Plus: the ugly side of the pro-Israel lobby has again reared its head, this time in the controversy surrounding a recent UCC debate.
The lengths that pro-Israel activists will go to in defending the persecution of the Palestinian people was evident in their denunciations of the organisers of a conference due to be held at University College Cork to debate the legitimacy in law of the establishment and expansion of the Israeli State on Palestinian land. Two of the organisers, Israeli Professor Oren Ben-Dor and Prof Suleiman Sharkh from Gaza, have come in for particularly furious abuse.
The conference had originally been scheduled for Southampton University but was cancelled on “safety” grounds after Zionist lobby groups and a number of senior politicians, including at least one British cabinet minister, condemned it as “an anti-Israeli hate-fest”.
Israel’s Dublin embassy has said it would be “deeply concerned” if UCC allowed the event to go ahead. It accused Ben-Dor, Sharkh and other academics involved of promoting an “unbalanced agenda within academic institutions, that seeks to demonise and delegitimise Israel.”
It may turn out an ominous sign that UCC’s initial response was not to tell the Israeli embassy to go take a running jump, but to announce that it would “determine its position following appropriate consideration”.
Meanwhile across the water, Shai Masot, described as a “senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London”, has been caught on camera plotting to “take down” a number of British politicians deemed by the embassy to be insufficiently supportive of Israel’s cause. Masot thought that he was speaking with a representative of a Zionist lobby, Labour Friends of Israel, but was actually talking to an undercover Al Jazeera reporter. One of the politicians the Israeli diplomat wanted taken down was Alan Duncan, junior foreign minister in Theresa May’s government.
Duncan isn’t a typical Tory. He has been open about being gay for 15 years and is a supporter of the creation of a Palestinian State. Elaborating on how Duncan might be taken down, Masot and a sidekick suggested, “A little scandal, perhaps.”
Is it not well past time for the Government here or over there to boot meddlesome Israeli diplomats out?
Top quip of the year so far has come from Trevor Noah on his Daily Show (which he has managed to make his own after months of seeming to struggle in the shadow of predecessor Jon Stewart). Noting that McDonald’s had just opened a burger joint in Vatican City, he allowed that many might see this as inappropriate. But, he went on, there are striking similarities between the Catholic Church and the biggest grease outlet on earth.
They both serve billions, make people feel guilty about themselves, and are very bad for children.
How true that is. How very true.
There appears to be widespread agreement that Kym Marsh’s performance in the scene in Coronation Street in which her character, Michelle, experiences the agony of a still birth was the best piece of acting seen in a soap for a long time. Some of us reckon it was the best acting seen anywhere on television in recent times, full stop. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to have felt the sting of tears.
Ms. Marsh, as it turns out, had herself experienced the inarticulable grief of losing the baby she had desperately longed for. Not so much art imitating life but art drawing directly from terrible, lived experience. Harrowing, heart-rending, hard to take.
Remarkably, Emma, wife of Simon Gregson, Michelle’s partner in the series and the scene, had had 11 miscarriages as they tried for a baby, before succeeding in giving birth. Emma is now mother of three.
One of the reasons this is worth recording is that Michelle’s experience is shared by hundreds of thousands of women across these islands but is scarcely ever given expression at proper emotional pitch. Another reason is that actors in Coronation Street, and occasionally in other soaps, regularly turn in performances which, were they contained in a movie or in a “serious” TV programme, would be hailed as being of the highest calibre.
A couple of years ago, I saw Kathy Kelly (Becky) draw roars of approval for her passionate and hilarious delivery of the lead role, Kate Hardcastle, in Goldsmith’s She Stoops To Conquer at the National Theatre in London, dominating the huge stage, conniving with the audience via nods, winks and knowing gestures, supremely self-confident, altogether brilliant.
Look out at the next gong-distribution ceremony for the award for performance of the year in film or television – not performance in a soap. Either Ms. Marsh will win, or snobbery.
Still on Corrie… One of its best features is that it can switch from heartfelt to fun without losing a beat.
Hence brash and brassy young one Gemini Winter (Dolly-Rose Campbell) responding to Sally Metcalf’s (Sally Dynevor) account of having to ask for change for a £50 note in a supermarket: “The only people who carry £50 notes around are bookies, drug-dealers and prostitutes.”
Anybody see Jules Holland’s most recent New Year Special?
Apart from the unique Christine and the Queens, there wasn’t an act worth five minutes of your time when you could be skinning up to see in the new year.
Is Jules losing his touch, or has mainstream music lost its pretention to cultural significance or originality?
Of course, I say this every year.
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