Israel Notebook | 30 May 2019

I’m meant to be peering into a tunnel hacked out by Hamas a few hundred metres from Gaza City into Israeli territory but my attention has wandered. The air around us, above this parched, scrubby wasteland, is fecund with life. A pair of black kites are circling and below them a steppe buzzard is lumbering amidst the thermals. And is that a lappet-faced vulture? Do you know, even without my specs, I think it is. The IDF guy in charge of this facility wanders up. ‘You are interested in the birds, my frent? They too are political. The Palestinians put all their filth, their garbage, right up against the fence,

The Brexit party delusion

The echo chamber is the defining characteristic of this berserk and entertaining political age: squadrons of foam-flecked absolutists ranting to people who agree with them about everything and thus come to believe that their ludicrous view of the world is shared by everybody. It is true, for example, of the Stalinist liberal Remainers — that tranche of about one third of the remain vote who will tell you proudly that they have never met anyone who voted leave and that therefore either nobody did vote leave — or they voted leave but we shouldn’t take any notice of them because they are worthless. The BBC, civil service and academia share

Are the village idiots right?

The former BBC presenter Gavin Esler has very kindly given us an insight into how BBC people think (had we been in much doubt). Esler, who is now standing for election as a member of the hilarious Change UK party, said the following: ‘TV news must stop giving airtime to the “village idiots” of Brexit — the dubious right-wing supposed “thinktanks” and pseudo-experts among ERG MPs who simply haven’t a clue what the implications of Brexit truly are.’ Remarkable, no? The ‘village idiots’ of Brexit are people who support Brexit. That’s a lot more idiots than there are villages, Gavin. This clown wishes the BBC to discriminate against people who

Yet more derangement around rape

It is more than three years since the town of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, decided to ditch its motto ‘Land of Rape and Honey’. That was how the prairie outpost had been known for 60 years, a consequence of the large amounts of canola produced in the region and the fact that they have lots of bees. But the town authorities now thought the slogan had a certain ominous, menacing air to it, so they replaced it with ‘Tisdale — Opportunity Grows Here’, which is entirely lacking in threat, interest and anything else you care to mention. A year later the supermarket store Aldi was forced to change the name of a

We’re in a terrible tangle over Islam

The carnage in Sri Lanka which left more than 300 dead may have been carried out by ‘Buddhists’, according to the BBC Today presenter Nick Robinson on the morning after those hideous bombings. We all grope slowly towards meaning, don’t we? We look for precedent, we search for clues. I did both when I heard of the murders and came to a different conclusion to Nick. Someone had attacked Christians and westerners in a series of suicide bombings: that gave me an inkling. Perhaps — just perhaps — it wasn’t Buddhists. Perhaps it was instead the fanatics responsible for the vast majority of terrorism outrages in the world (Global Terrorism

My least favourite countries in the world

Every year during Easter Week I draw up a chart of my least favourite countries and distribute the list to close friends and relatives. I’ve been doing this for thirty years now and I’m sure it has proved helpful to those close to me. So sure, in fact, that I intend, from now on, to post the same chart here. I hope in time my hate list will come to be seen as a familiar herald of summer, like letters to the Times about the first cuckoo or Christian names given to children. I never explain my reasoning: in most cases there is no need. And where there is need

The transgender agenda is collapsing

It is a great disappointment to me that my phrases don’t get picked up by other writers and then society in general before ending up in the Oxford English Dictionary. Chuck Palahniuk is credited with the use of ‘snowflake’ as a pejorative term, for example, and James Bartholomew claims (despite some evidence to the contrary) to have made up ‘virtue-signalling’. Both are now very familiar and even overused — but mine all get ignored. I came up with what I thought was a decent neologism while being interviewed by Peter Whittle for his programme So What You’re Saying Is… Peter had been lamenting, as we all do, the endless hierarchy

Rod Liddle

Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Grade: A– If your 12-year-old daughter’s a bit thick, she probably likes Ariana Grande. Come on, dads — you’ve got to face up to this stuff, you’ve got to JUDGE. Be ruthless. If, however, she’s a bit smarter, but also sullen, lazy and probably prone to self-harming, she’ll be a big Billie Eilish fan. Only just 17, from Los Angeles, Eilish is kind of sparse and woke emo electropop misery, very self-consciously ‘edgy’. An agreeably large number of her songs seem to be about killing herself, or just ceasing to exist. The rest are a little darker, and terminally angst-ridden. She has a very pretty voice, usually deployed as a

How did the media get the Trump-Russia story so wrong?

REVERSE FERRET! When he edited the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie used to throw open his office door and bellow this at the newsroom when the paper had got a story wrong. It came from the northern endurance sport of ferret-legging: a pair of razor-toothed ferrets are put down your trousers — no underwear allowed. The Sun would call the ferrets off some hapless public figure and go into full reverse without apology or explanation. If we in the media have spent the past two years getting the Trump-Russia story wrong, simply pulling a reverse ferret now would not be enough. There would have to be something more. But is a mea

Who should we blame for the Christchurch atrocity? | 18 March 2019

A frequent complaint heard from Muslim communities in recent years has been irritation and anger over any suggestion that Muslims – as a whole – need to apologise for attacks carried out in the name of their religion. I have sympathy for this irritation, tying as it does innocent people to the actions of guilty ones. But since the attack in New Zealand was carried out by a non-Muslim who was targeting Muslims, whether or not it needs to be said still it should be said – indeed must be said – that non-Muslims abhor, are disgusted, outraged and sickened by somebody going into a place of worship and gunning down innocent

No matter what terrorists say, Islam and the West are not at war

‘Kill Angela Merkel. Kill Erdogan. Kill Sadiq Khan’ were the demands of the white supremacist terrorist who killed 49 innocent worshippers at a mosque in New Zealand. France’s President Macron, he wrote, was ‘an ex-banker’ who was a ‘globalist’ and ‘anti-white people’. Make no mistake: the Australian man who gunned down innocent worshippers had political objectives. He wanted to stop the West from being a home to Muslims and others who were not ‘European in blood and race’. Hitler’s Nazi grandchildren are in our midst again.  Meanwhile, Islamist terrorists for decades have tried to assassinate Her Majesty, Tony Blair, and even plotted to bomb Downing Street and behead our prime minister.

Why I’ve joined the SDP

I was down the pub with my wife last week, out in the tiny smoking section, when a woman with a glass of beer sat down beside us and opened a conversation. She was from Delhi, she told us, before announcing somewhat grandly that she was an ‘academic’. I suppose I should have got the hell out there and then, but I was enjoying my cigarette. Anyway, we chatted briefly about the university at which she worked and shortly after this she said that at the moment she was ‘preparing for 29 March’ and was aghast at the whole Brexit business. Oh, I said, I voted Leave. She responded somewhat

Save your children – take them out of school

A good decade or so ago I wrote a fairly vituperative article in response to a piece by the writer James Bartholomew in this magazine, who had announced that he intended to home-school his daughter Alex, aged nine. James had explained in great detail how he would inculcate his charge in the liberal arts: ‘I don’t want to give the impression that I will be a Gradgrind. We will have some fun, too. Alex loves to paint. We will go to the major Cézanne exhibition in Aix and see his paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire. Then we will see the mountain itself from the same viewpoint that he used. I hope

Should Michael Jackson’s music be banned?

Why does it follow that, because an artist or performer is an appalling human being, his work should be banned? Speaking at Oxford in the late 19th century, Paul Verlaine introduced himself thus: ‘Je suis Paul Verlaine — poète, ivrogne, pédéraste.’ His work survived. Yet nearly a century and a half later, Michael Jackson has his music banned by the BBC. This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in the forthcoming issue of the magazine, out tomorrow

Why I hate ‘the n-word’

One of the depressing aspects of writing a column attuned to social hypocrisy is so rarely running short of new material. Any pundit keen to highlight the grievous injustices committed haughtily in the name of justice these days is spoilt for choice. So: Augsburg University, Minneapolis, Minnesota. A student reads aloud a quote from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time: ‘You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger.’ The last word causes a stir. When the white professor, Phillip Adamo, asks the class what they think of the student’s reciting of the quote verbatim, he repeats the word. The next

Rod Liddle

Will women’s sports cease to exist?

Congratulations to Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood for sweeping all before them in the Connecticut girls’ high school track races last week. Yes, of course they are men. There were some anguished complaints from the various girls these two speedy lads defeated, but these were of course brushed aside in a country where women’s sporting events may one day soon consist entirely of men. Already a Democratic party representative, Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), is insisting that the US powerlifting tournaments allow transgender women to compete, so that people who look very much like Geoff Capes, and have the same chromosomes as Geoff Capes, and the same bone structure and musculature, can

New party, same old views

I once came up against Mike Gapes in a fraternal game of five-a-side football played at the Elephant and Castle leisure centre in south London in about 1985. Mike is one of the seven Labour MPs to have announced their resignation from the Labour party this week, in order to sit as members of the imaginatively named Independent Group. Back then he was something relatively senior in Labour’s Walworth Road HQ, I can’t recall exactly what. The match was between Walworth Road and the researchers and speech writers, of whom I was one, who worked for Neil Kinnock’s shadow cabinet, in the House of Commons. We viewed our Walworth Road

My diversity targets for the BBC

Terrible news for gay broadcasters —  the BBC has only one year to meet a diversity target which says that 8 per cent of roles on TV and radio must be occupied by homosexuals. This means a reduction in gay TV weathermen by at least three quarters, and they’ll also have to sack a good half of the gay chat-show hosts. This seems to me unfair, but that’s diversity targets for you. The 8 per cent figure has been appropriated by the BBC from the gay lobby, although there are activists who will tell you that a still greater proportion of our country is homosexual. This does not match with

Love, sex, sponges and disability

Hampstead has become quite a hit-factory since Ed Hall took over. His foreign policy is admirably simple. He scours New York for popular shows and spirits them over to London. His latest effort, Cost of Living, has attracted the film-star talent of Adrian Lester, who plays Eddie, a loquacious white trucker from Utah. (His ethnicity is made clear in the dialogue and the relevant lines have been left unchanged.) Earnest Eddie tells us about himself in a 15-minute monologue at the top of the show. Rather a clunky device. He’s a bookish teetotaller with a strong work ethic who appreciates the landscape of Utah, enjoys listening to Erik Satie’s over-played

Trump is divisive. He splits his opposition perfectly

Washington, DC Donald Trump, the unity president — doesn’t sound right, does it? Trump is, we know, divisive. Under his administration, America is polarised to the point of madness. Democrats and Republicans despise each other, culture wars rage, sane people speculate about another civil war.  In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, however, Trump spoke about bringing his country together. He will never be an elegant orator, but ‘SOTU 19’ was objectively a good speech: its authors cleverly wove American themes of optimism and success into a political challenge to the Democrats. ‘Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us,’ he said, ‘hoping we will govern not as