers, started to relate how she had ended up in teaching, porn, and, for Spring Term 2009, the hallowed halls of Holders Hill Road . . .

Born in west London, Liselle qualified as an English and drama teacher, and, for four years, was head of drama at a “scary” Christian private school in Sunderland. After moving back to London and working in children’s television, she eventually decided to pursue a career in the porn film industry. “I felt it was a job with a purpose,” Liselle told me. “Most people like porn, and I wanted to make good porn rather than the rubbish that’s out there.”

“I grew up in a very conservative home,” Liselle, 34, continued. “My mum didn’t even know what a blowjob was. ‘Why would anyone want to do that,’ she would ask. But I had always been completely fascinated by porn, and liked watching it from a very young age.”

Liselle Bailey

“When I was at Hasmonean,” Liselle confessed, “I was actually working three days a week there and the other two in the porn business, before I became full-time.” And she was somewhat taken aback by her first exposure to Orthodox Jewish teens. “I had never met a bunch of more hormonal boys! They were extremely blatant and flirtatious. I wasn’t used to it in such an in-your-face way. The GCSE boys would crowd around me, asking for my phone number and things like ‘Have you ever kissed a girl?’ It was quite intimidating. And I couldn’t get past that initial hormonal thing. Perhaps I wasn’t best at keeping boundaries. I was a bit too friendly, too much myself.”

Had Liselle ever stopped to consider, I wondered, the untold millions of sticky issurim she had caused so many nice Jewish boys to be oyver (though I didn’t phrase the question in those terms)? “I feel flattered if I did,” came the instant reply. “I see that particular thing . . . er, sinning . . . as a good and healthy thing, not a bad thing. In fact, it is quite a bloody magical thing!”

And I couldn’t argue with that. If Liselle Bailey had been teaching at Hasmo in our day, I would have suffered repetitive strain injury two whole decades before getting anywhere near my first laptop. And she certainly would have provided welcome relief from the tired Readers’ Wives (no connection, incidentally, Bridge Lane readers, with your very own Congregants’ Wives).

I did try to get Liselle to dig some dirt on DJ, but she had no recollection of the benippled one, and – pornographers clearly possessing more scruples than journalist-lawyers – I couldn’t persuade her to make any up. “The only rabbi I remember was the head, a massive guy, who was very nice. He wanted me to stay and take a permanent role. I was really touched, but also troubled about him thinking, later on, that I had tricked him.”

Liselle Bailey

The only folk at Hasmonean who knew anything about Liselle’s double life were her colleagues in the English department. “It came out in the pub after school, and they were all very cool about it. I anyway planned to leave Hasmo at Easter, because of articles I knew were going to be published about me in The Sun and Sport.”

Long after leaving Holders Hill Road, Liselle had to remove “inappropriate” comments by Hasmo boys from YouTube and Twitter. “I have ex-students I’m still very friendly with from the school in Sunderland, but the Hasmo boys were just so flirty . . . or worse!”

As for my own ex-Hasmo hormones, I controlled them until we had finished lunch. “What is it like directing porn films,” I asked. “Some days,” explained Liselle – who now works full-time for Kaizen XXX – “you can just forget what you’re doing. It’s ten in the morning, you’re thinking of very logistical things, you walk into a room and there’s a guy with his c*** in his hand [warming up, I imagined]. It takes you by surprise! But it’s like any other production job, only we film a couple of people having sex for about an hour of the seven hour day!”

On a roll, I then asked Liselle – I figured the accountants would want to know – whether she ever appears on the other side of the camera. “I’m a voyeur not an exhibitionist,” she answered, “though I have had flings with quite a few of the actors privately.”

Liselle Bailey

And with that titillating thought firmly in mind (it still is), and before my Yetzer HaTov had a chance to make a fool of me, I headed off to Heathrow. Liselle had been a delight. An English rose with a penchant for porn. Yum.

Perusing the biography of Hasmonean founder Solomon Schonfeld (by ex-Hasmo dad Derek Taylor) soon after meeting Liselle, the Rabbi Dr’s struggle with his more enlightened, worldly headmaster, W.W. (“Willy”) Stanton, to have Lady Chatterley’s Lover – already deemed fit for publication by the English courts – removed from the school library appeared even more pointless than it must have at the (early 70s) time . . .

“Stanton defended the literary merit of the book. Schonfeld told him in front of the governors that either the book had to go within twenty-four hours or the Headmaster would. The phrasing was exceptionally and quite unnecessarily rude . . . Schonfeld always got his way because the governors were mostly handpicked supporters.”

And it was delicious to imagine Mr. Stanton, as he looked down on Miss Bailey causing her charges to stand to attention in his former classrooms, allow himself a wry, even cheeky, smile . . .

What poetic justice! A triumph for Willy in every sense.

With Liselle Bailey

Thank you, Pete . . . a Libertine in every sense

Bouncing home in the early hours of Friday from a second wonderful night of Pete Doherty at Barby Tel Aviv, I am ‘greeted’ by depressingly familiar facebook discussions about Roger Waters and BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) . . . aka the ‘respectable’, twenty-first century boycott of Jews.

I got into indie rock/post-punk revival band The Libertines thanks to a religious-gig-going mate. And something about its maverick co-frontman Doherty, whether his talented songwriting (my favourite example, from his subsequent group, Babyshambles) or even some of his offstage excesses, immediately struck a chord with this ‘nice’ Jewish boy from Hendon (I guess because of Jonny, I have always been drawn to the outsider/misfit/rebel). And soon thereafter, my then boss, duty soliciting, picked up Doherty as a client following one of his not infrequent drug-related indiscretions. So you can imagine my excitement when I spotted, on facebook, that Pete was actually coming to Tel Aviv . . .

Pete Doherty, Barby TA, 30.4.14

Springing out of the Central Bus Station last Wednesday evening, I at once purchased a few tins of Sudanese-strength lager for the walk through south Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighbourhood. They soon did the trick, also helping to make ma’ariv and kaddish in the local Beit Tefila somewhat less routine than usual.

Pete’s opening “Shalom” immediately warmed the heart. Sometimes it is hard living here. Not the day-to-day. Just the constant feeling that we are on our own and the regular reminders that “they” don’t like us, siding instead, quite incomprehensibly to us, with the brutally oppressive, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamofascist terror ‘state’ nextdoor.

"I like Tel Aviv!"

“I like Tel Aviv!”

So when artists like Doherty refuse to go along with the campaign of hate, speak their first few words of Ivrit (even if, like Pete, confusing their “tov me’od” and “toda”), swig from a bottle of Goldstar, draw on their first Israeli joint, and even relate their experiences from the Carmel Market that morning – see the clip (of Thursday night’s opening) at the bottom – it just means so indescribably much. Well it does, at least, to me.

Pete sussed the locals immediately. “You have to negotiate everything here,” he exclaimed, on emerging for his encore. “I just asked this bloke back there for two minutes [rest]. “No,” he goes, “you can have one”!” Tel Aviviot, too. “You’re a little optimistic,” he told one of them, on unfurling and reading out her rather forward proposal for after the show.

I have always liked to believe that I possess a good instinct about people. Even famous people. When I first saw Morrissey swing those gladioli on Top of the Pops, I knew that here was a man . . . and, sure enough, some 25 years later, he also ignored the anti-Semites to come and play Tel Aviv (see And we’re still fond of you, Moz!)

BDS represents nothing less than ‘respectable’, post-Holocaust, anti-Semitism. The obsessives who today demonise the Jewish state by calling for its economic isolation are the same types who, in centuries past, demonised Jews with caricatures, boycotts, and far, far worse; or who, in return for longed-for Gentile recognition and acceptance, were prepared to sell out their fellow Jew.

BDS’s Israel-only bashing and self-hating-Jewish proponents are not folk you’d particularly want to share a beer with . . .

Emma Thompson

“Why does he call me that?”

Let us begin, for horrible English toff example, with old horseface Emma Thompson (who, at an international theatre festival to feature productions from, inter alia, Iran, Turkey and China, saw fit only to call for the boycott of the Jewish one!) Her daughter attended the same Hampstead school as children of friends. And, while other celebrity parents – including Sean Bean, Damian Lewis and Bill Nighy – gave of themselves in a fundraising campaign for a sick pupil, Thompson just gave excuses (via her publicist, of course). She was, on the other hand, excellent at making lots of luvvie/“look at me” noise outside the school gates. A horrid woman, by all accounts.

And talk to anyone unfortunate enough to have known Gerald Kaufman growing up in Leeds. They will tell you what a singularly repellent individual he was, even then (see “Dame” Gerald: Our very own “Uncle Tom” and Kaufman: Enough to make your Rabbi anti-Semitic). And one hears similar things about most others in the List of Shame, headed by the (thankfully) late Harold Pinter, the abhorrent Miriam Margolyes (see here . . . though not on a full stomach) and, sadly, two artists whom I once very much admired, Mike Leigh and Alexei Sayle.

Roger Waters in uniform

“Suits me, ja?!”

I have little doubt that Waters is another fabrenter (as my parents used to refer to such people). He has had more than enough time to explain why he picks on Israel, and suspends Star of David-emblazoned inflatable pigs over his audiences. To my mind, there is only one explanation. (And I feel vindicated in my lifelong disdain for the clinical dirges of Pink Floyd – if Hitler had come to power forty years later, guards at Dachau would have alternated Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with The Dark Side of the Moon.)

Thompson and Waters clearly couldn’t give a Fliegenschwein about human suffering. If they did, they would be working tirelessly on Syria, Saudi Arabia, Darfur, Eritrea, North Korea, China, etc, instead of tirelessly obsessing with the only democracy in the Middle East (and one that has been embroiled in an existential, 66-year war on terror). Their issue is with Jews.

The boycotters did try to get to Pete. “They told me it was dangerous here,” he quipped, after stumbling, one (joint-injected) Goldstar too many, into the audience. And while his suggestion for resolving the Middle East conflict – “You might as well just have a drink and listen to some music” – may be a tad facile, it comes from a love of all people, not the hatred of one.

Clean-liver he may not be, but Pete Doherty is clearly just an everyday good bloke. And he is the very antithesis of the arrogant, hypocritical, self-righteous, morally dishonest Thompsons and Waters of this world, who hide beneath veneers of decency, while rabidly pursuing racist agendas of the most pernicious kind. What an upside-down planet we live on, where public persona and choice of lifestyle, rather than fundamental goodness, accord that pair of cunts – apologies, but sometimes it’s the only word that’ll do – more standing than him.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a “libertine” as “a person who freely indulges in sensual pleasures” – as a Queens Park Rangers fan (Doherty once penned a club fanzine) puts it so tastefully here, “any chap whos rearended [melchett mike: allegedly] Moss gets my applause!” – but also as “a freethinker”.

Throughout his litany of troubles, there is one Yiddish word that has almost certainly never been used in association with Pete Doherty . . . but for us, Pete, you will always be a mensch.

[For more photos/videos of last week’s gigs, search YouTube and see here.]