In Israel last month, a video on the social media platform TikTok encouraged users to film themselves assaulting Orthodox Jews. That video became a spark that ignited outrage across the country. A band of Jewish extremists, Lehava, organised a march in response. They clashed with Arab groups at Damascus Gate. In a situation that was already a tinderbox, things escalated from there.
Why did it happen? Why would any ordinary person get pleasure from assault? ‘There is a competition for likes and views,’ a 15-year-old victim told an Israeli news organisation.
We can’t say yet if the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas is the start of ‘the big one’, a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising. That possibility was raised by the grandest of Middle East commentators, Thomas Friedman, in the New York Times. Friedman is sometimes mocked for his prognostications. A ‘Friedman’ is defined as six months because of his repeated statements that the ‘next six months’ would be critical for the US in Iraq, the light at the end of the tunnel visible only then.
In an eyrie at the top of the Cabinet Office sits David Frost, Boris Johnson’s former Brexit negotiator who is now the cabinet minister responsible for handling the European Union. His office has the genial feel of a don’s study — there’s a book of Anglo-Saxon verse on his table alongside one of Greek poetry — yet mention Frost’s name to even the most mild-mannered EU diplomats and they begin to fume.
In an effort to understand the apparent mismatch, I ask Frost if he feels the need to be aggressive in negotiations.
Before pandemic I thought I might drive across America, or even France. Now — what about Kent, the garden of England? Why treat English Heritage and the National Trust like guardians of the graveyard: you must be old or possessing a dog to enter? I need a car and so I borrow a Ferrari. The car and I are both nervous. It has a peculiar consciousness; no car feels as responsive, or as human. It feels like driving an Italian man.
I am considering cancelling my second Covid-19 vaccination. I received my first jab in March, and at the time I happily booked the date for the second one in June, confident that by then we would be continuing to see a fall in infections.
But last week the story changed. The B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India, could, according to Sage minutes, be 50 per cent more transmissible than the variant identified in Kent.
I am not your typical Goth. I don’t have piercings or tattoos (I refuse to pay for pain), I have no mental illnesses and, most shocking of all, I am heterosexual. On the other hand, my birthday is on 22 May, World Goth Day, so maybe it was my destiny.
I find comfort in the gothic world. As a child, horror films never frightened me because I knew they were fictional. What really gave me nightmares were the ‘Kill your speed, not a child’ adverts.
ROD LIDDLE: I am honoured to be speaking to you, Peter, on this anniversary of 50 years of causing havoc with the British establishment. You’re one of very few political heroes of mine. I know very few people in the country who are as committed to what they believe in as you. Now a film is being made about your life, isn’t it? It’s going to be on Netflix and it’s called Hating Peter Tatchell, which a lot of people have done over the years.
If you’re looking for proof we live in a computer simulation, consider the farcical story of dogecoin. Named after an internet meme about a talking dog, the joke currency was created as a parody of bitcoin. Dogecoin has no practical uses, yet online investors have ploughed billions into it. ‘We thought it would just make the viral rounds on social media,’ said founder Jackson Palmer. Last week the valuation passed $68 billion — more than Kraft Heinz and Ford.
‘Vaccine refusenik’ is the latest catchphrase used to disparage anyone unwilling — for whatever reason — to roll up their sleeve for a Covid shot. Few are aware, however, that the word ‘refusenik’ could hardly be less fitting.
The term ‘refusenik’ (the anglicised version of the Russian otkaznik), which spread across the globe in the early 1980s, was used to describe the hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews (and also other minorities such as ethnic Germans of the Volga region) who were refused permission to emigrate.