Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

"If Kids Wish To Insult Each Other, They Now Use [The Word] Jew": Par For The Course At Parrs Wood?

Marcus Shloimovitz (1899-1986) began life in what was arguably the most antisemitic country in the whole of Europe, its institutionalised Jew-hatred seemingly outstripping even that of Tsarist Russia: Roumania.  But he spent most of his life in the great north-western city of Manchester, where he became a textile merchant.

A member of the Board of Deputies for 30 years, Mr Shloimovitz is still remembered for his long- and hard-fought campaign to have such definitions of the noun Jew as "extortionate moneylender ... miser" and of the obnoxious verb "to jew" as "to cheat, swindle or defraud" from English dictionaries.

In his struggle he was opposed, even mocked, by many of the lily-livered, don't-rock-the-boat types that have all too often bedeviled the "leadership" circles of the Anglo-Jewish community.

But he was supported by many non-Jewish public figures (including household names from Parliament and the judiciary), and his efforts were endorsed by successive Israeli prime ministers.

As a result of Mr Shloimovitz's tenacity and determination,  most dictionaries at last either removed the definitions objected to, or qualified their continuing presence with apologetic explanations.

Although such pejorative usages were in the dictionary, the Holocaust had already made utterance of them infinitely more shocking than they had been before, and they were accordingly shunned by all decent people, appalled at the depraved and murderous depths to which Judeophobia can lead.

Even so, the terms obviously continued in some households, for, shamefully, they have sprung into renewed life among schoolchildren.  

Notes the historian Professor Geoffrey Alderman in his latest column in the Jewish Chronicle:
'Last November, in my capacity as a visiting professor at York St John University, I had the privilege of hearing a presentation by doctoral student Joy Schmack. Mrs Schmack, an extremely experienced teacher and inspector of secondary-school religious education, is researching the use of the word "Jew" in teenage classrooms in the north-west of England. She presented chilling evidence of the unmistakeable revival of the word "Jew" as a common term of abuse amongst teenagers, who apparently habitually use it as a synonym for "cheat" or "swindler", or "snitch". "Don't you dare Jew me", one Merseyside youngster might say to another - perhaps hardly realising the significance of these words.
Scarcely four months after hearing this presentation I received a communication from a retired gentleman whose family escaped from Nazi Germany in 1934 and who now devotes his retirement to talking about antisemitism to youngsters in schools in Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire. He had been moved to write to me because of his experience at one such school, where his presentation was discourteously received and where a teacher confessed to him that the word "Jew" had now replaced the word "gay" as a playground term of abuse. The teacher said: "If kids wish to insult each other, they now use (the word) Jew" [Emphasis added].
The school in question is the notorious educational establishment located in the Manchester suburb of Didsbury and known as Parrs Wood. Readers of this column will recall that it was this very school that was the subject of my column on February 3, when I drew attention to the hostility to Israel and to the contempt for Jews displayed by its students, abetted by certain of its staff. Now we are told that its pupils routinely use the word "Jew" as a term of abuse and that this usage is (once again) becoming commonplace.'
This state school, which, as is obvious from its online videos, has an ethnically diverse student body, produced in its magazine a highly disturbing, in places downright mendacious, timeline of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the tone of which is indicated by the following outrageous inaccuracy in the introduction:
"The problem started with Palestine being an Arab, Muslim state [sic!]; however, over the years, more and more Jewish migrants have been settling there and creating their own state named ‘Israel’" 
Parrs Wood has also hit the headlines for other unfortunate reasons connected with the Middle East, being obliged in February to cancel a scheduled women-only event by Human Appeal International, a charity with reported links to Hamas. And in 2009 the same charity held at the school a "Day for Gaza" fundraising event.

In his earlier previously-mentioned column, written before the cancellation of the women-only event, Professor Alderman had some harsh things to say about the school and its headmaster:

'...Shakos has now brought himself to confess that, "it was perhaps a mistake to allow such an over-simplification of a complex issue to be addressed by one of our junior contributors and we certainly apologise for any upset caused by its publication".
But I'm afraid however many apologies are now issued as the complaints roll in, the matter cannot be permitted to rest there.
I am, for example, led to wonder just what sort of racialised rubbish is taught in the name of history at this school. I am led to ask why this school permits itself (as it will again, this month) to be used for the dubious fund-raising objectives of HAI. Above all, I am led to wonder whether, in showing such poor judgment and leadership, Andrew Shakos is really fit to be the school's head-teacher.'
Hadar Sela is one of the most perceptive and trenchant Middle East commentators in cyberspace: read her incisive piece regarding Parrs Wood, including her exchange with Parrs Wood headmaster Andrew Shakos,  here

As Ms Sela observed in relation to the timeline published in the school magazine:
'The problem of course is that almost 2,500 pupils have by now read and absorbed the politically-charged inaccuracies served up by the institution upon which they rely for knowledge. An apology will not remedy that disinformation.'
It seems reasonable to conclude that the "disinformation" in question will have confirmed many a pupil in the antisemitic attitudes inherent in the "Jew" slur that is apparently so widespread at Parrs Wood (and apparently at schools elsewhere).

Surely, headmaster Shakos should launch an investigation into the apparent Judeophobia, suggested by the racist use of "Jew" and "to jew" as insults at his school, and surely the official leadership of the Anglo-Jewish community should liaise with both him and the relevant educational authorities to ensure that he does so.

In tolerating such insults, the school may well be in violation of legislation regarding racial hatred and incitement to racial hatred.  It is certainly in violation of its moral and ethical obligations if it allows such repellent slurs to persist among the student body unchallenged.

Note: On 27 January 2014 Manchester Jewish community leader Joy Wolfe drew to my attention in a comment (qv) information unavailable to me at the time of writing the blog that puts a different perspective on matters. Please view that comment.


  1. The northern part of England has always had a problem with antisemitism. I have a sister-in-law who lives in Doncaster, who would never use the words Jew or Jewish for fear of being attacked verbally if they found out she was 'one of them'

    She also never had her sons circumcised because people would know they were Jewish.

    She has lived with that fear for over 40 years and when we visit we have to watch our words.

    1. I'm amazed!
      I know that for some unaccountable reason the north-east of England always tops the RSPCA's list of regions in which most cruelty cases occur each year, but I have never heard that it has the dubious distinction of being particularly antisemitic.

  2. Daphne, this is a rather small point, but I notice that you use the word "Judeophobia" in a particular sentence rather than the word "anti-Semitism" or a phrase like "anti-Jewish racism."

    Obviously, as you well understand, the language that we use when discussing this topic is exceedingly important. Can you speak to why you made that particular choice?

    1. A friend of mine in Australia prefers the term Judeophobia to antisemitism, and advocates its use in order to undermine the Arabist leftists who have hijacked the term antisemitism in order to throw it back in the faces of Jews. Such types should, of course, be reminded that Marr coined the term specifically to describe hatred towards Jews, but I see my friend's point. Besides, I like to vary my wording occasionally!

    2. Fair enough.

      Over at Israel Thrives we've had similar discussions and I therefore tend to use "anti-Jewish racism" and for just the reason that you cited.



    3. A small point but I agree the language is important. "Judeophobia" does not come close to describing the phenonomen we are again confronting. This is not some kind of eccentric neurosis, like a fear of dogs or butterflies or whatever, to be indulged, pittied or treated. They do not fear the people or the religion. They hate them and they hold them in utter contempt.

      The term for this is "antisemitism". "Bigotry" or "racism" may also describe it. In essnce the word has only one meaning and it has nothing at all to do with Arabs except to the extent that they too can be vicious violent antisemites of the worst kind.

      Those who play with the meaning of words to define Arabs as exempt from, or even the victims of, antisemitism, have shown themselves for what they are worth. They want to define away a horrible and obvious reality by playing with words. In doing so they define themselves.

    4. Good points, Geoff!
      Meanwhile, I wish Anglo-Jewry would get off its collective rump and challenge Parrs Wood School over this antisemitism problem.

    5. Mike, apologies for the late posting of your comment - it was in the spam folder!

  3. I am the person who underwent a disturbing experience at Parrs Wood High School. Rest assured the problem will not end here.

  4. Daphne,

    As per my previous comment, the problem is well in hand and I shall keep you updated.

  5. This piece is absolute rubbish, adults have been using the word "Jew" to describe stingy behaviour for years. It has nothing to do with Parrs Wood and everything to do with prejudice in society. Its no different to kids (and adults) using the N word to blacks or the P word to Asians. As usual Jews have to play the "victim" card. Cry us a river!

    1. So you think that using the word "Jew" in the sense you mention is justified because it's been used for years? My, oh, my!

    2. I agree with the first comment sooo much...I actually go to parrs wood and firstly 2500 kids don't go there its actually 1900 ,secondly we don't have a magazine its call a newsletter which you give to your parents / carers .

  6. I am truly horrified that this inaccurate and ill informed judgement of Parrswood School and defamation of its head teacher, Andrew Shakos, is available when a Google search is made for Andrew Shakos.
    When the original issue of the article about Israel in the school magazine first came to light, I, together with other senior community leaders, met with Mr Shakos to look into the situation. This resulted in him fully accepting the fact that there had been a serious lack of vigilance in checking the content of the magazine, and including it had been a serious misjudgement. An apology was published and accepted on behalf of the community by among others, the president of the Jewish Representative Council and the President of the Zionist Central Council. Geoffrey Alderman's article was written without any regard for the interaction between the local community and Mr Shakos and the school, Using the term notorious is not in line with the interaction that has followed after the discussion with the community and its leadership.
    The issue regarding the allegation of the man who chooses to remain anonymous about his experience at the school is an entirely separate matter which has also been fully looked into by the community leaders. Interestingly he is not known to anyone who is engaged in Holocaust education in schools on behalf of the community. He was aggrieved when, after his first lecture which was not well received by his young audience, due the staff said to its length and lack of interaction, they made suggestions of how to make his second visit more pupil friendly.
    Representatives of the community, including myself, met with him to hear his grievances and also received an explanation from Mr Shakos about what his staff told him actually happened. Needles to say the two versions of the story were dramatically different and much of the anonymous gentleman's grievances were challenged.
    As for the allegations about the cancellation of an event that had been booked in one of the buildings let out on campus for public events, there was no FORCED cancellation, but Mr Shakos cancelled it when the background of the host organisation was drawn to his attention. The defamatory remarks made about him and his suitability as head are outrageous, especially since they are made by people who did not take the trouble to be in full possession of the facts.
    Since engaging with us Mr Shakos has had links with the local synagogue, attended the civic Shabbat Remembrance serve and interacted with the head of the local Jewish primary school. He has put members of staff in appropriate departments in contact with the school, and taken in special Holocaust Education packs as teaching aids. I have no idea who Daphne anson is but her insulting remark seeking Anglo Jewry to get off its collective rump and challenge Parrs Wood shows her ignorance of the facts, as locally this is exactly what we did do. At the same time as all this was going on the Parrs Wood Website had a remarkable piece abput Holocaust Memorial up on its web site. If anything is likely to cause antisemitism it is this witch hunt being mounted against Mr Shakos and his school. I would consider that now he has found this defamation is still available on the web that he might understandably want to consider action to get it removed .

    1. I am very happy to have your comment. Many thanks.

    2. I am the person to whom you refer. To add comments like this a full 2 years AFTER the incident took place, which effectively challenge both my experience and professional role in Holocaust education, can do a lot of damage to one's reputation. I have been giving presentations on themes of The Holocaust, Judaism and Anti-Semitism for just over 4 years now and have been to over 150 different schools in the UK. These include inner-city, rural and independent establishments and I have been very fortunate to have been invited into Eton, Marlborough and Wellington Colleges, amongst other prestigious schools. Fortunately, my experience at Parrs Wood was unique and I never came across anything like it again. There are plenty of people out there educating young people about The Holocaust and long may it continue. There can NEVER be enough enrichment on this subject.

  7. i am a student at parrswood in year 8, I think our headmaster is fit for his position and I would know because I am a student person said 'as 2500 student read and absorbed this',2500 people don't go to this school ,the most people going to the school is now and there is actually 1900.also I would like to add that students don't read and absorb the magazine because firstly six formers don't get the magazine,secondly the 'magazine' as you like to call it is a newsletter that our parents or carers are meant to read and thirdly non of the pupils actually read this so hadar sela needs to get her facts right!

    I also this that you are making a big deal out of nothing, people use the word 'gay' as offensive language and don't make a big fuss about it so why should you.
    apologies if my grammar or the way I phrased this is wrong. I am wrighting this quick and in a rage .

    1. I hope the school doesn't teach you to write "wrighting" when writing is meant; I expect it's your indignation talking. Thanks for your comment.