Max and Stacy tell it like it is

The latest from Keiser Report, the best (and certainly most entertaining) business programme on TV today, as Max and Stacy do their established double act on all the current financial scandals. Gets especially good about eight minutes in when we broach the subject of Mr Tony Blair. Oh, and there’s a discussion about shiny metals too, but it’s in the matter of Tony Blair and JP Morgan that our host waxes wroth.

Release the Birmingham Three!

Just a brief note, but Damian has put up something quite important relating to the Brum Oratory saga. His main point is that, notwithstanding the approaching papal visit and the centrality of the Oratory to it, this boil has been festering for so long that it needs to be lanced. And so it does – one would hope that at some point even the most obscurantist of Catholic hierarchs would realise that “let’s keep this quiet lest we rock the boat” is not a winning strategy these days.

There are in face two interlocking stories that have both been rumbling on for months. One is the case of Fr Paul Chavasse, who had to leave the Oratory after stories of his close friendship with a young man started doing the rounds. Everybody concerned swore it was a completely chaste friendship, but tongues were wagging and the Oratory management, alert to the possibility of scandal, moved into action. Too bad for Fr Paul. That is the simple bit.

The more puzzling bit is the matter of Fr Dermot Fenlon, Fr Philip Cleevely and Brother Lewis Berry, who were all sent into exile by the Oratorians’ apostolic visitor a few months back. More precisely, they were ordered to spend an unspecified amount of time in prayer, at locations several hundred miles away from each other. Very few people know why, and none of them are prepared to say, except that there is no question of impropriety – which prompts the question of why the severe punishment at a very exciting time for the Congregation. Rumours, of course, have been flying around Birmingham, and James has been doing an admirable job following up the story. There is some vague talk that this has something to do with the Newman beatification, all three of the exiles having been involved with the Newman Cause, but that could cover all manner of sins. It could of course just be personality clashes or bog-standard factionalism at the Oratory.

Anyway, some parishioners have got so frustrated at the Oratory’s stonewalling that they’ve issued an open letter on the subject. And this serves the worthwhile purpose of dragging the matter further into the spotlight, where the Oratorian bigwigs would rather it was not. At this point, they can either rescind the punishment or give a clear explanation of why the punishment was imposed in the first place, preferably both. What is not sustainable, especially with the Oratory in the spotlight coming up to B16′s visit, is to sing dumb and let the rumour mill go into overtime. As Max Clifford will tell you, if you don’t control the story then somebody else will.

Oh, just one thought. While the Oratorians themselves have been very shy and retiring, the press officer for the Newman Cause has been popping up on BBC West Midlands to say that there’s nothing to see here, honest guv. In fact, at one point the press officer was keen to issue a press release saying that there was no story here. That sort of thing causes me to slap my forehead in despair. Transparency is a viable press strategy, as is plausibly spinning the story; total silence not quite so good; what I don’t think is viable is the equivalent of sending a press release to a school of sharks telling them exactly where in the water they can find blood.

Did I mention the press officer for the Newman Cause is the ubiquitous Jack Valero? I don’t want to be nasty about Jack, who is a perfectly pleasant fellow, but surely the reason he gets all these media gigs is that he’s supposed to understand how to handle the media? Still, it could be worse. They could have left it to Jennings.

Hoods ahoy

This week we aren’t going to bother doing a fisk of the Tablet, except to point out a couple of particularly notable zingers. At the front, Ma Pepsi seems to have formed the arresting idea that Dave Cameron’s Big Society has something to do with the writings of the late Raymond Williams. I think not. And at the back, Elena Discourteous reports on a homily delivered by Fr Tim Radcliffe, the Tablet‘s favourite priest, at the latest of the notorious Soho Masses, on the theme of how the Catholic Church is run by a bunch of old dudes who aren’t down with the zeitgeist. Unless Fr Tim has a wild clubbing lifestyle that we don’t know about, he makes for a rather unlikely Voice of Yoof.

But that’s enough of that. For the moment we’ll take a short break from matters ecclesiastical in favour of more local subject matter, for the Andersonstown News has been hilarious lately. This specifically has to do with a little fraying at the edges of Gerry’s kingdom. Don’t get me wrong, the para-state of republican Belfast retains its one-party system by popular demand, but the Provos have been experiencing a few headaches recently, and smaller forces have begun to get a bit more assertive.

On the political level, one manifestation of that is the series of events that have been held to commemorate the Falls Curfew. This has lead the Sticks to raise their voices along the lines of “Hold on, the defence of the Falls wasn’t youse, it was us,” which is of course historically true. This point went by default for many years, not least because of The Workers Party’s reluctance to admit to its military roots, but it’s good to see the path being made a little less smooth for revisionism.

But there’s a different aspect to this which I want to look at, starting with the riots in Ardoyne over the Twelfth. The Andytown News has firmly stated that the riots were the work of the Continuity IRA, which I seriously doubt since the Contos have trouble enough orchestrating themselves. Furthermore, top Belfast Provo Bobby Storey has been making ominous statements to the effect that he knows where the guilty parties live. This itself raises a question – I’ll grant you that Big Bobby is not a man you’d like to meet in a dark alleyway, but if the guilty parties are not scared of Gerry Kelly, who do you expect them to be scared of?

As mentioned previously, Ardoyne is graced by not one but two residents’ groups, and a look at these illuminates matters. Put very simply, the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) is the Provo-controlled group, and the Greater Ardoyne Residents Coalition (GARC) is the not-the-Provos group. It is alleged by the Provos that GARC is nothing but a dissident/hood coalition with marginal support, but there’s more to it than that. Granted that there are dissidents involved in GARC and that the local hoods will use any disorder around parades to have a bit of crack, GARC actually has real people involved, and enough critical mass to be able to set the agenda locally. If you looked at the peaceful sit-down before the riots broke out, there were dissidents in it – I recognised a few RSF members – but the bulk of the people involved were indeed residents. Basically, GARC has come to encompass anybody in the area who has a beef with the Provos – even people who should really be within the peace process Big Tent – thanks not least to CARA being so tightly controlled as to exclude anyone even slightly off message, like people who don’t approve of the rioters but aren’t too keen on shopping them.

To sum things up then, we have an enclave with a ferocious history and a strongly independent streak; an interface area where loyalist marches provide a semi-regular flashpoint; a smallish but significant dissident presence; a large and combustible population of unemployed youth; top-down politicking from the Provos that has got some people’s backs up; and a functional coalition opposing the Provos on an issue where their ability to control events is vulnerable. That combination is unique to Ardoyne at the moment, but it sets an ominous precedent.

Moving into west Belfast, there’s something interesting happening in the Divis/Lower Falls area, where an unofficial residents’ group has sprung up. This time the issue is over a bonfire. To explain for readers outside Belfast, some years ago the Provos quietly dispensed with the traditional Internment Night bonfires. These guys want one in the Divis area, and claim a leafleting exercise has shown enormous popular support for bringing back the local bonfire. The Provos poured cold water on that, arguing that of course their leafleting got a positive response because they only leafleted their mates. The unofficial residents replied that there’d been a meeting in April attended by Fra McCann whereat the broad masses expressed their boundless enthusiasm for the bonfire. Fra then surfaced to say that yes, he had been at the meeting, but nobody there wanted a bonfire. You can choose who to believe, I suppose, and it could well be that Divis gets a bonfire whether residents want it or not.

But if you want to know the real source of Máirtín’s current wrath, you have to head further up the road. You may recall that the Ardoyne rioting over the Twelfth was preceded by some rioting at Broadway. This allegedly had to do with a loyalist bonfire, which I doubt as the said bonfire was a mile up the road. The subtext of this was the IBA, a gang of hoods who’ve been terrorising St James’ for some time now. Quixotically enough, they seem to model themselves on TV’s Sons of Anarchy, and have been goading the Provos into coming and having a go if they think they’re hard enough.

And it’s these guys who have really got up the nose of the Andytown News, which is issuing ever shriller calls for someone to do something about these rotten wee bastards. Recent issues of the paper have been full of lurid stories about how, for instance, the Bog Meadows are full of motorbikes that the IBA are stealing to order.

For what it’s worth, the dissidents don’t like them much either. At the weekend, it is alleged, a few guys from the dissident ÓNH went out armed to tackle them, except their gun jammed, and then they were lifted by the cops. Cue a lot of cheeky graffiti about the ÓNH and their old rusty guns. They’ve also managed to seriously annoy the IRSP by graffitiing all over Casa Irp.

In a nutshell, this sums up a lot of the problem with the policing debate. We used to hear people like Alex Attwood telling us that the alternative to the Provos controlling the streets was law and order. Au contraire, it looks very much as if the alternative to the Provos controlling the streets is the hoods controlling the streets. We eagerly await Attwood informing us as to whether he thinks this is an improvement.

The return of Fatty Pang

As so often, I think Peter Oborne is on the money when he deplores the importation into British politics of the American practice of handing prime diplomatic posts to superannuated politicians. And as with many bad things in the British body politic, it’s a practice resorted to by John Major and then enormously expanded by Mr Tony Blair; and it is symptomatic of the decline of the FCO and the Diplomatic Service.

I mention this in connection with the impending retirement of our local man Francis Campbell as ambassador to the Holy See. Francis is an impressive figure in many ways, and demonstrates that there’s still some strength in depth in the Diplomatic Service. He is of course the first Catholic to have held his post, after Mr Tony in one of his fits of lucidity swept away the FCO rule barring Papists from the job; yet he has a depth of theological knowledge that makes him ideal for the post, such a depth in fact that it’s hard to process that he’s an Irish Catholic. He has also, largely by his own initiative, rescued what used to be a diplomatic backwater and made it rather an important post.

So it’s rather depressing that the rumours around Francis’ replacement have centred around, well, superannuated politicians. First the rumour was that Cameron was going to give the job to Ann Widdecombe, a prospect that will have had many people falling off their chairs. Widders is an admirable woman in some ways, but someone with such a reputation for, let’s not put too fine a point on this, bluntness shading into outright rudeness is not an obvious candidate for diplomacy. Yes, she can work to a brief, but one wonders about the mental processes of anyone who thought she would be a good fit for the art of getting your way by discreet persuasion.

But now there’s a twist in the tale. From behind Uncle Rupert’s paywall, Ruth Gledhill informs us that Widders is not taking on the Vatican job as she’s due to go on Strictly Come Dancing instead. So who might be in the frame? Ruth tweets that the favourite at the moment is Chris Patten. Yes, that Chris Patten. The legendary Tory grandee, diplomatic troubleshooter, papal visit coordinator and trustee of That Magazine We Don’t Mention. This may just be some kite-flying, but it’s as plausible as anything else.

Pros and cons? Well, Lord Patten does have a well-earned reputation for competence and is known to be quite good at discreet persuasion. One may also whimsically hope that he will confirm the Holy Father’s opinion of the state of English Catholicism, and hasten the long-overdue housecleaning. On the debit side, should Chris get the job Ma Pepsi will be insufferably smug, and Bobbie Mickens might be able to dry his eyes for a little while. One may expect a veritable orgy of self-congratulation from those quarters.

Who really believes there’s no lash-up between the government and the Tabletistas? Only dumbos.

Weekend jukebox

Maybe you find yourself stuck at home on this fine Saturday night; maybe there’s a party, or it could be a reception, that you can’t make it to. Never mind, because this blog’s public service remit includes putting up the occasional bit of musical filler for your dancing pleasure. So, without further ado, let’s go:

Ah, good old BA Robertson. Fairly takes me back to Louvain…

The sophisticated man’s guide to calming those old pre-wedding nerves

Tonight, a special guest post. As top intellectual, media guru, community organiser and all-round Renaissance Man Austen Ivereigh prepares to celebrate his nuptuals, we join Dr Ivereigh as he finalises arrangements and prepares for his stag night. Take it away, Austen:

This is, for me, a hectic and stressful yet strangely exhilarating time. With the papal visit just weeks away, I have had to dedicate 110% to organising Catholic Voices: training the Voices in modern media techniques, giving them in-depth briefings on the questions they are likely to be asked, and making frequent appearances on News 24 to deliver devastating put-downs to ill-informed critics of the Church. (These can all handily be found on Jack Valero’s YouTube channel.) Yet I have also had to dedicate 110% to my beloved, and making sure that we have the perfect wedding. The superhuman exertions involved would have broken a lesser man.

It is of course absolutely wonderful to have had the use of our parish church in Pimlico for the happy day, and my profoundest thanks go to Canon Pat Browne for being so very obliging. Organising the guest list, with so many distinguished individuals invited, has been something of a headache, I don’t mind telling you. I had hoped that my new best friend David Cameron would come, but he informed me that he had some boring business appointment in America to go to. That was a dreadful disappointment.

But most people I’ve asked have been terribly keen. I remember calling my friend Boris Johnson to remind him that he hadn’t RSVPed to his invitation. “How the hell did you get this number?” boomed Boris in his inimitable light-hearted fashion. “Hi Boris,” I said, “I’m just calling to remind you that the wedding is happening this coming Saturday.” “You don’t say?” quipped good old Boris, “Let me check my diary for 2015.” What a joker good old Boris is! One of my closest friends, you know.

And Bruce Kent, too, proved to be a real joker. “Why are you inviting me?” he said, “I mean, we hardly know each other.” “Oh come on Brucie,” I reframed, “we go way back, remember? And you’ll lend so much tone to proceedings.” “Well,” joshed Bruce, “I suppose I might. I don’t have anything else on that day.” Bruce’s japery had me practically rolling around the floor, I can tell you!

And of course, I’ll be looking forward to seeing all my good friends from Citizens UK, my good friends from the Diocese of Westminster, my good friends from the Society of Jesus and my good friends from the Tablet. It makes one feel like a benevolent spider at the heart of a warm and cuddly web.

The stag night, at least, looks like being a little less dramatic. Of course, a sophisticated boulevardier like myself doesn’t need any minding, but it makes me feel better that I’m being guided in these matters by the maestro, who graciously allowed me to take notes on the whiteboard as he was telling me how these things are done in Barcelona. So, before Jack and I go out to hit the tequilas, there’s just a little primping and reframing to be done.

I’ve spent the afternoon relaxing with my favourite Isabel Allende novel, and am now getting into the zone with some groovy music on the hi-fi. I was going to go for Boney M, but on Jack’s advice I’ve chosen to reframe that as Julio Iglesias. And Jack was spot on: just listening to Julio’s golden tones makes me feel ready for action.

And now to get myself outfitted. Rather than wearing one of the matching tracksuits my beloved and I like to wear, I’ve decided on a special dress tracksuit in burgundy velour. Two – no, three – cigars in the top pocket, just in case. My platform shoes are shined especially. A generous splash of the old Hai Karate. And Jack has advised me to go bare-chested save for a big gold crucifix. Jack says it drives the chicas wild.

Rest assured, I won’t be too bad as I say goodbye to the single life. I do have a position to uphold, after all. Although, if I do need to go to Confession, at least I can feel confident that Canon Pat Browne will be terribly understanding. I can confess whatever I remember through my hangover, and he’ll give me a sympathetic pat on the back and a decade of the Rosary. Maybe a bracing cup of tea.

Soon, though, all this singleton frivolity will be behind me, and I shall have the respectable married estate to look forward to. It is with some trepidation and yet anticipation that I embark on this adventure… but no, you’re not going to get my wedding speech out of me. And shame on you for trying! But my thanks to you for your interest and your moral support. Cheerio, and see you on YouTube!

A vignette

Today I have a little morsel that some of you may find tasty. To begin with, let’s introduce our characters. X is a well-known Catholic intellectual with a track record of involvement in Hare Brained Schemes. Y is a participant in X’s latest Hare Brained Scheme. Z is a pillar of the community who heads a Prominent Organisation that’s sponsoring X’s latest Hare Brained Scheme.

Let’s say for talk’s sake that X has rather austere views on the wearing of miraculous medals. After all, they spoil the line of your open-necked shirt, and no fashionable man-about-town should be seen wearing one. In fact, X has an aversion to miraculous medals almost as strong as his aversion to hormonal women.

Let’s say that a training event is being held for the Hare Brained Scheme. At this event X notices that one of his protégés, Y, is wearing a miraculous medal. Being an important man and under a lot of pressure, X barks out “Take that miraculous medal off, it makes you look like a saddo” or words to that effect. But the trouble is that Y is a deeply religious person with a fierce attachment to this miraculous medal, and finds X’s behaviour very distressing. Moreover, some of the other people present are upset by X’s outburst.

No, they aren’t just upset. As they ponder this, they actually become quite furious. It would be most unfortunate at this point if they decided to approach Z with a complaint about X’s behaviour. Z, we must point out, is neither a personal fan nor a theological soulmate of X, and agreed to support the Hare Brained Scheme as a public-spirited gesture. Moreover, some members of the Prominent Organisation have begun to discreetly ask whether supporting the Hare Brained Scheme was in the best interests of the Prominent Organisation. So, with Z already wondering what on earth he has let himself in for, he is not likely to be in the frame of mind where tales of X being gratuitously rude to those more orthodox than X is going to encourage Z to show X the sunny side of his countenance.

Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

Funny handshakes all round, as the League of Militant Godless head for Brussels

Here’s an interesting vignette from EUobserver:

Brussels is to hold an EU summit with atheists and freemasons in the autumn, inviting them to a political dialogue parallel to the annual summit the bloc holds with Europe’s religious leaders.

While the EU is a secular body, the three European presidents, of the commission, parliament and EU Council, alongside two commissioners, on Monday met with 24 bishops, chief rabbis, and muftis as well as leaders from the Hindu and Sikh communities. The annual dialogue, which has taken place since 2005, is for the first time this year made legally obligatory under Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Hey, I remember Article 17. I remember the perpetually angry Terry Sanderson waxing wroth about this requirement for a dialogue, and characterised it as proof that the EU was being overwhelmed by the forces of theocracy. I worry about Terry’s blood pressure, if Eurocrats having an annual cup of tea with bishops and rabbis has this sort of effect on him.

Under pressure from Belgium, which constitutionally protects and financially supports humanist organisations as well as churches, the EU has been forced to hold a mirror-image summit, but of atheists, scheduled for 15 October.

Those wacky Belgians, eh? Not just them, either – we may mention Britain’s own DCLG granting a £25,000 subsidy to the British Humanist Association to give lectures on religious tolerance under the “Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund”. Would it be facetious to wonder about separating atheism from the state? Perhaps it would. Anyway, I have a bit of a soft spot (only a bit of one, mind) for the good old BHA – they don’t have the foam-flecked, swivel-eyed aspect of their deadly rivals the NSS – so we’ll let that pass. So let’s get to what is annoying the atheists:

However, in a move that perplexed and annoyed humanist groups, the EU atheist summit will also welcome under the rubric of ‘non-religious groups’, the Freemasons, the secretive fraternal organisation, according to commission spokeswoman Katharina von Schnurbein.

Why is this perplexing? If the Belgians could stiff-arm the Eurocrats into having a summit with atheists, one presumes the Masons were invited to placate the Masonic-controlled government of Italy. And let’s face it, it can’t be any sillier than having Berlusconi at a European Council. Always assuming that Berlusconi himself isn’t one of the Masonic delegates, which he may well be.

According to the commission’s Ms von Schnurbein, Brussels views the Freemasons as a “community of conscience interconnected throughout Europe,” and “a form of humanist organisation.”

She dismissed concerns that while churches and atheist groups are free for anyone to join, membership in the Freemasons, a private organisation of men, with some separate Grand Lodges for women, is by invitation only and requires initiation fees and an annual subscription.

I think Ms von Schnurbein has a point. I’ve rarely been in a church that didn’t have a collection, and if you want to be in the National Secular Society you have to send nineteen quid to Terry Sanderson. Moreover, many religious denominations – the orthodox Jewish community comes to mind – have very strict procedures for allowing people to join.

So the question is whether Terry and Keith, those valiant opponents of public money funding anything vaguely religious, will sign up for a jolly in Brussels at the EU’s expense. Well, of course they will – they do plenty in Europe as it is. And it does mean their campaign to stop hospital chaplains bringing comfort to the sick can be rolled out on an international scale. I suppose one has to salute their chutzpah.

When communalism meets the retail sector


In order to give this blog’s leftist readers a bit of a break from matters religious, I’d like to put forward a little industrial affairs conundrum for you to ponder. The question is, who is the bully and who the bullied?

So, last Friday the Asda store on Belfast’s Shore Road sacked one of its checkout workers, William Hunter, for apparently – the story is a bit garbled – telling a driver to play the Sash. It may have been off the cuff for all I know, but wisecracking about the venerable old loyalist song can be harmful to your employment, especially the north’s laws about providing a neutral working environment. The rules, by the way, are not there for no reason – in days of old, some Belfast City Council sites were so heavily festooned with Union Jacks, portraits of the Queen and Rangers FC paraphernalia that they more closely resembled Orange halls than cleaning depots. The story about the man who turned up to a job interview in an orange sash may be apocryphal, but it’s still very plausible.

So anyway, Mr Hunter gets the sack. There then follows four days of protests involving the store being picketed by up to 200 loyalists at any given time. Billy Hutchinson, the former loyalist killer turned politician turned community organiser in our local version of the Big Society, was at the forefront, and so energetic in denouncing Asda for their treatment of Mr Hunter that you would almost think there was an election coming up. Hutchie held forth about how Mr Hunter was a dead nice and well-liked man and not at all sectarian, which makes sense when you consider that Mr Hunter has previous that might cause Hutchie to have some empathy for him.

And so it was that on Tuesday Asda reinstated their errant worker after getting an expression of regret out of him. Presumably Asda’s corporate mind was concentrated by the possibility of an Orange/loyalist boycott.

So my question for the industrial relations experts out there is, who do you support in this scenario? Or do you walk briskly in the other direction with your hands in your pockets and whistling a merry tune? Just be sure you don’t whistle the Sash.

And while we’re on cultural symbolism, out in Tyrone the farmboys are giving the post boxes a makeover.

Here’s something you won’t read on Shiraz Socialist

Remember when the apartheid entity and the Zionist entity were different entities? The Daily Telegraph brings us this extraordinary tale from the land of the sad oranges, where it seems the courts take a rather South African view on miscegenation:

Palestinian jailed for rape after claiming to be Jewish

A Palestinian man has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with an Israeli woman who believed he was Jewish because he introduced himself as “Daniel”.

A court in Jerusalem has made international legal history by jailing Sabbar Kashur, a 30-year-old delivery man from East Jerusalem, for 18 months.

He was convicted of “rape by deception” following a criminal trial that has drawn criticism from across Israel.

The court heard accusations that Mr Kashur misled the woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, by introducing himself with the traditionally Jewish name during a chance encounter on a street in central Jerusalem in 2008.

After striking up a conversation, the two went into a top-floor room of a nearby office-block and engaged in a sexual encounter, after which Mr Kashur left before the woman had a chance to get dressed. It was only later that she discovered Mr Kashur’s true racial background, lawyers said.

Although conceding that the sex was consensual, district court judge Tzvi Segal concluded that the law had a duty to protect women from “smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price”

“If she hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have co-operated,” Mrs Segal said as she delivered her verdict.

A conviction for rape by deception on the grounds of racial misrepresentation is believed to be internationally unprecedented, according to British legal experts.

The charge is rarely used in the West. In 2007, a Syrian pilot walked free from a court in Swansea after being accused of tricking a woman into intercourse by saying it could cure her of a sexually transmitted disease.

A court in Massachusetts also acquitted a man who allegedly masqueraded as his twin-brother in order to have sex with the man’s wife.

While forced sex by deception is an offence under Israeli law, legal experts say it is a charge used sparingly in cases involving protracted deceit and a promise of marriage.

Kashur was originally accused of violent rape and indecent assault, but later accepted the lesser charge under a plea-bargain after prosecutors received evidence suggesting the encounter was consensual.

Kashur’s lawyer, Adnan Aladdin, said he had filed an appeal to ensure that the verdict was not considered precedent-setting, adding that otherwise “many men would find themselves in jail.”

Israeli legal experts said they found the verdict disquieting.

“In the context of Israeli society, you can see that some women would feel very strongly that they had been violated by someone who says he is Jewish but is not,” said a former senior justice ministry official.

“The question is whether the state should punish somebody in that situation. It puts the law in the position of what could loosely be described as discrimination. I would feel intuitively uncomfortable about prosecuting someone for something like that.”

Asked whether his client was the victim of racial discrimination, Mr Aladdin said he “would rather not comment”. Others, however, were scathing.

Gideon Levy, a leading liberal commentator, said: “I would like to raise only one question with the judge. What if this guy had been a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and had sex with a Muslim woman. Would he have been convicted of rape? The answer is: of course not.”

Israeli human rights activists said that Kashur’s actions reflected the deceits many Palestinians practise when in Israel in an attempt to avoid official and private prejudice because of their background.

“It is very well known that Israeli-Palestinians living in Israel disguise themselves,” said Leah Tsemel, a human-rights lawyer. “You change your accent and you change your dress because if you look like an Arab you face harassment.

“If you want to enter a pub, you’d better not look like an Arab and if you want to have sex with an Israeli girl, you had better not look like an Arab.”

The prosecutor in the case was unavailable for comment and officials in the Jerusalem district attorney’s office declined to discuss it.

Well, Jim and Max, what say you?

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